It’s hard to imagine a world wherein the Muppets were not yet an international phenomenon, but there was indeed a time that series creator Jim Henson struggled to get the preeminent puppet program picked up in the first place.
After having not one but two Muppets series rejected by American Broadcasting Company (ABC) — the first of which was The Muppets Valentine Show in 1974 followed by The Muppets: Sex and Violence in 1975 — Henson went onto conceptualize a new pitch for The Muppet Show intended for Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), filming the reel on August 30, 1975.
46 years later, the “Muppet History” Twitter account, which is a fan page “dedicated to continuing the spirit and silliness of Jim Henson,” tweeted a clip from the pitch on the anniversary of its filming, and…WOW.
While the clip is only 53 seconds, the brief glimpse into Muppet mania is memorable as ever, and laugh-out-loud funny. In the video, a “spokesmuppet” manically speaks into the camera, asserting that “the United States of America NEEDS the Muppet Show and you should buy this show! Buy the show and put it on the air and we’ll all be famous!”
“The Muppet will be famous and CBS will be famous we’ll have a hit show on our hands, and we’ll all get temperamental and hard to work with but you won’t care! Because we’ll all make a lot of money,” he goes on. “And Schlatter and Henson will be happy! And you will be happy! And Kermit’s mother will be happy!”
“And God will look down on us, and he will smile and say, ‘let them have a 40 share!’”
Sadly, despite the pitch’s brilliance, CBS passed on The Muppet Show. It was, however, picked up by British producer Lew Grade, who went onto produce The Muppet Show for Associated Television (ATV) in the UK, running for five seasons.
Ironically, after gaining notoriety, CBS picked up the The Muppet Show for syndication in the US. And the rest, as they say, is history.
You can watch the entire pitch, in which the spokesmuppet starts out speaking quite calmly only to descend into madness, here.