NEW YORK – Rap music star Snoop Dogg was edited out of an upcoming Muppets TV movie, but his recent forays into hard-core porn had nothing to do with it, the movie's producer insists.
Hollywood-based Jim Henson Co. says the X-rated recording artist was excised due to time constraints.
But the decision made last Friday to snip Snoop may have been aimed at preventing a public relations disaster as word spread that the caretakers of the beloved Muppets were pairing Kermit the Frog with a rapper/pornographer who is also an avowed Crips gang member, ex-con and outspoken advocate for legalizing marijuana.
Henson Co. got a hint of the potential firestorm last Thursday, when letters published on the Op-Ed page of the Wall Street Journal made it clear that CEO Charles Rivkin might have blundered when he issued an endorsement of Snoop Dogg in a front-page Journal feature 10 days earlier.
In the story, which detailed Snoop Dogg's newfound entrepreneurship in the apparel and porn industries, Rivkin explained why Snoop Dogg was making a cameo appearance in A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, due to air later this year on NBC.
"The Muppets are a pop-culture icon, and Snoop is a pop-culture icon as well," Rivkin said. "The bottom line is we respect him as an artist."
In the scene that was cut, Snoop Dogg was seen rapping with Kermit, a prospect that alarmed some Journal readers.
"When did our children who watch and believe in the Muppets become fair game for pornographers?" asked one of the letters.
"Actually, Mr. Rivkin," said another, "I believe that in the December pairing of [Snoop Dogg] and Kermit the Frog, the ‘bottom line' is what matters most."
It's possible that Rivkin was unaware of the depth of Snoop Dogg's involvement in porn, including highly profitable partnerships with Hustler publisher Larry Flynt and Joe Francis, the entrepreneur behind the "Girls Gone Wild" video series.
"As commonly occurs during this stage of production, we have had to cut several scenes originally planned for the movie which did not advance the storyline," a company statement said.