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'Muppets' May Return to Primetime TV

The Muppets (search) could come back to primetime television with their own reality show. ABC (search) has ordered a script and five episode outlines for "America's Next Muppet," in which viewers may join in choosing the newest member of the puppet family that includes Kermit the Frog (search) and Miss Piggy (search), a network spokeswoman said Tuesday.

The premise has the ring of such shows as "American Idol" or "America's Next Top Model," in which the audience picks potential new stars.

ABC is part of the Walt Disney Co., which purchased the Muppets franchise from the Jim Henson Co. in 2004 and the right to use the characters in its theme parks, movies, TV shows and retail products. The ABC television movie "The Muppets' Wizard of Oz" aired earlier this year.

The late Jim Henson's Muppets got their first regular, widespread exposure on PBS' "Sesame Street" starting in 1969.

The syndicated "The Muppet Show" aired from 1976-81 and was seen in more than 100 countries. The characters also briefly starred in "Muppets Tonight," which aired for four months in 1996 as part of ABC's primetime lineup.

Henson's puppets moved to the big screen in 1979 with "The Muppet Movie," followed by movies including "The Great Muppet Caper" and "The Muppets Take Manhattan."