Katherine Heigl is in advanced negotiations to star in The Happytime Murders, a five years long-gestating ‘puppet noir’ comedy from Brian Henson, the director of A Muppets Christmas Carol and the son of Muppet creator Jim Henson. Though we should note up front this isn’t a Disney film so none of the characters you saw in The Muppets will be involved here.

Written by Todd Berger (King Fu Panda 2), the movie will take place in a world where puppets and humans live together, but puppets are viewed as part of a second-class society. When the puppet cast of a 1980s kids TV show ‘The Happytime Gang’ get murdered one by one, a disgraced and washed up detective-turned-private eye puppet along with his former human partner take on the case. It is somewhat a Who Framed Roger Rabbit? story but with puppets instead of animation.

When the film was originally setup at the Jim Henson Co. in 2008 it was described as an R-rated “gritty crime thriller and a satire of the genre and a balls-out comedy” and it is believed this desire to go dark has made it a tough sell for financing.

No word on what role Heigl has nabbed but a couple of years back when financing looked close at Lionsgate, Cameron Diaz had entered talks over a ‘Jessica Rabbit style femme fatale’. Possibly Heigl has this role.

IM Global are taking the film out to Berlin where they hope to sell it to the European Film Market. The Happytime Murders has been a much talked about project for years, a Muppet movie in the Raymond Chandler vein that is aimed solely at adults. Let’s hope they can sell this package out in Berlin and it gets to film this year.

source – Deadline

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This article was first posted on February 4, 2012