‘Happy’ Puppets and ‘Murder’ for Lionsgate and Henson

I LOVE when a studio does something daring and rolls the nice. Lionsate will be getting behind Happytime Murders, a comedy thriller written by Todd Berger and to be directed by Brian Henson (son of Jim Henson). Happytime takes place in a world where humans and puppets coexist, with the puppets viewed as second-class citizens. When the puppet cast of 1980s children’s TV show “The Happytime Gang” begins to get murdered one by one, a disgraced LAPD detective-turned-private eye puppet — with a drinking problem, no less — takes the case with his former human partner. Think Avenue Q meets L.A. Confidential. Hopefully more “Greg the Bunny”. Berger wrote the script from a story he wrote with Dee Austin Robertson. The project has been in development at the Jim Henson Co. since 2008, when it picked up the script as a spec. Lionsgate’s acquisition gives the risky project — a dark adult story featuring puppets — a shot at getting made, with insiders talking about a possible January start, depending on when a star can be found for the lead.