Melissa McCarthy’s upcoming movie about homicidal puppets looks to be another hilarious comedy from the “Spy” star, but nobody’s laughing in the offices of Sesame Workshop, which produces long-running children’s TV series “Sesame Street”.
According to TMZ, a New York judge has sided with the producers of the puppet film “The Happytime Murders” against the producers of “Sesame Street”.
The folks behind “Sesame Street” took the film’s producers STX Productions to court, charging that the way the Muppet-like puppets in “The Happytime Murders” has “defiled” the iconic “Sesame Street” brand.
One of the key elements at issue was the film’s tagline, “No Sesame. All Street.”
In their ruling, the judge said the tagline makes a clear distinction that the film, in fact, is not related to “Sesame Street”.
“The Happytime Murders”, according to its official synopsis, is described as “a filthy comedy set in the underbelly of Los Angeles where puppets and humans coexist,” with McCarthy starring as an LAPD detective investigating the murders of the puppet cast of a beloved children’s TV show.
In court, lawyers for “Sesame Street” reportedly cited an old case in which the porn film “Debbie Does Dallas” was found to infringe on the Dallas Cowboys’ trademark, but the judge shot down the comparison.
“We fluffing love Sesame Street,” a lawyer for STX said in a statement, “and we’re obviously very pleased that the ruling reinforced what STX’s intention was from the very beginning — to honour the heritage of The Jim Henson Company’s previous award-winning creations while drawing a clear distinction between any Muppets or Sesame Street characters and the new world Brian Henson and team created.”
In court documents obtained by The Blast, Sesame Workshop alleged the film’s trailer “deliberately confuses consumers into mistakenly believing that Sesame is associated with, has allowed, or has even endorsed or produced the movie and tarnishes Sesame’s brand.”
Based on the trailer, Sesame Workshop alleged the “The Happytime Murders” had “diluted and defiled Sesame’s beloved ‘Sesame Street’ children’s television show,” and describe the trailer as containing “explicit, profane, drug-using, misogynistic, violent, copulating, and even ejaculating puppets.”
Bizarrely, “The Happytime Murders” was directed by Brian Henson, son of the late Jim Henson, whose Muppet creations such as Big Bird and Cookie Monster continue to appear on “Sesame Street” more than 50 years after the show first debuted.
Sesame Workshop was suing the film’s producers, STX Productions, for unspecified damages, and is asked that all advertising for the upcoming film be pulled immediately.