I suppose this makes it official instead of just 'something we've all known for two years', but according to The Hollywood Reporter, Jason Segel of I Love You Man fame will be the human protagonist who reunites the gang in the next Muppet movie. He's also producing it, along with David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman (The Proposal).
This isn't completely unexpected, since he's been writing the script with Forgetting Sarah Marshall director Nicholas Stoller for some time. The only hat it seems Jason won't be wearing is that of director, as the helm has been given over to Flight of the Conchords co-creator James Bobin.
While no new plot or story elements were released along with this news, it seems safe to say that the film is on the same track it's been headed on since its inception. In April of 2008, Empire got a rundown from Segel on the nature of the plot, as well as the chance for traditional Muppet movie cameos. In the course of discussing which members of the Judd Apatow school of comedy had expressed interest in participating in the film, Segal said "I would love to star in it myself. I think that's the plan, but right now it's just a script deal".
And Jason thought right! Truly, after his tender and heartfelt performance alongside a felt and foam Dracula in the puppet musical finale of Forgetting Sarah Marshall (spoiler?), this could be naught but destiny.
For anyone who's forgotten, or maybe missed it the first time around, the loose plot as described by Segel is:
"It's a classic story. It's the Muppets needing to get back together to save the show...It's going to take place all over the world. Basically, the Muppets are no longer together. So that might take a while to film. I guess they've set the precedent in that last movie (Muppets From Space) that Gonzo is, in fact, an alien, so he could well end up in space."
Screen Rant's own Paul Young did have a chance to speak with Hot Tub Time Machine director Steve Pink this past weekend though, and the subject of the Muppet's next cinematic adventure did come up. Pink related that the script is probably the best Muppet script that's been put forth in the past twenty years, and strongly features many of the comedic techniques that have given the Muppets so much of their distinctive charm (other than the being-constructed-out-of-cloth, worn-on-a-human-hand aspect, which is a given). Lots of breaking the fourth wall and lots of baldly stated plot-devices- always with a wink to the camera.
Is the world ready for a return by the Muppets to the big screen? Perhaps, perhaps not. Only time will tell for sure. With Bobin directing and Segel, devoted to the material as he is, so entrenched in the different aspects of production, it's possible the next Muppet movie could be the big come-back they deserve.