Helmer to debut with Henson Co. pic

Tim Hill, who has an overall deal in animation at Disney, will make his feature helming debut with “Muppets in Space” for the Jim Henson Co. and Columbia Pictures.

Hill replaces Randal Kleiser, who had been attached to helm, but ankled over creative differences. The film is to start shooting Oct. 26.

“Muppets in Space” is about Gonzo’s search for his identity. The Muppet has to go into outer space to find himself.

“Tim is a talented comedy director, and we’re excited about his taking charge on the next Muppet movie. It’s our franchise,” said Stephanie Allain, prexy of Henson Pictures, which has a co-venture with Sony Pictures Entertainment to produce family pics.

The Jim Henson Co. CEO Brian Henson and Martin Baker are producing.

Jerry Juhl, David Goodman and Rick Copp scripted.

Allain and Henson Pictures exec Kristine Belson are overseeing the project for the company.

Col senior VP Doug Belgrad is handling the studio’s interest.

Hill has created, writes and helms the Nickelodeon stop-motion series “Action League Now.”

Hill was repped by Abram Nalibotsky of the Gersh Agency and managers Judy Friend and Jeffrey Thal of Intrepid Artists.

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