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Kleiser mad for Muppets

Getting seven figures to helm new outing

Director Randal Kleiser, who helmed the recently re-released “Grease,” has inked a seven-figure deal to helm “Muppets From Space,” shooting in Australia in September.

It will be the first time Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and the rest of the wacky gang will be directed by someone other than a Henson family member. Of the five prior Muppets movies, the late Jim Henson’s son Brian directed the last two — “Muppet Christmas Carol” and “Muppet Treasure Island.”

Jim Henson Pictures execs on the project are Stephanie Allain and Kristine Belson. Screenplay is by longtime Muppets scripter Jerry Juhl.

“I just read it a couple of weeks ago and I thought it was great — very clever and funny,” Kleiser told Daily Variety. “I just wanted to do it. I’ve worked with animals and children but never puppets.”

Kleiser’s previous films include “It’s My Party,” “White Fang,” “The Blue Lagoon” and “Honey, I Blew Up the Kids.” His 23-minute, 3-D film “Honey, I Shrunk the Audience,” which is showing at Disney’s Epcot complex in Florida and Disneyland Tokyo, opens Friday at Disneyland’s renovated Tomorrowland in Anaheim.

“Space” will be released by Columbia Pictures in July 1999. Supervising Columbia execs are Lorie Furey and Gareth Wigan.