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Guess who’s pulling the strings

'Muppet' characters return to barbing on webisodes

Statler and Waldorf, the crotchety balcony dwellers who hurled barbs at Kermit and pals on “The Muppet Show,” are back. On June 23, the duo began sharing their acid wit in bi-weekly webisodes on Movies.com, critiquing current film releases.

It’s another example of corporate synergy, as Movies.com is owned by Walt Disney Co., which bought the Muppets from Jim Henson Co. last year.

While stars like Fozzie and Miss Piggie continue in projects like ABC telepic “Muppets Wizard of Oz,” supporting players need new outlets to stay in the public mind.

“With the Internet we can reconnect these characters with twenty- and thirtysomethings who grew up with them and are now heavily online, as well as introduce them to new fans,” says David Spingarm, director of creative and biz development for the Muppets Holding Co.

Webisodes will also feature guest appearances by classic and new Muppets in need of a shot of publicity.

Of course, not everyone in Hollywood will be pleased to see the cranky critics’ return.

Now that they’re taking on new releases, the whole biz is fair game, as evidenced by Waldorf’s take on “Bewitched’s” convoluted TV-remake within a movie-remake plot:

“It’s one of those weird instances where art imitates, oh I don’t know … something horrible.”

The Muppet duo, however, didn’t have any bon mots for Disney’s own “Herbie: Fully Loaded,” the week’s other big release.Corporate synergy, indeed.

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