The latest Hollywood feature to find its inspiration in the vaults of Sid and Marty Krofft, the television producers behind groovy children’s programs like “H. R. Pufnstuf” and “Sigmund and the Sea Monsters,” is taking its source material specifically from their hatrack.
“Lidsville,” the Kroffts’ 1971 series about a magical realm populated by living hats, will become a film for DreamWorks Animation, to be directed by Conrad Vernon, the studio is to announce on Monday.
Mr. Vernon, who worked as a director on the DreamWorks films “Monsters vs. Aliens” and “Shrek 2,” said in a telephone interview that of all the mildly psychedelic Krofft television shows he grew up on, “Lidsville” was the one that just seemed to stick in his head.
“When I talk to a lot of adults about this,” Mr. Vernon said, “they look back and go, ‘Oh, that show was great but it was so weird.’ And that’s what made me want to watch every single day.”
As anyone who still knows the “Lidsville” theme song by heart can tell you, the original series centered on a boy named Mark (played by Butch Patrick of “The Munsters”) who discovers a world of anthropomorphized hats, headpieces and chapeaus. There he befriends characters like Rah-Rah the football helmet and Nursie the nurse’s cap, and is pursued by a green-skinned magician named Horatio J. HooDoo (played with scenery-chewing zest by Charles Nelson Reilly).
Mr. Vernon said that his film will preserve and build upon the pop-absurdist style of its predecessor.
“We’re going to try and keep a lot of characters from the original show,” he said, “even though we might play with the designs and with their backstories, so they fit into a full-length feature.”
The HooDoo character in particular – and his flying top hat, called a Hatamaran – are staying, Mr. Conrad said, though no casting decisions have been made.
In adapting the work of the Kroffts for contemporary viewers, Mr. Vernon said, “You really have to look at the source material and be true to it.” He added, “There is something at the heart of every show they did that captured the audience back then, and that’s something you can’t lose.”
That balance seemed to be missing from “Land of the Lost,” a live-action feature adapted from the Kroffts’ show of the same name. That film, directed by Brad Silberling and released by Universal in 2009, was perceived as a slapstick vehicle for its star, Will Ferrell, and was a major disappointment at the box office, grossing less than $50 million domestically on a budget of $100 million.
Marty Krofft said in a telephone interview that the creative team behind “Lidsville,” as well as its association with DreamWorks, would clearly identify it as a family-oriented film. With “Lidsville,” Mr. Krofft said, there would be “no messing around, going after that audience. We can’t have any confusion, and we won’t have here.”
A release date for “Lidsville” has not been announced, and Mr. Vernon said the visual style of the film was still being worked out.
“That’s the fun of development,” he said, “We haven’t made our rules yet. I can see the mixture of live action and animation possibly happening. I can also see fully animated. You could start the movie in one animated style, and once our main character falls into Lidsville, you can completely redesign the movie to something else.”
Needless to say, “Lidsville” is being planned as a 3-D feature (“All our movies are in 3-D now,” Mr. Vernon said), and the director, who played the Gingerbread Man in the “Shrek” movies, said he’d probably find a way to slip his voice into this one too.
“I’m as self-promoting as the next guy,” Mr. Vernon said.
An earlier version of this post said that Adam Lorenzo would write the screenplay for the “Lidsville” movie. Marty Krofft said on Monday afternoon that Mr. Lorenzo is no longer involved with the film.
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Many of the most colorful and fondly remembered children's series of the 1970s and 1980s sprang from the imaginations of Sid and Marty Krofft. Their groundbreaking, live-action fantasy shows were...Read More
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Barbara Mandrell, Program of the Year, 1981
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Pryor’s Place for Achievement in Children’s Television, 1985
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Lifetime Achievement Award, 1992
It all started when Sid & Marty Krofft's father Peter Krofft, discovered seven-year-old Sid (born July 30, 1929) had puppeteering talent and auditioned him in his own production of “Snow...Read More