While making "The Muppets' Wizard of Oz," Ashanti faced her share of difficulties in having to act alongside a cast of sewn-together co-stars, but it was actually one of her cloth castmates who had serious reservations about the project.
"At first I asked myself, 'Why remake a classic?' " Miss Piggy said recently. "But then I thought, 'I'm in it!' That's reason enough to remake anything, don't you think?" (Click for photos from "The Muppets' Wizard of Oz.")
With four parts — the Wicked Witch of the East, the Wicked Witch of the West, the Good Witch of the North and the Good Witch of the South — Miss Piggy is already wagering on as many Emmy nods. Her favorite scene was one where she rocks out in leather, something she feels was very enticing to the green object of her affection.
"What I said the other day is that it matches her chin," said Kermit the Frog, who takes on the brain-seeking Scarecrow role. "She's the ultimate sorceress, or maybe I should say sowceress. I could go on with pig jokes all day."
The pig, known for her volatile temper, was by all accounts calm during the filming of the movie, but cameo guest star Quentin Tarantino was so inspired that he's considering her for a role in one of his films.
"I'm telling you, I would be down with doing a new version of 'Kill Bill' with Miss Piggy," he said. "I just see her in the Uma Thurman yellow track suit — at the very least that should be a picture on the calendar." We all know she has that 'hiya' sound down for the fight scenes.
Kermit probably wishes he could have a comfy track suit as his costume. "Every morning I come in to work about 4:30 and I get into this whole prosthetic makeup," he said pointing to the materials used to cover his felty skin. "See, this stuff is burlap, it's green burlap, and every morning I come in and they coat my face with liquid latex and spirit gum and they just stick this stuff all over my skin. I'm getting pimples, but you know it's suffering for my art."
Gonzo's "Tin Thing" costume was a bit easier to manage. "There's not really any makeup, just a light buffing and I'm ready to shoot," he said.
Other characters include Fozzie Bear playing Cowardly Lion and Pepe the Prawn playing Dorothy's loquacious pet, Toto. The human cast includes Queen Latifah as Auntie Em, David Alan Grier as Uncle Henry and Jeffrey Tambor as the Wizard.
In this updated "Oz," Ashanti's Dorothy character leaves home not because of a tornado, but to escape her Kansas trailer park in search of stardom.
For the Grammy-winning R&B songstress, the singing and acting weren't the hard part. "Working with the Muppets, you just have to be cautious because there's a lot of grown men at the bottom of your feet," she said with a laugh. "It's a lot of different angles and a lot of work goes into making these puppets just seem real, so I give them credit."
The movie airs Friday at 8 p.m. on ABC and will be released on DVD August 9. The soundtrack, which features Ashanti singing "Gotta Get Out of Kansas" and "It's a Good Life," is in stores now.