Billy Crystal Boards Henson Co.’s Animated Which Witch?

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Billy Crystal is apparently tired of sharing the animated spotlight with his Monsters, Inc. co-stars and has found a cartoon franchise to call his own. Variety is reporting that Crystal will co-write, co-produce and star in an adaptation of author Eva Ibbotson’s 1979 kid lit classic Which Witch? for The Jim Henson Co.

Crystal will likely play the lead role of a dark wizard named Arriman the Awful, master of smighting and blighting, who seeks a wife from the town of Todcaster’s seven witches by holding a contest to see which can perform the blackest act of magic. A white witch named Belladonna, who secretly loves Arriman but cannot perform black magic, uses an orphan named Terrence Mugg and his pet worm to conjure a dark spell to win the wizard’s heart.

Brian Henson will direct the picture and produce alongside his sister Lisa Henson as well as Samantha Sprecher and Crystal, who co-wrote the picture with Michael Feldman. The City Slickers comedian and frequent Oscar host will be heavily involved with production, which is expected to last at least two years.

“When Brian Henson called me about it, I didn’t know the book,” Crystal said. “But it’s a fantastic story, and I brought in a wonderful writer, Michael Feldman, and we’ve written a terrific and inventive script. I’ll play a character as well, which will be great fun because he actually has two eyes.”

Variety also mentions a slate of revival titles from late founder Jim Henson’s legacy, including movies of Fraggle Rock, Emmet Otter, a sequel to 1982’s The Dark Crystal and, most surprisingly, a sequel to 1986’s Labyrinth. The latter, Jim Henson’s final feature before his death in 1990, was a musical fantasy starring David Bowie that was box office flop but has endured as a cult classic.