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Old 07-14-17, 05:37 PM   #301
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Re: Disney's Muppet Movie - News, Rumors, Cast, etc

gotta be more to this story... Whitmire is apologetic... maybe drug/alcohol addiction, or wife beating, or something that if/when it comes out would make it impossible for him to remain the voice of such a beloved childrens character.
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Old 07-14-17, 05:45 PM   #302
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Re: Disney's Muppet Movie - News, Rumors, Cast, etc

Maybe....get out in front and try and prevent a Kevin Clash/Elmo type publicity nightmare.

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Old 07-17-17, 03:26 PM   #303
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Re: Disney's Muppet Movie - News, Rumors, Cast, etc

Turning ugly...

Disney Says It Fired Kermit the Frog Actor Over "Unacceptable Business Conduct"
11:14 AM PDT 7/17/2017 by Ryan Parker

Steve Whitmire, who had voiced Kermit the Frog for 27 years before being unceremoniously fired by Disney, says he was let go because he spoke up about changes being made to the character he felt were against what creator Jim Henson would've wanted. The Muppets Studio claims it was about how Whitmire conducted himself in the workplace.

In a Monday interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Whitmire explained that he was let go by Disney last October. He was given two reasons: Unwanted notes during the short-lived Muppets reboot on ABC and a union disagreement. News of his termination has since come to light after months of being told he was going to be "honored for his contributions" to the Muppets and the hope of working out issues with Disney brass.

"The first issue was that they felt I had been 'disrespectful' in being outspoken on character issues with the small group of top creative people during the ABC series," said Whitmire, who had been working with the Muppets since 1978. "I have been outspoken about what’s best for the Muppets since the Muppets came to Disney [2004], but the fact is I have respect for everyone who was involved in the creation of that series for their own particular contributions. At the same time, I also have insight into their limitations with respect to how well they know the Muppets."

Disney and The Muppets Studio have a differing interpretation of the terms of Whitmire's departure, stating that the voice actor exhibited "unacceptable business conduct." A source close to the studio told THR that Whitmire's communication style was "overly hostile and unproductive" and his way of negotiation delayed some productions.

"The role of Kermit the Frog is an iconic one that is beloved by fans and we take our responsibility to protect the integrity of that character very seriously," a spokesperson for The Muppets Studio told THR in a statement. "We raised concerns about Steve's repeated unacceptable business conduct over a period of many years and he consistently failed to address the feedback. The decision to part ways was a difficult one which was made in consultation with the Henson family and has their full support."

Whitmire, who was asked to take over Kermit by Henson's family after the creator's untimely death in 1990, said that an instance of note was over a script for the new ABC series, canceled last year, in which Kermit lied to his nephew, Robin, about his breakup with Miss Piggy.

"I don't think Kermit would lie to him," Whitmire explained. "I think that is Robin came to Kermit he would say 'things happen, people go their separate ways, but that doesn't mean we don't care about you.' Kermit is too compassionate to lie to him to spare his feelings."

He continued, "We have been doing these characters for a long, long time and we know them better than anybody. I thought I was aiding to keep it on track and I think a big reason why the show was canceled (after one season last fall) was because that didn't happen. I am not saying my notes would have saved it, but I think had they listened more to all of the performers, it would have made a really big difference."

The second issue Whitmire says he was given concerning his termination was a union issue.
"The second issue was framed as 'refusing to work on a particular project’ some 15 months earlier," Whitmire explained. "I happened to get caught in the middle of a dispute on a contract classification between SAG-AFTRA and Disney Labor Relations which occurred while I was in-flight to work on the project and the associated commercial. I did in fact shoot the commercial, but was unable to shoot the material for the project in order to comply with my obligations to the guild. Ironically in that situation, my rep had negotiated a special deal with the guild so that we could do the work within the budget parameters for the project."

Whitmire says he is still baffled by the entire situation.

"I am still trying to make sense of how those two issues were egregious enough to justify ending a 39-year career without at least giving me an ultimatum at the time the issue occurred when I would have had a chance to correct my course," he said.

Matt Vogel will take over as Kermit the Frog. His first time as the character will be in a “Muppets Thought of the Week” video this week.

"I’m actually responsible for Matt having become a part of the Disney Muppets," Whitmire said. "The performers are my brothers, my family of choice. That includes Matt, and the hardest part of this is knowing we probably will never work together again. He’s very talented with the Muppets he is already performing and he was chosen by Jerry Nelson prior to his death to carry Jerry’s characters forward."

His range of emotions since being let go have run the gamut, Whitmire told THR.

"The hardest part is that I genuinely like both of the executives who chose this action and that makes this all the more disappointing," he said. "My sadness is over knowing how important it is for the success of the Muppets to have the characters remain consistent and seeing the value of that ignored."

Whitmire, who was among those at the hospital when Henson died, says he plans to move onto new projects. Still, there was a magic to Kermit he will never forget, he said.

"The look he brings into the eyes of anyone of any age who meets him in person," Whitmire said of his love for the character. "I can’t take credit for that, but have been truly honored to keep Jim’s spirit intact."
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Old 07-18-17, 05:56 PM   #304
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Re: Disney's Muppet Movie - News, Rumors, Cast, etc

Now Brian Henson gives his details..

Jim Henson's Son Explains Why Kermit Actor Was Replaced
2:02 PM PDT 7/18/2017 by Ryan Parker

Brian Henson, the chairman of the Jim Henson Company and son of the late legendary Muppets creator, didn't want to get into a war of words with longtime Kermit the Frog actor Steve Whitmire, who was fired after 27 years. "I really don't want to be talking about this, and I think it is very sad that this has become an issue," Henson said.

But, after Whitmire's firing became public and the actor told The Hollywood Reporter that he was replaced for reasons that include being "'disrespectful' in being outspoken on character issues," Henson granted an in-depth interview of his own in order to explain what actually happened from his perspective, even going as far to say that he should've let Whitmire go before selling the company to Disney in 2004.

"I have to say, in hindsight, I feel pretty guilty that I burdened Disney by not having recast Kermit at that point because I knew that it was going to be a real problem," Henson told THR. "And I have always offered that if they wanted to recast Kermit, I was all for it, and I would absolutely help. I am very glad we have done this now. I think the character is better served to remove this destructive energy around it."

In an interview on Monday, Whitmire said he was fired over character notes he gave during the short-lived ABC Muppets reboot and for a union issue. "I have been outspoken about what's best for the Muppets since the Muppets came to Disney, but the fact is I have respect for everyone who was involved in the creation of that series for their own particular contributions," Whitmire said. Disney and The Muppets Studio responded that the decision was not spur of the moment, was based on numerous reasons and that the actor's conduct had been unacceptable for a long period of time.

The conflict between the studio and the puppeteer may have been simmering for years, but it hadn't always been that way. It was Brian Henson, along with his late mother, Jane, who picked Whitmire to take over as Kermit following his father's untimely death in 1990.

"Nobody worked harder than me on making sure Kermit survived my father's death and retained his cathartic personality and presence. So I understand the fans being concerned," Henson said. However, Henson said he had to have numerous talks with Whitmire over the years about his unprofessional conduct, which included "appalling" communications with colleagues.

Despite being a fantastic technical puppeteer and impersonator, Henson said Whitmire made "outrageous demands and often played brinkmanship," which he was warned as far back as the mid-1990s needed to stop. Henson declined to go into specifics about Whitmire's exact demands, but did say, "Steve would use 'I am now Kermit and if you want the Muppets, you better make me happy because the Muppets are Kermit.' And that is really not OK."

Whitmire previously told THR he always handled himself in a respectful manner, even when disagreeing with others on the direction of Kermit. "I didn’t yell, or call anyone names, or refuse to do my job. I just gave lots of definitive notes via emails to this small group about character integrity and always tried to offer alternative solutions," he said Monday.

Henson, who helped train possible replacements for Whitmire, said he has full confidence in newly named Kermit puppeteer Matt Vogel.

"Kermit has, as a character, flattened out over time and has become too square and not as vital as it should have been," Henson explained. "Again, what my dad brought to it — without even thinking because he was accessing his own character that was coming out of his own personality — was a wry intelligence, a little bit of a naughtiness, but Kermit always loved everyone around and also loved a good prank."

The character, as Whitmire had interpreted it, was getting away from what the elder Henson imagined, his son said.

"There was an awful lot of stuff to Kermit where people thought, 'Oh, Kermit is a wholesome, all-American lovely guy,' which was not really what my dad developed," Henson said. "What my dad developed was that Kermit the Frog is a little bit of a prankster, he likes to put an act on stage that will shock you and is kind of weird. But, Kermit the Frog, when push comes to shove, is loyal and believes in the family of friends. Kermit believes you should love and respect the being most different from you because of how different they are."

He added: "So there was a lot of complexities to Kermit that has been kind of falling away, and I do believe Matt Vogel can access that energy really well. And Matt is a very good performer. And I believe that in protecting Kermit going forward, Matt will do a really wonderful job. and I think the fans should not be so scared of change. Steve did Kermit for a very long time — I would say for far too long. And the character was no longer being serviced by Steve performing Kermit."

Over the past few days, social media has been lit up with fans giving their opinion on what Jim Henson would have wanted in this situation. His son, the person best suited to actually address the matter, offered that it is time for a change.

"My dad's No. 1 thing was don't repeat yourself. Innovate. Do something new," Henson said. "He is the guy who canceled The Muppets when it was the No. 1 show in the world after five seasons because he was worried he was going to start repeating himself. The last thing my dad would want is that Kermit just keeps doing the same thing over and over and over and is in the same circumstances and having the same attitude. The character needs to be stretched and maintain his heart."
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Old 07-23-17, 02:09 PM   #305
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Re: Disney's Muppet Movie - News, Rumors, Cast, etc

The Muppets show that rebooted last year and failed miserably is the reason for all this. The project was a woefully misguided creation that changed all the characters drastically and introduced more mature themes. This all sounds to me like the puppeteer was the only voice of dissent. And now the people with the bad ideas are firing the one guy who was right.

Last edited by Mabuse; 07-23-17 at 09:49 PM.
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