Choosing Sides

I’m so confused. Are we supposed to *LIKE* Debbie or should continue to *HATE* Debbie. After all she is one of the people who fired you. Right? This last post sure seems like back peddling.”…comment on July 23, 2017 to my post “The Last Few Days, Part 2”.

I’ve known Debbie McClellan since she joined The Jim Henson Company about a year after Jim’s death. We actually started working together doing publicity events when she became the VP of Corporate Communications and Publicity at Henson. In 2004 with the sale of the classic Muppets to Disney, Debbie transitioned to Disney and we have been working side-by-side ever since. So after knowing someone for 26 years and being comrades in arms for the last 13 years my story was about processing yet another loss. I will never “hate” Debbie, and neither should any of you.

I want to address this comment because with the use of the words “…continue to hate…”, it illustrates our natural tendency to choose sides. Please hear me when I say,

Everyone involved in this situation (including all of you) will benefit from simply choosing to validate and support doing what is best for the Muppets.

Let me try to explain my thinking.

First, lets be clear on what I mean when I say “the Muppets”. No matter who currently owns a particular character franchise of Jim’s original creations, a familiar looking group of puppets moving around on a screen as a shadow of what they are capable of being is not my definition of the Muppets. My experience tells me that it is important to define them not as a collective corporate franchise, but as themselves, the distinctive individuals that they have always been. Creative direction begins with who they are, not with a business deal just to get them seen.

Jim said to me that once a creative direction was in place his experience was that “the money will come”. In other words, devote your mind initially to the vision, and sell it once you have something of value to sell. When it comes to the Muppets, the importance of following that criteria hasn’t changed in my opinion.

Jim was not only the arbiter of the vision, he was the guy selling it, so he was in the position to safeguard the vision as project financing deals were put into place. When I say my goal within Disney has been to ‘integrate Jim’s methodologies with the needs of a huge corporation’, I am saying (and have said ad nauseam) that ‘every Muppet endeavor should first and foremost be viewed through the eyes of the distinctive individuals, the Muppets, themselves’.

Does a given creative direction serve to allow for the Muppets to grow based upon who they are? That filter tells us whether or not what is being proposed is in-character for the individual and for the overall group dynamic.

But, even though that is what I worked to try and achieve with Debbie‘s help, executives are primarily tasked with making deals and preserving business relationships rather than pursuing creative consistency. What has tended to happen is that with money on the table, either everyone would scramble to figure out what to shoot, or a disproportionate part of the creative direction was placed in the hands of well-meaning folks (outside the Muppet team) who had limited or no experience of the characters.

Commonly the earliest stage of involvement for those of us having the most character experience was after commitments were made to business partners, meaning no input at the conceptual stages. Just as was the case with Jim’s core circle, I advocated for a very small team within The Muppets Studio made up of the most experienced people who, alongside the executives, would determine the merit of every proposed Muppet direction before creative control became something to negotiate with business partners.

On numerous projects with numerous executives over the years, I expressed the need for executive support for character integrity if projects were to succeed. In my opinion, while negotiating business partnerships, any executives overseeing The Muppets Studio should have always reserved final creative control over the brand they are charged with protecting. After all, within Disney they are the guardians of that integrity. There’s a whole manual devoted to what you can and cannot do with Mickey Mouse, but from my viewpoint no one stands up for the Muppets if it constrains a deal.

So, what I feel is not hate, it is extreme disappointment that, as the leaders of The Muppets Studio, the key executives were not braver in their convictions in standing up and protecting the Muppets over the many character issues that they were agreeing with me and the other performers on behind the scenes in our last failed project. That left someone like me to do it, or it would never have been done at all.

Bob Iger is quoted as having said, I think it is important for people who are given leadership roles to assume that role immediately.” So during the two years prior to my dismissal with continued assurances that my being made a creative producer was just a formality, that‘s exactly what I did. I think you can imagine how it might feel to be terminated for doing what the executives asked me to do, give notes, something they should have been doing more stringently themselves, in my opinion.

Jim used to watch movies with the audio turned off in order to see how effective the visuals were at conveying the story. He taught me to squint once in a while when watching playbacks of our work in order to get a less detailed overall impression of the composition of things. This was reflected in his general view of life, too. If we step back far enough we will see more and more of the composition of the big picture.

From that larger perspective, none of this is about my job, any alternate puppeteer’s opportunity, Disney’s franchise, the executives, or you, the fans, as separate considerations. If you don’t walk away with any other thought after reading anything I’ve written, please keep this one idea in your mind:

In the big picture, it is not unsupportive of any individual or entity to choose on the side of what is best for the Muppets, themselves, to insure that they have their best chance to go on as a solid, viable ensemble made up of fully intact individuals.

Every problem has a solution. The Muppets that you love and remember are what’s at stake. For them to continue as they have over the last 13 years under Disney’s watch, slowly becoming more shallow as they are stripped of their depth is, for me, “unacceptable business conduct“, and it’s why it’s not time for me to let this go yet. For me, there is only one side to choose, the Muppets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

111 thoughts on “Choosing Sides

  1. You are not Kermit. You are Jim’s successor only in the sense that you took on the character after he died. You have never written or directed for the Muppets, and it has never been your place to dictate the creative direction or business decisions for the franchise. I understand you feel attached to the character, but you are not the character. Kermit and the Muppets are bigger and better than one performer, and I think you should accept that and move on to other things.

    1. You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not Steve and therefore not in the best position to judge what is best for Steve. I think it might be time for you to move on in this regard as well.

      1. When Jim (and Frank Oz) were directing various films, they would welcome the input of the performers. I remember one of the behind the scenes on DC where Jim did not believe the film was just his, but everyone who was involved. It was a creative collaboration. The same as any art form. If a performer is told to do something without the ability to interpret, then the performance becomes stilted.

    2. Well Angelo, you like anybody else have the right to have your opinion. I don`t agree with you, sorry. The Muppets are indeed the most important subject as Steve refered, but i cannot conceive Kermit without Steve. And i won`t accept it and will make my voice heard with Disney. I don`t know your age, but you probably don´t really know the Muppets in their classic style. I`m 43 and i grew up with several world loved animated characters, including the Muppets. And when that happens we are always waiting for the big comeback. When the classic first The Muppet Show ended, it was not because the lack of viewers. By that time the show was a huge success after several seasons and it was loved by fans around the world. You see, the Muppets are puppets, but they where made characters to perform (or be performed) with puppeteers, to act with soul, with charisma. That spirit, that charisma, we the fans love, it´s not in the puppet itself, it`s in the voice, it`s the emotion the puppeteer / performer puts in the acting (voice & movement) with his skills. A great Muppet show is mainly achieved with a great script (like the ones in the classic Muppet shows and movies), and with the great acting skills and charisma of the perfomers like Steve Whitmire did with Kermit.
      Because of that, only my opinion, a simple unconformed Muppets fan, the real Kermit can only exist with Steve`s acting skills, voice & charisma, and that`s why i watched the first and only season of the new Muppet show, beacuse of the perfomers. Because the script itself was not worthy of a Muppets comeback. Disney disapointed a lot of fans. Maybe they shoul listen the puppeteers, and search the real essence of Jim Henson when writing the scripts.
      If you get the chance Angelo, search for the classic Muppet Show series and movies and check what i said. Steve is indeed the essence and soul of Kermit. Without Steve, a great Jim Henson`s successor for Kermit, the character Kermit itself is nothing but only a puppet.

    3. He is Kermit. When you have performed a character as long as Steve performed Kermit, there is no way the character doesn’t become a part of you. It was his place to to know his character, and knowing his character means to know if a creative decision or business decision feels out of character. I watched that show and could see it wasn’t true to the Muppets. I watched until the end in hopes it might find its way. If the fans of The Muppets and the performers are saying the same thing, then why can’t Disney listen to them?

    4. That is the kind of thinking that makes employees hate their job. To the higher ups they are no one important. If you want your employees to love there job make them feel like they matter. If you look at the companys that win best to work for you will find they will value employees input. Besides if you do not become the character you perform, you are not a professional. That is what separates amateurs, from the professionals. You have no experience with preforming obviously.

    5. Another “expert” here I see 🙂
      Yeah, Steve has directed and written for the Muppets. Also, Steve was the best choice to channel Jim’s frog. It’s what Jim wanted.
      As “Jim seeds”, to quote writer Jocelyn Stevenson (I hope I got that right), it is our charge and responsibility to fight for truth in these characters and for the ethos that Jim created. Creativity first, business second. If you re-read Steve’s post here, you will see that to be true and was Jim’s wishes. To do anything less is to sell out and do a disservice to the character sand the fans.
      So based upon my experience, I have to totally disagree, sorry 🙂

      1. I have no idea how I ever became friends with you on Facebook Mike but with every post you put up, you make me glad to have you as a Facebook friend.

    6. Poor child. You don’t understand the Muppets or puppetry which is the same issue with Disney executives. The soul of a Muppet is their performer… they are not interchangeable or soulless like some animated character.

  2. I can’t help but wonder what the other Muppetteers think about all this. Especially Matt Vogel. How much did he know when he was asked to take over as Kermit, I wonder? Did he know that the split with Steve was not amicable? Did he know Steve’s side of the story? That kinda stuff.

    1. He wasn’t “asked” to take over. Many people auditioned for several months and Matt was offered the job after an exhausted secret search.

  3. A well-written post. You are so articulate and clear, which is so rare in everyday life, let alone in business.

  4. You sound wiser than Cantus… if that’s possible. And in the words of Kermit, Steve, you’ve made “Millions of people happy”, and still do, first for me anyway as Wembley, then of course as Bean Bunny, Rizzo, Kermit… and I think at this point that’s all that really matters. I’m angry and resentful, and basically, I know you are too, but at the same time your telling us not to be, that’s your inner Kermit talking, and I’ll try to listen.

  5. Well said, Mr. Whitmire. I hope we can hear more about Jim, how you’re doing now, etc. Please don’t stop posting if you can help it. Thank you for everything!

    Lucy

  6. As a lifelong fan, not knowing the business side of things I could tell that things weren’t the same for the characters. The 2011 Muppet Movie was horrible. I watched the TV show, but many other fans hated it. They have lost something. ANd now even more, a fierce supporter. So sad.

  7. A few years ago, The Henson Company made a series with/for the BBC in the UK called That Puppet Game Show. The puppets were all left-overs from earlier Henson productions and the Puppet Up! shows (from what I’ve seen of them online), and the performers included Muppet veterans Louise Gold and Brian Henson. It was shown – initially – early on a Saturday evening : peak viewing time. It was a genuine attempt to recapture the magic of The Muppet Show, but with new characters not under Disney’s thumb. If you live outside the UK, you’ve probably never heard of it (there are some clips on YouTube) and for good reason : it was awful. Even the BBC gave up on it, and moved it to Sunday afternoon for the last few episodes. The characters had little appeal (even though it was aimed at a family audience, one had a drink problem), and much like The Muppets series that followed a few years later, it concentrated too much on their off-set relationships. (Actually, the more I think about it, the Disney series wasn’t that dissimilar… read into that what you will.) So even The Henson Company got it wrong, with a series created from scratch.
    I think what I’m saying here is, like Steve was trying to get across to Disney, there needs to be a kind of Guardian of the Muppets – someone who determines the right or wrong way for the characters behave. To begin with, that would have been Jim the fellow performers who in effect created their characters, and the core group of regular writers, chiefly Jerry Juhl. In their absence, that role should rightly have gone to those that remained : now in my book, that would be the two longest serving Muppet performers – Dave Goelz and Steve. Instead, people who have had either no involvement for many years, or at all, are claiming to know what is better for the Muppets than those that have been there, through thick and thin, from the very early days. And that’s Disney’s mistake.

  8. Here’s what I’ve been thinking over last few days, since reading this very unfortunate story in the news —

    IMHO, the whole thing is EXACTLY the reason for Disney’s recent failures with Muppets projects. The Muppets always were, first and foremost, a character comedy (with lots of running gags) — and you simply can’t have a character comedy if you keep bending the characters out of character.

    Dear Disney Company, if you keep viewing muppets as ‘simply a bunch of moving toys’ able to be played in any way given any script — unfortunately, that’ll be EXACTLY the reaction it gets from public!

    I mean (even putting nostalgia aside for a moment) why should anybody want to watch Kermit modeled after Tom Haverford, or Eric Cartman, when they can easily flip the channel and watch the real thing instead??

    Everybody loses. Well maybe except for a few temporarily assigned people eager to move up the ladder to better projects.

    There is something Muppets WERE, which kept them going for 30… no wait, they celebrated 30 back in 1986… for 60 years now! Their main strength, out of great many puppet performances, is their ‘thing’, their uniqueness, and that’s the uniqueness of the whole troupe. As Dave Goelz described it in his old interview, ‘you take aspect of your own personality and invent a way to make it loveable’. The puppeteers KNOW.

    Matt Vogel is a wonderful performer, we all know it – we all saw him in action. Nobody ever doubted it. The main thing for everybody here is – IF THEY KEEP FIRING MUPPETEERS FOR STANDING BY THEIR CHARACTERS, how long before muppets end in ‘Beavis and Butthead’ style?

    Without the pleasure of knowing him personally, I honestly think that if Steve Whimire felt safe it would NOT happen he would happily accept his lifelong achievement award and move on to other good things in life.

    Unfortunately for all of us, based on latest series, it looks like somebody has to fight the studio against ‘viewers feeling smugly superior to cringeworthy guys on screen’ approach.

    My deepest respect to Mr Whitmire for standing up for it. As well as my deepest gratitude for that immense feeling of relief back in 1990 ‘thank goodness Kermit is still Kermit’. Do wish I could go on saying that!

    A Muppet Fan since 70s

    1. Incredible! Do you mind if I use this pic for an upcoming article of mine supporting Steve? Obviously I’ll credit you for it, is it alright if I use it?

  9. Steve,
    I have said it before, and I will say it again: you, sir, are a most-worthy person. Your grace, empathy and kindness to others even in adversity is an example to all of us. (Just like Kermit!) This world needs more people like you.
    You will succeed in whatever you choose to do next.
    Thank you for being who you are.

  10. Dear Steve,

    After reading this, I feel so privileged to have the chance to respond.

    I agree strongly with all you have said, especially in safeguarding the vision. It’s vital, to continue to ask for ‘executive support for character integrity if projects’ ARE to succeed.

    Not one of the Muppets is unimportant, for as an ensemble they are family, brought to life by you and your colleagues as their voices, and through the life you give them as the puppeteers. For us, your fans, the Muppets live. This needs to be protected. ALWAYS, stand up for them.

    The big picture is ever changing in these times, but the base remains, the corner stone is still there as left for you by Jim Henson.

    YES…. ‘choose on the side of what is best for the Muppets- themselves -to insure that they have their best chance to go on as a solid, viable ensemble made up of fully intact individuals. ‘

    DO NOT LET GO – CHOOSE THE MUPPETS.

    Bless you, and All You Stand For,

    Anne Terri

  11. Your story reminds me of a documentary I saw years ago on producers and investors meeting to package movie deals at the Cannes Film Festival in France in the 1980s.

    Late producer Menahem Golan had rented a suite in one of the hotels. There was a dry-erase board which he was going to attempt to sell a movie pitch to investors.

    I don’t remember the exact names of the actor and actresses he mentioned in the documentary, so I will improvise the names of the actors and actresses but the scenario was true.

    Golan (at the dry-erase board) wrote down the names of actors, actresses he could hire. Plus possible scenarios. All for the right money.

    It was something like this on his dry erase board:

    Group A Group B
    Chuck Norris Sean Connery
    Farah Fawcett Jacklyn Smith
    Los Angeles Desert location

    He told the investors;
    “We can get Chuck Norris for 1 million or for 2 million we can get Sean Connery. For $700,000 we could get Farah Fawcett or for $500,000 we could get Jacklyn Smith. For $2 million we could have an action adventure in the streets of Los Angeles or for 3 million we can have a desert action adventure.”

    “What I need from you investors is to come up with a combination of A & B (based on the money you want to invest) and we will write a script about it and make the movie.

    This was how Golan’s ‘The Cannon Group’ worked in the 1980.

    Money on the table first, script second, then hire talent that would earn them money.
    There was no pre-planned creativity in their process because no talent was consulted in early stages of development. Just pitch it, produce it and market it.

    I recalled that, and in some ways it reminded me of what you had written on the lack of consulting talent without their creative input.

      1. What I mean, Cannon Group could afford not not care much about single ones — as long as they made more money on hits than lost on flops, it was all dandy for them until 90s. But the actors cared. Directors cared. Sir Sean Connery turned down out-of-character scripts if “he didn’t understand the part” (quite unfortunate for LOTR, huh). On their side, a few flops and people look the other way for entertainment (like oh no not that guy again!). So the creative control was always there, just on the other side of the process.

        Muppets are both sides.

  12. I was thinking about the muppets when I was a kid, when Jim was alive, vs the muppets now with Disney. I think the difference is how the ones in charge viewed the Muppets. Jim was more about the art, creativity, and the vision. While Disney has been more about the money. How much can it make for them,? Is it worth investing in? Watching Jim’s work he was more interested in if it was entertaining, and artistic. Of course, I never met Jim or the Disney executives but it is just something I have seen as a fan in watching their work. I think Disney should let the performers who know the characters have more input, because it might help the projects succeed. For an example: I read somewhere that you fought against making Kermit be behind everything in the 2011 movie Steve, and that helped save that movie, because if I watched that movie and that happened I would have hated it. I don’t know if it’s true or not but if it is, then thank you for not letting something like that happen.

  13. I was devastated when I saw this in my news feed having been a fan since watching ‘A Muppets Christmas Carol’ at the cinema when I was 4. It still hasn’t sunk in yet and I’m angry you were punished for trying to protect something you had dedicated your life to and had it’s best interests at heart. That kind of passion is rarely seen these days with studios doing anything to make money by any means necessary. The latest Muppets project said it all really.

    So with that I’d like to thank you for all the love and attention you have given the Muppets over the years. You will always be my Kermit. All the best and good luck with your future endeavors.

  14. I honestly stumped for a response. What you have said in this post somewhat put me in my place. I’ve been so busy advocating your side of the story that I completely forgot what was the most important aspect of all of this- the integrity of The Muppets.

    I’m not going to cease sticking up for you, but it’s about time to assist in insuring The Muppets remain who they are supposed to be; the quirky, weird, irreverent individuals we’ve all come to know and love. But how can someone as insignificant as me in the bigger picture help to protect Kermit and Co.?

    I have such a small voice in the scheme of things. If those fans who stand for the same cause I do band together, would we be able to make a difference? Would The Muppets Studio listen or would our collective voices just fall on deaf ears like the executives did to you, Steve? So many possibilities, so many questions.

    As always, please keep posting and explaining further. The more I understand, the better equipped I’ll be to do what’s right for the characters and fandom I love so dearly.

  15. I have so much love for you. You’re so beautifully generous and kind, so thoughtful and measured, when many of us fans are so clouded with anger and confusion and hurt and betrayal at Disney and even various individuals within the Company, depending on how intimately we are acquainted with the hierarchy of Disney and The Muppet Studios. But you’re always leading us back to the core, the heart, of the issue, and you’re doing so with such enormous integrity and grace and a sense of justice for yourself, and Kermit, but also for a myriad of other people’s various (and often conflicting) perspectives. I am in such awe of you. I am so sorry that you have had to go through this very painful, very public, ordeal, but thank you so much for your voice and your strength. Sending you hugs. You are a wonder.

  16. Hello Mr. Whitmire

    Like many others who have posted comments, I’ve been a huge Muppet fan all my life since the 1970s and am now in my early 40s. Some of my earliest childhood memories involve playing with Muppet toys, many of which I still have in my Muppet memorabilia collection. We all look up to Jim Henson as an idol and that will certainly never change no matter what is going on with the Muppets regardless if a show is successful or not, or in character or not. When Mr. Henson passed away and you took over Kermit it helped me mourn the loss of my idol, as at least the world still had Kermit. I can’t thank you enough for doing that and for being Kermit all these years. I have nothing but respect for you sir. Disney has treated you terribly and there is no defence of that.

    So with that in mind, I am a bit confused about a few things. Firstly, why did the Henson folks sell the Muppets to Disney the second time if things didn’t go well the first time, especially as they had just purchased the rights back from someone else (Sony I think?)? If the core concern is to maintain control of the characters to keep them true to Henson’s vision then why sell the characters at all? Also, why is there apparently no provisions in the second deal with Disney that defines 1) how the characters are to be presented to maintain Henson’s vision and 2) that the characters are to be associated to a performer for consistency/longevity as it is so critical to the success of the Muppets? It seems such a stipulation would be prudent especially after the experiences with Disney the first time around. And if Disney wouldn’t agree to such a deal, then again, why sell to them? This has boggled my mind considerably for some time.

    Also, over the years were there no opportunities to buy into the Muppets, such as becoming a shareholder, or even getting all the puppeteers together to purchase the Muppets themselves? Maybe performing some projects/movies for a share of the ownership instead of payment? Is that such a thing?

    I agree wholeheartedly that the Muppets need to stay in character and be true to, as Harry Bellefonte once stated, “the warmth that exudes from the Muppets”. As such I only watched the pilot episode of the recent TV series and did not bother with the rest. Watching Kermit make jokes about the band getting high “legally now” or Fozzie telling gay jokes and concluding “not that its wrong, it’s just wrong for me” (a back-handed compliment if ever there was one) is completely unacceptable in this Muppet fans opinion. So I’m confused as to why you went ahead and did the show? Why not refuse to participate before such a thing is recorded and make your stand then? Or why not alert the Henson’s at that point to get them on your side and then everyone could have had a discussion with Disney about the direction of the show before hand? It seems despite the public back and forth between yourself and the Henson’s that you all just want the same thing for the Muppets.

    Lastly, on the topic of staying in character, please don’t tar a feather me for pointing this out, but Jim Henson himself went out of character with Kermit on The Jim Henson Hour in one episode featuring your Bean Bunny. During the scene in question Kermit was discussing ratings and told viewers to come back after the commercial to see “some sex” with “all of it starring Bean Bunny”. I remember this because it shocked the heck out of me when I first saw it. Kermit saying the word “sex” is just a place don’t want to go! No offence! 🙂 Certainly Kermit would not have said that on Sesame Street! As such, my understanding is that Henson himself had wanted to push the envelop to do something more adult with the Muppets back then. I just don’t think Kermit and the Muppets are the right characters to do that with beyond what they got away with on The Muppet Show.

    My last comment is that although it was wrong and unforgivable for Disney to let you go this way, perhaps this is actually a blessing in disguise? Now you are liberated to do your own creative projects and work with a different group of puppeteers as I’m sure there are many of your fans who would want to see you continue to perform no matter what puppet you have at the end of your arm. In the process of creating a new show perhaps you could hire some of your fans and mentor them so that they will become the new puppeteers of the future the way Henson mentored you? Just an idea.

    Thank you for being Kermit and entertaining millions of people all over the world! I am and will always be your fan.

    Sincerely, Mikey Artelle
    Ottawa, ON Canada

  17. When I plunked my money down, I was there to see Jim Henson, or Richard Hunt or Carrol Spinney perform. I was not there to see a person named Kermit, or Scooter, or Oscar. I wanted Frank Oz. I wanted Steve Whitmire.

    While it’s cute the puppeteers hide behind their characters, and the characters give little interviews and have ficticious private lives, puppeteering is a SKILL. Not everyone is Michael Jordon or Elvis.

    Not everyone is Jerry Nelson. I knew that when I was 5 years old. I love Floyd Pepper, but I’ve always, always understood saying that is shorthand for the reality that I love JERRY’S PERFORMANCE of Floyd Pepper.

    The whole “illusion of the puppets being real” frustrates me as a fan sometimes. There needs to be a better balance, of performance and actual behind the scenes material in my opinion. I think we had that when Jim was around.

    I feel you, Steve, proved the Muppet characters can continue, passed from one performer to another. But it should be passed to a strong performer who can perform in the same league as Jim Henson’s core troupe. A master puppeteer.

    For me, it’s not a matter of ,”Steve’s not Kermit”, it’s a matter of, “Kermit is NOT Steve.”

    Steve is the star puppeteer, not Kermit. Kermit is a tool Steve uses in his performance. And I say that totally, totally loving the character of Kermit.

  18. Mr. Whitmire,

    I would love to have you on my podcast, Hidden Mickeys, which is an alternative Disney fancast for adults. I am a journalist, and my cohost, Natalie Palamides, is a voice actor who plays one of the Powerpuff Girls on Comedy Central. She was particularly sad to hear of your troubles, and spoke in our last episode about the troubles that she’s endured in the midst of recasting. We would love to have you on, if you’re interested.

    Just let me know, and all the best.

    Carrie Poppy

  19. Mr. Whitmire,

    I would love to have you on my podcast, Hidden Mickeys, which is an alternative Disney fancast for adults. I am a journalist, and my cohost, Natalie Palamides, is a voice actor who plays one of the Powerpuff Girls on Comedy Central. She was particularly sad to hear of your troubles, and spoke in our last episode about the troubles that she’s endured in the midst of recasting. We would love to have you on, if you’re interested.

    Just let me know, and all the best!

    Carrie Poppy

  20. So what are us fans supposed to do? Do we boycott all things Muppet until Disney gets this right. Or do we support the Muppets even when there characters are at there worst? I mean we are not talking about contract issues or union issues, we are talking about the heart and soul of what the Muppets are and have been for 60+ years. I don’t want to sit by and watch the Muppets lose themselves. So again I ask what do we do???

    1. Pray to higher powers. Sign a petition above. Or both. Support Steve in this difficult time. Support Muppets legacy.

      That is, if you are not Crazy Harry, i mean.

      Nothing, if you are.

      🙂

    2. Boycotting The Muppets is absolutely NOT the answer.

      Supporting The Muppets is first and foremost. Steve may no longer there but many of the other performers that we’ve long loved (as well as writers, directors, technical staff, etc.) are still part of the team. A boycott of the Muppet franchise itself does nothing but hurt those who are still there trying to carry on the traditions of this group we all love so much.

      If you feel like boycotting or putting your money where your conscience is (for all a boycott is when it comes down to it is an individual’s decision to not place their hard earned dollars on places that act in a manner contrary to their personal ethics in place of things that they feel good supporting), maybe you may feel better boycotting anything else Disney related not connected to The Muppets.

      You may also wish to contact executives at Disney to let them know that you’ve made such a decision and why you no longer are comfortable supporting a company with these kind of “values”. Anyone who wishes email addresses and/or phone numbers of top Disney execs can contact me privately for them.

      1. No need to boycott anything. Disney is doing it for us. They fired Steve, Dave could be next, and then the next series they do, “Green is the New Black” will kill it off for sure.

  21. Last week The Walt Disney Company and The Muppet Studios (after probably receiving permission from The Jim Henson Company) did not release their “Muppets Thoughts Of The Week” as intended. Now we could make this out to look like The Walt Disney Company are weaklings who were scared when fans voiced their opinions and are waiting for the drama to die down before releasing the new Kermit video and hoping this time we’ll accept it. This opinion comes from comments I have read online, if this is true and I were The Walt Disney Company to show I was not weak I would release the new Kermit right now online and shut everyone up. I don’t think this is the case, I think instead of continuing to bash The Walt Disney Company for not releasing this week’s Muppets Thoughts Of The Week we should give them the benefit of the doubt. We might consider that the integrity of Kermit is what is of most importance to them and because of that they respect what fans think, they are not scared of the noise we’ve made, they’ve respected it and have at least considered to postpone the release of Kermit’s first new debut, for that I think they deserve credit not hatred. I’m sure the video will be posted eventually but the fact that it has not been posted yet in my opinion is respectful because angered fans are angered followers of Jim Henson and when purchasing The Muppets that was not their intention, I would hope.

    I could have written the above in both ways, one that made The Walt Disney Company look good or bad, had I just posted one version subconsciously I’d be making you think with your brain and not with your heart, this is why I think it is always important to provide both sides, both opinions, all options. This way the reader can decide which one to choose rather than easily accept what they read and not use their time to consider the other options for themselves.

  22. Please look again — I don’t think you will find many posts about “bashing” or “hating” on these pages. People come here to support the talented performer they love for many years, and maybe — personally I’d be grateful for just a bit of a chance! — to explain to the company executives how turning the decision around and giving the Muppet team a chance to voice their concerns would benefit everybody — including the corporate money flow.

    People who come here love and respect and try to preserve the spirit of the Muppets as they were since Jim Henson time. I don’t think you will find many takers for a flame war here.

    A Muppet Fan since 70s

    1. Sorry I wasn’t clear in my above post, when I talk about negativity surrounding this i’m referring throughout the web not on this blog. At the moment this is the only place i’m having my conversation throughout the web as it’s the only place I feel is being productive.

      Trust me I support this blog and the positivity is why I keep coming back

    2. The way I’ve written my post I was also trying to get across how one’s actions can be justified in both positive and negative lights such was the case with poor Steve Whitmire last week.

      1. I hope nobody commenting on this blog take my previous post as meaning let’s not point the finger of blame where it should be pointed. I was just hoping to point out that the previously announced for last week Muppets Thought Of The Week Video did not debut as planned. The new Kermit the Frog did not debut, I think the fact that Steve Whitmire spoke out and has Fans rallied behind me has something to do with it. I was hoping to simply point that out without starting a discussion which could continue in a direction that might anger those who own Kermit the Frog.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcMWXAM_-mk

        I’ll keep it simple next time: Has anybody else realised there was no Muppets Thought Of The Week last week?

  23. Steve,
    It would be interesting to have your wife address what has happened from her perspective on this blog as well.
    Thank you.

  24. Steve,

    I’m curious — as someone who’s been so close to the character for so long, what do you feel are some of Kermit’s most distinctive personality flaws?

    -Yossi

    1. I am not Steve, but if I may, as a fan that was 6 years old in 1978, Kermit is a character that is an extrovert with a huge capacity for love. He deliberately surrounds himself with eccentrics, but he does so because he sees through their wackiness and their flaws to their talent and to their own worthy heart and soul. On a practical level, they drive him absolutely nuts, but deep down Kermit fiercely loves them.

      What’s upsetting is when Kermit is written as self absorbed or self serving. That’s the last thing Jim would want to teach children or reinforce in adults.

  25. I always assumed that speaking up for the integrity of the Muppets was an inherent part of your job description. I expected you to do that–I trusted you to do that–and I would have been disappointed if I believed you hadn’t done it. I never imagined what it could cost you–professionally and personally–to do what I assumed to be an implied duty, and now that I know how high the stakes were for you, I appreciate all the more that you have been willing to take the risk and stand up for what you believe.

    I’m increasingly troubled by the attitude within the fan community that anyone criticizing Disney is just stirring up controversy for its own sake. The assumption seems to be that Disney’s ownership of the Muppets gives them carte blanche to do whatever they want. But while it’s true that Disney has the prerogative to make personnel decisions, etc., they still have an obligation to discharge those duties in a way that is ethical. To refuse to criticize or question Disney in this matter is to tacitly condone not only the indefensible treatment that you have received at their hands, but a pattern of unethical behavior that goes back at least 30 years.

  26. Hey Steve,

    I have a question for you!

    When Kermit was on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, did you make the Muppet Pipe Wrench that Kermit gave Jimmy as a gift?

    I know that Pipe Wrench was for the Legendary Muppet Pipes (in the NBC Studios in New York) that were decorated by Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Juhl and Don Sahlin in 1964 while they were waiting in their dressing room to perform on The Jack Paar Show.

    TRIVIA FACT: The performance Jim did in that Jack Paar appearance was the Muppet Classic “Glow Worm” with Kermit, who was not yet a frog in those days.

    Jesse

  27. All the “Steve is digging his own hole” pro Disney detractors kind of contradict themselves, as few of them as there are online. On one hand, they believe that Whitmire portrayed Kermit as an “angry, bitter, mean spirited character” on the ABC TV show from 2015/2016, but also chide Steve in saying “Steve never had a creative executive producer or writing credit so he’s just essentially a hired hand”… well, how can Mr. Whitmire be blamed for following the writing and Disney executive decisions? This insanity makes no sense. Bottom line, Disney I think knows by now given their postponning of the Doppel-Kermit debut that the majority of Muppet fans *KNOW* Steve Whitmire *IS* Kermit and they are absolutely scrambling to figure out what to do next. In other words, they done messed up and are in a panic how to remedy this. Anyone reading can do even the most basic cursory look over social media, the mainstream/entertainment media, etc and see the majority of people are squarely in Steve’s corner.

  28. Just heard about all this. I am sad. You did a wonderful job all these years. My 16 year old daughter who grew up with Kermit gets a smile on her face whenever I mention his name. From the old Muppet Show videos to the recent movies I show her, she enjoys every minute of it. She has cerebral palsy, non-verbal, and does not walk, but with her eyegaze communication device she can say “I want Kermit!” and watch her much loved muppet! Thank you!

  29. Hey Steve,

    This afternoon, I wrote a heartfelt open letter to the Muppet fandom about the past few weeks. If you have the time to do so, I’d love for you to read it too.
    https://justforthehalibutblog.wordpress.com/2017/07/27/a-muppet-fans-dilemma-an-open-letter-to-my-fandom/

    I’m not expecting any feedback, I’m just glad Muppet Pundit gives me an opportunity to share the letter with you in the first place.

    With much love and appreciation,

    Marni

    1. Thank you, Marni. Your “simple statements,” as you call them, are absolutely perfect. If you haven’t already, I hope you share this on the ToughPigs forum, because they are in desperate need a dose of common sense and compassion over there.

      1. I have to agree with you there. I’m not sure what sort of fans are running the site now. They’re more excited by a Labyrinth colouring book than a Dark Crystal TV series.

        1. Well, I don’t have a problem with the guys running the site itself. I understand their point of view on neutrality, even though I do not agree with it. It’s specifically the people posting on the forum that I have a problem with: the people who say things like “Disney is a business; they have to make money” or who equate the insulting offer of a Disney Legends award with a gold watch given to a retiring employee. Et cetera, et cetera.

        1. Yes I could not agree more, I respect Tough Pigs for having provided Muppet info all these years but just as The Jim Henson Company in a matter of one day they have lost me. I am embarrassed to read their forum at the moment, their lack of compassion and “jokes” concerning the matter is ridiculous.

          Tough Pigs were actually the first to release the info that Steve Whitmire was no longer with The Muppets. They got media attention from around the world and were very excited about it. Since they broke the story I personally began to believe Steve had willingly left The Muppets. Luckily Steve Whitmire speaks out to ease our minds, he is then attacked by The Walt Disney Company and by The Jim Henson Company and Steve in returns stands up for himself. Now Tough Pigs are done covering the story, more like WeakPiglets.Com.

          I could not be more disappointed in the Muppet Fan community than I am with not the people but the comments on that forum. Not productive, not helpful, just childish, not a good look for Muppet Fans.

          In the mean time I for one will keep my concentration here where things are being productive. I’m sure had it not been for this blog Kermit 2 would have already debuted. This blog is louder than we realize, many might not be commenting but i’m quite sure everyone is reading it. The Walt Disney Company is concerned of what Steve might say, this blog is being very carefully monitored, what we write get’s read and heard even if we do not receive a reply.

          For me the fact that The Muppets last film treated The Muppets like idiots for not realizing Kermit had been replaced makes all this even harder to accept, not that I would have accepted it anyway. Make a Muppet Movie, replace Kermit, point out how shallow The Muppets are for accepting this, we all watch the movie, then the real thing happens and most accept it. As long as Kermit stays green I guess…

          I wonder how the Muppet online fan community not standing behind Steve will feel when all Muppets are voiced by Disney Tweens.

      2. I couldn’t agree more with you when you say that those at ToughPigs need a dose of compassion and common sense, Mary Arlene. I tried to knock it into them and they pretty much ignored me and continued their disgusting display of selfishness and ingratitude toward Steve. It’s so frustrating.

      3. By mentioning ToughPigs by name, I seem to have hit a raw nerve here with some people, so I want to clarify something: my issue is specifically with the ToughPigs *FORUM*, where the various users go to express their opinions. I do NOT have a problem with the *main* ToughPigs site itself. I don’t know Joe and Ryan personally, but when I’ve interacted with them through the website, I’ve invariably found them to be polite and professional.

        I have a motto that I try to live by: “if you can’t make things better, try not to make things worse.” I think that, by taking a neutral stance, Joe and Ryan at ToughPigs are making a conscientious effort not to make things worse, and I respect that, even if I disagree with them about the best way to try to make things better.

  30. (You may find the sentence following this a bit of a shock, so sit down and brace yourself!)
    The Muppets are not real… they’re puppets.
    (I’ll give you a moment to recover.)
    They can’t speak for themselves : I don’t mean in the sense that they need someone to provide their voices,; I mean that they can’t give an opinion on whether a script they’re given sucks, or whether guest-appearing on certain shows is right for them. They need somebody to do that for them. As I’ve said elsewhere, once upon a time that would have been Jim Henson, his fellow Muppeteers, and the long-term writers. Nowadays, the writers are people who just go from one job to another and have little investment in the characters they’re writing for. Disney are just happy to make money from the characters, so hawk them out to anyone with a big enough cheque. So that only leaves the puppeteers. And in my opinion, rightly so.
    Dave Goelz has performed Gonzo for the character’s whole existence : he has shaped and evolved the character for over 40 years, so NO-ONE is better qualified to say what is right for Gonzo than he. And likewise, Steve is in the similar position of knowing what is right for Kermit. Sure, he didn’t create the character, but he knew – and was mentored by – his creator, so has a pretty good idea of what Jim would have wanted for Kermit. So in that respect, Steve IS Kermit.
    A few years ago, Andy Serkis was denied an Oscar-nomination for his motion-capture performance of Gollum in the Lord Of The Rings films. You weren’t seeing his face on screen, but it was his facial expressions and his body’s movements you were seeing, so in effect it was Andy you were watching. An acting performance, the same as John Hurt’s in The Storyteller, for example. And the same as Steve as Kermit : it’s an acting performance, physically only using his right arm, but vocally and emotionally from his soul. So in that respect too, Steve IS Kermit.

    1. And it’s the performances by those with a deep investment in the characters they perform that make the Muppets… REAL.

  31. Like many at first,  i wasnt sure if this blog was actually yours, but the eloquence and dignity in each post makes it clear to all it is. When Jim first passed, and I watched Kermits first tremulous steps, heard his quietened voice, it reminded me of when someone you love has had a massive coronary, when their heart has stopped beating for a while, their soul has gone somewhere else, some limbo for a time, and then returned, after the body has been worked on for hours. When you visit somebody like that, they are so fragile, still getting used to being in their own body again, not really feeling comfortable. Their voice is so soft, they are so scared and although they are still themselves they are changed forever. You did that. It was exactly as it should have been. Kermit was Kermit, but changed forever.
    I read most of the posts here and in my opinion what is happening now to Kermit is a little like what happened to E.T. or Aslan .
    Disney may have bought the rights to Kermits image, but they cannot buy the magic. It is not for sale. It doesnt belong to them or you or even Jim. It chooses whom it will to be the magician, the one person it wants to work through to deliver its light to the world. And they have just sacked the magician. It is true that they will trash his image, but without the magic to give him strength, that image will soon weaken and, in a while, become worthless to them. It is then that he will be released from the bonds they have him in and return to you. He will be up for sale. However dispossessed you may feel right now, the time will come when you will repossess each other again, and you must be ready for that time. Forming your own new family with you at the helm and the people who care around you will give him a place to call home. Your own company. As the saying goes show me your company and I will tell you who you are. Choose wisely. And wait.
    At the beginning. I said Kermit was like E.T. and Aslan . They had to appear to lose their life/strength to escape their captors. It’s the same for all the great heros. The Muppets aren’t just entertainers, they are educators, they have set an example to us for years. Too much emphasis is being put on the  entertainment side and that’s how things start becoming shallow, hollow and empty. In the 70s, to own a lunchbox with the Muppets on was special, you treasured it. Now their image is everywhere on things designed to be thrown away, gum wrappers, biscuit packets, etc. It’s become a throwaway industry. Disney don’t promote the dream anymore, they sell junk food. They have no respect for other cultures either as Sesame Street did. Indeed pretty much every one of our Fraggle Rock tapes was lost by Disney and the disappointment voiced by people on amazon reviews is evident. They dont care. The almost total burying of The Christmas Toy since Toy Story came out is also appauling, as The Christmas Toy is a far superior piece of work, just amazing.
    So, to sum up, please don’t just do nothing, go and prepare a place for him.
    Ironically, a tree has to lose every drop of green, look dead and become dormant before it can be moved to a better position in which it can thrive. Then the following year it bursts into life and is totally covered in green again. Keep reminding yourself it’s only temporary. And get to work.

  32. Steve, hace you ever thought about going out and meeting the fans? Maybe at a convention or two? I think it’s be great!

  33. Hi Steve,

    I’m still on the fence over the issue, still trying to percieve every angle of it, and every time I come up with something anti-Disney, people make me feel like I shouldn’t have a negative opinion about Disney. Why does it feel like it’s illegal to state a negative opinion about someone or something these days? Even if you try to be civil about it, people still make you feel like you’ve done something wrong?

    Live long and paws-purr,
    Erin T. Aardvark

    1. beacause to voice one’s concerns always makes that person belong to the minority as has happened to Steve Whitmire and when you speak for the minority the majority speak out instead of the minority. I for one Erin will be glad to hear your opinions and concerns regarding anything even if I respectably don’t agree which I don’t think will be the case as I agree with all your posts so far.

      I believe The Walt Disney Company only care about the money Kermit the Frog can make and not the integrity. Had Steve also shared that view of money before integrity he would not be here today voicing his concerns over Kermit. He would be performing Kermit 2, Kermit 3, Kermit 4, having Kermit say anything that is written just to cash his pay check but no he stood up for Kermit instead.

      Well done Steve Whitmire!

      1. Thank you, Nicholas. Your comment made me feel better about speaking my peace. Though there may be a case where we disagree on something further down the road, I’m glad there are people who can be respectful when disagreeing with something another has said. Instead of saying “OMG, you are so WRONG! Only an idiot would think of something like that!” (or worse, since I don’t swear), why can’t more people say things like, “that’s an interesting way of thinking, however, I have to disagree with it,” and then explain why they disagree with it.

        Live Long, and Paws-Purr,
        Erin T. Aardvark

  34. I especially like the bit about taking a step back and looking at the big picture.

    I wonder if there is a difference of perspective about when to give notes or what notes are appropriate but I am just a fan and in no position to judge. I would never condemn someone for following their creative principles though.

  35. I remember Seeing Debbie at the Kermit Texas Tour Stop. I remember thinking , who is that lady? She was handling business, lol. Everything will work in the end. Thank you Steve for everything you have ever done to keep the Muppets as we all know and love them. I have to say, the ABC Muppets was a stretch with some of the personality changes and updates. Some were good , like uncle deadly. Some were bad like , the way Fozzie was portrayed and how Piggy was so annoying. I miss the good old days when Piggy was part of the group like in MTM. Kermit has always had the weight of the world on his shoulders that will never change, thats what leaders do. Gonzo, well we all love Gonzo in his ever evolving patterns of weirdness lol. Rowlf was great in his Role. Scooter, well of course with the age we are in , his character has changed a bit, making him a lot more like the 30 year old who still lives with mom and has lots of Bros who are his bestie instead of the eager young gopher trying to make it in the business. Anyways , that was way off track from where I started. BUT, I will always watch and support the Muppets as long as they stay true to their spirit. The Muppets are the Muppets, Peoples is Peoples, and Bork Bork Bork….

  36. So it’s looking like for the second week in a row, there’s no new Muppet Thought of the Week…

    …which just goes to show you that Muppet Studios just hasn’t been thinking lately.

    1. “that Muppet Studios just hasn’t been thinking lately” — well, I hope they have. They may be bound by nondisclosure agreements and such, but somehow I don’t see people who (well, hopefully) dreamed of becoming part of Jim Henson’s Muppets saying “Nah, he was just a bother. Let’s move on with whatever”.

      A Muppet Fan since 70s

  37. I appreciate the efforts to bring the Muppets back for a prime-time series. If the characters had remained as they did for the Oscar winning ‘The Muppets’ film, which respectfully updated the franchise for a new audience, keeping the essence of the characters and the generally optimistic and positive vibes any Muppet project should. Bill Prady is an excellent writer and his connection to Jim Henson gives him the credibility to produce an updated form of the Muppets. Sadly, although a great series, the feel was too real, bringing in a sense of realism that doesn’t suit the characters, making them too flawed and cynical but without redemption. When I’m feeling down I turn to the Muppets to bring that sense of positivity and kinship they promote. While not conceived for children, the Muppets were never crude or crass, which is what has been brought into this new version. Maybe this should be a lesson to us all. Cynical Muppets don’t work. The 1st Muppets movie I ever saw on the big screen was Muppets Take Manhatten and it is my favourite Muppet movie to this day (followed by Christmas Carol). The scenes in the cafe with Rizzo and his rat buddies is some of the best puppetry I’ve seen.

    If I ever meet you some day I’d love to ask you about how all that was achieved.

    I have something to say, a favourite line from the movie which I believe you should quote at any executive meeting, whenever there are arguments or any heated discussion.

    The legend that is Pete says: ‘Hey, I tell you what is. Big city, hmm? Live, work, huh? But not city only. Only peoples. Peoples is peoples. No is buildings. Is tomatoes, huh? Is peoples, is dancing, is music, is potatoes. So, peoples is peoples. Okay?’

    1. Here’s what i felt were the three biggest obstacles to “The Muppets”‘ success – and the first two weren’t anything the creative staff could have helped as they were a result of ABC’s decisions:

      (1) The show was greenlit at the 11th hour which robbed the creative powers valuable time needed to establish the tone of the show. The first few episodes in particular definitely needed the scripts to undergo a few more drafts but there was no time.
      (2) The timeslot they were given was a doomed-to-fail one – this should have been paired up with The Goldbergs.

      But the third was solely the fault of Muppet Studios:

      (3) NONE of the writers or producers had prior experience working for The Muppets, save for Bill Prady who was far more involved with Big Bang Theory than his “newborn” which needed his nurturing. One writer had previously worked on Henson’s “Dinosaurs” but that was still a different franchise. One of the Muppet performers finally directed one of the final episodes, but other than that, that was it! They NEEDED creative consultants who truly understood The Muppets guiding them, whether that be people like Steve or frequent collaborators like Kirk Thatcher (to this day, i’m baffled by why he wasn’t part of the show even as a consultant)

  38. This is how I view the Steve/Kermit situation.

    Let’s say that Johnny Depp was sending notes to execs regarding the character of Captain Jack Sparrow. He wanted it to be right, he wanted the character he was portraying to stay true. The execs got a bee in their bonnet and decided to replace Johnny, figuring it doesn’t matter who’s playing the part, as long as Sparrow appears in the movie. The end result would be an unhappy audience, watching a guy (no matter how competent) in pirate costume pretending to be Jack.

  39. Steve, I realize that you are one of the few people who know the characters better than anyone. In an earlier post you mentioned how the performers and the fans interpret the characters differently. Since this is the case, my interpretation of what The Muppets have become is very different from yours. Since 2011, I think the characters have gotten back to their roots. Say what you want about the cancellation of the TV show, but I really enjoyed it, and I tuned in every night. A lot of people complained that Kermit was too rude, but I liked seeing a different side of him. (Plus, it wasn’t that different from some of his sarcasm in the early Muppet Show episodes). While we didn’t see a lot of Kermit’s romance with Denice, I liked what we got. It was interesting to see a different take on the Kermit/Piggy dynamic for once. Now compare this to the 2000’s, which was in my opinion, the worst decade for The Muppets. Hot off the failure of Muppets From Space we had a bunch of TV specials, some with Disney Channel stars, and rumors abounded online of a Muppets movie with a rude vibe similar to Jackass or Crank Yankers. The humor and heart were not the same, and a lot of the jokes made in this era were very much of their time. I’m not bashing what you created at all. I still think a lot of this content like the Christmas specials got a bad rap. It was good, but the characters were not always quite themselves. It started with Scooter in that cage dance, and then we had Gonzo’s nipple joke in the Oz movie. Piggy didn’t even get a whole lot of attention. This obviously isn’t true of everything. I mean, that scene of Piggy in her apartment in AVMMXM was heartbreaking, but overall, the characters felt a bit off sometimes. I don’t see this problem with the 2011 movie, the show, or Muppets Most Wanted (which I absolutely loved). Granted, it’s very sad how the process has become more corporate and less fun and low key, but I suppose that’s the price to keep the characters alive. Anyway, this is just my two cents, and I mean no disrespect in any way. You’ve been giving these characters your all, and it’s obvious that your devotion to them and delivering a quality product has never wavered. Thank you for everything.

  40. That’s a point of view Aaron. I wonder how old are you and if you watched the classic Muppet Show. 2011 and up movies and the only season of the new Muppet Show didn’t get back to the Muppet roots in my opinion. The new Muppet Show was more like a Miss Piggy show live with more “humans” on screen than Muppets. And the script, so far away from the real Muppets essence. I really didn’t like Kermit’s relationship with another female pig Muppet. Kermit’s character always had a crush for Miss Piggy, making us believe in romance and eternal love. I and many fans didn’t like a love triangle ! And it was a surprise that Disney liked and approved a love triangle for Kermit and Miss Piggy ! It was enough a simple Kermit look or comment to another female to make Miss Piggy mad and loose her temper with jealous and would have been so much funnier. That’s Muppets essence. So simple but so touching and appealing to fans and non fans. I could be here for an hour or more telling the flaws of the new Muppet show. Theater should have been the classic style, music and opening theme the same. Minor changes and updates where enough. Well, i still have hope. Disney may continue to erase my & other fans comments about Steve ‘s dismissal and about the Muppets from their facebook pages, but i wont give up. If i express my opinion in a respectful way i demand the same attitude from Disney. But i’m not done yet ! Too much love for the Muppets to just let Steve Whitmire (Kermit) go this way.

  41. OF COURSE there was a lot of good stuff in ABC Muppets — there were actual Muppet performers doing their best on screen, after all! (well, ahem, under circumstances). That counts for a LOT.

    Still, if we stick to the facts, you’d agree that the show could and should be doing better — or it would be still running, right?

    As to what caused the flop, is open to interpretation — Steve’s artistic vision of what Jim Henson would have wanted, or a chosen ways to represent the characters and different mood of the show. Tastes range wildly, of course, to everyone one’s own.

    What matters more here is — where the majority of viewers sympathies are.

    Here I might be not much off saying that most of the potential Muppets viewers are looking for what the Muppets (to them) used to be, i.e. “smart and charming family-style entertainment”, instead of Jackass-style franchises or “sex, drugs and whatever-passes-for-rock’n’roll-these-days” contemporary-vibe adult shows.

    (Nothing against those whatsoever. I suspect though, that on a regular basis, the target audience for this kind of entertainment might prefer seeing it done by cool chicks NOT of Gonzo paramour felt-and-feather puppet variety. Though, of course, tastes range wildly… 🙂 )

    Now, (personal part here) there are lots of fans out there who are firmly on the side of Steve’s vision. We (well, that’s me and most people i know) know what it is for quite a while, and devoutly love it. We actually think it IS the original Jim’s vision, and that conviction is based on 26 years of watching Steve do it.

    “New updated adult-vibe Kermit” (WHY fire Steve if NOT for a drastic change in approach??) is something I don’t feel belongs.

    It ‘might’ increase the show ratings.

    But I severely doubt it.

  42. I’ve repeated these thoughts so many times, but I feel the need to say them all again.

    Those of you who read the open letter I posted here earlier (thank you for that!), know that I have finally found my feet in regards this debacle. I know where I should be standing and it’s right beside Steve and the Muppets, which by extension is also Jim Henson’s legacy. Let’s be honest, we can’t be sure of Disney’s direction for our beloved characters. For all we know, they might actually do the right thing and keep the characters true to themselves.

    HOWEVER, that being said….

    Dismissing Steve was the worst decision The Muppets Studio has made thus far, and these are the same geniuses who decided that joining Lady Gaga for that awful special was a good idea. There have been some wonderful projects like the feature films, but the best Muppet moments have come from either unscripted interviews or projects where the performers were allowed to collaborate. Just look at Kermit’s TED talk, in my opinion, one of Kermit’s best appearances from the past 13 years. Steve and Jim Lewis collaborated to write it and the result was a speech that not only honoured Jim with it’s message to create and inspire, but kept Kermit true to his upbeat, bubbly self.

    If anything, the Muppets are in desperate need of that same level of care and consideration for everything they do moving forward. The characters can still do their shtick and make us laugh, but let’s not allow them to be reduced to their bare minimum. If Kermit becomes a corporate mascot, speak up. If Piggy ceases to be nothing more than a karate-chopping victim of fat jokes, call Disney out on it. If Fozzie is reduced to being a complete idiot (again), don’t let that become an ongoing issue. Don’t be the type of fan that will simply stand by and allow the quality of characterization to drop. Dedicated Muppet fans are a relatively small group in the big picture, so make yourself heard!

    As much as I trust Matt Vogel and the other performers to do the right thing, I can’t extend the same courtesy to The Muppets Studio. Steve could have been a huge asset as a creative producer (along with Dave Goelz if he had wanted the position), so the studio’s decision to not only scrap that idea, but to drop Steve altogether is rather difficult to forgive. From what I gather, a lack of communication was key to this entire debacle.

    It really is a damn shame that no one aside from Steve was willing to talk this through.

  43. Firstly, I apologise if my posts don’t always follow the thread of what is being said. Reading what other people say often triggers thoughts that I’d like to share, and they just get plonked on the end of the current main post. So…
    Consider for a moment your (by which I mean the person reading this) feelings about the (original) animated Muppet Babies.
    As an already long-term Muppet fan by that stage, I never felt that it was really them. I can understand the practical reasons for the series being animated, but I felt disappointed that the Muppets had gone from being the only puppet characters of their kind at that time, to being one more cartoon amongst dozens of others (especially when the puppet versions of the baby characters already existed). But what I couldn’t get my head around was why the original puppeteers weren’t performing their characters voices. It would have been an easier job for them than running around with their arms in the air all day! I would have accepted the series more than I did if Jim and the others had performed the voices, and in a way, I felt that by having different voices, the characters weren’t the “real” Muppets.
    So maybe that’s one way we can approach the subject of the changing voice of a character (although as I’ve written elsewhere, performing a Muppet is more than just doing the voice) : how we reacted to the Muppet Babies new voices.
    But it doesn’t change how badly Disney have treated Steve.

    Also : I don’t know why the people who’ve commissioned past new Muppet series felt the need to come up with contrived and awkward formats. What’s wrong with The New Muppet Show? The old format worked perfectly – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I’d love to see current stars like Chris Hemsworth and Ryan Reynolds cutting loose with Kermit and the gang. Trouble is, with Disney running things, every guest would be a teen “star” from that week’s Disney Channel movie.

  44. ‘Never Say Never Again’ was a Sean Connery 007 movie. He was asked why it was called ‘Never say Never Again’ and he replied that he swore he would “never” make another Bond movie again… and then he did!

    My point being that they might be telling you, you’ll never puppeteer with the Muppets, but down the road it will probably end up actually happening in time. So they should ‘Never Say Never Again.” 🙂

    1. That would probably only happen if someone who seriously had the Muppets best interests at heart and knew that re-hiring Steve was the best thing to do. Unfortunately, Disney never back down and so would never hire someone who held such beliefs purely because it would contradict their decision and make them look stupid. Or rather, stupider than they already look.

      1. I really don’t think re-hiring Steve could hurt Disney’s reputation or make anyone look stupid, however you look at it.

        1. It would make Disney look stupid because they’d be seen to be backing down after the hoo-hah they’ve made over this matter. And Disney never admit they’re wrong even when they are… they can afford the lawyers to prove black is white, up is down, and whatever else they want.

          1. Well… people smooth their differences and make peace over bigger hurdles. No one looks stupid every time Mel Gibson makes a comeback.

            Do you suppose sticking to the alternative will make them look any smarter at all?

  45. I wrote an article supporting Steve for MuppetsHenson.com.

    If interested you can find the full article here…

    http://muppetshenson.blogspot.ca/2017/07/muppets-vs-puppets-by-nicholas-napoli.html

    Muppets vs. Puppets

    Jim Henson is a creative genius, would a creative genius not hope to find a way to leave his thoughts and beliefs behind for the world to continue believing in even after he had passed away? What better way to do this than to leave a forever living puppet that could do just this, provide his message, his voice, his belief for years to come even when he was not around to physically do so himself. This is why having the performer be true to Jim Henson’s beliefs and not any random writing team available at the time is very important, the same goes for all other major Muppets and secondary characters.

    Don’t Be A Puppet, Be A Muppet!

  46. I still find this whole situation very sad, but are greatful for the wonderful performances Steve gave us.

    [URL=http://s133.photobucket.com/user/thompsonlee26/media/IMG_4091_zpsayrgj7lt.jpg.html][IMG]http://i133.photobucket.com/albums/q76/thompsonlee26/IMG_4091_zpsayrgj7lt.jpg[/IMG][/URL]

  47. I’m still feeling sad about the whole situation, but are very grateful for all the amazing performances Steve gave us over the years.

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