High Noon

Actions taken only to benefit oneself without due objectivity will never be what is best for the Muppets, in my opinion. But, if we practice using empathy in giving consideration to how our actions effect the larger reality, though our own personal interests may sometimes be served in the process, the actions we take are for the benefit of as many involved parties as possible.

Rather than speak up for Jim Henson‘s living Muppet legacy, the Muppets themselves, it would have been far easier over the years for me to have taken a passive stance by just doing the job, collecting my check, and going home. That is, in fact, what many have done.

Being detached saves the hard work of having to orient oneself to a big picture view of why things are going poorly right before your eyes, while profiting as much as possible until it all goes away. That, in my opinion, is exploitation without responsibility.

But in the face of recognizing real issues that are life or death for the Muppets, themselves, and how they impact everyone in the long term, I can never be that indifferent. Taking a position of neutrality versus actively working to understand what is endangered is the difference between being self-serving or being all-serving.

In the big picture, the recasting of Kermit, Rizzo, Lips, and all the other established characters I performed is about far more than my job, or opportunities for other puppeteers. It‘s about much more than Disney’s executives or the profitability of a franchise, or even the fans. This is about all of those things collectively, about people having a complete understanding of what’s best for the Muppets, themselves, and why. It’s about what will give the family of characters we all love their best advantage in maintaining the kind of longevity they have managed for the last sixty years by protecting and nurturing them in the most conscientious manner.

After the last few weeks I find myself disillusioned. As I look around at the ‘hard core’ fan sites where I have always believed the Muppet’s most discriminating and discerning fans hang out, I read the gist being ‘Last week was a bad week, but it’s all over now, so let’s forget it all, move on and support the Muppets…’.

What does that mean? What I believe fans need to understand is that to think it is supportive of the Muppets – the individual entities, not the franchise – to be neutral over nonessential recasting is to take no position of support for them at all.

The strength of the ensemble of Muppet Performers at the end of the ABC series was at the highest point I have witnessed in decades. While I believe there is still work to be done to faithfully be on track with certain core characters in the hands of the newer performers, every performer across the board was sharp, competent, and on point despite the dictates of the show.

This newly achieved balance of diversity in performances which has been missing for so many years is now in jeopardy as too many characters are interpreted by too few performers. If rumors are true and characters are being tossed in the air to land on the arms of others just so Matt can be in Kermit, every principle of keeping the Muppets consistent (including Jerry Nelson‘s wishes for his characters) is being thrown out the window by the very people who claim to take the responsibility of protecting the integrity of the characters seriously.

This is precisely the same mentality that we were met with back in 2004. It marks the end of an era, a change that puts to an end what is perhaps the most essential of Jim‘s work methods and ethics, an ongoing singular performer as the soul of each of the Muppets so that the character, in turn, remains an ever evolving individual. What is at stake here is continuity, and once gone it is irreplaceable.

None of you should ever have to even think about this stuff. You should just be able to enjoy watching the Muppets. All this other detail is the responsibility of the Muppet Performers, not yours, but at this point there is no one left who will put everything on the line to stand up for who the Muppets are.

Again, it is not being unsupportive of any single person or entity involved to support doing what is best for the Muppets, themselves. In my second post I posed the question, “Do the Muppets matter?“. Neutrality indicates that for many they don‘t, because it says consistency is not worth defending.

I have in my hands a definitive project that I am certain will turn the Muppets around. It was born in the minds of those who know the Muppets best, and was to be pitched to The Muppets Studio the next time I was in Los Angeles. But, as things presently stand because of my dismissal it will never be produced.

So I challenge The Walt Disney Company to restore the ensemble and give me an unencumbered shot with all the financial backing given to all the others over the years to see if my vision for the Muppets is viable.

It‘s the one course that has never been allowed an opportunity, to try to involve as many of the Jim-era creatives and performers who have been left out over the years in order to recreate the atmosphere in which I was mentored. This would not only serve the Muppets, it would be invaluable to the post-Jim performers. No one has tried a performer led initiative and I am confident I can make a difference.

The worst case scenario is that it does not revitalize the franchise any more than the many initiatives already tried by others, but in my opinion, it would give the Muppets their best chance to remain faithful to who they are. Best case, it is the Muppets again, and we can continue forward to instill the spirit of the legacy in future generations of performers, while giving the fans works that are meaningful to them because they represent the heart of the Muppets. That can only serve the interests of Disney, as well.

And while it could be viewed as a purely self-centered perspective, I think my choosing my replacements is in the best interest of the Muppets, themselves, especially for those characters I originated. So far, I have not met this person (or persons) yet. I always liked to imagine somewhere out there is a 10-year old kid inspired by the Muppets, our paths would cross, and the dream would continue.

113 thoughts on “High Noon

  1. Steve, it really makes me sad that there is nobody left to go to bat for these characters or very few. I had a dream about you last night where we had lunch in NYC near my job, and you were discussing how things with the Muppets were falling apart pretty much all the stuff you’ve been stating in your recent posts .
    I know it’s very frustrating to see something you have worked so hard at that has so much potential be sucked away bit by bit. It’s really sad to me that Disney has let this go. I know Jim was in negotiations to sell to Disney before his passing and I often wonder if he had been alive all this time, would it have gotten to this or would Disney have forced him to step down somewhere too and just be a name?
    I am not sure how I will look at the Muppets going forward after all this. I always tried to support the current projects because you and so many of the folks I’ve grown to love in the roles were involved and I wanted to support you guys as well. Right now I am not sure I can even support Disney as a company right now. I have taken issue with them since they stopped producing 2D animated films. Now this?

    1. What does it mean, Steve? It means that people want to enjoy what’s next with the Muppets, and that you need to stop posting on your blog. After being let go, as well as the other rumors that haven’t been addressed such as you treating understudies terribly and needing your own private jet, this blog isn’t boding well for you.

      I’m a bit of a Muppet purist, but I can definitely see a massive difference between your take on Kermit vs. Jim’s. Termination aside, you’ve provided a very weak version of Kermit The Frog for nearly 30 years. You overplayed his emotions, started giving him duck-face, kept the arms too high, and continually made him look more and more wimpy over time. All of these pale in comparison to the fact that, with the attitude you’ve seemingly had behind the scenes, it just shows that you had no true resilience to give Jim’s creation. No genuine honesty. So don’t pester fans because there isn’t this massive uprising to get you back in with Muppets Studios. You blew it, be a man and own up to your mistakes and move on so others can too. We wish nothing but the best of luck to Matt Vogel, who I hope will instill a bit of backbone into the character that’s been missing for so long. And maybe you can just chill out in Atlanta, and do your little puppetry thing somewhere there, where you can create a new character that’ll most likely sound like Rizzo/Bean/Wembley. Or do your doggy voices, you’re good at that.

        1. Ignore. Just some troll giving his impressions of recent interviews in “best of bantha poodoo” style. 🙂

          Of course, if there is a real person behind these statements, I do apologize. No personal disrespect intended. You are entitled to hold your own opinions, right where they belong.

        1. He’s a real person; he comments frequently on the FB page I clicked through from. Just because someone doesn’t share your opinion or says things you don’t like doesn’t mean they’re fake.

          1. In which case I DO apologize for my comments. Judging by the tone of the post I was sure I was dealing with a troll.

      1. Wow ! Lucas, you where very rude talking about someone like Steve Whitmire. Steve worked with the Muppets in half of Muppets existence ! You certainly are no Muppet purist att all. I think you probably don´t even like the Muppets judging by way the you wrote on this post. Or maybe you are a Muppet fan but are also simply rude. If you have an oppinion about this you may express it without hurting Steve, fans and the Muppets. Even Disney, as i recall, didn´te say that Steve`s job was not good. Jim Henson sons did !
        Most of fans know that when Jim Henson started his work with the creation of Kermit in the fifties i guess, Kermit was in his initial stage and it was “flat” and not so appealing as he turned to be in the next decades. Kermit and other Muppets where perfected in the seventies by Jim Henson and his team.
        Steve Whitmire like many other Muppet performers sarted & learned with Jim Henson and continued his legacy and knowledge after his death.
        So, if Steve was not good with his work do you thing he would have been until now with the Muppets ?
        He was and still is the best Kermit after Jim Henson.
        About Steve`s post, he is absolutely right. Most of Muppet fan webpages are not aware of how all of this will have serious consequences in the Muppets. They all state at some point, well lets see if this calm down. Like if it was possible things fall into place only by doing nothing to correct a huge mistake made after sixty years of Muppets history.
        I will stop for now. I will stand for Steve Whitmire untill something right is done and this huge mess corrected by Disney.
        I think if Jim Henson or Walt Disney where still alive today, nothing like this would happen. Don`t need to say more.
        I have nothing against Disney, but this was a huge mistake. Kermit needs Steve Whitmire back.
        And Steve`s knowledge is important to the Muppets, even if couldn´t be a puppeteer at some point for some reason.
        And as a special note to you Lucas, let`s see if in the next Disney annual meeting of shareholders, this subject will have or not some impact in the Board elections. You never know who you are dealing with.

      2. Why don’t you chill out? There is nothing wrong with Steve’s Kermit. You’re looking forward to what is next from the Muppets? If you were a fan of the Muppets since the Jim area like me, you wouldn’t be looking forward to Disney’ s next butchering of the Muppets. Steve true Muppet fans loved your Kermit, not fakes like this bozo.

      3. You are not a muppet purist. If you are you know the performers names and characters and don’t want them to change performers unless they decide to leave .

      4. Small person starved for attention and willing to be disrespectful, snide, passive aggressive and behave like a hypocrite in order to get that attention. Take your own advice and stop posting on this blog, Lucas. To tell someone to stop sharing their genuine feelings on a site that no one is forced to visit is the mark if a very small, self-absorbed and un-empathic mind. To tell someone who’s shared their thoughts as maturely and peacefully as Steve has to stop tells me you’ve got a serious psychological issue and the internet is the only place you can showcase your awfulness without repercussions.

      5. Hi Lucas… you are waaay rude and out of line. Plus… methinks you are not in any informed or authorized position to tell the artist/puppeteer and and chosen voice for Kermit by THE Jim Henson how to be responsible to his life work.
        What would YOU know? WHO are YOU? Are you a puppeteer? Do you design puppets? Do you work on children’s educational shows? WHO ARE YOU?
        When the muppets attempted to make a “come back” and they forced miss Piggy to rival with a skinnier pig in order to fight over Kermit, they lost an enormous amount of fans because of new writers and Disney has sacrificed the real writing and the real performers. Disney is a monopoly that should not own Henson or Pixar, but the corporate entity does. So we will all suffer for it. It’s all gonna look more and more narrow and about branding…
        No one will EVER enjoy the Muppets like they did when they were first born… Sesame Street has also lost it’s original progressive educational foothold…
        I was lucky to grow up on the muppets and be a nanny to a child i could enjoy them with when i was just out of college… and we know what is integrity and the LOVE.

        You do not need to say “man up” and “you blew it” for any other reason than you are a bully and a troll.

  2. I’m grinning from ear to ear simply from your continuous audacity, Steve!

    If you’ve been reading posts over at the Muppet Central forums, you’ve probably read my own guilty ‘the week is over, let’s move on with our lives’ statements;. I can promise you that my stance has changed drastically and I’m all ears on how to treat the situation. Neutrality is definitely the last thing on my mind.

    More thoughts from me later, it’s 3 am here at the moment.

  3. WAY TO GO!!! This sounds more than fair to me — We already saw what people who do NOT know the Muppets could do, let now see what people who KNOW can.

    IMHO, the choice is really between letting Muppets (finally) join their fans, or having Muppets join the Beatles 😉

  4. Steve,
    From your lips to God’s ears….if Disney was smart, they would accept your challenge. You are on the right side of this and Disney needs to demonstrate that they can listen to a knowledgable, constructive voice. The positive PR they would get out of this would be huge and of enormous value to their brand. Just imagine how widely applauded if they would be if they did the right thing and reversed their decision. It would be unbelievable!!!

  5. What does it mean, Steve? It means that people want to enjoy what’s next with the Muppets, and that you need to stop posting on your blog. After being let go, as well as the other rumors that haven’t been addressed such as you treating understudies terribly and needing your own private jet, this blog isn’t boding well for you.

    I’m a bit of a Muppet purist, but I can definitely see a massive difference between your take on Kermit vs. Jim’s. Termination aside, you’ve provided a very weak version of Kermit The Frog for nearly 30 years. You overplayed his emotions, started giving him duck-face, kept the arms too high, and continually made him look more and more wimpy over time. All of these pale in comparison to the fact that, with the attitude you’ve seemingly had behind the scenes, it just shows that you had no true resilience to give Jim’s creation. No genuine honesty. So don’t pester fans because there isn’t this massive uprising to get you back in with Muppets Studios. You blew it, be a man and own up to your mistakes and move on so others can too. We wish nothing but the best of luck to Matt Vogel, who I hope will instill a bit of backbone into the character that’s been missing for so long. And maybe you can just chill out in Atlanta, and do your little puppetry thing somewhere there, where you can create a new character that’ll most likely sound like Rizzo/Bean/Wembley. Or do your doggy voices, you’re good at that.

    1. Do you feel better now, Luke? Got all that out of your system?

      Steve is a grown man who is at liberty to post whatever the hell he wants. Say what you want about Steve’s performance of Kermit, as everyone has a different creative opinion, but you have absolutely no ground on which to stand when it comes to dictating what Steve should and shouldn’t say in public.

      As far as Steve’s attitude goes, you seem to have only been paying attention to the naysayers and ignoring those who have come out and called Disney on their bull. The only reason why I’m still here supporting Steve is because I have exhausted all the resources available to me and talked to all the insiders I know. Using my best judgement, I’m here and unlike some people, I’m still ready and willing to listen to more info and adjust my stance as appropriate.

    2. Ha ha Luke or Lucas!!!
      Your condescending comment is being laughed at by many readers here.
      Have you looked into creative writing? You would do well in fiction 🙂
      Actually I take that back.
      I just love all these experts who were not on set with Steve but rush to judge.
      By the way, what is your chosen career Luke/Lucas? I would love to hear about your creative successes… Send me links so I can see how much better you are at everything 😂😂😂

      1. Sorry, Mikey, but Lucas is right.

        Also, Jim never trained Steve to do Kermit. Brian asked him to do the character after Jim died.

        Also, you and Steve don’t really understand such characters as well as you think you may do. For example: your complaints about Kermit being too mean or too compassionate to lie hold no water, because Kermit was often mean, jerky, snarky, able to stand up for himself and a liar in the old days, especially on The Muppet Show and even on Sesame Street–and most people came to love him because he had such flaws but still had a heart of gold deep down. And they’ve been trying to bring all that back, but you and Steve seem to refuse to stop interfering.

        The Henson kids are absolutely correct in what they’ve said about Steve, his bad behavior and getting Kermit’s character wrong, so please stop being such a Stevie apologist.

        1. That’s awesome! Now it’s my turn to get attacked by yet another “anonymous” expert post, LOL!

          By the way, it’s Mr. Quinn, not Mikey…. Show some respect!

          Thank you for telling me what to do. That really helps me as I cannot think for myself.

          Where exactly am I interfering? I assisted Jim with Kermit on many occasions for many projects and developed that further with Steve. No evidence of interference. No reprimands from my peers etc.

          Again, for the umpteenth time, I’ve known Steve for 37 years and worked with him on and off that entire time. I’ve never once seen him having “bad behavior” but you obviously know better.

          Finally, go back and read Steve’s post that quote’s Jane stating that Jim wanted Steve to take over Kermit later.

          Clueless trolls, please find new victims to bully. You people break others down, rather than build them up. Again, not understanding the essence of Jim’s Muppets. If you did, you would not have made this post.

          1. A round of applause for Mr. Quinn! I salute you, sir.

            Live long and paws-purr,
            Erin T. Aardvark

          2. I for one would love to see a Jim-era puppeteer led Muppets project. I’d love to see a project that pulls in as many of the old guard as possible.

            I’d also love to see the puppeteers emerge more from behind the Muppets. The performances are about their artistry.

          3. You know something Mr Quinn, you are a proper, CLASS mate 🙂 everyone should have a buddy like you x

        2. Big talk from someone who’s too scared to use their real name. Also Kermit was never mean,yeah he would lose his temper at times, and yeah Yeah he would crack jokes about Miss Piggy like the other characters but it never came off as being mean, it came off as teasing. I never once watched the muppet show and thought of those descriptions for Kermit. I would always think of him as someone who loves his friends even if they drive him crazy.

        3. Another person who this they know the muppets I think the people whi work with the muppets while Jim was alive should know the muppets better than some mystery person

        4. your name is anonymous. you are not believable or accountable for your corrections or “info”
          so… the Henson family owns the biz not the “integrity” and they sold out to Disney which is ok… because it was their father’s dream… more than they were. They don’t have to share it.
          They did sell their father out. But so what?

    3. yeah Luke… you’re a Trump supporter and you wanna defund public television and kill the Muppets.

      What you need to do is get out some paper and some crayons and start imagining a better world… one where it has LOVE in it.

      Steve contributed. He helped us.

      But what are you doing? Why is Schilling for the corporate take over important to you?

  6. Most of us feel we have no control over the situation.

    I personally wish you no ill will and would prefer you stay.

    Get out to conventions, meet some fans. Get the word out, build ground support. Have one on one conversations with us.

    Might I recommend my friends at In Person Productions?

    1. This. I would also venture to say that it’s also symptomatic of the fact that a lot of us feel like we have no control AT ALL over much of anything going on in the world today.

  7. Steve your heart has always been in the right place i can do nothing except pray for your success

    1. Well said, Grant! And me too. Steve and the Hensons will always be in my thoughts and prayers. This is a very uncertain time and people have been hurt. I hope these concerns will be resolved in a way that’s honoring to Jim and the Muppets in general.

  8. Nothing last forever dude, get over it. Or don’t get it over but just don’t go public with not being able to get over it. That is what therapy is for. And stop blaming others, it’s B.S. Stop trying to sound like you got fired because you “care about the muppets so much.” It’s not working.

    1. Fraggle Fan – Rude much? 😂
      It is clear you have not properly read nor understood Steve’s posts and his meanings and intentions.
      Another “Keyboard Coward” afraid to use your real name. You have no credibility, experience or authority in these matters.
      Telling Steve to not post his own truth on his own
      Blog is asinine.
      Calling Steve a liar is innapripriate, disrespectful and wrong.
      This is coming very close to online bullying.
      Nobody forced you to read this, stay or comment.
      Show a little class and move on and worry about your own problems!

      1. Agreed on all points.

        That said, Steve’s getting kinda cringy if you think about it.

        It’s time to move on.

        1. Nobody is forcing you to stay Sam S.
          The rest of us are learning and being supportive.
          So move on 😉

          1. You’re right, but Steve’s breakdown is like a train crash. It’s hard to look away.

            Which is not to say I’m not supportive. I feel bad that he keeps digging himself deeper and deeper. It’s embarrassing. I hope he gets the support he needs.

      2. Really? worry about my own problems? Yet, here you are defending Steve and worrying about HIS problems…
        If he doesn’t quit now, he’ll never work again. Henson, Disney and Sesame Street won’t hire him anymore so who else does puppets? It’s best he stop. He’s just digging himself a deeper hole.

        1. Ahh the old “you’ll never work in this town again” threat! 😀
          If I had a dollar for every time I’d hear that.
          Absolute rubbish!
          Steve is like a brother to me. We are connected in work and in life. I’m sorry you will never know what that feels like.
          If you re-read Steve’s sentence, he didn’t diss Matt. He was referring to other characters being distributed elsewhere so that Matt is free to do Kermit 😀
          Now please stop telling him what to do on his own blog. You are not looking good to anyone.

          1. My point was just, who else does puppets other than the 3 companies I mentioned? Not many… He can do whatever he wants on his own blog but it’s reaching a meltdown point. And if you were really are his friend and cared about his career, you’d tell him to cool it as well…

          2. Fraggle Fan you obviously don’t work in Puppetry, there are plenty out there, of course to someone like it would appear those are the only 3 but that is because you don’t know the industry.

        2. “My point was just, who else does puppets other than the 3 companies I mentioned? Not many… He can do whatever he wants on his own blog but it’s reaching a meltdown point. And if you were really are his friend and cared about his career, you’d tell him to cool it as well…”

          LOL! There are many outlets out there, including new business opportunities, globally. But I suspect Steve knows a lot more about it all than you do.

          You have no right to question my friendship or to tell me what to do.
          There is no meltdown. Only in your mind 🙂

          1. The meltdown is only in my mind? Tell that to the people on FB who you are threatening to block and unfriend due to your blind allegiance to Steve.

          2. “The meltdown is only in my mind? Tell that to the people on FB who you are threatening to block and unfriend due to your blind allegiance to Steve.”

            Sacry!!! Laughing at that threat of blocking me (not had one single threat). 😀
            Please, everyone who can’t cope with me do me a favor and leave my FB page. You are not part of my tribe, LOL!

            I’m done with you and the sad hateful speak. Not worth my time 😉

        3. @Jeremy ward ok mr. Fancy pants, name 3 other major companies that work in puppetry. I’ll wait, while you google.

      3. oh and show a little class? Like how Steve totally dissed Matt V. in this post? How classy was that?

        1. Mikey,

          Sorry little guy, but you did indeed say “deleting and blocking as needed” and this was to your “friends” on Facebook who have had different experiences with Steve than you have had.

          I can’t tell if you’re being loyal, blind or if you’re just a sycophant. Either way it must be lonely in your “tribe” of two.

          A “Friend” of a “Friend” on Facebook”

          1. “I can’t tell if you’re being loyal, blind or if you’re just a sycophant. Either way it must be lonely in your “tribe” of two.”

            So who are you then?
            Too scared to use your real name 😀

            I have only ever spoken the truth of what I have seen. I asked for info and proof. Nobody supplied any.

            Thank you for judging, trolling and bullying.

            With friends like these, who needs enemies eh?

            I’m happy to find out who my friends are and who are not. You are not but I’m hoping you have blocked me. I’d rather have one true loyal friend than thousands of fake friends. With that said, I still have over 4000 in my “tribe” and growing. I build up my friends, teach, encourage and help when it is needed.

            Luckily for the real world, it doesn’t matter what you think of me 😉

    2. You obviously didn’t pay attention to the Fraggles and their message. I don’t how you could be a “Fraggle Fan”

      1. Mr. Quinn, would you like to borrow my giant Troll Hammer? The sound it makes when whacking Internet Trolls on the head with it is quite therapeautic. It’s one thing to have an opinion, it’s another thing to be rude about it.

        Live long and paws-purr,
        Erin T. Aardvark

  9. Some positive points were made in this most recent post. I for one would welcome “Jim-era creatives and performers who have been left out over the years”. Be it a movie or TV special.

    I would love to see a lot of us brought back together, Noel MacNeil, Pam Arciero, Kathy Mullen, Karen Prell, Marty Robinson, Kevin Clash and I, Gabriel Velez.

    We all worked and trained with Jim, Frank, Caroll and Richard Hunt and how we miss those days!
    Here’s a short clip of myself getting some training from Jim. https://youtu.be/K4ZpiL2pTJw

    I have done Muppet Meeting films with Jim & Frank.

    I have shared sweat with Jim, when we would exchange each other’s puppets and your arm is engulfed with the other’s sweat.

    I have had Jim draw for me and explain how camera angles work, and other such instances.
    I recall climbing the stairs of the corporate office at 117 with Jim and us going into his office.
    Jim even saw to it that I was Junior Gorg for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade eons ago.
    I remember calling the Henson office the day Jim died; I was connected to his secretary and we both cried on the phone.

    And how wonderful it was to see Jane Henson laugh at all the silly Muppet schtick!

    I have had two characters on Sesame Street as well.

    Will a “Jim-era creatives and performers” event ever happen? I don’t know, but Sesame Street’s 50th anniversary isn’t far off and it would be a good time to bring in everyone together that we love.

    I wish to explain one other thing if I may, the attempt at understudies in 2006 by Disney. Yes I was there. I was one of those proud persons selected to participate. I was the only person auditioning trained by Jim.

    When we arrived at Disneyworld for our week of training to be understudies, we were greeted by Debbie, Martin Baker, Jane & Heather Henson. And some Disney management people.

    And some Disney puppeteer that was in charge of the Muppeteer training. This, I thought was a very odd choice indeed! I looked around and thought; “Where are Steve, Eric, Bill or Dave?

    Some of those selected for the understudy week were already Muppet puppeteers. All invited were professional puppeteers.

    To make a long story short the week there I met other puppeteers such as I that had great love for the characters and respect for them and wanted to do right by them. I would even say that if Jim had been alive, he would have been most pleased with what he saw. I know Jane was.

    Was it all pristine & perfect? No of course not. It was only a week. But if that understudy group had had proper training by the main performers, it would have been an amazing event!

    And in conclusion, in 2006, 1,000 people auditioned to be part of that understudy workshop and only nine were selected.

    2006 was truly looking for what could have been the best choice for the future of the Muppets if everyone had cooperated as a team.

    Thank you. Peace, success and happiness brother.

    1. Thank you for stating your experience and perspective, Gabe. It feels like there is a lot of anger flowing around this, and it’s nice to see someone being so polite and kind about expressing themselves.

  10. Dear Mr. Steve,
    I support you, and I’m glad to know how you’re doing, so I thank you for continuing to share your thoughts. You’re taking the high road at this difficult time, I give you a lot of credit for that. It’s a real shame that the few here who disagree with you aren’t even decent enough to use some tact in their comments. For the second time I say: Please don’t let them get to you.

    All of us that actually appreciate the heart of the characters, and staying true to them, appreciate all of your points very much. I too, was very let down by certain folks on forums who enjoy the Muppets, but don’t seem to understand as much as I thought they did…about a lot of things, it seems. It’s as if they’ve just gone along with these cynical times, rather than being true to the real spirit of the Muppets. However, I do think your plan is the best chance to let the characters be themselves, and, if the right push it put behind it, there’s a good chance the Muppets will be back in a big way. Until then, I will always cherish the work that you and those before you did. I really hope you continue posting, and best of luck, sir!

  11. I feel that hope and fear often go hand in hand.

    To hope, is to sustain faith that there is the possibility to move beyond that which causes fear. To fear, is to realistically appreciate potential dangers. (Be they to life and limb or, perhaps even more crucially, to honesty, sincerity, and creativity… the death of which, to me, are almost more dire.)

    Why do I say this? Because I feel a great deal of both hope and fear about this situation.

    Hope:

    In an ideal world, my hope would be that everything you’ve said you want can and will come to pass; that wonder, magic, and dreams are still relevant in today’s world; that egos (and we all have them, let’s be honest) can be set aside, and difficulties can be worked through via communication and trust and even – I dare say – love; that the Muppets I grew up loving and as an adult being inspired by like so many others, may perdure for decades to come in a recognizable and substantively sincere, artistically integral form.

    Fear:

    My fear is that in today’s world, those outcomes simply will not come to pass; that the Muppets, like so much else I loved only to see irrevocably changed beyond recognition in the pursuit of profit and marketshare, as I knew them, are truly gone; that in this often misanthropic internet environment, many – perhaps most, whether they say so here or elsewhere or not – will simply write your words off as so much oversentimental straw clutching or sour grapes; that the schadenfreude and “tough love, suck it up” denizens of our world will in fact simply grow weary of your pleas and effectively see you as “the one with problem”; and that the general apathy, short attention spans, and cynicism of our age will brook no appeals to anything so sincere or honest as this, for that has now become anathema to many. (It breaks my heart to say that, but for many, it is true.)

    And (as I split the infinitive) I truly don’t know which of those forces will win out. I want to believe the former will prevail… but time has not been kind to my belief. Precisely because of scenarios just like this one unfolding again and again in so much that I loved. For we are no longer an audience in the eyes of many companies, but mere “content consumers.”

  12. Let me guess? The idea is the Revival of the old format in Muppet Show. Quite honestly this is where a new project should start for recasts, yourself included. Putting the characters back into the context that created them makes the most sense but it’s never been tried. Not until the movies that’s where you’re Kermit really did start to feel like Jim’s for the first time. You’ve been close but it helps a lot. I imagine I would do the same for the others as well. Being able to create different sketches and try new things would be amazing. And like it or not like Richard and Frank with Piggy, Maybe having a character change hands before they land when be a bad idea either. The characters shouldn’t be inherited based on her performers wishes, put on who can best embody and perform the character in a way that entertains people most. The Muppets are a lot of fun, but they’re still a business after all.

  13. July 30, 2017

    Steve,

    It is clear from this latest post, that you have nothing but the best interest for everyone who stands at the heart of the Muppets, especially those who are from the original Post-Jim Muppet era.

    To make your idea come to life, you need those who’s hearts have since hardened, or do not understand all that the Muppets mean to the performers – directly involved with key characters-
    to soften and to be willing to listen to your ideas for the new direction.

    Perhaps there is a 10 year old out there ready to learn under your tutelage, and you can make his dream come true, but not yet; not until you do all you can to remedy what has gone down, and to bring the Muppets into a much needed balance in performance.

    May Disney find a way to allow you and the puppeteers who are with you, bring this next project to life. I Believe the fans who know and love the Muppets, and have been with them since the beginning, will back you fully with their loyalty to the characters and their performers.

    Make This So,
    Love to you, Kermit, Rizzo, Lips and all the rest.
    Anne Terri

  14. Wow! You want complete creative control and you’re the only one who know what’s best for the Muppets?
    Couple this with *your* story about not signing a contract for Muppets 3-D and I think its starting to sound like Disney and the Henson Family were right.

    1. Wow! Right back at you.

      Are you referring to the contract story, when Jim put his hand on Steve’s shoulder and said, “I would NEVER want you to sign a deal you’re not comfortable with”? Yeah, that was 27 years ago and I think perhaps you should re-read that post. Seems as though you missed the point of it completely.

      It would be in the best interest of the Muppets if Steve had some creative control. He doesn’t want them to become just Disney puppets.

      The Hensons? You mean the ones that tied Kermit to a lily pad and threw him into Lake Buena Vista
      without a paddle? No one cares what they think.

  15. i agree with Mr. Quinn when he says:
    “Clueless trolls, please find new victims to bully. You people break others down, rather than build them up. Again, not understanding the essence of Jim’s Muppets. If you did, you would not have made this post.”

  16. Steve could train a class, and when their training is complete, they could all apply to join the Muppets…

  17. Finally, all these Muppet fans who were on the brink of snapping finally went and did it! At least you’re all being true to yourselves and acting like you know next to nothing about Steve and his personal business dealings!

    At least I don’t pretend to know Steve personally, as great as that would be. Everything Mike Quinn has argued so far are the only valid comments to have been posted on this site. If there is anyone following this blog who knows Steve personally and disagrees with Mike, I challenge you to comment under your own name. Prove us wrong.

    1. Just to clarify, when I said, “Everything Mike Quinn has argued so far are the only valid comments to have been posted on this site”, I should probably have said this particular post. Other friends and colleagues of Steve have commented and their comments are just as valid.

  18. So much rudeness and so much bullying in some comments ! If you would like to give your opinion and comment on the dismissal of Steve Whitmire and the situation of the Muppets, at least do it politely, please. Remember that your IP`s are being registered. And there are many people from all over the world reading Steve’s blog. This question has been reported in all countries where the Muppets are known. And please, don`t be picky about the existence of only 3 puppet companies, because there are countless and some well known and awarded around the world & with far more success than the JHC and Disney, where Steve could give is contribution if he wants. Steve just loves the Muppets and he is expressing his desire to preserve Jim Henson`s legacy with the Muppets, as thousands of fans around the world want. So please, show some RESPECT for Steve Whitmire and a lifetime of work with the Muppets, and for all the fans.

  19. Mike Quinn and other fans of The Muppets,

    Mike, you know full well that many of us have had to sign Disney’s *VERY* long and detailed Non Disclosure agreements (NDAs) I can’t use my real name or email address or those “suits” that Steve mentioned in his previous posts will indeed come and get me.

    Steve is a world class puppeteer.
    Steve will arguably be known as the best Kermit.
    Steve’s voice was absolutely needed to help keep “The Muppets” TV show on track.
    Steve is right, the TV show was indeed terrible ( I couldn’t even finish it.)
    His passion on set is undeniable.
    On set, he is 100% a professional.

    That said, he is NOT a “world class” or “professional” business man.

    Should that matter? No
    Is it any of *OUR* business? No

    Did Disney and Henson tell the truth? Yes.

    Why are we talking about it?

    Well, Steve has been bending the truth. He’s riding a fine line between what people “in the know” and the general public can actually–or legally–talk about.

    He says he was fired because of his thoughts and notes. I’m starting to think he believes it.

    He was unfortunately let go because it was difficult to get him on set. Whether it was for the TV show or an appearance (notably the 2016 Thanksgiving Parade) he made it difficult to get the business of the Muppets done.

    He was replaced in 2009 for the same reasons. NO ONE thought this was a good call. It was handled poorly and lucky for the Muppet franchise no one really noticed the “imposter” Kermit.

    And then things got better. A feature, followed by another feature and then a network TV series… and each one was worse than the one before it. This had nothing to do with Steve, but it does point out that Steve was right when he implies that Disney doesn’t get the Muppets.

    Sadly, every one of those productions was also made difficult by Steve’s demands and constraints, but in the end he got what he wanted and the pictures got made.

    These antics did cost him his job at Sesame Street and it eventually cost him his job at Muppet Studios.

    Again, Is this any of *OUR* business? No.

    Why are we talking about it?
    Because this demonization and mob mentality towards:
    A. The many people behind the scenes at Disney who also work hard to keep Jim’s vision in place.
    B. The many performers (who like those rating this blog) are also super fans and have absolutely kept the spirit and soul of Jim’s creations alive everyday with Sesame Street ( and occasionally the Fraggles, and in the future with Dark Crystal prequel.)

    I will miss Steve’s Kermit, but enough is enough.

    Shame on Steve.

    1. I have a question, if he was fired in Oct then why would he be in the thanksgiving parade a month later? I’m just asking because usually when someone is fired that means they are gone from the company and can’t come back for something a month later.

        1. Well if he was called in oct and told he was being replaced how did they think contract nogations for the parade a month latter would work out? I would not care to do it too.

          1. To be clear, there were no negotiations after the Oct. phone call. Major appearances like this are booked well in advance (and their contract terms and fees.) It was when it became obvious that the same behavior from before was starting again, negotiations failed and Steve was let go. It didn’t help his bargaining power that there were very little appearances booked beyond the parade at that time. It was easier for disney to pull the plug. to

      1. Because Steve didn’t work on that. It wasn’t Steve performing the frog in the Parade. If you notice, he didn’t speak and moved a little different too.

        Which also nicely puts to bed “Shame on Steve”‘s Failed contract negotiations being the final straw theory. He was never a part of that.

        So much for his insider knowledge 😀
        And no, often that are in fact not booked well in advance. Sometimes it can be but days. There were no “failed contract negotiations” ha ha!
        Total fantasy 😉

        1. Mike,

          Oh please, I never said Steve was in the parade. Failed contract negotiations mean that no contract was signed and therefore no appearance. You are correct that many appearances are brokered last minute, just have a look at how fast Steve got on the today show. That was not the case for the parade. You are deliberately being obtuse and–like Steve–you’re purposely leaving out the facts that don’t support your narrative. What a shame.

          The real “total fantasy” is the idea that Steve can somehow keep up with this charade.

          His vile emails to the producers (that will show you the side of Steve that is far removed from Jim Henson) will eventually be leaked and when they do, you’ll realize that you’ve been lied to. And there you’ll be… back on that lonely island of two. You’ll look at your friends and co-workers and realize that they told you the truth and you willingly decided NOT to listen to them.

          Enjoy being oblivious,
          You Know Who!

          P.S. You or Steve have now blocked me twice, but it won’t stop someone else from getting the rest of the story out there.

          1. Guess what, as a fan, i don’t care about your story. I will stand for Steve Whitmire and the Muppets no matter what you or Disney, or JHC releases to the public.

          2. Rulz:

            It’s not the truth that needs suppressing, it’s the bile. Clearly your hatred of Steve is personal. But if you look around here, you might notice that support for Steve is not limited to fangirls who think the sun is still shining out of him. There are many here who have gained a pretty clear idea of the “true” picture by honestly considering all sides of the story presented by those parties who have spoken openly under their own names (anonymous cowards spouting threats don’t count). And these people keep coming back in support of Steve not because they want to ignore what they feel is true, but because they believe that whatever mistakes or misjudgements that Steve has made in trying to get his vision across stemmed from sincere motives and can be forgiven. They are here because they respect his immense talent as a performer and are keen to see what he does next. And they feel compassion for a human being who’s struggling through a rough patch.

            In other words, they’re way ahead of you.

            I don’t know what Steve did to make you his enemy, if anything, and frankly it’s irrelevant. You need to let go of the bitterness before it hurts you like you’re trying to hurt Steve. If you can’t forgive, move on and spend your energy focusing on other things.

    2. So let’s see… you can use a Disney NDA as an excuse to have a go at Steve and not reveal your name? Classic! An NDA has nothing to do with you coming on Steve’s blog. That is your choice. And no, I don’t know very well because I guess they trust me enough to not require me to sign NDA’s.

      You are wrong about Steve. You know a lot less than I do post 2009 because you were not there and I was. Your story is inconsistent with what casts and crews have said.

      I don’t know if I’ve personally worked with you before, have heard of you or do not know you at all. But you are going by second and third hand knowledge it seems. Obviously because you’ve not been involved with anything in at least the last 8 years, if ever.

      But nobody forced you to come on here and perpetuate bitterness on Steve’s domain. You are doing this to get back at him.

      Lovely….

      1. The Henson’s have ZERO $$ stake in the Muppets now, everyone knows that so why would Brian and Cheryl come out and say Steve was hard to work with if he wasn’t? Why would Brian say he should have fired him before Henson sold to Disney in 2004? What do they have to gain from lying? Asking for a friend.

        1. Oh dear god give it a rest!
          Like Steve, I’m not going to say anything against Henson. Out of professionalism I won’t be baited.
          Please move on and do something constructive instead of destructive.

          1. I don’t care what those other guys say, I’m trusting your view on this Since you’ve worked with Steve and would know the situation better then anyone and you’re not afraid to post your name. I’m not going to defriend you on Facebook. I respect you Mr. Quinn .

          2. @FraggleFan Nobody has yet presented a sensible theory on what the Hensons had to gain by saying anything in the first place.

            Even granted they had a right to speak, this whole ongoing storm could have turned out far less destructive if they had graciously chosen not to exercise it. Which is unfortunate, but I think holds true absolutely irrespective of whether what they said is true or false or somewhere in between.

        2. Why do others say Steve was not hard to work with? We can’t know the whole picture unless we was there. The reason I believe Steve and not the Hensons is because they have not been as active with the muppets lately maybe there knowledge is second hand. If Brain thought they should have fired him in 2004 I believe he would have

      2. “You know a lot less than I do post 2009 because you were not there and I was”.
        “Obviously because you’ve not been involved with anything in at least the last 8 years, if ever”

        Mike,
        Guess again! My relationship with “The Mouse” started in 1999 and continues to this day. I have nothing to gain with Steve being a Disney employee or not. I was there before him, and it appears that I’ll be here after him.

        “You are doing this to get back at him.”
        What kind of paranoid nonsense is that? I’m just here to get the other side of the story out to the public. I’m not a puppeteer, a puppet builder or designer. So once again, his being employed by Disney doesn’t affect my paycheck, and I sure don’t have anything to get back with him about.

        As far as my stories being ” inconsistent with what casts and crews have said” Well, you’re just wrong. I think you should take an inventory of the people you actually know. The ones that have said that they have had different experiences with Steve. The ones YOU told that you’d be “deleting and blocking as needed.” Take a list of those people and then tell me again that my stories are inconsistent. Call up any of the producers of the ABC show. Go grab a coffee with them, ask them some questions and then get back to me. Thats just the tip of the iceberg.

        Also, how insane are you to think that anyone who is working for some of Disney’s biggest franchises hasn’t signed an NDA? Seriously, take another look your paperwork. Everyone from crafty to the edit bays has signed one. That goes for Star Wars as well as the Muppets. You are above this petty lying.

        1. Like I would trust money hungry producers who care nothing about the integrity of the characters. If they cared they wouldn’t have put out that crappy ABC show.

        2. Shame on Steve, Sorry to disappoint you but I’m not lying and don’t care to play games with you.
          You are mean and bitter and I have no more to say with you.
          I know who my friends and co-workers are and you are neither.

          Calling me a liar now – classy!

        3. Who cares what the producers of the last muppet show says about his behavior. They are the ones that gave us the show that was not the muppets.

  20. Anyone who cares about preserving Mr. Henson’s legacy would keep Steve, and get better scripts.

    1. I agree about the better scripts. I acknowledge that Steve’s input is invaluable. It’s also time to acknowledge that Steve’s input isn’t what cost him the job.

      1. I have read everything you have said and if anyone is bitter or hateful it would be you.

  21. So actually doing something odd and unusual here and talking about issues and questions from the actual post itself…

    Why are the main Muppet web sites so passive? Well, that’s a problem with the Muppet fan community – the main resources/sites are all run/owned by people who have come to be employed in some capacity with Muppets at Disney and/or SW. That tales away a degree of their independence; they can’t be too negative towards Disney. They’re stuck having to be somewhat of a schill in the long run. The fans who access them don’t get any substantial alternative views so the fanbase takes on the same passivity. We really need some main Muppet sites that are truly independent.

    When Muppet fans were wanting to help come to “The Muppets”‘ aid in encouraging ABC to renew rather than drop it, the sites were content to just make such an effort All About Hashtags. Which is a start, but not what a save-a-show campaign can be solely based on. I’ve been involved with many Save Our Show campaigns (and up until “The Muppets” enjoyed a 100% success rate!) Not only do i know what works but at the same time i was doing what i could to pass on valuable info and tips to fellow fans, i was also heavily involved with another SOS campaign for another ABC property that had the benefit of some insiders serving as moles for us and giving us invaluable tips as to what tasks worked vs what didn’t, what was most effective, phone numbers, email addresses, etc. I tried to pass on the same crucial info to those working on Project #RenewTheMuppets – and got pm’d by one of the main Muppet fansite owners saying “Don’t do this! It’s TOO activist! You might (gasp) inconvenience some of these network people!” All reports are that ABC was 50/50 on the decision up to the last minute and i believe the structure of the Muppet fan community with the main sites having too close ties to the corporate owners leading to being too passive is what caused the coin to ultimately flip on the wrong side (Meanwhile, the other ABC property is currently working on securing deals with an online distribution partner and having casting meetings actively looking to bring the show in question back as soon as they can.)

    So hopefully this answers your question a little. I think everyone can pretty much agree they want what’s best for The Muppets and want to support the brand…but there’s many differing opinions about what that means and some people just don’t even give it much thought.

    Take into account though too, that in many ways, it’s a grieving process and some are simply in the overwhelmed state and needing to mentally and emotionally rest up. Different people deal different ways and some work on different timescales.

    As someone who should have died (and was seriously planning on taking my life at different times) many years ago, i recognize that whatever time i do have left is living on “borrowed time”. There’s a part of me that desires to live out my remaining time as stress free as possible but i’m also the type who believes in taking a stand and putting oneself out there for causes, beliefs, and people i believe in. I can’t sit by and be passive. I have to make my calls and send my emails to Disney execs expressing disappointment in how there should have been more efforts made to reach a middle ground and resolve things in a way that doesn’t greatly hurt the brand itself and its followers/fans.

    I can’t just sit and do nothing about a situation i find unacceptable when something/someone is worth fighting for – whether it be resistance to out country steering away from democracy and towards fascism/totalitarianism, trying to save a beloved tv show, or ensuring that those in charge of my lifetime love aren’t throwing out the baby with the bathwater and devaluing those whose council, talents, and insights are needed most.

    Kermit has said this to many others, now it’s time for the same sentiment to be shared with Steve’s the frog’s Close Friend: “I still believe in you”.

    Much of my life views, sense of humor, and personality traits stem from my Muppet fandom – The Muppets have always been about wildly differing people struggling to work and live together. There may be karate chops, there may be explosions, there may be flying fish, there may be heckles, but at the end of the day even though it’s not easy when the chips are down, everyone still has each other’s backs. I must have missed The One Where The Rest of The Muppets Purposely And Maliciously Leave Someone Behind And Leaves Them Forever Left Out Of The Fold. (Well, okay there was “The Muppets” episode where Kristen Chenowith was left stranded in the desert after being thrown off the Electric Mayhem bus…but i’m sure that’s one of those things you and others might have had those Inconvenient Notes About Character Integrity about so we won’t count it. And even then, EM only threw her OFF the bus, they didn’t throw her UNDER it unlike some Muppet/Henson Role Models that come to mind…)

    1. I didn’t know that about the non-independence of the main Muppet fan sites. If true, it would explain the very cautious tone adopted by most of their official news articles on the subject – something that was puzzling me.

      Also – d.w., I don’t have the faintest idea who you are, but I am genuinely glad that you pulled through and survived those dark times in your life that you mentioned. Stay strong, keep posting, and keep campaigning!

    2. One other thought to add to the above –
      As mentioned, the whole thing is very much like a grieving process. Not just for us on the other side but most definitely for you who it directly affects the most personally. Most of us can’t even begin to imagine what you’ve been through mentally and emotionally being severed against your will from your life’s work and true passion. (And honestly from trolls coming on your own blog just to be rude and nasty to former colleagues and friends saying things like “Stop the pity party” – that’s a total lack of compassion/sensitivity given that this was not your choice and you tried to work towards resolution and weren’t given the chance) You’ve no doubt been having to cope with a tremendous loss and grief. But you’ve also been dealing with this all since October. For every one else out here this is a very recent blow. Our collective grieving process will be different than yours since we’re at different stages in the timeline.

      Each individual deals with this loss that’s collectively hit our community differently. Please be patient. The sad thing about this is seeing how such grief unleashes some people’s worst demons – it’s truly sad to see how many people are coping by sniping at others, being absolutely heartless, cruel, petty, lashing out at others, delighting from others’ pain and misfortune…i’d really hope that Muppet fans were overall better than this. I mean, Jim Henson’s kind gentle unique worldview is reflected in all his works and one would think that anyone who was a fan of Muppets would have learned something from the examples we was continually setting. Kicking people when they’re down, eating our own, have we learned nothing?

      But then why be surprised? We’re here at this place because those tasked with looking after the brand have been setting poor un-Muppety examples themselves – that sends the message that all those themes and ethics and perspectives that have been part of The Muppets for decades don’t actually matter. So maybe it’s not so shocking to see Muppet fans dealing with it all by being so “unMuppety”.

      To quote a frog, it’s too bad more people can’t “Be more Tea”.

      I wanted to start to say that maybe instead of focusing all the anger and the pain and the tears on lashing out at each other, it might be best to channel all that in a different direction and DO something with it – use the energy to write letters and emails to Disney – which would also solve some of the problems of that passivity. But that’s not the best answer either because whenever one wishes to elicit change from a company, the last thing you want to do is make your calls or write your letters when you’re angry. You can’t communicate effectively and people who come across as raving loons won’t be taken seriously or make any difference. Such tasks are best done when one is more calm and a bit more focused and clear mentally. So to tie this all back to the initial subject – perhaps it’s good that there’s fair degree of passivity right now as taking action may not be the best thing to do when so many are lashing out in anger. Get past that stage first. Then when you’re fully ready, reach out and take action when you’re truly ready.

      “Food for thought” “Thought from food”

    3. Why are the main Muppet web sites so passive? Well, that’s a problem with the Muppet fan community – the main resources/sites are all run/owned by people who have come to be employed in some capacity with Muppets at Disney and/or SW. That tales away a degree of their independence; they can’t be too negative towards Disney. They’re stuck having to be somewhat of a schill in the long run. The fans who access them don’t get any substantial alternative views so the fanbase takes on the same passivity. We really need some main Muppet sites that are truly independent.

      I agree with your astute observation, and if I may impinge upon your unselfishly offered insight with some shameless self-promotion, I’ve taken the liberty of starting a Muppet blog of my own to try to fill that void: Frog Quixote: Probosculations of a Muppet Heretic.

      I also have a new e-mail address associated with the blog, which is: frogquixote@yahoo.com. May I ask, d.w., would you please send the contact information for Disney execs to that address?

      Steve–I understand that you may not have time to read every Muppet blog that’s out there, but if you have a spare moment, I hope you will give it a look, and if you happen to have any input, I would be honored to receive it. At the very least, I hope that I don’t offend you with my Muppet heresy.

  22. “Shame on Steve” commenter, if you are working with The Walt Disney Company since 1999 and you have signed a NDA, why did you comment about subjects concerning Steve Whitmire`s professional relationship with Disney, bringing that to public in this Blog ? Shouldn`t Disney release a public statement if the Company whishes to inform Steve, Muppet fans, the press and other people ? Are you authorized by The Walt Disney Company to express publicly facts concerning another Disney employee ? I think you may get what you deserve for being so mean.

  23. “As I look around at the ‘hard core’ fan sites where I have always believed the Muppet’s most discriminating and discerning fans hang out, I read the gist being ‘Last week was a bad week, but it’s all over now, so let’s forget it all, move on and support the Muppets…’.”

    “What I believe fans need to understand is that to think it is supportive of the Muppets – the individual entities, not the franchise – to be neutral over nonessential recasting is to take no position of support for them at all.”

    I want to very gently, and respectfully, offer an alternative explanation for what some Muppet fans might be feeling and saying.

    The first week on Muppet Central was a nightmare rollercoaster. Fans were freaking out in every direction. The desperate drive for understanding and clarity was so intense that every scrap of new information was twisted and stretched out of all recognition; at times it seemed to descend into a kind of collective madness. It was painful. The deeper reasons for WHY this was/is such an emotional experience for so many could be a subject for another day… but it’s more than enthusiasm for a certain special brand of puppetry, even though that’s a big part.

    As more days passed and fresh developments slowed, the rush of acute shock and grief gave way to other feelings. Acceptance; resigned disappointment. For some fans, this might have happened because of passiveness or apathy or denial. But all of the intensity of emotions on display in that first week or so cannot possibly be explained away as indifference so soon afterwards.

    Acceptance, as part of the grieving process, is a survival mechanism. It doesn’t require me to stop caring, or to decide that what’s happening is actually OK or never happened at all. All it does is move me on to a place where I can finally let go of the worst emotions and start functioning normally again.

    What looks like fan neutrality in a lot of cases might actually be a sense of powerlessness, or even pragmatism. I wish it were otherwise, but continuing to fret and froth over what happened seems pretty unlikely to bring you back to Disney, or to do much to alter the direction that Disney is taking the Muppets for better or worse. So the fans face a choice: to put themselves through that painful emotional cycle endlessly, or to try and find something to enjoy in whatever comes next. A large number, I’m sure, will never stop agreeing wholeheartedly with everything you’ve said and looking back to brighter Muppet eras with fondness. But I suggest that if their passion for the original, genuine Muppet characters is not expressed outwardly in the ways you expect, it doesn’t necessarily mean that their belief isn’t real.

    Sorry if I’ve said anything out of line. I keep reminding myself that none of this here is my business anyway, but it’s no use; I can’t stop myself from caring. I’m trying not to let it consume my whole mind – for starters I have a day job that requires concentration – but I feel sure there’s a corner of me that will never forget how things used to be better with the Muppets. I know I’m not the only one out here. I hope this gives some insight.

  24. Dear Steve,

    Who am I? Am I a puppeteer? No. Am I in show business? No. Am I an enormous Muppet fan? Not really – certainly not on any appreciable scale. However, I do love many of those characters and I love and appreciate the artistry of the performance.

    Your performance has always been dazzling. In fact, I’d say that despite Brian Henson’s statement that Kermit has flattened out as a character over time, in your hands he’s been more consistent than ever – specifically regarding TV, in person appearances.

    Muppets in such situations are what I personally find most magical to watch – the interaction with each other and a couple of human beings – albeit of the showbiz variety 🙂 In the old days, seeing Jim with Kermit on a kids TV show with a child talking directly to Kermit was always magical but TV appearances can be hit or miss – and I feel you’ve landed more hits than misses – certainly with the selection I’ve seen. Your Kermit and Jim’s Kermit are both the same and different – and that’s a really cool and clever thing.

    The films – I’ve seen The Muppets and Muppets Most Wanted. Once. I wouldn’t go out of my way to watch them again. These haven’t been the best vehicle for the characters I love. And the ABC TV show wasn’t my bag.

    Not being a TV / film production genius, I have no idea why the end results failed to gel with me but I’ll offer a theory.

    Columbo. I loved Columbo. Was a brilliant marriage of character, performance, writing and timing – amongst other things. Ok, there were ups and downs but it was always an entertaining watch. Then, in what, the late 80s/early 90s (??) there were Columbo TV movies. But there was something off about them. Columbo’s coat was too new, bright and without creases. They could have featured any TV detective. They just didn’t feel like Columbo anymore.

    That’s how these last projects have felt to me – despite whatever good intentions and endeavours that went into them, they felt “off” and to my eye, your performance of Kermit has never been a contributory factor in that.

    mark

  25. Hi Steve,

    I think part of the reason we fans are saying “it’s all over now, so let’s forget it all, move on and support the Muppets…” because they don’t want to get further involved with a lot of drama that’s been going on on the forums (and believe me, there HAS been drama!), and are showing that they are open to the change in cast. To me, however, Jim Henson will always be Kermit the Frog. Not that I’m saying your Kermit wasn’t good, Steve, it was very good (there goes my foot in my mouth again. I’m beginning to get a taste for shoe leather. It’s quite delicious once you get used to putting your foot in your mouth so many times). It just took awhile for me to get used to it, that’s all. And I’m sure it took you awhile to get used to it.

    Just my opinion, however (seriously, I feel like I can’t even give my opinion anymore without offending somebody!) I also unfortunately feel that the corporate bigwigs rarely (if ever) listen to what the fans really and truly want. We could complain to them until we’re all blue in the face, and they still won’t give a hoot.

    Live long and paws-purr (and please don’t hate me!)
    Erin T. Aardvark

  26. Sorry if this proves to be overly long and personal posting. The whole thing is very subjective of course — such being the nature of art, but here’s what, in a humble opinion of a pretty much ordinary fan, the things we posted here so far ADD UP to:

    BASED ON WHAT I READ SO FAR, everybody (or pretty much everybody who can write non-abusive posts) AGREES on the following:

    1) Steve is a true artist and a great performer
    2) He is one of the very few (two?) remaining members of Jim Henson’s original team
    3) As of today he actually IS the best Kermit perfomer we have alive (Jim’s Kermit being immortal of course)
    4) He is more than qualified to perform, write and direct for the Muppets
    5) His vision of what Muppets should be is the one shared by MOST of the Muppets viewers
    6) The “updated format” and changes to ABC Muppets characters did not work, though no fault of his
    7) His inputs (“notes” if you will) actually helped rather than hindered the production of ABC Muppets
    8) His stance to avoid character recasting whenever possible is in line with original approach by Jim Henson for the Muppet team.
    9) In his interviews or this blog he NEVER said anything abusive towards Disney, Hensons or his colleagues, past and present. (If in doubt, direct quotes, please?).
    10) He is supported here by actual teammates, people who knew him personally, and the known members of Muppet community — who are not shy of using real names and the force of credibility they carry.
    11) Most of the other posters here are Muppet fans which watched Muppets from Jim Henson era (on air or in reruns) to the latest releases.
    12) The overwhelming majority of the people posting here bring NEITHER ill feelings NOR verbal abuse to: other Muppet performers or staff, Disney, Henson company or family — though many of us cannot help feeling saddened and hurt by recent developments.

    13) On the other side, there are posts here from people who:

    A) Never use real names
    B) Claim to have no stake in the situation, or personal grudge against Steve, but for some reason spend quite a LOT of time and effort posting adverse messages on Steve’s personal blog
    C) Their interest seems to be in +) making sure that Steve does not return to Muppets and ++) that he stops posting in his blog
    D) None of them claims to know Steve on personal basis or be a member of the Muppet team (though, to be fair, there is a person who claims to be a Disney employee unrelated to Muppets)
    E) Most of the comments they make seem to be based on hearsay, or their own highly fictionalized interpretation of the available public information on the subject
    F) They use emotionally charged language to ASCRIBE to Steve things he NEVER MEANT: “Steve totally dissed Matt V.”, “demonization and mob mentality towards Disney”, “treating understudies terribly”, “Steve wants is to not trust Disney”, “throwing coworkers under the bus” (lots of other quotes)… NONE OF THESE ARE TRUE from point of view of any verifiable information — you are welcome to double-check the posts.

    14) ALL IN ALL, MOST VIEWERS WOULD VERY MUCH LOVE STEVE TO CONTINUE AS KERMIT, and have his say on Muppets integrity.

    Finally, the last but unfortunately not least:

    15) Steve DOES have a disagreement with the studio which cost him his life-time job and his calling.
    Whenever any details are disclosed officially, the problem is described as being of business nature related to contract signing.

    ON THAT: Delay? Renumeration? Difference of opinion? Who knows. The nature of business is negotiation, that’s the whole point of why contracts require signing. On the other hand, great artists may be lousy businessmen, or negotiators, etc etc etc — There are always tons of different things to factor in.

    BUT STILL, there might be a way to resolve any business issues by negotiation? People usually do find a way to smooth things out. Apologies to bring, amends to make, changes to effect, even projects to execute – like the one Steve talks about here? (Granted everything would be in much better shape with him proposing this a couple of years back, but still).

    I BET there are LOTS of people around the world STILL holding their breath right now hoping there is a chance this could happen.

    Thank You!

    1. Sir/Ma’am, I applaud you. Wonderfully put! Everyone is entitled to their opinion, to be sure. There is just a difference as disagreeing with someone, and being rude/mean about it.

      Live long and paws-purr,
      Erin T. Aardvark

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