Stephanie D'Abruzzo responds about Caroll Spinney

BlakeConor14

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He may not want to retire but he might have to.His voice iso going and his body isn't fit enough to carry the pupper so he might want to continue but he might have to retire because of he just can't do it
He has stated many times that he has no intention of retiring as he loves his job and he can't imagine walking away from Big Bird and Oscar. Nobody at Sesame Workshop is making him continue when he doesn't want to. That's been his choice. He's doing it simply because he enjoys it. Some people just like to keep active. That's entirely their choice. Nobody should force Caroll to retire if he doesn't wish to.

He just does the voices. It's more of a hobby than anything. If you love what you do for a living, you probably wouldn't want to retire either.

Look at June Foray. She was in her late nineties and still did the voices for her characters because she loved it so much. Same as Stan Lee. He says "what's the use in retiring if you love what you do?"

Again it's Caroll's wish to be his characters. Sesame Street is respecting his desires.

Fran Brill retired a few years ago. It's entirely up to the individual. So I completely respect Caroll's decisions. If he feels he still loves to voice Big Bird and Oscar, that's fine. If he doesn't, that's fine too. It's up to him.

Caroll actually has plenty of free time. His wife and him travel a lot. I believe last year he discussed that they went on a European cruise. So it's possible to enjoy time with family while still doing the work that you love.
 

HiHo3892

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He may not want to retire but he might have to.His voice iso going and his body isn't fit enough to carry the pupper so he might want to continue but he might have to retire because of he just can't do it
Again, he isn't doing the physical puppetry. Other performers are doing the puppetry for Big Bird and Oscar and he's just dubbing in the voices. I've already mentioned this. He no longer manuevers the puppets so it's irrelevant to bring up that idea.

He's mostly retired. It doesn't take much to do voices. June Foray was doing it until she was 99 and David Attenborough is 91 and still doing narration work.
 

BlakeConor14

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Yeah but his voice is going so it will be harder for him to dub lines
Again, he isn't doing the physical puppetry. Other performers are doing the puppetry for Big Bird and Oscar and he's just dubbing in the voices. I've already mentioned this. He no longer manuevers the puppets so it's irrelevant to bring up that idea.

He's mostly retired. It doesn't take much to do voices. June Foray was doing it until she was 99 and David Attenborough is 91 and still doing narration work.
 

Bliffenstimmers

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I don't get why HiHo's complaining about it anyway. Not like that's going to do anything in replacing Matt. I understand it is his opinion, and everyone can have an opinion, but my opinion is I think it is an opinion he is taking far too serious.

I honestly think, from the most recent clips I've seen, Matt doesn't sound all that different as Big Bird. He's still got that tired, soft tone of voice that Spinney gave to the bird in his later years. Perhaps it is lacking in the energy Matt used to have while doing Bird in the Journey to Ernie skits, but it's still Big Bird enough.

Also, as many of us know, voice acting is only a third of the puppetry process. There is also the prerequisites of having the ability to stay in character and ad-lib when necessary, and creating convincing body gestures and facial expressions. It's much more difficult with full bodied puppets, because they are not just something you slip on your arm. You have to use your whole body to operate a huge, heavy costume. I applaud Matt for being able to perform a puppet like Big Bird, on top of the dozens of other Muppets he has.

I wonder if they would ever consider giving Big Bird the Gorg treatment, by having his face be radio operated outside while someone else does the body gestures inside. Theoretically, I think that would make it easier for Spinney to do Big Bird. Still, it could pose some problems if used outside the set of Sesame Street. Me saying that isn't going to help anything either, but it's just a thought.
 

HiHo3892

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I don't get why HiHo's complaining about it anyway. Not like that's going to do anything in replacing Matt. I understand it is his opinion, and everyone can have an opinion, but my opinion is I think it is an opinion he is taking far too serious.

I honestly think, from the most recent clips I've seen, Matt doesn't sound all that different as Big Bird. He's still got that tired, soft tone of voice that Spinney gave to the bird in his later years. Perhaps it is lacking in the energy Matt used to have while doing Bird in the Journey to Ernie skits, but it's still Big Bird enough.

Also, as many of us know, voice acting is only a third of the puppetry process. There is also the prerequisites of having the ability to stay in character and ad-lib when necessary, and creating convincing body gestures and facial expressions. It's much more difficult with full bodied puppets, because they are not just something you slip on your arm. You have to use your whole body to operate a huge, heavy costume. I applaud Matt for being able to perform a puppet like Big Bird, on top of the dozens of other Muppets he has.

I wonder if they would ever consider giving Big Bird the Gorg treatment, by having his face be radio operated outside while someone else does the body gestures inside. Theoretically, I think that would make it easier for Spinney to do Big Bird. Still, it could pose some problems if used outside the set of Sesame Street. Me saying that isn't going to help anything either, but it's just a thought.
To me it doesn't feel like the same character. I have no problem with anyone else thinking differently. But to me Matt performance doesn't feel like Big Bird. I actually like the fact that you feel different about this than me, and I'm glad that you feel that he's doing a good job with Big Bird. Although I share a different opinion than you, your opinion about his performance is every bit as justified as mine and I celebrate that you don't have the same problems with him that I do.

However, Big Bird is an important character nonetheless, he's one of the best known children's characters in the world and it's important to preserve that character's consistency and integrity.

I'm not saying there's anything we can do about it. I'm just saying I feel the character would be better served with another performer who is a better fit. Peter Linz has performed Big Bird in the past and I
think he would be a better fit.

No, voice isn't the only aspect. But it's an important one. Did Steve's Kermit sound exactly like Jim's? No. But we bought into the idea that they were the same character. There's a sense of continuity and consistency that I don't feel in Matt's Big Bird. I don't feel like it's the same Big Bird who ran away from the Dodo's, grieved about Mr. Hopper, etc.

Consistency is important. There's shouldn't be a "Matt's Big Bird" or "Caroll's Big Bird." There should just be Big Bird. There aren't multiple versions of the character. That philosophy is problematic. The Big Bird we see now should feel like the same Big Bird we watched 20 years ago. Just as Eric's Grover feels or Stephanie's Prairie Dawn.

You do bring up an interesting point however. The fact that Big Bird isn't using the same technology that the gorgs utilized. It's surprising that they didn't implement this a while Jim was still alive. I would imagine cost would be a huge factor. Also maybe there's a desire to maintain the simplicity, but it's definitely an interesting discussion point. I feel like if Sesame Street began in 2017 Big Bird would likely be using the same type of puppetry used by the gorgs.
 

Bliffenstimmers

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Firstly, I sincerely thought your reply was very well written, and my response now will likely pale in comparison. I tried writing down something at first, but it wound up being too long, so I'll try to make my point brief.

The main thing is, for Sesame Workshop and their goals, the consistency and popularity of Big Bird is really less of a problem in comparison to other things. Sesame's shows are very heavily researched and tested. They know what's important for kids, and what works with them. It can't be helped that kids around the world prefer Bert, Ernie and Elmo over Big Bird. And besides that, Big Bird's really only ever seen in North America. He only makes occasional appearances outside of the US.

I know I forgot to address the issue of Big Bird's characterization in general, but I don't think there's a lot I can say that other people aren't already saying well enough. My final thought: Bird's lived a fantastic life for a 6 year old, for nearly 50 years. I think the bird really does deserve a rest. It's sad, yes, but if that's the way the bird bounces -- not like he can fly, anyway -- so be it. We'll still have great memories to look back upon while the Workshop fulfills its goals to educate the modern child.

PS: I never tried to mean that anyone's opinion was more valid or less valid. Everyone here has made great points, and it's been a great discussion! I usually don't find a lot of worthwhile conversations like these, so thanks to all.
 

Pig'sSaysAdios

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I know I forgot to address the issue of Big Bird's characterization in general, but I don't think there's a lot I can say that other people aren't already saying well enough. My final thought: Bird's lived a fantastic life for a 6 year old, for nearly 50 years. I think the bird really does deserve a rest. It's sad, yes, but if that's the way the bird bounces -- not like he can fly, anyway -- so be it. We'll still have great memories to look back upon while the Workshop fulfills its goals to educate the modern child.
I don't think Big Bird needs to be retired. The problem isn't that he's run his course, the problem is the writers don't seem to know what to do with him. Looking at many recent episodes, he's rather bland, has few lines, and rarely gets a story to himself. But Big Bird is still a popular character, not just with adults, but because older kids can relate to him. He's one of the few characters that not only has a special bond with all the other Muppets, but he can have episodes that none of the other characters can. He's been the center of episodes tackling things like death, racism, and more recently bullying. I think in season 42, the writers really found Big Bird's personality again in a great way. The Good Birds Club and Super Maria, he really felt like the old Big Bird again. His humor, naivety, his curiosity, and extreme desire to be liked were all there in those episodes. And there's still so many potential stories they can do with that. He's one of the most rich and well developed characters in the history of preschool television, and it would be a shame and foolish if they got rid of him. I say if writing for him is so hard, than some of the writers should be fired, not Big Bird.
 

Bliffenstimmers

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I didn't mean "take a rest" as in "get rid of completely," but rather "let the other characters have some fun for a while". Big Bird can still be around as a figurehead. It would be great to see him take on some new challenges or just be the same old bird he was, but unfortunately that isn't in our hands. We only have the power of suggestion and speculation. Sure there were those stories a few seasons ago, but that was a few seasons ago, before the HBO partnership. The staff's changed around a bit because of that, unfortunately. But by the 50th season, I should hope they do some big things with Bird. It would be stupid for him not to be part of another milestone celebration, especially as important as that.
 

D'Snowth

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I'll admit it: as far as the recasts go, one recast I'm not particularly crazy about is Dave Goelz as Waldorf. Like certain other performers (such as Leslie, or even Frank, to an extent), much of his voices sound like variations of the same one, and I feel like his Waldorf sounds like a slightly older Boober. At the same time, I grew up with both his and Jim's Waldorf, so it's not really that big a deal either. Similarly, there's also the matter of Statler: we've had Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt, Jerry again, then Steve Whitmire.
 
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