- Jun 4, 2011
- Reaction score
@FleeceThroat's full "report."
First let's see where this started. If you're reading this then you're probably already aware of the supposed "blackballing." I can tell you with 100% certainty that the blackballing *was* real. For the rest of this thread I'll be referring to it as "the list." I'd also like to point out (that) there *was* a list. That's no longer the case. If you are on the fence about this, allow me to elaborate.
If you were on the fence about whether it was coincidental that the performers at the 2006 audition were somehow unemployable by Disney, then you won't be after the casting is announced for the upcoming Hollywood Bowl show. As much as it's Matt's inauguration... It'll also be a homecoming for many performers who haven't picked up a Muppet in years. This will be the overwhelming proof it did exist. Unless you think it’s an 11-year conspiracy against Steve. It's not. It's just the right people finally being put in the right positions.
So, what does this have to do with Mafia dinners? It's about control, insecurity and a dash of paranoia. The list didn't exist until it became obvious that Steve could be replaced. This actually started in 2001 with John Kennedy. At the 2001 Muppetfest, John played Kermit alongside Steve who was also playing Kermit. This proved that Kermit wasn't just Steve's. Also, Drew Massey would perform Statler for the pilot and later episodes of "From the Balcony." Steve had already decided this was his. This of course, was followed by the now infamous 2006 Muppet Audition Workshop. Steve wasn't there, but he definitely knew about it. While Steve was contemplating what his next move is, Disney hired many of the '06 auditioners to perform on Disney Cruise lines. These 4 guys would be performing *ALL* of the core Muppet characters. Steve's included. All 4 of them were from the '06 audition.
So while "the list" is starting to be formed at Muppets Studio, what is happening at Sesame Workshop? In 2003 Sesame Workshop decided to replace Steve for the 2nd season of "Play With Me Sesame" with John Tartaglia. So, in a matter of only 2 years. Steve's "brinkmanship" had allowed him to be replaced in both Sesame and the Muppets.
Then '06 happens. Now Steve can ask his friends at the Muppets to not allow anyone who could actually replace him on set. These were Henson Muppeteers... but this isn't a Henson property anymore. So, there would be much less pushback. As this wouldn't fly with Henson Co. execs. But he couldn't get away with this at Sesame Workshop. They don't have Disney's deep pockets & Steve didn't have the same clout there.
So if you can't get rid of them? What's next? It's important to note that MANY of the blacklisted would continue to work with Sesame. So, in a desperate move. When he realizes he CAN'T keep these guys off set. When it dawns on him that he has no control over them... He decides to EXACTLY what Jim Henson would want him to do. If you've read his blog, his moves all revolve around Jim's wishes.
Just kidding, no one can tell you what Jim would've done. But Steve definitely did something Jim wouldn't have done. Steve asked to meet with--at least--three Sesame performers. One of which is mentioned above. He took them to dinner and he very clearly let them know that certain roles were "his." He warned them... DO NOT PARTICIPATE IN UNDERSTUDY WORKSHOPS. A performer told him "to go BLEEP himself." Steve realized he can't control Sesame & and so he grasped even harder to the Muppets. "The List" and the dinner(s) aren't mutually exclusive. This isn't about multi-casting. This isn't about "one puppet, one voice.” They are about a talented man (whose) fragile ego took over. He was on top his world and was willing to do ANYTHING to keep it that way.
Dinner guest #1 is still active with Sesame Workshop and has worked with them for over 17 years.
Dinner guest #2 is a 5 time Emmy nominee. Has been with Sesame since the late 80's & with the Muppets since "Muppets take Manhattan."
Dinner guest #3 has been w/ Sesame since the mid 90's, a Broadway star, with both Tony & Emmy noms. He's created a few shows of his own.