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Steve Whitmire has left the Muppets, Matt Vogel to continue as Kermit

Mo Frackle

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A member of the ToughPigs forum wrote a comment that I wanted to share.

From somebody who has a little tiny bit of experience in the TV and film world, I've met plenty of Steves and plenty of the types that are uniting against him here. Steve was and is clearly very outspoken and assured of his understanding of The Muppets. And he's clearly very talented and stubborn. Those kinds of people can last a while in Hollywood but they don't mesh well at all with the power structures. Once somebody is in charge they often take criticism very personally. Just forget it if they're being criticized by someone working for them. It's not done. Hollywood tradition is to shut up and do what you're told until it's your turn to be in charge. I feel tremendously for Steve and want him back but the more I learn the more I am surprised that he lasted at Disney as long as he did. Just speaking from a cynical realist's point of view.

Not to say that I am confident he's a hero standing up against the Mousehive of Scum and Profiteering. It seems like a lot of human feelings and stubbornness on all sides has led to a lot of pain. I think some of the talk has gotten out of hand but I totally understand why people need to express their frustration and sadness. It's a hard and pivotal moment for Muppet fandom.
 

Muppy

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Someone better be writing a tell-all book as we speak because this is so interesting.

Now for my analysis of the situation. This is how I see it, and all opinion.

I think the main reason why the Henson kids have been quiet until now is because it's kind of poor taste to openly diss someone who works for you and that you have given the opportunity to puppeteer your biggest character. Now that he doesn't work for either company, it's fair game, and I'm eating it all up.

Maybe at one point, Steve was thought to be a good "replacement" for Jim, so that is why Brian offered the position to him. I would think the other Henson siblings would have been consulted as well, but maybe Brian had the ultimate decision in the end (this would give reason to Cheryl's FB post).

Obviously somewhere as time went on, Steve began feeling entitled. He didn't feel like the characters were being handled correctly so he started sending notes etc.

Let me tell you that if you start sending notes to your boss about how to run things, no matter how long you've been working for said company, you WILL be fired. If Steve didn't like how things were going for the Muppets (which he openly says he didn't) then he should have left long ago.

His line in the recent Inside Edition video really irks me. "I am Kermit, and Kermit is me."

Why did he think that was a good thing to say. I'm sorry Steve, but you are not, were not, and will not "be" Kermit. Kermit was Jim, and Jim only. Anyone else is just the current embodiment of the character while performing. Nothing more, nothing less. Steve was given the great opportunity to puppeteer Kermit, that doesn't make him sole owner of the character.

I find it so interesting that 3/4 surviving Henson kids all have such strong opinions against Steve. This means that Steve's alleged behavior has been going on for over 20 years if the kids had on hand experience witnessing Steve's work behavior.

The more I read about this situation, the more interested I am to know what Steve has possibly prevented from happening, and if he has caused any more drama for the Muppet Studios. I don't like that so many people here are playing Steve as the victim, because he is the only one who has said that he is innocent in this situation. Every other source has said he is hard to work with, demanding, etc.

Now, I'm saving my thoughts on Matt's Kermit for later this week, but I have faith that Matt will bring more Jim to Kermit than Steve ever did.
 

Muppy

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Also this is just a stray thought, but could Steve's behavior been a factor into Frank Oz's departure from the Muppets? He is noticeably absent from Oz's recent Muppet People documentary ....

 

Mo Frackle

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His line in the recent Inside Edition video really irks me. "I am Kermit, and Kermit is me."

Why did he think that was a good thing to say. I'm sorry Steve, but you are not, were not, and will not "be" Kermit. Kermit was Jim, and Jim only. Anyone else is just the current embodiment of the character while performing. Nothing more, nothing less. Steve was given the great opportunity to puppeteer Kermit, that doesn't make him sole owner of the character.
In fairness, we didn't really hear the full quote. Steve was clearly still talking as the video moved along.
 

Cookie Chris

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I don't know if anyone has posted this yet, but Steve has opened up about his firing in a interview with The Hollywood Reporter. He claims he fired for two reasons: being uncooperative because he disagreed with a script of the canceled Muppets series in which Kermit lies to his nephew Robin that Steve felt was out-of-character and being unable to perform Kermit because of labor union contract negotiations.
 

LaRanaRene

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Let me tell you that if you start sending notes to your boss about how to run things, no matter how long you've been working for said company, you WILL be fired. If Steve didn't like how things were going for the Muppets (which he openly says he didn't) then he should have left long ago.
Steve didn't leave because he thought it was his duty to make sure The Muppets are going in the right direction, as he stated in his blog post.

"For me the Muppets are not just a job, or a career, or even a passion. They are a calling, an urgent, undeniable, impossible to resist way of life. This is my life’s work since I was 19 years old. I feel that I am at the top of my game, and I want all of you who love the Muppets to know that I would never consider abandoning Kermit or any of the others because to do so would be to forsake the assignment entrusted to me by Jim Henson, my friend and mentor, but even more, my hero."

Steve is extremely passionate about the Muppets and apparently believes it is his duty to make sure the Muppets are going in the right direction. He has stated in either the Hollywood Reporter interview or the Inside Edition interview (can't remember which one) that whenever someone had a suggestion for a change or something of the sort, they'd always send notes. His bosses seemingly disliked this and fired him as a result.

If they believe they'll do better without him, and if Steve is truly unhappy with the direction the Muppets are going in, then perhaps it was for the better. But it seems to me that Steve just has a clear vision of what he believes the Muppets should be, and Disney disagrees. I don't know the whole story, but as far as I can see, I don't think anyone's to blame. It's simply a case of creative differences.

EDIIT: changed phrasing here and there
 

vettech28

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The more that develops from this situation, the more upset, angrier and confused I get!!
Why are Henson's kids suddenly turning their backs on him? It's not really Steve's fault for making Kermit the way he made him, it's the writer's fault! I really don't believe Steve would get hostile about anything and voicing his opinion in an unprofessional way. It doesn't sound like something he would do! What's next here? Will the other remaining performers turn their backs on him? I sure hope not! Besides, who will he rely on for support, other than the fans and his wife?
 

Muppy

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Steve didn't leave because he thought it was his duty to make sure The Muppets are going in the right direction, as he stated in his blog post.

"For me the Muppets are not just a job, or a career, or even a passion. They are a calling, an urgent, undeniable, impossible to resist way of life. This is my life’s work since I was 19 years old. I feel that I am at the top of my game, and I want all of you who love the Muppets to know that I would never consider abandoning Kermit or any of the others because to do so would be to forsake the assignment entrusted to me by Jim Henson, my friend and mentor, but even more, my hero."

Steve is extremely passionate about the Muppets and apparently believes it is his duty to make sure the Muppets are going in the right direction. He has stated in either the Hollywood Reporter interview or the Inside Edition interview (can't remember which one) that whenever someone had a suggestion for a change or something of the sort, they'd always send notes. His bosses seemingly disliked this and fired him as a result.

If they believe they'll do better without him, and if Steve is truly unhappy with the direction the Muppets are going in, then perhaps it was for the better. But it seems to me that Steve just has a clear vision of what he believes the Muppets should be, and Disney disagrees. I don't know the whole story, but as far as I can see, I don't think anyone's to blame. It's simply a case of creative differences.

EDIIT: changed phrasing here and there
He should understand that unfortunately, it's not his duty to dictate what the Muppets can and cannot do. That's Disney's decision. I'm not saying it's right and that he shouldn't have any input, but you've got to do what the bosses want or else you risk losing your career.
 

CBPuppets

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Also this is just a stray thought, but could Steve's behavior been a factor into Frank Oz's departure from the Muppets? He is noticeably absent from Oz's recent Muppet People documentary ....

I don't think it had anything to do with it. I think Frank's Departure was so he could focus on Directing
 
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