James Nobes: Now if you don't feel comfortable answering this question, you don't have to, it's perfectly understandable, but I was kind of wondering what is it that got you to leave Sesame Street, and if you don't want to talk about it, you don't have to, I get it.
Billy Barkhurst: Oh, no worries. Yeah, I don't mind talking about it, I do have to kind of tread a little bit, I should say, but it wasn't my decision to leave. I had been sort of brought in due to the challenges that they were having with Steve at that time, and on the business side of things, my career with them sort of never really left that ,or I felt like. I was there to do Ernie, and they decided at a certain point to just go in a different different direction, you know. It came down to that, basically.
James: Okay, sorry if that put you in an awkward position.
Billy: No, no, I'm okay talking about it. I don't want to say too much about the specifics, but yeah.
James: That's fair, that's totally reasonable.
James Nobes: When I was in California, I saw some of the Muppet performers and got to meet Peter Linz, and him and I have remained very close friends.
Billy Barkhurst: I love Peter.
James: Oh, he's great, he's a very nice guy and he's doing good with Ernie as well actually.
Billy: Yeah, you know, to be honest, I haven't watched a whole lot of his Ernie, but I'll tell you one thing about Peter. Jim's characters all had such a real sense of decency about them, and a real sweetness about them, Ernie particularly had a sweetness about him too, and that is Peter, I mean he's such a decent guy and he's such a sweet man, and if it can't be me and if it can't be Steve, I'm glad it's Peter because he's right for the role on that count.
James: I'll tell Peter "hi" for you.
Billy: Great, please do.
This should prove to @MWoO that the Lifesty bits on Muppets Now were not Eric's idea.
Joe Hennes: It doesn't matter if it's been one performer the whole time or split, but with a character that's been around as long as the Muppets have been, they're gonna evolve. The Miss Piggy that you perform is not the same one that we saw on the Muppet Show because, that one was a struggling artist who wanted to be a star, and now, she's this diva, she is the biggest movie star in the world. So it's gotta be really hard to juggle what's at the core of this character from the late 70s to who does she need to be in 2021.
Eric Jacobson: Yeah. And you bring up an aspect of her character that I'm always conscious of, and that is people love to see her today as a successful, glamourous fashion icon, movie star, all these things, and they'll treat her that way, whether it's in interviews or in magazines, and it's really hard for me to justify where they're coming from. But I have to acknowledge however they treat her, but deep down inside, I think the character works best when she's not seen to be as successful and as much of an icon. Because I think the struggle for her to become that is more interesting than her being that.
Joe Hennes: I agree.
Eric: But I have to acknowledge it when people do treat her that way. Sometimes she's not treated that way, sometimes she is. Especially in the fashion world. People in the fashion world love Miss Piggy. She's modelled all this couture for fashion magazines for years. Practically anybody who's anybody in the fashion world has made something for her. It's crazy! It's crazy to think that she's this fashion icon, that she's been embraced that way by the fashion world. So I just have to kinda shift perspective when we're talking fashion, and just highlight how crazy the fashion world is. And then it's like "Okay, now this fits into who Miss Piggy is." She's idolized by this crazy fashion world. Then I can justify it.
Mokuba: Impressive! Even though he lost his three best cards, the Pharaoh bounced right back! And now he's got the upper hand again!
Kaiba: No, not quite.
Mokuba: What do you mean?
Kaiba: Yugi may have fewer life points, but he managed to come up with an unprecedented strategy to defeat the Egyptian God Cards. I've never seen anything like that before. I can see now like that before. I can see now that I was wrong Mokuba, he is the King of Games.
Yugi: You mean that?
Joey: Say what!? Am I going nuts, or did Kaiba just admit that he was wrong!?
Bill Barretta: The Disney Muppets, that I can see being more of the situation where there's obviously more men for the core cast,
and I think that's because that's where it started, right? It was a group of mostly men and those characters have kind of maintained that, and you know Frank Oz's been saying for years and I have too, we just want to create new characters, trying to find an opportunity to create new characters is I think the way you can start integrating more people of color and women and, you know, the variety. With the Muppets, it's always kind of you're in this pre-existing bubble of core characters and I just keep trying to push for "can we do a little side series about a group of rats?" Just try and pull out from the tree trunk so that we can create new characters, more diverse characters, you know?
Colleen Smith: Well, I think the other problem is if you only have one thing, whatever it is, that anytime you bring something in that's different than that, they're usually like a tool for that main group of people, or they're an accessory, or they get boxed in. So if it's only male characters, any women that get introduced are usually introduced as mothers or girlfriends, and it doesn't really give them a lot of room to be explored as characters, they're usually the nag or the straight one, and so it's hard to enter something like that when most of the characters are sexual objects, so you need that offshoot where women don't have to be one thing. And also, if you only bring in one person, then if they're an idiot or a weirdo, it's like your only female character is a terrible person, but if there's a lot of female characters, then you can have terrible people and good people, and smart people and dumb people.
Bill: Right, and like with the Muppet Show characters, there's all these pre-established relationships, right? And they tend to already fill the idiot void or the boring character, you know, those combinations, that if you bring in a new character it's almost like, well we've got that character, but I'm always like let's just create new characters like Joe from Legal. It's a male character, but he popped out of nowhere, and I can see more happening with him, but it would be great to see more happen with Julianne's character, the Beverly Plume character.