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Bluejay
Bluejay
Sun, Jul 16, 2017 10:39pm

The article says the new Kermit will be “longtime Muppets performer Matt Vogel,” who has played, among other characters, Constantine (the “evil Kermit”) in Muppets Most Wanted. Here’s his bio:

http://www.mattvogel.com/bio

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Bluejay
Thu, Jul 20, 2017 9:58am

Ah, I missed that.

Jurgan
Jurgan
Mon, Jul 17, 2017 6:38am

I kind of think it has more to do with vertical integration. I suspect Disney wants more control over the direction of the property and is purging people who had ties to Jim Henson. I could be completely wrong, but ever since HBO bought the rights to Sesame Street I’ve worried they would suck the soul out of these shows.

Danielm80
Danielm80
reply to  Jurgan
Mon, Jul 17, 2017 11:59am

And they’re replacing Steve Whitmire with another longtime Muppet performer? What does that accomplish?

This is a situation where I have much too little information to even speculate about what’s going on. It could be about money. It could be about demands that Disney doesn’t want to meet. It could be about the quality of Whitmire’s performance or his perceived age. It could even be some sort of scandal, as with Kevin Clash. All I know for sure is that, whatever is happening, it’s very sad.

Bluejay
Bluejay
reply to  Danielm80
Tue, Jul 18, 2017 2:59am
bronxbee
reply to  Bluejay
Tue, Jul 18, 2017 8:24pm

oh, the horror — he wanted to negotiate a better deal for himself. and of course, he was in a union. that made him anathema to studio executives anyway. sorry, i still see disney as the big bad wolf here.

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Wed, Jul 19, 2017 6:52am

You know what I think did Whitmire in? I think he mouthed off with that “I’m the only one keeping Jim’s legacy alive” line, in front of one or more of the Hensons, one time too many. Then the convo went like this:

Henson Kid: I’ve had it with Whitmire.

Disney Exec: You hired him.

HK: That was 30 years ago. He wasn’t an asshole then. Get rid of him.

DE: I don’t know that we have a good reason to.

HK: You’re Disney, you can handle it.

DE: It’ll also be a PR nightmare. He’s the voice of Kermit, for crying out loud.

HK: You’re fucking Disney. You can handle it.

DE: *sighs* Fine. But your family is gonna have to publicly support it. And let’s wait for the blowback from cancelling the show cool off a little, ok?

HK: Fine.

Bluejay
Bluejay
reply to  Jurgan
Mon, Jul 17, 2017 1:07pm

As far as I know, Disney doesn’t own HBO, so those are two separate concerns.

Disney probably *does* want more control over the direction of its properties; in my opinion, they’ve been mostly good stewards of Marvel, Pixar, and Star Wars (as well as their own animated films). As beloved as the Muppets are, they’re probably Disney’s least successful property right now, coasting more on nostalgia than on currently popular shows, and perhaps they’re trying to address that. That’s not to say that Whitmire wasn’t treated unfairly, but as Danielm80 says, there’s too little information for us to go on.

I think the Muppets’ charm and appeal are so closely linked to Henson and his original team – their voices, performances, chemistry, idiosyncrasies, and sense of anarchic improvisation – that it would have been difficult in any circumstance to preserve their “soul” once that team was gone. Properties get reinvented to extend their lives: franchises are rebooted, characters are recast, directors impose new visions. I don’t know if that’s appropriate for the Muppets, but trying to preserve Henson’s work in amber clearly isn’t working either.

Bluejay
Bluejay
Mon, Sep 11, 2017 2:51am

Here’s Matt Vogel, the new Kermit, in one of his first official appearances. I actually really like how he performs the character; he seems warmer, mellower, than what I remember of Whitmire. (Bonus: Paul Williams!) I also just happened to see I Am Big Bird a few days ago, and learned that Vogel had been Caroll Spinney’s hand-picked apprentice groomed to sub in as Big Bird (see second video) and perhaps take over after Spinney retires; I don’t know if that’s still on Vogel’s plate, but I was impressed by his respect for character and commitment to craft. I think Kermit’s in good hands.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJufeAMRHy8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wir371PlDDo

Danielm80
Danielm80
reply to  Bluejay
Mon, Sep 11, 2017 5:14am

When Kermit originally sang “Look what it’s done so far,” almost 40 years ago, I’m pretty sure it was meant to be sarcastic, but now we know exactly what it’s done. It’s inspired several generations of children—including me—and several generations of Muppet performers.