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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

curated: Kermit the Frog is getting a new voice

UPDATE 07.19.17: Reasons offered here.

And not for any good reason that anyone has offered:

posted in:
talent buzz
  • Bluejay

    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:


  • Jurgan

    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

    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

    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
  • bronxbee

    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

    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.

  • Ah, I missed that.

  • Bluejay

    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.



  • Danielm80

    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.

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