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Frank Oz Interview with EW

Discussion in 'Henson People' started by Borples, May 15, 2012.

  1. Borples

    Borples Active Member

    I don't see this anywhere yet?

    Frank Oz did an interview at EW.com. The first two pages are about Little Shop of Horrors. The third has some questions about the Muppets.


    He finally speaks a little bit about The Muppets in its final form, and I am...surprised, though I shouldn't be. He also says something that I wish he hadn't, because now I have to spend way too much time wondering what he was talking about.
    KermieBaby47 and jvcarroll like this.
  2. jvcarroll

    jvcarroll Well-Known Member

    This is the friendliest Frank Oz interview I've ever read. Marriage must be agreeing with him.

    He seemed more gracious about The Muppets movie this time and strangely okay with the remakes of his work. The mention of controversy on set sounds cryptic, but I have a feeling that a lot of the early script issues continued into the production and a lot of the controversy could have come from the "fart shoes" reference. It seems that the filmmakers liked that bit much more than any of the performers. Or at least that's what it appears to me from what I've gathered from bits and pieces of interviews.

    It also struck me as odd that there was no Muppet collaboration in the film commentary. Also, the writers and director had no Muppet experience so that could have caused some tension like it reportedly did on the original Muppet Movie. They also had to go back and re-shoot the ending. It also makes Segel's lack of interest in a future cameo seem suspicious. Whatever the cast and crew did, it worked and the Muppets are back and Frank Oz seems pleased about it. A good analogy is that it's better to enjoy the meal rather than dive into to kitchen politics.

    I'm thinking of what in the Muppets' personalities seemed different to Frank. Maybe Kermit was a little too gloomy and detached, Gonzo was more subdued and would not likely have kept himself repressed for so many years, Animal was a little more articulate than usual and Miss Piggy would have likely schemed to take over the show rather than agree to be a small part of it after some haggling. Of course this is all nit-picky, but all of this would likely be different under Frank's direction. I think that's what he's talking about. Still, I think it worked in the story of the film.
    bandit and Borples like this.
  3. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    I think Jamie basically summed up what I would have said about the interview, heh.

    It's interesting that he still does SST "just for fun", that I wasn't fully aware of, but I had always wondered what exactly was it about SST that he still devoted a small fraction of his time with as opposed to the Classic Muppets (though I also wasn't aware he decreased his fraction of time from about four or five days to just one day).

    Still would be nice to know what he actual thoughts are on the new movie, he clearly is holding back a little, since he doesn't want to knock it.
  4. Borples

    Borples Active Member

    It was a good interview. He must be getting mellow in his advancing years. ;-) As far as the Muppets go, think how invested and nitpicky we, the fans, are. Now think how much MORE invested someone like Frank Oz, who helped create the Muppets and originated half of the main characters, must be. Even though he left voluntarily, of course he's going to be more critical than...well, than basically anyone else. Still, I'd love to know what his thoughts were, exactly.

    I've been dying to know how it was on the set. And just when I had myself convinced that it was all more or less amicable, Mr. Vague has to go and get me wondering again. I wish we could get an interview with Steve or Dave. But the Muppeteers seemed to be under a gag order before the movie came out. I wondered how long it would be until they were allowed to talk about it, but now with a sequel in the works...we may never hear from them ever again. Hmph.
  5. heralde

    heralde Well-Known Member

    Well he is right, The Muppets (2011) is a bit homogenized. The thing is the previous projects were a bit too far in the other direction. Perhaps we will eventually see balance. ;)
  6. jvcarroll

    jvcarroll Well-Known Member

    The recent film kind of needed to be homogenized in order to distill and market the essence of the Muppets to the current marketplace. Previous projects held this presumption that the non-fan audience was already along for the ride. I hope the next film gets back to the much wilder aspects of the characters like the online short subjects did.
    Nasubionna and Borples like this.
  7. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I saw an interview with Matt Vogel yesterday. So I guess they're not restricted from interviews. Here's the Vogel interview: http://schooltheatre.org/publications/dramatics/2012/05/man-and-muppet

    But it is weird that the majority of post-movie interviews from Tough Pigs and The Muppet Mindset are with those who didn't work on the film.
  8. Borples

    Borples Active Member

    Oh, yes, you're right. I read that interview; it's marvelous. I DID notice that he didn't talk much specifically about the movie. Vague positives instead of vague negatives. Probably I'm just being paranoid. But I did read a magazine article when the movie was coming out. The guy who wrote it had the idea to interview the characters, and then to interview the performers about some of the transitions the Muppets have gone through. He contacted Disney who said yes to interviewing the characters and NO to the performers. I just found that sort of telling. (the guy wrote about his whole interview experience. When he got to the one-on-one interview w/ Kermit, Steve (who he said looked like a shop teacher) made eye contact and said, "Hi," and then Kermit launched into, "I don't know who this guy is, but he's been following me around all day." Made me laugh. Poor Steve. :) )
  9. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I think it should have been obvious he's just been on the set one day a season. I think I read that fact somewhere before, but even if I didn't, he only did two segments for season 40 (Mad Men and a Marshall Grover segment), I don't think he did anything for the show in season 41, and for seasons 42 and 43 he reportedly did four segments, at least two of which (Spider-Monster and The Heaviest Catch) have aired by now. I also recall reading somewhere that Sesame Workshop doesn't have him come in as much because he's too expensive (can't remember where I'd read it, but it was something that had to do with the show, not Frank Oz).

    Also, maybe it's easier for Sesame Workshop to schedule him in than it is Disney. Sesame Street has a steady schedule, while the Muppets really don't. They did want him to be in The Muppets and he turned it down, but still. Though with him saying it's now harder to do Miss Piggy's voice, maybe he's wanting to avoid any potential trouble.
  10. cahuenga

    cahuenga Active Member

    He taped 4 segmentes in 2011 and 3 weeks ago it was said in Tyler bunch Twitter that he assisted Frank the day before for a Sesame segment, so maybe Frank is doing his sesame muppets more often now and not only every two years like the past seasons...
  11. Pinkflower7783

    Pinkflower7783 Well-Known Member

    I actually enjoyed reading this interview...I think and this is just my personal opinion maybe it's more Frank has an issue with Disney rather then The Muppets themselves? I mean I do think some of what he said might be reffering to the "fart shoes" but I know he wasn't the only one that disapproved of that scene I know the other veteran muppeteers also felt the same. Because they felt that was cheap humor and something Jim and the team never stooped to. The truth is we don't know exactly what went on behind the scenes and we probably will never get the full story. But it's obvious various things happened. I still love Frank and respect his views. But as they say change is a hard thing. It also makes you wonder did Frank have any kind of falling out with Jim's children over them selling The Muppets to Disney? There's a lot of questions that left to be unanswered.

    I have no doubt there was some kind of tension on the set. I mean here you have the muppteers who have been doing this 40+ years who know the ins and outs of the muppets from working with Jim and Frank and then you have people who have no experience of working with the muppets probably saying "were gonna do it our way whether you like it or not." So I definitely think it wasn't all fun and games on the set. Like I said hopefully the next movie now will just shift back to good old muppet humor but also of course keeping it current. It's hard to believe it's only Frank left. God knows that's gonna be like Jim Henson passing away when we loose Frank.
  12. MrBloogarFoobly

    MrBloogarFoobly Well-Known Member

    Well, I just remember reading "Street Gang," where the Muppet performers referred to working for Disney as working in "Mousekavitz." The Muppet performers are used to working in a fun environment; Disney is fully a corporate entity, time is money, so on and so forth. That might be where the rub is.
  13. Pinkflower7783

    Pinkflower7783 Well-Known Member

    Plus if I remember correctly Jim was the type of person he sort of gave you the freedom to create and do what you wanted where as Disney like the above poster said is more of a business so you probably don't have as much say.
  14. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I get the feeling that The Jim Henson Company was run more like a business after Jim's passing. Don't know for sure, but I get that feeling. I also feel like Sesame Workshop has always been treated a bit more like a business, though obviously not a big corporate business like Disney.
    Pinkflower7783 likes this.
  15. Pinkflower7783

    Pinkflower7783 Well-Known Member

    Whatever reasons we will probably never fully know.
  16. bandit

    bandit Well-Known Member

    Thanks for sharing that, Borples. It was interesting to see his perspective on things. If you ask me, I think his polite reticence sort of says -a lot.- There is obviously dissension there behind the scenes and at what level that is, we can only imagine. I do agree that with a huge company like Disney behind it, there is likely to be a difference in philosophy.
    I think Jim Henson had a very clear vision of how he wanted to do things and the Disney franchise has become like a respirator, pumping air and life into something that was starting to weaken. NOW we can only hope, this works the way a respirator is supposed to. It does breathe life into the body until the body is strong enough to take off on its own.
    We can hope the Muppets find their stride again without the extra push from Disney.
    Borples likes this.
  17. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    On the subject of whether the Muppet performers are allowed to be interviewed anymore, I remember when Tough Pigs did the video interview with Whitmire, Jacobson, and Vogel Steve Whitmire said he wanted to discuss the movie but couldn't until after it came out. Well, it's come out.

    But it could be possible that some of the performers enjoyed working on the movie and some didn't. Considering Oz's statements, I wonder if maybe the newer performers enjoyed it more than the ones who worked with Oz.
  18. heralde

    heralde Well-Known Member

    Of course we don't know the whole story here, but sometimes that is just the way it goes. The first Star Trek movie was not successful and the blame (in part justifiably) was put on the series creator Roddenberry. As a result the following Star Trek films were instead made by new people who weren't familiar with the show, but managed to do an excellent job. To their credit they did their homework and learned what made the show successful in the first place.

    It feels right in theory to say creators should get preference, but even creators can run out of ideas (look at George Lucas, heh). Sometimes you need a fresh perspective, as long as it's not a complete 180 (which I don't think The Muppets (2011) was).
  19. Pinkflower7783

    Pinkflower7783 Well-Known Member

    I'll agree with this. I still respect Frank a great deal though and his views. I'm sure obviously there's many reasons why he didnt fully like the movie. I still think its more his views on Disney then the muppets themselves. Because he does occasionally come do things for sesame street.
  20. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    One thing I've noticed is that in The Muppets while Frank's vocals are heard in "Mahna Mahna" the beginning when Muppet Show clips are shown do not feature any known performances by Frank Oz, outside of the opening. I'd like to think Disney wouldn't need permission from Oz to include clips of his performances (over vocals), but then again, that sequence included a redone "Mahna Mahna" clip as opposed to the original, and it's weird that that sequence didn't feature any clips focusing on Fozzie, Miss Piggy, or Animal (but we got clips with Bunsen and Beaker and The Swedish Chef?).

    I might just be over-thinking this, but it is something I noticed about the movie.


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