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Discussion in 'Muppet Headlines' started by theprawncracker, Sep 13, 2009.
Grain of salt, men... grain of salt.
(Still remembers the Captain Smollet on VMX fiasco)
Signed hopefully we will get answers soon....
Still haven't heard back from anyone I've contacted
yesterday re Steve - I'll keep pushing the pencils...
I don't want to start another thread for this, so I'll just post it here. Over at Tough Pigs, "Save the Muppets" front man Kynan Barker started this thread asking Muppet fans to send letters to Disney asking about the recent unacceptable Kermit appearances. I definitely think this needs to be incorporated here at Muppet Central, so I'm tossing my full support behind it, and I hope you guys will too! We have to be the ones to tell Disney that we don't like what we're seeing, or else they'll keep alternate Kermit. We have to prove to them that it does matter to the fans!
Here's my letter to hopefully get other people inspired:
Over the past month or so, some great, high-profile Muppet appearances have occurred on the national television stage. Kermit and Miss Piggy on America’s Got Talent, Kermit at the MTV Video Music Awards… these appearances should have been some of the highlights of the Muppet year.
But they weren’t.
They were missing one vitally important piece of the Muppet puzzle. The thing that, truly, makes the Muppet world go round. What is this missing piece? Kermit the Frog. Yes, a puppet billed as Kermit appeared in both instances, but it was not Kermit the Frog. The general public may not have been too perturbed at the fact that Kermit sounded and acted completely different from the way he has over the past 19 years, but it’s caused uproar in the Muppet fan community. Why was Steve Whitmire not the one performing Kermit the Frog?
I’m a frequent poster on MuppetCentral.com’s fan forum (theprawncracker is my username) and I run a Muppet blog online called The Muppet Mindset. I’ve seen first hand that the new appearances where Kermit was not performed by Steve Whitmire have caused numerous thread closures due to fights between members and a general dislike of the appearance. The problems did not lie exclusively with the lack of Mr. Whitmire, but in the unacceptable portrayal of Kermit. We worry about the stability of the franchise when the leading man (frog) is not up to par. When Lady Gaga can out-perform Kermit the Frog, you know there’s something wrong. I don’t know how a company can expect to re-launch the Muppets with a sub-par Kermit the Frog—it just can’t happen.
What has concerned most fans isn’t the reason why there has been a sudden performer switch; we just have concern about Kermit the Frog being performed by nothing more than an impersonator.
Steve Whitmire has owned this character for nearly 20 years, and it’s shocking and jarring to see him replaced so suddenly and out of the blue without any sort of explanation. I can understand if there were scheduling conflicts between Steve and the performance and there was a contractual obligation to have Kermit appear—but twice in a row is too much to simply be that.
It’s bizarre and stunning to know that The Muppets Studio would present such a completely DIFFERENT version of Kermit the Frog on national television—especially when trying to springboard the Muppets into a new spotlight with all of the fantastic announcements made at D23.
Let me just say that I am so impressed and so incredibly proud of the work you’ve been doing with the Muppets recently. Letters to Santa was like a return to the old days and was a beautiful, well-written, well-directed special—the best in years! Muppets.com and the Viral Muppet videos are the best things to happen to the Muppets since Bill Barretta joined the team! All of the stuff announced at D23 simply blew me away and I can’t wait to see it all come to fruition! I wish you all the best of luck in accomplishing all of it and I throw my full support behind it—I just want to see Kermit at his best in all of these extremely exciting things.
Seeing the Muppets on TV usually becomes a highlight of whatever week or month they show up in—but not the past two months. These have caused me nothing but worry. It concerns me and other fans like me to no end knowing that The Muppets Studio and The Walt Disney Company are willing to present a sub-par Frog in the time of the great Fuzzy Renaissance. I sincerely hope that whatever is going on is mended soon and that Steve Whitmire once again returns to perform Kermit and the rest of his characters.
Sincerely Yours, Ryan Dosier The Muppet Mindset Blog
Steve was last seen filming as Kermit in the Disneyland Muppet promo (this was also Rizzos last appearance to date), thats definitely him in the photos. Anything since then has been either Artie or possibly multiple puppeteers since Kermit appeared at D23 and MTV (which was Faux Kermit) both on different coasts within a day - obviously there are multiple Kermit puppets and performers so i'm thinking they wouldn't have bothered having people rush around on planes if one performance isn't even live speaking ... some commented at D23 that it was possibly Steve or at least wasn't Artie because the whole "look" of Kermit was as usual, but it seemed to be looping to a voice track anyway and Kermit didn't speak the rest of the presentation.
So whatever has happened, Steve has been around up until very recently.
I am not surprised that The Jim Henson Company isn't sure, since Whitmire hasn't performed in any Henson productions since selling to Disney (though I expect him to be in the Fraggle Rock movie). But has anybody thought about contacting Sesame Workshop and seeing if they know (I'd expect the workshop to know more than Henson, though it seems like Whitmire hasn't been that involved with Sesame Street since 2005).
Thanks, Ryan, for your link and well done on an excellent letter. Like you, I don't think the circumstances behind the change are any of my concern. All we can do is send our best wishes to Steve and hope for a positive outcome.
But commenting on performances by the Muppets, or by characters billed as the Muppets, is the whole purpose of a fan community. That's why I'm letting Disney know exactly how I feel.
Exactly! So I'm encouraging everyone to send a letter--even if you want to use mine and take out the part about my name and running The Muppet Mindset, then feel free by all means! I just want Disney to know how we feel! Come on gang! Let's band together an prove that we are strong!
I put a link on my fbk profile to the petition--got a couple of people to sign it and I'll keep reposting it for a couple of days... IDK what kind of contract Disney has going where no one can say anything, but the Muppeteers have always been so good to us fans. If they knew the kind of anxiety this is causing surely they would want to say something to alleviate our fears, unless contract stipulations just... won't allow that. Gah. I've thought this over and over in my head. All that's left is a sense of dread. And in a week where we had so much wonderful news too...
Very nice letter Ryan. But if you haven't sent it out yet, here's my constructive feedback:
The whole point of the petition you started was to get answers about what happened to Steve. The letter didn't really have that message; it was basically a general expression of distaste at there being a Kermit recast. If that's a conscious decision on your part, that's fine - but since you do have the skills to write a very good letter that people will take seriously, i would think you'd want the overall message to be the same as the petition; that whatever the reason for the recast, the main thing that Muppet fans are really wanting is an explanation of what happened to Steve? You do ask the question at the end of the third paragraph but that's the only time that really comes up and even then it seems more rhetorical as opposed to being "the point".
Your feelings may be different on this but if i was writing the letter, the main impression i would want to leave them with is "As Muppet fans, we all want what's best for the brand. We also know that one day the time will come when Kermit will need to be passed on to someone else. However until fans are told honestly what happened to Steve and why someone else was playing Kermit this last month, we don't know whether we should be supporting this recast or not. Unfortunately, since we don't know - and the silence on this is definately hurting rather than helping matters - fans are overwhelmingly not accepting the change. Major characters in both the Classic Muppet cast and Sesame Street have had recasts and understudies before but each and every time this has ever happened, fans knew the reason for it and allowed us to embrace the passings of the torches. We need to know what happened with Steve before fans can be expected to support a recast."
A few years ago there was another reason that we all wrote to disney, but I can't remember what it was; maybe something to do with a dvd release or something? But I remember that it got results! I will write a letter and send it off as soon as I can (Prawnie, if you have time, could you pm me a good email addres to send it to?).
I also tried to contact a writer for Entertainment Weekly who's written about the Muppets before. I thought maybe if she was interested in the situation, and called public attention to it, maybe something could actually get done. Anyone know of any out-of-the-box contacts, even through Twitter or anything, that could maybe get something done? I'll definitely write a letter, but I'd be more confident in a very public campaign than a series of fan letters from the most faithful Muppet fans (no offense)... Know what I'm saying?
I don't want to hijack Ryan's thread, but I haven't signed the petition, not because I don't care about Steve, but because the reasons behind the recast don't change my feelings about it.
D.W., you're saying that if we knew why Kermit was different, then we could make a more informed judgment about his performance. And I think that's exactly wrong. The great majority of the audience doesn't care about what happens behind the scenes. Outside of our very small fan community, millions of viewers are never going to go back and reassess whether they liked AGT or not based on some extra nugget of information. They either liked it or they didn't.
What you're asking Disney for is not just an explanation, you want a justification. And then you want to be able to make up your mind on whether to "support" the recast or not, depending on whether you think the justification is good enough. That's just not how the audience-entertainer relationship works. You pays your money, and if you likes what you sees, you clap at the end.
Disney doesn't owe us an explanation, and I don't think we have the right to ask for one. But we do have the right to expect Muppets when Disney advertises them.
Again, I have no problem with Ryan's petition, and I totally respect your point of view, D.W. That's just not where I'm coming from, is all.
I do. I DID just start following Jimmy Fallon on Twitter... he's a pretty big Muppet fan, I guess I could ask him.
Good idea. I follow him too and I'll second your tweet (although I just joined and still haven't gotten the whole 140 character thing down yet...).
Haha yes, that does take awhile...
EDIT: I don't know how to get to him on Twitter since he's not following me... So I'll just see if I can find an e-mail on his website.
I just @JimmyFallon -ed him. Was that wrong? I said:
SarahLabadini@jimmyfallon Hey Jimmy--any info on the not!Kermit that was on AGT and the VMAs? Muppet fans are worried about Steve Whitmire...
thought it might be just enough to peak his interest had he not heard...
I guess that works... but I'm not sure if he can see those Tweets if he's not following you.
No, those are public. Anyone can @___ someone. I saw Rob Thomas get into a big fight with some of his fans through that just earlier in the day... Oh Twitter. Ha
Hahaha oh wow... GREAT. Well I e-mailed the Late Night blog, so we'll see!
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