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Where is Steve Whitmire Petition

Discussion in 'Muppet Headlines' started by theprawncracker, Sep 13, 2009.

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  1. Luke

    Luke Well-Known Member

    No offence to Artie, and its a great honour he has been chosen to do Kermit, but i really don't see any of Jims tone in the performances we have seen so far. Obviously some puppeteers, no matter how bad or good they are can "get" certain characters and others can't. When the Muppeteer auditions happened numerous people who were there mentioned there were people attending who could "do" many of the main characters perfectly so i'm a little confused why we are seeing very stiff and vocally off performances at the moment. It's not Jims Kermit, its not Steves Kermit .. its not ANY Kermit.

    Of course if you do have other video of Artie doing Kermit and are willing to post it like you have said then i'm sure we would all love to see it and can then comment on how wrong we were but you haven't so far, and however well anyone else can "do" Kermit the feeling is very much that if Steve is indeed gone then after nearly twenty years as the frog the Disney company ought to at least acknowledge his service with the Muppets since in puppetry its obviously a great tradition that puppeteers stick with their characters and they are not easily handed around from one hand to another.
  2. Hat Sharpener

    Hat Sharpener Well-Known Member

    Can anyone re-tell the story of Eric Jacobson's arrival on the scene? If memory serves, he started on Sesame Street first, then phased into the Muppets after Frank dubbed his lines for Muppets in Space over other puppeteer(s). Did Eric do small public appearances like these before the Very Merry... Movie?

    It was pretty controversial as well, but somewhat less-so because Eric is really good (IMHO) and, well.. because it wasn't Kermit.

    I'm just thinking, that if Artie is indeed Kermit's Timothy Dalton*, what would the process be? Since there is no Sesame Street to warm up on, this could be it...

    If so, Eric has improved a lot. Hopefully Artie would too...

    - Derek

    *Lazenby doesn't count, or at least he doesn't work in my metaphor.
  3. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I think you really summed it up there nicely. I mean, sure... when I heard Eric's Grover for the first time, all I could think was "What happened to Frank? Is he alright?" And if you watch those earlier Eric segments, he seems sort of halted and trying too hard to sound like Frank did... and it was a little awkward. Flash Forward to the last few years of SS... he's almost indistinguishable some of the time. And why? Not because he tried harder to sound like Frank, but because he grew into the characters, and he relaxed into the roles. He's comfortable with them now, and he's more like Frank's Grover, Fozzie, Bert and whatever because of it.

    As for Kermit... well... he holds everything together. it took forever for them to really get him back into the spotlight, even with Steve... which is why he had minor roles (or more minor than the previous films) in MCC and MTI, and why Clifford is the host of Muppets Tonight. Now, whatever reason, emergency recast, understudy, alternate... we have someone else doing Kermit, and he doesn't quite have the experience some of the other puppeteers have, and he's got the role of the most important and popular character. I also think that once he gets further used to the role and gets comfortable with it, he can easily perform Kermit the way Eric eventually did with Frank's characters. Seems to me his performance was stiff because it was his first time doing it in public. Maybe, just maybe he was trying too hard, and he was nervous. I'm sure Muppet Insider saw better off the cuff, not really that important bits Artie did that were much looser, and more Kermit like.

    Well, I heard of Joe, William, Jack and Averell Dalton... but not Timothy (Crap... I wish I wasn't the only one that got that joke :( )
  4. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    Ooooh, I was going to say that I hope Artie is just Kermit's George Lazenby. Either that or if Artie has really been given Kermit then the approach should be very different. It's still coming off as an impression or impersonation of Kermit.
  5. Oscarfan

    Oscarfan Well-Known Member

    Something just occurred to me, if one thinks Steve is leaving, he clearly was around to shoot the new Muppet YouTube videos Beaker will be in.
  6. rexcrk

    rexcrk Well-Known Member

    I finally heard the "new" Kermit voice.... it was... decent... good enough that the casual fans won't really notice, but us hard core fans will definitely notice the difference in voice and puppeteering.

    I just hope Steve's OK, he's been my Kermit more than Jim has believe it or not (I was born in 1988).
  7. dwmckim

    dwmckim Well-Known Member

    Artie's performances have been good. Servicable. As i said upthread i see a lot of potential...but that's all i've seen: potential. Good (i could even go so far as saying "great" as far as recasts go)...but Steve was "superior" and even though one wouldn't expect a recast to also be "superior" at first, i would at the very least expect "excellent'.

    My thoughts on the quality of Kermit's performances - like my opinions on everything else Muppet-related (people pretty much know by now that i'm very honest about praising something that deserves it but also don't hold back about what i find lacking) isn't going to change based on the reason why it's happening. I can judge the quality of a performance regardless of how come a change happened (but i will also be honest that i think there are a number of fans whose opinions are a bit colored by their feelings...even if it's purely subconscious). But what i was saying earlier is that by knowing why, that allows us to accept the change. If we know that this is something happening with Steve's blessing and not something dirty on the part of Disney, we can at least watch a new Kermit performance rooting for Artie to succeed; he would have more support. When we watch Kermit, we're given some freedom to sit back and enjoy the show instead of having our thoughts clouded by "what IS this?".

    For many of us, Steve IS Kermit now. When Steve goes missing and no one knows why, the frog goes missing as well even if someone has his hand in the puppet and is saying his lines with his best Kermit voice. Just as we have a strong emotional connection to Kermit - practically consider him a member of our families - the same feelings extend towards Steve. We want to know that he's being treated with respect and that the change is not something basically being done behind his back. The person on the throne needs to be an heir and not an usurper.

    It's not like we even need every little detail. If something is going on with Steve's family for example, all Disney has to say is Steve is taking some personal time off to deal with a family crisis as he all hope he'll be back as Kermit soon. No personal details revealed about him or his family, but at least a general reason and an affirmation of his rightful place as the official performer. The silence is really deafening. No one is talking on or off the record - anonymously - and that is not a good sign. If there's a perfectly logical and fine explanation (Steve is recovering from voice loss, Steve is ill, Steve is taking a vacation to celebrate his 50th birthday, Steve had schedule conflicts), then why is it so difficult or taboo to say so. Again, just the barest most general statement is fine - huge details not needed - it shows that Disney is sympathetic towards the fans and not hostile towards them.

    Regardless of the reason, we'll still critique Artie with the same microscope Steve was subjected to - commenting on the good, the bad, or the ugly - and we'll also be a little curious why someone pretty low on the Muppeteer totem pole was given this task - but we can at least be free to support him. We can accept him - accepting and liking are two different things. But as long as no one knows why Steve isn't doing Kermit, that's all we think about when we see Kermit. Our minds by nature won't be as focused on the performance as they are thinking of stuff outside of it. It was like how the opening sketch with Rudy Giulani on Saturday Night Live gave the audience the affirmation it needed that it was okay to laugh and enjoy the show again after 9/11. (The audience may have then thought SNL was either a triumphant comeback or another year of "Saturday Night Dead" but at least we had that emotional freedom to watch the show and hopefully allow ourselves to be entertained...though it still didn't free the performers to give lackluster performances or be called on the carpet if they did).
  8. ferrell

    ferrell Active Member

    I seem to remember a few months back Disney was saying that they are looking for New muppet voice actors for promotional uses and various small projects..it was somewhere on this board , I find it hard to think that people have already forgotten about it,I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Steve was not fired and isn't Ill (or isn't deathly ill) and that we would have heard something from either Steve,his family,Disney,the henson company,or one of the muppeters if he had been,and the fact that we haven't heard anything from any of them means that he wasn't fired or is deathly sick..now again I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Steve is probably real busy right now working on various projects,remember we have Fraggle Rock movie,a muppet movie, dark crystal 2 and he may still be doing stuff here and there for sesame street and maybe even more stuff that we don't know about for the Henson company,we know that there are muppeters that come to this board and since no one has said anything of a negative nature chances are we are all blowing this out of porportion,why doesn't Artie say anything it's simple it could simply be a claus in his contract which says he can't say certain things..also chances are Steve probably approved of who would carry on the voice of Kermit or who would be his understudy,so let's give Artie a break,I read this thread first before hearing his kermit and was expecting someone horrible like someone you would hear on Dr Demento but when I heard it I was surprised at how much he sounded like Jim,sure he has some stuff to work on but IF he was approved by Steve let's give him a chance to work on the character,I trust Steve's judgement..after all Steve can't be 2 places at once and the Muppets NEED promotion and it's good that Disney is promoting them..
  9. beaker

    beaker Well-Known Member

    Well, who here can argue that 1990-1991 Steve Whitmire as Kermit wasnt a bit rough at first?

    I'm aware of a number of rather unfortunate backroom politics
    (usually regarding Sesame Street) and egos that would make most fans wince.

    And I feel people should NOT be shocked if Steve Whitmire
    has passed the Kermit torch on. We can't expect a character to be performed forever by the same person. Not every character is as lucky to have a Dave Goelz, and look at Eric Jacobsson. My goodness that guy IS Fozzie and Piggy. I don't even second guess it, he's filled the shoes of Oz in ways I never imagined.

    You all knew some decisions would happen that wouldnt sit well or would be challenging to accept. Shouldnt we all be estatic that as many of us predicted a few years back, Disney is making 2010 its coming out party for the Muppets to return to prominence and the spotlight?
  10. beaker

    beaker Well-Known Member

    I also wanted to add:

    Hypothetically, if for whatever reason(Steves decision or not)
    Kermit will no longer be performed by Whitmire(which I agree with all of you, IS Kermit) ...

    What will the implications mean to you? Many of us were not happy that Disney bought the Muppets. Now, 5 and a half years later I think it was the Muppets only hope.

    If Steve is no longer Kermit, will some of you stop being Muppet fans? When Elmo pretty much took over Sesame Street, I admit to backing away from being as large a fan.

    Someone said that Steve recently taped sketches as Beaker, but I also know out of the blue situations can dramatically change
    a situation. I think Whitmire, after over three decades of service of Muppet performing should deserve our respect for his privacy.

    I suspect, be if this is short term or permanent, it being more Whitmire's decision than some backroom underhanded politics.
    I have hardly seen any actual voice acting on the part of the "new/replacement" Kermit so I'll reserve judgement.

    But I wonder to many of you, does the future of the Muppets in your mind depend on Whitmire continuing or hanging it up?
  11. Frogpuppeteer

    Frogpuppeteer Well-Known Member

    I'll answer, personally if Steve Whitmire will no longer be Kermit, its not gonna change my veiw of the muppets, yes i to stepped back from sesame street when elmo basically took over, but then again i wasnt really watching it at that point in my life except for a few skits here and there. ive always loved Kermit, he is my first memory, my introduction to puppetry, and first toy, and his performer changing be it who ever, will not make me stop loving the frog.
  12. mbmfrog

    mbmfrog Well-Known Member

    Ummm, You do recall that Whitmire also does this Jim Henson Character....:p.

    I mean maybe he's busy doing some new Erine and Bert sketches for the 40th season of Sesame Street ?

    Also don't forget all of Whitmire's other Muppet characters. :)
  13. dwmckim

    dwmckim Well-Known Member

    Nope, haven't forgotten. But it seems like Sesame Workshop and Henson Company are in the dark as to what's going on with Steve. Plus three days before the debut of Kismet the Frog, Steve was not among the group attending the Daytime Emmy Awards ceremony.

    I've said before that i'm accepting of recasts and understand their importance. I'm almost always very supportive of them. But this time we have a bit of an unprecidented situation in that a recast happened all of a sudden out of nowhere of a major (in fact the "lead") character and nobody knows the whereabouts/status of the performer who the character rightly belongs to. Do i think Artie was the right choice for Kermit at this particular time? No. Do i see the raw talent and potential for him to become an excellent Kermit years down the line? Yes. Will i stop loving the Muppets if Disney did something very unfair and disrespectful to Steve? Conceptually, no - but that doesn't bode well for the quality of upcoming projects if Disney fails to get the very basic key to Muppet magic is its performers...and if they can be that cavalier about casting, it's not a good sign that they would uphold other areas of integrity that made me love the Muppets in the first place. Will i lose all respect and faith in Disney? You betcha.

    I'm concerned about Steve as a person (i.e. is he okay? Is he being held hostage by spies? Did he drink ultra-powerful Jekyll Hyde Potion instead of bicarbonate of soda?) and as an artist (was Steve fired/replaced by Disney despite that essentially being comparable to them deciding they didn't need Jim anymore if he was still with us?) The whole issue harkens back to the worst fears we all had when the sale first happened as per would they respect the brand's integrity as well as the performers who are what makes the Muppets what they are. Sorry Disney, but you can't "bribe" me with a whole slew of awesome merchandise to make up for unceremoniously dumping the person who is the rightful keeper of Kermit's soul. You can even give us Muppet fans a theatrical movie with the greatest script evah but if the film has Melissa Joan Hart playing Miss Piggy, Lady Gaga as Gonzo, and David Deluise as Fozzie (as appealing as the image of him in nothing but a hat and bowtie may be), i'm not gonna be all that happy.

    No one knows where Steve is or if he's okay and if anyone does, they seem to be bound by a corporate vow of silence. No general statement of "Steve is temporarily unavailable but he'll be back soon", "Steve has not been replaced; expect to see him in the 2010 movie!" You could simply say something as vague as that which doesn't even say where or how he is but at least assures us this isn't a hostile frogover. The deeper and longer the silence, the worse it makes the whole situation. All sorts of great news came out of D23 this weekend, but it's all overshadowed by concerns over what's going on with Kermit, so where under normal situations we should be celebrating and breaking out the champagne, we're instead more preoccupied with milk cartons which should be bearing images on their sides of "Have you seen this man?"
  14. tomahawk

    tomahawk Well-Known Member

    I've noticed that you seem to know quite a bit, but tease with it and then don't give up what you are hinting at. I for one will be ticked if there is not an official statement about Kermit being handed over to someone else.

    Steve Whitmire is Kermit The Frog. Case closed. I'm not putting down Artie or his talent, but until I hear otherwise Mr. Whitmire will be Kermit.

    Now if you can quit being so subtle with your hints and come out with it, unless you are contractually bound not to say what is going on, please, do tell. You just don't need Jim Henson's tone to do Kermit. There is soul and personality involved in this. So please, do tell.
  15. muppetperson

    muppetperson Well-Known Member

    OK, so I know first hand that Disney are not commenting on this situation, nor is Artie Esposito.So now lets try and work this out.why wouldnt Disney want to comment?
    What comes into my mind is that they are with holding because it will make them look bad.So I think we can rule out that steve is sick, and start thinking along the lines that Disney have terminated Steve's services.What we dont know is why.And lets hope they havent done the same with Dave Goelz.
  16. tomahawk

    tomahawk Well-Known Member

    Obviously hoping on picking up all those brand spanking new Muppet fans who won't care.
  17. Luke

    Luke Well-Known Member

    Disney may just not be commenting to the public, it may even be a standard policy not to. It doesn't mean they are avoiding it. I'm sure something will be said sooner rather than later.

    A few people saying they see potential in the new performer in time being a "great" Kermit ... i'd love to know on what basis because those recent performances are pretty shocking. Either you "get" the basic character or you don't - Eric and Steve were way closer on their first goes even if they weren't polished. Also remember if the trainee Muppeteer programme has been going since the auditions then these people have been learning the characters for 3 years now, not 5 minutes.

    I'd also add, didn't seem like the AGT Muppeteer doing Kermit at D23. Just a hunch, but the puppets mannerisms were 100% better, yet at MTV next day was back to the same level as AGT so i'd like to add it seems a 3rd Kermit was in the mix somewhere but obviously it was just looping so voice was probably steve anyway.
  18. SarahOnBway

    SarahOnBway Well-Known Member

    This whole thing really upsets me, and if expletives were allowed on the MC boards, you can bet I'd be using all of them.

    Would I still love the Muppets if Steve was fired? Absolutely. Would I watch the new things they had coming out? Absolutely not. No offense to Artie or to any one of you who has replied that they like and, in some cases, even prefer his Kermit, if that was the Kermit we were getting in Cheapest Muppet Movie, I wouldn't go see it. There's no way I could sit through 90 minutes of that without driving myself crazy. It's not Kermit to me. Someone up thread hit it on the nose--there was no soul there.

    There aren't THAT many people in the world who can breathe life into a puppet. The Muppeteers are a rare breed--and they had to work themselves up to where they are now. Even Steve--think of how long he was doing background puppets, or Rizzo would get a line or two here and there, before he was moved up to a real starring role. Dave talks about how he didn't feel ready when he was given Gonzo, that he felt out of place and less than all the other performers at the time, and that's another reason why puppeteers have to work their way up the ranks: to gain confidence in themselves and their ability to breathe life to these characters. When it comes to Kermit, the training ground should be even longer than it is for other characters. He is Kermit--there's no one else like him--a national figurehead, for Pete's sake. These performances do him no justice.

    Gotta go to work but... argh. I just wish there was official word already.
  19. Super Scooter

    Super Scooter Well-Known Member

    My fandom is not based on whether or not Steve continues to play Kermit (although he IS the obvious and best choice for the role). My fandom is based on whether or not Kermit is Kermit. AGT Kermit was not. VMA Kermit was not. Even Steve's first appearance as Kermit in The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson was very nearly Kermit. AGT and VMA Kermit was nowhere near Kermit.

    I've said it before, Artie's puppetry talents are very good, and I think he could play plenty of good one-shot characters, maybe even create his own Muppet to join the rest of the cast on a regular basis some day. But his Kermit is just not right.

    As a puppeteer, I know that if a character I had been working with for 19 years was suddenly taken away from me, I would be devestated, and it upsets me to think that something like that could happen. It's appalling to think that this might have happened to Steve. I'm really hoping this isn't the case, but... it's hard not to think that at this point.

    My hope is that all is well with Steve. Steve, if you are ill, get well soon. If you've retired from performing Kermit, I send you my best with regards your future endeavors. If you're training an understudy... well... see the second paragraph of this post.

    :) :shifty: :coy: <--- Stevie Smilies
  20. Super Scooter

    Super Scooter Well-Known Member

    My apologies for double-posting, but, uh... AMEN!

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