Kermit the Frog Actor Fired for Making Kermit a ‘Bitter, Angry, Depressed, Victim’

There’s a possibly apocryphal story about The Muppets first appearance on The Tonight Show. IT says the crew was having a lot of problems recording the interview with Johnny Carson until they finally realized they had positioned the boom mics to pick up the puppets instead of the puppeteers. Even if it never really happened, it illustrated the way The Muppets seem almost magical, even to adults. So it feels a little strange to pull back the curtain and see the same bickering you might see on reality TV, if reality TV had awesome puppets.

Disney fired Steve Whitmire, the longtime Kermit performer who had been chosen to take over the role by Jim Henson himself. They claim that Whitmire had displayed “unacceptable business conduct” and had been disrespectful over issues with the character of Kermit. And I’d like to remind everyone we’re talking about a grown man and a multinational corporation worth billions of dollars arguing over how a puppet should act.

Whitmire apparently had a lot of problems with the most recent Muppet series that ran on ABC during the 2015-2016 series. He wasn’t the only one, as the series received middling reviews and ratings and only lasted for 16 episodes. The irritation from Disney is understandable, though, as no one on a Hollywood set wants notes from an actor, especially when that actor is playing a puppet.

Cheryl Henson, Jim Henson’s daughter and board member of Jim Henson Co., however, didn’t mince words about Whitmire in a Facebook post on the subject. She said that Whitmire’s dismissal was “long overdue” and that “Steve performed Kermit as a bitter, angry, depressed victim.”

And I can see her point, her. The last thing that Disney wants is for Kermit to sound like some Trump voter’s Twitter feed.

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