Steve Whitmire (Kermit the Frog and Ernie since 1990) no longer with the Muppets.

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by AKA, Jul 10, 2017.

  1. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Forum Resident

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    He gets a number of things wrong so color me skeptical about the experiences he lays out (not to say that he's lying about them, but more so that he got small details wrong so I don't think I can believe him about the bigger things).

    For one thing CTW (Children's Television Workshop) is now Sesame Workshop- CTW doesn't "own" Sesame Workshop or vice-versa because it's simply the same company with a new name (the name change happened several years ago).
     
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  2. balzac

    balzac Forum Resident

    Yeah, maybe the guy just isn't that detail oriented about a PA job he had for awhile, I dunno. I don't think the guy is making it up, and his recollections about personal experiences are probably things that stuck with him more than knowing which parent company took over which name, etc. As I said, It's just anecdotal stuff anyway. The guy admits he didn't even know Whitmire very well. He's basically just saying Muppet work in any area is like a lot of other jobs, with good and bad on both employee and management sides.

    Though now that I'm reading it, he refers to CTW as "Sesame's parent co.", which could be taken to mean the "Sesame Street" show, not "Sesame Workshop."
     
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  3. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Forum Resident

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    I miss the days when Steve was on Sesame if only because it meant we still got Muppet News Flashes with Kermit, and more Bert/Ernie sketches.
     
  4. MikaelaArsenault

    MikaelaArsenault Forum Resident

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    Me too.
     
  5. I bet he'd get top billing too.
     
  6. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Forum Resident

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    I wonder if they'll recast Rizzo or just retire the character?

    And what about Bean Bunny? Oh who am I kidding, nobody cares about Bean. :)
     
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  7. MikaelaArsenault

    MikaelaArsenault Forum Resident

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    I think Jim did most of the muppet news flashes, not Steve.
     
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  8. AKA

    AKA I got a custom title Thread Starter

    I think Sesame Street lost the right to use Kermit once Disney bought the Muppets. They can still use his old appearances in any medium they like, though.
     
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  9. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Forum Resident

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    Yup! You're right (sadly). :) Oh well I guess it's good they can still use the old clips on stuff like the (awesome) Old School DVDs and 40 Years Of Sunny Days DVD set.
     
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  10. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Forum Resident

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    Someone on The Muppet Central forum brought up an interesting point. Steve was 31 when he took over Kermit, and Matt is 47. That's a 16 year age difference. So, Matt's stint as Kermit will probably not be as long as Steve's was.
     
  11. czeskleba

    czeskleba Forum Resident

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    Seattle
    Matt's stint will probably also not be exclusive. My guess is that they will train one or more understudies who can also do Kermit. Cartoon voice director and historian Mark Evanier has talked on his blog about how it's pretty typical these days for corporations to not want to have just one person do a character exclusively, once the original voice actor has died (for example, there are currently several people who regularly do the voices of Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck). I read a story the other day about Whitmire preventing a TV commercial from being made by refusing to appear in it as Kermit, and of course there's Lisa Henson's comments about him refusing to appear at "b-list" events. I imagine they want a system in place that will prevent anything like that from happening again.
     
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  12. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Forum Resident

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    Yeah, that makes sense. Steve was against this (for the Disney Cruise Line stuff) because he thought there should only be "one Kermit" lest kids get confused about why Kermit (or whoever) sounds different.
     
  13. zebop

    zebop Well Known Member

    We're getting to the point where folks FB'ing "Kermit's "problems?" What's next, having Kermit on an episode of Intervention?

    To be very honest, I like Jim's version the best, I watched Kermit since the early 70's and he did change I do think Jim did give him a more charming personality and a better voice.
     
  14. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

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    I don't have a kid but if end up having one, I'd just buy the vintage Sesame Street and Muppet Show DVDs and be done with it. :)
     
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  15. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Forum Resident

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    Between that and the arcade machine you'd be one cool dad. :)
     
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  16. czeskleba

    czeskleba Forum Resident

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    Henson was largely just being himself (or at least being a character that in many ways resembled himself and was drawn from his own personality). Whereas Whitmire (and anyone else who does it) is imitating Henson. So there's clearly a different dynamic... creation versus imitation. I think there is a strong artistic argument to be made for Kermit not outliving his creator. That said, I can understand the sentimental and commercial reasons they kept him going.
     
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  17. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Forum Resident

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    I agree, but I'd rather have a slightly-less charming Kermit than no Kermit. :) What I mean is, The Henson Company was put in a really rough position and had to make a recasting decision pretty quickly given the circumstances. I think they told Steve they wanted him to take over Kermit within a month or two of Jim's death.
     
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  18. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

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    One of the things I was thinking of doing if that ever happens is have a streaming PC with 80s and 90s cartoons and kids shows that I thought were cool so if the kid wants to watch something, he'd never know what's on until he turns on the TV. And all the material would be dad-approved plus I wouldn't have any commercials so I wouldn't have my kid begging me to buy some useless trinkets.

    It would be easy to set up and would make things a lot easier. Also, the kid would need to exercise patience to see what he wants to see.
     
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  19. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Forum Resident

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    Okay, I approve of this but only if you include the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon. :)
     
  20. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

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    Stan was not doing well towards the end. Because of very kind people in the TV business -- many of whom looked on Freberg as one of the greatest TV legends who ever lived -- they would give him some work just to help his family keep up their house payments. He was really loved, but he had a lot of health issues in the last 10 years. I saw him at a tribute about 6 months before he died, and he was in terrible shape and had a hard time thinking and remembering stories. (In fairness to Stan, I should be so lucky as to live to 88 in any shape at all.)

    I can tell you he was as sharp as a tack in his 60s and 70s, and it was a crime that he didn't work as much in those years. Disney did use him on some of their 1990s TV shows, and he was exceptionally good.

    That's a very interesting story.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2017
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  21. Ghostworld

    Ghostworld Forum Resident

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    How hard is it to recast Kermit? It's like the easiest cartoon voice in the world to imitate.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2017
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  22. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Forum Resident

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    I can't believe I have to say this, but an amateur doing a half-assed imitation is not the same as A) Doing a character voice and B). Also being a professional puppeteer.

    It's not easy bein' green or finding someone who can both sound similar to or exactly like someone else's established character voice and also be a trained, qualified puppeteer.

    If you cast the wrong person, you can end up with something like this.



    :)
     
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  23. Solitaire1

    Solitaire1 Forum Resident

    PaulKTF wrote the following as part of a post"

    I agree that it is not easy to step into a role someone else has established. As an example, when they replaced the entire voice cast of Dragonball Z a number of the voices were very different from the previous ones. The voice actor who took over Krillin (Sonny Strait) was so different that it was jarring the first time I heard him and it took me a long time to get used to the new voice. The following video shows the difference:


    Likewise with Ranma 1/2, where they changed the voice of both sides (male and female) of Ranma. While the voice of the female Ranma was close to the original (she was replaced after only a few episodes), the new voice actor for male Ranma (who took over after the original had the role for years) sounded nothing like the original.
     
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  24. czeskleba

    czeskleba Forum Resident

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    Seattle
    As has been noted, there's a lot more to it than getting the voice right. You also have to be a skilled puppeteer, and beyond that, you have to be able to improvise Kermit's personality accurately in a variety of unscripted situations (think about how often Kermit appears on talk shows or at public events). The unscripted nature of a lot of Kermit's appearances make it a very different job from a cartoon voice.
     
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  25. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

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    After voice actor Noel Blanc (son of Mel) was nearly killed in a helicopter accident in the early 1990s, Warner Bros. quickly laid down a rule that said at any one time, they would always have at least two voice actors available who could do the voices of their most famous cartoon characters. Otherwise, if they had a guy like Noel -- who could literally do a dozen or two voices that were very close to his father's -- and he died or was critically injured and unable to work, it could really screw up the schedules for TV shows, movies, commercials, theme park rides, and video games.

    I would not be surprised if Disney does something similar with The Muppets, so that there is no "one person" who does the voice of Kermit or any of the other major characters. That way, if there's two people that are basically interchangeable, they can't hold up the company for more money or better conditions... or argue about script and character concerns on a show.

    They could always hire Ray Romano.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2017

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