NEW MuppetsHenson Poll will be up for voting once NEW video with Matt's first performance of Kermit premieres! NEW Question: What do you think of Matt Vogel's first performance of Kermit in the 'Muppet Thought of the Week' on The Muppet's YouTube Channel? You can find the MuppetsHenson Poll at the TOP of the RIGHT SIDEBAR. Thanks for your participation!

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Boom! Announces Jim Henson’s Labyrinth 2017 Special

Boom! Studios and The Jim Henson Company have announced the upcoming release of Jim Henson’s Labyrinth 2017 Special, which will go on sale in November and features work from a host of acclaimed creators including Jeff Stokely (The Spire), Roger Langridge (Thor: The Mighty Avenger), Delilah S. Dawson (Ladycastle), Adam Smith (Jim Henson’s Labyrinth), Katie Cook (My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic), Ryan Sook (Batman Beyond) and Derek Kirk Kim (Tune).

“Jim Henson’s Labyrinth is home to some of the most memorable characters in pop culture,” said Sierra Hahn, Senior Editor. “Through our partnership with The Jim Henson Company, Archaia has been able to expand this world in meaningful and innovative ways. This Special is the first of a few projects that will excite longtime fans of the film and reveal to newcomers the magic and wonder of this singular world.”

This second annual special is an all-new collection of short stories that celebrates the various characters and creatures from the world of Labyrinth (1986). This includes the never-before-told story of how Sir Didymus met his trusted steed Ambrosius, and the story of a goblin running late to the famous “Dance Magic Dance” sequence from the iconic film. Look for it in comic book stores this November.

VIDEO: Steve Whitmire Discusses Firing in "Today Show" Interview + Cheryl Henson Interview

Monday, July 17, 2017

Disney Says It Fired Kermit the Frog Actor Over "Unacceptable Business Conduct"

From the Hollywood Reporter

"They felt I had been 'disrespectful' in being outspoken on character issues," Steve Whitmire said about being let go after 27 years.

Steve Whitmire, who had voiced Kermit the Frog for 27 years before being fired by Disney, says he was let go because he spoke up about changes being made to the character he felt were against what creator Jim Henson would've wanted. The Muppets Studio claims it was about how Whitmire conducted himself in the workplace.

In a Monday interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Whitmire explained that he was let go by Disney last October. He was given two reasons: Unwanted notes during the short-lived Muppets reboot on ABC and a union disagreement. News of his termination has since come to light after months of being told he was going to be "honored for his contributions" to the Muppets and the hope of working out issues with Disney brass.

"The first issue was that they felt I had been 'disrespectful' in being outspoken on character issues with the small group of top creative people during the ABC series," said Whitmire, who had been working with the Muppets since 1978. "I have been outspoken about what’s best for the Muppets since the Muppets came to Disney [2004], but the fact is I have respect for everyone who was involved in the creation of that series for their own particular contributions. At the same time, I also have insight into their limitations with respect to how well they know the Muppets."

Disney and The Muppets Studio have a differing interpretation of the terms of Whitmire's departure, stating that the voice actor exhibited "unacceptable business conduct." A source close to the studio told THR that Whitmire's communication style was "overly hostile and unproductive" and his way of negotiation delayed productions. His persistent unprofessional behavior over a number of years ultimately led to the decision, the source said.

"The role of Kermit the Frog is an iconic one that is beloved by fans and we take our responsibility to protect the integrity of that character very seriously," a spokesperson for The Muppets Studio told THR in a statement. "We raised concerns about Steve's repeated unacceptable business conduct over a period of many years and he consistently failed to address the feedback. The decision to part ways was a difficult one which was made in consultation with the Henson family and has their full support."

Whitmire, who was asked to take over Kermit by Henson's family after the creator's untimely death in 1990, said that an instance of a note was over a script for the new ABC series, canceled last year, in which Kermit lied to his nephew, Robin, about his breakup with Miss Piggy.

"I don't think Kermit would lie to him," Whitmire explained. "I think that is Robin came to Kermit he would say 'things happen, people go their separate ways, but that doesn't mean we don't care about you.' Kermit is too compassionate to lie to him to spare his feelings."

He continued, "We have been doing these characters for a long, long time and we know them better than anybody. I thought I was aiding to keep it on track and I think a big reason why the show was canceled (after one season last fall) was because that didn't happen. I am not saying my notes would have saved it, but I think had they listened more to all of the performers, it would have made a really big difference."

The second issue Whitmire says he was given concerning his termination was a union issue.

"The second issue was framed as 'refusing to work on a particular project’ some 15 months earlier," Whitmire explained. "I happened to get caught in the middle of a dispute on a contract classification between SAG-AFTRA and Disney Labor Relations which occurred while I was in-flight to work on the project and the associated commercial. I did in fact shoot the commercial, but was unable to shoot the material for the project in order to comply with my obligations to the guild. Ironically in that situation, my rep had negotiated a special deal with the guild so that we could do the work within the budget parameters for the project."

Whitmire says he is still baffled by the entire situation.

"I am still trying to make sense of how those two issues were egregious enough to justify ending a 39-year career without at least giving me an ultimatum at the time the issue occurred when I would have had a chance to correct my course," he said.

Matt Vogel will take over as Kermit the Frog. His first time as the character will be in a “Muppets Thought of the Week” video this week.

"I’m actually responsible for Matt having become a part of the Disney Muppets," Whitmire said. "The performers are my brothers, my family of choice. That includes Matt, and the hardest part of this is knowing we probably will never work together again. He’s very talented with the Muppets he is already performing and he was chosen by Jerry Nelson prior to his death to carry Jerry’s characters forward."

His range of emotions since being let go have run the gamut, Whitmire told THR.

"The hardest part is that I genuinely like both of the executives who chose this action and that makes this all the more disappointing," he said. "My sadness is over knowing how important it is for the success of the Muppets to have the characters remain consistent and seeing the value of that ignored."

Whitmire, who was among those at the hospital when Henson died, says he plans to move onto new projects. Still, there was a magic to Kermit he will never forget, he said.

"The look he brings into the eyes of anyone of any age who meets him in person," Whitmire said of his love for the character. "I can’t take credit for that, but have been truly honored to keep Jim’s spirit intact

The Muppet Performers are not Interchangeable by Steve Whitmire

Steve Whitmire's has posted another blog entry for July 16th, 2017. Check it out HERE or read below.

Muppet Performers are not created equal, and that’s a good thing! We all bring unique strengths to the ensemble. That’s why we never switch around characters between us (except to stand in) because, despite all the conjecture, there is actually no such thing as Jim’s Kermit and Steve’s Kermit – There is only Kermit.

He either shows up intact with all his historical mental faculties at his disposal, or it isn’t him. This is true for each of the Muppets. Anything else is manufactured, and the Muppets haven’t lasted for all these years without fully showing up. When they haven’t, you’re not shy about pointing that out. Neither am I, and we’ll talk more about that soon.

For discussion purposes, lets split the present-day core Muppet Performers into two broad categories. We’ll call them the ‘Jim-Era Performers’ and the ‘Post-Jim Performers’, those Jim chose to bring in himself, and those who were chosen in a variety of ways after his death.


It’s a real blessing that the Post-Jim performers are brilliant and devoted to doing the best they can to preserve Jim’s legacy by carrying on classic characters as faithfully as they know how. At the same time, they never knew Jim or Richard, and barely worked with Frank if at all, so when it comes to those characters, the starting point in assuming the roles is often limited to their observations as fans. Now, it’s not that fans don’t know who the characters are, they do; you do. It’s just that our job as the linear souls of the Muppets is different than your job as the impassioned viewers.


As fans, you can interpret the characters however you please in whatever way you relate to them. When you sense that something is off, you don’t have to fix it, but I do. It’s up to the Muppet Performers to be purposely maintaining the consistency of the characters they perform. That’s because beyond owners, producers, directors, and writers, that singular performer will be the ongoing thread in the life of a character indefinitely.


Once even the most educated and devoted fan is charged with inhabiting one of the core characters that has its origins in another performer, it becomes necessary to gain as much knowledge of the interior depth of that character and that original performer as possible.


The point is that there is so much vital and significant knowledge that was gained by the dwindling few of us who consistently stood next to Jim. From his characters to his methods and philosophies, it’s stuff you can never fully intuit from watching the Muppets. I know that to be true because I, too, was a completely obsessive Muppet fan with preconceived notions of my own that had to be unlearned when Jim hired me in 1978.


I approach The Muppets as a lineage tradition. For the inside knowledge-base steeped in its origins to survive and be passed down, there has to be a line of transmission, or you had to be there. For the Post-Jim performers to really understand enough about the Muppets to carry on the lineage they need to continue to be around the core performers Jim mentored as long as any of those people are willing and able to share.


None of this is a value judgement of any individual, it is a pointing out of the value of historical perspective so long as that perspective is used progressively. Having had the opportunity to spend the last 27 years cultivating knowledge of Jim along with feeling his presence through Kermit, I find myself at a place where evolving Jim’s vision has begun coming from a deep empathetic connection to him.


So, I see my most important task as providing a taste of the atmosphere created by Jim Henson to those Post-Jim core performers who will never otherwise come by it. My hope was to install it directly into their hearts and minds so that they could, in turn, be inspired to do the same for the next generation of performers instead of the characters becoming stale copies of their former selves. But, as I look around at what is presently transpiring it’s clear to me that the job is far from done.


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Steve Whitmire Continues to Speak Out

Steve Whitmire continues to update his blog with more thoughts and feelings towards this week's shocking news. Check them out HERE on his official blog or read his latest entries below.


The Latenight Double Feature ‘Post’ Show
July15th, 2017

“Why Don’t You Get Things Started???”, the audience exclaimed.

First I have to say that I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support in your comments, from friends old and new, celebrities, press, and fans worldwide. You have no idea how much that means to me. I keep tearing up as I try to read…my keyboard is a mess…. That might explain the technical difficulties that have prevented me from posting. Hopefully things are working and you are reading Thursday’s post now.

I understand and appreciate your range of emotions from sorrow to outrage as I have traveled that path myself. There are many things to tell you about all of this so in order to avoid writing boring dissertations, I am (hopefully) going to break this into more manageable and digestible bits. Plus, its Saturday and I have grass to mow…and laundry to do…

Since so many of you have responded to the last sentence of my first post, “failed in my duty to my hero”, please indulge me in adding a bit more to try to clarify.

I guess I always thought of the work I’ve done with the Muppets as tending my little portion of the garden, you know? But, in the big scheme of all the fear, negativity and really bad stuff in our world it seemed quite small and often ineffective.

I would read cynical comments to fan’s concerns like, ‘I don’t know what the big deal is. It’s just a bunch of puppets’ or ‘Get a life! Anybody can do a Kermit impression…’, and there was a part of me that couldn’t help taking it personally because I realized that, in my mind at least, they were trampling Jim’s legacy. I get pretty defensive when people go after those I care about.

While Jim was unassuming and graceful, he was also powerful in his gentleness and integrity. And those ‘cute little Muppets’ who so many think are for kids were, at their best, raucous, irreverent, outspoken and rebellious against injustice. So, when I speak of ‘failing’ in my duty, a big part of what I mean is this:

Do the Muppets matter in today’s world? Your comments – indicate that they do.

If they matter, then their history matters. Being at their best is vital. I believe characters like Kermit need to remain built on the sturdy foundation of their past in order to be progressive going forward. Integrity is everything, and that’s true for the Muppets, as well. As one of the last two active originators of the Muppets, I still have a big job to do before the next group can effectively step in.

It is no longer the Muppets if core values are lost or discarded. While I fought very hard for the integrity of the Muppets over the last twelve years largely to my own detriment, maybe I should have fought even harder and louder…and, yes, I would have likely been gone sooner… I fear I was the last samurai.

S


The Latenight Double Feature ‘Post’ Show
Second Show
July 16th, 2017

Website Woes: Notifying all of you who have asked is not quite working, but I’m trying to figure it out…

Having read literally every comment left on the first post, I want to point out one left by Peter A. Cancilla. If you’re interested here are the answers to the questions he poses:

Are you burnt-out and disillusioned?

Burnt-out, no. Disillusioned, yes. Or maybe a better term is disappointed. I firmly stand by my belief that the needs of a large corporation can indeed be balanced with the creative needs of an anomalous franchise like the Muppets. In my opinion, this relationship should be the very definition of symbiosis, and though these two factors have often appeared to be seemingly irreconcilable, the integration of Jim Henson’s essentials with doing business progressively and effectively has been my primary goal for the Muppets over the last dozen years within Disney.

At this point what is your desire?
Do you feel taking an indefinite break from a ‘Muppets’ you possibly no longer recognize may be the only option for your peace of mind?
Or, if given the chance would you jump back into the work and continue pushing for the tone and personality you know to be appropriate for these sacred characters even if you cannot win every battle? 

You’re correct that the Muppets are fast becoming something I no longer recognize, but my desire stays the same: to continue doing what I think is best for the Muppets to whatever extent and on whatever level I am asked. If that means doing nothing more than performing Kermit and the other characters in which I am established and forsaking the offering of unsolicited input, then so be it.

For the record, I officially offered to do exactly that within that first telephone call, a second time by communicating it through my attorney, and I committed to memorializing it in writing. It was flatly refused. Do with that what you will…

…More tomorrow. Best to you all!

NEW MuppetsHenson Poll NOW Up! - Matt Vogel's First Performance of Kermit in 'Muppet Thought of the Week'

NEW MuppetsHenson Poll is now up for your votes!

This week's question deals with Matt Vogel's first performance of Kermit in the 'Muppet Thought of the Week'.

Here is this week's question:

What do you think of Matt Vogel's first performance of Kermit in the 'Muppet Thought of the Week' uploaded on The Muppet's YouTube Channel on July 17th, 2017?

Let us know what you think. You can find the MuppetsHenson Poll at the TOP of the RIGHT SIDEBAR. 

Thanks for your participation!

MuppetsHenson Poll FINAL Results - NEW "Labyrinth" Film Announced


A NEW "Labyrinth" film, scheduled to begin shooting this fall, has just been announced from Tri-Star and The Jim Henson Company. The new project is not a remake nor a reboot but rather a continuation of the story set in the rich Henson universe. Are you interested in seeing another film set in this universe?
YES 85% (94)
NO 15% (16)
Total votes: 110   Voters: 107