Recently, longtime Kermit The Frog puppeteer Steve Whitmire confirmed that he had been fired by Disney and The Muppets Studio a few months back, citing “two stated issues” as the supposed cause without explaining what those issues actually were.
It’s important to bear in mind that the story surrounding Steve Whitmire, the actor who’s portrayed Kermit the Frog consistently since the death of Jim Henson, is still not entirely clear.
Deadline has requested clarification from Whitmire about the reasons for his firing.
In its statement Monday the Muppets Studio did not detail Whitmire’s “repeated unacceptable business conduct”, but said it spanned “a period of many years”. “I have been outspoken about what’s best for the Muppets since the Muppets came to Disney , but the fact is I have respect for everyone who was involved in the creation of that series for their own particular contributions”, Whitmire told the Hollywood Reporter.
In his blog post, Whitmire writes: “As I am sure you can imagine, I have experienced every possible emotion since October 2016, when I received a phone call from The Muppets Studio’s executives to say they were recasting”.
For example, he took issue with an episode of the new ABC series, canceled after one episode, that had Kermit lying to his nephew about his relationship with Miss Piggy.
For Whitmire, the Muppets “are not just a job, or a career, or even a passion”.
Whitmire defended the first reason, telling THR, “We have been doing these characters for a long, long time and we know them better than anybody”. The source told THR that there was no single incident that sparked the firing, but rather “issues that went on for many years”.
This story’s no doubt going to develop more in the coming weeks and months, so it’s worth staying tuned to see what Whitmire reveals next, and where Disney takes the Muppets brand next (as they’ve clearly got something in the works). The Muppets reboot was cancelled after a single season past year. He also thinks the show might have been spared cancellation if the studio had listened more closely to the Muppet talent.
The second issue Whitmire says he was given concerning his termination was a union issue. Whitmire allegedly refused to work on a particular project, which, according to him, only happened because he got caught in the middle of a dispute on a contract classification between SAG-AFTRA and Disney Labor Relations. Though it would appear that former Kermit actor, Steve Whitmire, will be leaving the role on a bit of sad note. His first time as the character will be in a “Muppets Thought of the Week” video this week. “The performers are my brothers, my family of choice”. Henson was the original voice actor for the said character. Finally, speaking to one singular aspect of Kermit that particularly continues to reverberate and inspire, Whitmire spoke to the continuing magic of the character residing in, “The look he brings into the eyes of anyone of any age who meets him in person”.