A Disney executive has given the company’s stance on one of the most unexpected show biz beefs of business memory: the stoush between fired Kermit The Frog puppeteer Steve Whitmire, and the Disney-owned Muppets Studio.
Speaking to the New York Times
, Muppets Studio
head Debbie McClellan
hit back at Whitmire’s claims that he’d been cut free from the role of Kermit after 27 years over minor quibbles.
According to her, “repeated unacceptable business conduct” necessitated Whitmire’s booting. That’s a far sight from Whitmire’s claims that the Muppet Studio had minor complaints over his communications with execs, and the way he took the advice of the Screen Actor’s Guild not to participate on a third-party project.
Lisa Henson, daughter of Muppet mastermind Jim Henson and current torchbearer for the Jim Henson Company, elaborated on McLellan’s stance. She reckons Whitmire was notoriously difficult to negotiate with over contracts, and was consistently reluctant to show up-and-coming puppeteers the ropes.
A recent blog post
from Whitmire states “Muppet Performers are not created equal, and that’s a good thing!”,
and that “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.”
Brian Henson, Jim Henson’s son and chairman of the Company, added that Whitmire would “send emails and letters attacking everyone, attacking the writing and attacking the director.”
To the Times, Whitmire said “I’ve been laying awake at night for nine months”
trying to work out why the Studio would cut him loose over he issues he believed were easily solved.
We don’t like this beef, TBH. Not around something as pure as the felt-hearted Muppets, for chrissakes.