frank oz on disney

We’ve seen The Muppets regularly on the small and big screen ever since Disney purchased the rights to the beloved puppet characters from the Jim Henson Company in 2004. So why is the old magic just not there?

It’s because Disney just doesn’t “get it,” master puppeteer and former Muppets performer Frank Oz says.
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The Muppets Reboot

Disney’s history with keeping The Muppets alive has been hit or miss. Their glory days were in the 1970s and 1980s when The Muppet Show was a hit television program that inspired successful hits like The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper and The Muppets Take Manhattan. Though there have been bright spots since then, various attempts to keep the characters in the spotlight since then have never quite measured up to how good they were when Jim Henson was still alive. But Disney just doesn’t know how to quit them.

Word out of Hollywood is that Disney is keen on bringing the Muppets back yet again. But rather than bringing them to network television, the Muppets will get a new series on the forthcoming Disney streaming service that slated to launch in the fall of 2019. Read More »

Revisiting ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’ 25 Years Later

Revisiting The Muppet Christmas Carol

Too few adaptations of Charles Dickens’ iconic A Christmas Carol are gimmick-free. Though a couple of stellar versions exist that focus squarely on Dickens’ story of redemption during the holidays, focusing on a nasty moneylender, the majority of adaptations are defined by their unique and extra hook. It’s A Christmas Carol — but as a modern comedy starring Bill Murray! It’s A Christmas Carol — but in motion-capture animation with Jim Carrey playing multiple roles! It’s A Christmas Carol — but as a big, splashy musical starring a young Albert Finney! And so on.

This month marks the 25th anniversary of another Christmas Carol adaptation, and one with a pretty obvious gimmick: The Muppet Christmas Carol. Remarkably, though, The Muppet Christmas Carol features one of the best-ever Ebenezer Scrooges on film, often to the point where it feels like a better Christmas Carol adaptation as opposed to being a good Muppet movie.

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The Morning Watch - How The Incredibles Should Have Ended

The Morning Watch is a recurring feature that highlights a handful of noteworthy videos from around the web. They could be video essays, fanmade productions, featurettes, short films, hilarious sketches, or just anything that has to do with our favorite movies and TV shows.

In this edition, find out how Pixar’s The Incredibles should have ended. Plus, take a tour of the new Jim Henson exhibition on display at the Museum of the Moving Image and watch a video essay looking closely at how David Fincher uses music in his films. Read More »

Morning Watch - Groundhog Day

(The Morning Watch is a recurring feature that highlights a handful of noteworthy videos from around the web. They could be video essays, fanmade productions, featurettes, short films, hilarious sketches, or just anything that has to do with our favorite movies and TV shows.)

In this edition, learn about the one bad thing that came from the making of Groundhog Day. Plus, watch as Jim Carrey gets a little existential during a New York Fashion Week red carpet interview gone astray and see The Muppets perform “Rainbow Connection” live at The Hollywood Bowl. Read More »

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new kermit voice

(Welcome to The Disney Discourse, a recurring feature where Josh Spiegel discusses the latest in Disney news. He goes deep on everything from the animated classics to the theme parks to live-action franchises. In this edition: why does Disney not know what to do with the Muppets?)

Earlier this week, a much-ballyhooed change to one of the most enduring characters in modern popular culture was unveiled, but you’d be forgiven for not noticing.

In their newest entry of the weekly series entitled “Muppet Thought of the Week,” the Muppets’ YouTube channel displayed a brand new Kermit the Frog. Kermit, of course, still looks the same, but if you watch the video and think he sounds a bit different – you’re right! The character, created and performed by Muppet honcho Jim Henson until his untimely passing in 1990, had been voiced and performed by Steve Whitmire for over 25 years. As of now, another longtime Muppet performer, Matt Vogel, portrays Kermit.

Earlier in the summer, this unexpected and abrupt passing of the torch was detailed at length online because of the mysterious nature of why Whitmire had been fired from the Jim Henson Company after performing as Kermit in multiple films, TV shows, and specials. (/Film wrote about some of these details last month, if you want further context.) It’s unfortunate, at best, to see the seeming in-fighting between Whitmire and the Jim Henson Company become so public. However, the unveiling of the new Kermit raises another, larger frustration. It would be easy to criticize Vogel’s performance as Kermit in that new video — he predictably doesn’t sound like the Kermit portrayed by either Henson or Whitmire, so it will at least take some getting used to — but it’s kind of hard to muster up a lot of commentary about a video that is literally less than 30 seconds long. This, in effect, speaks to the real problem: the Walt Disney Company has owned the Muppets for nearly 15 years, and this is how they decide to introduce a new Kermit the Frog? This is how they handle the Muppets?

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Listen to the New Voice of Kermit the Frog

new voice of kermit the frog

A month after longtime Kermit performer Steve Whitmire was fired by Disney, the new voice of Kermit the Frog has debuted in an online clip.

Matt Vogel just made his first public debut as the voice of Kermit, a role that has long been held by Whitmire since Jim Henson passed away in 1990, in a brief YouTube clip for the “Muppet Thought of the Week.”

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Jim Henson and Kermit

Jim Henson fans in New York City, take note. Your next journey should be to the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens.

/Film was able to catch a sneak preview of The Jim Henson Exhibition, a new permanent exhibition devoted to the life and work of the most famous puppeteer that has ever lived. While the museum has featured muppets and art from Henson before, this time it’s going to stay there forever, a fitting tribute to a man who continues to touch people’s lives.

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kermit the frog actor

Steve Whitmire has played Kermit the Frog for 27 years, taking over from beloved puppeteer and creator Jim Henson after his death in 1990. But after nearly three decades of playing the beloved Muppet, Whitmire was suddenly dismissed by Disney, and the job of being green would go to pupeteer Matt Vogel.

Now, Whitmire is speaking up about his unceremonious firing, which he says was because he spoke up about changes to the character that he felt were against Henson’s wishes. Disney and the Muppets Studio have different reasons, however.

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Steve Whitmire

Earlier this week, we told you that Steve Whitmire, the performer who has been playing Kermit The Frog since Jim Henson’s death in 1990, was leaving The Muppets and that Muppeteer Matt Vogel would be taking on the iconic role. Since the report, we’ve heard a lot of rumors, most of them suggesting that Whitmire was let go by Muppet Studio months ago in quick order. Now for the first time in the nine months since being let go from the prestigious gig, Whitmire is finally ready to talk about the decision. Read Steve’s heartbreaking personal blog about the departure.

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