AceShowbiz - Brian Henson, the chairman of the Jim Henson Company and the son of the late legendary "The Muppets" creator, has broken his silence regarding the dismissal of longtime Kermit the Frog actor %cSteve Whitmire%. "I really don't want to be talking about this," Brian shared, before adding that he was sad that this became an issue.
Whitmire, who played Kermit the Frog for 27 years, previously revealed that he was fired for being "disrespectful" in being outspoken on character issue. In response to the statement, Henson revealed that he had always wanted to replace Whitmire before selling the company to Disney in 2004.
"I have to say, in hindsight, I feel pretty guilty that I burdened Disney by not having recast Kermit at that point because I knew that it was going to be a real problem," Henson shared. "And I have always offered that if they wanted to recast Kermit, I was all for it, and I would absolutely help. I am very glad we have done this now. I think the character is better served to remove this destructive energy around it."
In fact, it was Henson and his late mother Jane who picked Whitmire to take over the role following the death of his father in 1990. "Nobody worked harder than me on making sure Kermit survived my father's death and retained his cathartic personality and presence. So I understand the fans being concerned," he said.
However, Henson revealed that despite being a fantastical technical puppeteer and impersonator, Whitmire had been his concern due to his unprofessional conduct, including "appalling" communication with colleagues, "outrageous demands" and playing "brinkmanship." While he refused to go into specific details of Whitmire's demands, Henson opened up, "Steve would use 'I am now Kermit and if you want the 'Muppets', you better make me happy because the 'Muppets' are Kermit.' And that is really not OK."
As for the replacement for Whitmire, Henson is seemingly fond of puppeteer Matt Vogel. "There was a lot of complexities to Kermit that have been kind of falling away, and I do believe Matt Vogel can access that energy really well," he gushed. "And Matt is a very good performer. And I believe that in protecting Kermit going forward, Matt will do a really wonderful job. I think the fans should not be so scared of change. Steve did Kermit for a very long time-I would say for far too long. And the character was no longer being serviced by Steve performing Kermit."
While Whitmire claimed that he was fired for being "disrespectful" in being outspoken, Disney and The Muppets Studio previously stated that his departure was needed due to his "unacceptable business conduct." A source said that Whitmire's communication style was "overly hostile and unproductive."