Kermit 'puppeteer' learns it's not easy being green
KERMIT may have been left speechless - but his longtime puppeteer has plenty to say about being ousted from Muppet Studios.
Puppeteer Steve Whitmire - recently fired by the Disney-owned children's entertainment company - has broken his silence, saying he's "devastated" at losing the job he loved and "failed in my duty" to Muppets creator Jim Henson.
Whitmire, who's been inseparable from the suave green frog for 27 years, said the Muppets consumed his life - and denied voluntarily leaving the gig.
"For me the Muppets are not just a job, or a career, or even a passion. They are a calling, an urgent, undeniable, impossible to resist way of life," Whitmire wrote in an emotional blog post.
"I feel that I am at the top of my game, and I want all of you who love the Muppets to know that I would never consider abandoning Kermit or any of the others because to do so would be to forsake the assignment entrusted to me by Jim Henson, my friend and mentor, but even more, my hero."
Whitmire said he got the call last October from Disney executives who told him they were recasting Kermit's puppeteer over two "issues" and that he's stayed quiet since then in hopes they'd change their mind.
"I have offered multiple remedies to their two stated issues which had never been mentioned to me prior to that phone call," he wrote.
Whitmire has worked with the Muppets since 1978 and voiced Kermit since Henson's death in 1990. He was also the man behind Statler, Rizzo the Rat, Beaker and other characters for the Muppets.
News of Kermit's recasting broke this week.
Whitmire is being replaced by another longtime Muppets puppeteer Matt Vogel, who has done Big Bird, Robin the Frog and The Count.
He apologised for letting down his and Kermit's fans.
"I just want you all to know that I am sorry if I have disappointed any of you at any point throughout our journey, and to let everyone know that I am devastated to have failed in my duty to my hero," he concluded.