The Muppets Studio accuses “unacceptable business conduct” of firing Steve Whitmire as longtime performer of Kermit the Frog.
The explanation, released on Monday, follows Whitmire’s emotional blog post last week after her dismissal was made public. He says he learned last October that the role of Kermit would be recast.
Whitmire had been with the Muppets since 1978 and succeeded Kermit after the untimely death of Muppets founder Jim Henson in 1990.
The Muppets Studio did not detail the nature of Whitmire’s “repeated unacceptable business conduct”, but said it spanned “a period of years”, adding that he “systematically failed to respond”. feedback from his employers.
Related: Fired Kermit the Frog Puppeteer Exposes His Anguish in Blog Post
Whitmire could not immediately be reached for comment, but in an interview Monday with The Hollywood Reporter, he said the studio felt he had been too outspoken in expressing how the character of Kermit should be portrayed on the series. ABC primetime mockumentaries Muppets aired 2015. -16. Whitmire said he only tried to help keep the show “on track”.
The studio said veteran Muppets performer Matt Vogel is now taking over for Kermit.
Henson’s daughter and son told The New York Times on Monday that they support the decision to fire Whitmire.
Henson’s daughter, Lisa, told The Times that Whitmire had refused to form an understudy for low-level performances and was “playing a tightrope very aggressively in contract negotiations”. Lisa Henson is president of Jim Henson Co., which sold The Muppets brand to Disney in 2004.
Brian Henson, who is the company’s president, told The Times that Whitmire often sends emails attacking writers, directors and others involved in Muppets projects.
CORRECTION (July 18, 9:30AM): An earlier version of this article incorrectly included the puppeteer’s last name in a reference. His name is Steve Whitmire, not Whitmore.