Kermit puppeteer says he was sacked for giving "unwanted notes"

Steve Whitmire and Kermit.   Getty Images

"The decision to part ways was a hard one which was made in consultation with the Henson family and has their full support".

The former Kermit the Frog voice actor said that he's still confused why Disney made a decision to end his 39-year career the way they did.

When Disney fired him last October, Steve Whitmire shared that they gave him two reasons why they chose to hire a new voice actor for Kermit the Frog: He was "disrespectful" in voicing his opinions during the Muppets reboot on ABC and a union disagreement.

UPDATED with Muppets Studio statement: Steve Whitmire, the longtime Kermit the Frog puppeteer recently fired by Disney's Muppets Studio, says he is "devastated" and was denied the opportunity for a face-to-face discussion over the studio's "drastic action". Dismissing any suggestion that he left voluntarily, Whitmire writes, "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 told the Hollywood Reporter that he felt that he had been canned because execs "felt [he] had been "disrespectful" in being outspoken on character issues" with creative staff.

"I have been outspoken about what's best for the Muppets since the Muppets came to Disney (in 2004), but the fact is I have respect for everyone who was involved in the creation of that series for their own particular contributions", he said.

But in a Facebook post, Henson's daughter and Jim Henson Co. board member Cheryl Henson said that Whitmore got the green furry boot because his "performance of Kermit has strayed far away from my father's good-hearted, compassionate leader of the Muppets". The Muppets reboot was cancelled after a single season a year ago.

Steve Whitmire, who voices Kermit the Frog attends Dragon Con.

"So much hope is gone", he said. "I am not saying my notes would have saved it, but I think had they listened more to all of the performers, it would have made a really big difference", he added. Whitmire said he had only been trying to help keep the show "on track".

The second issue over a union disagreement Whitmire says was because he was "caught in the middle of a dispute on a contract classification between SAG-AFTRA and Disney Labor Relations". "Ironically in that situation, my rep had negotiated a special deal with the guild so that we could do the work within the budget parameters for the project". The voice actor and puppeteer told THR that he remained baffled by the studio's decision, especially since he was not given "an ultimatum at the time the issue occurred". Earlier this month, the Muppets Studio confirmed - but did not explain - that Whitmire is being replaced by Matt Vogel, who previously performed as Kermit imitator Constantine in Muppets Most Wanted.

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