Steve Whitmire is "No longer working with the Muppets."
We here at Muppet Stuff heard this a few months ago from a VERY reliable source. Despite the growing concern among fans, we were politely asked to keep it quiet.
|Steve Whitmire and I in 2002|
It looks like the cat (or frog) is now out of the bag. While we won't get into the details we heard - let's consider them office gossip and not worthy of our time - it still comes as a shock.
We, like the rest of you were still holding out hope that this was merely a rumor, temporary, or just a matter of scheduling and convenience.
The news to us, is that instead of hiring a new performing or elevating the ranks of a current assistant puppeteer, Matt Vogel will be Kermit the Frog's new right hand man. We'll also get to see the first footage of Matt's as Kermit in next week's “Muppets Thought of the Week” video.
Whitmire had been with The Muppets since the third season of The Muppet Show where he originated the roles of Rizzo and Lips. He was personally selected to take over Kermit after Jim Henson passed away in 1990.
There's no word yet on replacements on Whitmire's other characters or if he will work with The Henson company on their much delayed Fraggle Rock feature film.
We wish Steve all the best. He's been a great steward of Kermit and all characters he's played with The Muppets for the last 40 years.