Legendary puppeteer and actor Frank Oz reckons that Disney is ruining The Muppets because the studio ‘doesn’t get’ the essence of the characters.
Oz, who performed a host of Muppet characters from Fozzie Bear and Miss Piggy to Animal from the show’s inception, added that Disney should be listening more to the performers if it wants to get the franchise right.
The last iteration of the Muppets aired on the ABC network in 2015 and 2016, a TV series made in mockumentary style, filmed behind the scenes of Up Late with Miss Piggy, a fictional late-night talk show.
But it was cancelled after a single season.
“As much as Disney loves The Muppets and wants the best for The Muppets – and they truly believe they can do it – they don’t get it,” he told KCRW (via The Hollywood Reporter).
“They don’t get the true rebellion and true affection underneath those characters.”
Disney bought the rights to the Muppets in 2004, with Jason Segel coming in to revive Kermit and friends in the critically lauded 2011 movie The Muppets.
A 2014 sequel, Muppets Most Wanted, starring Ricky Gervais, performed less well at the box office, however.
“By the way, I don’t mean to knock Disney, they really want to do a good job. They’ve never asked me, and they have not asked the performers how to do it,” Oz added.
“If they just did that – the performers are so brilliant – instead of an outside person, let the performers lead. Then it would be a whole different deal. The audience would appreciate the purity of that.”
Last year, the Muppets hit the news after Disney dismissed Steve Whitmire, the voice of Kermit the Frog since 1990, replacing him with Matt Vogel, already the voice of several other Muppets.
Whitmire claimed that he was fired unfairly, but the Henson family later accused him of making ‘outrageous demands’.