New voice for Ker­mit the Frog

Matt Vo­gel tak­ing over from Steve Whit­mire

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ENTERTAINMENT - BY MARK KENNEDY

There’s a frog in a lot of throats across the coun­try as news has cir­cu­lated that Ker­mit the Frog is get­ting a new voice.

ABC News and The Hol­ly­wood Reporter re­port that Steve Whit­mire has left his role giv­ing life to the iconic Mup­pet. Whit­mire has voiced the char­ac­ter and made the char­ac­ter move since Mup­pets cre­ator Jim Hen­son’s death in 1990.

A Mup­pets Stu­dio spokes­woman tells the out­lets that long­time Mup­pets per­former Matt Vo­gel will be tak­ing over the role. Vo­gel has voiced such char­ac­ters as Big Bird, Robin the Frog and The Count.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives for Dis­ney, which owns Mup­pets Stu­dio, didn’t im­me­di­ately re­turn a re­quest for com­ment Tues­day about the mo­ti­va­tion be­hind the move.

In ad­di­tion to Ker­mit, Whit­mire had voiced grumpy critic Statler, Rizzo the Rat, the al­ways-star­tled Beaker and other char­ac­ters for the Mup­pets.

Chil­dren’s TV shows have sur­vived changes in key cast mem­bers be­fore, most no­tably when Elmo pup­peteer Kevin Clash re­signed from “Sesame Street’’ in 2012 amid al­le­ga­tions he sex­u­ally abused un­der­age boys. Elmo is now per­formed by Ryan Dil­lon.

Ker­mit made his de­but in a 1955 tele­vi­sion com­edy called “Sam and Friends,’’ which aired lo­cally in Washington, D.C., but he looked more lizard­like back then. Ker­mit was fash­ioned from an old coat be­long­ing to Hen­son’s mother and was named af­ter one of Hen­son’s child­hood friends.

Hen­son and his two-foot-tall pup­pet joined “Sesame Street’’ in 1969. “The Mup­pet Show’’ fol­lowed in 1976 and ended its run in 1982.

Whit­mire and Ker­mit were in­sep­a­ra­ble for years, with the two mak­ing TV ap­pear­ances on “Late Night with Jimmy Fal­lon,’’ ‘’30 Rock” and ‘’Satur­day Night Live” and in films like ‘’Mup­pets Most Wanted” and ‘’The Mup­pets” in 2011.

Vo­gel took over voic­ing the Count when “Sesame Street’’ reg­u­lar Jerry Nel­son died in 2012 and soon took over many of Nel­son’s char­ac­ters. Vo­gel told the fan site The Mup­pet Mind­set that he found it most dif­fi­cult to repli­cate the Robin voice.

“The voice is so much like Jerry’s that it makes it nearly im­pos­si­ble to get there. Some­times the more ‘char­ac­ter voice’ it is, the eas­ier it is to do,’’ he ex­plained

AP PHOTO

In this 2015, file photo, Ker­mit the Frog and pup­peteer Steve Whit­mire at­tend “The Mup­pets” panel on day 3 of Comic-Con In­ter­na­tional in San Diego. ABC News and The Hol­ly­wood Reporter re­ported this week that Whit­mire is no longer per­form­ing the char­ac­ter

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