Steve Whitmire, who voiced Kermit the Frog for 27 years, was fired for "unacceptable business conduct," The Muppet Studios said Monday.
"The role of Kermit the Frog is an iconic one that is beloved by fans and we take our responsibility to protect the integrity of that character very seriously," The Muppets Studio told The Hollywood Reporter. "We raised concerns about Steve's repeated unacceptable business conduct over a period of many years and he consistently failed to address the feedback. The decision to part ways was a difficult one which was made in consultation with the Henson family and has their full support."
Whitmire told The Reporter Monday that he still doesn't understand the decision, which he said was made over a union disagreement and plot suggestions he made.
"I am still trying to make sense of how those two issues were egregious enough to justify ending a 39-year career without at least giving me an ultimatum at the time the issue occurred, when I would have had a chance to correct my course," he said.
Whitmire also discussed the issue on his blog Sunday, writing that Muppets actors need to have a "historical perspective" and seek that knowledge from previous actors in order to perform well.
"I approach the Muppets as a lineage tradition," he wrote. "...For the Post-Jim (Henson) performers to really understand enough about the Muppets to carry on the lineage, they need to continue to be around the core performers Jim mentored as long as any of those people are willing and able to share."
He also said that he wanted to help pass down this information to avoid "the characters becoming stale copies of their former selves," but that events have not proceeded as he had hoped.
"My hope was to install it directly into their hearts and minds..." Whitmire wrote. "But, as I look around at what is presently transpiring it’s clear to me that the job is far from done."
Matt Vogel will step in as the new voice of Kermit. Joe Hennes, co-owner of Muppets website ToughPigs.com, told ABC News that Vogel will likely appear as Kermit in the Muppets' 'Thought of the Week' video series this week.
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