Frank Oz on How Disney Is Mishandling the Muppets: "They Don't Get It"

The legendary puppeteer says company executives have been remiss in not asking him and other veteran Muppet performers for advice: "They don't get the true rebellion and true affection underneath those characters."
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Frank Oz

Puppeteer Frank Oz, who had his hands inside Muppets from 1963 until Disney purchased the felt franchise in 2004, isn't thrilled with how the Mouse House is treating Kermit and the gang.

"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," Oz, 73, told THR's Kim Masters on a recent appearance on KCRW's The Business to promote the new documentary feature film Muppet Guys Talking. "They don't get the true rebellion and true affection underneath those characters."

Still, Oz, who offers that the spirit of Jim Henson "is still there," avers that the problems Disney is having are not unlike the issues any company faces when taking over another company. 

"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," he says. "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."

Click here for Masters' full interview with Oz. 

A version of this story first appeared in the March 21 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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