Frank Oz, Man Behind Muppets, Says Disney Doesn’t Want Him
If you've ever seen Fozzie Bear, Grover, Cookie Monster, or Bert from Bert and Ernie fame then you know Frank Oz. Frank along with Muppers creator Jim Henson are responsible for the furry creatures weaving their way into the fabric of American life. Now, Frank Oz, the master "muppeteer" says Disney, the new "owners" of the Muppet franchise don't want him.
The Disney Corporation which can be a lot colder than their spokesmouse Mickey would want you to believe purchased the Muppets back in 2004. Oz maintains that there is a clear line of demarcation between the Jim Henson Muppets and the Disney-controlled Muppets. Oz, speaking in an interview with The Guardian, suggested that Disney doesn't want the kind of performances and characters that he and Henson worked so hard to perfect.
Oz maintains that the "Disney" version of the characters has no soul. Oz should know about the inner workings of the Muppets and their characters. He was one of Jim Henson's closest creative partners when the characters first gained recognition back in 1963. Oz was Bert to Henson's Ernie on Sesame Street. He was Fozzie Bear to Henson's Kermit the Frog.
Oz moved to New York in the late 60s to work with Henson. Needless to say if you grew up in the 70s and 80s then you are probably very familiar with the work of these two creative minds. Here's another tidbit for you too, did you know Frank Oz was the mastermind behind the Yoda character for Star Wars? It was Oz who coined the "unique" way of speaking that Yoda is now known for.
It's quite possible that Oz believes Disney may have played a part in Henson's death. Henson died in 1990 of streptococcal toxic shock. Oz believes that Henson, who was in negotiations with Disney CEO Michael Eisner at the time became sick because of those negotiations. Oz even suggested that Disney was targeting Sesame Street too in his purchase of Henson's characters.
Oz laments in the interview with The Guardian that he is no longer to work with Sesame Street either saying it has been at least a decade since he's performed for that television show.
I guess there is a season and a reason to change. Perhaps this is just the next evolution in the Muppet Universe. Or perhaps this is corporate greed pushing the artist to the side while profiting mightly over the prostituted version of the character the artist spent so much time developing and bringing to life. Maybe it's just the rantings of a bitter older performer. I wouldn't know about that, but I do know I will look at some of my favorite muppet characters a lot differently in the future.
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