Frank Oz: Disney doesn't really understand the Muppets brand

Contributed by
Mar 22, 2018

One of the world's most recognizable puppeteers and voice actors is throwing some shade at Disney's handling of The Muppets. That would be Frank Oz, the original voice of Yoda, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal, Sam Eagle, Cookie Monster, Bert, and Grover. Needless to say, the man knows his iconic puppets. While promoting the documentary Muppet Guys Talking on KCRW's The Business, he stated that "They don't get the true rebellion and true affection underneath those characters."

Oz said that while he didn't want to "knock" Disney, he felt that they don't really have a firm grasp on what The Muppets are and should be. And while Disney might not like what Oz has to say, he is certainly an authority on the subject, having been with these characters from the beginning when the legendary Jim Henson was still running the show.

"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," said the 73-year-old filmmaker who recently reprised his role as Yoda in Star Wars: The Last Jedi

After decades of involvement with The Muppets, Disney acquired the rights to them in 2004 and made two movies with director James Bobin and tons of celebrity cameos. They also resurrected the Muppets TV show on ABC, which was not well-received and ended after one season of 16 episodes. 

"They really want to do a good job," Oz continued. "They’ve never asked me, and they have not asked the performers how to do it. 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."