Disney confirmed to Deadline that Matt Vogel made his debut performance as the voice of Kermit the Frog in a new Muppet Thought of the Week video posted online Monday.
In July, Vogel was named as the replacement for Steve Whitmire, who had served as Kermit the Frog’s puppeteer for 27 years. In a blog post, Whitmire claimed he had been blindsided by the news and tried multiple times to remedy the situation. In the post, Whitmire talked about how he approached playing Kermit, saying: “My hope was to install it directly into their hearts and minds so that they could, in turn, be inspired to do the same for the next generation of performers instead of the characters becoming stale copies of their former selves. But, as I look around at what is presently transpiring it’s clear to me that the job is far from done.”
The Muppets Studio released an official statement about the termination of Whitmire, saying that they were concerned with his “repeated unacceptable business conduct over a period of many years” and how he “consistently failed to address the feedback.”
Cheryl Henson, a Jim Henson Co. board member and daughter of the late Muppets creator, followed the Muppets Studio statement with a Facebook post about the firing of Whitmire, claiming that his version of the story was “ridiculously self serving” and that he performed Kermit as a “bitter, angry, depressed, victim.”
Whitmire took over the role of Kermit in 1990 after the death of Jim Henson but had worked in the Muppets universe since 1978. Vogel performed as the Kermit doppelgänger Constantine in Muppets Most Wanted.