Dear Muppet Studios,
In 2006 I was working on the road with the ABC show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Our host, Ty Pennington, was off for the Craft family episode in Hondo, Texas season 3 so our guest host was Kermit the Frog voiced by Steve Whitmire. I was ecstatic to have the opportunity to work with him again. The Muppets had appeared as guests on the Harris family episode in Center Point, Alabama the season 2. The rights to the Muppets franchise had just been acquired by Disney in 2004 and was experiencing a wonderful revitalization of success in film and television.
Kermit(Steve) and his team stepped in with all their equipment, props, and magic and seamlessly worked under our incredible time constraints to demolish, build, and decorate a home in under 7 days on a real construction site. I knew at the time how crazy this was but was astounded that my childhood heroes could pull it off with all the preparation, expertise, and humor they had always provided to the Muppet Show and Sesame Street. Steve made our jobs so easy with his professionalism, dexterity, and incredible sense of humor. Kermit shined in this episode as always and the family was blown away by all our hard work. At the time I had young children at home who were big fans of the Muppets. When the Craft family episode aired they lost their mind when Kermit said hello to me on camera. I was always so grateful for Kermit’s(Steve’s) decision to do that.
In 2011 a friend was working on The Muppets movie for Sony Pictures. I brought my two daughters to set to meet the cast. It was so fun to reunite with Kermit(Steve) after 6 years. We stayed for the filming of the finale scene and during breaks my girls had chats with Kermit. I remember thinking how amazing it was that someone could be that patient, humble, professional, and kind after 33 years with the franchise. He showed me what true dedication looks like.
I still have the letter Steve wrote to our Extreme Makeover: Home Edition team after the Craft family episode was complete. Excerpts below show just how smart and in tune this man was with the world, love, and work. I keep this letter to remind me of those days and the thought of someone like Steve being pulled from his work is unfathomable. Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book called Outliers. In this book he describes the recipe for a genius is in the 10,000-Hours Rule. If Steve has put the typical hours into his work at 40 hours/week and 2080 in a year. Steve has been Kermit for 56,160 hours. (having started his role as Kermit in 1990 after working for the Muppets since 1978).
This makes Steve Whitmire a genius 5 times over in being Kermit the Frog. How on earth could you turn away from this kind of experience, expertise, and dedication?
Please on behalf of artists who dedicate their lives to a craft, keep Steve Whitmire’s hand and voice with Kermit. Kermit can age or make mistakes or question authority or do whatever he has done that made you want to replace him. Kermit is human because of Jim Henson and Steve Whitmire.
Nancy Hadley, Steve Whitmire fan
“For those of you who have been involved with show business for a relatively short time, say ten to fifteen years, a time will come in your life when you assess and reevaluate your career. You will look back and there will be times and projects that will stand out as extra special and you might even look at them as “the best thing I ever worked on”. I urge each of you to take in these moments as you work on this series and realize that through the perhaps ridiculous hours and the seemingly insane schedules, this may be your “best thing I ever worked on”.
-Steve’s thoughts after hosting Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
It didn’t take a genius to see how great EMHE was but it was certainly an honor to have a genius come out and show us how it is done!