Frank Oz Blasts Disney's Ownership of "The Muppets"
Frank Oz is not happy and he seems to think Disney is part of the problem! In a recent interview with The Guardian (via Uproxx), Oz sought to clear up some assumptions in relation to his lack of participation with the Muppets since 2007. In fact, until now, many assumed he official retired from voicing characters in the franchise. But, as it turns out, that's not at all the case. The real reason is Disney has never contacted him to return:
"I'd love to do the Muppets again but Disney doesn't want me, and Sesame Street hasn't asked me for 10 years. They don't want me because I won't follow orders and I won't do the kind of Muppets they believe in."
Oz didn't stop there though, going as far as to criticize Disney's iterations of the characters, saying "The soul's not there. The soul is what makes things grow and be funny. But I miss them and love them". Oz chalks this up to the "demarcation line between the Jim Henson Muppets and the Disney Muppets" which he elaborated on further:
"There's an inability for corporate America to understand the value of something they bought. They never understood, with us, it's not just about the puppets, it's about the performers who love each other and have worked together for many years."
Oz went on to speak ill of the massive corporation, even going as far as to blame them for the dead of Jim Henson, who died at the age of 53 due to streptococcal toxic shock syndrome:
"The Disney deal is probably what killed Jim. It made him sick. [Then-head of Disney, Michael] Eisner was trying to get Sesame Street, too, which Jim wouldn't allow. But Jim was not a dealer, he was an artist, and it was destroying him, it really was."
In other words, Oz's lack of involvement is not voluntary and it seems Oz takes this as a reflection of a lack of understanding by Disney in relation to the characters. Characters that actually helped ignite Oz's now-lifelong legacy as his career started as a puppeteer, bringing to life the Muppet characters of Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal, and Sam Eagle in The Muppet Show as well as Cookie Monster, Bert, and Grover in Sesame Street. Those characters' creations are as much his as they are Jim Henson's. So...it's easy to see why he's taking Disney's treatment of them personally.