Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Rainbow Correction

I have absolutely no talent for acting, and I stand in awe of those who can do it.  

Actually, I usually sit in awe of them, in front of a television set. It took me years to realize that Jack "Dragnet" Webb was not really a detective, nor was Andy Griffith really the sheriff of Mayberry. Actors who are so adept at their job as to really make us believe they are whom they portray are all too rare, and they turn a pretty dollar for doing so.

And while it's true that people are always buttonholing actors who play doctors for free medical advice, it's just as nutty for the actor to subscribe to the notion that they "are" their character. You hear this from time to time, an actor complaining about the lines he or she is given to act out, saying, "This is not how my character would handle this situation. 'Victor' would never tell 'Nikki' that 'Nicholas' could not play Little League baseball with 'Jack Abbott.'" The term "artistic integrity" is often dragged into the matter.

And all the while, the scriptwriter and director and producer and the guy who brings in coffee and pastry are shaking their heads, saying, "Just read the lines!"

Steve Whitmire is a voice actor who has worked with the Kermit The Frog show (even typing that seems silly!) since 1979, and he took over voicing the part of America's favorite amphibian upon the death of the show's creator, Jim Henson, in 1990.

And the people who produce the show for the Disney megaconglomerate told Whitmire last October that, since he had not taken their repeated requests to improve his conduct, he was out of the job.

Brian Henson took over the job of running the Kermit shows after his father died, and he feels that Whitmire stayed around for a long time too long. It seems that Henson and the Disney people feel that Whitmire was so deeply into the role that he refused to allow his bosses to tell him how to play it. 

"Steve would use 'I am now Kermit and if you want the Muppets, you better make me happy because the Muppets are Kermit,'"Henson said. "And that is really not OK."

Image result for steve whitmire kermit
Kermit (left), Whitmire
To which Whitmire said, "I see my most important task as providing a taste of the atmosphere created by Jim Henson to those Post-Jim core performers who will never otherwise come by it. 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."

Actually, sir, your job IS done, and you may pick up your paycheck on your way out the door.

If it's not your sandbox and not your little toy truck, you don't get to decide how the game is played. This means if you are the fry cook at Herbie's Diner, Herbie decides how many slices of American cheese you will put on a cheeseburger. If you are selling Buicks for Honest Herb's Downtown Buick, Herb sets the price for a new Park Avenue. 

If you have other ideas about how to cook or sell cars, by all means, open your own diner or dealership.

This might mean that Whitmire will set up another movie or tv show for a character made of felt, and there he will be free to play the part as he wishes.

We can only hope.

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