Whitmire told The Hollywood Reporter that Disney terminated him because they didn't appreciate his character notes during the filming of the short-lived Muppets revival on ABC.
"The first issue was that they felt I had been 'disrespectful' in being outspoken on character issues with the small group of top creative people during the ABC series," Whitmire told the trade publication. "I have been outspoken about what's best for the Muppets since the Muppets came to Disney [in 2004], but the fact is I have respect for everyone who was involved in the creation of that series for their own particular contributions. At the same time, I also have insight into their limitations with respect to how well they know the Muppets."
However, Disney says it was about a lot more than "notes" and that Whitmire's battling over character direction was not only disrespectful, but would cause delays in production.
"The role of Kermit the Frog is an iconic one that is beloved by fans and we take our responsibility to protect the integrity of that character very seriously," a spokesperson for The Muppets Studio told THR in a statement. "We raised concerns about Steve's repeated unacceptable business conduct over a period of many years and he consistently failed to address the feedback. The decision to part ways was a difficult one which was made in consultation with the Henson family and has their full support."
Matt Vogel will now take over the role of Kermit. His first appearance as the iconic muppet will be in the "Muppets Thought of the Week" video premiering later this week.