1 The Muppet Mindset: INTERVIEWS


Since 1955, Kermit the Frog has been a legendary force in the entertainment industry. He has starred in an incredible eight feature films, three television shows, and countless television specials. After nearly 60 years, Kermit the Frog continues to be one of the biggest celebrities--and certainly the most famous frog--ever. In March, 2014, The Muppet Mindset's Ryan Dosier and Dan Shick sat down with Kermit for an incredible live interview. In our interview, Kermit is assisted by the phenomenal Steve Whitmire.

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Since 1965, Jerry Nelson was a core part of countless Muppet worlds. Originating characters such as Floyd Pepper, Gobo Fraggle, Robin the Frog, Emmet Otter, Lew Zealand, Herry Monster, Marjory the Trash Heap, Pa Gorg, Crazy Harry, and, of course, Count von Count, Jerry has had a hand in bringing life to some of the most beloved Muppet characters of all-time. In 2009, Jerry released his first solo album Truro Daydreams.

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Since 1974, Dave Goelz has been in the primary circle of Muppet performers. Starting as a puppet builder, Dave quickly joined the hierarchy of star performers on The Muppet Show. Dave brought to life beloved characters such as Gonzo the Great, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Boober Fraggle, Uncle Traveling Matt, Beauregard, and many more. Dave has performed in every Muppet film and nearly every Muppet project since The Muppet Show

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Bill Barretta has been an integral Muppet performer since 1996. In Muppet Treasure Island he performed Clueless Morgan and he rocketed from there. With Muppets Tonight came Bill's first major characters, Pepe the King Prawn and Johnny Fiama. Since 2005, Bill has performed Rowlf the Dog and Dr. Teeth. Bill has also directed Muppet projects and acts as producer and Puppet Captain.

Kevin Clash was one of the main Muppet performers on Sesame Street. He is best known for performing Elmo, one of the most famous Muppets of all time. Kevin has worked as a director, producer, puppet captain, and more for Sesame Street and its international projects. Kevin also performs Hoots the Owl and Clifford of Muppets Tonight. Kevin was the subject of the documentary Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey which debuted at Sundance in 2011.

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Peter Linz is a very talented puppeteer whose past credits include Sesame Street, Bear in the Big Blue House, and Between the Lions. Peter's star rose exponentially when he received the role of Walter, the new Muppet star of The Muppets, in 2011. Peter has risen to the ranks of one of the main Muppet performers for The Muppets Studio.

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Fran Brill has been performing on Sesame Street since 1970. The first female Muppeteer hired by Jim Henson for Sesame Street, Fran is best known for the classic characters Prairie Dawn and Zoe. For 40 years, Fran has worked as a core performer on the show. Outside of her roles on Sesame Street, Fran is also a wonderful actress who has appeared in What About Bob? and Midnight Run.

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Matt Vogel has worked as a principal puppeteer on
Sesame Street since 1996. First working mostly on background characters and Anything Muppets, Matt rose to fame becoming Caroll Spinney's understudy to Big Bird. He has recently joined The Muppets as a core performer, taking over most of Jerry Nelson's characters such as Floyd Pepper and Robin the Frog.

Constantine is the world's number one criminal and the world's most dangerous frog. First appearing in 2014's Muppets Most Wanted, Constantine infiltrated the Muppets and convinced the gullible goofballs that he was really Kermit. In March, 2014, The Muppet Mindset's Ryan Dosier and Dan Shick had the incredible opportunity to sit down with Constantine for a live interview. In the interview, Constantine was assisted by the immensely talented Matt Vogel.

Nicholas Stoller is a renowned comic writer and director. His incredible resume includes directing Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Five Year Engagement, and Neighbors. Stoller co-wrote The Muppets with Jason Segel and Muppets Most Wanted with James Bobin. Stoller, along with Segel and Bobin, can be credited for honing the humor that accompanied the Muppets in their recent resurgence. After meeting Ryan Dosier at the Muppets Most Wanted World Premiere, Stoller sat down for a phone interview with Ryan ahead of the film's release.

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Leslie Carrara-Rudolph is the performer of Abby Cadabby on Sesame Street. She also worked on Muppets Tonight, performing Spamela Hamderson. Since beginning as Abby, Leslie has been solidified as one of the core performers on Sesame Street. She is currently working on her family show Wake Up Your Weird with her hilarious and endearing puppet Lolly Lardpop. 

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Martin P. Robinson has been a core performer on Sesame Street for over 30 years. He is the performer of Telly Monster, Mr. Snuffleupagus, Slimey the Worm, and many others. Martin has worked to train puppeteers for numerous international co-productions of Sesame Street. He is married to Annie Evans, writer on Sesame Street, and together they co-operate a blog for Sesame Street called "Sesame Family Robinson."  
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John Tartaglia has been a crucial performer on Sesame Street since he was 16 years old. His most notable work came off the Street with his own children's television show Johnny and the Sprites, and in the original Broadway cast of Avenue Q, for which he was nominated for a Tony Award. Most recently, John helped bring the worlds of Jim Henson together in the Carnegie Hall show Jim Henson's Musical World in April 2012, which he wrote, directed, and hosted. 

Melissa Doss was a contestant on Season 1 of Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge. With her can-do spirit and immense talent, Melissa advanced to the final three on the show. Some of her many wonderful creatures included a Skeksis called SkekSith, a sea serpent, a Long-Bladed Swamp Foul, and more. Melissa may not have won the competition, but she became a major fan-favorite competitor and continues to create incredible creatures.

Jim Lewis has been a writer for the Muppets for over 20 years. First working as a writer/editor on Muppet Magazine, Jim has since gone on to write for major Muppet productions including Muppet Classic Theater, It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, and Kermit's Swamp Years. Recently, Jim has written Muppet interviews and the books Before You Leap, The Diva Code, and It's Hard Out Here For a Shrimp.

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Craig Shemin has been involved with the Muppets and The Jim Henson Company for over 30 years. Craig currently acts as president of The Jim Henson Legacy and writes for the Muppets on a regular basis. Recently, Craig wrote The Muppets Character Encyclopedia for Disney. Mitchell Stein interviewed Craig about the book, The Jim Henson Company, and all other things Muppet and Henson.

Part 1   Part 2   Part 3   Part 4 Louis Henry Mitchell has the greatest job on the world: he works on Sesame Street. As the show's Associate Design Director of Special Projects, Louis does most of the photography of the Muppets for DVD covers, promotional images, and more. Louis is also a close associate of Kevin Clash and assists in the story boarding for his projects.

Bonnie Erickson was an original Muppet designer on The Muppet Show. She is best known for designing Miss Piggy, Statler, Waldorf, and many other characters. She was a designer with Jim Henson for many years. She is currently the Executive Director of The Jim Henson Legacy which organizes Muppet events all over the country and helps to keep the spirit and magic of Jim Henson alive. 

Noel MacNeal is a performer for Sesame Street and The Muppets but his most famous role is as Bear in the beloved Henson/Disney television show Bear in the Big Blue House. Noel has worked with The Muppets since the days of Jim Henson and performed in Follow That Bird. He recently performed Sweetums in A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa. His latest project is his first book, 10-Minute Puppets, teaching kids and families how to make and perform puppets.

Pam Arciero has performed on Sesame Street for over 20 years and has been a puppeteer her entire life. Her most well-known character on the show is Grungetta the Grouch, a female grouch counterpart to Oscar. Other credits include Leona on Between the Lions, the right hand of Telly Monster, and heavy involvement with the O'Neill Puppetry Conference. 

Dave LaMatinna and Chad Walker are two of the filmmakers behind the upcoming feature documentary I Am Big Bird, chronicling the life and career of Muppeteer Caroll Spinney. Through Kickstarter, they recently raised over $100,000 to produce the film. Dave and Chad shared with us some of the most exciting aspects of working on I Am Big Bird and working with Caroll Spinney, his wife Deb, and others associated with Sesame Street and the Muppets.

Rocco Fonzarelli has worked on numerous films and television shows and has a truly varied career. His passion, however, is the Muppets. He was lucky enough to work on the Sound Team for The Muppets movie in 2011 where he worked alongside director James Bobin and music supervisor Brett McKenzie, and even hung out with some Muppets!

Michael Earl performed on Sesame Street in the late 70's and early 80's. He originated the popular character of Forgetful Jones. He also performed the voice and front half of Mr. Snuffleupagus and Slimey the Worm. He currently freelances in his puppetry work and has recently started an educational school for young puppeteers called, simply, Puppet School.

Paul Rudolph works as the Vocal Music Director for Sesame Street and has directed all of the music for Season 40 and Season 41. Paul also works on the music for the show's special projects and appearances, including their annual appearance at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Paul is married to Muppeteer Leslie Carrera-Rudolph (Abby Cadabby).

Juliana Donald is an accomplished actress, best known to Muppet fans for her role as Jenny in The Muppets Take Manhattan. Juliana has also worked on numerous films and television programs including Star Trek, and NYPD Blue. She has since gone on to receive her Master's Degree and is currently setting out to develop a career in fashion.

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Gabriel Velez is a talented puppeteer and voice artist who performed the Muppet Dani in the Sesame Street video special "A" is for Asthma and Osvaldo the Grouch on Sesame Street. Gabriel worked with Henson and Sesame Workshop in the 1980's and 1990's and recently participated in Disney's Muppeteer understudy recruitment program.

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Amy Mebberson is an extremely talented comic book artist. Her Muppet credits include full art duties on Muppet Peter Pan, The Muppet Show Comic Book: Family Reunion, and Muppet Sherlock Holmes. Amy has also drawn numerous variant covers for the Muppet comics and BOOM! Studios' line of Disney and Pixar comics.

James Silvani is a talented comic book artist who has worked as a free-lancer for Disney for many years. His Muppet credits include art duties for Muppet King Arthur issues 2-4 and numerous Muppet variant covers. James also illustrates the Darkwing Duck series from BOOM! Studios. In the past, James has done promotional work for the Looney Tunes, Animaniacs, and more.

Dave Alvarez is a cartoonist and comic book artist. His Muppet credits include various Muppet comic cover art variants and the art duty on Muppet King Arthur #1. He has also drawn unofficial Muppet comics on his website. His other credits include Looney Tunes and Disney promotional artwork.

Grace Randolph is a great comic book writer with a love for the Muppets. Her credits with BOOM! Studios include writing for Muppet Peter Pan and writing for the Fraggle Rock Comic Book. She has also done work for TokyoPop and DC Comics. She does plenty of work through her website as well.

Photographer Alexi Lubomirski recently photographed Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy for GQ magazine. Lubomirski is world-renowned for his fashion photography, having photographed the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, Natalie Portman, Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts, Scarlett Johansson, among others. His work has appeared in Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, GQ, and Wonderland.

Jeni Rizio is the owner/operator of CarollSpinney.net, the official web fan page for Muppeteer Caroll Spinney. She is a personal friend of Caroll's and often visits him and his wife Deb. Jeni stopped by to share her experiences with Caroll and to talk about I Am Big Bird, the upcoming documentary about Caroll. Jeni is an official representative for the film.

Dave Hulteen is more than a fan-artist, he is a force in the Muppet fan world. His artwork has been featured here on The Muppet Mindset in the headers for our anniversary and the holiday seasons of 2009 and 2010. Dave's work is also featured constantly on ToughPigs and The MuppetCast. He recently started his own website, Dave Hulteen Design.

Stuart Reeves is an extremely talented Muppet fan artist. His major project is his highly-ambitious digitally illustrated Muppet theater spread. All of his artwork can be seen on his website and you can follow his art's progress as he finishes the project.

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