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  • Aleal
    Aleal closed this thread because:
    issue resolved, keeps attracting irrelevant comments
    21:56, July 12, 2016

    The several Ernie appearances within the last couple months, consistently with Billy Barkhurst performing rather than Steve Whitmire, seem to make clear that Barkhurst is gradually being transitioned into the role of the main performer. There's no official source for Whitmire retiring from performing Ernie, but this BroadwayWorld.com article words his tenure in the past tense, which implies he's no longer performing him. With that said, is it too early to consider Barkhurst a main performer on the Ernie page? Yes or no?

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    • I was thinking the same thing. I'd be willing to say wait for a few more appearances, but given the evidence, I think it's fair to say Billy is taking over (even if the year count on that article is wrong; 1993 + 23 = 2016).

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    • I'm sort of on the fence. Given both that Whitmire has done a ton more as Kermit and so on lately, and that Sesame is using Ernie more in new US stuff, it seems reasonable. But I'd prefer that any dates be carefully checked before making any change (the edit summary compared it to Ryan Dillon as Elmo, but it's not the same situation. Past tense statements that Jonathan mentioned and other evidence would be useful and also worth mentioning specifically in the body of the article.

      Right now (to me, without a clearer idea of the time frame and what exactly is happening, and also needing to study the Ernie and Barkhurst articles more closely; some information probably needs to be moved), it sort of feels somewhere between Matt Vogel understudying as Big Bird and Eric Jacobson taking over Oz's characters, with only occasional returns by Oz. Making it clearer and accurate in the body of the article (similar to such sections on other major performer transitions, as opposed to fill-ins or brief recasts which didn't take) is the best way to avoid "Wait, when did this happen?" reactions to performer box changes.

      A couple of the items currently dropped in as messy trivia (Henson's last known performance, the Tartaglia quotes) could be merged there, possibly into an expanded "Performing Ernie" section (which by the heading implies information about the performers, and then is just about the puppet type and how its worked, but not who does so).

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    • Trust me. If Steve was still Ernie, we wouldn't get him popping up all over the place since season 45 premiered. I say we put Billy in the performer box.

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    • The problem is I don't think we can take a "Trust me" attitude in our articles, especially to casual readers (same reason we don't include identifications based solely on what someone can recognize as a puppeteer's movements, however accurate it may be).

      I also really don't like changing performer boxes in ways that *aren't* explained or clarified in the text. If it's handled there, then good (and left open-ended re Whitmire's participation, since unlike Clash, there's been no official resignation; we can state the playbill past tense stuff implying he's no longer doing Ernie on a regular basis, but we need something better to say "he's not still Ernie" period.) Right now, I checked what's listed. Only two Ernie appearances on the actual show by Barkhurst. Three are voice-overs recorded for live shows. Now, the best evidence is that the two episodes, two online videos, one parade and one TV appearance (normally not enough to suggest a full recast, but closer to Matt Vogel as Big Bird's main understudy) happened in 2014.

      So with clarification ("Since 2014, Ernie's appearances have been performed by Billy Barkhurst"), I'd be fine with changing the box and being careful re the Whitmire wording (for Frank Oz, the "-present" timeline was kept when he was still appearing as Grover or Bert on occasion; now it's more often a one-time guest character in a parody).

      I'm just not comfortable making assumptions without more specific info. If anyone feels like contacting Sesame Workshop or any of the people involved, who we could quote, that would be great. Without a definitive statement, then we just need to make clear through the evidence what has been the trend without making any statement or assumption beyond that. The casual reader won't have been tracking every Barkhurst appearance or know that information if it's not clarified; just as it wasn't sure for a time whether Ryan Dillon was the permanent recast for Elmo, so we waited until it was clear.

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    • I've asked Peter Linz, Matt Vogel, and Bill Barretta. They haven't given me a single answer. Look at it this way. The latest Steve performance as Ernie was filmed in 2012. http://www.sesamestreet.org/video_player/-/pgpv/videoplayer/0/5aca640c-0e9d-451c-9192-ff8bf2bf5fd2. The last time he recorded Ernie's voice was this stage show. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5mZS30500Y I think it's safe to say that Steve is just focusing on Disney. I'll email SW but, I may not get an answer. Anyone else wanna try?

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    • Again, if we specify the evidence in the article to the reader, I'm fine with it. But the casual reader won't read this discussion, and again, given past precedents, while it's definitely clear that Whitmire is focusing on Disney *now*, I don't think its wise for the article to imply "This means he has stopped playing Ernie in any capacity ever." (That's fine for fan speculation or discussion, but not encyclopedic.) A box is information, but it's not the only way to present the info, and by itself, not always the best way.

      Also as currently structured, the casting section is pushed down in the article, so a short summary would help (including specifics such as the 2012 Whitmire performance, etc.) I'll try to work on it myself when I have time.

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    • Since Joe Hennes is an intern for Sesame Workshop, maybe he has the answer. Can anyone contact him?

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    • Antsamthompson9 wrote: Since Joe Hennes is an intern for Sesame Workshop, maybe he has the answer. Can anyone contact him?

      He's not an intern; he's an actual employee. I doubt he'd be able to get anything; Marty Robinson and Annie Evans were asked about the new Ernie at a Lincoln Center event a couple of months ago and skirted around any actual answer, so I don't think you'll get an official answer from anyone.

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    • Look at it this way. If Steve was still with Sesame Street, his name would still be in the credits.

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    • Ant: let it go for now. We're officially in "wait and see" mode on this one. Thanks :)

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    • I get it.

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    • Does the fact that Billy played Ernie here indicate that he is Ernie from now on? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CToJuXILmKw

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    • This is an exact quote from Matt Wilkie on the ToughPigs forum: "I heard from an anonymous source for anonymous reasons that Steve will not be coming back to Sesame Street for the foreseeable future." So is it okay to add Billy to the performer box now?

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    • An "anonymous" source from a comment isn't the best source, but Ernie's presence in the SNL bit, again with Billy Barkhurst performing, seems to be a good indicator that he'll be performing him come next season. I'd still wait on changing anything until other people here have had their say, or if we have a more definitive answer.

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    • Someone needs to be established as a character's performer for a few years before they go in that space. New performers aren't announced, and history dictates that more than one performer can take over a character during the transition.

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    • In Steve's Dragoncon profile, it explicitly says he did Ernie until 2014. Can we use that as a source? http://dragoncon.org/?q=featured_details_page/3664

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    • Someone needs to be established as a character's performer for a few years before they go in that space. New performers aren't announced, and history dictates that more than one performer can take over a character during the transition.

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    • While we can't definitively say Bill Barkhurst is a permanent performer yet (and thus not worthy of adding to the list of core performers), would it be worth changing Steve Whitmire's credit from "1993-present" to "1993-2014" (given that his press bio explicitly states he is no longer the core performer)?

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    • Yeah, that's probably fair. I don't know how convention bios are written, but it does seem pretty clear at this point that Steve isn't doing Ernie anymore.

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    • Billy plays Ernie in the new DVD that comes out tomorrow. My main problem is since we haven't decided to put him in the box, we have to list every single thing Billy has done when we don't do that for the other characters. The sad thing is I wanted to ask Steve about this at DragonCon and I couldn't talk to him.

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    • It's been over a year since Steve did Ernie, and Billy's voice is heard on the new Muppet section of Sesamestreet.org. To me that's a give-away that he is in fact the new Ernie. Because they could have gotten a recording from Steve, but they didn't. I wish the press kit for the new season would come out already.

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    • Character transitions are often tricky - we don't want to jump the gun and declare someone the new performer if it's just a temporary, short-term or one-or-two-time thing for minor appearances.

      John Tartaglia performed Ernie an entire season of Play with Me Sesame but he never became the "official" performer... the transition from other characters (such as Elmo, Sam Eagle, Sweetums, Floyd, Scooter, Janice, Dr. Teeth, etc.) saw various performs rotate in and out (some sticking for a handful of consecutive projects) before the recasting finally settled down.

      Given various sources and evidence, I think it's fairly safe to assume that Steve isn't doing Ernie anymore. However the unfortunate thing is that beyond just 2 episodes of the show, we haven't really had any more "major" productions in order to cement Billy as the new Ernie yet. All we've had is a handful of minor TV appearances and some web content. I think if he continues in Season 46 that'd be enough to make it "infobox official" (two seasons, plus everything in between, is pretty solid). And then we can clean it up to just say "2014-present" rather than listing out every little 2014 and 2015 appearance of Ernie.

      But right now I think we just need to wait for the next season (or another major production, like a TV special or something) in order to really lock it in.

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    • I agree with Brad and Ant. I would wait until the season press kit comes out. If Billy's listed, I'd say definitely add him to the performer box. In the meantime, we should still be tracking the consistency and clean up where it's necessary.

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    • Billy's in the press kit. So I say it's official now. Before we add him, can we say Billy Barkhurst 2009-present in the info-box and list all the things Billy did until Season 45 in the casting history section?

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    • For the record, here's the link to the presskit bio for Billy Barkhurst (with Ernie). Definitely confirmation and good reason to change the box.

      I don't see any evidence for 2009 as the starting point, though. He did the voice for stage shows starting then, but that seems more of a note than anything (especially since it overlaps with actual Whitmire performances as Ernie). 2014 seems to be the starting point for any notable performances as the actual Ernie Muppet. In fact that's how Sesame Workshop puts it: "Billy Barkhurst began working for Sesame Street in 2009 and transitioned to performing Ernie in 2014."

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    • Kind of irrelevant, but Whitmire said in a Muppet Central interview that he had done voice recordings for Ernie toys prior to performing Ernie proper in 1993. We don't count that, partially because we don't have an exact year for it, but also because it was before he started actually performing Ernie on the show.

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    • Since it's now official that Billy is Ernie, I removed the note that says he plays Ernie in episode 4508. However, GaribaldoDubber thinks it should still be there. What do you guys think?

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    • I say it's fine that you removed it. As long as the note on episode 4502 says it's his first official performance as Ernie, that's good enough.

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    • I don't know if this matters to the subject, but according to a Tough Pigs article covering the recent appearance at Vulture Fest, Steve Whitmire acknowledged that he no longer performs Ernie. 

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    • Considering Billy has officially been called Ernie's new performer in the latest press materials, I think it's moot.

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    • Actually, it helped me a lot because I think what I really needed to hear is Steve say himself that he's not Ernie anymore. Even at the time of the press kit release I still wasn't sure.

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    • Should we close this? It's clear that Barkhurst is now Ernie, so what's the point in keeping this active? To confirm why Whitmire is no longer Ernie?

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    • Oscarfan
      Oscarfan removed this reply because:
      Irrelevant
      21:50, July 12, 2016
      This reply has been removed
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