David Hoberman returns to Suffolk, talks “Fighter” and new “Muppets”

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It was a night filled with laughs and inspiration, and a show-stealing amphibian named Kermit on Thursday as Hollywood producer David Hoberman returned to Suffolk once again to talk to the community. Taking questions at the Modern Theatre, Hoberman answered many inquiries about his successful career as a film producer.  Suffolk’s Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence, author James Carroll, was present to help moderate the discussion.  Hoberman went on to tell tales and give advice to students who are interested in film. For those not familiar with Hoberman, he was the creator of the show Monk, produced numerous Disney films, and, sadly, made the film Beverly Hills Chihuahua. The main focus of the evening, however, was put on two of Hoberman’s latest films, Oscar-nominated The Fighter (Paramount Pictures, 2010) and the latest Muppet movie, known as The Muppets (Walt Disney, 2011).

Hoberman spoke about how valuable of an experience it was to work on The Fighter, citing how important it was to himself, seeing the audience reactions he wanted to see.  Hoberman spent a lot of time with Mickey and Dickey, as he felt he needed their blessing on the film.  When asked about the success of the film, Hoberman said that you have to be “inside the world of the film, and inside the characters.”

Then, it was Muppets time, with Hoberman saying that “it was an honor, a challenge, and a responsibility,” to work on the new film. The audience was treated to a teaser of the film.  Next, Steve Whitmire ,who has portrayed Kermit the Frog since Jim Henson’s passing in 1990, has worked with the Muppet family since 1978. Whitmire came out to talk with the crowd as a strain of nostalgia fell onto the audience.

Whitmire shared stories of his time working with The Muppets, proceeding to take out Kermit the Frog, as our favorite amphibian interacted with the audience.  Hoberman went into great detail about seeking the approval from the fans, something that doesn’t always happen with remakes or sequels. A collection of producers from the former Muppet films were selected to create a focus group of sorts, combining the successful elements from past films with aspects of the present so that all of the fans could be happy. Hoberman and Whitmire went on to talk about the real art behind the Muppets, truly proving how something can hold the test of time.

Whitmire told the audience that without the help of Jim Henson, everyone involved with the film really needed to work together to make sure that everything could be up to standards.

Overall, the event was a big success for Suffolk, as inspired attendees left the theater.  It was interesting to hear stories straight from Hoberman’s mouth about his long and impressive career. Many of Suffolk’s great personalities were there, including Acting-President and Provst Barry Brown, who also seemed to have his share of laughs.   The last question of the night was asked by a student wanting advice on becoming a producer. Hoberman answered by saying that he didn’t believe in just magically becoming a producer, but that working hard, getting experience, and letting yourself evolve is the best way to guide yourself. The Muppets is due out on November 23, 2011.