As Times writer Brooks Barnes points out, "Disney executives, perhaps partly because they were distracted by a painful studio restructuring at the time, did not manhandle the film, allowing it to be weird, witty -- 'Muppety' in Mr. Segel's words -- and even a bit risqué." As for Walter...
The writers did not elaborate on his looks beyond saying Walter had the feel of 'an old dishrag' and wore a blue suit, said Paul Andrejco, president of the Puppet Heap Workshop, the Hoboken, N.J., fabrication studio that made Walter. Mr. Andrejco said he started sketching various Walters -- skinny, plump, more human, more animal -- ultimately presenting 14 different iterations to producers. Once the team decided on a basic image, there were discussions about texture and color. 'We looked at 25 different possibilities, ranging from pink and scruffy to orange-y speckly to flat gray,' Mr. Andrejco said. Would he have ears? What about a nose? Bushy eyebrows or narrow?... The finished Walter, Mr. Andrejco said, is remarkably similar to Kermit, at least in functionality. His face, an orange color reminiscent of Ernie from 'Sesame Street,' was designed to be extra flexible to express a range of emotions.
So, Walter is a socially awkward puppet? Interesting. (Also, side note: poor Michael Cera may never escape the awkward persona.) You can read the entire Muppets piece over on NYT. 'The Muppets' hits theaters on Nov. 23.