According to the NYT article, the last voices Caroll is recording are for Season 50. According to Scott in this thread, Muppet Wiki counts the year the thing came out with regards to end dates, shouldn't the Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch articles say "Caroll Spinney (1969-2019)" rather than "Caroll Spinney (1969-2018)"? Or is this a different case?
When there's a clear stopping date (when someone retires or passes away), that's usually what we note. Kevin Clash recorded his last performances and resigned in 2012, so we note on the Elmo page when he stopped, and not 2014 when those performances last aired. So, at least to me, it makes sense to say 2018, when Spinney officially retired and formally stopped performing his characters.
I hate to make it more complicated, but maybe we include both dates? In a few years, when everyone's forgotten all the press Caroll got this week, people are going to look back at Season 50 and say, "oh yeah, Caroll was still Big Bird in 2019", but our article is going to say 2018.
What if — in special cases like this — we say 1969-2018/2019 with a reference note adding further explanation.
After writing my first message, I noticed we do have two exceptions; the Zoe and Prairie Dawn pages use 2015 as an end date for Fran Brill's performances, though she retired in 2014. I like the idea of having a reference note of clarification for the date, but I'm not crazy about having two end dates. Maybe it would work better for performers like Fran and Caroll who retire on their own terms and the like. What do other people think?
All told, I'm personally a fan of using 2018, as that's when it was officially announced, and it'll be weird when all the press says he retired in 2018, and the article says 2019, at least to me, and then explain in the article that he's recording for Season 50.
That said, when is Season 50 meant to air? Is it late into the year, thus bleeding into 2020?
That seems to be how the tide is turning. Season 48 and the upcoming Season 49 have their season premieres in November, so I would figure that will continue for the next one.
You also bring up a good point with our articles. We track production dates on the season pages, so in the long run, that should be enough curb any confusion over the date used in the performer box. I'm also still in favor of using "2018."
I think 2018 makes the most sense to me since that's when production started. It wouldn't be any different than if we reference posthumously-released performances. Of course, the same would also have to be true for start dates.
As an aside, should understudy listings (Matt Vogel as Big Bird, Eric Jacobson as Oscar) be included separately at all (understudy 1997 - 2018, main 2018 - present), or just treat it as we do now (1997 - present)?
That would probably make sense as a Casting History sort of thing, and we notate it that way for The Count on Matt Vogel's page; but whereas The Count was exclusively voiced by Jerry Nelson until 2012, Vogel and Jacobson have voiced and puppeteered Big Bird and Oscar concurrently during Spinney's tenure. It's better to simplify for the performer box.
Agree. I just don't know what the right answer is. I feel like if we stick to production dates, we should do it with the debut, too (as was mentioned earlier).
It is kind of confusing that way. Debuts specify a character's first onscreen appearance, and it doesn't make sense to list a debut based on the production or filming date for that appearance; which can be months if not a year prior to the airdate, and likewise, last performances can overlap a year or so after the fact.
Going by seasons might be a cleaner way of noting performer tenures for Sesame characters, and we already do it for Gordon, so it might not be a bad idea.
I should note though that the earliest Matt Vogel performance of Big Bird that I was able to track down was the infamous K-Mart promotional appearance with Penny Marshall, reported by the AP in August 1997; which is where the date on the performer box comes from (I can post screenshots of the story, sourced from a Winnipeg paper, if requested). But anyway, it may be harder to pinpoint Vogel's start date to a particular season. He could've started performing Big Bird in season 28 (1996) or 29 (1997), but there's no confirmation.
Huh, I didn't realize there was already a precedent with the Gordon page. Looks pretty good there.
I haven't seen any examples of Matt doing the voice of Big Bird earlier than season 30 (aside from live appearances, I suppose). I'm sure we can notate the earlier stuff elsewhere on the page, but I think the full voice/puppetry combo is the place to start, not just being in the suit and having Caroll dub it later (ala Elmo in Grouchland).
So, let's simplify it. (I feel like we start to overthink things and need to pull it back a bit).
Basically, we need to decide what we want to say about a performer's tenure on a character. Is it:
a) Joan Smith played Sam Monster from 1985 to 1995
b) Joan Smith played Sam Monster on-screen from 1985 to 1995
Despite my first response in this thread, the second option looks more problematic from example to example. As discussed, there are lots of variables: when the production actually started filming compared to when it came out, did the performer die and we're counting posthumous appearances (Jim and Richard), was the performer replaced and another took over in secret before going public (Matt's Kermit), was there a transition with overlapping performers, etc.
The easiest might just be to go with the option that has fewer changing variables: When did the performer actually begin performing the character, and when did they stop? Regardless of production release dates.
I think if we have a verifiable and citable date (such as Jim Henson's death, Kevin Clash's resignation or Caroll Spinney's retirement), then we use that date (and can explain in the article when/why they ceased being the performer and if material with them continued to be released after their departure (such as saying "Spinney retired from performing Big Bird in October 2018; new material featuring him as Big Bird continued to be released through 2020.").
But if there is no definitive source for a hard stop date (such as Jerry Nelson as Floyd), then we go with when their last performance was released and we don't try to speculate on when such material was filmed/produced or when they last put their hand in the puppet or spoke in their voice (such as simply saying "Nelson's last known performance as Floyd was dialog for the 2003 video game Muppets Party Cruise"... and we don't try to guess when those vocals may have been recorded or if he had ceased to be Floyd's performer prior to 2003).
Jim Henson was the performer of Guy Smiley until his death in 1990 (a strong citable stop date for Henson's tenure)... even if it's possible that he actually last touched the puppet in 1989 or if his performances weren't released until 1991.