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MOVIES | Whatever.

Frank Oz / Director

September 14, 1997|Steve Hochman

As the voice of Miss Piggy and Yoda (among others), Frank Oz is a key thread in the pop culture fabric. And he's woven his own respected body of work as a director, ranging from the "Little Shop of Horrors" musical to the new comedy "In & Out." Yet Oz, 53, prides himself on being a show-biz outsider, living in Connecticut and coming to Hollywood only on business. Why, he doesn't even read the trades every day.

OUTSIDER: "I don't think it's important to keep in touch with everything. More important for a director to keep in touch with being a human being than with trends."

SMALL TOWN: "Every time I pick up New York magazine, they only talk about New York. And the truth is, when you live in a small town, you deal with larger issues--planting, animals, life and death. New York and L.A. is all very inbred."

MIDDLE GROUND: "One of the hardest things to make is a good quality film in between the very cheap and the very, very expensive. ["In & Out"] was in the $30-million range, and that's hard to fill."

BIG TIME: "I'm less concerned with bigness than quality. I hear great things about Jim Cameron's 'Titanic,' and that's huge. If it's huge and terrific, that's great. A small film that's boring or a big film that's boring, you don't want to see."

A KISS IS JUST A KISS: "[Kevin Kline and Tom Selleck kissing in "In & Out"] is not a gimmick. We had it out for a while, not because we were scared, but for story reasons. It worked, it actually enhanced the story, so we put it back in. Wasn't meant to shock, just to enhance the narrative."

A VOICE IS JUST A VOICE: "I don't do characters much anymore, but whenever I do it's a great joy because I don't have a $30- or $40-million budget on my shoulders."

THE DRAWING BOARD: "I'm supposed to direct 'Bullfinger,' a Steve Martin-Eddie Murphy movie. Steve's writing it. He's a great writer. People always see him as a comic actor--they see him as something he was 20 years ago, and it drives me crazy."

TAKING REQUESTS: "When people ask me to do Yoda for them, I try to be gentle about it, but I don't do it much. You become a sideshow and lose your humanity."

THE HENSON LEGACY: "Something said at Jim's memorial was that he made good guys interesting. It's always the bad guys who are interesting. Jim's were good guys, but they were weird--just the irreverent joy he created was amazing."

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