On one hand, we have the news that The Simpsons has been renewed for two more seasons – that is, 27 and 28. On the other, it looks like the animated series will go ahead without one of its most beloved voice actors.
from James L. Brooks lawyer: ‘show will go on, Harry will not be part of it, wish him the best’. This because I wanted what we’ve always had: the freedom to do other work. Of course, I wish him the very best.
The rest of The Simpsons‘ cast signed on for the additional seasons without any drama, but Shearer – the man behind both Mr. Burns and Mr. Smithers, as well as Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Otto the Bus Driver, Dr. Hibbert, Dr. Marvin Monroe, Rainier Wolfcastle and Kang – was reportedly the lone hold-out.
Sources claim that it was not a pay issue – the entire cast had already agreed to accept the same amount of money in the upcoming seasons. Instead, word on the street is that it’s more to do with merchandising revenue, which Shearer may have wanted a bigger share of.
Across his 50 year television and film career, Shearer has appeared in shows as diverse as The Jack Benny Program, Laverne and Shirley and Saturday Night Live, but his most major role prior to The Simpsons was as bassplayer Derek Smalls in This Is Spinal Tap (yes, that’s him with the moustache).
Fans are divided over whether The Simpsons should look to replace Shearer (which may result in a sub-par voice actor), or write his characters out of the series (which would have a significant impact on the show’s lineup). If Shearer really has gone, there may be no good answer.