Harry Shearer, the legendary comic actor whose voices on long-running TV juggernaut “The Simpsons” include Mr. Burns, Mr. Smithers, Ned Flanders, Reverend Lovejoy, Kent Brockman, Dr. Hibbert, Lenny, Principal Skinner, Otto, Rainier Wolfcastle and many others, has left the show for the just-announced seasons 27 and 28.
The saga has played out largely on Twitter, where late last night Shearer Tweeted: “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.”
Longtime “Simpsons” showrunner Al Jean then released a statement to The New York Times‘ Dave Itzkoff: “Harry Shearer was offered the same deal the rest of the cast accepted, and passed. The show will go on and we wish him well. Maggie took it hard. We do not plan to kill off characters like Burns and Flanders but will recast with the finest voiceover talent available.”
Despite being the main voice of discontent during a recent 2011 contract negotiation over the voice cast’s rights to merchandising and other ancillary profits, the source of this current contract disagreement was apparently not about money, but instead about recording schedules. According to Deadline, Shearer would not agree to the regular schedule FOX presented him, for which he has been recording remotely from his home for several seasons. Shearer, along with the rest of the cast, makes in the neighborhood of $300,000 dollars per episode.
On a recent interview with Marc Maron for his podcast WTF, Shearer voiced the reasoning behind his occasional grievance with the show:
“It is true that as an actor on an insanely successful TV series I am by any standards of the human species obscenely overpaid. It is also that as an actor on one of the most insanely successful TV series of all-time I am getting royally screwed. Both things are true! I happen to be the guy who was in the lead when negotiating time came. I don’t necessarily enjoy fights but I don’t shrink from them, and when you’re negotiating money with Rupert Murdoch and a couple other extremely lucre-oriented people you’re in a fight, you’re in a bar fight if not a bum fight.”
(Photo credit: WENN.com)