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Voice actor Harry Shearer may leave The Simpsons over contract dispute

05.14.2015

The Simpsons Harry Shearer

Earlier this month, FOX renewed The Simpsons for two more seasons, however longtime voice actor Harry Shearer may not be involved with the upcoming seasons. Shearer (the voice of many Simpsons characters, including Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner and Kent Brockman) hasn't signed a new contract yet, and last night he tweeted part of a letter from an attorney for executive producer James L. Brooks. The issue seems to be Shearer's ability to do work not related to The Simpsons.

CNNMoney contacted Harry Shearer, and he says he's had the freedom to do outside work for decades, but now the producers aren't budging on that aspect of the contract.

In last four years, I've created and starred in a UK TV series and starred on London stage. Not stopping.

There's still time for a deal to be reached before production starts on the next season, but when asked by CNNMoney if there's a chance he will continue on the series, Shearer's response was "I think that's a question better posed to them." So although the voice actor hasn't officially quit yet, things aren't looking too good right now. Do you think Harry Shearer will be back for the 27th and 28th seasons of The Simpsons?

The Simpson's 26th season finale will air on May 17, 2015.

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Source: CNN Money

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6:54AM on 05/15/2015

Does anyone even care about this show still?

Maybe take this as a reason to just call it quits!
Maybe take this as a reason to just call it quits!
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7:23PM on 05/14/2015
Sad that his time on The Simpsons is ending on a sour note.
Sad that his time on The Simpsons is ending on a sour note.
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6:50PM on 05/14/2015
I can't believe this show is still on. It sucks now. I mean, i havent seen an episode in over 10 years, but im pretty sure it sucks now. Why can't it be as good as it was when i was 12. If a show runs for over twenty years, i expect consistency.
I can't believe this show is still on. It sucks now. I mean, i havent seen an episode in over 10 years, but im pretty sure it sucks now. Why can't it be as good as it was when i was 12. If a show runs for over twenty years, i expect consistency.
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7:03PM on 05/14/2015
sorry, but everytime i hear someone complain about the Simpsons, this is all i hear. Im surprised the show is still running because apparently no one watches is. I still do. I know it's still good. Over the last 20 years it has gone through scores of writers and show runners. The show evolves and changes. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for worse. To compare a show running now to how it was 20 years ago is just not fair, especially when you were 10 years old watching it for the first time
sorry, but everytime i hear someone complain about the Simpsons, this is all i hear. Im surprised the show is still running because apparently no one watches is. I still do. I know it's still good. Over the last 20 years it has gone through scores of writers and show runners. The show evolves and changes. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for worse. To compare a show running now to how it was 20 years ago is just not fair, especially when you were 10 years old watching it for the first time and remembering it with nostalgia glasses. I agree, the show was at it's best between seasons 4 and 10. But that doesnt mean whats on now is bad. Compared to the mountains of crap on tv now, this is still one of the best shows running. Bob's Burger's, American Dad, Cleveland Show all suck compared to the Simpsons episode that was on that night. The Simpsons trailblazed animated shows for an adult audience. Without them there would be no Family Guy, Futurama, or South Park. But because those shows have pushed the envelope farther, Simpsons has been struggling to keep up. In all fairness they have done a good job of keeping fresh and relevant compared to these new show, as well as staying true to the values of the show. I admit they are starting to get desperate (Family Guy crossover), but at times there is real comedy to be found on the show still.

For this show to keep going Fox needs to stop banking on brand recognition and start investing in writers and producers. Like SNL and Sesame Street, this is a show that has superseded being just a sitcom and has turned into an institution. It is a cornerstone of television. Over time it will continue to evolve and experiment. And yes, actors will come and go. Fox should really play ball here and give in to Shearer, but an actor leaving is not the end of those characters. Kermit the frog is still alive and kicking long after Jim Henson passed, Mickey Mouse is still entertaining children decades after Walt Disney. Homer Simpson can still be America's everyman after whatever unfortunate ending comes to Dan Castellaneta's career of the character comes to. People don't like change, Harry Shearer will always be one of the most talented and influential voice actors ever, no one can take that away from him. But someday someone will continue his legacy on the show. Fox just needs to respect that legacy by treating his characters with respect and giving them the proper material to continue to entertain audiences.
4:37PM on 05/14/2015
Thank god - end this show now. The Simpsons hasn't been funny for a long long time. It needs to go out now before it gets really really old.
Thank god - end this show now. The Simpsons hasn't been funny for a long long time. It needs to go out now before it gets really really old.
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4:13PM on 05/14/2015
Whether it be contract issues or key cast members getting older, this sort of thing is going to happen more and more for a show like The Simpsons that's been on air since the 80s. As much as I love the show, I don't want it to go on forever with sound-alike voice actors. Maybe find a way to end the show with dignity - get all concerned to agree to so much more and that's it. I know Fox don't want the show to die, but ending it right would be preferable to flogging it to death.
Whether it be contract issues or key cast members getting older, this sort of thing is going to happen more and more for a show like The Simpsons that's been on air since the 80s. As much as I love the show, I don't want it to go on forever with sound-alike voice actors. Maybe find a way to end the show with dignity - get all concerned to agree to so much more and that's it. I know Fox don't want the show to die, but ending it right would be preferable to flogging it to death.
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3:39PM on 05/14/2015
This will be that pivotal moment that will be looked back upon 20 or so years from now that signified the beginning of the end of The Simpsons. I always wondered what it would take, and now I know. There will always be people that, like they do with Saturday Night Live, say that it isn't funny anymore, or needs better writing, etc, but in the end The Simpsons will always have its fans. Now, though, something has happened that can only be a sign of death approaching...
This will be that pivotal moment that will be looked back upon 20 or so years from now that signified the beginning of the end of The Simpsons. I always wondered what it would take, and now I know. There will always be people that, like they do with Saturday Night Live, say that it isn't funny anymore, or needs better writing, etc, but in the end The Simpsons will always have its fans. Now, though, something has happened that can only be a sign of death approaching...
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2:03PM on 05/14/2015

Hello Smithers, you are quite good at turning me on

It's like when they replaced Ned Flanders wife for a brief time, even though she didn't speak much, you just notice a characters voice change. This hits the show hard, even though I haven't watched an episode really since season 14. I know they've renewed the show for another two seasons, but these are tough shoes to fill.
It's like when they replaced Ned Flanders wife for a brief time, even though she didn't speak much, you just notice a characters voice change. This hits the show hard, even though I haven't watched an episode really since season 14. I know they've renewed the show for another two seasons, but these are tough shoes to fill.
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+0
10:58AM on 05/14/2015
Simpsons is one of those shows I have watched for years - never on a regular basis...never really knowing what season I'm watching (most likely reruns) but go absolutely LOL at the randomness of its comedy - take for example the episode I saw yesterday about Valentines where Lisa give Ralph a card coz she felt sorry for him - there's a scene where Skinner recalls a Valentine moment during his days in Vietnam - funny stuff. I'm not sure how easy it is to find other people who'll be able to
Simpsons is one of those shows I have watched for years - never on a regular basis...never really knowing what season I'm watching (most likely reruns) but go absolutely LOL at the randomness of its comedy - take for example the episode I saw yesterday about Valentines where Lisa give Ralph a card coz she felt sorry for him - there's a scene where Skinner recalls a Valentine moment during his days in Vietnam - funny stuff. I'm not sure how easy it is to find other people who'll be able to recreate the voices I'm so used to hearing. It took me a decent amount of time to get used to someone other than Conroy voicing Batman...so hopefully it all works out for the best.
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11:17AM on 05/14/2015
4:29PM on 05/14/2015
"I''m not sure how easy it is to find other people who'll be able to recreate the voices I'm so used to hearing." There are plenty. It's easier with characters that don't have normal human voices. That's how MICKEY MOUSE & co. are still on TV. Whether the difference will be noticeable or not we'll have to see. Remember when Dan Castellaneta (HOMER SIMPSON) voiced THE GENIE in ALADDIN 2?
"I''m not sure how easy it is to find other people who'll be able to recreate the voices I'm so used to hearing." There are plenty. It's easier with characters that don't have normal human voices. That's how MICKEY MOUSE & co. are still on TV. Whether the difference will be noticeable or not we'll have to see. Remember when Dan Castellaneta (HOMER SIMPSON) voiced THE GENIE in ALADDIN 2?
10:26AM on 05/14/2015
One of the benefits of running an animated series is that it is not reliant on an actor like a live action series is. You can find a new actor to do the voices. It's been done in the past. This isn't like loosing the actress who did Mrs Krabaple, who only did the one voice. This is too many characters at one time to write out. In theory you could get someone new or multiple people to do the voices. The Simpsons is not just a series anymore, it's an institution. Like SNL or Seasame St, it has
One of the benefits of running an animated series is that it is not reliant on an actor like a live action series is. You can find a new actor to do the voices. It's been done in the past. This isn't like loosing the actress who did Mrs Krabaple, who only did the one voice. This is too many characters at one time to write out. In theory you could get someone new or multiple people to do the voices. The Simpsons is not just a series anymore, it's an institution. Like SNL or Seasame St, it has the potential to never end. Many say the show is past it's prime and while it may not be as great as it once was, it's still good and has the potential to be great again. They just need to find a good enough writing team and start taking chances again.

Of course replacing Shearer should be a last resort. His creative influence on the show and respect from the audience is toouch to just replace. Fox would he wise to give into any demand he has, it's not asking much.
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10:23AM on 05/14/2015

RIP many favorite characters:

Ned Flanders
Charles Montgomery Burns
Waylon Smithers
Seymour Skinner
Dr. Hibbert
Lenny Leonard
Kent Brockman
Scratchy
Kang
Eddie
Otto Mann
Rev. Lovejoy
Rainier Wolfcastle
Jasper
Dewey Largo
Sanjay
Dr. Marvin Monroe
Jebediah Springfield
Marty
Herman
Judge Roy Snyder
Bill Clinton
Clancy Bouvier
Dr. J. Loren Pyror
George H. W. Bush
Nigel
Maggie Simpson (using his Kang voice)
President Arnold Schwarzenegger
Ned Flanders
Charles Montgomery Burns
Waylon Smithers
Seymour Skinner
Dr. Hibbert
Lenny Leonard
Kent Brockman
Scratchy
Kang
Eddie
Otto Mann
Rev. Lovejoy
Rainier Wolfcastle
Jasper
Dewey Largo
Sanjay
Dr. Marvin Monroe
Jebediah Springfield
Marty
Herman
Judge Roy Snyder
Bill Clinton
Clancy Bouvier
Dr. J. Loren Pyror
George H. W. Bush
Nigel
Maggie Simpson (using his Kang voice)
President Arnold Schwarzenegger
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10:16AM on 05/14/2015
I think one guy leaving the show shouldn't affect the show too much. But if more cast leaves the show, then that will be a problem.
I think one guy leaving the show shouldn't affect the show too much. But if more cast leaves the show, then that will be a problem.
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10:23AM on 05/14/2015
He may be one guy, but he does about 1/3 of the shows voices...

Ned Flanders
Charles Montgomery Burns
Waylon Smithers
Seymour Skinner
Dr. Hibbert
Lenny Leonard
Kent Brockman
Scratchy
Kang
Eddie
Otto Mann
Rev. Lovejoy
Rainier Wolfcastle
Jasper
Dewey Largo
Sanjay
Dr. Marvin Monroe
Jebediah Springfield
Marty
Herman
Judge Roy Snyder
Bill Clinton
Clancy Bouvier
Dr. J. Loren Pyror
George H. W. Bush
Nigel
Maggie Simpson (using his Kang voice)
President Arnold
He may be one guy, but he does about 1/3 of the shows voices...

Ned Flanders
Charles Montgomery Burns
Waylon Smithers
Seymour Skinner
Dr. Hibbert
Lenny Leonard
Kent Brockman
Scratchy
Kang
Eddie
Otto Mann
Rev. Lovejoy
Rainier Wolfcastle
Jasper
Dewey Largo
Sanjay
Dr. Marvin Monroe
Jebediah Springfield
Marty
Herman
Judge Roy Snyder
Bill Clinton
Clancy Bouvier
Dr. J. Loren Pyror
George H. W. Bush
Nigel
Maggie Simpson (using his Kang voice)
President Arnold Schwarzenegger
10:37AM on 05/14/2015
That is true. But what I'm afraid is that if he leaves, other cast might leave too and that will even be a bigger problem.
That is true. But what I'm afraid is that if he leaves, other cast might leave too and that will even be a bigger problem.
-3
10:02AM on 05/14/2015
This has gone on for quite a while. And not to say he's wrong in this instance, but Shearer has been a malcontent everywhere he's ever been. Another contract dispute was inevitable after the last time. I love The Simpsons, but it has gone on well past its sell by date. If another drawn out, acrimonious contract dispute is in the works maybe it's time to shutter it? I don't know what he's upset about either? It's not like voice work takes a lot of time. How does it prevent him from working
This has gone on for quite a while. And not to say he's wrong in this instance, but Shearer has been a malcontent everywhere he's ever been. Another contract dispute was inevitable after the last time. I love The Simpsons, but it has gone on well past its sell by date. If another drawn out, acrimonious contract dispute is in the works maybe it's time to shutter it? I don't know what he's upset about either? It's not like voice work takes a lot of time. How does it prevent him from working otherwise?
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10:19AM on 05/14/2015
He's saying that the producers want his new contract to explicitly say that he can't take other work.
He's saying that the producers want his new contract to explicitly say that he can't take other work.
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