Harry Shearer, perhaps the most famous voice actor of characters from The Simpsons, appeared to have decided not to accept the current contract that producers of the Fox animated series had offered him; however, the latest news is that if certain contractual details are worked out, he might not be leaving, after all. The Emmy Award-winning Shearer has claimed that money is not the stumbling block, but his refusal to sign a new contract has to do with an agreement he said prevents him from working on outside projects. If some contractual problems can be ironed out, it is not a done deal that Shearer will be leaving
Shearer provides the voices for 23 of the characters on The Simpsons, so his loss could be devastating, but just in the short term. The producers of the series have stated the show will still go on. None of the characters that Shearer provides the voices for, like Mr. Burns, Otto, Seymour Skinner, Reverend Lovejoy, and Ned Flanders, would have to be cut; rather, the producers would find someone else, or possibly more than one person, who could do the voices.
James L. Brooks Tweet to Harry Shearer Gives Fans Hope
One sign that has given fans of The Simpsons hope that Harry Shearer might still come to a deal with the producers of the hit animated series came in the form of a tweet from James L. Brooks, one of the show’s executive producers, directed to Shearer. In the brief tweet, Brooks wrote both “We’re still trying,” and also “Harry, no kidding, let’s talk.”
It is possible that Harry Shearer might still be returning. Reportedly, Shearer would like to continue doing the voices. As a source close to Shearer stated, “If there’s a way to work this out and continue to have a career in addition to The Simpsons he would be delighted.”
Also, when Al Jean, another executive producer of The Simpsons, was interviewed by EW today, he held out a glimmer of hope. Though he mentioned that, especially as the other five cast members had re-signed for an additional two years, the contract “is not going to change” but, he added “Nothing’s done ‘til it’s done.”
In addition, when Jean was asked if the producers want Shearer back, he stated “we’d like him back.” The time frame that the producers are working with is relatively open. Though the producers have some people in mind, already, if push comes to shove, that they might try to hire to replace Shearer, it could still be possible that he will be returning to the series.
Harry Shearer Could Work on Other Projects Besides The Simpsons
Executive producer of The Simpsons, Al Jean told EW that Harry Shearer could work on outside projects. While Shearer tweeted that he “wanted what we’ve always had: the freedom to do other work,” as his main reason for not signing, Jean said in the interview with EW that “Everybody on the show does lots of outside projects.” He added that “we’ve never kept him from doing that stuff,” and also “I’m not sure what he’s thinking.”
The new contract, reportedly, does have a stipulation in it that the producers of The Simpsons would have the right to veto whatever outside project they want to veto. That stipulation, if it exists, is what concerns Shearer and his attorney, Larry Stein. However, Al Jean seemed to be saying in his interview with EW that Shearer could continue on, as before, doing outside projects. It could be that the wording of the new contract might allow the producers to veto the outside projects, but they might actually have no intention of doing so.
While it has been widely reported that Harry Shearer will be leaving The Simpsons, he might not be leaving, after all, provided there still remains a line of open communication between him and the producers of the series, and certain stumbling blocks are ironed out. If Shearer is allowed to work on whatever outside projects that he wants to work on, as executive producer Al Jean seems to be suggesting, a deal might not be out of the question, and Shearer might be returning to The Simpsons. Even without Harry Shearer, the producers are determined that the series will go on. But, it might continue on, even now, with Shearer. To coin a phrase, “It ain’t over ’til Ned Flanders sings.”
Written By Douglas Cobb
New York Daily News: ‘The Simpsons’ star Harry Shearer
could return to show, in talks with producers: report
TMZ.com: ‘The Simpsons’ It’s NOT Over
Producers and Harry Want to Make it Work
Entertainment Weekly: Simpsons showrunner on Harry Shearer’s exit:
‘We’re still hoping he might come back’
Photo Courtesy of Bill Woodland’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License