Harry Shearer Leaving ‘The Simpsons’

Mr Burns Harry Shearer
Courtesy of Fox

UPDATED: The Simpsons” has lost one of its most recognizable voices. Harry Shearer, who voices Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders and Principal Skinner, is leaving Fox’s animated series after 26 seasons.

He tweeted the news on Wednesday night.

“This because I wanted what we’ve always had: the freedom to do other work,” he wrote.

His message suggested that his departure was over a contract dispute. Shearer wrote that the lawyer for “Simpsons” producer James L. Brooks’ delivered the news: “‘Harry will not be part of it, wish him the best.'”

“Simpsons” exec producers Matt Groening, Al Jean and Brooks confirmed the news, releasing a statement that read “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.”

They added that the show will recast characters like Burns and Flanders “with the finest voiceover talent available” rather than killing them off.

Fox recently renewed the venerable series for two more seasons through 2017.

Brooks made a public appeal to keep negotiations going on Twitter on Thursday. “Hey, we tried. We’re still trying. Harry, no kidding, let’s talk,” he wrote.

The rest of the “Simpsons” voice cast recently signed two-year extensions, logging on for seasons 27 and 28. Production on season 27 has already begun without Shearer.

The show has survived contract issues before, although without losing its cast members. In 2011, 20th Century Fox Television looked to cut costs of the aging show by dealing a hefty pay cut to the voice cast. The cast did eventually agree to the cut after tense negotiations, though the salary reduction was not as steep as the studio originally proposed.

The season 26 finale of “The Simpsons” will air Sunday on Fox.

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  1. Yeah exactly I am glad to read it. I have got great information about how to record a voice over.. Thanks for sharing .. Great knowledge it is step by step you mentioned here.. Its very useful for me.

  2. DorothyParkerlite says:

    Don’t agree with the animosity that’s been expressed here, whether it’s about Sheerer or Heigl and any others. Actors are their own commodity and they have to be responsible for their own brand. Which means, yes, they can do whatever the hell they want with themselves. Because, they’re human and not a fucking robot and can’t stick around just because you and your pals might not have anything to watch that night. 26 years is pretty damn loyal and when something becomes more of a job than a passion, hell yes, you should get paid what you want. I wish more people were brave enough to take a risk, because it’s a gamble for any actor to leave a successful show. Out of all the actors in the universe, I think it’s something like 2% that actually become super successful. That’s a sobering thought because we’ll never know how many truly great artists there might have been.

    • Rena Moretti says:

      Other people may disagree but the animosity against Shearer is that he said false things in a pathetic attempt at gaining public sympathy and permanently tries to portray himself as hard-done by when he was made a millionaire and is getting an insanely high per-hour wage.

      Were he being honest and forthright, he’d get a lot less grief.

      For Heigl, she is a horrible actress who should be so lucky to work at all given how little she masters her craft. That she acts like she is owed something and is a super-star with drawing power (we saw how little she had with her movies and her TV show) is what makes her insufferable.

      Granted we should be more mad at Hollywood which is treating this non-entity as if she were important…

  3. Dave J says:

    If it wasn’t for “The Simpsons”, I’m sure Harry Shear would not have gotten half the gigs he got right now! That’s pretty shameful and ungrateful if you ask me! I hope whatever projects Harry Shearer is in tanks!

    And it’s pretty funny how both actors and actresses, as soon as their show becomes a big hit, making them important and relevant again, they “think” they can just get up and do whatever the hell they want since they’re in huge demand. How about without the show, they would still be a bunch of nobody’s. David Caruso of “NYPD Blue”, Katherine Heigel of “Grey’s Anatomy”, Charlie Sheen from “Two And A Half Men”, George Clooney of ER and now Harry Shear of The Simpsons etc…

    • Rena Moretti says:

      Actually George Clooney could have left ER a lot earlier and made it a point to stick around and make sure he left with a semblance of logic for his character.

      He showed a lot of respect for the fans that made him big star.

      Agree with you on the other ones, especially that alleged actress Heigl.

  4. Tom Fillius says:

    i can do homer and ned flanders as well as many other voices if they need a stand in

  5. Scooterhill says:

    “Ah, let the baby have his bottle.” (Not saying Harry is a baby just a good quote for here)

    Harry is only looking towards the future. Don’t ever tell anyone I said this because I will deny it. The Simpsons will run its course hopefully not for another generation, but one in entertainment must continue to work, or be left behind. A great deal of the main cast have done work while with The Simpsons why not Harry?

    Which brings me to my second point. Alot of people are saying that they can find people to take his place as the many voice of Springfield, however I would like to remind everyone. Dan Canstinilla did the voice of the Genie in Aladin 2. Although good as it was he was no Robin Williams.

    Thanks for listening to my rant, and I hope they just let him explore other avenues for his talent while keeping the band together.

    Scooter Hill

    • Rena Moretti says:

      Except, as shown in a subsequent interview with Al Jean, Harry is not prohibited from doing other projects. He never was and is paid many times the average yearly salary of an American worker for a couple hours of work…

  6. Good luck to him. I’m sure he doesn’t need the money anymore and he will be getting royalties until the end of time. Probably wants to focus on his public radio show in Los Angeles and other projects. I think he wrote an expose about casinos a few years ago.

  7. Mike Freeman says:

    I’m sure there are hundreds of decent voice impressionists out there that can knock off those voices for a fraction of the cost. Good riddance greedy Harry.

  8. mum says:

    ‘Id quit too. Who wants to work for rupert murdock. I don’t watch anything with the fox logo on it.

    • Dave J says:

      That’s extreme and narrow minded b/c not everything shown on Fox is pro-right wing! As a matter of fact, The Simpsons are more left than they are right. Pro gay and pro marijuana, equal rights, equal pay how much more left can it get!

    • Rena Moretti says:

      Seriously? You wouldn’t work for an employer who doesn’t share your every opinions?!

      Wow! Just Wow!!!

  9. MalcolmO says:

    Shocked!! Who’ll release the hounds?

  10. Kevin21 says:

    Dang-diddly-darn-it.

  11. Pat says:

    Its been a good run, but it’s now time to pull the plug on the Simpsons. It can’t go on without Harry, and 26 years is long enough for any show, probably way too long.

  12. I don’t watch TV, but I will say that people are looking in the wrong place. The producers are the ones cutting salaries all around and making the voice actors choose between eating and taking a smaller amount of pay or looking for better elsewhere, while the series remains popular enough to still produce toys, comics, and movies. The amount of money being paid to the pointy end of the franchise is less than peanuts, but you always have some “person” believing that its okay to cut costs this way.

    • HAHAHA, eating about, $220,000 an episode, yeah tough to deal with that kind of poverty inducing money

    • KarmaTiger says:

      $300,000 per episode for voice work is peanuts?

      • Rena Moretti says:

        Amazing how uninformed some people are… Those are the people “poor” Harry Shearer is playing to with his “I’m standing up for the little guy” routine while in reality he is a multi-millionaire.

  13. michael ivers says:

    DISASTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, Simpsons will never be the same, give him whatever money he wants

  14. curtis says:

    why don’t they just imagine make them like they change voices

  15. Paully says:

    I’m guessing that the real negotiations with Harry start today.

  16. kenneth van valkenburg says:

    I can do that…..

  17. Thor says:

    This show should have ended 15 years ago. It was great for the first ten years or so, but it has been awful for a long, long time.

  18. It is a great loss, but I understand his position. I’m sure there are actors out there capable of doing credible impersonations of those characters who will jump at the chance.

  19. Cainemarko says:

    With the exception of maybe Hank Azaria, who actually hasn’t been doing much recently, Sheerer is the only one that actually works regularly in films. His work with Christopher Guest, et.al. have produced some of the best movies around. God forbid he wanted it written in his contract that he can take some time and do some more films with Guest in the future.

    As for the haters here so worried about how much he was making, why none of that for Sam Simon. Simon left the show completely in the fourth season, and still made millions a year. At its height, with the merchandising, he was making 10 – 20 million a QUARTER for doing absolutely nothing. I’m certainly not trying to disparage the dead. But even if Harry wanted a little more, who cares? He actually worked on the show. Its called Show Business and not Show Fun for a reason. Get your money while you can.

    • Rena Moretti says:

      We care because he is presenting himself as a poor actor exploited by Big Bad Hollywood, when in reality he has been making millions each year!!! And that for working less than a day each episode.

      Poor Harry indeed…

  20. Noah Pinzur says:

    you would think you, as a literary magazine, would spell “Principal” correctly. Its Principal Skinner not Principle Skinner.

  21. Rock Jonson says:

    I can’t watch a Simpsons episode knowing that Mr.Burns was fired!

  22. Jason Didner says:

    It appears that the dealbreaker for Harry Shearer was that this contract, unlike past ones, would be exclusive, meaning that Harry couldn’t do his own creative projects anymore. I can understand and respect his decision to walk. Harry’s a highly funny and creative guy; I look forward to seeing what he cooks up in the years ahead.

  23. dlethe says:

    Principle Skinner??? Somebody get this writer a dictionary.

  24. Andrew Wells says:

    That’s a proper tragedy, Ned, Mr. Burns and Flanders are real losses to the show but I wish him all the best for the future!!

  25. DaFUNKensteinz says:

    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  26. Crab Apple Jones says:

    People get paid for doing voice overs? What empty lives. But full wallets. Tough trade off.

    • Ashram says:

      Okay, if you think doing voice acting is such an easy way to earn a fortune, you go out there and do it. You will find that the reality will be different to your expectations.

      The fact about this business is that voice acting is still ACTING. If you’ve got the voice but you can’t play the character, then you’re useless.

      With regard to “The Simpsons” cast members, they are among the luckiest talent working today. It’s very rare in this business for a talent to find such steady, well-paying work.

      The reality is that there’s plenty of talent but precious few gigs to go around. The typical voice over gigs are less like “The Simpsons” and more like reading a few lines for a 30 second ad for a couple hundred bucks. All the while, you hope you’ll get picked for another paying gig. Rejection is a reality because there will always be competing actors who may be closer than you were to what the client was looking for. At the same time, until you can realistically make a living working as an actor, you will be working a second, possibly a third, job just to make ends meet.

      • Rena Moretti says:

        I think you both misread that post. The jibe was, I thought, clearly aimed at Harry who has a cushy gig and spits all over the people who made him a rich man…

    • Joe Parisi says:

      They do and they’re called voice actors. Their lives are not empty and their wallets are rarely full, but their work is equally as significant and often more skilled than their on-screen brethren.

      • Rena Moretti says:

        Do you really not realize that all the Simpsons voices are multi-millionaires (with a lot of multi!)?

        We’re not talking getting paid scale, they get paid 7 figures PER EPSODE and have been for years and years.

        They among the richest actors in Hollywood.

  27. Gary Noland says:

    Sorry to see Harry go, but there are LOTS of voice actors who can do the same voices and would love to work.

  28. nearboston says:

    In 6 months it will be “Harry who? OH… the guy who used to do voices. He’s still alive?”

  29. Jay says:

    Are studios really lining up to sign Harry?

  30. Detroitjoe says:

    The Simpsons has been horrible for the last 10 years. Put this lumbering behemoth sleep and let us enjoy the reruns, at least of the first 10 seasons. After the original writing team broke up, it was never the same.

  31. carlb says:

    like mel blank voices are easily aped by someone else. i do a great john wayne maybe i should watch reruns ans start practicing! lol

  32. Craig says:

    The Simpson’s without Shearer is like Led Zeppelin without Bonham, or The Who without Moon, or The Grateful Dead without Garcia.

    • Neil O'Donnell says:

      And your point would be???

    • carlb says:

      ac/dc got better after the original suffocated by drowning in his own vomit!

      • RScannix says:

        Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap?

      • Matrim says:

        Well, the official explanation is that he choked on vomit, but it was actually someone else’s vomit. You know, they can’t prove whose vomit it was. They don’t have facilities at Scotland Yard for…you can’t really dust for vomit.

  33. Joe says:

    Principal.

  34. pasupatidasi says:

    adjusting pay downwards when a show is popular enough to warrant yet another season or two seems a bit cheap and disgusting

    • Rena Moretti says:

      Adjusting the pay of people making millions a season for a show with declining ratings seem disgusting to you?!!!!

      Are you Harry Shearer? ;)

  35. More power to Shearer… The Simpsons is the most iconic animated television show in history, but at the end of the day it’s still just a job for a voice actor and if you ain’t getting paid, deuces!

    • Rena Moretti says:

      Harry is getting 7 figures PER EPISODE for one day of work…

      Yeah, he’s not getting paid…

      Whatever… :(

  36. Ken says:

    Not so “Ex-cell-ent”.

  37. david kkten says:

    Damn you Fox!!! Pay the man, you’re making millions off the show!!

    • Rena Moretti says:

      Clearly you do not realize how much the actors are still being paid… They make more per day of work than most people make in 5 or 6 years working 40 hours a week…

      I don’t blame Harry trying to get more if he can, but playing the “poor Harry” card is a bit much…

    • This isn’t about how much he’s paid. It’s about the freedom to do other work.

      • Rena Moretti says:

        Seven figures PER EPISODE!!! At the height it was within shouting distance of 8 figures per episode…

        That’s why nobody appreciates Harry pretending he’s standing up for the little guy or is somehow not paid enough…

      • carlb says:

        well they are certainly trying to make it sound like it is. by the way how much do they make per show? mimes are a dime a dozen!

  38. they will give in later

  39. Ben says:

    Every new episode of the show is Homer throwing another punch on the already dead Krustyburglar. STOP! STOP! It’s already dead!

  40. grillbreaks says:

    WHAT IN THE EVER LIVING F**K IS GOING ON HERE

    • Rena Moretti says:

      The same thing that went on at the beginning of the Big Bang season, except that Harry is trying to be liked by the public and plays it like he’s poor…

      • Rena Moretti says:

        Dan: It’s well-known that the Simpsons actors can do whatever other project they want to. And they have. Harry Shearer doesn’t even live In the U.S.!!!

        If you don’t believe me, read the interview with Al Jean.

      • Dan says:

        Why do you keep saying it’s about money? Every quote from Shearer refers to wanting the freedom to do other work on the side. That’s a completely different issue.

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