×

Harry Shearer Leaving ‘The Simpsons’

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.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • David Goodman

    WGA West's David Goodman on Agency Strategy: 'We'll Start Meeting as Soon as Possible'

    David Goodman, who was resoundingly re-elected president of the Writers Guild of America West on Monday, said the guild plans to meet with several talent agencies soon in an effort to ease the impasse over packaging fees and affiliated production. “Many agencies had indicated that they wanted to wait to see the results of the [...]

  • THE TITAN GAMES -- "The Titan

    'Titan Games' Renewed for Season 2 at NBC

    NBC has renewed the Dwayne Johnson-hosted competition series “The Titan Games” for a second season. The series features men and women battling opponents in head-to-head physical challenges designed by Johnson. Winners advance to Mt. Olympus, a test of speed, strength, agility and endurance. “When we launched ‘The Titan Games,’ we set out to create an [...]

  • David Goodman

    David Goodman Re-Elected President of Writers Guild of America West

    David Goodman has been convincingly re-elected to a two-year term as president of the Writers Guild of America West, beating Phyllis Nagy in a bitter contest that became a referendum on the guild’s ongoing battle with talent agents. Goodman received 4,395 votes to Nagy’s 1,282 in an election that yielded record turnout among the WGA [...]

  • first wives club BET

    TV Review: 'The First Wives Club' on BET Plus

    Launching a series based on a beloved property is harder than it seems. On the one hand, you get the immediate boost of name recognition to lure in preexisting fans. On the other, straying too far from the plot and/or spirit of the original risks sparking their righteous wrath. It’s a tricky balance to strike, [...]

  • Thomas Golubic GMS Conference

    Guild of Music Supervisors President: 'The Economics of the Job Don't Work Anymore'

    The Guild of Music Supervisors (GMS) hosted its 5th annual “State of Music in Media” conference on Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Los Angeles Film School. Featuring a wide array of panel discussions on all manner of issues related to music in film, television and advertising, the confab drew top composers, music supervisors, licensing and [...]

  • Christopher Eccleston Anorexia

    Christopher Eccleston Reveals He Was 'Very Ill' With Anorexia While Filming 'Doctor Who'

    “Doctor Who” actor Christopher Eccleston has opened up about his anorexia, body dysmorphia and suicidal thoughts. Eccleston, who played the ninth incarnation of the Doctor, made the revelations in his forthcoming autobiography “I Love the Bones of You: My Father and the Making of Me.” “Many times I’ve wanted to reveal that I’m a lifelong [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content