Harry Shearer Is Sticking With ‘The Simpsons’ After All
After news broke this spring that Harry Shearer would be leaving The Simpsons, fans were in a panic. Shearer was the voice for everyone from Mr. Burns and Waylon Smithers, to Ned Flanders and Principal Skinner. Would FOX really replace the iconic voice actor? Would we really be faced with a “wrong-sounding Muppets” situation?
According to EW, Harry Shearer has agreed to return to The Simpsons after a lengthy contract dispute. Shearer ultimately signed the same deal as the other five primary voice actors – Dan Castellaneta, Yeardley Smith, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright and Hank Azaria. This puts Shearer back with the show for a four-season agreement (as the contract stipulates an option for the network to greenlight seasons 29 and 30), and at a salary of over $300,000 per episode, which is among the more lucrative, non-Big Bang Theory. Although a 29th and 30th season have not been confirmed, Shearer will definitely stick around for seasons 27 and 28, which will put the series at an unfathomable 625 episodes.
Of course, to remain on schedule, Simpsons producers had to begin production before the new deal was finalized. But luckily, they had seven unused episodes from last season that contain Shearer’s voice work, allowing them a bit of leeway to avoid having to air new material without him.
Ultimately, while The Simpsons isn’t the show it once was, I’m at least relieved that Shearer will be sticking around. Voice acting is about so much more than just sounding like a person, it’s the way in which a voice actor inhabits a character and adds those little intangibles, like vocal inflection or ad-libs. I don’t think any new actors they could have hired to take over Shearer’s roles could have done as good a job.
The Simpsons returns for Season 27 on September 27. Until then, let us know what you think about the news in the comments!
And for details on the reason behind Shearer leaving in the first place, read our report on his departure.