In one of the most shocking entertainment stories of the year, it has been confirmed that The Simpsons
castmember Harry Shearer will be departing the show
after nearly thirty years as a castmember of the beloved show.
Shearer, who has been a vocal critic of the decline of the show, is apparently leaving due to a contract dispute. The apparent reason is that Shearer wanted to do other work in addition to his voice-work on The Simpsons
, but if rumors are true, that request has been denied.
The show's executive producer, James L. Brooks, broke the news on Twitter, confirming that Harry would be leaving the show after 26 years, and wished him the best. On his own Twitter account, Shearer has denied that the decision to leave was due to pay, but instead over a dispute of contract. He also thanked fans of the show for their support.
Shearer's departure marks a significant blow for the show. Unlike other castmembers who have left - Maggie Roswell was briefly replaced, and sadly Marcia Wallace (Edna Krabappel) and Phil Hartman (Lionel Hutz and Troy McClure), Shearer voiced over two dozen different characters, including major characters such as Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Lenny Leonard, Dr. Hibbert, Reverend Lovejoy, Kent Brockman and Seymour Skinner. His loss is a huge blow to a show that many feel should start the victory lap towards ending after years of brilliance.
Executive producer and showrunner Al Jean has confirmed that instead of the characters being killed off or retired, they will be recast. In my opinion, speaking as a superfan of the show, I find myself in a catch-22 situation, as I love the characters very much, but they just aren't the same without Harry behind them.
However, there is still hope - FOX hasn't officially announced Shearer as departing, and rumors suggest they are still negotiating with him. Hopefully all parties come to an effective agreement soon enough and Harry can continue his fantastic work on the greatest show of all time.
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