A couple of months ago news broke which shocked the longtime fans of The Simpsons: Harry Shearer, the voice of many of the hit animated show’s characters including Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principle Skinner, and many others, would not be returning after 26 seasons on the job.
Back then we said it was really hard to believe Shearer was actually leaving and this wasn’t just one of those disputes that would eventually be worked out. And as it turns out, much to the delight of said fans, that’s exactly what was going on as it’s now being reported that Shearer has officially signed on to return with the other voice actors.
According to the report Shearer signed the same deal the other voice actors signed, so the issue wasn’t a dispute over compensation. The reason for his departure at the time was said to be because he wanted the time to work on other things. This surprised producers of the show, who said that they were still hoping he’d change his mind and come back.
In a chat with Entertainment Weekly, executive producer Al Jean talked about their hopes that Shearer would return and also how hopeful he was that things would eventually work out:
“Well, we’re still hoping he might come back. Nothing’s done ‘til it’s done. He tweeted that it was over, but… There’s an offer that the rest of the cast accepted, and Harry has not accepted it. It’s not going to change, because the rest of the cast took it. So we’re hoping he does. If he doesn’t within a certain period of time, we would have to recast—but we haven’t started.
I have no idea. I didn’t know he was going to tweet last night. That was very surprising. And the tweets were confusing because he had an offer. It wasn’t like we didn’t offer him a substantial thing. No. 2, he mentioned that he wanted to do outside projects. Everybody on the show does lots of outside projects. He actually gets to record on the phone and do the [table] reads on the phone. So we’ve never kept him from doing that stuff. So that’s one confusion I had. For the last several years, he’s done reads on the phone. He doesn’t always participate. We’ve excused him for several and he records, as long as it’s done in time, when it’s convenient for him. So it’s not a scheduling thing. And he says it’s not a money thing. So I’m not sure what he’s thinking.”
The deal the cast signed is for four seasons up to season 30, seasons 29 and 30 being network option seasons, with paydays thought to be over $300,000 per episode.
Seasons 27 and 28 have already been officially ordered by Fox, with the former set to premiere on September 27th.