Earlier this week, The Simpsons went through a huge change that could change the way the show runs in a very important way. It has already been picked up for seasons 27 and 28, but will continue on without a very major voice actor on the show, Harry Shearer.
Harry has been a part of the show for the past 26 years and voices quite a few characters including, but not limited to, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Mr. Burns, Waylon Smithers, Otto & Reverend Lovejoy. What the fate of these characters is going to be has not been discussed in great detail as of yet, but it has been confirmed that the characters that he voiced will not be retired or killed off. The plan is for the voices to simply be recast.
Both Harry Shearer and the executive producer of The Simpsons have all but outright stated that the issue arose from contract negotiations. Harry stated via his twitter that all he wanted was the freedoms to work on other projects that he’s always had, while the producer states that he was offered the same deal as the rest of the cast, and that none of them had an issue with it (I did notice, however, that he didn’t say that it was the same deal that Harry had been given in the past, which might offer some insight as to why he chose to pass).
Lending more credence to suspicions is that Harry has stated publicly that he will continue to work on the show if the producers “enable him to do other work”. It also gives a little hope that things will work out by alluding that negotiations are still going on, so cross your fingers ladies and gents.
The odd part (and please take this with a grain of salt, no one knows the truth but those involved and everyone can lie when it suits them) is that the producer states that no freedoms have been taken from any of the voice actors. The Harry and all of the others have always had the freedom to work on other projects and still do, so he is baffled as to why Harry has gone public with this odd reasoning. He also states that he and the others had contracts signed from everyone else, and that while they were trying to find out why Harry’s hadn’t been returned with a signature, TMZ ran with a story that an unnamed voice actor was leaving the show. Their conformation came in the form of Harry’s tweet, not an official meeting or anything of that nature.
It sounds like the bottom line is that, whatever the issue is, there is still time to resolve it. However, no one in the production team seems content to try for more than a reasonable time, and seems ready to recast should that become necessary. The show must go on, and all that mess.
The more information that comes out about all of this, the more confusing it seems to get…