LOS ANGELES — Harry Shearer, the voice of iconic “Simpsons” characters like Mr. Burns, is walking away from a $14 million offer and is saying farewell to show.
“As the Simpsons continues its 27th and 28th seasons, Harry Shearer will not be within the show,” show runner Al Jean said in an email.
Besides the evil Mr. Burns, Shearer also voices Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, the Rev. Lovejoy and Kent Brockman.”We do not plan to ‘kill off’ his characters,” Jean added, “but replace them with the most talented members of the voice over community.”
Jean’s comments came a few hours after Shearer’s private contract negotiations with the producers spilled into public view.
Shearer, who tweeted about the dispute, said it centered around his ability to continue doing outside work. He said he has had that freedom for decades. (He has been a member of the voiceover cast since the show began in 1989.)
“In last four years, I’ve created and starred in a UK TV series and starred on London stage. Not stopping,” he wrote in a message.
Jean, however, said Shearer was “offered the same deal as the rest of the cast, but turned it down.””We wish him well,” Jean said, then quipped that “Maggie took it hard.”
Shearer is not just walking away from Springfield, but also a large sum of money.
The actor was offered a guaranteed $14 million for two years of work, according to someone with direct knowledge of the matter.
The proposed deal also allowed for him to do other projects if he wished.
“To me, the deal he rejected would be the dream of a lifetime for the rest of the world,” the source said.
Earlier on Thursday morning, Jean tweeted that the show will recast “if Harry does not return,” and when a fan asked him if there’s still a chance Shearer might stay, Jean replied, “In life I never say never.”
But Jean’s comments via email seemed to close the door on that possibility.
Shearer did not immediately respond to a followup request for comment about Jean’s statement.
Fox ordered two more seasons of “The Simpsons” on May 4. But a few days later, TMZ reported that “one of the key players has not signed on.”
Early Thursday morning, Shearer revealed that he is the holdout. Shearer, a prolific tweeter, wrote that he’d received a letter from the lawyer for James L. Brooks, who along with Jean is an executive producer of “The Simpsons.”
from James L. Brooks' lawyer: "show will go on, Harry will not be part of it, wish him the best.". (1/2)
— Harry Shearer (@theharryshearer) May 14, 2015
This because I wanted what we've always had: the freedom to do other work.
Of course, I wish him the very best. (2/2)
— Harry Shearer (@theharryshearer) May 14, 2015
Brooks’s production company, Gracie Films, is one of the two producing entities behind the show. The other is 20th Century Fox Television.
As news stories about Shearer’s possible departure proliferated on the web and his fans sent him say-it-ain’t-so messages, he posted one more tweet: “Thanks, Simpsons fans, for your support.”
For nearly 600 episodes of “The Simpsons,” Shearer has been the voice of many of the show’s most iconic characters — among them Principal Skinner, Ned Flanders and Montgomery Burns.
Here are some of those voices:
Homer Simpson’s next-door neighbor and sometimes friend, Ned’s a devout Christian and irksomely helpful soul.
Notable quote: “Hey diddly ho!”
How he’d react to the news: “Okily dokily!” with relentlessly positive enthusiasm, probably involving a Bible verse. Then he’d organize a fundraiser for Shearer.
Homer’s maniacal boss at the nuclear plant, Burns is frail but ruthless, greedy but … well, greedy.
Notable quote: “Excellent!”
How he’d react to the news: Probably by making further safety cutbacks at the nuclear plant to pay for Shearer’s salary.
Waylon Smithers Jr.
Burns’ loyal lackey and an avid “Malibu Stacy” doll collector. He also has a crush on Burns.
Notable quote: “Mr. Burns isn’t just my heartless boss, he’s also my best friend.”
How he’d react to the news: Whatever Burns tells him. Barring that, anything he can to save his boss from oblivion.
The principal at Springfield Elementary School, Skinner’s locked in an eternal battle with Homer’s mischievous son, Bart, as well as with his own disdainful boss, Superintendent Chalmers.
Notable quote: “Uh oh. Two independent thought alarms in one day. The students are overstimulated. Willie! Remove all the colored chalk from the classrooms.”
How he’d react: Perhaps this bit from one episode: “Now I, I finally have time to do what I’ve always wanted: write the great American novel. Mine is about a futuristic amusement park where dinosaurs are brought to life through advanced cloning techniques. I call it ‘Billy and the Cloneasaurus.’ ”
Springfield’s most long-winded, disenchanted and apathetic pastor.
Notable quote: “Oh, just about everything is a sin. Have you ever sat down and read this thing? Technically, we’re not allowed to go to the bathroom.”
How he’d react to the news: Find the most obscure and irrelevant Bible verse and make it the centerpiece of a sermon.
Dr. Julius Hibbert
The family doctor for Homer and his family, known for laughing in almost situation and handing out sometimes dubious medical advice to his patients.
Notable quote: “You have 24 hours to live. Well, 22; sorry I kept you waiting so long.”
How he’d react to the news: He’d undoubtedly find a reason to laugh and then send a very large bill to someone.
The sensationalistic and absurd anchor for Channel 6 news in Springfield.
Notable quote: “The spacecraft has apparently been taken over — ‘conquered,’ if you will — by a master race of giant space ants. It’s difficult to tell from this vantage point whether they will consume the captive Earth men or merely enslave them. One thing is for certain: There is no stopping them; the ants will soon be here. And I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords. I’d like to remind them that as a trusted TV personality, I could be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground sugar caves.”
How he’d react to the news: By encouraging idle and damaging speculation, of course. For instance: “Hordes of panicky people seem to be evacuating the town for some unknown reason. Professor, without knowing precisely what the danger is, would you say it’s time for our viewers to crack each other’s heads open and feast on the goo inside?”