Ask a Simpsons fan how much more dark their Thursday (5.14) could be, and the answer would be “None.” Late last night, New Orleanian Harry Shearer took to Twitter to announce that his relations with the powers at Fox were not exxxxcelllent and consequently, he would be leaving the show that he has appeared on since its 1989 premier.
Shearer tweeted that a lawyer for James L. Brooks, a Simpsons Executive Producer, told him “show will go on, Harry will not be part of it, wish him the best.”
The popular actor said that the departure was “because I wanted what we’ve always had: the freedom to do other work,” adding, “Of course, I wish him the very best.”
Shearer also showed appreciation for fans of the long running series in a different tweet, “Thanks, Simpsons fans, for your support.”
Brooks was not ready to call it over, tweeting, “Hey, we tried. We’re still trying. Harry, no kidding, let’s talk.”
Shearer voiced characters including Principal Skinner, Kent Brockman, Mr. Burns, Waylon Smithers, Ned Flanders, Reverend Lovejoy, Dr. Hibbert, Lenny Leonard, Otto Mann, Rainier Wolfcastle, and Dr. Marvin Monroe. According to CNN, those characters will be recast, not killed off.
Fox recently renewed the series for a 27th and 28th seasons, a historic feat in a fickle medium. In 2011, Shearer was vocal about his displeasure over contract negotiations with Fox that resulted in a pay cut for the cast.
At the time, he wrote in a Daily Beast editorial, “For many years now, the cast of The Simpsons has been trying to get Fox to agree that, like so many other people who’ve contributed significantly to the show’s success, we be allowed a tiny share of the billions of dollars in profits the show has earned. Fox has consistently refused to even consider the matter. Instead, it’s paid us salaries that, while ridiculous by any normal standard, pale in comparison to what the show’s profit participants have been taking home.”
Shearer’s aforementioned side projects are numerous. His prolific output includes Le Show, a podcast, Nixon’s the One, a British television series, and two books. Most significant for locals was The Big Uneasy, a film highlighting the levee failures and negligence by the Army Corps that resulted in the Federal Flood. Shearer has been an prominent critic of the Corps for the past ten years.