Springfield is being shaken up as comedian, actor and voice actor Harry Shearer will be departing The Simpsons. Producer Al Jean acknowledged the breakup and stated to TheWrap that Shearer was “offered the same deal the rest of the cast accepted, and passed.”
Shearer has been an integral part of The Simpsons’ voice lineup since its inception. Among the litany of characters the Saturday Night Live veteran created and enacted for the show are industrial baron Mr. Burns, his assistant Mr. Smithers, chipper neighborino Ned Flanders and the long-suffering Principal Skinner.
The Simpsons cast have often been in contract negotiations with FOX, being in the unique position of lending their voices to a record-breaking long-running toon. Several years ago, however, the cast agreed to a 30 percent pay cut in order to balance the production budget. Shearer and his fellow stars had been receiving just over $300,000 per episode since then.
Al Jean told The New York Times that rather than eliminating the characters, they will be “recast with the finest voiceover talent available … The show will go on and we wish him well.”