In some of the most unexpectant entertainment news since Michael Jackson married Lisa Marie Prestley, Harry Shearer the voice actor who portrays many of the main recurring cast characters on the longest running prime time television show of all time the Simpsons has quit.
Shearer was the voice of Ned Flanders, Mr Burns, Otto, Mr Smithers, Seymor Skinner, Kang the Alien, McBain, Lenny, Dr. Hibbert, and Reverend Lovejoy and those were just the main cast recurring characters! He also voice many minor and non-recurring characters.
A lawyer for Simpsons writer and producer James L. Brooks’ reportedly said that while the “…show will go on, Harry will not be part of it.” and showrunner Al Jean is quoted as saying “..”We do not plan to kill off characters like Burns and Flanders but will recast with the finest voice over talent available.”
Characters have, however, been retired; both Lionel Hutz and Troy McClure faded into the background after actor Phil Hartman died.
It is rumored that Shearer’s exit is due to financial differences regarding merchandising royalties which could not be agreed to in negotiations for his new contract. Other rumors claim his waning interest in continuing the series after 28 years (and a supposed firm belief that the shows quality had diminished in recent years and a desire to follow other pursuits.
Personally I cannot believe the financial rumors as he and the rest of the main voice actors on the cast make a six figure salary PER EPISODE simply for showing up and reading line off a script in their spare time, basically.
However the quality of the show I can totally see as an issue, both personally and professionally. Personally, I think the Simpsons stopped being funny back around season ten, (they are currently in production of season 28) and I have not watched an episode (other than my favorite re runs on FXX) in like forever, in fact the only time i would tune in would be for the annual Halloween Special, and I stopped that too many years ago. I truely feel that when something this profound happens to a long running series it is a sign that it is, was or has been time to say goodbye, or as an adult Ralp Wiggum said to Bart in the episode “Bart to the Future” ….Smell ya later…. smell ya later forever…”