Harry Shearer, Voice of Ned Flanders and Mr. Burns, Exits ‘The Simpsons’
Harry Shearer, a renowned voice actor who has been with The Simpsons since its debut in 1989, has exited the show — walking away from a reported $14 million deal.
Showrunner Al Jean told CNNMoney via email, "As the Simpsons continues its 27th and 28th seasons, Harry Shearer will not be within the show." Jean said Shearer's much-loved characters won't be "killed off," but instead replaced "with the most talented members of the voice over community." He also joked that "Maggie took it hard."
This news means that you may detect a slight difference in the voices of the following Springfield residents: Ned Flanders, Mr. Burns, Smithers, Principal Skinner, Kent Brockman, Carl's pal Lenny, Scratchy, and Dr. Hibbert. And those are just his main characters — you've heard his work hundreds of times and probably never even realized it. Will the show really ever be the same?
Shearer addressed his departure from the show on Twitter once the news became public, saying "I wanted what we've always had: the freedom to do other work." He thanked fans for their support. While few of us will ever be in the position to walk away from $14 million, it's also difficult to imagine holding the same job for 26 years. No matter how amazing said job is — Simpsons star, puppy masseuse, professional nacho taster — you're going to want to change it up after almost three decades of service.
For a fascinating look at the quirky world of voice acting, check out the documentary I Know That Voice, which is currently streaming on Netflix. You can catch the Season 26 finale of The Simpsons airing May 17 on Fox.
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