Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Alf Clausen accuses Simpsons producers of continuing to lie about why he was fired

Alf Clausen in 2016
Alf Clausen in 2016
Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez for ASCAP (Getty Images)

Former Simpsons composer Alf Clausen’s lawsuit against Gracie Films, 20th Century Fox, and the show’s new owners at Disney continues to be unsurprisingly bitter, with Clausen’s attorneys now releasing a statement (via Deadline) that accuses the defendants of using “lies and deceit” to cover up the real reason for why Clausen was fired from the show in 2017. Even when that news initially broke, there were conflicting theories about why Clausen was given the boot: Insiders said that Simpsons producer Richard Sakai wanted a “different kind of music” for the show (after nearly 30 years of the same kind of music), while Variety guessed that it was actually about money (as Clausen’s orchestra would apparently cost millions of dollars every season). Two years later, though, Clausen sued Fox and the producers for discriminating against him because of “perceived disability and age,” noting that his replacement was younger, cheaper, and “not disabled.” (It was unclear at the time, but Clausen has since revealed that he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease a month before being fired.)

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Earlier this year, Simpsons showrunner Matt Selman said in a legal filing that the show’s “creative possibilities were limited by Clausen’s abilities,” forcing them to get Empire’s Jim Beanz to help Clausen with the music for a rap-themed episode. Producer James L. Brooks had apparently questioned Clausen’s ability to compose rap music at the time and also questioned it “more generally.” Reports had also come out that Clausen was contracting some of his Simpsons work to his son, composer Scott Clausen.

This most recent development comes from Clausen’s camp’s response to the defendants trying to get the case tossed, saying his firing was because of “discriminatory animus” in an attempt to avoid providing accommodations for an “old, ailing employee.” As for the suggestion that Clausen couldn’t compose more modern styles of music, his lawyers say that, if that were the case, there would be “one email, text message, instant message, or internal memo mentioning it during his 27 years with the show”—implying that nobody ever explicitly said Clausen’s style and abilities were enough of a problem to fire him after so long.

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There will be a hearing on August 5 in front of a judge, at which point we should most likely know if this lawsuit is moving forward.

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