As we reported earlier this month, Fox has renewed The Simpsons for another two seasons, though some other outlets were quick to point out that there was supposedly a lone holdout in the voice cast. The International Business Times reported that the holdout was in fact Harry Shearer, who they claim was looking for a bigger piece of the merchandising gold mine. Well, Shearer just tweeted the following semi-cryptic messages that would appear to mean he’s off the show: “from James L. Brooks lawyer: ‘show will go on, Harry will not be part of it, wish him the best’ (1/2)” and “This because I wanted what we’ve always had: the freedom to do other work. Of course, I wish him the very best. (2/2)” If it’s true, it would be a pretty stunning blow to the show’s long-running voice cast, since Shearer provides the voices for Ned Flanders, Mr. Burns, Smithers, Skinner, and many, many more.
UPDATE: Shearer has indeed left the show, with showrunner Al Jean confirming the news to Hitfix. Jean told the entertainment site that Shearer “was offered the same deal the rest of the cast accepted and passed. We wish him well but the show will go on,” noting that Maggie Simpson, in particular, took it hard.
Jean also says characters voiced by Shearer will remain on the show, telling The New York Times that the show doesn’t “plan to kill off characters like Burns and Flanders but will recast with the finest voiceover talent available.”
UPDATE: (11:47 A.M.) James L. Brooks has responded to the fracas with a tweet of his own, which you can read here.