Harry Shearer, voice of iconic cartoon characters like Mr. Burns and Ned Flanders, might return to Fox's "The Simpsons," Al Jean, the show's executive producer, hinted in a new interview. Shearer quit the show Thursday following a dispute with producers. In doing so, the 71-year-old reportedly walked away from a two-year, $14 million contract offer.
Shearer has been associated with “The Simpsons” for more than 25 years. In a recent interview with Time magazine, Jean said Shearer might ultimately return. “Well, we’re still hoping he might come back. Nothing’s done ‘til it’s done,” Jean told Time. He said Shearer has not accepted the offer that was also made to the rest of the cast.
The producer added that he is not going to change the offer. Jean also said that he is “going to try once to say, 'What’s going on? We’d like you back.' And if he says, 'I don’t want to be back,' in that case, then we would say, “'OK, we’ve got to move on'.”
Jean said this wasn't the first time Shearer left the show. He added that every time Shearer left, he eventually returned -- and Jean hoped that would be the case this time as well.
Shearer has been a major contributor of various voices in the animated series. Besides Mr. Burns and Ned Flanders, Shearer also has voiced Principal Skinner, the Rev. Lovejoy and Kent Brockman. His exit would be a major loss for “The Simpsons.”
According to an insider, Shearer was offered “a guaranteed U.S. $14 million for two years of work,” CNN Money reported. He was also allowed to do any outside work during that time. However, the website adds that Shearer would not be allowed to do outside work under the new offer. Shearer has been associated with the show since 1989.
In the Time interview, Jean denied that Shearer quit because he would not be allowed to work outside. The producer said all cast members are given that freedom and Shearer often gets to do voices for “The Simpsons” via phone. Jean also said that money wasn't an issue and he is actually quite “confused” about why Shearer quit.
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