UPDATED with Fox’s statement: Harry Shearer has agreed to return to The Simpsons fold after less than two months ago saying he quit the show when his contract negotiations broke down. It amounted to a virtual Twitter snit between Simpsons producers and Shearer, but now all is back to normal for the actor to return to the show he’s been a key part of for 26 years as a slew of characters including Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner and many more.
The deal means all six original The Simpsons voice cast members — Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria and Shearer — will return for the series’ just-renewed 27th and 28th seasons. At 625 episodes and counting, The Simpsons is primetime TV’s longest-running scripted show.
Back in May, things didn’t look so good. The contract stalemate escalated on Twitter with Shearer tweeting late one night that he would be leaving the show: “From (Simpsons executive producer) James L. Brooks’ lawyer: ‘Show will go on, Harry will not be part of it, wish him the best,’ ” Shearer wrote, adding, “This because I wanted what we’ve always had: the freedom to do other work. Of course, I wish him the very best.”
Shearer was the most vocal Simpsons voice cast member during a 2011 contract dispute. He was insisting on getting a piece of the animated juggernaut’s lucrative backend, whose value flexed its muscles in a big way with the $1 billion off-network syndication deal at FX in 2013.
Here is Fox’s official announcement of the cast’s return:
Following the announcement of THE SIMPSONS’ renewal for an unprecedented 27th and 28th seasons, FOX is proud to confirm that each and every member of the iconic series’ voice cast will be returning in the roles they’ve brought to life since the show’s beginnings as a series of animated shorts nearly 30 years ago.
The critically acclaimed THE SIMPSONS voice cast has been recognized with countless awards over the series’ 26 seasons, including 11 Emmys. In fact, every main cast member – Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria And Harry Shearer – has won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance at some point in the show’s run, which, with the recent two-season pick-up, will extend to an astounding 625 episodes…and counting.
The longest-running scripted show in television history, THE SIMPSONS exploded into a cultural phenomenon in 1990 and has remained one of the most groundbreaking and innovative entertainment franchises, recognizable throughout the world. Currently in production on its record-annihilating 27th season, THE SIMPSONS has won 31 Emmy Awards, 31 Annie Awards, a 2015 People’s Choice Award, was the first animated series to win a Peabody Award and was nominated for an Academy Award in 2012 for the theatrical short “The Longest Daycare.” “The Simpsons Movie” was an international hit feature film, the mega-attraction The Simpsons Ride at Universal Studios has received historic expansion updates with the addition of “Springfield” and the show was honored with a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2000. It has been named the “Best Show of the 20th Century” by Time magazine, and called the “Greatest American Sitcom” by Entertainment Weekly in 2013.
This past season, THE SIMPSONS averaged a 2.6/8 among Adults 18-49 – steady year-over-year in the core demo. Across all viewing platforms, THE SIMPSONS delivers an average total audience of 7.6 million, +59% higher than its Live + Same Day total audience (7.6 vs. 4.8 Mil). In fact, even in its 26th season, the series ranks as one of the Top 15 shows overall on broadcast television among Male Teens, Men 18-34, and Men 18-49, and ranks among the Top 20 in Adults 18-34.
THE SIMPSONS is a Gracie Films Production in association with 20th Century Fox Television. James L. Brooks, Matt Groening and Al Jean are the executive producers. The Gracie Films Worldwide Brand Division develops and produces the licensed content for the series. Film Roman, a Starz company, is the animation house.