The Simpsons’ crew were ready for the show to go on even if Harry Shearer wasn’t at first – but his change of heart means he’s back
Simpsons showrunner Al Jean claims that not only would the longrunning series have survived the loss of voice actor Harry Shearer – they actually made more than a third of the current season without him.
Shearer, the voice behind Mr Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner and Kent Brockman, walked earlier this year in a standoff over contract negotiations.
Jean isn’t entirely sure why: there was never any question of offering him more money than the other five main cast members, and the voice actor’s concern about “the freedom to do other work” did not square with the fact he can record his dialogue over the internet.
Jean claims the show was contractually bound to go on.
“We would have had to replace him if he didn’t sign.
“There was never even a time where there was a choice whether or not to do the show.”
In the end eight episodes were recorded without Shearer. After he relented, they were able to go back and add his characters and voices to the finished programs.
“It’s funny because I don’t think if you watch the shows you’ll even notice any absence,” he says, adding they always wanted Shearer back. “It was always our preference to sign him and we never read anybody (else for the role).”
characters such as Krusty the Clown will return on Eleven tonight.