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Harry Shearer - Voice Behind Ned Flanders, Mr. Burns, And Principal Skinner - Leaves 'The Simpsons'

( [email protected] ) May 15, 2015 12:38 PM EDT
"The Simpsons'" Mr. Burns and Principal Skinner may not be the same again as actor Harry Shearer, the voice behind these characters, leave the show.

"The Simpsons'" Mr. Burns and Principal Skinner may not be the same again as actor Harry Shearer, the voice behind these characters, leave the show.

Shearer tweeted on Wednesday that he received a message from a lawyer of "The Simpsons" producer James L. Brooks saying "show will go on, Harry will not be part of it, wish him the best."

The 71-year-old actor said in another tweet: "This because I wanted what we've always had: the freedom to do other work. Of course, I wish him the very best."

"Thanks, Simpsons fans, for your support," he added.

Issues on pay dispute were reported as a possible reason for Shearer leaving the hit show.

The disagreements started in 1998 when Fox Network had a dispute with the actors of the animated series, threatening to replace the six main voice actors with new ones. But after discussions, Shearer, who was receiving $30,000 per episode till 1998, was given $125,000 per episode until 2004.

Another controversy between the network and the voice actors arose in 2004, when the latter demanded a pay of $360,000 an episode. The agreement ended with Shearer being paid $250,000 per episode.

Wage negotiations were again held in 2008 where the actors' wages were raised to $360,000 each per episode, but Fox threatened to cancel the show unless there would be cost-cutting in their production. The latest agreement left Shearer and the other cast members with over $300,000 pay per episode, a 30-percent pay cut, reports said.

"Harry Shearer was offered the same deal the rest of the cast accepted and passed," The New York Times quoted "The Simpsons" showrunner Al Jean as saying. "The show will go on and we wish him well."

Al Jean added that the characters that Shearer dubbed would not be killed off from the show, but that the management "will recast with the finest voiceover talent available.”

Shearer left the show after 26 years and 582 episodes. He provided the voices for a total of 31 characters in the long-running comedy including Kent Brockman, Waylon Smithers, Ned Flanders, Reverend Lovejoy, Dr. Hibbert, Lenny Leonard, Otto Mann, Rainier Wolfcastle and Dr. Marvin Monroe.

The comedian-writer-musician was initially reluctant when he was offered to be in the series thinking that the job may be too demanding, but was later convinced by Brooks.

Immediately after Shearer's announcement on Twitter, The Guardian online and The Rolling Stone magazine published stories on the actor's 10 best Simpsons characters.

Many fans also expressed their disappointment on social media, some even creating video tributes and picture collages as a tribute to him.