Shearer himself first broke the news on Twitter, informing fans that he heard the news from Simpsons executive producer James L. Brooks’s lawyer and not any of the producers themselves.
from James L. Brooks' lawyer: "show will go on, Harry will not be part of it, wish him the best.". (1/2)— Harry Shearer (@theharryshearer) May 14, 2015
This because I wanted what we've always had: the freedom to do other work.— Harry Shearer (@theharryshearer) May 14, 2015
Of course, I wish him the very best. (2/2)
Thanks, Simpsons fans, for your support.— Harry Shearer (@theharryshearer) May 14, 2015
According to reports, Shearer was the only cast member still holding out on contract negotiations; the other five main cast members had already signed on for the show, which just got renewed for two more seasons last week. The other cast had started recording for season 27, with production hoping that Shearer would sign on as well.
Although the cast had contract disputes in the past in regards to money and whether they should be entitled to revenue from merchandise, Shearer, insists that his exit had nothing to do with money; one source said that it might have been a scheduling issue.
Simpsons executive producer Al Jean confirmed the news as well.
“Harry Shearer was offered the same deal the rest of the cast accepted and passed,” he told Hitfix. “We wish him well but the show will go on. Maggie took it hard.”
So what will happen to Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Mr. Burns, Smithers, Rev. Lovejoy, and the other characters Shearer voiced? They won’t be killed off, Jean assures fans.
Jean’s use of the word “if” makes it appear as if everything isn’t final, and judging by his responses to questions from fans and reporters, we may not be getting the full story.
@TylerSpicknell I'm my view we did and he still passed. Was offered the same deal as other 5.— Al Jean (@AlJean) May 14, 2015
@brianstelter His statements implied he rejected final offer to do other projects, which we always let him do. It's confusing.— Al Jean (@AlJean) May 14, 2015
Update 11:37am CT: A tweet from producer James L. Brooks suggests there could be hope for an eleventh-hour deal—or at least some last-ditch bargaining. Stay tuned.
Hey, we tried. We're still trying. Harry, no kidding, let's talk.— james l. brooks (@canyonjim) May 14, 2015