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Television The Almighty Buck Entertainment

Harry Shearer Walks Away From "The Simpsons," and $14 Million 214

Actor Harry Shearer, perhaps best known as the voice of several characters on The Simpsons, including that of Montgomery Burns, will be leaving the show's cast, according to CNN. Showrunner Al Jean said Shearer was "offered the same deal as the rest of the cast, but turned it down." ... Shearer is not just walking away from Springfield, but also a large sum of money. The actor was offered a guaranteed $14 million for two years of work, according to someone with direct knowledge of the matter. The proposed deal also allowed for him to do other projects if he wished." That last part, though, seems to be in dispute, and central to Shearer's decision to leave; Shearer tweeted that it's because he "wanted what we've always had: the freedom to do other work."
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Harry Shearer Walks Away From "The Simpsons," and $14 Million

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  • Derek Smalls (Score:5, Informative)

    by lengel ( 519399 ) on Thursday May 14, 2015 @03:42PM (#49692347)

    Uhh...... no. Harry Shearer will always be know first and foremost as Derek Smalls from Spinal Tap.

      "On the bass, Derek Smalls, he wrote this"

    • Hell, I didn't even know he was the one doing the voices. While his voice will be recognized, basically no one (outside of the fans who pay close attention) remembers the names of the voice actors. But legendary on screen performances will gain you real recognition among the masses because you put a face to a name. I remember thinking "hey, it's Derek Smalls" when Handsome Dan walked on screen in Wayne's World 2. I guarantee no one said "that's the guy who did the voice for Montgomery Burns".
    • so are we doing stonehenge tomorrow?

  • If he already have tens of millions of dollar for his past work, it's a lot easier to turn down $14 million.

  • More than money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DanZee ( 2422648 ) on Thursday May 14, 2015 @03:48PM (#49692401)

    A couple of things. Although he doesn't look it, other media have reported him as being 71-years old! He might just be slowing down. Other media are also reporting that the contract banned him from doing other things. It seems kind of strange that after 25+ years, the new contract prohibits this whereas the previous ones didn't. And then, didn't Fox originally say that this was the last year of The Simpsons? Harry might have started planning other projects to fill his time. I think he's still doing a weekly PBS show and works on documentaries and comedy releases. But certainly, prohibiting him from doing other projects would have been a sore point for someone as busy as Harry.

    • by Holi ( 250190 )
      Born in 1943, started acting at 10. Most recently (well minus the Simpsons) he played Richard Nixon in Nixon's the One.
    • Re:More than money (Score:4, Insightful)

      by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Friday May 15, 2015 @12:41AM (#49695713)

      It seems kind of strange that after 25+ years, the new contract prohibits this whereas the previous ones didn't

      Not at all. When new management, especially inexperienced management, comes in there are often a lot of changes made merely to assert authority.

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Thursday May 14, 2015 @03:56PM (#49692469) Homepage
    fox: if you stay for 2 more years of this 20 year old cultural dead horse we will pay you 14 million dollars.
    Shearer: I want to be creative, to exercise my creative talent on other projects besides a few bit part voices.
    fox: sure, you can do other projects.
    Shearer: like what did you have in mind
    fox: what if we added a new simpsons character
    Shearer: thats still the simpsons.
    Fox...whats your point..
    • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Thursday May 14, 2015 @04:57PM (#49693145) Journal

      Funny, I have heard nearly the opposite: I know two people in the Hollywood scene that don't know of him, but know people that have worked directly with HS, and they've heard that he's an astonishingly talented guy but a gigantic pain in the ass and prima donna - very hard to work with.

      • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

        ...they've heard that he's an astonishingly talented guy but a gigantic pain in the ass and prima donna - very hard to work with.

        So in other words, just like almost everyone else related to the entertainment industry.

  • Maybe hire some writers so the show could actually be funny again.

  • by Jahoda ( 2715225 ) on Thursday May 14, 2015 @03:59PM (#49692513) Homepage
    He's 71 years old, and has worked on the show for 25 years. I'm sure he has more money than he can spend, and maybe he just wants to do something a little different with the remainder of his life and career. Hasn't there been enough Simpsons?.

    I hate to shamelessly plug, but Harry Shearer was recently on WTF with Marc Maron [wtfpod.com] - I think it gives a lot of insight into the guy and his career and all that good stuff..
  • by Skiron ( 735617 ) on Thursday May 14, 2015 @04:09PM (#49692627) Homepage
    Excellent.
  • I mean, Homer has been in a coma since the house blew from Bart messing with the thermostat. Everything since has just been Homer's dream sequences.

  • He wants to reprise his role as the base player for Spinal Tap.
  • ..in Albert Brooks' Real Life: https://cdn.thedissolve.com/ar... [thedissolve.com]
    • "Only six of these cameras were ever made. Only five of them ever worked. We have four of those."
  • There were only a couple good episodes this year..... I use to enjoy watching pretty well all the episodes, but it is more of a chore these days watching episodes - sometimes skipping through them waiting to find one gem in the rough.

    It is close to the edge so it might just be the right opportunity to end the show.
  • If they do want to continue on but without those characters that are to be retired.... maybe they can do a spoof where god comes down and takes away all those with faith... leaving behind The Simpsons and taking Ned and the Reverend ... and even Skinner :p
  • With 573 episodes to pull from and even more studio tape they have sufficient material to clone his voice. All they need is some other anonymous slob to read through all the hours of old material which they can do for a lot less than 14 million dollars. The question is will they?
    • by slew ( 2918 )

      With 573 episodes to pull from and even more studio tape they have sufficient material to clone his voice. All they need is some other anonymous slob to read through all the hours of old material which they can do for a lot less than 14 million dollars. The question is will they?

      In case you have forgotten, someone executed a similar plan at least once before [wikipedia.org] resulting in one of the highest rated season premiere on the comedy central network...

      Will they try it? Probably not, but it's not unheard of...

  • But I'm pretty sure it's actually been a ghost ship for about 15 years now. No one's at the wheel, the crew is long gone, the hull paint is only visible in splotches, the nameplate has faded to the point where you can't even make out its name--yet on it sails, forever, and ever, and ever. With no port and no end until the day if finally, mercifully sinks.

  • by Master Moose ( 1243274 ) on Thursday May 14, 2015 @04:58PM (#49693155) Homepage

    Finally they can finish work on Saucy Jack.

  • Who Watches The Simpsons Anymore? I don't think I have seen an episode in 6 years or more.
  • Momma said there's only so much fortune a man really needs and the rest is just for showing off.

  • Seriously, this is a good show and he apparently is very good at what he did. Nothing to do with him nor trying to discredit this, but the compensation level is simply absurd. Thinking about nurses, teachers or whoever that is very good at their job makes $70K a year. That's a 100x. Uniqueness This doesn't include actor/voice-over who does NOT have a Simpson's gig, but could be just as talented, but doing odd gigs for $70/day. To me, top notch entertainers are getting paid for what 95% of those who did
    • So you'd rather the producers kept the money? Because that's what would happen.
    • I agree the wages are absurd, but the fact is that Fox make an obscene amount of money out of The Simpsons, and it's only fair that a healthy chunk of that dosh goes to the people involved in actually making the programme.

      It's the same with the football Premier League here in the UK. We have players that are paid £250,000 every week for several hours work (at most), and most people find that abhorrent. But that fact is that millions of people either pay the extortionate ticket prices, or pay Sky

  • The only other thing I remember him doing were minor parts on SNL and This is Spinal Tap. I guess the Simpsons must have been pretty good over the years if he can afford to walk away from $7M/year.

    -jcr

  • He's responsible for a huge number of the voices on television's Best Show Ever (tm).

    PLEASE PLEASE Don't break The Simpsons! 26 years of gold, and it's still amazing!

Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd. - Voltaire

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