America’s longest-running television series is facing the stark reality of continuing forward without one of its principal voice actors. Harry Shearer, the voice of Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, and many other characters on The Simpsons, is threatening to leave the animated series.
Reportedly, Shearer and producers have reached an impasse in contract negotiations after Shearer demanded more freedom to do outside work. Shearer made the news public by tweeting a letter he received from the lawyer of Simpsons producer James L. Brooks, which indicated the show is prepared to move forwarded without Shearer.
However, according to CNN, there’s still a chance Shearer will return for the show’s 27th and 28th seasons. Simpsons show runner Al Jean posted to Twitter that Shearer has been offered the same deal as its other voice actors. Jean added that the show is prepared to recast Shearer’s characters “if Harry does the not return.” Note the “if.”
Production for the new season has yet to begin and CNN reports that negotiations are still ongoing. Asked if he’s shut the door entirely on a return, Shearer told CNN, “I think that’s a question better posed to [producers].”
Update: Brooks confirms the show is “still trying” to bring back Shearer.