Harry Shearer Inks Deal to Return to 'The Simpsons'

The Simpsons Mr. Burns Smithers - H 2015

Update, 12:49 p.m.: Showrunner Al Jean issued the following statement via Twitter: "I would like to clear up a misunderstanding. I have recently been told that during a period where Harry Shearer believed he had a five-week free period from the Simpsons, I was unaware of this fact, and did in fact request material from him. If so, my bad. I am truly glad he is returning to the show." 

Here's some good news in advance of The Simpsons' panel at Comic-Con.

Harry Shearer has signed a new deal to return to the Fox animated comedy, the network announced Tuesday. With the deal, all six principal voice actors are confirmed to return for the historic 27th and 28th seasons.

The deal is the same as his fellow voice cast — a two-year deal with an option for another two seasons (so a potential four-year pact) and an estimated $300,000 per episode. The series was renewed earlier this year for two additional seasons, taking it through season 28.

Read more 'Simpsons' Producer: Harry Shearer Offered "Same Deal" Rest of Cast Accdepted; "Will Recast" Roles

Shearer, who voices iconic Simpsons characters including Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner and Kent Brockman, announced May 13 that he was leaving TV's longest-running comedy over a contract dispute and, as he phrased it, the "freedom to do other work."

Producers, including showrunner Al Jean, told THR that Shearer was offered the same two-year deal (with an option for two more) as the rest of his fellow voice actors, and the plan was to recast his roles should he opt to depart. This was Shearer's second contract dispute with the series, produced by 20th Century Fox Television. He was the lone cast holdout in the last round of contract negotiations, when the actors agreed to a pay cut in 2011, and they stopped going to script readings in 2004 before landing salary bumps at the time.

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"We made him an offer, and we're once more saying, 'Do you want to come back like everybody else and work hard and care about the show? Great.' He said he wanted to do other projects, which makes no sense because we've always let the cast do all the other projects they want — they have great free time. So I don't really know what he's up to [or] what he's thinking," Jean told THR in May, noting that should Shearer not sign on, he would potentially lose money for the likely 29th and 30th seasons.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
Twitter: @Snoodit