After widespread media reports today indicated “The Simpsons'” longtime voice performer Harry Shearer had left the show, the animated program’s showrunner, Al Jean, is saying it may not be a done deal.
EW.com has published an interview conducted today with Jean, in which Jean says: “We’re still hoping he might come back. Nothing’s done ‘til it’s done. He tweeted that it was over, but … There’s an offer that the rest of the cast accepted, and Harry has not accepted it. It’s not going to change, because the rest of the cast took it. So we’re hoping he does. If he doesn’t within a certain period of time, we would have to recast — but we haven’t started.”
Jean noted that the producers already have seven holdover episodes that feature Shearer’s voice, indicating there’s still some time to get a deal done.
Jean said Shearer’s tweet saying he was leaving the show “was very surprising. And the tweets were confusing because he had an offer. It wasn’t like we didn’t offer him a substantial thing. No. 2, he mentioned that he wanted to do outside projects. Everybody on the show does lots of outside projects. He actually gets to record on the phone and do the [table] reads on the phone. So we’ve never kept him from doing that stuff. So that’s one confusion I had.”
Jean said he plans to reach out personally to Shearer.
“We’re going to try once to say, ‘What’s going on? We’d like you back,'” Jean said. “And if he says, ‘I don’t want to be back,’ in that case, then we would say, ‘Okay, we’ve got to move on.’ We are definitely doing the season.”
Jean also talks in the interview about possible casting strategies if Shearer sticks to his decision to leave. Please click on the link to EW.com near the top of this story to read the rest of EW’s interview with Jean.