(MEDIA GENERAL) – An unexpected plot twist may be added to upcoming seasons of “The Simpsons,” the long-running Fox animated series. Popular comedic talent and voice actor Harry Shearer may not return to the show for seasons 27 and 28, which were confirmed by Fox last week.
Although other reports from several news outlets said Shearer will not return to the show, a report from CNN said Shearer still is in negotiations with “The Simpsons” and it appears they have spilled into the public forum.
Shearer has been with the show since its inception on “The Tracey Ullman Show” in 1987 and voices popular characters, including Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Waylon Smithers and Principal Skinner, among many others.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Shearer has been the lone cast holdout in the latest round of negotiations. The voice actor recently has shown disdain for Fox and “Simpsons” management, including tweeting a Fox press release that announced seasons 27 and 28 without naming any actors. Shearer’s response: “Doesn’t this show have a cast?”
Shearer also tweeted quotes from the lawyer of James L. Brooks, executive producer of “The Simpsons,” reportedly twisting his reasoning for wanting to leave the show. Shearer told CNN the show has offered the flexibility to do other projects since its inception, but now is cracking down.
“In the last four years, I’ve created and starred in a UK TV series and starred on London stage. Not stopping,” Shearer told CNN.
Brooks and other representatives from “The Simpsons” have yet to respond publicly.
“The Simpsons” currently holds the record for longest-running primetime sitcom in the United States, running for 26 years since it launched on Fox in 1989.