“Is Mom gonna have another baby, Dad?” – Lisa Simpson
“Maybe.” – Homer Simpson
Apologies for the lack of Compare & Contrast, Reading Digest, and general radio silence around these parts the last couple of days. My Dad went in for a long planned surgery yesterday (which went fine), but between that, work, and the Shearer kerfuffle, regular blogging fell down a hole without even the benefit of Leonard’s carcass to land on.
In terms of actual Simpsons news, there have been two developments of note. The first is Shearer related, though it needs to be kept in context. Good ol’ CNN Money reports:
For all “The Simpsons” fans concerned that a Mr. Burns voiced by Harry Shearer has spent his last days in Springfield, the voice actor has two words for you: “stay tuned.”
This was the response Shearer had Friday when asked by CNN Money if there was a possibility that he could return.
Shearer had no other comment, other than to reference a tweet from “Simpsons” producer James L. Brooks. On Thursday afternoon, Brooks wrote, “Hey, we tried. We’re still trying. Harry, no kidding, let’s talk.”
Does this mean anything? Short answer, yes with an if: if Shearer or FOX found the uproar over his departure (I even heard a segment about it on BBC World Service) so disruptive that one of them caved on some previously stuck negotiating point, then maybe he’ll be back.
Long answer, no with a but: but this is third hand information glimpsed through the notoriously dirty lens of CNN. It implies that they’re still talking, but that’s all it does. It doesn’t change the fact that Shearer’s only public statement to date was that he seemed to be done. Of course, even that is open to interpretation since all he really did was quote a letter from a lawyer and thank people for their support. Jean was (publicly, at least) taking it seriously, but even that could be posturing.
So, what do we actually know? As always in these situations: very little. Shearer saying “stay tuned” certainly moves the needle a little bit back towards “he isn’t leaving”, but since it was never even close to definitively pointed at “he’s gone”, that doesn’t say much. Until we get either a) a definitive statement that Shearer has signed and is returning, or b) an announcement of new voice actors for some or all of his characters, we can’t know for sure. Whatever happens, the substantive conversations will take place well out of public view, so it’s best to treat all non-definitive news as suspect until proven otherwise.
The second piece of news, which was absent from every single renewal article I came across, is from an interview Jean gave with The Hollywood Reporter:
Do you think this opens the door for other cast? I know that they’ve signed for two more seasons but given the show’s track record do you think that there’s concern?
It’s a really different issue. They are signed for a four-year contract [with] two-year options on Fox.
So at this point Fox has options for seasons 29 and 30?
It turns out that there will be no negotiations due in October of 2016, because the most recent renewal wasn’t just for two more production runs, it was for two more production runs with a FOX option for two more after that.
In addition to being further evidence of the incompetence and incuriosity of the entertainment press (a network option for two more years isn’t a minor detail), this overlooked nugget means that, if FOX wants it, the show will be on until 2019 at the least. Assuming twenty-two episode production runs for the option, that would bring the show to 669 episodes. As a reminder of how long Zombie Simpsons has been on, “Behind the Laughter” (the Season 11 finale) was episode #248.
Whether or not Harry Shearer will be there for all that, I have no idea.