In what should come as a relief to long-time fans of "The Simpsons," actor Harry Shearer will rejoin the cast of the popular animated series for its record 27th season this coming fall, according to Fox.
Shearer provides the voice for some of the show's most popular (and politically incorrect) characters, like the scheming villain Montgomery Burns and the religiously devout Ned Flanders. Entertainment Weekly reported that the actor and the show's producers have settled an increasingly contentious contract dispute. The deal reached, which reportedly matches those made with the other principal cast members, could be valued at as much as $300,000 per episode, and may extend into a potential 29th and 30th season.
"We are extremely pleased to announce that all principal cast members of #TheSimpsons have now been signed. Woo Hoo!" read a message from the show's Twitter account on Tuesday.
Although the show has endured high-profile contract squabbles in the past, Shearer's announcement that he was departing the series in May was seemingly the most definitive proof that that iconic animated series might be losing one of its most beloved players. Shearer, who is also well known for supporting roles in films like "A Mighty Wind" and "This Is Spinal Tap" had said he was leaving the show to "do other work."
At the time, showrunner Al Jean seemed to be at peace with Shearer's departure. Not only did he say the "show will go on," but he implied that Shearer's characters would also be recast with “the finest voiceover talent available.”
In addition to playing Burns and Flanders, the 71-year-old comic actor had also contributed some of the sharpest political parodies of the show's long run, including spoofs of George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rush Limbaugh (under the fictional name Birch Barlow).
Now that Shearer and the show's producers have worked out their differences, fans won't have to fear a future with an unfamiliar voice -- like say, Sen. Ted Cruz -- acting out classic characters. As Mr. Burns would say -- excellent.