Harry Shearer is returning to "The Simpsons."  Surprise. Surprise.

Harry Shearer is returning to "The Simpsons." Surprise. Surprise. Credit: AP / Invision / Paul A. Hebert

Harry Shearer --  who last May declared that he was leaving "The Simpsons" (and this time he meant it!) -- is returning to "The Simpsons." [Check out below for new comments from Shearer himself]. 

No details from Fox,  although one may assume money would be part of those undisclosed details.

In fact, EW is reporting that Shearer signed the same deal as all other returning cast members -- for seasons 27 and 28, with an option for seasons 29 and 30; each getting $300,000 per episode.

The return of Shearer -- an indispensable castmember, as Mr. Burns and so many other core characters -- was certainly expected, despite the fulminations by both Shearer and show-runner Al Jean following the May breach. The whole spat looked childish -- millionaires squabbling over marbles. But at least to Shearer's and Jean's credit, they made it look serious this time. Fans -- millions of them -- had a collective cow. Shearer tweeted his various outrages. Jean said they'd find someone else.

Some corners of the press actually fell for the baloney. 

But it was and is as much a part of "The Simpsons" MO as anything on-screen: Voice actors holding out and Fox holding back. (Fox did in fact extract lower per-episode salaries during the last round of negotiations, although it is entirely possible, even likely, the actors secured larger pieces of the back end, where the real money is, as compensation.)

 Meanwhile -- as mentioned -- I do indeed have an update, from Shearer himself, who reached out to me following my own fulminations about actors, and networks and negotiations, and the way the puppy-dog press follows them so slavishly...without adding a scintilla of skepticism when they break down...

  And it was absolutely MY FAULT for not reaching out to Shearer to clarify these points; so I guess that makes me a puppy dog too.  

 Here's what Shearer said, via email: "If you read my tweet last May which started this whole public phase of the ruckus, I neither declared I was leaving nor that this time (I) meant it.' I merely quoted a threat relayed to me from the show to the effect that if I didn't agree to the contract as then written, by the next afternoon, the show would continue without me. I'm not chasing after everybody who's made this particular mistake, but your version seemed more definitive than mist--especially the "this time' part, since I have never threatened to leave the show before."

 He also disputes the "baloney" business -- saying that that the dispute was indeed over serious issues that needed to be resolved before proceeding. 

"This was not baloney, there were real issues at stake for me, based on the preceding years, and I was deadly serious about getting them resolved. And, no, nobody secured any back end."

  OK, again, I should have reached out first. Apologies to Shearer, in whom I hold the highest regard (And do watch "Nixon's the One." It's free, and on YouTube.)

  Here's the rest of the original post... 

 But this business does prove one irrefutable fact: We still love "The Simpsons," and even the subtraction of one crucial part, or in this instance, the possible subtraction of Shearer, was cause for alarm.

We can all relax now. Mr. Burns has prevailed. Again.

Oh, almost forgot! There was a news release. Here's the line:

"The critically acclaimed THE SIMPSONS voice cast has been recognized with countless awards over the series' 26 seasons, including 11 Emmys. In fact, every main cast member -- Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria And Harry Shearer -- has won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance at some point in the show's run, which, with the recent two-season pickup, will extend to an astounding 625 episodes and counting."

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