Al Jean has asked me to post this on the boards.
I was wondering if you could post the following response on the No Homers site, in my name. I am responding to recent comments by Harry Shearer regarding the current quality of the Simpsons. In the past year and a half, our show has won every award it could possibly have won, including emmys for best animated program and voice-over actor (Hank Azaria), four Annie awards (show, writing, directing and song--a feat the Simpsons had never accomplished in the previous 13 seasons) and a writers guild award, which the show had also won never won before. Yesterday I was informed that Dan Castelleneta had won an emmy for his work in the episode "Today I Am A Clown" and we are nominated for three additional emmys (including best animated program) again this year.
All this is due to the efforts of many people who put in far more time on the show than Mr. Shearer. He complains that his parts have shrunk--the reason for that is, as showrunner, I am never sure if he will show up for the table reads for which he is so handsomely paid. More than once, in the past, I have had a show set for a Thursday read featuring Harry's characters and been told on the Wednesday before that he is not coming. Hence, I have learned not to give him too much to do in any episode. Mr. Shearer also describes how he was happier with season four of the show. Well, I ran seasons three and four (with Mike Reiss) and he didn't seem very happy to me then. I can particularly remember how he repeatedly complained to me and others about how much he disliked the episode "Homer at the Bat", which is now viewed as a classic.
I am personally offended by his comment that he feels "totally screwed" by the show financially. He is set this year to make over 5.5 million dollars for what can generously be described as a few hours work a week. When I consider how much firefighters and teachers in this country earn, Mr. Shearer's remarks make me want to throw up.