Baker Mountain

Mount Baker

From Baker Mountain, Lake Placid, New York.


Good-Bye, Neighborino: Harry Shearer Leaves The Simpsons |

Good-Bye, Neighborino: Harry Shearer Leaves THE SIMPSONS

The news from Springfield today is certainly not “excellent.” Harry Shearer is leaving The Simpsons. On Twitter, Shearer quoted The Simpsons executive producer James L. Brooks’ lawyer as his reason for not resigning for the 27th season and beyond.
Shearer’s list of characters is extensive, notably including Simpson family neighbor Ned Flanders. Ned has been attached to two previous cast departures: his wife, Maude, was killed after actor Maggie Roswell left the series (though the character was briefly recast), and his second wife, Springfield Elementary teacher Edna Krabappel, was retired with an off-screen death following the death of actor Marcia Wallace.

Other recurring characters include Mr. Burns, owner of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, as well as his assistant, Waylon Smithers; Dr. Hibbert;, Homer’s drinking buddy Lenny Leonard; newsman Kent Brockman; Principal Seymour Skinner; police officer Eddie; music teacher Mr. Largo; bus driver Otto Mann; and Reverend Lovejoy. Shearer has voiced dozens of other one-time characters and celebrity impressions.

Losing these characters — and in one fell swoop, no less — would leave the series crippled. These supporting characters have been integral to the series since the first season. Some will continue to appear on show, and will be “recast with the finest voiceover talent available,” according to executive producer Al Jean.
“Harry Shearer was offered the same deal the rest of the cast accepted and passed. We wish him well but the show will go on. Maggie took it hard,” Jean told Hitfix. “Yes, Burns and Flanders will not die. They are great characters and will continue.”

There have been rumors of castmembers leaving for many years, some with more credibility than others. After twenty six seasons, it is surprising that there have not been more cast departures.

The Simpsons’ 26th season finale airs this Sunday on Fox.

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David Letterman: Not Just Another Late-Night Goodbye (Unpublished)

David Letterman signs off from his final Late Show at 12:30 on May 20, ending a 33-year run on late-night television. In that time, we have seen national tragedies, natural disasters, and had two practice rounds saying goodbye to a network late-night host, thanks to Jay Leno.

Although I am too young to have ever actually watched The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson during its run, and by extension Dave’s original run on Late Night, I somehow found myself taking a side in the late night wars that were long over by the time I had formed an opinion. Leno was the Claudius to Johnny’s throne, and Dave was the young Prince Hamlet.

For a time, I was devoted to David Letterman’s Late Show, staying up late with the volume turned low on my TV every night. To a teenaged comedy sponge, this was the show to watch. I was quick to learn the running jokes. I knew that the phone on his desk wasn’t plugged into anything, but I was always excited to see who might call each night. I looked forward to seeing what pies his mom baked every Thanksgiving, what interesting wig Bruce Willis would wear, and what animal Jack Hanna would bring to pee on Dave.

I have stood on 53rd Street, just outside the back entrance to the Ed Sullivan Theater, on two occasions. (I never managed to get tickets). I got a glimpse of Paul Schaffer one time. The other time I watched the entire Purina Incredible Dog Challenge and saw Will Ferrel’s hand. Just a few weeks later, Paul McCartney would stand on top of the theater’s marquee, stopping Broadway traffic for blocks.

David Letterman was like having a spare father who made fun of famous people. He introduced me to the magic of New York, truly the greatest city in the world. I was introduced to legends of comedy and watched them bomb. I saw politicians rise and fall. I saw a lot of Richard Simmons’ legs.

I have long considered myself a student of comedy, and have David Letterman to thank for the intro courses. When I hosted my college radio show, I tried to match his style and tone, and on occasion some of his material might have leaked in with my own. Even today, I find myself flipping pens and pencils, just like Dave.

The final episode of The Late Show with David Letterman is nearer now than it was when I started writing, but I am no more ready for it. I am afraid that in the noise of late night hosts leaving their shows, Dave is just one more name on a list, when he deserves the same celebration that Johnny Carson received over twenty years ago. I know that Stephen Colbert will soon be taking over the Late Show desk, but I am afraid, more than anything else, that no one will be able to excite me the way that Dave has for a majority of my life.

Thank you, Mr. Letterman, and say hello to Oprah for me.