A report from Fox News and People Magazine today revealed that The Simpsons, the legendary TV show created by Matt Groening, has replaced their longtime cast member, Harry Shearer, who famously portrayed Dr. Herbert, one of the show’s primary black characters.
This comes after last June when The Simpsons revealed they would no longer voice black characters with white actors, even though Shearer has voiced the doctor for more than 30 years. People Magazine says that Hibbert will be voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson who has been in 70 episodes already.
The last time Harry will appear as Hibbert will be on the upcoming Sunday episode called “Dairy Queen,” and Richardson will take on the role in the later episode, “Wad Goals.” Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time The Simpsons has been in the news for this (more on that in a minute).
Shearer isn’t walking away from the notorious television show, however, contrary to what some fans have speculated online. Harry will continue portraying characters like Ned Flanders, Waylon Smithers, Principal Skinner, as well as Mr. Burns.
Shearer said in the past that he wasn’t really on board with the idea of matching up with the ethnicity of characters to the actors in real life. In August, for example, he spoke on the controversy with Times Radio, an interview that was picked up The Daily Mail.
Shearer said on the radio series that his belief about acting was very simple: for an “actor to play someone who they are not,” adding that it was the job description. As most know, this comes after Hank Azaria stepped down from his role as the voice of Apu.
The decision for him to remove himself from the job was sparked by the documentary, The Problem With Apu, the film that managed to incite significant social media controversy surrounding the legendary character. Other shows did the same thing, including Mike Henry who voiced Cleveland Brown for years.
Kristen Bell did the same thing on the series, Central Park before Jenny slate also announced she was stepping down from her role as Missy in Big Mouth.