Insert a sad trombone sound here: "The Simpsons" has fired longtime composer Alf Clausen.
Clausen confirmed that he was let go from the veteran animated series, revealing in an interview with Variety that one of the show's producers, Richard Sakai, called him and said that the series was looking for "a different kind of music" for future episodes. According to Variety, Clausen's sudden dismissal was reportedly financially motivated.
The trade reports:
Speculation about Clausen's dismissal involves cost-cutting measures, which have been ongoing at "The Simpsons" in recent years, despite its massive profits for Fox and executive producer James L. Brooks' Gracie Films.
Clausen uses a 35-piece orchestra every week — something that "Simpsons" creator Matt Groening insisted upon from the start of the show. Including costs of musicians, recording studios, and orchestration, expenses routinely run into the millions of dollars per year.
It's unclear what the show's plan for its music will be going forward (don't worry: Danny Elfman's iconic theme song will remain), but Clausen's presence will certainly be missed: The composer had been with "The Simpsons" since 1990, scoring more than 560 episodes of the series and winning two Emmys (plus landing an additional 21 nominations) for his work on the show.
This isn't the first time that "The Simpsons" has been embroiled in a staffing controversy in recent years, with voice actor Harry Shearer (who performs as Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, and Principal Skinner, among many others) briefly quitting the series back in 2015 over claims that his contract would not allow him to do additional work outside of Springfield. The dispute was quickly resolved, and Shearer returned to the cast.
Season 29 of "The Simpsons" is set to premiere on Fox on October 1.