Two years ago, The Simpsons fired its longtime and Emmy award-winning composer Alf Clausen seemingly out of the blue. The news went round the interwebs after Alf Clausen spoke out himself and The Simpsons continued on Fox, seemingly without a hitch. However, now it looks as if Alf Clausen is suing the animated production over the firing, which occurred back in 2017.
The new lawsuit alleges that Alf Clausen, who is now 78 but who was only 76 when he was fired from The Simpsons back in 2017, now has taken to court stating the reason the production told him he was fired was false and that it actually had to do with his age on the series. Fox, Disney and Gracie Films are listed as the Defendants. Per the actual suit,
This reason was pretextual and false Instead, Plaintiff’s unlawful termination was due to perceived disability and age.
News of the lawsuit comes via Variety, who obtained a report. It also notes the person who was hired in Alf Clausen’s stead was “younger” was not “disabled” and was "paid less." Alf Clausen was replaced by Bleeding Fingers Music, which was founded by Russell Emanuel, Hans Zimmer, and Steve Kofsky. Details regarding the composer(s) within that group who are actually working on The Simpsons are not listed.
If this lawsuit does not settle, it would seem the proof of burden on Alf Clausen’s lawyers would be to prove the famous composer was fired due to his age and not due to changes in The Simpsons' musical landscape, which was what he previously said he was told at the time. Back when Alf Clausen was originally fired, the longtime composer said he had gotten a call from Richard Sakai, who he reported at the time as having said the show was hoping to start creating “a different kind of music.”
Because he was 76 at the time of his firing and had also worked on the same TV show for twenty+ years, he was both highly paid and probably of a more advanced age than most other composers working in the industry at the time. We know for a fact The Simpsons has attempted cost-cutting measures in the past, but the lawsuit itself will have to play our before a fuller picture of what happened to Alf Clausen can likely be gleaned.
The Simpsons has been on the air for so long and has kept many of the same key players that its budget has been inflated plenty over the years. At one point eight years ago, reports indicated everyone was asked to take a 45% pay cut in order to cut down costs and keep the show on the air.
The end result of that wasn’t made public at first, but then in 2016 voice actor Harry Shearer shed some light on the matter, discussing how the cast was being asked to take pay cuts without being cut into backend profits. Eventually the actors allegedly took a 30% pay cut and the show stayed on the air.
Now, heading into the 2019-2020 TV season, The Simpsons will have officially been on the air for over 30 years. The next season will be Season 31 in fact, although it should be noted the animated comedy has already been renewed by Fox for Season 32 as well. We'll keep you updated as this lawsuit plays out and you can take a look at when it and other Fox shows will be premiering with our fall schedule.