Those who have watched The Simpsons throughout its 30-year existence, or (more likely) only for part of it, are probably familiar with the name Alf Clausen, if only from the show’s opening credits. The primary composer for the series, Clausen has not been directly associated with the show since 2017, when he was fired.
Now, Clausen is suing Fox, the show’s network, claiming he was dropped from the series due to age and disability discrimination, Variety reported this week.
Fox had said at the time that Clausen was being let go because the show was “taking the music in a different direction,” but in the suit, the 78-year-old composer alleges that this was false, and that Clausen’s “unlawful termination was due to perceived disability and age.”
In addition to the network, Clausen is suing James L. Brooks’ Gracie Films and Disney, which now owns Fox’s former television production studio. The company now known as Fox Corporation continues to own the television network.
Clausen composed the music for more than 500 episodes of The Simpsons, between his joining the show in 1990 and his dismissal two years ago. He won two Emmys and was nominated for many more. Among the songs for which Clausen is credited for is the “We Do” song:
Outside of the series, his credits also include Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and, apropos of his name, Alf. Clausen did not compose the show’s theme song – that was by Danny Elfman – but he was responsible for the vast majority of the show’s music over the course of its run.
A company called Bleeding Fingers Music has been responsible for The Simpsons‘ music since Clausen’s departure. Bleeding Fingers was founded by Hans Zimmer, although Zimmer does not compose the show’s music himself.
This isn’t the first behind-the-scenes battle between The Simpsons‘ production company and talent long associated with the show. In the late 1990s, the show had a standoff with the six main voice actors, although it was eventually resolved. In 2015, Harry Shearer, the voice of Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Smithers, and numerous other characters, announced he was leaving the show, though he eventually agreed to return.
The Simpsons will return on Fox this fall for its 31st season, while a 32nd season has also been confirmed for the show. The series, which began on Fox in 1989, is both the he longest-running sitcom and longest-running scripted series in the history of American television.
CULTURE (counter, pop, and otherwise) and the people who shape it.