"Simpsons" (search) voice Harry Shearer (search) says the show's run out of gas.

But the producer of the all-time record-setting comedy says it's Shearer who's full of gas.

Shearer, who voices "Simpsons" characters Mr. Burns (search), Smithers and Ned Flanders (search), said this week that he believes the show has run its course and that he'd "rather not be there now.

"It makes me sad," Shearer told the Irish Examiner.

His remarks seem to have set a fire on this side of the Atlantic.

"I don't know why I have to defend the quality of the show to Harry Shearer . . . He's a guy who's been a malcontent, in my view," Al Jean, "The Simpsons" long-time producer, told The New York Post yesterday. "For someone earning millions off the show this year . . . I just think it's unfathomable for him to take a shot at us."

Shearer seemed to be most disturbed that his characters no longer have a lot to do on the show. Now they are just walk-on parts.

"They used to have whole scenes," he said. "Season four looks very good to me now. Fortunately, I'm doing a lot of other things."

"I ran season four and he wasn't happy then," Jean fired back. "I just think it's an insult to all of us who work so hard. Harry doesn't put in that much time [working on the show] compared to the writers and producers.

"I think this past season was great, and I'm just so shocked that he would say that."

Jean boasted that Dan Castellaneta (search), who voices Homer Simpson, won an Emmy yesterday for Outstanding Voiceover Performance for "Today I'm a Clown," the episode in which Krusty the Clown has a Bar Mitzvah (Castellaneta also voices Krusty).

Still, there is a history of bad feeling between the cast and the series producers.

Unlike traditional comedies, where the actors are seen and closely identified with their characters, the actors on "The Simpsons" are the voices — but not the faces — of the characters they play.

The show has reportedly grossed more than $1 billion for its studio, Fox, in advertising and merchandising. And the actors have sometimes felt they were not fully appreciated — or compensated — for their contributions.

For their part, the producers saw the actors as people who work on the show only part time.

In his Irish Examiner interview, Shearer also denied reports that he and his co-stars were threatening to strike if they didn't get pay raises.

"We were never on strike," he said. "The day those stories appeared, I was at Fox doing vocal services for that week's show.

"What I can say is that it's possible to make a very nice living and still get totally screwed."

Shearer and his co-stars reportedly pull down over $250,000 an episode.

"The Simpsons," which debuted in 1989, is the longest-running animated show in TV history and one of the most influential shows in pop-culture history.

Other "Simpons" voices include Julie Kavner (search) (Marge), Yeardley Smith (search) (Lisa), Nancy Cartwright (search) (Bart) and Hank Azaria (search) (Apu, Chief Wiggum and many others).

A "Simpsons" movie is also reportedly in the works.

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