Simpsons Composer Alf Clausen Drops Legal Battle Against Fox

Composer Alf Clausen attends the 2016 ASCAP Screen Music Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 24, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California.

Hollywood music legend Alf Clausen settled his 2019 lawsuit against Twentieth Century Fox (“Fox”) for being fired from his position as composer on The simpsons. After nearly three years of wrestling over Clausen’s ability to write rap music and Fox’s decision to fire the award-winning songwriter after decades of work, the parties have agreed to dismiss the lawsuit. The terms of the parties’ agreement were not made public.

Clausen, 80, won two Emmys and became the most nominated composer in Emmy history with 23 nominations, for his nearly three decades of work on the hit animated series. When Clausen began his work on The simpsons in 1990, he was already a giant in the field, having composed the music for The Donny & Marie show, The Mary Tyler Moore Hour, notoriety, little house on the prairie, Illegal workand many other hit shows and movies.

In 2017, Fox produced an episode called “The Great Phatsby”, a parody of the Fox show Empire; the show featured significant amounts of hip-hop and rap music, and the producers were ultimately unhappy with Clausen’s work. Fox fired Clausen in 2017, and Clausen sued, alleging wrongful termination, intentionally inflicted emotional suffering, and discrimination based on age and disability (Clausen has Parkinson’s disease).

Fox denied any wrongdoing and said he fired Clausen because he had become deficient as a songwriter and was inappropriately delegating his songwriting work to his team. The studio specifically pointed to Clausen’s inability to compose synth and rap music in the manner required for the show, which led to Clausen being replaced by the 62-year-old film score giant. Hans Zimmer (the composer behind films like the Pirates of the Caribbean series, Interstellar, Gladiator, Crimson Tide, Creation, Dunkirkand The black Knight Trilogy).

According to court documents, the legal battle between Clausen and Fox was clearly heated. Clausen argued that Fox’s position was based entirely on “demonstrable lies” and called any suggestion that he was incapable of composing rap or electronic music properly “ageist” and “discriminatory”.

Los Angeles County Judge Michael L. Stern ruled in favor of Clausen early in the proceedings, allowing his claims to proceed. Fox appealed. During oral arguments, the appeals court did not seem convinced by Clausen’s arguments, even suggesting that the parties agree to drop the litigation, each bearing their own legal costs.

Shortly after, the parties agreed to settle the case. Clausen’s lawyer, Ebby Bakhtiartold the press, “We caught a very, very conservative panel” and commented of Clausen, “I think he got screwed.”

Lawyers for the parties did not immediately respond to Law&Crime’s request for comment.

[image via Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for ASCAP]

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