I guess AMC isn’t the only network having problems negotiating with their highest profile series. Word is coming from The Daily Beast that Fox has come to a bit of an impasse in negotiations with the five lead actors of The Simpsons that may result in a halt of production on the long-running animated series after the 23rd season concludes next spring. Dan Castellaneta (Homer, Grampa Simpson, Krusty the Clown, and others), Julie Kavner (Marge, her sisters and others), Nancy Cartwright (Bart and more), Yeardley Smith (Lisa), Hank Azaria (Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, Apu Nahasapeemapetilo, and more), and Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns, Principal Skinner, Ned Flanders, and others) have all been told that they need to take a 45% pay cut, or risk being replaced with sound-alike actors after this season. More details on this worrisome issue after the jump.
Apparently, actors tried to negotiate for only a 30% pay cut in exchange for a small percentage of the back-end profits that result from sydication and merchandising, but the studio isn’t having it. While losing nearly half of their salary would be devastating to anyone with a job, the five lead actors would still make around $4 million a year, and that’s apparently just for 22 weeks of work. However, if they’re going to take a salary cut, I see no reason why the actors shouldn’t get a small piece of the huge profit pie from the billions Fox is making off syndication and merchandising, especially since these characters wouldn’t be so revered if it wasn’t for their stellar voice talent. An insider says, “Now Fox is basically saying, ‘If you don’t take this deal, we’ll shut down the show,’ and they’ll continue to make a ton of money. They’re free to sell it to cable and a second round of syndication, and they figure that the cast has very little leverage.” Because even without new episodes, the series still has 23 seasons to keep running in syndication, and a legacy that will keep memorabilia selling for years to come.
Honestly though, since The Simpsons has taken a dip in ratings and quality over the years, maybe it’s just time for the show to call it quits. Obviously the actors still want to work, but if an agreement can’t be reached, perhaps the James L. Brooks and Matt Groening will decide to end the series once and for all. If not, I hope the studio doesn’t end up winning this battle, simply because they’re obviously raking in plenty of dough on the back-end and not sharing the wealth sufficiently.