The Simpsons has been around long enough to see Scott Norwood kick away the Buffalo Bills’ hopes of winning Super Bowl XXV, and just missed the Berlin Wall collapse. They’ve starred in their own feature-length film and opened their doors to more guest stars than you can count.
It’s hard to imagine life without new episodes The Simpsons satirizing suburban life in the Midwest. Millions of people under the age of 23 have never experienced a year without new adventures of The Simpsons airing Sunday evenings.
Unfortunately for fans of the show, they soon might.
According to The Daily Beast, the six principal actors who lend their voices to the show are currently at an impasse with Twentieth Century Fox over their salaries. The studio wants them to take a substantial pay cut, while the actors want a smaller cut and some cash from the huge syndication profits.
Given the longevity of The Simpsons, this isn’t the first time when salaries have been negotiated. It is the first time when there’s such a huge gap and an apparent ultimatum between the stars and the studio.
If the actors don’t take a 45% cut in pay, the show will end after this season. Period.
Apparently this ultimatum was issued Monday evening following an offer by the actors to take a 30% percent pay cut and the aforementioned back-end profits. Fox is unwilling to bend their demands that would dramatically cut the production costs.
It’s a win-win for Fox whether the actors agree to their terms or not. If the show dies as a first-run series, the syndication of 500-plus episodes will make them billions of dollars for many years to come without the hassle of having to produce more episodes. If the cast bends to the 45% pay cut, Fox will still continue reaping in all the back-end profits off syndication, plus make money on the front-end with the lower production costs.
The cast, however, would lose a substantial amount of cash on an annual basis should The Simpsons fold. The group including Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, and Harry Shearer is said to earn around $8 million-a-piece for roughly 22 weeks of work in the studio. Those earnings would evaporate if the show was canceled, or be trimmed to just over $4 million a year if they accept Fox’s proposal. Neither scenario seems to indicate Fox wants to share syndication profits with the cast.
The Simpsons ratings haven’t been as stellar recently as years past, but they’re still the foundation of Fox’s Sunday night animation lineup which also includes Seth MacFarlane’s The Cleveland Show, Family Guy and American Dad. It’s unclear at this time if Fox would create a new show for The Simpsons old slot, or slide one of the existing shows into it.
Source: The Daily Beast