After word broke that the voices of Springfield are embroiled in contract negotiations again, Fox confirmed today that The Simpsons is indeed in trouble. If castmembers Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria and Harry Shearer don't agree to a hefty pay cut, there may not be a season 24 for Bart, Homer and friends. Doh!
"23 seasons in, The Simpsons is as creatively vibrant as ever and beloved by millions around the world," 20th Century Fox Television said in a release. "We believe this brilliant series can and should continue, but we cannot produce future seasons under its current financial model. We are hopeful that we can reach an agreement with the voice cast that allows The Simpsons to go on entertaining audiences with original episodes for many years to come."
The pay cut is no small matter, according to The Daily Beast, who reports that the voice actors have been asked to take a 45 percent cut and that Simpson's producers didn't respond kindly to the counter offer from castmembers, who proposed a 30 percent cut in exchange for a small percentage of the show's back-end profits.
Castmembers are reportedly earning about $8 million annually, so a drop to $4 million wouldn't exactly break them, but they see it as an issue of fair play. While the show may not get the ratings it once did, it still anchors Fox's Animation Domination Sundays and the cast argues, with reason, that the network and producers are making serious bank with syndication and merchandising, so why should they be the ones to take a cut?
Fox isn't budging and neither are the actors, and it's an all too familiar scene. The show first made the news over an internal feud back in 1998. That time, the producers went so far as to set up casting sessions to replace the actors, but series creator Matt Groening ultimately stepped in to support his cast. Simpson's money matters again made the news in 2004 and 2008, when the cast demanded raises, and again, in spite of some drama and peacocking, a deal was reached both times.
Simpson's fans everywhere are hoping the same happens yet again this time. Stay tuned for more as this Simpson story percolates.
Image: The Simpsons
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