Actors to get $1 mil bonus
NEW YORK — Who said TV animation is having problems?The collective voices behind long-running hit comedy “The Simpsons” are closing new deals with 20th Century Fox Television and Gracie Films that will hike their salaries to $100,000 an episode for the next two seasons, with an option for a third season that will pay them $125,000. In addition, the actors will be paid a bonus of $1 million that was part of their last contract but wasn’t supposed to be paid until 2005. Deal comes after a year which saw many studios pare down their funds allotted to toon divisions; last week, Disney announced a cutback in their feature animation arm. In addition to the salary hike that will cover seasons 13, 14 and perhaps 15 for Dan Castellaneta (Homer Simpson), the actor will also receive a first look production/development deal with Fox. With writing partner Deb Lacusta, Castellaneta has written several episodes of the show, one of which was nominated for a Prism Award. In addition to the Castellaneta deal — negotiated by his manager Arlene Forster and attorney Steve Younger — the $2.2 million per 22-episode season salaries will also be paid to Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer, Yeardley Smith, Julie Kavner and Nancy Cartwright. The studio and Fox Network have also signed Al Jean to take over as executive producer and showrunner from Mike Scully. Jean is a “Simpsons” vet who ran the series years ago with Mike Reiss. Historical context This negotiation has been far less acrimonious than in 1998, when talent got vocal about being underpaid for voicing a show that has been a cash cow for the production company and James L. Brooks’ production company. At the time, they were each getting $25,000 per episode and threatened to walk unless they received big raises. After a few tense weeks, a compromise was reached, doubling cast salaries to $50,000 an episode for the show’s 10th season, $60,000 for season 11 and $70,000 for season 12. Series remains Fox’s top-rated comedy and does better than any laffer among adults 18-49, with ratings up 9% in the current season in that coveted demo. Show also helped the Fox network launch “King of the Hill” and “Malcolm in the Middle” and has long been the anchor of the network’s strongest programming night. Fox declined to comment on “Simpson” salaries.