By STUART LEVINE and ANDREW WALLENSTEIN
Showtime is hoping to end its contract impasse with “Dexter” star Michael C. Hall with an offer that could make him one of the highest-paid thesps in cable, according to sources.
As Variety first reported, the actor and pay cabler have been locked in negotiations for several months to keep him in place for at least one more season, but more likely two. Showtime has stood firm on its original offer and sources say the pay TV net is not looking to get into a negotiation where it would continually have to come up with more coin based on Hall’s demands.
The new pact would also give Hall time to star in a Broadway musical. He has reportedly been lined up to take on the lead role in the production “Big Fish.”
The sixth season of “Dexter” premiered Sunday to 2.2 million viewers, the cabler’s highest-rated premiere ever — something that should only increase the actor’s leverage in negotiations. Production is nearly finished on the current season and, clearly, a seventh season wouldn’t begin without the show’s signature star and exec producer.
Hall, a Golden Globe winner and four-time Emmy nominee, stars as the title character, a conflicted serial killer. If “Dexter” can’t continue, Showtime would lose its highest-rated series.
Sources say the length of the deal is not as much of a sticking point as money. The offer is in the $20 million per-year range, which would make Hall one of cable’s top-paid stars.
His previous contract expired after the show’s sixth season began; ever since, he’s been under the initial deal he signed when “Dexter” began its run.
Hall is believed to have started out in 2006 at a per-episode salary in the high five-figure range. But since being named an exec producer in the fourth season, Hall has gotten a cut of ancillary income from the show, including DVD sales, merchandising and foreign distribution.
Showtime, which declined comment, may not want to redo its financial model in order to pay Hall his asking price. The cabler, under new president David Nevins, is looking to expand its original programming slate and take some of the pressure off relying so much on “Dexter.”
Showtime received good news earlier this week when Claire Danes starrer “Homeland” — the first scripted drama under Nevins’ regime — got off to a strong ratings start Sunday as a lead-out from “Dexter.”