Studio under pressure to order finale script
A number of top creative executives working on Fox’s “The Simpsons” have already committed to taking a pay cut in order to continue the series beyond its current 23rd season, according to sources.The disclosure came to light as 20th Century Fox Television is demanding the cast of actors who voice “Simpsons” characters take a 45% pay cut in order to continue the series. The actors have countered with a willingness to take a 30% cut with a piece of the backend, but the studio rejected that offer. The reason the studio is pressuring the actors to reach a new deal is that the “Simpsons” production cycle is such that a script for a series finale would have to be written as soon as possible in order to be produced in time for air. A final script read could be set in motion for as early as December. While the unspecified execs have indicated they are willing to reduce their salaries, they have yet to sign their new deals. Exec producers for “The Simpsons” include Al Jean, John Frink, James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Matt Selman and Sam Simon. It unknown whether all have committed to the reduction in compensationor whether that request extended below the EP level. Reps for top “Simpsons” producers either declined comment or calls were not returned. A spokesman for 20th TV declined comment. Even with the savings that would come from top “Simpsons” creative personnel reducing their compensation, it likely pales in comparison to the amount the studio would save if the actors concede to their 45% reduction demand. That would effectively bring each of the six principal “Simpsons” actors down from $8 million to $4 million per season. Unknown is whether the reduction in compensation affected producers’ salaries or backend participation. Terms of the new deal would extend for however long the series would continue, which has yet to be determined. Sources confirmed the actors were asked to make a decision about the offer by Friday, which was first reported Wednesday by the Wrap. Should “Simpsons” end in its 23rd season, that would bring the total episode count to 516. Last deal 20th TV made with Fox and Gracie Films for the series was a two-year deal with an option for a third season, and that option was the 23rd season.