CBS Close to Two-Season Pickup for ‘The Big Bang Theory’

'The Big Bang Theory' Close to
Courtesy of CBS

CBS is closing in on a two-season pickup for Warner Bros. Television’s “The Big Bang Theory,” primetime’s top-rated comedy series.

CBS Corp. chairman-CEO Leslie Moonves confirmed Wednesday during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call that that the network is “very, very close” to a two-season deal. Warner Bros. reps declined to comment.

The news of the final talks in the series deal talks between CBS and Warner Bros. indicates that the studio is coming to terms on new contracts with the show’s five core cast members: Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Kunal Nayyar and Simon Helberg. The current contracts expire at the end of this season, the show’s 10th, along with Warner Bros.’ license agreement with CBS.

The deal is expected to encompass a full 24 episodes per season. There had been speculation that the episode order would be trimmed for a renewal, given that the cast members are increasingly branching out into other projects outside the show.

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Deadline reported that the five stars were closing in on deals that would pay them about $1 million per episode, on par with the fees they received for the most recent seasons. Nayyar and Helberg had earned lower salaries than Parsons, Galecki and Cuoco for most of the series run, but both reached just under the seven-figure mark in the current season. Parsons, Galecki and Cuoco have small but valuable back-end participation stakes as well.

Warner Bros. is also believed to be in the process of signing new deals with co-stars Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch, whose roles have blossomed during the past few seasons.

The deal also comes as CBS and Warner Bros. TV are developing a prequel project focusing on the formative years of the Sheldon Cooper character played by Parsons. Parsons is on board that project as an executive producer along with “Big Bang” showrunner Steven Molaro, who is writing the script.

The prospect of a two-season deal would extend “Big Bang’s” run through at least a 12th season, which would make it one of TV’s longest-running sitcoms. The series, created by Bill Prady and Chuck Lorre, has reigned as primetime’s most-watched comedy for most of its run. It also ranks as the most profitable comedy series of the past decade in syndication, raking in more than $1 billion in revenue from local TV stations and cabler TBS. Warner Bros. is also believed to be eyeing an SVOD sale of the property at long last.

The fact that the contract renewal talks extended well into the final season of the deal raised the specter of a salary standoff between the studio and the actors. While “Big Bang” has been a whopping success for the studio, the upside potential for the additional episodes to come in seasons 11 and season 12 is limited, given the nature of syndication contracts and the ability of TV stations and TBS to opt out of acquiring those new episodes. Also, CBS’ license fee deal no longer covers all of the show’s production costs, as it did in earlier seasons. All of this meant that there was not much incentive for Warner Bros. to give the five actors big salary hikes beyond their current $1 million paychecks.

That said, “Big Bang” is high-wattage part of Warner Bros. TV’s roster. It’s also important for the studio to maintain good relations with Lorre, Prady and Molaro.

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  1. Spooladio says:

    The television show has gotten pedestrian. There is barely any Comedy. It’s more like drama. The plots seem like rewrites from earlier seasons with recycled jokes. Raj and women, Howard making snarky sexual comments, Jim Parsons trying to hard to recapture the original Sheldon’s innocence, Leonard is useless, Penny’s character was destroyed take her off please. Mayim to much of a manipulator instead of fun Amy, Bernadette annoying, and Stuart is the character that keeps the comedy into this show. If anything I would love to see the gang converted to cartoon characters to immortalize them in the years of earlier seasons. Then they could do spinoffs of younger group, superheroes and such.

  2. Tom Thackrey says:

    As with all shows some episodes are better than others. Overall, I am impressed that the writers/actors still make me laugh after 10 years. The recent introduction of baby Halley has great promise; I already like her voice. The article didn’t mention Stuart (Kevin Sussman), I think he contributes a lot to the ensemble. The guest stars, too, are amazing.

  3. Toni Bell says:

    If this is the most popular show on TV then it reflects how society is, sadly. In the beginning it was very funny. Now it’s just pathetic. These people have grown up, or supposedly, and have families and marriages and still act like children. While being a “geek” is perfectly fine, they are immature and childish. Two more seasons of what? Whining, crying, playing with toys, arguing over nonsense? Please.

  4. I love this show ! Call me a nerd or a geek, I don’t care. My wife and I enjoy every episode and own all of the DVD’s. This show is so much more enjoyable than the rest of the crap on TV now days.
    The effort to be accurate is nice. We enjoy the lab setting and try to ID the equipment in the background. We’re hoping that trains (real) start playing a bigger part in some of the episodes.
    As good as the acting and characters are, the writers and staff deserve more credit (and maybe more money).
    I see several of the characters are now on other shows and there are some voids to fill. More Bert would be good. I also liked Claire. How about the girl that solved the Sheldon dating puzzle. Get her back in there !

  5. Christopher Morris-page says:

    I honestly don’t care

  6. Susan Owens says:

    Sick of Big Bang Theory and I don’t want to watch a Sheldon spinofg

  7. Paully says:

    I see my friends and coworkers only reflected on this network show (Adult Swim and Discovery also).. The view from UC Berkeley.. In reality some of our group would be on the way to Silicon Valley by now..

  8. Timely Comment says:

    Aaand the ‘Nerdface’ minstrelry continues!

    Very hilarious that other geeks/nerds patronize and get involved in this– for the sake of sitcom “acceptance”— like other marginalised people who have cheered tv representation in previous decades.

    Very funny too that comicbook nerdgod Grant Morrison advertised the show by wearing a Sheldon t-shirt at Comic-Con…

    /Seussian, NOT a circus freak

  9. “Warner Bros. is also believed to be in the process of signing new deals with co-stars Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch, whose roles have blossomed during the past few seasons.”

    ‘Blossomed’, I see what you did there!

  10. heyitsron says:

    Please take it off the air. No, don’t just take it off the air. Dig a hole and bury it. Awful show. Awful waste of time. And Parsons makes want to puke.

  11. Chris says:

    I still think the prequel is a terrible idea, there can be no growth for a character who didn’t really show any changes until the 3rd season on.

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