×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Still no deal for ‘Simpsons’ cast

Production delay means 20-episode season

Last week, Fox announced a fall schedule that included animated staple “The Simpsons” in its normal Sunday timeslot.

The hitch? There’s still no deal with the voice talent behind “The Simpsons.” And without one, the 20th season of the series could be in jeopardy.

While sources close to both the voice actors and 20th Century Fox TV are optimistic that they’re on the road to a new deal, production on the show’s 20th season has been on hold for months — meaning the studio will probably produce just 20, rather than 22, segs next season.

Should a deal not be reached anytime soon, that number could be reduced further. Pacts are already in place with “The Simpsons” scribes and producer Gracie Films.

The key “Simpsons” cast members — Dan Castellaneta (Homer), Julie Kavner (Marge), Nancy Cartwright (Bart), Yeardley Smith (Lisa), Hank Azaria (Moe) and Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns) — are believed to make around $360,000 an episode. A new deal could bump that number closer to $500,000, including various bonuses. That’s more in line with the paydays of many live-action sitcom stars (with the exception of bigtime leads like “Two and a Half Men’s” Charlie Sheen).

The-already increased salaries could be why there doesn’t appear to be the kind of angst that has characterized past negotiations between the “Simpsons” voices and 20th.

“Unlike the last negotiations, there hasn’t been a lot of anger or frustration,” one insider said.

Production was also halted in 2004 when the cast members didn’t show up for two table reads. Back then, they were looking to increase their salaries from $125,000 an episode.

In 1998, the thesps (who were then making just $30,000 a seg) asked for a big raise — and 20th went as far as hiring casting directors in five cities to potentially find replacements.

This time out, insiders said the talent is looking for a “healthy bump,” given the show’s history as a money-making machine for News Corp. (Coincidentally, the “Simpsons”-themed ride, which features the thesps’ voices, opens this weekend at Universal Studios’ Hollywood and Orlando locations.)

The voice talent have traditionally argued that they’re asking for a relatively small piece of the “Simpsons” pie given its status as a global phenom worth several billions of dollars. Indeed, via syndication, international, licensing and merchandising, among other things, “The Simpsons” has been invaluable to the conglom.

But the fewer fireworks accompanying this round of negotiations may also stem from mutual acknowledgment that “The Simpsons,” like everything on TV, hasn’t been immune to broadcast’s rapid viewership erosion. With ratings down, the show isn’t bringing in the same kind of revenues it once did. The talent will likely get their pay increase even as the show becomes less of a cash cow.

If a deal isn’t made soon, whatever gains the talent may ultimately secure could be tempered by the fact that fewer episodes are produced.

One optimistic insider said it could all be resolved as soon as this week.

More TV

  • BBC Orders Oscar Wilde Documentary with

    BBC Orders Oscar Wilde Documentary With Stephen Fry, Freddie Fox

    A new documentary about Oscar Wilde will tell the celebrated writer’s story with a star cast recreating excerpts from his greatest works, including “The Importance of Being Earnest” and “The Picture of Dorian Gray.” Freddie Fox, Claire Skinner, Anna Chancellor and James Fleet will all perform in the 80-minute show, “The Importance of Being Oscar,” which [...]

  • FOSSE VERDON -- Pictured: (l-r) Michelle

    TV News Roundup: 'Fosse/Verdon' Premiere Date Set at FX

    In today’s TV news roundup, FX announced the premiere date for “Fosse/Verdon,” and Comedy Central released a new trailer for the final season of “Broad City.”  DATES “Workin’ Moms” is set to premiere Feb. 22 on Netflix. The series, which is currently in its third season, first aired in Canada on CBC Television and is [...]

  • Ilana Glazer Abbi Jacobson

    'Broad City' Stars on Discovering New Aspects of Their Characters

    Throughout the run of “Broad City,” creators Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer have been conflicted about how much of their on-screen characters (also named Abbi and Ilana) should come directly from their personalities and lives. But when it came to the final season, Jacobson in particular experienced a life-changing shift that she wanted to impart [...]

  • The Goldbergs spinoff

    NBC Orders Comedy Pilot 'Uninsured' From 'Goldbergs' Producers

    NBC has ordered a pilot for the multi-camera comedy “Uninsured.” In the series, young parents Dave and Rebecca end up having to take care of Dave’s parents who have mishandled their finances and need help to pay down a sizable debt. Dan Levy will serve as writer and executive producer, with Doug Robinson and Alison Greenspan [...]

  • Emily Kapnek

    'Splitting Up Together' Creator Emily Kapnek Inks Overall Deal at ABC Studios (EXCLUSIVE)

    Writer and producer Emily Kapnek has signed a three-year overall deal at ABC Studios, Variety has learned exclusively. Kapnek most recently developed the ABC single-cam comedy series “Splitting Up Together,” which is based on the Danish series “Bedre skilt end aldrig.” She was previously under an overall deal at Warner Bros. Television, which produces “Splitting Up [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content