Voice actors for “The Simpsons” came to a two-year agreement Friday with 20th Century Fox Television, the studio that produces the long-running animated hit for the Fox network.
Although terms were not disclosed, the deal ended an impasse of several days between the two sides. The Simpsons will run for a total of at least 25 seasons.
Fox Television initially had sought to cut the actors’ paychecks by as much as 45%. The main cast members now make $440,000 per episode. “People close to the situation not authorized to talk publicly about the matter” said that the studio wanted the actors to keep doing the show for about $250,000, the Los Angeles Times reported.
In a statement released Friday before the new deal was reached, Harry Shearer (voice of Mr. Burns and Ned Flanders) said that cast members’ salaries “pale in comparison to what the show’s profit participants have been taking home.”
The studio had resisted an offer to accept smaller salaries in return for part of what is known as the back-end. The cast had suggested that it would agree to a major pay cut in exchange for a portion of the company’s income from reruns and other related revenue sources.
Shearer said in his statement that he’d take a salary cut of as much as 70% if the network gave a share of back-end profits. However, Fox has still adamantly refuses to do so, he said.
According to analysts and company insiders, News Corp. — the parent company of Fox Television and the Fox network — has made over $1 billion in profit from the show. But the studio claimed that it had to cut the actors’ salaries to keep production affordable.
The Fox network pays over $5 million for each Simpsons episode. “Two people with knowledge of the situation” say that Fox is losing money on the new episodes its broadcasting, the Los Angeles Times said.
Asked on Friday if she wanted the series to continue, Nancy Cartwright (voice of Bart) said in a statement: “Absolutely! The Simpsons is a remarkable chronicle of our times. I’ve wanted to do this since I was 16! And I want to keep doing it until I am 86! Long live the Simpsons!”