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Simpsons vs. Fox

August 7, 2011

Simpsons

The cast of The Simpsons dodged a bullet this week when they agreed to a 30% pay cut to keep the show, and their jobs, off the cutting room floor. The cast initially balked at Fox’s original request for a 45% cut which would have brought down their $400,000-a-show yearly income to around $4 million per season—not enough to push anyone out onto the street but not something anyone would be eager to agree to either. Harry Shearer, the voice of Mr. Burns, Smithers and Flanders, offered to take a 70% cut in exchange for profits on the back end but was roundly denied by Fox execs who probably didn’t want to open the vault to future negotiations over the massive syndication and merchandising profits it currently doesn’t have to share with talent. As the longest-running sitcom ever, The Simpsons has close to 500 episodes in the bag, enough for Fox to start its own Simpsons channel or license syndication without having to pay the creative team anything but royalties. The current contract has been extended for two years, after which there may be further cuts depending on the fiscal health of Murdoch’s empire.

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