Voice actors take salary cuts, but not as big as Fox wanted them to
Fox has renewed "The Simpsons" for two more seasons, which will bring TV's longest-running scripted primetime show to a landmark 25 seasons.
The announcement came after "Simpsons" voice actors agreed to have their salaries cut by about a third, rather than the 45 percent that 20th Century Fox TV had requested they accept to keep the show going. Instead of their current $440,000 per episode, they will receive $300,000 per episode for the new seasons, a person familiar with with the negotiations told TheWrap.
Fox had wanted them to accept $250,000 per episode.
The actors offered last week to take $300,000, but also asked to share in the profits from the series, like the show's producers do. The two sides compromised: The actors took smaller pay cuts than the studio wanted, but will not receive back-end payments from the profits.
The announcement of the new seasons late Friday — which TheWrap had reported as a possibility earlier in the day – ends a dogfight over one of television's most beloved shows. Soon after debuting as a series in 1989, "The Simpsons" helped Fox transform into a thriving network, and became a worldwide cultural phenomenon that has inspired catchphrases, countless animated imitators, and even fashion trends.
Both sides had expressed hope that the show wouldn't come to an end over a salary dispute, but the studio released a statement earlier this week saying the show needed to change its business model because it was no longer profitable for the Fox network to air new episodes. It said salary cuts were essential to the show's survival.
The back-end payments were the major source of contention in the negotiations. On Friday morning, Harry Shearer (pictured above) — who voices Ned Flanders and others — even offered to take a 70 percent cut in exchange for profit sharing.
But the actors ultimately agreed to settle for salaries of at least $6 million per season, if the seasons run the minimum 20 episodes. Under the current, four-year contract, which expires with this season, they receive about $9 million for at least 20 episodes.
The announcement came about five hours after a noon deadline the studio gave the actors to accept or reject the $250,000-per-episode offer.
Fox released a statement Friday saying: "In the words of Homer Simpson, 'Woo Hoo! I outlasted Andy Rooney!'"
The show will return with all-new episodes beginning with “Treehouse of Horrors XXII,” on Sunday, Oct. 30.