Fox co-chief Dana Walden took exception to a reporter’s question about “The Simpsons” financials during she and Gary Newman’s executive session at the Television Critics Association press tour.
We transcribed exactly how it transpired to be fair to both parties:
Reporter: “For either Gary or Dana, when you guys only ran 20th Century Fox and you were negotiating a deal with Fox [broadcast], you always made sure that you sold it at top dollar. Even though it was the same company, Fox had to justify it on their ledger sheet… So that leaves shows like ‘The Simpsons,’ which I would imagine the deal at the Fox Broadcasting Company is a not-expensive deal for a show that’s been on longer than some people in this room have been alive. I’m wondering, does it make financial sense once New Fox is separated Old Fox or Dead Fox that the show continues to be on the Fox Broadcasting Company, once that deal expires? Does it make sense financially, if you’re still at this company in two years, which you most likely won’t, would you say let’s keep it on given the ratings of ‘The Simpsons’ or does it go somewhere else?”
Walden: “Thanks for that thoughtful idea of how we can rebrand Fox. You know what, ‘The Simpsons’ is so much a part of the brand and there is such an incredible halo effect of that show and the other animated series that are on our Sunday night, there are no plans for them to go anywhere other than Fox. We have a couple of years of episodes already in progress on ‘The Simpsons.’ So, down the line what kind of decisions are made I can’t really speak to, but for the foreseeable future there’s so much upside and benefit to having a great, Emmy Award-winning, smart, provocative, quality show that there’s no consideration of not ordering more ‘Simpsons.'”
That’s when the journalist asked Newman to weigh in as well.
Reporter: “Gary, do you want to speak in as someone who also used to work in business affairs? You also know the money just as well. Do you think financially though it will– it’s not a cheap show, right? Does that make sense? I mean, it’s a great thing to have but at what cost?”
Walden: “I guess the man is going to take the money question…”
Some critics in the ballroom laughed, others cheered and still others had an “Ooooooo” response.
Reporter: “No, no. I said both of you, Dana. I said both of you know the money — I just said Gary also…”
Newman: “You’re just trying to get a different answer.”
(He didn’t get a much different one.)