Go crazy? Don’t mind if I do! You remember that Simpsons Tree House of Horror skit that was based on The Shining? That’s kind of how I’m feeling right now. Because of arguments over money between Fox and the principle voice actors of The Simpsons, the show may soon end its 20+ year run.
The Daily Beast says, “Fox studio execs have occasionally threatened to replace uncooperative cast members with sound-alike actors. But for the first time in nearly a quarter century of haggling, the executives have insisted that if the cast doesn’t accept a draconian 45 percent pay cut, The Simpsons will die an abrupt death as a first-run series.”
A very interesting all-or-nothing game they’re playing isn’t it? Sort of makes you wonder if they still prize the show as much as they used to. “The ultimatum was delivered Monday evening as Fox spurned the actors’ proposal—delivered late last week—to take around a 30 percent pay cut in exchange for a tiny percentage of the show’s huge back-end profits—amounting to untold billions—from syndication of the show around the globe and merchandising of Simpsons clothing, lunchboxes, stamps, DVDs, a feature film and video games, among other paraphernalia.”
Currently, stars Dan Castellaneta (Homer, Grampa Simpson, Krusty the Clown, and others), Julie Kavner (Marge and others), Nancy Cartwright (Bart and others), Yeardley Smith (Lisa), Hank Azaria (Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum and Apu Nahasapeemapetilon), and Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns, Principal Skinner, Ned Flanders, and others) make around $8 million a year for 22 weeks of work. After the proposed cut, they’d each make around $4 million. Still nothing to shake a stick at but this isn’t a cool move in any industry, least of all when the individuals have worked for you for twenty years.
“Fox is taking the position that unless they can cut the production costs really drastically, they’ll pull the plug on new shows,” said a Simpsons insider with knowledge of the negotiations. “The show has made billions in profits over the years and will continue to do so as far as the eye can see down the road. The actors are willing to take a pay cut of roughly a third, but that’s not good enough for Fox.”
Creators James L. Brooks and Matt Groening would continue to receive weighty profits through syndication and merchandise should the show end, the voice actors would not. The Simpsons certainly doesn’t pull the ratings it once did and I have to admit I don’t watch as much as I used to but this would be the end of an era. The show has been around almost my entire life, I half expected it to always be on. Perhaps we could all create our own version, the Shimpsons, that’s different enough that we wouldn’t get sued. Yes? No?