The Simpsons Folder
The Simpsons Voices About to Change
March 19, 1998 ©1999 ABC News Internet Ventures.
Things over at the Simpsons have taken an ugly turn. Daily Variety reports that as salary negotiations with the actors who voice Springfield’s many characters drag on and the start date for the new season draws ever closer, Twentieth Century Fox TV is now contemplating hiring new voices for Bart, Lisa, Homer, Apu, Mr. Burns, and the rest. The only voices sure to return are Marge and her sisters, Patty and Selma, since actress Julie Kavner has already inked a deal with the studio. But the fates of Nancy Cartwright, Dan Castellaneta, Hank Azaria, Yeardley Smith, and Harry Shearer—who are asking for a raise from around $30,000 per episode to more than $100,000 for about two half-days of work—are still up in the air. The trade says the studio has balked at the cast’s demands, even though the series has earned Fox’s parent company, News Corp., around $500 million over its eight-season run. And while it would make sense for Fox to try to work out an acceptable deal with the actors before finding new ones, a source tells the trade, “We have to do what we have to do.” Whether this is simply a bargaining ploy on the part of Fox or a real threat, the question remains: Will viewers, many of whom have watched the series since it debuted on the Tracey Ullman Show, still tune in if their favorite voices suddenly change? If the passing of Mel Blanc taught cartoon fans anything, it’s that some voices can’t be duplicated—people will know the difference. Stay tuned.