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Actors on ‘The Simpsons’ Drop Profit-Share Demand
May 01, 2004
LOS ANGELES, April 30 ? Efforts by the actors on “The Simpsons” to win new contracts granting them a percentage of the profits on the show, one of the most lucrative in television history, have ended after Fox threatened to shut down production, according to a person close to the negotiations.
On Friday night Fox announced that a deal had been reached with the representatives of the actors after weeks of negotiations. “We couldn’t be happier to have reached a multi-year deal with the enormously talented cast of `The Simpsons,’ ” a Fox spokesman said. The official, who asked that his name not be published, declined to discuss the details of the agreement, but associates of the actors said that the cast’s major effort to gain a percentage of the profits had failed.
Fox officials said on Friday that despite the delay in filming new episodes of “The Simpsons” for the new season, that there would be “a full season of episodes next year.”
The actors’ demand was the first time in television that voice performers sought to be accorded the same financial terms as actors on hit sitcoms like “Friends” and “Frasier.” The actors said Fox had earned upward of $2.5 billion from the series since its debut in 1989.
The actors also asked for a near tripling of their salaries to $8 million a season. Fox said that the actors’ revenue figures were extravagant and that their contract demands did not take into account the high costs of maintaining an animated show that employs numerous animators, writers and producers.
Matt L. Groening, who invented “The Simpsons,” and James L. Brooks, who helped turn the show into a half-hour series and is still an executive producer, have earned at least $150 million, perhaps much more, according to people with knowledge of the show’s financial arrangements.
In recent days, people close to the negotiations said, several of the actors had grown concerned about the possibility that the show would be canceled ? as Fox was threatening ? if the impasse was not resolved.
“The Simpsons” itself is remarkably resilient. It remains Fox’s No. 1 Sunday series and ranks No. 1 in its time slot for adult viewers 18 to 49 years old, the demographic most coveted by advertisers.
The actors involved are Dan Castellaneta (the voice of Homer), Julie Kavner (Marge), Nancy Cartwright (Bart), Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns and others), Yeardley Smith (Lisa) and Hank Azaria (Moe, Apu and other characters).