*Money dispute at 'The Simpsons'

The six principal actors who voice the show, now in its 23rd season, face a 45 percent pay cut, and if they don't go along Fox executives are threatening to cancel the series, reports the Daily Beast. Seems unlikely, considering that the show still does quite well in its coveted Sunday night slot, but the studio issued a statement saying that "The Simpsons" can't continue "under its current financial model." From the Beast:

The pay-cut 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. The series is produced by the 20th Century Fox studio and aired by the Fox network, both News Corp. companies, but the studio reaps the ancillary rewards. "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."

Currently, the six actors each earn about $8 million annually for about 22 weeks' work. Pretty nice work, I'd say.

*LAT's Joe Flint says that Fox may be better off without the show:

To be sure, most shows endure ratings declines as they age. The conundrum is that the cost of producing shows also goes up as they get older because producers and actors tend to get big raises the longer a program remains on the air. The per-episode license fee that Fox pays its sister studio for "The Simpsons" is north of $5 million per episode, according to people with knowledge of the terms who declined to speak publicly because of the sensitivity of the situation. At that price, the show is no longer profitable for the network, these people said. "The Simpsons" continues to generate lots of money for News Corp. through reruns and DVD sales, although not as much as it once did and there is little financial need for more episodes.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
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