This is definitely a tense time for fans of The Simpsons, among whose ranks I proudly include myself, and Dexter.
Apparently there’s stalemates with both shows over the star salaries, and if something isn’t worked out soon, it could mean the end of both shows.
All good things have to come to an end, and we all know The Simpsons can’t run forever, but the news that it could potentially end after twenty-three years certainly came abruptly, then the news that salary disputes could also bring Dexter to a halt came right on the heels of the Simpsons debacle.
This certainly isn’t the first time a show’s been in jeopardy over salary demands, and it wasn’t the first time The Simpsons had money arguments either.
As the Daily Beast reported, Fox had once threatened to replace the cast with actors that sounded similar, which was an absurd idea that thankfully didn’t go forward. The current showdown came to a head on Monday, October 3, and as Fox said in a statement, “We believe this brilliant series can and should continue, but we cannot produce future seasons under its current financial model.”
This time, Fox wanted the cast to take a 30% pay cut in exchange for a little piece of the back-end profits from syndication and merchandising. And as Daily Beast confirms, the cast is willing to cut their take to about a third, but it’s still not enough for the network. (The Simpsons voice cast reportedly makes $8 million a year each, and if Fox has their way, they’ll make $4 million a year each).
Fox is raking in billions from the show, and as an insider told writer Lloyd Grove, Fox’s stance is if the cast doesn’t agree to the deal, they’ll cancel the show, and keep raking in the bucks regardless, which sounds like the network is flexing too much muscle, to the point where it’s cutting off the oxygen to their brains.
As for Dexter, he’s now in his sixth season, ratings are up 24%, but now as Deadline reports, talks between Michael C. Hall and Showtime have “broken down,” this time on the Sunday before the Simpsons ultimatum. Hall wants $24 million for two more seasons, Showtime’s offering $20 million, which Deadline reports would make Hall “one of the highest paid actors in cable.”
And again, as mentioned previously, we’ve seen TV salary showdowns like this before, some the stars have won, some they didn’t. The most tense network showdown in recent memory was probably with The Sopranos, where James Gandolfini threatened to leave over his salary, and the possibility that Tony Soprano would be whacked off the show before everything was finally smoothed over. (Howard Stern joked that of course Gandolfini wanted as much money as he could grab, because he was “Herman Munster,” meaning he’d always be known as Tony.)
With Fox and Showtime, it remains to be seen whether the networks will call everyone’s bluff, or if cool heads will finally (hopefully) prevail.