Fox says can't afford more "Simpsons" without cuts

Tue Oct 4, 2011 4:43pm EDT
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The future of animated TV comedy "The Simpsons" was up in the air on Tuesday after 20th Century Fox Television said it could no longer afford to produce the show without a huge pay cut for its cast.

Fox Television, a unit of News Corp, issued a tough statement after a report that it had threatened to end the subversive series unless the voice actors take a 45 percent pay cut.

"We believe this brilliant series can and should continue, but we cannot produce future seasons under its current financial model," Fox said.

"We are hopeful that we can reach an agreement with the voice cast that allows 'The Simpsons' to go on entertaining audiences with original episodes for many years to come," the statement added.

"The Simpsons" is the longest-running comedy series on U.S. television and is currently in its 23rd season on Fox. The show also generates billions of dollars through global syndication, as well as DVD and merchandise sales.

The Fox statement followed a report on news website The Daily Beast that the principal voice cast members -- including the voices for Homer (Dan Castellaneta), Marge (Julie Kavner), Bart (Nancy Cartwright) and Lisa (Yeardley Smith) -- were having difficulty renegotiating contracts that currently see them earning around $8 million each per season.

The Daily Beast, quoting an unnamed insider, said the cast had tried unsuccessfully to negotiate a 30 percent pay cut in return for a portion of the show's profits.

Fox did not dispute the Daily Beast report.   Continued...

<p>Matt Groening (C), creator of The Simpsons, poses with characters from the show (L-R) Homer, Bart, Lisa and Marge at the 20th anniversary party for the television series at Barker hangar in Santa Monica, California October 18, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>