LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - One of the actors on animated comedy “The Simpsons” said on Friday he had offered to take a 70 percent pay cut in order to save the long-running Fox TV series from a threat of cancellation.
But Harry Shearer, who voices evil entrepreneur Mr. Burns, and God-fearing neighbor Ned Flanders, said he and other voice actors wanted a share of the profits from the show in return for a hefty pay cut.
Shearer spoke out publicly after Fox Television said earlier this week it could no longer afford to continue making “The Simpsons” under current conditions unless all the cast and crew took 45 percent cuts in their $8 million annual salaries.
The satirical story of Homer Simpson and his working class family has been a pop culture staple since 1990. Now in its 23rd season, it is the longest running comedy series on U.S. television.
Shearer said Fox executives had turned down his proposal for a share in profits from syndication, licensing and merchandising.
“There were, the Fox people said, simply no circumstances under which the network would consider allowing me or any of the actors to share in the show’s success.
“I find it hard to believe that this is Fox’s final word on the subject. At least I certainly hope it isn’t, because the alternative is to cancel the show or fire me for having the gall to try to save the show by helping Fox with its new business model,” Shearer said.
Industry website The Wrap reported earlier this week that even if it cuts the show’s budget, Fox is only interested in producing one more season of “The Simpsons”.
The Wrap said a new deadline of Friday had been set to reach an agreement. Fox could not be reached for comment on Friday.
“The Simpsons” helped establish the fledgling Fox network as a major player in the TV industry in the early 1990s.
The show is also seen in some 90 countries but U.S. audiences have dropped off steadily in recent years. The show is currently watched by about 7.1 million Americans, down from an average 12.4 million 10 years ago, according to ratings data.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant, editing by Christine Kearney