EXCLUSIVE: One week before CBS’ hit The Big Bang Theory is scheduled to go back into production on Season 4, I hear the main cast is still nowhere near a deal in their salary renegotiations with producing studio Warner Bros. TV. But actors, at least most of them, are expected to report to work when filming starts next Wednesday as their contracts stipulate.
I hear the studio went to the 3 stars of the show, Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco, about a month ago with an offer for $100,000 an episode. While that is a sizable bump from what the trio most recently made (around $60,000 an episode), that number is way lower than the $250,000 per episode range that has been speculated about by industry insiders given Big Bang’s high ratings, its importance to CBS as a new Thursday 8 PM anchor and mostly because of the show’s recent record-breaking syndication sale by Warner Bros. of $2M+ per episode.
I hear the reps for the actors didn’t respond to the offer, leading to 3 weeks of radio silence between the two camps. The silence was broken a couple of days ago, following Comic-Con where the Big Bang cast was among the most popular attractions and heading into start of production next Wednesday and CBS’ TCA presentation today. I hear it was WBTV that reached out to the actors and there has been some back-and-forth but no new money offer is on the table. I hear complicating things is the fact that Parsons has separated himself from the others as he reportedly pursues a bigger paycheck. (He, Galecki and Cuoco continue to be represented by the same law firm, Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren & Richman. (As I stated before when that was only a possibility, I believe the three actors can accomplish a lot more if they stick together the way the Friends cast did years ago.) From what I hear, while not specific, talks between the two sides are pretty civil and there could be a breakthrough before Aug. 4. If not, negotiations are expected to continue while the actors are working. That would be in contrast to the case with the Friends cast who demanded salary increases to about $100,000 each per episode after the first two seasons and threatened to boycott production of Season 3 episodes if they didn’t get what they wanted. They eventually did.
The Big Bang cast took a light approach when asked about the state of renegotiations at the show’s TCA panel today.
“I don’t think any of us really even know what’s going on,” Cuoco said. “We have people that help us with that and take care of it. I mean, I’m doing next season for free. I don’t know about you guys. I just figure it would make things a lot easier,” she said, drawing laughs from the audience. “But, no, we all have people behind the scenes that we pay to take care of this so we won’t have to deal with it. And I think it will all be find in the end. This is just the way it goes.”
Added Parsons: “My people work for free,” leading to another zinger, this one from co-star Kunal Nayyar: “I don’t have any people.” (Nayyar and Simon Helberg are also expected to renegotiate their deals, probably after Parsons, Galecki and Cuoco complete theirs.)
Also at TCA today, CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler was optimistic that “things will work out” the way they did on another WBTV-produced comedy series, Two and a Half Men, which recently went through negotiations with star Charlie Sheen. The Big Bang situation is actually less complicated because the actors are under existing contracts whereas Sheen’s deal was up.