Robert Sean Leonard, Omar Epps Set To Return To ‘House'; Series’ Renewal Imminent
UPDATE: House star Hugh Laurie today also indicated that this would probably be the series’ final season. “The end of (the eighth) season, right now, looks like the end of the show,” he told U.K.’s Radio Times. “That is as far as they have got me for.”
PREVIOUS: After months of negotiations and a string of deadlines that came and went, Fox has closed a deal with Universal Media Studios to bring House for an eighth season, which is expected to be the medical drama’s last. House creator/executive producer David Shore’s does not have a deal beyond this season yet but one is underway and he is fully expected to return and finish the series. Also returning is the cast, including Hugh Laurie, who has one more year on his 3-year contract, co-stars Robert Sean Leonard and Omar Epps, who just closed their deals, and Lisa Edlestein, who is also expected to come back. All senior writers on the show will be back too.
Sticking point in the negotiations was the show’s license fee, which Fox had been pushing to lower by almost 20% to $5 million per episode, something that was going to put pressure on UMS to cut the budget of the series, including above-the-line costs. I hear the final agreement is for a license fee very close to the $5 million Fox had been seeking. As part of its cost-cutting measures, UMS had gone to the 3 actors whose deals were up this season – Leonard, Edelstein and Epps – asking them to take salary cuts on the $175,000 an episode they had been making for next season. UMS had been partially successful as I hear Leonard will be returning at his old salary, while the other 2 will be taking a modest pay cut.
For years, House was Fox’s highest-rated scripted show. A year ago, it was also the most watched TV series worldwide and is estimated to gross about $1 billion over its run. “Over the past seven seasons, House has redefined the medical drama and has given us one of television’s most compelling and iconic characters,” Fox’s entertainment president Kevin Reilly said. “From the producers to the incredible writers to the unbelievably talented cast and crew, the House team is fearless in its creativity and I can’t wait to see what they have in store next year.” House is executive produced by Katie Jacobs, David Shore, Paul Attanasio, Bryan Singer, Russel Friend, Garrett Lerner, Thomas L. Moran, Greg Yaitanes and Hugh Laurie. With the pickups of House today and Bones last week Fox has secured its highest-rated drama series for next season. The two join previously renewed Fringe.