The reports of The Simpsons‘ imminent death were once again greatly exaggerated. It happens during every cast renegotiation — the voice actors and the producing studio 20th Century Fox TV go through a very public standoff, triggering a slew of headlines about the certain end of the beloved animated series, before the two sides ultimately reach an agreement. This seems to be the case again this time as people close to the negotiations are optimistic that there would be new contacts with the the cast that will seal The Simpsons’ renewal by Fox for a 24th and possibly 25th season. The deals are not done and may or may not close today as talks continue, but it looks like the actors would return with a pay cut in the 30% range they offered the studio but sans the lucrative back-end participation they were seeking. One of the cast members, Harry Shearer, even proposed to take a pay cut of more than 70% in exchange for points on the show, but I hear that the option of giving the actors any profit participation was a non-starter for the studio.
The cast’s position was greatly undercut Monday when a financial analyst disclosed that Fox would get a $750 million windfall if The Simpsons gets canceled as the show’s demise would make it available for cable syndication. Despite the drumbeat, we reported at the time that a deal with the actors could close by sometime next week. As for The Simpsons‘ producers agreeing to a salary cut to keep the show going, yes, the studio got the producers on board before it got into the nitty gritty with the actors, but most of the writing executive producers are under rich overall deals, so salary reduction is almost a moot point.