UPDATE 7:30 PM: I’ve learned that Warner Bros TV has made the call — there will be no table read for The Big Bang Theory tomorrow. Production on Season 8 of the hit CBS comedy originally was scheduled to start today, but with the five original castmembers still without contracts as negotiations between their teams and WBTV continue, the studio cancelled the table read, pushing it by a day. Now I hear production has been postponed one more day as talks continue. In its statement confirming the production delay this morning, WBTV did not set a return date, so it still stands.
PREVIOUS 9 AM: There is no agreement yet in the contract negotiations between the original cast of The Big Bang Theory and Warner Bros TV, leading to the studio’s decision to push the production start date for Season 8, originally slated for today.
“Due to ongoing contract negotiations, production on The Big Bang Theory — which was originally scheduled to begin today — has been postponed,” WBTV said in a statement. I hear the postponement is for one day, and the situation would be evaluated day by day as the two sides continue to negotiate and are close to deals, something that could happen as early as today.
While Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar worked during the 2010 salary renegotiations that also dragged on over the summer, they were under deals back then. The situation is different this time as the quintet’s contracts all expired at the end of last season. The only Big Bang cast members who have deals and would’ve shown up today are Melissa Rauch and Mayim Bialik, who renegotiated their contracts last fall.
There has been progress, with negotiations ramping up over the past week, though the gap between what the actors are seeking and what they have been offered on the episodic fee and back-end side has not been bridged just yet. At TCA two weeks ago, CBS chairman Nina Tassler did not sound worried. “We’re feeling very confident that everything will work out,” she said of the negotiations. “These deals manage to get done somehow miraculously year after year.” Big Bang plays a major piece in CBS’ fall plans, with an hourlong premiere on Sept. 22 leading to the debut of new action drama Scorpion, often referred to as a procedural take on Big Bang. There is no immediate danger of missing the premiere date.
The Big Bang negotiations are under extra scrutiny in light of the ongoing takeover attempt of WBTV parent Time Warner by 21st Century Fox. Big Bang is one the biggest singular TV assets of the company, estimated to generate up to $2 billion in profits. Nobody is talking, but industry expectations are that, when the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed, the trio of of Parsons, Galecki and Cuoco would each cross the Friends mark of $1 million an episode and will significantly increase their current back-end stake of 0.25 points. As they did the last time, Helberg and Nayyar are said to be negotiating together.