Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
The salary showdown with voice actors last October on The Simpsons was “less of a close call than people thought” as a threat to the Fox show’s future, according to exec producer and showrunner Al Jean. Speaking to reporters on a conference call promoting the series’ landmark 500th episode that airs this Sunday night, Jean said the tense contract renegotiations were “really all about the network insisting that the cost of the show had become prohibitive. Basically, they said that as long as we could get down to a certain number, they’d like to see the show go as long as it can. And we did. The cast [salaries] were part of that budget. But we never really got close to that point” of seriously considering pulling the plug. Unlike the way it was characterized in the press, Jean said “this was never a holdout or a walkout, merely a renegotiation. It’s just the way business works.” Had any members of the cast actually followed through and left the series, Jean stressed that no other actors would have been recruited to replace them. “We would simply have stopped the show,” he said. “We wouldn’t want to do the show without the people we have now.” (more…)