Will The Big Bang Theory‘s Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar walk away from $70 million? That was the question on the mind of everybody involved in the contract negotiations between the two actors and series producer Warner Bros TV this morning as the clock was ticking on the two sides to reach a deal in time for the first table read for Season 8, rescheduled for tomorrow, August 6. Because people associated with the CBS series needed time to make travel arrangements, I hear the studio wanted to make a decision whether to keep the table read by 3 PM today, making that a de facto deadline for reaching an agreement with Helberg and Nayyar. A deal was closed with just minutes to spare, clearing the way for production to begin tomorrow. “Production on season 8 of The Big Bang Theory will begin Wednesday, August 6, with contract negotiations now having been concluded,” WBTV just said in a statement.
Playing hardball in seeking parity with co-stars Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco seems to have paid off for Helberg and Nayyar. I hear each of them netted more than $70 million over the life of the three-year deals for Seasons 8-10, or 72 episodes. (Each season of Big Bang consists of 24 episodes.) I hear that the quintet all have parity on the back-end participation (more than a point each), which is very valuable, and that Helberg and Nayyar will catch up with their counterparts on per-episode fees in Season 1o. Parsons, Galecki and Cuoco just secured big new three-year contracts that would pay each of them at least $90 million, including a $1 million salary per episode. In the final hours of negotiations, Helberg and Nayyar’s team was able to sweeten the studio’s final offer that had been for each actor to get 75% of the compensation secured by Parsons, Galecki and Cuoco. There had been some rumblings that, in light of the difficult negotiations, the studio was exploring continuing the series without Helberg and Nayyar, but insiders stress that that was more of a negotiating tactic than a realistic possibility. With Melissa Rauch and Mayim Bialik renegotiating their contracts last fall, now the entire cast of Big Bang is locked in for next season and will meet for a table read tomorrow. The script for the eighth-season premiere, which they will rehearse, features all cast members, I’ve learned. (more…)