The Daily Beast reported last night that The Simpsons, television’s most successful animated sitcom and longest-running sitcom of any kind, may finally cease production after its 23rd season due to a money dispute between 20th Century Fox and the show’s voice actors.
According to the report, the negotiations are currently at a deadlock, springing from Fox executives’ refusal to grant the Simpsons voice actors a small percentage of the show’s massive back-end profits, which include syndication and merchandise and total well into the billions, in exchange for a 30 percent dock in pay. Instead, Fox has held the cast’s feet even closer to the fire, demanding they accept 45 percent pay cuts or the plug will be pulled on all future episodes.
Although it’s true the main voice actors—Dan Castellanetta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Harry Shearer and Hank Azaria—make a good chunk of change for their work ($8 million each per year), it’s still a small amount compared to the endless profits reaped by Fox Studios as well as series creators Matt Groening and James L. Brooks. Fox knows it has the upper hand in the deal, as regardless of whether the actors choose to comply with the mandated pay downgrade, the corporation will continue to rake in substantial earnings from the series.
In the meantime, The Simpsons continues to anchor Fox’s Sunday night primetime schedule. The show is currently airing its 23rd season—and, with any luck, it won’t be its last.