Though it's literally been on the air for my entire lifetime, The Simpsons may finally be coming to an end, thanks not to the fact that it jumped the shark years ago, but to a serious salary dispute between the show's voice actors and Fox executives.
Essentially, the core cast — comprised of Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, and Harry Shearer — has asked for a thirty-percent cut to their usual $8-million per year salaries, in exchange for "a tiny percentage of the show’s huge back-end profits." Fox, however, has threatened to pull the show entirely if the actors don't agree to a forty-five percent cut instead. A show insider explained:
"The show has made billions in profits over the years and will continue to do so as far as the eye can see down the road. The actors are willing to take a pay cut of roughly a third, but that’s not good enough for Fox… Now Fox is basically saying, 'If you don’t take this deal, we’ll shut down the show,' and they’ll continue to make a ton of money. They’re free to sell it to cable and a second round of syndication, and they figure that the cast has very little leverage."
Show creators James L. Brooks and Matt Groening already receive a percentage of the back-end profits, and the cast argue that their significant creative input entitles them to a similar deal, rather than a nearly fifty-percent cut to their salaries. If a deal isn't agreed to, the show will cease production at the end of the current season next spring. Even if The Simpsons has creatively been off its game for a while now, it seems like the network would still get a better deal keeping it on the air than cancelling it just to prove a financial point. Regardless of the outcome, we can still soothe ourselves with memories from simpler, happier times: