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Thursday, November 30, 2023

As Homer Simpson would say, "Woo Hoo!"

Fox announced Friday that it has renewed contracts for its multibillion-dollar hit, "The Simpsons," for two more seasons. This comes after weeks of head-butting negotiations between the network and its leading character voices.

As a 22-year-old, I can say I don't remember a time when the Simpsons didn't exist. Now, in its 23rd season, Fox threatened to pull the plug on the longest on-air animated TV show.

The reason?

Negotiations between the network and the six actors who voice the world's most recognizable animated characters were at a standoff over - you guessed it - money!

On Oct. 4, 20th Century Fox Television released this statement: "Twenty-three seasons in, ‘The Simpsons' is as creatively vibrant as ever and beloved by millions around the world. We believe this brilliant series can and should continue, but we cannot produce future seasons under its current financial model. We are hopeful that we can reach an agreement with the voice cast that allows ‘The Simpsons' to go on entertaining audiences with original episodes for many years to come."

As you might imagine, the actors did not take the news well. According to The Daily Beast, the actors proposed to take a cut of around 30 percent in salary in exchange for a small percentage of the show's profits from syndication and merchandising.

That seems reasonable, right?

The network makes billions of dollars every year from global syndication and merchandising of Simpsons merchandise.

Wrong. The networks responded to the actors' proposal by delivering a staggering ultimatum: If the cast didn't accept a 45-percent pay cut, the show would be canceled.

According to The Daily Beast, the show's lead voices, which include Hank Azaria, Yeardley Smith, Nancy Cartwright, Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner and Harry Shearer, make $8 million a season. The pay cut would have reduced their salaries to $4 million.

Is it wrong for these actors to want a piece of the pie? After all, they play a major role in the success of the show. If the network really needs to cut costs to keep the show running, surely there are other shows on the lineup with far fewer ratings.

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The terms of the new deal were not released. The Hollywood Reporter, citing unidentified sources, said the actors accepted a 30-percent pay cut as opposed to the 45 percent pay cut the network was previously demanding. If the site's sources are correct, under the new deal the actors will be making about $6 million a season. It's unknown if the actors managed to get a cut of the show's syndication and merchandising profits, but it seems for now that Springfield is safe - until 2013.

Kaylanie Alvarez is a journalism senior at UF.

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