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'Simpsons' Star Harry Shearer Speaks Out on Salary Dispute

by Chris Harnick, posted Oct 7th 2011 11:50AM
Harry Shearer SimpsonsIs this the beginning of the end for 'The Simpsons'? Voice actor Harry Shearer is speaking out for the first time on the dramatic salary stalemate between Fox and the 'Simpsons' actors.

Fox has asked the actors to take a 45 percent salary cut. Originally, it was reported the cast would take a 30 percent salary cut if they were also included in profits from syndication and merchandising. Fox said no dice. In a new statement on the matter, Shearer, who voices Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders and several other 'Simpsons' characters, said he would agree to a 70 percent cut if the studio let him in on the back-end profits.

"Fox wants to cut our salaries in half because it says it can't afford to continue making the show under what it calls the existing business model," he wrote. "Fox hasn't explained what kind of new business model it has formulated to keep the show on the air, but clearly the less money they have to pay us in salary, the more they're able to afford to continue broadcasting the show. And to this I say, fine -- if pay cuts are what it will take to keep the show on the air, then cut my pay. In fact, to make it as easy as possible for Fox to keep new episodes of 'The Simpsons' coming, I'm willing to let them cut my salary not just 45 percent but more than 70 percent -- down to half of what they said they would be willing to pay us. All I would ask in return is that I be allowed a small share of the eventual profits."

Again, Fox said no. Read the full statement below.

"For many years now, the cast of 'The Simpsons' has been trying to get Fox to agree that, like so many other people who've contributed significantly to the show's success, we be allowed a tiny share of the billions of dollars in profits the show has earned. Fox has consistently refused to even consider the matter. Instead, it's paid us salaries that, while ridiculous by any normal standard, pale in comparison to what the show's profit participants have been taking home.

Now, as the show enters its twenty-third season, we are engaged in what will probably be our last contract negotiation with Fox. As you may have heard, the network has taken the position that 'The Simpsons' no longer makes enough money and that unless we in the cast accept a 45% pay cut, they are not going to bring the show back for a twenty-fourth season.

Obviously, there are a lot more important things going on in the world right now, in the streets of New York and elsewhere. But given how many people seem to care about what happens to our show -- and how much misinformation has been flying around -- I thought it might make sense for at least one member of the cast to speak out directly. I should note that I am speaking only for myself, and not for any of the other actors on the show.

Mr. BurnsFox wants to cut our salaries in half because it says it can't afford to continue making the show under what it calls the existing business model. Fox hasn't explained what kind of new business model it has formulated to keep the show on the air, but clearly the less money they have to pay us in salary, the more they're able to afford to continue broadcasting the show. And to this I say, fine -- if pay cuts are what it will take to keep the show on the air, then cut my pay. In fact, to make it as easy as possible for Fox to keep new episodes of 'The Simpsons' coming, I'm willing to let them cut my salary not just 45% but more than 70% -- down to half of what they said they would be willing to pay us. All I would ask in return is that I be allowed a small share of the eventual profits.

My representatives broached this idea to Fox yesterday, asking the network how low a salary number I would have to accept to make a profit participation feasible. My representatives were told there was no such number. There were, the Fox people said, simply no circumstances under which the network would consider allowing me or any of the actors to share in the show's success.

As a member of the 'Simpsons' cast for 23 years, I think it's fair to say that we've had a great run and no one should feel sorry for any of us. But given how much joy the show has given so many people over the years -- and given how many billions of dollars in profits News Corp. has earned and will earn from it -- I find it hard to believe that this is Fox's final word on the subject. At least I certainly hope it isn't, because the alternative is to cancel the show or fire me for having the gall to try to save the show by helping Fox with its new business model. Neither would be a fair result -- either to those of us who have committed so many years to the show or to its loyal fans who make our effort worthwhile."

[Full statement from TV Guide Magazine]



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214 Comments

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hatborojerry

TV netwoprks and cable is no different than professional sports.They make billions and refuse to share it with the people who bring those billions in.ala profootball and now basketball.
If the eople who do the voices say no ,then that's it no more Simpsons.
you know what? the friggin sun will come up tomorrow,the world will not end and Tv executives will still not learneda lesson

October 07 2011 at 9:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
coffemates

Artists are the only people expected to be grateful for the opportunity to be paid for their work. Sumpin' tells me the Foxy folks that thought up the pay cut scheme aren't getting a pay cut.

October 07 2011 at 8:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
fluffystuff123

i "LIKE" the simsons

October 07 2011 at 5:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bjmelkton

VAMElkton
Though I''m not really a fan of the "Simpsons" because of the "offcolor" humor of the show content; I still admire you for your stand and your willingness to take that severe of a salary reduction to save the show., for no other stars (voiceoover or otherwilse) from any other program on Fox or any other network would sacrifice thier pocketbook to save a program that has run for that long.

October 07 2011 at 4:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
sherelyn

this is so sad. Obviously a 23 yeqar running show is keeoing fox going. i watch it every week

October 07 2011 at 3:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
vamborools714

homer simpson always votes republican

October 07 2011 at 3:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
vamborools714

homer simpson always votes republican

October 07 2011 at 3:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
JimFish

FOX can " EATS MY SHORTS"

October 07 2011 at 3:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mloanna

People should be aware that if Fox cancels The Simpsons that would mean a whole crew of people (animators) will be out of work. The market is tight right now as it is. The best thing would be to shop another market for the show and keep people working.

October 07 2011 at 2:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brian Workman

Another Corporation, screwing the employee who makes you rich, out of a few dollars in take home pay!! "GREED"!!!

October 07 2011 at 2:48 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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