I know, there are plenty of reasons to hate the Fox network -- the cancellations of Firefly and Human Target, that asinine CGI robot they show during NFL football games, giving us Glee and American Idol -- but this could potentially jack up the hatred to another level entirely.
The Daily Beast reported earlier today that The Simpsons, the longest-running sitcom ever, may cease production after the current 23rd Season ends sometime in May 2012. It seems there's another contract negotiation issue with the principal cast of six -- Dan Castellanetta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria and Harry Shearer -- only now the suits at Fox are insisting that if the cast doesn't accept a 45 percent pay cut, The Simpsons will officially be cancelled.
The ultimatum was given Monday night after Fox rejected the actors' proposal of taking a 30 percent pay cut in exchange for a small percentage of the show's back-end profits. As you might imagine, with twenty-three years worth of syndication and merchandising, most of the billions of dollars made ends up going to Fox. But hey, they're job creators, right?
The Daily Beast quotes a Unnamed Insider (whose real name is hopefully not Jeff Albertson) who says, "Fox is taking the position that unless they can cut the production costs really drastically, they’ll pull the plug on new shows. 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."
So bottom line, unless the cast agrees to give up almost half their salary or some form of compromise is reached, Simpsons is probably done. After twenty-three seasons and the show not pulling in peak numbers anymore, it doesn't seem like the cast has much in the way of leverage here. Fox could easily go ahead with selling the show for a second round of syndication money, and with almost 500 episodes in play, it may be more profitable for them to finally end the series instead of giving the cast their proposed amount.
Let's hope things are worked out somehow, though. I've been watching The Simpsons since their original shorts on The Tracy Ullman Show back in 1987 and can't imagine my Sunday nights without them.