This could be the last season of the beloved animated sitcom The Simpsons. That's because 20th Century Fox and the actors who voice the show's beloved characters can't agree on a new contract. Fox says the six principle actors need to each take a 45 percent cut to their $8 million annual salaries, according to The Daily Beast's Lloyd Grove. The network has already rejected the actors' offer of a 30 percent cut in exchange for a "tiny percentage of the show’s huge back-end profits." In its 23rd season, The Simpsons is already the longest-running primetime show on TV. Is this really the end?
Fox and the actors will reach a deal: This is hardly the first time "Fox and the actors who breathe weekly life into Homer, Marge, and Apu have butted heads over money," says Jen Chaney at The Washington Post. And like near-death stalemates in 1998 and 2004, they'll probably rescue the show again this time. The Simpsons doesn't have the "pop cultural caché it once possessed," but it still makes loads of cash and anchors Fox's Sunday night lineup, so "canceling it seems an unwise move."
"The Simpsons: Could it end over dispute with voice talent?"
But The Simpsons is worth more dead than alive: Fox is paying lip service to wanting to keep The Simpsons on the air, says David Lieberman at Deadline New York. But the show is so old that Fox finds itself "hamstrung by a 17-year-old deal that limits syndication to local TV stations." That no longer makes sense in the digital age. "If the show is canceled, then the restriction evaporates." Fox could then offer reruns on cable and online services like Netflix — almost instantly boosting the network's balance sheet by about $750 million.
"Would The Simpsons be worth more dead or alive?"
And the show should have died years ago anyway: "The last great season of The Simpsons was the seventh, which ended back in 1996," says Alex Balk at The Awl. That's no dig at Homer and Co. — seven years is all any show can do without starting to feel stale and repetitive — surely even The Simpsons' creative team knows that. If Fox pulls the plug after 23 years, you won't see me crying.
"If The Simpsons ends will you care?"
Have a heart. Bart and Homer don't deserve to die this way: The Simpsons may be "a crude facsimile of its once-great self," says Richard Lawson at Gawker. But "it's still a shame to think it might finally go quiet" just because of Fox's greed. The Simpsons is inarguably the "greatest television show ever made," and an institution like that deserves a happier ending.
"The Simpsons might be over because everyone's a jerk"
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