The Simpsons Labor Dispute: Take Four!

By: David Yaron

Even the longest running American sitcom, The Simpsons, is not without its share of labor disputes every now and then. Late last year it was reported that 20th Century Fox could not continue paying their workers their current salaries. Stating that they could not afford to produce future seasons under their current “financial mode”, Fox began negotiation sessions with the voice actor cast of the Simpsons.

While the salaries of the voice actors are not necessarily public information, word in the business is that each major character actor receives roughly $11 million dollars a year for their contribution to the show. Fox has stated that the show cannot go beyond the 23rd seasons unless the actors agree to a 45% pay cut. This is not the first time a voice actor labor dispute on The Simpsons has arisen. In 1998, 2004 and 2008, the actors on the show had their salaries raised significantly as Fox was forced to pay the actors these increases to keep them around. Don’t feel too bad for Fox though, The Simpsons has become a billion dollar industry.

One cannot help but wonder what the implications are for other popular (or unpopular) animated shows in the business. If Fox is able to force its employees to take make drastic cut-backs in their salaries it is very possible that they could be setting the tone for other shows as well.

The actors have recently accepted Fox’s terms and extended their contracts for the next two years, but who knows what will happen when the contract expires. A few years from now you may be sitting home watching an episode of The Simpsons, unable to recognize the voice of your favorite character. So for anyone that does a good Homer or Bart impression: better polish it up. You may get the casting call.

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