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25 Years Later, "The Simpsons" May Finally Bow Out Gracefully

By Rob Payne | Industry | October 10, 2011 |

By Rob Payne | Industry | October 10, 2011 |

Clearly heeding at least half of my advice, Fox and the creative staff behind “The Simpsons” have agreed to renew the series for two more years, leading up to a historical 25th season after a week of tense contract negotiations. A roundabout far tenser than the one Simpsons patriarch Homer had in his brain between “Dental Plan” and “Lisa Needs Braces.” As per Deadline, the voice actors behind the population of Springfield, U.S.A. rescinded their deal for a 30% pay cut with a dip in the back-end honeypot, and simply took the 30% cut, meaning Fox capitulated ever so slightly in spite of their previous “45% cut or no deal” ultimatum. No word, yet, on whether or not the 25th season of “The Simpsons,” which would conclude with a remarkable 559 episodes in 2014, will be the last for the longest running scripted sitcom of all time.

Cast member Harry Shearer took to his Facebook account late last week to issue a statement, which said, among other things, that he and his cast mates “are engaged in what will probably be our last contract negotiation with Fox.” He went so far as to say that his representatives asked how low his salary had to go in order to get to a back-end deal, and that Fox apparently balked by saying no number would ever be low enough. If that’s true, and season 25 truly is the end, then the voice cast that made Fox and its parent company, Newscorp., billions of dollars in merchandising will never see a dime of that money. Which means that in the final two years of the groundbreaking series, the cast won’t even be getting their highest salary, and will likely never be able to afford their collective dream of owning solid gold mansions and a fleet of rocket cars.

But, really, the woes of millionaires and billionaires are trite and shallow in the midst of economic turmoil around the planet. Especially when the millionaires in question never had any legal rights to those extra riches, anyway. Of course, Fox’s continuing refusal to recognize how much they owe their network’s success to this particular cast on this specific show is greed, plain and simple. When the talent’s only demand boils down to participating in the brand’s lucrative ancillaries, a brand they helped to define and solidify, the issue of fairness does rear its yellow, overbit head. Was the cast also greedy? Maybe, but they settled for far less than they felt they were due. And we all want to be fairly compensated for our contributions to the corporations that ride atop our shoulders, don’t we?

In the end, the only good news to come from all this is that the plug will finally, hopefully, be pulled on “The Simpsons.” The greatest television show ever will be put to rest with a record appropriate for its contributions to the world (“Simpsons did it!”), and one that will probably never be broken. Once again, Homer defies the odds.

Rob Payne also writes the indie comic The Unstoppable Force and tweets on the Twitter @RobOfWar. He also creates and sells art, paper plate art.

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