[Update: NBC responded to our initial request, but declined to comment on this matter.]

With FOX’s hit series House crossing the halfway mark of its seventh season, fans of the long-running medical drama are beginning to look ahead and wonder what wonderful mischief Princeton Plainsboro’s diagnostician will create in House season 8.

Unfortunately, it looks like all of the fanatical conjecture can now cease – at least for the moment – as House season 8 is currently at a standstill.  NBC Universal, the production company behind the award-winning series, and FOX Television, the network that airs House, are currently in dispute about who should pay for the actual production of the hit series going forward.

Speaking to the press yesterday, House co-star Lisa Edelstein revealed:

There is some issue… We are produced by NBC, even though we’re on Fox… which is a little unusual, but not all that uncommon. There’s a whole complicated structure in terms of who pays for what when you make a show. Now that the show has been on for so long, I think NBC wants Fox to take over the cost of production and Fox doesn’t want that. So, there’s just been some dispute there.

Until that’s resolved, they can’t even begin to talk to any of us. I know that they officially have Hugh [Laurie] for an eighth season – he negotiated that a long time ago. So, for the rest of us, we’ll just have to wait until the contract is finished between the studio and the network.

While the continuation of an award-winning, highly-rated and extremely profitable series should be a no-brainer, recent events have caused NBC Universal to want to shift more of the production responsibilities and cost to Fox – specifically, the Comcast-NBC merger.

Now that the Comcast-NBC merger has been approved, NBC Universal as a whole is looking to cut as much overhead spending as possible to appease Comcast and provide a more lucrative situation for its current (and future) stockholders. While the production of a hit television series may appear to many as something other than “overhead spending,” there is some validity to their reasoning.

Despite House being a profitable franchise for NBC Universal, much of that profit comes from future earnings – DVD sales, syndication, worldwide distribution. When filming a television series, there is a lot of upfront expense associated with the simple day-to-day production – around $5 million per episode, $115 million per season.

Even though FOX pays NBC Universal for the rights to air the series on television and, in turn, helps cover the cost of production, NBC would like to shift more of the direct expenses to the television network.

Why FOX wouldn’t simply agree to the financial shift with NBC Universal is an interesting question. While there’s no overt reason why FOX wouldn’t, it mostly likely has to do with FOX already having a budget set in place for the upcoming fiscal year.

Fortunately, NBC Universal and FOX will absolutely come to an agreement in the end. It’s going to take some time for FOX to look at their current financial commitments and see where additional funds can be found and reallocated, but House season 8 will ultimately happen.

…Especially since series creator David Shore already revealed that he has plans for Olivia Wilde and her character Thirteen in season 8.

We reached out to both FOX and NBC Universal for a comment, but they had yet to respond at the time of publishing.

House airs Mondays @8pm, on FOX

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