Fox Threatening to Cancel ‘The Simpsons’ Over Contract Negotiations

Published 4 years ago by , Updated October 7th, 2011 at 7:18 pm,

Fox Threatening to Cancel The Simpsons Fox Threatening to Cancel ‘The Simpsons’ Over Contract Negotiations

UPDATE: ‘The Simpsons’ Renewed For Seasons 24 & 25

With 23 seasons and a major motion picture to its name, The Simpsons is probably the most successful and well-known animated American television show of all time – and yet, some would say it hasn’t been good since the late ’90s.

Which might have something to do with why Fox is considering canceling the animated American staple before season 24 can be green-lit. Well, that and Fox wants to downgrade the cast members’ paychecks from $8 million a piece to $4 million a piece, and the cast members might not go for it.

Says a Simpsons insider to The Daily Beast:

“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 [if they’re given a percentage of the back-end profits], but that’s not good enough for Fox.”

This isn’t the first time that the cast of The Simpsons has done battle with the studio with regard to payment and contracts. However, previously, it seemed as though they had the weight at the negotiation table – especially when Fox threatened to replace them with soundalikes. Not so, this time.

All The Simpsons Characters Fox Threatening to Cancel ‘The Simpsons’ Over Contract Negotiations

According to The Daily Beast, Fox wants the actors’ pay to be cut by 45%, though it’s unclear whether or not they’re okay with the cast receiving a small percentage of the show’s profits, per their request – which would, in this writer’s opinion, be entirely fair.

The insider continues:

“Now Fox is basically saying, ‘If you don’t take this deal, we’ll shut down the show,’ and they’ll continue to make a ton of money. They’re free to sell it to cable and a second round of syndication, and they figure that the cast has very little leverage.”

As someone who believes the original incarnation of The Simpsons was classic, hilarious, and largely responsible for influencing both good and bad American TV/film/videogame comedy over the past fifteen years (Family Guy, Arrested Development, Hot FuzzAmerican Dad, 30 Rock, FuturamaCommunity, Modern Family, Tim Schafer videogames, and on, and on, and on), the possibility of cancellation is music to my ears.

Somewhere between season eight and season one million – as there are literally (sarcasm) one million seasons of The Simpsons currently – this classic TV show became a pale, paltry shell of its former glorious self. The show lost is cleverness, its subtlety, its vitality, its edge, its particular brand of humor, and it became a “How crazy can we get?” variety hour, a la Family Guy.

Indeed for myself and many others, The Simpsons has long been in need of being put out of its misery. Even the film released in 2007, while somewhat entertaining, was not as great as the “classic Simpsons” seasons of the show. “Randomness” ≠ “comedy,” regardless of what certain shows, movies, and SNL skits would have you believe – and regardless of how many times said random joke is made.

The Simpsons Movie Fox Threatening to Cancel ‘The Simpsons’ Over Contract Negotiations

Truthfully, The Simpsons has been declining in quality for over half of its lifespan; congratulations should go to Fox, Matt Groening, James L. Brooks and Co. for producing the longest-running American primetime cartoon, sitcom, and scripted show, but now it’s time to pack it in and just live off the residuals. Please! Double please!

I don’t even think it would be a bad idea to continue making Simpsons movies. At least then the creators could focus all their energy on making quality, as opposed to dividing comedic and creative energy (what little is left) between episodes and movies. My only request is that they replace the Arnold Schwarzenegger president character with Rainier Wolfcastle, the Arnold Schwarzenegger of the Simpsons universe, as it should’ve been in the first place.

Alas, all these contract negotiations and threats of cancellation could very well just be another round of political games as a means to either lowball the actors or highball the studio, which would inevitably end in one side succumbing to the other and another few seasons of ho-hum Simpsons episodes. Hopefully – at least in my opinion – that’s not the case, and this overstayed welcome can finally end once and for all. Until then, I’ll have my Simpsons Seasons 2-8 DVDs to comfort me.

What do you guys think? Does the news that The Simpsons might be canceled sadden you or fill you with glee?


Follow me on Twitter @benandrewmoore.

The Simpsons airs Sundays on Fox @8pm. For now.

Source: The Daily Beast

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  1. Totally agree with you. Long overdue.

  2. would be about 12-13 years late, but yeah this would be great news. Their new contracts should be based on show quality… putting their salaries closer to 20-25,000/ year.

  3. I like the Simpsons when I can catch it, so it will suck if it gets canned, but that’s not what pisses me off. It’s the fact that Fox wants to cut salaries in order to keep it on the air. Granted, that’s a crap-ton of money they’re making, but that’s still not right. If you’re going to cancel a show, just do so, don’t threaten to cancel it if salaries aren’t slashed. That’s one surefire way to show that you own someone…

  4. the simpsons cast gets 8 mil per episode wtf omg !!!!

    • Per season.

  5. The Simpsons has been trying to catch up with Family Guy for too long now anyway…time to take it behind the tool shed methinks

  6. I wouldn’t mind getting Simpsons axed or cancelled, but the way Fox is willing to do it (by salary threats) is kind of a jerk move IMO. Those voice actors were a big part of the show and they’re entitled to make big oney out of the show too.

  7. The only issue I have, Mr. Moore, is that you don’t have season 8 in your collection. I would argue that it was the last perfect season and maybe the best of the series. Homer’s Enemy, Brother from Another Series, Homer’s Phobia, El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Homer, Bart After Dark, and IMO the best Simpsons episode ever, You Only Move Twice. How can you not own these classics?!?!

    Otherwise, I agree lol

    • No, I agree with you — I had Season 8 mixed up with Season 9. I’ve corrected that!

      • My collection ends at season 9.

        • I don’t begrudge anyone liking season 9. I very much like some episodes, just not most of them. And the ones I don’t like, I don’t particularly hate. The hatred, for me, only started with season 10.

      • Glad to hear it! lol and mine goes up to 9 as well, Kofi.

  8. the simpsons should just become an online independent entity.
    imagine, quality episodes with good writing reminiscent of early-mid 90s simpsons
    back to the basics in a more compact online format

  9. It is probably time for the Simpsons to end. Granted though can you imagine the crap Fox will run through to try and replace it on Sunday night. They’ll spend the same amount this cast wants churning out 10 crappy animated shows to fill it’s slot, or just let Seth MacFarland do another version of Family Guy so that the whole night just can be one two hour block of the same thing.

  10. Agreed. Let it die

  11. Family Guy screw the Simpsons over, since then it got less and less good.
    I hate Family guy, the most stupid unfunny vulgar cartoon show, it should had stay canceled.

  12. Hey, Too Anyone who says this show MUST GO OFF THE AIR. I really have been hit by lightning and THIS SHOW HAS KEPT ME GOING. I was hit when “The Simpsons Movie” was what kept me alive I know…It would stink a whooooooooooollleeeee lot. If this wss taken off the air, I think that my life would stink SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO… MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. OMG…yes I could not agree more the Simpsons has been horrible for at least (and I’m going easy here for love of the first 8 to 9 years) the last 14 seasons …it’s about time

  14. I say let go of the Simpsons and focus on Futurama . . . or let Bart, Lisa, Maggie and the rest of the kids grow up finally and do their own ish.

  15. While the show isn’t as great as the first 8-9 years, I still think it’s better than almost anything on TV. It’d be a shame if it went off the air over a contract squabble.

  16. i would hate to see the simpsons go but it might be the right time to end the show. Atleast let it run for a 24th season or try for a 25th.

  17. Personally, I understand why there’s joy for wanting the show to end, but I still love it, some of the episodes still make me laught out loud.Plus, this is one of the most influential tv shows EVER, shouldn’t it end on its own terms instead of over a contract dispute?

    • I think the option to end on its own terms has long since passed. Most of the original creators aren’t intimately involved anymore. The thing keeping it alive for the past however many years has been $$$. And since the show’s ratings aren’t very high anymore and the production budget gets higher every year, money’s getting tighter.

      • Oh well, then I guess if the show ends up being cancelled (which to be honest I still don’t see happening)I’ll just learn to live with The Simpson comics and possible film sequels.

      • I think it’s a little naive to say that money is getting tighter around the set of the Simpsons. Broadcast networks are stuck around this archaic idea that ratings somehow equal profits, and it makes absolutely no sense to me. Ratings are low for everything, not just Fox. Simply put people watch things online, buy DVDs and blurays and tune in to things on Netflix. The money Fox TV makes from those avenues has to be factored in when discussing how much money the show makes. Not to mention the toys, dolls, board games, video games, clothes, and whatever other merchandise the show churns out.

        And the biggest piece of the pie: syndication.

        The Simpsons probably still makes hundreds of millions for fox, if not billions. The problem isn’t their books and proifts, it’s the profits other shows on Fox. All the failed new shows that the network has to cancel every year, the money it loses on veteran series that have ratings but don’t make money, their $4 million an episode behemoth Terra Nova, not to mention all the other sectors of their business, like all the movies they probably don’t make money off of, and, oh ya, a certain scandal thanks to their parent company across the pond…

        This has little to nothing to do with The Simpsons, and everything to do with Fox executives’ egos. It’s an easy sell too, considering the apparent hatred for the Simpsons.

        All I have to say to that is: how old was everyone here when The Simpsons used to be “good”? Is it possible that a lot of you just outgrew it? It’s like watching a movie you liked when you were a kid like Jumangi. When you were 10 you thought it was the most amazing movie of all time. When you watch it now you think to yourself how you ever sat through it. I’ll agree the quality of the show has dropped significantly over the last decade if not longer, but it’s hardly terrible. I have no trouble laughing during many more current episodes.

        • “All I have to say to that is: how old was everyone here when The Simpsons used to be “good”? Is it possible that a lot of you just outgrew it?”

          Nah, I was twelve when it was good and thirteen when I thought it was bad. All my friends were huge fans of the show, and we all suddenly and independently realized … that the quality was declining. I didn’t grow out of it. Some may have, I can’t speak for them. But I still adore my favorite episodes and for definable, measurable reasons other than nostalgia.

          Also, I liked Jumanji when it came out — I was eleven — but I didn’t love it. I’ve seen it since and feel the same. It’s enjoyable, but not awesome.

          As to the money issue — the budget for new Simpsons is big. You’re right, syndication and DVD sales and merchandise sales, etc., are all through the roof for Fox, but they’ll be through the roof for Fox with or without new seasons. Why pay the actors the same $8 million per season when each season is making less and less?

          • Well Jumanji was just an example. You know what I mean though right? There are things we like as children that seem ridiculous when we grow up. I think the same could be said, in general, about the Simpsons. When I was 4 or 5 i used to watch Sesame Street literally 3 times a day. In the morning before school and then twice when I got back. Most days the same episode at least twice. Now I obviously don’t do that anymore. Again, an extreme example, but it’s the principle. That said, I admit the quality has gone down A LOT, but I don’t think a lot of the people commenting here are objective either.

            As for the money issue, I’m 100% convinced that it has nothing to do with the salaries at this point. Deadline reported this morning that they’re sitting on a $750 million syndication deal if the show gets cancelled. They’re lowballing the cast to wipe their hands of this and make the actors seem like the bad guys for walking away.

  18. I couldn’t agree more. I love classic simpsons, and to me, to watch new episodes is so depressing. How can matt greoning keep doing this to his most loyal fans?

  19. I’m 30 and have watched The Simpsons since season one. I’ll be devastated of the show is cancelled.

    • Totally with you on this one Angel, and I dont agreed at all that the Simpsons has been a sub standard show since the late 90′s!! If any of you who are slating the show can find a better family show on TV even after 23 seasons you would be lying. This show has made Fox billions of dollars and now they are going to axe it?? Murdoch should be ashamed of himself, perhaps he should bug and hack the voice actors phones to see what he can offer them to stay on.

  20. I would love to see it go out on the 25th season.

  21. Also, I was born the month after it premiered, so I count my life in terms of Simpson’s seasons rather than years.

  22. The animation kingdom is in ruins. I love classic cartoons that are just fun and simple (such as Yogi Bear, Scooby-Doo, the Smurfs and others).

  23. I don’t see why the guy who wrote this article didn’t think season 8 was as good as seasons 2-7. It might be the best season of any TV show I’ve ever seen. It had two of my favorite episodes ever (“You Only Move Twice” and “Homer’s Enemy”) and so many more awesome episodes like the one where Bart worked at the burlesque house, Lisa dating Nelson, Franders’ house blowing down by a hurricane, Marge’s pretzel business, the British nanny, Homer as Poochie, beer ban in Springfield, Skinner Krabappel begin dating, Bart and Lisa is military school and so many others. The best Simpsons season ever.

    • Well, it’s definitely not the best Simpsons season ever (in my opinion), but if you look above, you’ll see that I mixed up season 8 with season 9. I’ve changed the article to reflect that. I love season 8 just like you, man.

  24. What would be the best season, like a must have?

    • Season six might be my all-time “favorite,” but four and five are probably just as “good.”

  25. Totally random, but I think that the best episode they’ve done lately was “To Surveil with Love”

  26. The Simpsons have and are a great show! If it ends, I’ll be very upset! If you look at old episodes (especially Season 1), the plots were simple,everything was realistic (which stop at around Season 5) and the humour pales in comparison to more modern shows (Starting at 5 again) I say the Simpsons are going to keep going, at least until Matt Greoning dies, I say they’re not going to do this and if they do, I’ll… do something that matters!

  27. The Simpsons still airing new episodes is news to me, I swear i thought it ended when the movie came out.

  28. All of you guys that say it should be cancelled SUCK!!
    True, the new episodes are as good as the old ones but that
    doesn’t mean it should be cancelled! A big part of what make
    The Simpsons so awesome, is that it’s been on so long!!
    And The Simpsons is in nooooo way trying to be like family guy!
    family guy sucks and should be cancelled!!

  29. No way! Simpsons are still awesome. It’s not the same as it was back in the 90′s it’s morphed into something else, but is still enjoyable. The only show that needs to go is Family Guy. That show has stayed way past it’s welcome and just feels stale. Least Simpsons moved into a different type of set up. Family guy just gotten old. More room for Bobs burgars that way!