The Simpsons facing cancellation after actors' pay dispute
THE Simpsons, the cult US cartoon series, is facing the axe after the actors who work on the show refused to accept a major pay cut.
The animated series has been a fixture of the schedules since 1989 and is in its 23rd season, making it one of the biggest success stories in television history and a cash cow for Fox Television.
However, a contract dispute threatens to bring the show to an end.
Executives at the network have reportedly said that the show will close down in the spring unless cast members take a 45 per cent pay cut.
Dan Castellaneta voices Homer Simpson, the family patriarch, with Julia Kavner as Marge and Nancy Cartwright as Bart. The actors also lend their voices to other characters in the show and are paid handsomely – each earning an estimated $8 million per year. Their proposal for a 30 per cent cut in exchange for a percentage of the show's profits from global syndication and merchandising has been turned down by Fox.
A show insider told the Daily Beast website: "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, but that's not good enough for Fox."
On Tuesday, 20th Century Fox TV stated. "23 seasons in, The Simpsons is as creatively vibrant as ever and beloved by millions around the world. We believe this brilliant series can and should continue, but we cannot produce future seasons under its current financial model.
"We are hopeful that we can reach an agreement with the voice cast that allows The Simpsons to go on entertaining audiences with original episodes for many years to come."
The Simpsons was devised by Matt Groening, who took just 15 minutes to sketch the characters and named them after members of his own family.
They made their debut in a series of short animated features in The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987 and were granted their own series two years later.
Groening once said: "One of the great things about animation is that your characters don't have to age. Bart's had his 10th birthday on the show three times already."