"Simpsons" deadline for voice actors looms

Thu Oct 6, 2011 7:51pm EDT

Dan Castellaneta, the voice of Homer Simpson, signs a poster at the unveiling of the new ''The Simpsons'' U.S. postage stamps in Los Angeles May 7, 2009. REUTERS/Phil McCarten

Dan Castellaneta, the voice of Homer Simpson, signs a poster at the unveiling of the new ''The Simpsons'' U.S. postage stamps in Los Angeles May 7, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Phil McCarten

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NEW YORK (TheWrap.com) - With hours to go before a noon Friday deadline to decide whether they'll accept dramatic pay cuts, the "Simpsons" voice actors are still talking among themselves about how to respond.

"There's six different people and six different personalities," a person familiar with the actors' position told TheWrap on Thursday.

The actors have been asked to decide whether they will accept cuts from their present $440,000 per episode, each, down to $250,000 per episode, the amount the studio wants to pay them if the show continues past its current, twenty-third season. The actors offered last week to accept cuts to $300,000 per episode, in exchange for back-end payments they don't currently receive, but 20th Century Fox TV rejected the offer.

If the actors don't agree to accept pay cuts by noon Friday, the studio could decide to stop making new episodes of the show after its current season.

But the studio has already extended two past dates it set to resolve the salary issues, which could leave open the possibility that it will do so again, said the person familiar with the actors' positions. The person said the studio hasn't budged from offering the actors' $250,000 with no back end.

A studio rep did not immediately respond to requests for comment. But on Wednesday, a studio executive told TheWrap that new episodes of the show are no longer profitable for the network, and that Fox wants to pay 25 to 30 percent less for a twenty-fourth and final season.

The executive said many on the show have been asked to accept salary cuts, and that producers have already agreed to them, as they try to reduce the licensing fee that Fox pays to air the show.

The person familiar with the actors' position dismissed the idea that Fox wants no more than one more season as "pure spin" and a negotiating tactic. The person said the offer now on the table for the actors would include a guarantee of two more seasons and the option of a third.

TheWrap also reported Wednesday that, as ammunition in their salary dispute, the actors have commissioned a study estimating the show has made $1 billion in profits over its run. The study projected that the studio will eventually make about $2.9 billion from the show.

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