* Deal follows Fox requests for hefty actors' pay cuts
* Satirical series is longest-running TV comedy
By Jill Serjeant
LOS ANGELES, Oct 7 Fox Television said on
Friday it had renewed animated TV series "The Simpsons" for
another two seasons after settling a pay stand-off that had
threatened to end the satirical parody of working-class
"Fox has renewed 'The Simpsons,' the longest-running comedy
in television history, for an incredible 24th and 25th season,"
the network said in a statement.
Fox Television, a unit of News Corp , said earlier
this week that it could no longer afford to keep producing the
show without the main voice actors taking a hefty cut in their
$8 million annual salary.
The actors said Fox wanted a 45 percent reduction. They
offered 30 percent cut in return for a share of billions of
dollars generated by the show in worldwide licensing,
syndication and merchandising.
Fox declined to give details of the new contract but a
spokesman said the network was "thrilled" to have reached a
deal. "We are all very happy with the result," the spokesman
Hollywood industry website The Wrap, citing a person close
to the negotiations, said the final deal for the actors "was
immeasurably improved from what Fox's initial offer was."
The tale of doughnut-loving Homer Simpson and his
dysfunctional, yellow-faced family was launched on Fox in 1989,
and helped establish the fledgling network as a major player in
the TV industry.
It is now broadcast in more than 100 countries and 50
languages. But U.S. audiences have dropped off steadily in
recent years. The show is currently watched by about 7.1
million Americans, down from an average 12.4 million 10 years
ago, according to ratings data.
It has won 27 Emmy Awards and boasted a guest star list
that is a Who's Who of pop culture, ranging from actress
Elizabeth Taylor to astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Playboy founder Hugh
Hefner, rock star Mick Jagger, and even News Corp founder
The family from the fictional city of Springfield has a
star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, and Homer's catch-phrase
"D'oh" entered the Oxford English Dictionary in 2001.
But Andrew Wallenstein, television editor for Hollywood
trade paper Variety, said the comedy was no longer as fresh and
exciting as it once was.
"I don't think it has anywhere near the influence that it
used to," Wallenstein told Reuters.
"The very fact that the show has been around for so long
sort of works against it to some degree. After 23 years, you're
bound to fade into the woodwork, no matter how hilarious or
clever you are," said Wallenstein.
News Corp executives have said recently they are looking at
ways of making more money from the show in future from
syndication rights and other ventures.
"Whether it's channel, digital, ourselves, third parties,
it's a series unique in television, with a volume to it that is
unprecedented," News Corp Chief Operating Officer Case Carey
told an investors conference in September.