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Simpsons Actors on Strike 519

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the but-we-need-them-to-live dept.
ameoba writes "The next season of The Simpsons is in doubt as the voice talent is on strike due to a pay dispute. Fifteen seasons of some of the greatest prime-time TV around seems worth the money to me. ."
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Simpsons Actors on Strike

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  • quote (Score:5, Funny)

    by matt4077 (581118) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @11:18AM (#8755620) Homepage
    "In this production, we obey the laws of capitalism"
    • Re:quote (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bluelantern (664962) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @12:56PM (#8756194)
      Let's think about this. Do they? They estimate that Simpsons merchandising and syndication value is 1 billion. They earned 30k per episode for the first ten years and 125k per episode for the last five. That's 660k(10)+2.75m(5)=13.875m+6.6m=20.475m per actor for the last 15 years. At 6 actors, that's around 120m FOX has paid out with these actors having helped generated a billion dollars in value. Say the animation costs and writing costs are double this, which they probably are not since animators and writers are paid relatively poorly, then the total cost of production is 360m for FOX with an asset worth 1 billion. Out of all the players in the production only the voice actors have any bargaining chips. All the other people are even more easily replaceable. The market value of their services is clearly more than they are getting paid, so they should fight for more.

      This is not an issue of they already get paid enough. If they don't get paid the money, it doesn't stay in the consumer's pocket, it stays in FOX's pocket. FOX by refusing to pay is being just as greedy if not more than the voice-actors.
      • Re:quote (Score:5, Insightful)

        by matt4077 (581118) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @01:17PM (#8756320) Homepage
        well, but the 1 billion value is not what fox earned with the simpsons in the past, it's merely its current market value if they were gonna sell it to cnn.
        The figure you want to calculate with is (TOTAL REVENUE OF ADVERTISING + 1 BILLION) - (TOTAL COSTS OF PRODUCTION + VALUE OF AIRTIME).
      • Re:quote (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Golias (176380) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @03:08PM (#8757015)
        Boo fucking hoo.

        How much did the writers, the real geniuses behind all 15 years of laughs, get paid over that same 15 years. Apart from Matt Groening himself, I bet it was a hell of a lot less than $20 Million dollars each.

        The core cast of the Simpsons are just homely-looking actors who were capable of doing funny voices. They are a remarkably talented voice cast, but that's all they are. They don't even ever appear on camera.

        Did you know that, for large chucks of The Muppet Show and the associated movies, Kermit was actually being voiced by Jim Henson's understudy? If nobody could tell the difference then, what makes you think these people are so damned impossible to replace? Watch season 1 again and then watch a new episode. The Simpsons already sound different from how they originally sounded, especially Marge and Homer, even without changing cast members.

        They signed the contracts they signed. Work at the rate you signed for, or leave. It pisses me off when millionaire entertainers and athletes say they are going on "strike." News flash guys: You are not exploited steel workers. You are pampered millionaires. Get over yourselves.

        • Re:quote (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Wateshay (122749) <{bill.nagel} {at} {gmail.com}> on Saturday April 03, 2004 @03:41PM (#8757211) Homepage Journal
          Work at the rate you signed for, or leave.

          They have worked at the rate they signed for. Now it's time to sign again, and they've decided they want more money. I don't want to see the Simpsons go off the air any more than you do, but they still have the right to negotiate for more money when it comes time to sign a new contract. It pisses me off when people that entertainers or athletes make so much money that they no longer have the right to bargain with their employers (who, in many cases, make a whole lot more money than the actor or athlete). Sometimes, entertainers or athletes who go on strike are being stupid, because they end up destroying their livelihood in the process of trying to get more money. In this case, though, I think the Simpsons voice actors see a show that may not last too much longer, and they're just trying to get what they can before it goes away (remember, for a lot of them, this may be the last significant job they ever have).
          • Re:quote (Score:5, Insightful)

            by God! Awful 2 (631283) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @06:48PM (#8758314) Journal
            It pisses me off when people that entertainers or athletes make so much money that they no longer have the right to bargain with their employers

            Well, it pisses me off when atheletes get together and decide that they deserve so much money that half the teams in the league will go bankrupt. Remember, this is collective bargaining, not pure capitalism.

            Likewise, with the Simpsons. Not all the voice actors are worth the same amount of money, and any one of them could probably be replaced (how many people out there can do Simpsons impressions). But if they all hold out at the same time and ask for the same amount of money then the show is probably toast.

            remember, for a lot of them, this may be the last significant job they ever have

            Yeah right. No one's every going to hire Hank Azaria again. Poor, poor millionaires.

            -a
      • Seems pretty funny (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Aexia (517457)
        looking at the responses.

        Typically, readers will be complaining about how the members of the RIAA rarely pay its fair share to music artists.

        How is this any different than if they were an enourmously succesful rock band? If band members wanted more than just a small percentage of what their publisher was making, would slashdotters tell them to "Get over it!" and "Get used to it!"
        • by Golias (176380) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @06:18PM (#8758162)
          How is this any different than if they were an enourmously succesful rock band?

          The difference is that most of the top rock acts are the actual creators of the work. In the case of the Simpsons cast, we are talking about people who stand in a sound-proof room and read scripts. The real creators are the writers. I say, get the best writers you can find, and give the millions to them.

          Old Alfred was right, actors are cattle.

          I don't watch "The Simpsons" for the magnificent voice acting of Nancy Cartwright. She's just some chick who could sound like a young boy who was available cheap when "The Tracy Ullman Show" was looking for somebody cheap to voice their interstitial cartoons.

          After all, the best voice actor on the whole show has been dead for several years now. (Rest in peace, Phil. Rest in peace.)

          • by TaoJones (10412) on Sunday April 04, 2004 @05:22AM (#8760580)
            Old Alfred was right, actors are cattle.

            To clarify a frequent misquote (in his own words no less):
            "I didn't say actors are cattle. What I said was, actors should be treated like cattle."

            Alfred Hitchcock

            More Cocky quotes. [itesm.mx] In a way it's a shame Cocky will be remembered as a cinematographical genius in the horror genre, and not as a comedic smartass who made scary movies.


            Twain, Dahl, Hitchcock, Bierce - what is serious and what is farce?

            Talk about...

            BaDaBoom boom

            Talk about...

            Appy-polly-loggies to M on that one :)

  • Don't die (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chris-johnson (45745) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @11:18AM (#8755621) Homepage Journal
    It would really suck for the Simpsons to disappear, like so many other great cartoons (e.g., Family Guy & Futurama) because of Fox's short-sight
    • Re:Don't die (Score:5, Interesting)

      by zerv (766793) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @11:24AM (#8755654)
      There may still be hope [usatoday.com] for the family guy.
    • by Hogwash McFly (678207) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @11:51AM (#8755815)
      Let's face it, The Simpsons is not what it used to be and I can not see it going anywhere but down in the future. You just can't keep thinking up episode ideas forever. Groening should let the show die on a mid-high note, I mean, it has had a pretty long innings after all.

      What I would love to see is a present day alternative to The Simpsons - new town, new characters, new voice actors (that would be willing to work for a 'paltry' salary per episode) As an extra project for Groening, Futurama was/is abosultely great, it's a shame it was a bit too hardcore for the mainstream audience. A new animated show could feature a similar family or maybe focus around something else, like a group of work colleagues or room mates. Retain the trademark animation styles - yellow skin et al - and you have a clean slate to work with. Obviously, it might take a while for people to warm to it, but The Simpsons was not exactly a multi million dollar franchise overnight.

      Any budding writers got any ideas for 'The Next Simpsons'?
      • by EulerX07 (314098) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @01:16PM (#8756316)
        Let's face it, The Simpsons is not what it used to be and I can not see it going anywhere but down in the future. You just can't keep thinking up episode ideas forever.

        Comments like these have been flying around for the last 10 years about the simpsons, and countless great episodes have been made since. Your problem is that you remember the good ones from the early seasons, and not the bad ones. So when you see an average one air you go : "It's not as funny as the first Sideshow Bob episode! Simpsons is dying".
        • by squiggleslash (241428) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @01:27PM (#8756367) Homepage Journal
          In all honesty, just over three years ago I was watching every new episode, and enjoyed pretty much every one, and genuinely looked forward to every show. Then they must have switched producer or something because the shows since took on an entirely different tone and were just not funny. They were "crude" (not Family Guy crude, more Mad TV crude - every joke was bored and lifeless. The stories didn't hang together. Insightful observations were replaced with crude political stereotypes - what the hell happened to Lisa? She used to be a bright kid who happened to have humanistic beliefs as a result of her thoughtfulness, now she is just a mindless follower of "left wing" fads)

          It's more obvious during the re-runs (Fox here shows them at 6pm) - if the episodes are recent, they suck. If they're not, they're generally pretty good.

          It's jumped the shark. It has potential - SNL has made enough come-backs to prove it's possible, but they're going to have to get in some fresh talent - or get back some of the matured talent they've discarded on the way.

    • I swear, Fox doesn't know good shows if they spanked 'em on their asses. Fox constantly pre-empts the Simpsons for all kinds of crap. It's gotten to the point where only about 1/2 of the time I turn to Fox on a Sunday night a 8 I'm actually going to see the Simpsons. Yet the midget wedding show was right on time; and all their other wedding crap shows right on time. If Fox doesn't want the simpsons, they should sell it. From the way they treat it, it would seem they don't want it.
  • could the fans help (Score:2, Interesting)

    by isbhod (556556)
    seeing how fans have help to save Family Guy, even pitched in money to save FarScape (if even for only episode) and even FireFly, might it be possible to "pass the hat around" to give these people who have entertained us so much a little something back?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Huh? They make how much. That's right they make MILLIONS a year.

      How much does an avarage person make, NOT EVEN CLOSE TO THAT. Why the hell do you want to reward the greed of some washed up voice actors (Let's face it Simpsons ain't what they used to be).

      Man, I'd rather feed the poor and hungry or something, but that's just me.
      • by ScottGant (642590) <{TONten.labolgcbs} {ta} {tnag_ttocs}> on Saturday April 03, 2004 @11:54AM (#8755831) Homepage
        So what you're saying is, that even though Fox is making even more millions a year from just advertisements, not to mention syndication and DVD's, marketing of merchandise that the actors that do the voices (many doing multiple voices) should just be making what the average person makes? Sure, that seems fair.

        I was going to ask you how much money you donate of your income to feed the poor and hungry...but since you decided to hide behind an Anonymous Coward post, I couldn't.
    • by Hamhock (73572) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @11:28AM (#8755676)
      Please tell me that this is supposed to be funny. These guys make more in a half hour (6-8 hours of real work according to one of the articles) then I do 2 1/2 years. Not to mention the residuals they get from syndication, which I'm sure add up to a pretty penny. I think $125,000 an episode is plenty back.
      • by Flammon (4726) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @12:29PM (#8756027) Homepage Journal
        I think $125,000 an episode is plenty back.
        You're comparing the amount of money that you make to the amount that the actors make. That doesn't make any sense. Instead, compare what the actors make to the amount the show makes and you'll begin to see who the greedy ones really are.
    • Or Homer could have the Barney Rubble voice change
    • Fan campaigns work. www.watchfarscape.com is evidence of that. We have a 4 hour mini-series of Farscape on the way, and our show was already completely cancelled when we got it. If Simpsons fans want to save the show from cancellation, I believe they can.
    • yes, we should help the poor voice ctor who are makin a measly 160k per epsiode.

      I swear I saw Castenaletta holding a 'will do voices for food sign'

      yes, I butchered the name.
  • A thought. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Liselle (684663) * <slashdot.liselle@net> on Saturday April 03, 2004 @11:20AM (#8755624) Journal
    I wish I had their problems, only earning enough money to buy a small house every time I did a voice-over for a single episode. This strikes me in the same way that it did when I heard about the lead in The Sopranos grousing for more money, too. I understand about wanting a fair share of the pie, but where does it cross over into greed?

    Dan Castellaneta is the voice of Homer but he is clearly no mug. Along with his five colleagues he believes the $125,000 he earns for each 30-minute episode does not reflect the true value of the characters.
    The six core cast members are now demanding $360,000 (194,000) an episode or $8 million (4.3 million) for a 22-episode season, according to insiders.
    *gag*
    • Re:A thought. (Score:5, Informative)

      by (eternal_software) (233207) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @11:28AM (#8755678)
      And keep in mind, they did this previously. Back in 1998, they thought that $30,000 an episode wasn't enough, so they got raised to $125,000 PER EPISODE.

      Apparently, that isn't enough money to get by on these days.
      • Re:A thought. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Uruk (4907) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @02:37PM (#8756812)
        The amount of money it takes to get by is irrelevant. These voice actors are essentially partners in a business venture with Fox. Their increasing demands shouldn't be framed as "I need this much money to get by". It's more like this - when actors of any type ask for increases like this, it reflects the fact that they know Fox is making more money than ever on the show, and they'd like to share in the growing wealth that the show produces. I wouldn't be suprised if they modeled what they were asking on based off of a percentage of total revenues from the show.

        To say that these guys shouldn't ask for a raise is like saying that they're simply paid help. They're not. They're the life of the show. If fox manages to shoot the golden goose and refuse their demands, the show will go on with new voice actors, but the show will likely be a shadow of itself.

        These actors aren't stupid. They aren't going to ask for a salary that they know would cause Fox to lose money, since if they did so, Fox would be guaranteed to reject their offer. Looks to me like the simpson's overall take has increased, and te actors are just requesting their fair share. I don't see any problem with that.

    • Re:A thought. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Mr2cents (323101) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @11:29AM (#8755682)
      he believes the $125,000 he earns for each 30-minute episode does not reflect the true value of the characters.

      it only represents the true value of the voice?
    • Re:A thought. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by czion3 (612261)
      You forget how much money The Simpsons takes in. The Simpsons is the show that put Fox on the map. The biggest reason why the show is a sucsess is because of the dialog. I DO think the actors are worth 360,000 to Fox.
      • Re:A thought. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by JordanH (75307)
        • The biggest reason why the show is a sucsess is because of the dialog.

        I would think the writers have a lot to do with how good the dialog is. I wonder what they get paid.

        On the other hand, it's probably easier to find clever writers than it is to replace voice talent and not upset viewers (or should I say listeners?) by the change.

        I also wonder what Matt Groening makes per episode. Does he do any of the writing?

    • Re:A thought. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by GoofyBoy (44399) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @11:33AM (#8755706) Journal
      >I understand about wanting a fair share of the pie, but where does it cross over into greed?

      Is it greed because its a large absolute dollar value or becuase its a large dollar value compaired to what the producers/network make from the Simpsons?

      Why is it greedy to ask for more money? Just because they can ask or just because someone says "Thats enough for you"?
      • Re:A thought. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Liselle (684663) * <slashdot.liselle@net> on Saturday April 03, 2004 @11:56AM (#8755837) Journal
        Is it greed because its a large absolute dollar value or becuase its a large dollar value compaired to what the producers/network make from the Simpsons?
        That's a fair question. But if the writers of the Simpsons all went on strike (and let's face it, the writing is the heart and soul a comedy like the Simpsons), you can replace writers. You can't get rid of the voice actors without killing a part of your show. I can't shake the feeling that these people are getting paid a lot solely because they are associated directly with the characters, not because voice talent is hard to come by.

        It's not greedy to ask more money if you deserve it. My question, which you answered with four more questions, was whether they deserved the piece of the pie they demanded, or whether they were just using the celebrity of the characters they played to blackmail Fox (note: this is not to suggest Fox is not evil).
        • Re:A thought. (Score:3, Insightful)

          by espo812 (261758)

          You can't get rid of the voice actors without killing a part of your show. [...] It's not greedy to ask more money if you deserve it.

          If the supply of an acceptable voice is only 1 and the demand is infinate the cost of that voice is going to be very high. Essentially, it's a monopoly (which you call blackmail) for the voices.

          Fox has options: they can pay what the voice actors want (which will lower profits, but keep the show at the same quality and retain viewers) or not pay what the voice actors want a

        • I can't shake the feeling that these people are getting paid a lot solely because they are associated directly with the characters, not because voice talent is hard to come by.

          Part of me is inclined to agree, but then the other part of me realises that they've been doing this for more than 15 years. It's quite possibly a lot more of a tedious chore than it is interesting.

          They've identified a figure for which they'll be satisfied to put up with the job in future times, no matter how boring or frus

    • Ad Age says "The Simpsons" in 2003 earns FOX $296,440 per 30-sec ad or typical show will make Fox $3.5M (12 commerical slots 4 network slots). For the year that puts FOX at $77M. Forking over $48M to the voice talent may be a high percentage but FOX is still making a killing on it.

      Note: This back-of-the-napkin estimate doesn't include the gravitas that "The Simpsons" gives the network to slot the rest of it's Sunday lineup. Each of the follows shows should really be kicking 50% of their ads back to "The Simpsons" 'cause the lead-in is so huge.
      • I think voice talent getting half of the profits is a bit unfair. There are writers, producers, artists, all of which deserve a piece of that pie in addition to the fact that fox needs to show signifigant profit for it to be worth promoting. Voice talent in a cartoon is signifigantly less of a contribution to the final product then say acting on a TV series. That's just based on your numbers though. Often the publically released numbers can be somewhat misleading as to the actuall size and direction of
      • by Dun Malg (230075) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @12:26PM (#8756007) Homepage
        This back-of-the-napkin estimate doesn't include the gravitas that "The Simpsons" gives the network to slot the rest of it's Sunday lineup.

        This calculation is also absurdly low because they show each episode more than just once. You can't just count the commercials run during the first airing of an episode. There are re-runs and endless syndication. They're making a hell of a lot more than $77M a year off the show.

    • Re:A thought. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by superdude72 (322167)
      I wish I had their problems, only earning enough money to buy a small house every time I did a voice-over for a single episode.

      Why don't you ask Rupert Murdoch how much he makes from the Simpsons for every hour of work he puts into it?

      The show has earned over $1 billion for Fox. It will continue to run in syndication for god knows how long, earning billions more. The voice actors are simply exercising their market power, just as Fox does or WalMart does. I wish more workers were in as good a negotiating
    • Re:A thought. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MalachiConstant (553800) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @11:58AM (#8755846)
      I understand about wanting a fair share of the pie, but where does it cross over into greed?

      This is how I felt about sports celebrities and movie actors until I thought about it. They still may be greedy bastards, but maybe not.

      The increase would raise each actor's pay to $US8 million a series. The actors work an average of six to seven hours each episode. However, the cartoon is thought to be worth $US1 billion to its owner, Rupert Murdoch's 20th Century Fox.

      So the cartoon is worth $1 Billion and the actors want $48 Million a season, that's about 21% of the "worth" of the cartoon. That leaves 79% for the writing, production, profit, and all the other costs.

      I don't know if they're asking too much, but they don't sound so much like jerks when you see how much the executives at Fox are making off their talent.

    • Re:A thought. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sir_cello (634395) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @12:13PM (#8755937)

      It's not really greed though: the series is so successful that it makes a lot of money: if the money doesn't go back to the actors, then where does it go - to the producers/owners ? Even though the figures are extremely high, it's fair that the actors get their fair cut rather than the money going into the fat pockets of execs. Let the actors use that money to do something else: they may pursue some beneficial creative activity as a result.
    • Perspective (Score:4, Insightful)

      by igrp (732252) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @12:13PM (#8755938)
      You make a good point.

      $125k does sound like a pretty sweet deal, even if you take into consideration that it takes about two weeks to dub an episode (and that's not even considering the time to read the script, practice, etc.).

      However, if you really look at this from a different perspective, it's not really that much money, after all.
      Each one of the Friend's cast makes $1 million an episode (one season consists of 22-24 eps). On top of that, they retain certain marketing rights, are allowed to do ads and have been signed for a full-time motion picture.

      Now, NBC is actually loosing money. That's right - despite the fact that they've been desperately trying to get the cast to do yet another season (twice), been willing to go out of their way (rescheduled shootings, final season is shorter than usual) and that it's their #1 show, they're loosing money. And, this works out for NBC in the end because Friends can be endlessly rerun in syndication (hence, allowing NBC to recoup their losses several times over) and people will still watch it.

      I don't have any figures for The Simpsons but since it's been in Fox's prime-time lineup for years now I figure they're getting pretty good ratings. So, in comparision - with the Simpsons being a much-lower cost, yet still very profitable, show asking for a bigger share of the pie isn't all that outrageous, in my humble opinion.

  • New talent? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by aidanjpadden (314134) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @11:20AM (#8755625)
    OK, there are loads of people out there who can do good impressions of the Simpsons' characters and they threatened to use these last time - is it finally time they'll get rid of everyone and get new talent in there?

    I wish I could get this much cash for an hours work but being a male gigolo doesn't pay this well ;)
    • Re:New talent? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AGTiny (104967) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @11:22AM (#8755644)
      Oh my god I can't even begin to imagine how painful something like that would be to watch. Better to just kill the show than replace all the voice talent.
      • It would be hilarious to watch at least one episode with all the voice talent replaced with "distictive" character/voiceover actors all mis-cast into the classic roles.

        I see it now Michael Dorn as Homer..


    • Homer: You're thinking of all the other years. This year's shows are classic. There's "The Laughter Family" -- that's animated. Networks like animation 'cause they don't have to pay the actors squat!

      Ned: [voice slightly off] Plus, they can replace them, and no one can tell the diddley-ifference!
  • That's just ridiculous. I'm surprised they don't just get replacements for a fraction of that. I don't know how much longer the Simpsons will keep creaking along, but this seems like a pretty stupid time to go on strike.
    • maybe it doesn't matter to them?

      you see, when they've already had enough money to be 'set for life', maybe they don't really want to do it anyways. when in that kind of position they can play hardball without the risk of being exactly poor for the rest of their lives.

      besides, the money made from simpsons goes somewhere as well..
  • by GillBates0 (664202) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @11:20AM (#8755630) Homepage Journal
    Homer: Lisa, if you don't like your job you don't strike. You just go in every day and do it really half-assed. That's the American way. If you really want something in life you have to work for it. Now quiet, they're about to announce the lottery numbers.
  • by Gildor (40243) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @11:21AM (#8755632)
    Burns: Smithers, get me some strike breakers. The kind they had in the thirties.

    (Smithers brings in Grampa Simpson)

    Abe: We can't bust heads like we used to, but we have our ways. (grumbles of acknolwedgement from the strike breakers) One trick is to tell them stories that don't go anywhere. Like the time I caught the ferry over to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for my shoe, so I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time. Now to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on them! "Gimme five bees for a quarter," you'd say. Now, where was I? Oh yes. The important thing was that I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time. We didn't have white onions, because of The War. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones...
  • More like 12 great seasons. After seeing the recent episodes I really don't care too much if the show ends.
    • Re:actually... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ArmyOfFun (652320)
      I agree. I used to be a die hard Simpsons fan. I was so die hard that when I slowly stopped watching new episodes, I actually felt guilty. Like I was giving up on an old friend. But now, I just don't care, the show has lost almost all of the subtle humor that made it great (in my eyes).
  • by alman (86957)
    Just give them the Do'h
  • more money (Score:2, Funny)

    by Mr2cents (323101)
    Each cast member wants around 360,000 dollars per episode, or eight million dollars for the 22-episode season. That is up from the 125,000 dollars per episode each they have earned for the past three years, Variety said.

    They only get 125000$ per episode? How can you expect those people to live a decent life with that little money?!
    • while that's a lot more than you or I make, $125K is low for the standard of quality they represent.

      The Friends cast made $1 million per episode in this, their last season (and that's what, 8-9 seasons?). For being on the air for 14 seasons, and vieing for the longest running sitcom in history, $125K is cheating them. I can see their point.
      • Comparing live actors to voice-actors is a tricky thing. Sure, the Friends cast made a ton 'o cash per episode in contrast to the Simpsons crew, but think about the different levels of work involved. Live actors do everything voice actors do, that is speaking into a mic, plus quite a lot more. They actually have to be presentable for the screen - make up, wardrobe, hair - doing that every time you go to the studio is gonna get annoying. Harry Shearer could turn up to work looking like a bum, go into the
    • Really! At 22 episodes a season, they're just 21 paychecks away from being the "working stiffs" Jack Valenti [wikipedia.org] is always talking about.

    • Re:more money (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ljavelin (41345) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @12:05PM (#8755896)
      You gotta remember that the life of an actor (and especially voice talent) is a little different than a corporate job.

      In a corporate job, you usually have a position that lasts for many years - even decades. When work dries up, you can move to another corporate job. You receive benefits - health case, pension, etc.

      In the world of acting, the job is a lot more, um, chaotic. You can go without work for many years, and the years where you do work, you might make very little - certainly not enough to live on without taking a job as a waiter or something.

      If and when you do make it big, that can last from 2 months to a couple years tops. If you're super lucky, you might get a gig that pays well for 10 years - but that's very very rare.

      During those good times, you have to make enough to cover all the bad times. Plus, stuff like pensions and insurance is often something you have to cover yourself.

      Are they earning a lot of money? Yep. But they SHOULD be able to ask for more money. This is America, not the Middle East.
  • by pholower (739868) <longwoodtrail.yahoo@com> on Saturday April 03, 2004 @11:26AM (#8755659) Homepage Journal
    A lot of folks on the ole /. seem to think replacements and less money is okay. I would usually tend to agree. But the simple fact that there are so many people that know the simpsons and so many people that can hear the voice of the characters in their head when somebody says a famous line, to me, is all the more reason to pay these guys more.

    I think a lot of us forget that the simpson's, in many other's opinions is what saved fox. They are the reason Fox is still on today.

    Has the show gotten worse? No! It has only got better and wittier with time. They deserve every penny of the raise they are asking for.

    • Yeah, but how much of that is because of the voice actors? Its the WRITERS that should be getting paid hand over fist.
      • I agree with you on that, however, if the writer is good, they can land a job at another production. Voice actors are usually only good for one production. After that it is retirement. if you were one of the voice actors on the simpsons wouldn't you want as much money as you could get before the show went off air and you had to live off that money for the rest of your life?
    • Are you kidding me? The show today is a travesty of the comic genius it once was. Remember when Homer had a soul? When he was a man with emotions one could identify with, if only in caricature. Today he's as shallow as any contestant on reality tv. He exists only to engage in wacky antics and spout catch phrases.

      I will be glad to see the simpsons off the air. Each new episode only serves to dilute the show's legacy as the finest work of comic art of the 20th century.
  • Dough! (Score:5, Funny)

    by brejc8 (223089) * on Saturday April 03, 2004 @11:26AM (#8755660) Homepage Journal
    Five [scotsman.com] different [timesonline.co.uk] British [scotsman.com] news [independent.co.uk] papers [scotsman.com] with reporters all over the world all starying the story with "Dough!".
  • by fr0dicus (641320) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @11:26AM (#8755664) Journal
    They should strike to bring back futurama!

    *8D~

  • The Actors (Score:5, Informative)

    by cablepokerface (718716) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @11:27AM (#8755667)
    Cast overview, first billed only:
    Dan Castellaneta [imdb.com] .... Homer Simpson/Grampa/Barney Gumble/Krusty the Klown/Groundskeeper Willie/Mayor Quimby/Hans Moleman/Sideshow Mel/Others (voice)
    Julie Kavner [imdb.com] .... Marge Simpson/Patty Selma Bouvier/Others (voice)
    Nancy Cartwright [imdb.com] .... Bart Simpson/Nelson Muntz/Todd Flanders/Ralph Wiggum/Kearney/Others (voice)
    Yeardley Smith [imdb.com] .... Lisa Simpson (voice)
    Hank Azaria [imdb.com] .... Moe Szyslak/Chief Wiggum/Apu/Comic Book Guy/Cletus/Prof. Frink/Others (voice)
    Harry Shearer [imdb.com] .... Montgomery Burns/Waylon Smithers/Ned Flanders/Kent Brockman/Rev. Lovejoy/Principal Skinner/Dr. Hibbert/Rainer Wolfcastle/Others (voice)
    Marcia Wallace [imdb.com] .... Edna Krabappel (1990-) (voice)
    Phil Hartman [imdb.com] .... Lionel Hutz/Troy McClure (1991-1998) (voice)
    Tress MacNeille [imdb.com] .... Jimbo Jones/Agnes Skinner/Others (voice)
    Pamela Hayden [imdb.com] .... Milhouse Van Houten/Rod Flanders/Others (voice)
    Maggie Roswell [imdb.com] .... Maude Flanders/Helen Lovejoy/Others (1990-1999, 2002-) (voice)
    Russi Taylor [imdb.com] .... Martin Prince/Others (1990-) (voice)
    Doris Grau [imdb.com] .... Lunchlady Doris (1989-1996) (voice)
    Karl Wiedergott [imdb.com] .... Additional Voices (1998-) (voice)
    Marcia Mitzman Gaven [imdb.com] .... Maude Flanders/Helen Lovejoy/Others (1999-2002) (voice)
    • dump Yeardley and spread her paycheck around. she's only doing one voice and it's Lisa, who is incredibly annoying.
  • Replace the Writers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by OS24Ever (245667) * <trekkie@nomorestars.com> on Saturday April 03, 2004 @11:28AM (#8755674) Homepage Journal
    They need to replace the writers. This season as been pretty lackluster. I think it's jumped the shark at this point. Pretty disappointing. I've found myself shutting it off midway through most episodes this season which is sad really.

    I don't know if it was just the ads but the recent one for the re-run of Marge writing the romance novel had homer's bare ass fuzzed out. Hope that's not a boobie-gate reaction
    • It's been mentioned once before, but the Simpsons has not jumped the shark. The reason being that a lot of the humor in the episode is very subtle, and usually hard to catch the first time you see it.

      Take, for instance, the Angry Dad episode. That thing sucked. For whatever reaosn, I ended up watching it on a rerun last night. I laughed my ass off. I missed a lot of the jokes the first time around, and it was pretty funny.

      So, wait til the new season is on reruns, and you too will agree that it's stil
    • Oh its alright. [thecaustic...rigade.com]
    • I think it jumped the shark when Homer got assraped by a giant panda.
  • It never ceases to amaze me that we allow people who are paid millions to collectively strike. I mean come on your being paid for 1 day of work (ok maybe it even takes a month to prepare, but still) more then I get paid in a year... Maybe us high tech workers should start unionizing.. Oh wait, if that happened in our industry they'd probably just fire us and get new people or just go out of business. I've never figured out why out society is willing to pay huge amounts of money on entertainment. Sports s
  • by JoeBaldwin (727345) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @11:31AM (#8755698) Homepage Journal
    Dear Actors,

    FUCK OFF. We can find cheaper people who'll do the job half-assed for less money. What do you think this is, India? Nobody keeps their jobs here!

    Once again, fuck off.

    Your good friend and former employer
    Rupert Murdoch
    • The linked article is to google news, and that the first link on there is to this article on /. ?

      "Simpsons Actors on Strike
      Slashdot - 1 hour ago
      ameoba writes "The next season of The Simpsons is in doubt as the voice talent is on strike due to a pay dispute. Fifteen seasons ... "
  • Well... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rijrunner (263757) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @11:35AM (#8755724)
    Face it, for these actors, this is it. None of them are break-out stars. None have any real expectation of much of a career after this.

    Most actors are in a position of having one shot at making enough to live off of for the rest of their lives. There isn't any pension plan for most of them from their acting work.

    They don't get a large cut of the spin-off merchandizing as their images are not being used. And, it's hard to say what their cut is on the syndication, which is where the money is for the Simpsons.

    How many people out there would sit back in a situation where they have 10 years, or so, to make every penny they need to live on for the rest of their lives and then work at a base scale? Wouldn't most people try to maximize it? Face it, we're talking about Fox here. It isn't like any show is assurred renewal. Fox is raking more money off the canned shows with no new expenditure than on new shows and it's just a matter of time before the Simpson's gets axed for "Who Wants to Marry and American Idol Millionare on Temptation Island".

    In terms of greed, I put them a lot further down any list than a lot of people I knew in San Jose in 1997. And, these guys actually are producing something of value.
    • You might want to rethink that comment with <a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000279/">Hank Azeria</a> in there.
    • How many people out there would sit back in a situation where they have 10 years, or so, to make every penny they need to live on for the rest of their lives and then work at a base scale?

      at 125 grand an episode, they make about 3 times PER EP what my parents make in a YEAR. That in and of itself I have no problem with. Thems the breaks or whatever.

      But to make it sound like on that salary its impossible to save enough money to live on for a while is ridiculous.
    • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by W1BMW (462297) <W1BMW@drzi[ ]om ['m.c' in gap]> on Saturday April 03, 2004 @12:02PM (#8755882) Homepage

      "Face it, for these actors, this is it. None of them are break-out stars. None have any real expectation of much of a career after this."

      Are you serious? Take a look up a few comments to the IMDB links for any of these actors or go search it yourself. While they may not be Tom Cruise or Catherine Zeta Jones's, none of these people are sitting around idle. Hank Azaria & Harry Shearer have done quite well for themselves either writing, producing, or working as character actors, and Dan Castellenta & Nancy Cartwright have been (and still are) prolific voiceover talents. Hell, even Lunch Lady Doris has been working in the industry since the mid 60's.

      I'm all for them getting a bigger piece of the pie, but don't try to tell us that 'this is it' for these guys.

      I'll wager they can expect much more of a career after this than most /. readers. :)

  • by holden caufield (111364) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @11:37AM (#8755730)
    Remember the last time there was a dispute over voice talend money? Maude Flanders paid dearly for it.

    http://www.snpp.com/other/articles/actordisputes .h tml

    And that was over plane tickets...who knows what Fox might do now?
  • According to the Hollywood trade paper Variety, the dispute centres on a demand by each of the actors that they be paid $360,000 (194,000) an episode instead of their current $125,000.

    The increase would see each of them receive $8m a series. The actors work an average of six to seven hours each per episode.


    To hell with them. Outsource their voices to India if they can't get by on a measly $20k/hour--I'm sure plenty of people could do Apu!
  • Unprofitable? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by phpm0nkey (768038) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @11:48AM (#8755801) Homepage
    Troy McClure: Yes, the Simpsons have come a long way since an old drunk made humans out of his rabbit characters to pay off his gambling debts. Who knows what adventures they'll have between now and the time the show becomes unprofitable?

    Forty-eight million dollars a season, for six voice actors? Give me a break. Their entire work-week is driving to a studio, and talking for three hours on a Saturday afternoon. Given the quality of today's episodes, $360,000 each is just unreasonable.

    It's time for FOX to take a chance, and let another cartoon step up to the coveted 8PM Sunday night timeslot. My vote would be for Family Guy. They shafted it last time by moving it to a bad timeslot, and now, with The X-Files gone and The Simpsons waning, FOX's prime real estate is opening up again.

    Currently, the 22 new episodes in production [businesswire.com] are set to run only on Adult Swim. If Family Guy DVD sales are any indication, this is a poor move for FOX. I think their viewers are ready for the kind of edgy, creative humor that The Simpsons just hasn't provided in years.
    • It's time for FOX to take a chance,

      THATS RIGHT! It is about time that Fox take a chance and finally announces a new hit series, "When [_____] Attack!"

      [ ] Bears
      [ ] Wild Animals
      [ ] Criminals
      [ ] Police
      [ ] Naked Women
      [ ] Politicians
      [ ] Tonya Harding

      It will good to finally get some quality television again!

  • and milk the syndication for ever... with all those episodes already in the can then there's no need to keep making them... The Beeb did it to the tellytubbies...
  • by Channard (693317) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @11:58AM (#8755850) Journal
    Not just because Fox have cancelled series at the drop of a hat, either. They've also got enough Simpsons episodes to keep them in repeats for years. Sky One shows a new episode on average once every two months. Plus, they had no qualms about dealing with the woman who played Maude Simpsons after she made too many demands. Granted, it's unlikely they'd off the characters - The Flanders Show, anyone - but it shows they're not going to put up with nor do they need to put up with these tactics.
  • Audio editing, baby! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FattMattP (86246) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @12:05PM (#8755892) Homepage
    There's so much Simpson's vocals recorded that you could make the entire new season just by editing the appropriate vocal parts of the other seasons together. An experienced and talented editor can make it unnoticable.
  • Why don't they just just get actors in India to do the voices? Everything else is going over there. They have Bollywood too so they have the facilities to do voice-overs.
  • Timeline? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dancingmad (128588) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @12:11PM (#8755924)
    "The next season of The Simpsons is in doubt as the voice talent is on strike due to a pay dispute. Fifteen seasons of some of the greatest prime-time TV around seems worth the money to me. ."

    Don't you mean 6 and a half seasons of the greatest prime-time TV around?

    Or as we lovingly refer to it, the Pax Simpsona.
  • by kingrat (25475) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @12:18PM (#8755969) Journal
    ...how much _profit_ does a popular show like this generate for a network? (not counting syndication or merchandising - just first run shows and repeats on the network) Tens of millions? Hundreds of millions? Or is it one of those "lets take a loss on this show, and make more moola off a less popular show"

    Someone here mentioned that if all the actors were paid what they are asking for, its to the tune of ~$48 mil. Is that enough to hurt Fox or are they just tightwads?

  • Consider both sides (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mst76 (629405) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @01:15PM (#8756311)
    Many people have posted that the Simpsons made Fox gazillions per year, so it's only fair that they get a share of the pie. That the Simpsons essentially saved Fox and that they were (at least partially) responsible for that. But also consider that Fox and the Simpsons are what made them stars in the first place. If the other posters are right, they would have made at least $10M in the last five years. If they didn't make too many stupid decisions, they can retire anytime they like. Where would they have been without Fox and the Simpsons?

The two most common things in the Universe are hydrogen and stupidity. -- Harlan Ellison

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