“I don’t think they’re giving you enough information, Dad.” – Lisa Simpson
“I’ll figure it out. I’m gonna use all the power of my brain.” – Homer Simpson
The NFL escaped from its lockout basically unscathed, the NBA is getting into serious crunch time with theirs, and now Zombie Simpsons has added its name to this year’s list of labor-management disputes between millionaires and billionaires. This morning, gossip and media columnist Lloyd Grove published an anonymously sourced article on The Daily Beast reporting that contract negotiations between FOX and the voice cast aren’t going well (thanks to Gran2 in comments). Let’s wade into the weeds of spin-tastic journalism:
Fox studio execs have occasionally threatened to replace uncooperative cast members with sound-alike actors. But for the first time in nearly a quarter century of haggling, the executives have insisted that if the cast doesn’t accept a draconian 45 percent pay cut, The Simpsons will die an abrupt death as a first-run series.
According to Grove’s anonymous “insider”, the threat here isn’t that they’ll continue the show with a new cast, it’s that they’ll just stop it at the end of the current production run. The article goes on to relate details of the negotiation, of which there are two actual pieces of information:
Sticking Point #1 – FOX is asking for a 45% salary cut, actors are offering 30%.
Sticking Point #2 – In exchange, the actors want a back end percentage. FOX doesn’t like that.
The rest of the article is mostly filler, including the widely reported but dubiously sourced claim that the six principle voice actors are currently making $8,000,000 per year (which is roughly $400,000 per episode). Headlined “Money Dispute May End ‘Simpsons’”, the story has already been linked on Jebus knows how many other sites (Google has it on Vulture, USA Today, Huffington Post, and The A.V. Club already, none of which I’m going to link because all of them just point back to the original article) and is currently eating the #Simpsons tag on Twitter.
So, what if anything does this new information mean? Until something more concrete comes along, the answer is “not much”. You will be seeing this story all over the place for the next week at least, but unless some more actual information bubbles to the surface it will be nothing but rehashed speculation, not unlike the recent “Simpsons channel” non-story. So if you’re reading something and all it does is link back to The Daily Beast, you can safely ignore it.
Whoever Grove’s source, they obviously have an interest in the negotiations, but we don’t even know if they’re labor or management so I wouldn’t put too much energy into analyzing either sticking point. Furthermore, there is no reason to believe that FOX wants to end the show. Their motives in keeping it on the air have been purely mercenary to this point, and nothing in Grove’s story indicates a change in attitude.
The bottom line is that while it is possible for a money dispute to finally get Zombie Simpsons off the air, we are a very long way from that happening. Especially considering that previous money disputes were all resolved to mutual financial benefit (if not quite always amicably), there is every reason to believe that this is a tempest in a teapot. Based on what we actually know, I’d say this article raises the chances of there not being a Season 24 from “less than 1%” to “slightly higher but still less than 1%”.
It is nice to see people talking about ending the show. The comments at the original article contain gems like this:
15 Minutes Ago
FOX, by keeping this show on the air through more than 10 unnecessary, astonishingly unfunny seasons, has continued to brutalize the legacy of this once-brilliant show. Hopefully this final blow will allow The Simpsons to rest in peace.
49 Minutes Ago
About time. This used to be the funniest show on TV but it hasn’t been very amusing for a loooong time. I gave it a chance last week and immediately turned it off after they did a Breakfast Club flashback joke that could have been stolen directly out of Family Guy.
But until there is real confirmation of this – as opposed to articles just linking the original and adding speculation – there isn’t (yet) much to see here.