Threat averted: Fox renews 'Simpsons' for 2 years
Fans of "The Simpsons" can breathe a "d'oh!" of relief: The animated series was renewed Friday for two more seasons.
A contract dispute with the show's voice cast had threatened to end the series, but Fox announced it will air through seasons 24 and 25.
The animated series about the Simpson family, including dad Homer and his familiar "D'oh!" is TV's longest-running scripted nighttime series. In its announcement, the network gave Homer a celebratory quote: "Woo hoo! I outlasted Andy Rooney!"
Rooney retired from "60 Minutes" Sunday after 33 years with the CBS news magazine.
Negotiations over the future of "The Simpsons," which began its 23rd season last month, spilled out into the public. Twentieth Century Fox Television, which makes the show, said it couldn't continue without cutting costs and targeted the salaries of voice actors Harry Shearer, Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith and Hank Azaria.
Each actor makes a reported $8 million a year for their work on "The Simpsons," and Fox said the show could not continue without pay cuts. Earlier Friday, Shearer said producers demanded a 45 percent reduction.
The terms of the cast's new deal were not announced. The Hollywood Reporter, citing unidentified sources, said the actors accepted a 30 percent pay cut in the $440,000 they'd received for each of 22 episodes per season.
Shearer said he'd told producers he'd be willing to accept a 70 percent pay cut, but in return the actors wanted "a tiny share" of the billions of dollars in profits the show has earned through syndication and marketing. The show's creators, Matt Groening and James L. Brooks, have profit participation but the actors have been rebuffed in efforts to join them.
Shearer said his representatives were told that there were "simply no circumstances under which the network would consider allowing me or any of the actors to share in the show's success."
A spokesman for Twentieth Century Fox Television, Chris Alexander, said Friday he had no comment on Shearer's statement.
"We've had a great run and no one should feel sorry for any of us," said Shearer, who conceded that his salary was "ridiculous by any normal standard." ''But given how much joy the show has given so many people over the years — and given how many billions of dollars in profits News Corp. has earned and will earn from it — I find it hard to believe that this is Fox's final word on the subject."
News Corp. owns both the television studio and Fox network.
Questions were raised about whether Fox and the studio wanted the series to continue. The Daily Beast, which first reported the salary impasse, noted that the studio is locked into its current syndication deals while new episodes continue to be made. If the show were to be canceled, the studio could potentially make much more lucrative deals for use of the reruns.