This week, fans of two popular shows were saddened to learn that the current seasons of their favorite shows could be the last. Because of financial problems, both "The Simpsons" and "Dexter" might not be back for another season.
Negotiations stalled between Showtime and Michael C. Hall this week over the salary the "Dexter" star would net for the next two seasons (Seasons 7 and 8). Hall reportedly wants $24 million for both seasons, with the network counter-offering $20 million.
Meanwhile, Fox is dealing with "Simpsons"-related money problems. The current 23rd season of the show could be the last if the cast refuses to accept "a draconian 45-percent pay cut." Complicating matters is the fact that Fox stands to make $750 million in additional syndication fees if the show ends.
It's a complicated truth of television: the longer a show goes on, the higher the salaries get. And the higher the salaries, the more strain on the budget of the show. With shows like "Dexter" and "The Simpsons" already in trouble, what other programs might soon face financial woes?
The pilot episode alone cost a reported $10-20 million. And that's not even including the other episodes, which are budgeted at $4 million each.
Assuming the show can even get enough fans to get a renewal for a new season, the budget is already very high. Whether it's because of the financial demands of the human actors in future seasons or the demands of the people who animate the CGI dinosaurs, this show could face all kinds of crippling financial issues.
"Two and a Half Men"
The first episode of this show that featured Ashton Kutcher received great ratings. According to The AV Club, the show's most recent episode garnered eight million fewer eyeballs than the season premiere. Despite that drop in ratings, it's still the number one show on TV right now, which befits Kutcher's high salary.
But if the actors want a bigger pay raise for future seasons while ratings also continue to drop, the show could face cancellation. It's a long shot at this point, but by the time that "half man" is full-grown, it could be contract re-negotiation time.
"The Big Bang Theory"
Most of the cast of this show were relatively unknown when they were cast for Season 1. These days, it's one of the top shows on TV.
According to a 2010 report from Screen Crave, "Originally the core cast members Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, and Kaley Cuoco were earning a mere $60,000 per episode each season. Now, sources confirm that they'll each receive $200,000, a number that will climb by another $50,000 each year for the next three (presumed) seasons of the show."
But if ratings are still high, the show could keep going even longer...as long as the actors don't ask for a pay bump that is too high.
Concluding Thoughts and Other Shows
According to a recent article about the highest-paid actors on TV, "Mark Harmon makes half a mil for each episode of 'NCIS.' Mariska Hargitay is the highest-paid female, earning $395,000 for each episode of 'Law & Order: SVU,' with 'CSI's Marg Helgenberger not far behind at $375,000."
With such high salaries, if these long-running shows begin to lose viewers, execs might not be willing to keep shelling out big bucks for future seasons. To last as long as "The Simpsons," the stars of these shows must be willing to stay at their current salaries.
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