The reports of The Simpsons‘ imminent death were once again greatly exaggerated. It happens during every cast renegotiation — the voice actors and the producing studio 20th Century Fox TV go through a very public standoff, triggering a slew of headlines about the certain end of the beloved animated series, before the two sides ultimately reach an agreement. This seems to be the case again this time as people close to the negotiations are optimistic that there would be new contacts with the the cast that will seal The Simpsons’ renewal by Fox for a 24th and possibly 25th season. The deals are not done and may or may not close today as talks continue, but it looks like the actors would return with a pay cut in the 30% range they offered the studio but sans the lucrative back-end participation they were seeking. One of the cast members, Harry Shearer, even proposed to take a pay cut of more than 70% in exchange for points on the show, but I hear that the option of giving the actors any profit participation was a non-starter for the studio.
Until now, the voice cast of Fox’s animated comedy The Simpsons had not addressed publicly the ongoing salary dispute with producer 20th Century Fox TV, which threatens to end the run of the veteran series. This morning, co-star Harry Shearer, who voices several supporting characters on the show, broke the silence with a statement that explains the actors’ position in the contract negotiations and discusses a failed attempt by his representatives to reach a deal with the studio that involves a dramatic salary cut (more than 70%) in exchange for profit participation. (The Simpsons actors are currently making $400,000 an episode, 20th TV has been pushing for a 45% pay reduction.) The latest deadline for reaching an agreement between the studio and the actors is today, though the two sides had extended the process past previous deadlines. Here is Shearer’s statement:
For many years now, the cast of “The Simpsons” has been trying to get Fox to agree that, like so many other people who’ve contributed significantly to the show’s success, we be allowed a tiny share of the billions of dollars in profits the show has earned. Fox has consistently refused to even consider the matter. Instead, it’s paid us salaries that, while ridiculous by any normal standard, pale in comparison to what the show’s profit participants have been taking home.
Now, as the show enters its twenty-third season, we are engaged in what will probably be our last
Here is a trailer for Harry Shearer’s The Big Uneasy, the scathing documentary that plays one night only in 150 theaters on Monday, August 30. It certainly puts a different spin on the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the notion that the death toll could squarely be blamed on a natural disaster.
Harry Shearer is best known for his iconic comic work in The Simpsons and This is Spinal Tap. His documentary directing debut, The Big Uneasy, is the least funny film I’ve seen in a long time. In it, Shearer demystifies the reasons that the levees failed and 1800 people died when Hurricane Katrina pounded the coast line. Shearer’s film, a damning indictment of old and new decisions made by money-motivated politicians and the Army Corps of Engineers, will be bared in a one-night-only showing in 150 theaters this Monday (Aug 30th) to commemorate Katrina’s fifth anniversary.
A New Orleans resident, Shearer financed, wrote and produced a film which doesn’t show a single shot of a flood-stranded unfortunate standing atop a roof awaiting rescue. That story of human suffering has been covered by Spike Lee and others. Just as alarming is Shearer’s focus on the engineering problems that caused water to funnel in and knock down concrete walls. Also biting is the high career price paid by experts who investigated and criticized the decisions made by the Army Corps of Engineers, which authorized the spending of billions of dollars to develop a system that could withstand future hurricanes. Shearer is unconvinced the fortified barriers will do the job.
Why make a movie that is so out of character?
“This was really forced on me when President Obama came last October and referred to what happened as a natural disaster,” Shearer told me. “The moment …