Could ‘Big Bang Theory’ Stars Get $1M an Episode?
The smash hit CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory is set to begin shooting its eighth season on July 30, but the show’s stars still haven’t completed their contract negotiations with the network, leaving the future of beloved nerds Leonard, Sheldon, Howard, and Raj, plus their neighbor Penny, uncertain.
The socially awkward physicists Sheldon and Leonard are played by Johnny Galecki and Jim Parsons, respectively, with Kaley Cuoco playing the dumb blonde wannabe actress Penny, who teaches her neighbors across the hall about the ways of life, socializing, and common sense. Howard (Simon Helberg) is a mechanical engineer and Raj (Kunal Nyyar) is an astrophysicist, both friends and coworkers of Sheldon and Leonard at Caltech.
Deadline reports that none of the five main characters on the show have deals with the studio Warner Bros. TV, as their contracts all expired at the end of last season. Deadline’s sources said that Warner Bros. and the actors are nowhere near reaching an agreement and have had little dialogue.
The show is due for an hourlong season premiere on September 22, which could still happen even if talks are stalled through Labor Day weekend, though the sources that spoke to Deadline said they don’t think Warner Bros. will push things that far, even though the studio has a reputation of going down to the wire. Deadline’s sources did say that things were beginning to show slight signs of improvement and that negotiations might start in the next week.
The last time the cast went through major negotiations was in 2010, and all five major cast members have changed representation since then, which could make conversations run differently than they did in 2010.
This spring, CBS announced that it had renewed the popular series for three more seasons in one go, meaning fans will get more Big Bang Theory through the 2016-2017 television season. Renewing a show for three seasons in one go is uncommon but not hugely surprising, given the ratings that The Big Bang Theory has gotten over the course of its seven seasons.
The show has been TV’s biggest comedy in terms of viewers since the 2010-2011 season and is currently the highest rated non-sports program for adults between the ages of 18 and 49. For the seventh season, the show gained an average of 19.79 million viewers.
Deadline said that during Season 7, Galecki, Parsons, and Cuoco made $350,000 per episode with a small stake in the series’ backend. Deadline speculated that given the massive success of the series, which has been estimated could make up to $3 billion for Warner Bros., the cast could command salaries of $1 million an episode in the eighth season and a larger share of the backend. The show is in syndication on TBS, where it has also gotten high ratings.
CBS is making a big bet that the show can retain its hit status through 10 seasons, especially since the stars are only going to keep demanding more money.
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