Thursday, July 31, 2014

More Buck For The Bang

Though The Big Bang Theory is supposed to be in production already, there's been a delay as the five main actors--Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar--are still negotiating their contracts.  It's an interesting inversion of the norm.

For most actors, even working ones, getting any job is great, and they're not going to argue too much about the money--guild minimum, in fact, will usually do, unless they have a name and a quote.  But if lightning strikes, and they're on a hit, for the first time they have leverage (assuming it's not a big ensemble show where anyone could be killed off).  So instead of being thrilled to get anything, they're in the enviable position of saying we won't work unless we get what we want.

The Big Bang Theory is one of the biggest hits on TV, and after seven seasons is bigger than ever. CBS relies on this show.  It's also huge in syndication, where it can be caught numerous times a day.  Sort of funny for a concept I remember thinking was too quirky to last past season 1.

What sort of money are we talking about? The three leads, Parsons, Galecki and Cuoco, are already making $325,000 per episode, which would put them in the top 1% of income earners if they made that in a year.  They want that upped to as high as million per, plus some back end. That back end, meaning syndication, can be in the billions--that's where the producers make the big money.  The big three are wisely negotiating together--the show would take a huge hit if it lost any one of them, but losing all of them would mean there is no Big Bang.  (Though Variety has a slightly different story where the three have already been offered more than a million but Parsons is holding out for more while his two co-stars want parity. Is this correct, or is this being put out by management as a negotiating tool?  Either way, get your story straight guys.)

Helberg and Nayyar are on a different tier. I've heard they make $125,000 and $75,000 per episode, respectively. That Helberg gets more makes sense to me--he does a better job and is, I think, the more popular character.  But now they are negotiating together.  I don't know what they want, but, while I'm sure CBS and the show's producers want them back very much, they may realize that the show could arguably continue without them.  Or could it?  That's the fun of negotiation.

The two other regulars, Melissa Rauch and Mayim Bialik--both of whom joined the show in season 4--negotiated their deals last year.  They doubled their salaries to $60,000 per episode, and the number will eventually rise to $100,000.

The Big Bang Theory has been picked up for three more seasons. After that it may be over. Nothing lasts forever, and in TV, ever-rising salaries eventually guarantee a show isn't worth producing any more (except for The Simpsons). While the numbers are huge, I can understand the actors trying to make a killing.  There's no guarantee they'll ever be on a hit again.  There's not even any guarantee they'll get another job.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kaley seems a little too skinny in that pic

8:02 AM, July 31, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's the angle. Usually the camera adds fifteen pounds, but this time it took them away.

8:40 AM, July 31, 2014  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

I wonder how much Justine Bateman (Mallory keaton, Family Ties) made each episode the last few years? And I wonder if she has any of it left?

10:45 AM, July 31, 2014  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

Celebrity net worth says Justine Bateman $5 million and MIchael J $65 million. Seems unjust.

Bob Newhart $65 million, Jerry Seinfeld $820 million, Larry David $400 million (though a competing google result says $900 million)

1:29 PM, July 31, 2014  
Blogger LAGuy said...

I don't know how trustworthy Celebrity Net Worth is, but let's say they're in the ballpark.

If that's so, then Michael J. Fox having 13 times the wealth of Bateman seems more than fair. I'm surprised that's all. Not only was he a movie star and she wasn't (nice try, Satisfaction)--he, more than anyone else, was responsible for making Family Ties a hit. Bateman was just along for the ride.

6:04 PM, July 31, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

C'mon, LAGuy, what do you think I am, a Democrat? My point was *only* 13 times the wealth?

Although ColumbusGal says JB is just biding her time and finishing strong.


4:48 AM, August 01, 2014  

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