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Will The Simpsons Be Canceled Over a Pay Dispute?

Posted on the 05 October 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost

The Simpsons: Will it be cancelled over a pay dispute?

The Simpsons: yellow.

The theme tune is imprinted on most of our brains; an entire generation has grown up shouting “Doh!” when they make a mistake. There have been 23 seasons, a film, pencil cases, t-shirts with slightly strange legends such as “Eat My Shorts!” and “Don’t Have a Cow, Man”; there was even, lord help us, an album which contained the hit song “Do the Bartman”, which was written by popular minstrel Michael Jackson.

But now The Simpsons (for yes, it is they) has been hit by a row about money. It’s broadcast by Fox television, which now claims that the show – the longest running comedy series on US television –  doesn’t get the ratings it used to. It’s beamed into 100 countries and 50 languages, and concerns the lives of a yellow family called Homer, Marge, Lisa, Bart and Maggie.

“(It) is a franchise that you can do a lot of things with. And I think we’ll continue to evaluate what those are”, Chase Carey, a News Corp executive, was quoted on Yahoo! News.

The network is asking the actors (who include Nancy Cartwright and Hank Azaria) to take a 45 percent cut in their wages, from $8 million a year to a paltry $4 million. The cast have accepted a 30 percent pay reduction, but they want  percentage of the money from merchandise, which has hitherto been denied them by big cheeses at Fox (which, it seems, may in fact actually be run by Mr Burns, the famously tight zillionaire who owns the nuclear power plant where Homer Simpson “works”.) Fox  – partly owned by News Corp – has refused, and is now threatening to cancel the show.

“We believe this brilliant series can and should continue, but we cannot produce future seasons under its current financial model,” a Fox executive said, quoted on Yahoo! News.

Revenge of the corporation? It might be a case of chickens coming home to roost. Gawker suggested that “the show’s tendency to bite the hand that feeds it may be coming back to haunt it”, as there have often been sequences in the program that are anti-Fox; there was even one (designed by the graffiti artist, Bansky) suggesting that Fox has a Chinese factory which kills cuddly animals to make Simpsons dolls.

Hard to deal with? It’s difficult to know how to deal with this, said Aly Semigran on Entertainment Weekly. Whilst it’s hard to imagine a world without new episodes, true fans have already said  toodle-pip to it – “the golden era of The Simpsons is long gone.”

“MR. BURNS: I’m going to write a figure on this piece of paper. It’s not quite as large as the last one, but I think you’ll find it fair.

[BURNS writes a big zero.]

LIONEL HUTZ: I think we should take it.” The Simpsons, quoted on The Washington Post.

It shouldn’t have to be this way. Michael Cavna on The Washington Post  said that the “best banana-tinted family ever” shouldn’t leave because of money, but because of “creative fatigue.” The show spends its entire life mocking greed and wealth – look at the figure of Mr Burns, “the malevolent tightwad who once said: ‘Behold, the greatest breakthrough in labor relations since the cat-o-nine-tails!’”

Yes it should. Actually, said Screenrant, it’s “music to my ears.” The show is a pale imitation of its former self, and has long since lost any vitality it might have had. Now “it’s time to pack it in and just live off the residuals. Please! Double please!”

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