NEW YORK (AP) — One of the voice actors on "The Simpsons" said Friday that he's willing to cut his salary by 70 percent in exchange for a taste of the production's profits in order to keep the show going beyond this season.
Harry Shearer, one of six actors who provide voices for the animated characters on Fox's Sunday night show, said producers turned down his offer.
Negotiations over the future of "The Simpsons," which began its 23rd season last month, have spilled out into the public. Twentieth Century Fox Television, which makes the show, says it can't continue without cutting costs and has targeted the salaries of Shearer, Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith and Hank Azaria.
Each actor makes a reported $8 million a year for their work on "The Simpsons," and Fox said the show could not continue without pay cuts. Shearer said producers demanded a 45 percent reduction.
"If pay cuts are what it will take to keep the show on the air, then cut my pay," Shearer said Friday. "In fact, to make it as easy as possible for Fox to keep new episodes of 'The Simpsons' coming, I'm willing to let them cut my salary not just 45 percent but more than 70 percent."
But Shearer said that in return, actors want "a tiny share" of the billions of dollars in profits the show has earned through syndication and marketing. The show's creators, Matt Groening and James L. Brooks, have profit participation but the actors have been rebuffed in efforts to join them.
Shearer said his representatives were told that there were "simply no circumstances under which the network would consider allowing me or any of the actors to share in the show's success."
A spokesman for Twentieth Century Fox Television, Chris Alexander, said Friday he had no comment on Shearer's statement.
"We've had a great run and no one should feel sorry for any of us," said Shearer, who conceded that his salary was "ridiculous by any normal standard." ''But given how much joy the show has given so many people over the years — and given how many billions of dollars in profits News Corp. has earned and will earn from it — I find it hard to believe that this is Fox's final word on the subject."
News Corp. owns both the television studio and Fox network.
There's some question about whether Fox and the studio want the series to continue. The Daily Beast, which first reported the salary impasse, noted that the studio is locked into its current syndication deals while new episodes continue to be made. If the show is canceled, the studio could potentially make much more lucrative deals for use of the reruns.