CBS has finalized its deal with Warner Bros. Television for two more seasons of “The Big Bang Theory,” making the Eye’s tentpole comedy one of primetime’s long-running sitcoms, with at least 12 seasons.
The renewal has been in the works for the past few months. The big hurdle was cleared last month when the five original members of the series ensemble — Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Kunal Nayyar and Simon Helberg — struck new deals with the studio. The deal is envisioned as taking the show through its final two seasons, for a total of 48 more episodes.
The studio is said to still be in negotiations with “Big Bang” stars Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch, who have become core members of the cast during their seven years on the show. Bialik and Rauch have been pushing for salary parity with the original five, who are slated to earn about $900,000 per episode in the next two seasons.
The original five actors agreed to take a $100,000 pay cut apiece from their current salaries to free up more funds in the budget to help provide raises for Bialik and Rauch, who have been paid far below their co-stars at around $175,000-$200,000 per episode.
“Big Bang” is among primetime’s highest-rated series and has been hugely successful in syndication for Warner Bros., in addition to spawning a recently ordered to series spinoff, “Young Sheldon.” But at present, given the cast salaries and production costs, the new first-run episodes will not be a huge moneymaker for the studio or CBS.
The lack of windfall profits to come from the 48 new episodes has been a hurdle in dealmaking with all of the actors. But given the extraordinary gesture by Bialik and Rauch’s co-stars, the pressure is on Warner Bros. to find a path to making the pair feel fairly valued for their contributions to the show. Bialik earned four consecutive supporting comedy actress Emmy noms for her work as Amy Farrah Fowler, girlfriend of Parsons’ Sheldon Cooper. Rauch is a fan favorite whose marriage to Helberg’s Howard Wolowitz, and birth of their first child, has been a central storyline for the past three seasons.