This story first appeared in the Nov. 29 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
The Griffin family has come into some money.
Or, rather, four of the lead voice actors on Fox’s Family Guy — Alex Borstein, who plays mom Lois; Seth Green and Mila Kunis, who voice son Chris and daughter Meg, respectively; and Mike Henry, neighbor Cleveland Brown — collectively have negotiated their way to a big raise from studio 20th Century Fox Television.
According to multiple sources, the four-member voice cast was able to secure between $175,000 and $225,000 each per episode for at least two more seasons – and as many as five seasons of the series. The deal will go into effect with the 12th season currently in production, which is expected to roll out in the fall of 2014. (Creator Seth MacFarlane, who voices several roles including main character Peter Griffin, son Stewie and martini-swilling dog Brian, will negotiate separately because his deal with 20th TV has several other components.)
To be sure, Fox has yet to officially pick up subsequent seasons of Family Guy, but it is highly unlikely that the network would decide to pull the plug on the long-running cartoon. Though the Sunday night comedy no longer ranks among the top 10 most lucrative series for ad revenue, it is still believed to command upward of $250,000 per 30-second spot. What’s more, it delivers a coveted younger-skewing male audience to Fox, averaging a 3.3 rating among adults 18-49 in the latest live-plus-7 returns and outranking all other Fox cartoons.
For 20th TV, Family Guy long has been a major source of profits. In addition to licensing and merchandise, the studio has rich syndication deals with distributors including Turner’s TBS and Adult Swim. In fact, Family Guy has done for the latter what The Big Bang Theory has done for the former. Nightly repeats of the MacFarlane half-hour regularly fetch upwards of 2.5 million viewers and a 1.3 rating with adults 18-49 during the late 11 p.m. hour. Repeats of the show regularly outrate most weeknight cable offerings, with the exception of sports and tentpoles like Duck Dynasty, Sons of Anarchy and American Horror Story.
Of course, the Family Guy gang trails the cast of fellow animated Fox stalwart The Simpsons, who are believed to each be making in the $300,000 range per episode for the 25th season of the longest-running comedy on TV. The Simpsons castmembers famously have negotiated together over the years, and for a period each was earning closer to $400,000 an episode before that fee was scaled back.
Still, earning in the vicinity of $200,000 per episode positions the Family Guy actors that much closer to the upper echelons of the primetime talent pay scale, and for a schedule that is nowhere near as demanding as that of a live-action program. Proof: Green is able to lend his voice to Family Guy as well as a co-star in another MacFarlane entry, live action half-hour Dads, while Borstein is set to star in HBO's Getting On and Kunis maintains a vibrant film career.
20th TV declined comment.
Borstein is repped by WME and Hansen Jacobson; Green is repped by UTA, Koopman and Sloane Offer; Kunis is repped by CAA, Curtis and Felker Toczek; and Henry is repped by UTA and Ziffren Brittenham.