The Big Bang Theory original stars are seeking serious bang for their buck salaries. According to reports, the original five cast members of CBS’ hit series The Big Bang Theory are currently without contracts and collectively demanding to be paid $1 million per episode. The stars are currently locked in aggressive contract negotiations with Warner Brothers TV heading into season 8. Stars including Jim Parsons (Garden State), Johnny Galecki (Roseanne), Kaley Cuoco (Charmed), Simon Helberg (Arrested Development), and Kunal Nayyar (NCIS) are seeking bang for their buck paydays similar to the cast of Friends.
The current situation resembles the 2010 salary re-negotiations when the Original Five cast members also faced the start of production season in the midst of contract talks with production studio, Warner Bros. TV. The flagship CBS comedy series is slated to go into production on its upcoming eighth season on July 30. With less than two weeks to go, the entire original cast of the hit comedy is still without contracts, and if talks are not resolved, production for the eighth season would be delayed.
Similar to the cast of Friends, The Big Bang Theory original stars are seeking serious bang for their buck salaries. The contract re-negotiations differ in that back in 2010, the five original stars had existing contracts and were obligated to show up for work, which they did while their teams were able to obtain significant pay hikes behind the scenes. However, the present day negotiations paint a much different picture. Since their contracts expired at the end of last season, none of the original cast members have current deals in place. Meanwhile, The Big Bang Theory‘s newest cast members, Melissa Rauch (True Blood) and Mayim Bialik (Blossom), who both re-negotiated their contracts in 2013 with substantial salary bumps, are the only actors currently under contracts.
If new deals with the Original Five are not reached in the next two weeks, production on Season 8 could be delayed. However, even if The Big Bang Theory does not start production until September 2014, it is still expected to deliver an hour-long season premiere for the September 22 fall premiere date. Insiders do not believe contract delays would go that far. However, it should be noted that The Big Bang Theory’s 2010 salary re-negotiations were not completed until September 2010. Moreover, Warner Bros. TV is known for going down to the wire but being able to close big cast deals on time, including multiple negotiations on series such as Two and a Half Men.
As the fall TV season looms and tense negotiations continue, The Big Bang Theory original stars are seeking serious bang for their buck salaries. According to Deadline.com, when CBS and Warner Bros. TV inked a three-year pickup for the hit comedy in March 2014 for a license fee of more than $4 million per episode, the renewal was cast-contingent as it was done without securing new contracts for the main cast. While it was suggested new deals should be secured leading into CBS’ upfront presentation in May 2014, no significant conversations with the cast’s reps followed. Under their 2010 contracts, Galecki, Parsons, and Cuoco each earned between $300,000 to $400,000 per episode in Season 7, in addition to each owning a quarter point of the series’ lucrative backend.
Given the phenomenal success of The Big Bang Theory, which is a colossal network and syndicated hit, the comedy juggernaut could generate more than $3 billion for Warner Bros TV. Thus, Galecki, Parsons, and Cuoco could easily find themselves in Friends territory with new salaries in $1 million per episode range, along with a larger piece of the backend pie. Whether or not The Big Bang Theory original stars will receive the serious bang for their buck salaries they are seeking, as well as whether or not production for Season 8 will start on schedule, remains to be seen.
By Leigh Haugh