The top three cast members in the smash CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory have achieved their goal of obtaining a massive one million dollar pay raise before starting production of the show’s eighth season. A lengthy stalemate in salary negotiations has resulted in Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, and Kaley Cuoco all reportedly signed new contracts that earn them a whopping one million dollars per episode. Cuoco confirmed the continuation of season eight via Instagram, on which she posted a joyous message detailing her excitement surrounding the production of the show’s newest season.
The battle for higher wages among the big three began in late July, when the trio laid down the ultimatum that either their pay be increased to the aforementioned price, or they would not agree to renew their contracts for the upcoming season. Originally, the three were joined by fellow The Big Bang Theory co-stars Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar in their question for higher earnings; however, the final settlement was written up to include only the top three credited cast. New series regulars, Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch (also known as Amy Farrah-Fowler and Bernadette Rostenkowski) were not involved in the negotiations, as they had already made a commitment to sign their contracts pertaining to the upcoming season. Reports circulated the internet stating that much of the cast’s reasoning behind the pay raise demand lay with the precedent set by the hit 1990s sitcom Friends. In 1996, the entire six member cast banded together to fight for higher pay, to the tune of $100,000 per episode. Negotiations eventually resulted in an agreement, and the show continued on for an additional eight years, making it one of the longest running and most successful series in television history. The series finale broke the record for the highest viewed episode of the decade, and the fourth most watched finale in television history.
The Big Bang Theory began in September 2007, created by Two And A Half Men mastermind Chuck Lorre and Gilmore Girls producer Bill Prady. The initial pilot did not even include Cuoco as the character of Penny, but rather actress Amanda Walsh playing the somewhat similar role of Katie. Upon completion of the first episode, producers decided that Cuoco would be a better fit for an adjusted role and hired her to film the second take of the show’s pilot. Helberg and Nayyar were last-minute additions as well, as the initial plotline only included that of Leonard, Sheldon and Gilda, a scientist who felt threatened by the existence of the original Katie’s character. The role of Gilda was also written out of the final draft. The show has since become an international television sensation, earning two TCA Awards as well as two Primetime Emmys for Jim Parson’s portrayal as the brilliant and socially inept physicist Sheldon Cooper. Parsons was also awarded a Golden Globe award for Best Actor in a Television Series Musical or Comedy.
It is unclear whether or not The Big Bang Theory trio’s wage negotiations will go further than the upcoming season. For the time being, however, the cast seem to be in high spirits regarding the show’s future.
by Rebecca Grace