The cast of The Simpsons is willing to take a pay cut for part of the profits from the show, but Fox doesn't want to share.
Earlier this week, it was revealed that Fox is in the midst of tense contract negotiations with the cast of The Simpsons. So tense, in fact, that the animated series may not be long for this world, unless the cast members agreed to a 45% paycut. The cast members have all stated that they'd be willing to take a smaller - though still significant - paycut in exchange for a share of the show's (massive) profits. It turns out that Fox isn't willing to play this kind of ball.
According to Harry Shearer (known to fans as Mr. Burns, Principal Skinner, Ned Flanders, and several other characters), Fox's logic for the proposed pay cuts hasn't been explained satisfactorily, and the company simply will not allow the actors to share in the profits:
Fox wants to cut our salaries in half because it says it can't afford to continue making the show under what it calls the existing business model. Fox hasn't explained what kind of new business model it has formulated to keep the show on the air, but clearly the less money they have to pay us in salary, the more they're able to afford to continue broadcasting the show. And to this I say, fine - if pay cuts are what it will take to keep the show on the air, then cut my pay. 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% but more than 70% - down to half of what they said they would be willing to pay us. All I would ask in return is that I be allowed a small share of the eventual profits.
My representatives broached this idea to Fox yesterday, asking the network how low a salary number I would have to accept to make a profit participation feasible. My representatives were told there was no such number. There were, the Fox people said, simply no circumstances under which the network would consider allowing me or any of the actors to share in the show's success.
Shearer's comments are pretty damning, and it's hard not to find one siding with the cast in this argument. As of right now, Fox certainly looks like it's led by a bunch of greedy, heartless bastards. If the network is really this ruthless towards those who make it tons of money, can you imagine how awful it's been to folks like Joss Whedon?