LOS ANGELES – Contract negotiations continue to delay production for the Warner Bros TV (WBTV) produced and CBS-aired sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” but one well-placed insider assured us that while the production team won't cave right away, the demands of the talent will prevail.
Industry experts expressed a similar sentiment.
“Since the actors are negotiating together, I expect them to have fairly similar deals,” entertainment attorney Julian Chan told FOX411. “What they want is completely reasonable considering the financial success of the show. It’s all about balance. The show has proven long-term success and is ensemble-driven, and the balance favors the wealth with the cast.”
Key cast members – Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting – are requesting a salary boost from $325,000 per episode to $1 million, in addition to an increased cut of the show’s back-end. The series has been the number one TV comedy for the past three seasons, averaging almost $20 million viewers in the previous season.
“The conflict [will] certainly get resolved, and the three leads will be considerably wealthier as a result. Nobody wants to walk away from the show, or the negotiating table, on this one. But the financial stakes are extremely high and talks are going to come down to the final wire until a deal is struck,” said Hollywood-based popular culture expert Scott Huver. “At this point, there is still plenty of time to complete a full season and keep the below-the-line players from losing work and feeling any financial pinch.”
“The Big Bang Theory” plays a pivotal role in CBS’ fall lineup creatively, ratings-wise and in terms of profitability – showing no signs of wear and tear. It is also a property CBS is able to use to effectively launch newer shows. For example, the network intends to use “Big Bang” as a springboard for launching an hour-long action-drama, “Scorpion,” by briefly moving the “Big Bang” Season 8 debut to Monday, preceding the new show.
“That plan is definitely in jeopardy if the contracts aren’t signed in time to produce those shows before the planned premiere date, September 22,” Huver noted.
CBS declined to comment, as did a representative for Warner Bros TV (WBTV), other than to confirm that “due to ongoing contract negotiations, production on ‘The Big Bang Theory’ — which was originally scheduled to begin July 30 — has been postponed."
But it seems “Big Bang” fans need not fear.
“The deal will get done. The show represents huge money for CBS, making the $3 million per-episode fee for the three actors relatively cheap,” said Dwight DeWerth- Pallmeyer, associate professor of Communications Studies at Widener University, adding that a potentially delayed start date could actually boost ratings. “It gives the network a second season launching date to promote.”
Follow @holliesmckay on Twitter