‘Dexter’ and ‘The Simpsons’: Network Politics Makes Strange Bedfellows

One would find it hard to believe that mega shows “Dexter” and “The Simpsons” have a lot in common. They are long running shows with immense success, cult followings and with demanding stars and even more demanding networks locking horns. The quarrelling is threatening to send these beloved shows into extinction.

What does this mean for fans of these shows? It means that their adored characters will not return to television next season. The real question though is who is to blame? Are the stars of these shows just asking for what they deserve and are the networks being too greedy?

Let’s Talk Numbers – Brass Tax

The premiere episode of Season 6 of “Dexter” brought in 2.2 million viewers (up 24 percent from last year) and ranked as the show’s biggest opening yet, according to Entertainment Weekly. These exemplary numbers must make the show’s leading man, Michael C. Hall, feel more and more justified in demanding his one million dollars per episode salary.

Just like with “Dexter,” the stars of “The Simpsons” have all figured out their show cannot continue without them. It would be nice to have a few more seasons of these favorite shows but listening to a bunch of millionaires arguing about their cash cows is a turn off to fans following these programs. Which begs the question, whatever happened to performing for the sheer love of it?

Diva Demands and Devil’s Advocate

According to The AV Club “Dexter’s” Michael C. Hall will not continue for two more seasons unless he receives $24 million for both. “Showtime has offered him $4 million less. The day Showtime chose to do their negotiations was also the networks best-performing series opener in over a decade, which seemingly gives Hall a lot of leverage.” Michael C. Hall may have just cause for his salary demands. After all, he is the main protagonist the show revolves around and the beloved serial killer fans know and love. Will Michael C. Hall betray his fans over a paltry $4 million? That remains to be seen.

In a parallel situation, the cast members of the beloved “Simpsons” are being pushed into taking a 45 percent salary cut or face never returning on set to bring our favorite characters Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Apu, Principal Skinner and many others back to life. “The Simpsons’” actors are trying to whittle their salary cuts down to 30 percent for a small percentage of the back-end profits. Is that too much to ask? It depends on who you ask. According to the National Ledger, the cast will still make around $8 million a year for just 22 weeks of work. However, why shouldn’t the actors get a small fraction of the billions Fox is making off syndication and merchandising, especially since these characters wouldn’t be so revered if it wasn’t for the actors’ stellar voice talents?

Furthermore, is it possible for the cast to be replaced with similar sounding voice actors? It would be hard to do but not impossible since the visual aspect is animated. Would the audience know that Julie Kavner is no longer the voice of Marge and her sisters or that Hank Azaria is no longer chief Wiggum, Apu and Moe? Fans have come to love the actors behind the voices just as much as their two dimensional counterparts.

In the end whichever side you take one thing is for sure. If the studios and their stars cannot come to an agreement soon we all loose. The studios will loose their cash cows and so will the actors along with their creative outlet if we are to believe that their love of acting is what brought them to the silver screen to begin with. The fans will loose their favorite characters and weekly hour of fantasy where they get to live out vicariously through their favorite characters. However, time heels all wounds and eventually everyone will lick their wounds and reluctantly move on to the next hit show.

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