05/03/2004 AT 9:00 AM ET
Members of the ensemble cast who provide the distinctive voices for The Simpsons are heading back to work after a month-long pay dispute that sealed their lips.
Trade reports say new deals have been hammered out between 20th Century Fox Television and Dan Castellaneta (the voice of Homer), Julie Kavner (Marge), Nancy Cartwright (Bart), Hank Azaria (Moe, Apu and others), Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns) and Yeardley Smith (Lisa).
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. But in a statement released by the studio late Friday night, the producers said: “We couldn’t be happier to have reached a multiyear deal with the enormously talented cast of The Simpsons. Fans will be pleased to know that despite our recent production delay, we are optimistic that they can look forward to a full season’s episodes next year on FOX, and hopefully many years to come.”
The actors were each seeking about $360,000 per episode, Variety reported last month. They were each previously earning an estimated $125,000 per episode.
An earlier dispute among the cast and producers took place six years ago, when the actors were making $30,000 per episode. The New York Times says the show’s creators, Matt Groening and James L. Brooks, have earned an estimated $150 million from the show.
The Hollywood Reporter says that the actors’ new deal is for four years, while Variety says it is for three.
Both papers, however, agree that for 16 years The Simpsons has been a solid ratings and earnings winner for FOX, and it serves as the network’s Sunday night anchor. The critics also happen to love it, too.
The show, which celebrated its 300th episode last season, has certainly generated hundreds of millions of dollars, and a lot of it from such auxiliary items as DVDs and souvenir merchandise, raising the value of the franchise to more than $1 billion.