2:54pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Big Bang Theory' Co-Stars Reach Rich New Deals, Production to Resume
The Big Bang Theory stars Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar have inked new deals with studio Warner Bros. Television, with the entire cast of TV's top comedy now signed on through season 10, with production resuming Wednesday after a week delay.
Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the duo — and longtime friends — negotiated together and secured sizable raises from their $100,000 per episode contract. Helberg and Nayyar, who co-star as Howard and Raj, respectively, were looking to close the salary gap with Parsons, Galecki and Cuoco.
"Production on season eight of The Big Bang Theory will begin Wednesday, August 6, with contract negotiations now having been concluded," Warner Bros. Television said in a statement Tuesday.
Parsons, Galecki and Cuoco closed new deals on Monday with studio Warner Bros. Television that puts them in Friends territory of about $1 million per episode, plus an increased percentage of the show's rich back-end (from 0.25 to more than a point, sources tell THR). The pacts for Parsons, Galecki and Cuoco are also said to include signing bonuses and overall deals with the studio.
Sources tell THR that Helberg and Nayyar's deals grant them 80 percent of the salary that Parsons, Galecki and Cuoco will receive in the upcoming eighth season, which escalates to put them on par with the the trio's $1 million an episode pay in season 10. The duo also will receive the same cut of the show's ownership as the leading trio do — 1.25 percent, up from 0.25 percent in their previous deals.
The new deals for Helberg and Nayyar come after a rocky renegotiation with the studio, who sources tell THR viewed the duo as third-tier talent on the series.
For their part, co-stars Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch secured pay increases in September that bring their per-episode salary from the $30,000 ballpark to roughly $60,000 per season before nearing $100,000 per half-hour by the end of the pacts.
Production on the CBS hit was delayed a week, but will now resume Wednesday with its five leads now all securing hefty salary raises. The first table read of the season is set for Wednesday morning. With production back on track, the delay is not expected to impact the show's 24-episode season eight order. The series returns on Monday, Sept. 22.
Big Bang Theory plays a key role on CBS' fall schedule. The network will bow the comedy on Mondays in September, using back-to-back episodes of the series as a launch pad for rookie genius drama Scorpion before it moves back to its Thursday home after six weeks of football.
The three-season renewal in March gave the cast considerable leverage — especially considering Big Bang is TV's No. 1 comedy among total viewers, a metric it has held since the 2010-11 season. Season seven regularly topped 20 million viewers per week, up 4 percent year-over-year, with an impressive 6.1 rating among the advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 demographic. The show is also a hit in syndication on TBS, with repeats often topping some of the Big Four broadcast networks' original fare. Big Bang is again nominated for best comedy series, but the show has yet to take home that trophy. Parsons — a three-time winner — is nominated for the seventh time for his starring turn as Sheldon Cooper.