4:45pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Big Bang Theory' Stars Still Without Contracts
Four months after CBS renewed ratings juggernaut The Big Bang Theory for three additional seasons — through its 10th run — stars Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco, as well as Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar, still do not have deals to return to the No. 1 comedy among total viewers and adults 18-49.
The massive renewal for the series, from exec producers Chuck Lorre, Bill Prady and Steve Molaro, gives the cast additional leverage to negotiate the hefty raises they've been after. Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that there has been no movement in the negotiations, which began in September, and a deal is expected to be reached before season eight begins. The cast also is expected to return to work on the show's Burbank set at the end of the month when production begins, regardless of whether or not they have new contracts — unlike the Modern Family cast, which staged a walkout as they renegotiated their deals with studio 20th Century Fox Television. Warner Bros. Television declined to comment.
Multiple Emmy winner Parsons (who again is nominated this year), Galecki and Cuoco are all seeking big salary increases. Sources told THR in September that the trio, who currently earn $325,000 per episode, are seeking up to $1 million per half-hour. They're expected to negotiate together; Helberg and Nayyar also are looking for increases and will negotiate together. Emmy nominee Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch have already inked new deals with WBTV, with both securing raises.
The Big Bang Theory contract talks are expected to be a hot topic of discussion Thursday during CBS Entertainment chairman Nina Tassler's session at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour. The series is again returning this month to Comic-Con in San Diego, where for the second year in a row the panel will consist of the show's writers.
Meanwhile, Molaro inked his first overall deal with Warner Bros. Television — a rich three-year pact in which he'll develop new projects for the studio and continue to serve as showrunner and exec producer on the series created by Lorre and Prady. Lorre inked a four-year overall deal with the studio in 2012.
The series concluded its seventh season in May with a cliffhanger in which Parsons' Sheldon was poised to leave town on a train after being overwhelmed by the number of changes in his life.
Ahead of the finale, Molaro told THR that his decision to end the series on a cliffhanger was "not at all" impacted by the cast's lack of contracts. "We're making the best episodes that we can come up with. I have to move forward assuming everyone is going to be there. I have no reason to think they won't be. That wasn't a factor."
Big Bang Theory has been TV's No. 1 comedy among total viewers since the 2010-11 season. Season to date, Big Bang Theory is averaging almost a whopping 20 million viewers per week, up 4 percent year-over-year, and an impressive 6.1 rating among adults under 50. The series also is a hit in syndication on TBS, with repeats often topping some of the Big Four broadcast networks' original fare and helping that network to build its comedy brand. The series has earned multiple Emmy nominations for best comedy but has yet to take home that trophy.
The three-season renewal could spell the end of Big Bang Theory, with Molaro telling THR that he plans to move forward along with Lorre. "[Season] 10 is the end unless we're told otherwise," he said in April. "These are decisions that are so far away I can't really even think about that. I have no choice but to move forward … it's so far away (laughs). The mindset is it's going to be the 10, and then we'll see what happens after that."
Securing Big Bang Theory's future was a top priority for CBS, which last season bade farewell to Monday staple How I Met Your Mother. CBS recently scored rights to Thursday night NFL games, pushing Big Bang Theory to Mondays for the first few weeks of season eight, before it returns to Thursdays.
Big Bang Theory will return Monday, Sept. 22, before moving back to Thursdays starting Oct. 30.