8:16am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Big Bang Theory' Trio Inks New Deals, Securing Hefty Pay Raises
Three of The Big Bang Theory's five stars have reached a new deal with studio Warner Bros. Television.
Following prolonged negotiations that resulted in a brief production delay, stars Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco have inked rich new three-year deals to return to the CBS hit, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar are still in negotiations, but an agreement is expected to be reached this week. Warner Bros. Television declined comment.
The show, which was renewed for three additional seasons through its 10th run, likely resumes production Wednesday after a one-week delay that occurred when the five stars refused to return to work without new deals. (Their contracts expired in May at the end of season seven.)
Emmy-winner Parsons, Galecki and Cuoco negotiated together and were seeking big salary increases. Sources tell THR that the trio, who currently earn $325,000 per episode, likely secured about $1 million per half-hour with an increased cut of the show's backend from 0.25 percent to 1.25 percent. The deals are said to bring the three into the Friends region, with that cast negotiating together and locking in $1 million per episode with studio WBTV. (Big Bang Theory is a massive hit in syndication, with TBS' repeats regularly topping the weekly syndication ratings.) The pacts are also said to include a greater percentage of the show's back-end, overall deals and more.
Co-stars Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch previously inked new deals with WBTV, with both earning big raises in September when the cast's contract talks began.
It's unclear if the one-week delay will result in a reduced episode from the show's standard 24, though it typically takes three weeks to turn in a completed episode and the delay could likely be overcome during the season.
The three-season renewal 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.
The cast was a no-show last month at San Diego Comic-Con, where for the second year in a row, the panel consisted of series writers. Last year, Galecki made a surprise appearance with Rauch moderating. Parsons was at Comic-Con the day before the show's panel to DreamWorks Animation's Home, in which he has a voice role.
Meanwhile, showrunner Steve Molaro has a three-year overall deal (his first) with WBTV, and co-creator/EP Chuck Lorre is also under contract with the studio. 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. The network, which sources say did not have a contingency plan in place had the cast not reupped, is looking to The Big Bang Theory to help launch rookie drama Scorpion on Mondays at 9 p.m., after abandoning its two-hour comedy block that night.
For his part, Lorre didn't see the contract negotiations as a problem. "There are people at Warner Brothers Television and people representing the actors who have done this before," he told THR this month. "This will work itself out. I think it's great; I want them all to be crazy wealthy because nobody deserves it more than this cast. It'll work out."
The cast's new deal comes after the Modern Family co-creator/EP Christopher Lloyd staged a walkout before — missing the first week of work in the writers room — until he had reached a new deal with studio 20th Century Fox Television. The Emmy-winning comedy's cast also had a well-documented and contentious contract renegotiation in 2012 that threatened to delay production, which concluded with the six adult actors earning major pay increases.