Steve Chiotakis: A dispute involving television's longest-running sitcom "The Simpsons" threatens to pull the cartoon plug. Fox TV is looking to cut the voice actors' salaries by as much as 45 percent.
New York Times culture reporter Dave Itzkoff is with us now to talk about it. Good morning Dave.
Dave Itzkoff: Good morning, thanks for having me.
Chiotakis: A 45 percent pay cut? How did they come up with that number?
Itzkoff: The voice actors from the show are pretty well compensated. I mean, they started off years back making maybe $100,000, $150,000 a year. And since then, according to the latest reports, they are now up to about $8 million a year for their work on the show. And it sounds like the cuts that Fox is proposing would be offset by merchandising revenue -- a cut of that piece of the pie that they get from selling "Simpsons" toys, and lunchboxes, and t-shirts -- they would like to have a little bit of that make up for the salary that they're giving up.
Chiotakis: What's the cast countering with? I mean, what are they saying, these voice over folks?
Itzkoff: Right. Well, the voice actors are saying that they would be willing to give up a portion of their salary -- they're proposing a 30 percent cut. But what they would like in return is a portion of the revenue that's generated from all of the licensing and merchandising of "The Simpsons" characters. So they feel that they contribute to the characters, and to how people perceive the characters, and that they should be entitled to some of that money as well.
Chiotakis: I know "The Simpsons" have been on Fox since, pretty much there's been a Fox, right? I mean, Fox has been around since the '80s -- I know "The Simpsons" came on just a year or two after the network started. What is Fox like without "The Simpsons."
Itzkoff: You know, it's really hard to say because it is such a huge part of the character of the network. We all know that everything has to come to an end at some point, but it's such a unique cultural phenomenon. Life would go on in some form, but you know, it would really be I think a different Fox without that show.
Chiotakis: Dave Itzkoff from the New York Times joining us from New York. Dave, thanks.
Itzkoff: Certainly, thank you.