TV & Radio
The stars of the hit television series The Big Bang Theory have signed new deals which will net them $US1 million (NZ$1.17 million) per episode.
Three of the show's leads - Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons and Kaley Cuoco - will sign new three-year contracts that effectively confirm an eighth, ninth and 10th season of the show.
The contracts will deliver them $US1 million per episode for the next three seasons of the show. They previously received US$325,000 per episode.
The deals also increase their windfall from the show's "back end", that is, revenue from US re-runs and international TV and DVD sales.
The show, which is a top-rating property in the US for the CBS network, and is a hit on TV2, has been running for seven seasons.
Warner Bros is expected to finalise deals with the remaining two cast-members, Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar, in the next few days.
Production on the eighth season was to begin last week but was delayed as negotiations stalled between Warner Bros, which produces the show, and lawyers for the five lead actors.
The pre-existing contracts for the show's five leads expired in May, after the show finished filming its seventh season.
Contracts for two supporting actors, Melissa Rauch and Mayim Bialik, were renewed last year.
The negotiations are wrapping up with a whisker of time left before the re-scheduled "table read" for the first episode of the new season this Wednesday, US time.
Astonishingly, despite the hefty lift in the show's cost for Warner Bros, the US trade publication Deadline is reporting that The Big Bang Theory will still clear US$1 billion in profits for the studio.
Deadline quoted sources saying it could reach US$2 billion in profits "over its lifespan".
Although the US media characterised the negotiation as a standoff of sorts, there was little doubt that the actors would win their payday.
In simple terms, The Big Bang Theory is worth too much to Warner Bros, and its clients, not to secure the cast at any cost.
Speaking at a US programming showcase earlier this month, CBS network president Nina Tassler said she was "confident that everything will work out. These deals manage to get done somehow miraculously year after year."
The show's producer Chuck Lorre was also confident. "There are people at Warner Brothers Television and people representing the actors who have done this before," he told The Hollywood Reporter.
"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," he said.
In 2002, the cast of Friends negotiated contracts for their penultimate season which paid each of the six main cast-members US$1 million per episode.
And in 2012, the cast of Modern Family negotiated new contracts which extended their seven year deal to eight, and guaranteed salary increases every season, from around US$150,000 per episode for the fourth season, through to more than US$350,000 for an eighth season.
The deal also gave the cast a slice of the show's "back end", that is, revenue from US re-runs and international TV and DVD sales.
- Sydney Morning Herald