File this under “behind-the-scenes drama you may have never known was happening and now is already resolved”: After some lengthy contract negotiations heading into the sitcom’s eighth season, Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons and Kaley Cuoco have reportedly resolved their issues and are about to become very, very rich.
Deadline and the showbiz trades are reporting today that the three stars of “The Big Bang Theory” finalized deals that extend their contracts for three years, at approximately $1 million per episode. Production on the new season was supposed to begin last week, but — as always — dollar signs were the sticking point. Deadline says that the trio (Galecki and Parsons play geeky physicists, while Cuoco is their quirky neighbor) earned about $350,000 per episode for their roles last year.
For comparison’s sake, per episode: Kerry Washington is reportedly paid $80,000; the grown-ups of “Modern Family” each get $175,000; Mark Harmon rakes in $525,000 for “NCIS”; and Ashton Kutcher is still doing very well for himself at $750,000.
It’s a massive amount of money, but not exactly unprecedented. Charlie Sheen earned about $1.2 million per episode during his “Two and a Half Men” heyday. All five “Friends” stars famously negotiated as a pack and commanded $1 million by the end of the comedy’s run.
“The Big Bang Theory,” which has become the rare broad network sitcom that’s also beloved by nerd culture, is scheduled to run for at least three more seasons. CBS recently renewed it through Season 10, or the 2016-2017 TV season. So if the network sticks to the 24-episode schedule each year, that adds up to…well, more money than the majority of people in the world could only dream about.
“The Big Bang Theory” is actually successful enough for the actors to ask for that much money, raking in tens of millions for the network and production company Warner Bros., over the last seven years. The sitcom finished the 2013-2014 season as the most-watched show on television (not including football), averaging about 19 million viewers per week. That’s slightly more than CBS procedural juggernaut “NCIS.”
According to Deadline, production is tentatively scheduled to resume later this week after only a slight delay, although co-stars Kunal Nayyar and Simon Helberg are still negotiating their salaries.