The cast of The Big Bang Theory is set to go through another round of contract negotiations this year. With its lead stars Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, and Kaley Cuoco earning $1 million per episode, it may not take much for Warner Bros. and CBS to convince them to extend their deals past Season 10. An insider revealed that everyone, including Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Melissa Rauch, and Mayim Bialik, will be asking for a salary increase this time around.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Friends star Matt LeBlanc was asked to give his advice to The Big Bang Theory cast, seeing how the stars were using the same strategy they did back then, banding together during salary negotiations. While seemingly uncomfortable with the question, LeBlanc still gave his two cents in the matter.
“Yeah, they called me. No, I’m kidding. I don’t want to talk about it here now but you know, go for the throat.”
In 2002, two years before Friends ended its decade-long run on NBC, stars Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer negotiated their way to earn a whopping salary of $1 million per episode.
Speaking to Huffington Post, LeBlanc defended the “ridiculous” amount of money they demanded back then.
“Were we worth $1 million? To me, that’s such a strange question. It’s like, well, that’s irrelevant. Are you worth it? How do you put a price on how funny something is? We were in a position to get it. If you’re in a position in any job, no matter what the job is—if you’re driving a milk truck or installing TVs or an upholsterer for a couch—if you’re in a position to get a raise and you don’t get it, you’re stupid. You know what I mean? We were in a position and we were able to pull it off. ‘Worth it’ has nothing to do with it.”
One can also argue that while $1 million per episode paycheck seemed excessive it could be justified by looking at the show’s ratings and viewership. According to People, Friends had an average of 25 million live viewers per week while The Big Bang Theory only draws an average of 19 million viewers.
Insiders told The Hollywood Reporter that everyone from the cast is seeking pay raises. This does not come as a surprise given how the CBS show is TV’s No. 1 comedy to date. At the recent TCA press tour, CBS president Glenn Geller remained “confident” that Season 10 will not be The Big Bang Theory‘s last.
“We are very confident that everyone involved wants more Big Bang past Year 10. I know Warner Bros will make those deals. We’ll put it on for as long as everyone wants Big Bang on the air. I hope it lasts forever.”
In an interview with TV Line, Kaley Cuoco and Jim Parsons both insisted that they have no plans of leaving The Big Bang Theory soon. They also believed that most, if not all, of their co-stars are eager to return for another season.
“I think it’s a given that we want to be here. That’s the overall consensus. It might be a sticky road, but if I have anything to do with it, we’d be here for much longer. That’s the goal,” Cuoco said.
Parsons also had nothing but praises for The Big Bang Theory writers, saying that they were all still very devoted in crafting a good storyline.
“The stories that come out are still so much fun to play — there’s no drudgery aspect to this… I’m trying to imagine when an actor in a good situation would go, ‘I’m out of here!.’ I don’t think it would be between Seasons 10 and 11 — not if things are going well.”
The Big Bang Theory Season 10 premieres September 19 on CBS.
[Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]