Tuesday, August 05, 2014

THE BIG BANG THEORY actors' strike

But first:  MUST KILL TV is on sale for only a couple more days! Only $0.99 for the Kindle version. That's practically giving it away.  It IS giving it away.   Here's where you go

In light of the BIG BANG THEORY actors recently holding out for bigger salaries, I’ve had a number of you ask my opinion on stars on strike. So consider this four Friday Questions on Tuesday.

Hollywood is not about earning what you deserve. Hollywood is about leverage.

Most shows fail. By most, I mean over 90% (and I’m being generous). Big hits come along as often as winning lottery tickets.

But when one of these shows becomes a mega hit the profits are in the billions. That’s billions with a B. Warner Brothers make more money off FRIENDS than Batman.

So if you’re an actor during contract renegotiation on one of these rare cash cows you hold most of the cards. I see no reason in not trying to make the best deal you can. Lots of others associated with the show are already feasting off that bovine.  

But you need that leverage. The problem when THE SIMPSONS actors tried this is that only their voices are heard. They are much easier to replace than Jim Parsons.

How important you are to the show determines how much leverage you have. Could THE BIG BANG THEORY live without Howard or even Penny? Sure. Could it live without Sheldon? Probably not. But even then – TWO AND A HALF MEN survived without Charlie Sheen. It can be done. At some point the actors’ demands have to be within the realm of reasonable.

These things usually have a way of working themselves out. It did over the weekend for THE BIG BANG THEORY. Parsons, Johnny Galecki, and Kaley Cuoco will each be getting about a million dollars an episode plus vigorish. Yes, that’s a staggering sum but there are major league ballplayers making way more than that hitting .241.

The comparison to baseball is very apt. When actors sign on to sitcom pilots they agree to be under contract for usually five years.  That's a big commitment with no idea how things will unfold.  So in the same way that baseball organizations own players for the first number of years, so do TV studios. And if a Clayton Kershaw should rise quickly through the Dodgers’ organization and become the best pitcher in baseball, the Dodgers only have to pay him $500,000 for a couple of years while a rag arm pitcher in the bullpen makes five million. So when payday finally arrives, part of the enormous salary is compensation for past seasons when he was undervalued.

This thespian work stoppage is certainly not a new practice. A few years ago the MODERN FAMILY held out together, and before that – FRIENDS. Someone had an interesting idea during the six-actor FRIENDS stand-off. He suggested the studio offer a very large very generous number per episode but will only pay it to the first five actors who accept the terms. Don’t know if it would have worked but I found it a ploy worthy of Frank Underwood.

So in short, congratulations to the BIG BANG THEORY cast. Now go out and hit .348 and sock 40 home runs.

67 comments:

Dan Ball said...

That money's better spent on actors than baseball players. It seems like in Cincy, whenever someone gets signed to a nice contract, that's when "accidents" start to happen and those millions are basically being spent on a semi-regular stint on the DL. It happened with Griffey Jr. a few years back and now it's happening with Votto and Phillips. They just signed Homer Bailey, so he's probably next. But hopefully he gets no-hitter #3 first.

Although, I did read that James Garner pretty much had to go on the DL towards the end of ROCKFORD's run because doing his own stunts (and lots of them) caught up with him. Let's see Jim Parsons do THAT!

Bugdun said...

The BBT cast, and those who have chosen this tactic before them (Seinfeld cast, Friends), can thank Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale for leading the way with a unified hold-out back in the 60s. The two great Dodgers' pitchers (and friends) held out together and won nice raises, but certainly not what they were worth...

Thomas from Bavaria said...

TWO AND A HALF MEN survived without Charlie Sheen.
Well... not really... I think that's a good example for killing the show's premise by replacing the main character.

Andy P. said...

I'd read that Parsons/Galecki/Cuoco also got development deals, Ken. Could you please explain a bit more about what that means?

Joe said...

FRIDAY QUESTION, Ken. This one has bothered me for years: On Frasier, when Niles and Daphne finally realized they loved each other, the storylines seemed to have them backed into corners. Niles was married to Mel and Daphne was engaged to Donnie. It seemed a bit harsh but understandable to have Daphne call off the engagement, but Niles’ behavior just seemed flat out cold-hearted. He had a specific line in one episode where he said (paraphrasing) “Daphne, tell me you love me and I will leave Mel in a heartbeat.” I understand that his heart was always with Daphne and that viewers were dying to see the characters finally get together but the collateral damage seemed too high. Even if you didn’t like the Mel character, nobody deserves what happened to her. Did the writers plan this all along? Did it ever cross their minds that Niles might come across as unlikeable for the rest of the show? Generally, if you have two characters everyone wants together, are the writers willing to sacrifice certain character traits or flaws just to get to the end result?

McAlvie said...

considering how much money TBBT must be raking in for the networks, I say good for the actors and congratulations.

TAAHM - I wasn't a fan before they replaced Sheen, although I understand why they did. I don't think it lost anything with the transition because there wasn't much to lose. Sheen was never much of an actor. Not that whatsisname is any better, but my point is that anyone can do that show if they are willing to sink low enough and show up on time every day. Seriously, that show had to be the easiest money Sheen ever made, and he still blew it.

Michael said...

I think the one who was treated unfairly in this was Mayim Bialik. She got a raise last year to 60,000 per episode. Even though Kaley Cuoco was a original cast member, I don't think her importance to the show at this point is 20X Mayim's.

Markus said...

I wouldn't say Two And A Half Men survived without Sheen. Sure, it was still there, kinda, sorta, somehow,... but while technically "not dead yet" it certainly smelled funny. The show was a tripod, and when one of the legs got broken off, it was replaced with a crazy-ass bent umbrella sort of stick. Still standing, albeit a bit crooked, but certainly not the same thing anymore.

(Also, why would Batman make any money off Friends anyway...)

Anonymous said...

Drew Carey dropped off a cliff once they got the big payday.

Anonymous said...

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After watching an episode of Jeopardy, it’s easy enough to accept that you probably don’t know everything. This world is just far too big to know it all. You win some, you lose some. At the very least, you’d probably be able to identify whether a “fact” is true or false, right?
http://www.viraljolt.com/world-facts-sound-bizarre-seem-fake-crazy/#.U-DgPmOJPig

Stephen Robinson said...

David Schwimmer, I think, had the idea for all six cast members of FRIENDS to ask for a raise together. This was a wise move and one with foresight -- at the time, Schwimmer was the break-out character with the break-out storyline (Ross and Rachel). At the time, it would not have surprised anyone to see the show become a version of early CHEERS: Two romantic leads supported by a quirky ensemble.

Matthew Perry, as Chandler, was probably the third strongest character: Much of the humor came from him, especially regarding dating (Janice).

The remaining three were the weakest. Phoebe was odd and quirky but could have been replaced by another "odd and quirky" New Yorker (there are a lot of them). She had no real connection to the other characters so could easily be written out.

Joey and Monica had yet to find themselves as characters. It's been argued that Monica's "hook" wasn't fully developed until she was paired with Chandler. Perry was a great comedic partner with both LeBlanc and Cox.

Dick Wolf had suggested "keeping the actors in line" by firing Matt LeBlanc (who he viewed as the least vital of the six at the time). I don't know why you'd want unhappy actors (ruling by fear rarely works for long). But the good thing about Schwimmer's approach is that it prevented that sort of bullying. Either negotiate in good faith or risk losing the entire show.

Curt Alliaume said...

Drew Carey is one example of a show hitting the skids after the big payday, Mad About You is another. Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt were persuaded to do one more season at $1 million per year and the show dropped from #32 to #85. Carey's show did the same - dropping from #33 to #150 over the course of three seasons after the contracts were signed. (Of course, the last season was burned off during the summer.)

Big Bang Theory has been a top ten show for three years, and, with one exception, has gained viewers each of the last seven seasons. It hasn't noticeably decreased in quality (my opinion). They should be okay.

Mike Barer said...

Two And A Half survives without Charlie and Jake, but is a glorified soap that is not funny and is practically unwatchable. It's ratings are a hangover from the Sheen days.

ScottyB said...

I remember back in the '70s, when Redd Foxx and Carroll O'Connor held out for more money on 'Sanford & Son' and 'All In The Family', but their shows continued production in the meantime without them. Those ended up being totally dreadful episodes.

ScottyB said...

@Curt Alliaume: My take on 'Mad About You' (I watched that show from the beginning) was it tanked because it became a show that added a baby. The whole dynamic changed. Just like the whole dynamic of 'The Drew Carey Show' changed when Drew started dating Kate, and the dynamic of 'Friends' changed when the cast started dating each other. For me, the death knell of a perfectly good comedy is when the show injects a baby or orphan cousin, or people start dating each other three or four seasons in.

Bill K said...

According to my local radio station the actors are currently making $375,000 per episode and are asking for $1,000,000 per episode. So what were taking about here is going from $9,750,000 per season to $26,000,000 per season.

How much do the writers, the cameramen and the grips make per season? The sad fact is that the writers have more to do with the success of the show than the actors do and you know that they aren't making $9,750,000 per season.

ScottyB said...

@Bigdun: Good point, but you might also want to include Curt Flood even tho he wasn't a holdout in the very same sense and definition of the 'Friends' cast or even Koufax and Drysdale -- especially since those folks didn't end up ruining their careers (or even changing the way their professions are run) in the process like Flood did. Flood knew from the outset that he'd likely be fucked and never play again, yet baseball's reserve clause (which if you think about it could be likened to the old days of movie studio contract actors) was something he and other players considered very very wrong, and Flood paid dearly for it.

Anonymous said...

Joe Said:

"Niles was married to Mel and Daphne was engaged to Donnie. It seemed a bit harsh but understandable to have Daphne call off the engagement, but Niles’ behavior just seemed flat out cold-hearted."

Um... Joe?

They're writing a comedy. Not a '50's teen health class documentary on how to be a better person.

Here's a secret...

Most characters on most sitcoms are... assholes. Rotting people managing wretched lives who never learn a damned thing. People you really wouldn't want around much in real life, unless you're a sweet mess too.

Bob said...

Joe, that sequence of events in Frasier bothered me too, and marked the start of the decline in that show's tight, plausible character interactions. It didn't stop it being funny, of course, but... I can't help feeling it could have been handled better.

Bob said...

Also, while we're discussing that era of Frasier, was Daphne's brother's English accent deliberately bad? Or was it a case of he's a man from England, so he has to sound like a permanently stoned Dick van Dyke in Mary Poppins?

Stephen Robinson said...

I wanted to add to Joe's FRIDAY question about FRASIER:

False romantic leads on TV/movies can be tricky because the person has to be distinct enough from the actual romantic lead for there to be a true choice yet not so odious that you wonder why the other romantic lead would consider marrying this person.

With Niles/Mel and Daphne/Donnie, the differences and similarities were clear: Donnie loved Daphne, much like Niles did, but he was bold enough to make an actual move, which Niles was not. Mel was Maris The Sequel, which implied that Niles had either not gotten over Maris or that he'd not moved past his own self-loathing that made him think he "deserved" someone like Maris/Mel.

The problem, I saw, was that Daphne should have left Donnie when she realized she had feelings for Niles. It was not a matter of whether he reciprocated but that she clearly was not completely in love with Donnie. The same with Niles claiming that he'd leave Mel on Daphne's say-so.

Ideally, the false lead represents a flaw of failing of the leading man/woman and once he/she moves past that flaw, they can leave the false lead behind them. However, it should never be be viewed as a trade-in -- like a used car.

The growth opportunity for Niles was to realize that he deserved better than snobby snots. Arguably loving Daphne was, in a way, embracing his father (the two got along very well for a reason). He didn't need a "Maris" to "fit in" to the snooty world he thought he belonged in.

But he needed to make that decision when there was no possibility of being with Daphne. I always believe that someone *leaving* their partner for someone else is less compelling than walking away from a relationship completely.

ScottyB said...

@Bill K: I'm not sure you can put writers and actors in the same pay league even tho the two depend on each other to make a living. A writer for TBBT may be the funniest guy on the planet, but can he *act* the funniest guy on the planet in front of the camera like Jim Parsons on that show? Probably not. Still, I'm pretty sure the writers (especially the good ones) are compensated pretty decent for the work they do. Matter of fact, in all of Ken's posts, I don't think he ever even suggested that show writers are actually starving. Taken advantage of every week maybe, but not starving.

ScottyB said...

@Bill K: I'm not sure you can put writers and actors in the same pay league even tho the two depend on each other to make a living. A writer for TBBT may be the funniest guy on the planet, but can he *act* the funniest guy on the planet in front of the camera like Jim Parsons on that show? Probably not. Still, I'm pretty sure the writers (especially the good ones) are compensated pretty decent for the work they do. Matter of fact, in all of Ken's posts, I don't think he ever even suggested that show writers are actually starving. Taken advantage of every week maybe, but not starving.

Anonymous said...

Bill K:

"How much do the writers, the cameramen and the grips make per season? The sad fact is that the writers have more to do with the success of the show than the actors do and you know that they aren't making $9,750,000 per season."

You think? Let's try an experiment.

Watch an episode of "whose line is it anyway." a show without writers, unless you can consider most actors to be writers. I can't.

Now videotape a script sitting on a table. Hire someone to turn the pages once in a while, so the audience can read it.

Which one is would get better ratings?

Now, when push comes to shove, who really needs whom?

RockGolf said...

Wasn't Niles' wife Meris or Maris, not Mel?

ScottyB said...

>>"Most characters on most sitcoms are... assholes. Rotting people managing wretched lives who never learn a damned thing. People you really wouldn't want around much in real life, unless you're a sweet mess too."<<

This is exactly why one of my favorite characters on 'Frasier' was Daphne's brother Simon, when he'd show up occasionally. It was a great story line that also gave me a far greater appreciation for the acting talent of Anthony LaPaglia.

ScottyB said...

@Bob: >>Also, while we're discussing that era of Frasier, was Daphne's brother's English accent deliberately bad?<<

Accents are an interesting question. I think it added to his character, who we came to know very quickly as a boorish mess. A proper, refined accent like Mary Poppins' Mr. Banks wouldn't have played anywhere near as well. OTOH, you'd also have to consider whether Hugh Laurie's American accent (he's British) as 'House' was deliberately *good*.

Bob said...

@ScottyB... that's not the point. There's about as much reason for him to have a refined English accent as there was for him to have the Mockney mess he ended up with... pretty much none at all. Daphne and her mother have northern English accents, but Simon inexplicably speaks in that abomination. There's no reason he couldn't have been just as boorish and loutish with a northern accent.

(I should point out at this juncture that I'm English...)

The accent really bothered me a great deal - the fact that such a good show should make an amateurish hash of something so simple - until someone pointed out that the showrunners were smart enough to realise that, and maybe intended the awful, awful, incongruent accent to be some sort of comment on the portrayal of Brits in US TV or something. I'm yet to be convinced, although I think ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT did something similar with Charlize Theron's character. Now THAT was a bad accent...

Ron Rettib said...

Voice actors, such as those you mentioned on "The Simpsons" should remember the lesson from what is considered the first sitcom, and it was on radio, "The Great Gildersleeve". Hal Peary played Gildersleeve from being a character on "Fibber McGee and Molly" to the title character of his own show 1941. But In 1950, Harold Peary was convinced to move The Great Gildersleeve to CBS, but sponsor Kraft refused to sanction the move. Peary, now contracted to CBS, was legally unable to appear on NBC as a star performer, but Gildersleeve was still an NBC series. So Willard Waterman who was able to mimic Peary's voice took over as Gildersleeve. In deference to Peary Waterman refused to copy Peary's distinctive Gildersleeve laugh. Peary's move to CBS was a dud while Gildersleeve continued at NBC.

ScottyB said...

Methinks all of us (and maybe even Ken) would be having a totally different conversation if Ashton Kutcher was holding out for a lot more money on 'Two And A Half Men', especially in relation to when Sheen was helming that boat. Methinks that show started running its course when Angus Jones really started growing up (like Ron Howard's Opie on 'The Andy Griffith Show'), and Ashton Kutcher just seems to be someone they called up because the show needed *somebody* recognizable at the last minute.

Plus, Ashton Kutcher just bugs the living piss out of me no matter what he's in as it is. So maybe it's just me.

ScottyB said...

@Bob: Ken could probably address this better than anyone when it came to casting that show, but I think Simon actually needed that accent for reasons beyond what we're discussing here. I think it was effective because, at least in my opinion, American viewers (and we're talking about least common denominators here -- the same people who put 'The Dukes of Hazzard' on the map) *associate* things, especially accents. He has a boorish accent, so he must be a boor; he has a refined accent, so he must be refined, etcetcetc. IMO, Simon wouldn't have been as funny, and especially less so with an American accent. Upsetting that apple cart just seems to confuse the fuck out of viewers, especially when it's on network TV.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

I recall reading that for Lorre & Co the three essential characters on TBBT are Sheldon, Leonard, and Penny. Personally, I would miss all of the others, but especially Howard and Rajesh.

That said, I don't think the show's average quality in S7 was anywhere near as good as the show in the early seasons (as much as I love Mayim Bialik's work). The peaks were fine, but the worst episodes were really pretty terrible (ripping of FRIENDS plots, and generally making Penny into an idiot).

As for MAD ABOUT YOU, I loved that show in its early years, and put its death at about season 4, when the show began to lose its focus on the story of a marriage and generally lost its way. I don't think the baby *itself* was the problem: I think they could have done a great show along the lines of the early years if they had kept the baby off-stage and shown Paul and Jamie renegotiating their relationship in the light of the changes the baby brought.

wg

Bob said...

@ScottyB ...but once again, Daphne's family makes a big thing of being from MANCHESTER... and yet Simon's accent is a garbled impression of a boorish southern (London-ish) accent.

There are plenty of boors in Manchester upon whom he could have based an accent, and been no less funny as a result It just makes no sense, and I almost hope it does turn out to be some sort of deliberately knowing meta-comment on the persisting influence of Dick Van Dyke on US media portrayals of Brits, like the Theron one surely was.

Parrie said...

EXACTLY, Ken. A million per w/backend doesn't even begin to dent the billions WB will make off of (and is making) with TBBT.

But we don't know the names of the WB honchos (well, not all of them), but we do know the cast names, and I've seen mucho ridicule over their pay demands.

Actors make acting look easy. Good actors, that is. Comedy is even harder (cue: comedy/dying riff). TBBT supplies us with a season of laughs with great direction, producing, writing - and great comedic ACTING.

After their run, who knows - the actors may never be able to repeat their success on such a grand scale again. They, if they can get it, deserve whatever their market will allow. I'm just glad the show is on for a few more season. I enjoy it immensely.

Anonymous said...

As a parent, I have always recommended watching the Mad About You episode from Season 6 called "The Conversation". It was shot in real time with Paul & Jamie trying to deal with letting the baby cry herself to sleep. It is funny, excruciating, and sweet. Having the baby didn't kill the show, not knowing how to incorporate it did.

Pam St. Louis

Riley said...

Well, when you consider that, post-BIG BANG THEORY, Jim Parsons will spend the rest of his life as an actor being offered nothing but variations on Sheldon, I think he's wise to make his money while he can.

Canda said...

I'm afraid I disagree with Stephen Robinson's assessment that David Schwimmer was the breakout character on FRIENDS. He was the weakest comedy link, and his post-FRIENDS career has done nothing to change that opinion.

Anonymous said...

The analogy with baseball players is very apt.

Actors and athletes aren't really being paid for this year and what they do now. The contracts are for current and future performance, yes, but they're really being paid now for what they've already done, back when their paychecks and results where out of whack toward the underpaid side of the ledger. Hopes are up; expectations are high; but if it doesn't work out...hey--we already made good money off you and it was worth the chance. (The analogy falls apart when an underpaid athlete goes to another team for big bucks and bombs. That's just tough lucking for the gambling new team).

Matt Neffer, Boy Spotwelder said...

I dunno, Ken, I disagree with your assertion that voice actors such as those on The Simpsons are inherently more replaceable than on-camera actors. Just taking that specific cast as an example, those people are, I think, brilliant actors. I agree it's possible you could find someone who could do a reasonable facsimile of say, Homer's voice, but would they be half the actor as Dan Castellaneta? I was at a table read for the show a couple of years back. Within the same script, and even within the same scene, I saw Dan switch effortlessly between Homer, Grandpa, "Young Homer", "Young Grandpa" and even "Tracey Ullman Homer" -- his earliest iteration of the character from the Tracey Ullman days when Homer still sounded like Walter Matthau. All without missing a beat. It was remarkable to see. Not to mention all the other characters he does, as well as all the other cast members. I don't think voice actors get the respect they deserve.

Orleanas said...

My biggest annoyance with TBBT is that it became such a hit because of Parson's Sheldon, who I don't think is much different from Parson's usual acting style after I saw his performance in a film of which I can't recall / identify the title, even after I looked up his filmography. So for me, Parson's "acting" on TBBT has always felt like him playing an exaggerated version of himself. For that reason, I've not been able to give the show my time, although I am happy for Galecki who I have a soft spot for from his days on Roseanne and for whom I wanted the show to be a success.

Paul Duca said...

I understood the FRIENDS trusted dumb in character but not when out of it Lisa Kudrow to handle negotiations for the group.

Cap'n Bob said...

To the poster who asked: Niles married both Maris and Mel.

Greg Ehrbar said...

My wife and I were huge fans of MAD ABOUT YOU in its heyday. When Paul and Jamie were expecting, we were too (not on purpose -- we weren't THAT nuts about the show).

But the show did start to slip. One of the disturbing things was the replacement of Paul Dooley/John Karlen and Penny Fuller with Carroll O'Connor and Carol Burnett as Jamie's parents.

It was a ratings stunt, but the star status made the characters less believable. Burnett did a fine job -- no surprise there -- but O'Connor basically re-enacted the "Brownie the Clownie" scene he did with Sally Struthers on ALL IN THE FAMILY. Did they think we wouldn't notice?

Anyway, my wife and Jamie went into labor at around the same time, so we were sharing the experience with the characters on the show...

Until they got to the "Ferberizing" episode -- the one done in real time in which they force themselves to not pick up their crying baby at night. My wife found it painful (she doesn't think Ferberizing works, and we did pick up our kids when they cried at night).

When Jamie said, "I think I can hear her heart breaking," it was too much for my wife to stand. Our viewership, along with the quality of the series, tapered off.

It's a shame because MAD ABOUT YOU was an outstanding comedy that could have become more revered than it is today.

Scott Cason said...

"TWO AND A HALF MEN survived without Charlie Sheen." It limped along until they brought the Charlie Harper character back, in the form of his daughter. But it was too late by then. I see Ashton Kutcher and all I think is "Kelso".

nelly wilson said...

I thought the friends cast got very lazy on camera once they got their million, barely bothering to stay in character, looking like they just showed up to go through the motions, much as I would going back to work after winning $50 million in the lottery. It will be interesting to see if it happens on BBT as they get richer and richer and richer.

John said...

Orleanas said...

My biggest annoyance with TBBT is that it became such a hit because of Parson's Sheldon, who I don't think is much different from Parson's usual acting style after I saw his performance in a film of which I can't recall / identify the title, even after I looked up his filmography. So for me, Parson's "acting" on TBBT has always felt like him playing an exaggerated version of himself. ...


So basically, Jim Parsons was created by Neil Simon.

James said...

You should get Susanne Sommers to guest blog on this topic. She'd have an opinion on it.

For years Laurel & Hardy had contracts that ran out in different years. One of them (I think it was Stan) took a year off so they would be in sync, and boosted their leverage considerably.

Tony said...

This has not a damn thing to do with THE BIG BANG THEORY, but had to share. Over at TVShowsonDVD.com, they've announced that Shout Factory is releasing SGT. BILKO/THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW complete on DVD in November. (October, if you preorder directly from Shout Factory.)

Frankly, this is the best TV-on-DVD news I've heard in a long time.

Though a friend of mine who, by his own admission, is always going to find an angle to gripe about, is griping because it's DVD only and not Blu-Ray.

Ironic thing about Silvers' show. As much of a classic as it was, Silvers always said he made far more money off of GILLIGAN'S ISLAND. (He was primary investor in GILLIGAN.)

Still waiting to hear how much of the original music and dialogue Shout Factory is going to be able to preserve on WKRP IN CINCINNATI.

Liggie said...

I've noticed that when an athlete signs a mag bucks contract, public reaction seems far more hostile than when a performer does likewise. Wonder why that is? (Putting aside whether performers and athletes are worth $25 million a year., of course.)

I've avoided MEN, so I can't comment on Charlie Sheen's work there, but I do recall his involvement in some of the milestone movies of the '80s like "Platoon" and "Wall Street". Was he a once-talented actor until his lifestyle caught up with him?

Interested in what the BBT actors do when that show ends. Parsons keeps busy on Broadway during hiatuses, Cuoco seems talented enough to handle a drama series, Simon Helberg's allowed Wolowitz to develop a great deal of maturity I never thought the character was capable of, Melissa Rauch deserves her own sitcom (I keep forgetting she doesn't use her real voice for Bernadette). And Bialyk, of course, can do anything she wants,even earn another doctorate.

Liggie said...

I've noticed that when an athlete signs a mag bucks contract, public reaction seems far more hostile than when a performer does likewise. Wonder why that is? (Putting aside whether performers and athletes are worth $25 million a year., of course.)

I've avoided MEN, so I can't comment on Charlie Sheen's work there, but I do recall his involvement in some of the milestone movies of the '80s like "Platoon" and "Wall Street". Was he a once-talented actor until his lifestyle caught up with him?

Interested in what the BBT actors do when that show ends. Parsons keeps busy on Broadway during hiatuses, Cuoco seems talented enough to handle a drama series, Simon Helberg's allowed Wolowitz to develop a great deal of maturity I never thought the character was capable of, Melissa Rauch deserves her own sitcom (I keep forgetting she doesn't use her real voice for Bernadette). And Bialyk, of course, can do anything she wants,even earn another doctorate.

Buttermilk Sky said...

Has anyone pointed out that Anthony LaPaglia (Simon Moon) is Australian? He had to work hard to manage any kind of British accent. Anyway, Simon is half-drunk most of the time. When the other two brothers showed up, Richard E. Grant sounded BBC-posh, while Robbie Coltrane (a Scot) was totally incomprehensible due to some childhood trauma. As someone said, it's just a sitcom. The budget probably didn't run to a dialect coach.

As for "Big Bang," I have only one question: Will the ghost of Professor Proton be back next season?

Bob said...

@Buttermilk
Not sure I buy that explanation either, seeing as actors put on reasonable and appropriate accents all the time, so being American or Australian shouldn't make it any harder to put on a northern English accent than it did the abomination that ultimately spewed forth from LaPaglia's mouth.

Two other points arise from your message though... firstly, I think your point about the "other brothers" has just spoiled what would have been a nice surprise in one of the remaining episodes of Frasier I have yet to see. Serves me right for arguing about a series I haven't finished watching yet!

Secondly, on the subject of accents, what is the general view in the USA of the American accents employed by the huge number of British actors over there at the moment?

Pamela Jaye said...

In addition to the insanity of replacing a characters parents with Carol Burnett and Caroll O'Connor, Mad About You lost .... too many other cast members: Richard Kind, occasional Lisa Kudrow as Ursula, sister Lisa went away, too, didn't she? In the end it seemed they had no friends, they only had Ira. I wasn't a fan of Ira...

On a vaguely related note: I bought Couplehood and liked it a lot. Then, for my brother, from the library, I got the audio book of it. It was awful. Paul Reiser was *reading.* He sounded more like himself in my head, when I was reading it, myself.

Bradley D. said...

@ Bob: I remember reading somewhere on the internet (so it's bound to be total bullshit, but nevertheless) that the Crane siblings' various dodgy English accents were a kind of deliberate in-joke - i.e. Jane Leeves herself isn't from Manchester and her accent isn't exactly spot-on, so they underlined this by casting actors from across the UK and the Commonwealth - anywhere but Manchester - as her brothers. (And the ultimate irony, of course, was that the only real Mancunian in the cast was John Mahoney...)

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Bradley D: Quite right. Both Johnny Walker and I have commented that Leeves' accent is from Essex, so the equivalent of casting someone from New Jersey to play someone from Texas.

Re David Schwimmer: If you doubt his abilities as an actor, have a look at his work in IT'S THE RAGE. He'll have - and be able to afford - a fine theatrical career for the rest of his life.

Re Jim Parsons: From everything I hear about him, he is personally the opposite of Sheldon - sweet, well-mannered, kind. I thought his character in THE NORMAL HEART (for which he's Emmy-nominated this year, alongside another Emmy nomination for his work as Sheldon) was clearly very different.

wg

Bob said...

@BradleyD
Thanks, I was hoping someone could confirm that. Any idea where you read that?

And yes, it's pretty clear that Daphne's putting on an accent too (that's why I've been describing it as "northern" rather than Manchester, but at least it does (most of the time) sound consistently northern (as does Gertrude's)).

@Wendy M
That's a reasonable comparison, I guess, although of course the actual distance from Manchester to London is roughly the same as from Dallas to Houston. I'm not sure the people of Manchester would appreciate the comparison to Texas either :-)

LouOCNY said...

It should be immediately understood that David Schimmer's father was a VERY high powered Hollywood attorney.

ScottyB said...

@Bob said "Secondly, on the subject of accents, what is the general view in the USA of the American accents employed by the huge number of British actors over there at the moment?"

I'm usually pleasantly surprised, especially if I didn't even know the actor is in fact British or Australian. I end up doing a double-take when I hear them doing their native dialect during interviews.

Unless they're doing a South Side Chicago accent. I live there. Nobody *ever* gets that one right since the only point of reference anyone seems to have is the Superfan SNL skit and old episodes of 'The Untouchables'. NObody down here talks like that.

VP81955 said...

Unless they're doing a South Side Chicago accent. I live there. Nobody *ever* gets that one right since the only point of reference anyone seems to have is the Superfan SNL skit and old episodes of 'The Untouchables'. Nobody down here talks like that.

South Siders tend to be White Sox fans, who don't exist in the minds of showrunners. All they know of are Cubs fans, either from their time at Northwestern or from hanging around New Trier alums. Using the South Side to represent Chicago would be like representing SoCal through Bell Gardens -- it just doesn't happen.

And regarding TBBT, congrats to the cast members on cashing in; now get back to work on the first episodes for next season before the series returns to Thursday night. As a "Mom" fan, the fewer lead-ins from the godawful "2 Broke Girls," the better.

Mark S. said...

Followup Question for Ken - how much of the $1M per episode will actually make it to the BBT casts' bank accounts?

From the $1M per episode, I assume 35-50% taken off the top by taxes, then agents, management, etc. takes their cut.

Thanks a lot in advance!

Bradley D. said...

@Bob - Sorry, no... I just had a brief look online and the closest I could get to a source was a fan forum reference (frasieronline.co.uk) to a David Lee interview, in which he supposedly said that the unintelligible accent of the brother played by Robbie Coltrane was a deliberate response to the fans, and their complaints about the British accents. As for the rest of the story - no idea! It sounds like a fan theory made up out of whole cloth. Perhaps Ken knows more?

Joselle said...

I dated Chuck Lorre in the Dharma daze. Seems like the stars of his shows are always the ones who hold out for more $$. Does that indicate he is a writing genius? I remember that what he really wanted to be was a rock n roll writer (see: Debbie Harry's French Kissin' In The USA)

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Joselle: well, he didn't write FRIENDS or SEINFELD, which pioneered the $1m per episode figure.

And there have been different reasons. Sheen held out for more money because (it seems like) he was bored and didn't really want to do the show any more. Parsons, Galecki, and Cuoco understood their bargaining power as the three most significant leads on the nation's top show - and given that none were big stars beforehand that definitely *is* a sign of Lorre's abilities. (As if having four shows on the air simultaneously weren't enough.)

wg

Liggie said...

Matt LeBlanc appeared on a recent "Graham Norton Show" (BBC), and they played a clip of his "Episodes" character ranting about British actors using American accents and taking American actors' jobs. When they came back to the show, Norton said, "All of these British actors going to America and playing Americans; we don't get it, either."

Re: accents, I always like hearing them, whether an actor in a role or someone showing off at a party. I know Emily Blunt does a great Southern US accent.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

I was somewhat startled to find out that the actors playing Gunnar (who also is in EPISODES as one of the high school kid actors) and Scarlett are both Australian. I'm no expert on American southern accents, but I'd never have guessed.

Plus, they both sing country music just *great*.

wg

AndrewJ said...

if a Clayton Kershaw should rise quickly through the Dodgers’ organization and become the best pitcher in baseball, the Dodgers only have to pay him $500,000 for a couple of years while a rag arm pitcher in the bullpen makes five million. So when payday finally arrives, part of the enormous salary is compensation for past seasons when he was undervalued.

There's that negotiation scene in Bang the Drum Slowly. Michael Moriarty, the star pitcher, is told by the ballclub's owners to accept a lousy contract and that if he has a great season, he'll get a bonus the following year. "Every year I get paid for what I did the year before," he logically replies. "That leaves me a year short in the long run."

Thomas Watson said...

Good explanation. BBT is a good show.