Production of the eighth season of CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory has been delayed because of salary negotiations between the network and the cast. All five original cast members are negotiating new deals. If all goes well and contracts are signed, the cast and crew will begin work later this week. Jonathan Galecki, Kaley Cuoco and Jim Parsons – who each earn $350,000 per episode – are asking for huge raises: close to $1 million per episode. Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar, who negotiate together (a strategy they probably learned from the cast of Friends), each currently get $100,000 per episode. They are hoping to at least quadruple their current pay. With Big Bang the most popular sitcom on TV, they’re all likely to do well in negotiations.
There’s nothing new about actors holding up schedules while their agents haggle for more money. The television industry was changed forever in the summer of 1980 when Larry Hagman – J.R. in Dallas – went on strike. His timing was perfect: the season had ended with the famous cliffhanger that had viewers around the world asking “Who shot J.R.?” Hagman knew that there was no way CBS could kill off the villain everybody loved to hate. J.R. survived the shooting; Hagman’s salary rose to an unprecedented $75,000 per episode; and soon after that, other cast members were demanding more money. By the way, it was Kristin who shot him.