After surviving aliens, skateboarding hooligans, and living in the shadow of a very poorly regulated nuclear facility for decades, will Springfield be ruined by money troubles?
The studio that produces "The Simpsons" says it needs to cut its budget or abruptly stop producing new episodes after its current, twenty-third season.
The show's lead voice actors may walk over a demand that they agree to have their roughly $8 million-per-season salaries cut almost in half. The dispute was first reported by The Daily Beast.
"Twenty-three seasons in, 'The Simpsons' is as creatively vibrant as ever and beloved by millions around the world. We believe this brilliant series can and should continue, but we cannot produce future seasons under its current financial model," 20th Century Fox Television said in a statement. "We are hopeful that we can reach an agreement with the voice cast that allows 'The Simpsons' to go on entertaining audiences with original episodes for many years to come."
Harry Shearer (the voice of Mr. Burns, Principal Skinner, and Ned Flanders, among others) suggested the fate of the show is up to the studio Tuesday, when a fan tweeted, "Simpsons facing cancellation? Say it ain't so, Harry!"
Fox TV has tried to get actors to take paycuts before, threatening to replace them with soundalikes. The cuts they're being asked to take about 45 percent would drop their salaries to slightly more than $4 million for about 22 weeks of work each season.
"The Simpsons" remains the anchor of Fox's Sunday animation block, and is the longest-running primetime scripted series in the history of television. With nearly 500 episodes, it would still live a long life in syndication.
Besides Shearer, the actors being asked to take cuts are Dan Castellaneta (Homer, Grampa Simpson, Krusty the Clown, and others), Julie Kavner (Marge and others), Nancy Cartwright (Bart and others), Yeardley Smith (Lisa), Hank Azaria (Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum and Apu).