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Date: March 13, 1998

Bart Simpson Wants More Money, Man
by Joal Ryan

The voices behind the jaundiced-toned 'toons of The Simpsons are banding together to try to secure hefty pay hikes, à la the moneyed mutineers of Friends and Seinfeld, according to today's Daily Variety.

As Bart Simpson might intone, Ay! Caramba.

Of course, if the reputed hold-out is for real, Bart Simpson might not intone anything.

Variety's spies tell the Hollywood trade paper that the Simpsons acting family is already holding up production on the Fox comedy's upcoming 10th season.

Voice tracks to be laid down this month aren't being laid down because the talent, which individually earn less than $35,000 an episode, collectively want a more than 50 percent increase--something to the tune of $100,000-plus per show, per player, according to the report.

The mutineers include: Nancy Cartwright (Bart), Dan Castellaneta (Homer), Julie Kavner (Marge), Yeardley Smith (Lisa), Hank Azaria (Moe the bartender, et. al) and Harry Shearer (neighbor Ned Flanders, et. al), Variety says.

If history tells us anything, it tells us that this dirty dozen is likely in for lush spring--lots of green in the forecast.

When the cast of Friends staged its whine out in the summer of 1996, the stars saw each of their paychecks more than doubled to $75,000 an episode by Christmas (with promises to take them up the vaunted $100,000 mark by the 1998-99 season).

And last spring, when Jerry Seinfeld's supporting cast made noises about wanting Jerry-esque money (that would be a cool $1 million an episode, every episode), they settled within months for a not-so-shabby $600,000-an-episode pact.

By Hollywood standards then, it might seem that the Simpsons' players have demonstrated the patience of Ned Flanders--what with waiting nearly a decade to pull their Norma Rae. But then again, as Variety points out, cartoon voice-over work ain't ditch-digging. It's two half-days of work, per episode.

In any case, the paper says Fox is already looking to make peace with its cast and wants to float a counter-offer soon.

So, Simpsons fans take heart. This is no time to have a cow, man.