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Television The Almighty Buck The Media

Big Bang Actors To Earn $1M Per Episode 442

Posted by timothy
from the starving-grad-students dept.
Cludge (981852) writes with a snippet from the BBC: "And rich they will be: With The Big Bang Theory commissioned until 2017, the show's three biggest names, Jim Parsons (Sheldon), Johnny Galecki (Leonard) and Kaley Cuoco (Penny) are guaranteed to earn $72m (£42.6m) each over the next three seasons. Unsurprisingly, the cost of producing the sitcom has spiraled." I wonder what that works out per line?
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Big Bang Actors To Earn $1M Per Episode

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  • Nerd Blackface (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mythosaz (572040) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @03:44PM (#47608879)

    The argument against is that BBT is, essentially, Nerd Blackface.

    The argument for BBT is that the material and situations are relateable, especially with the mainstreaming of geek culture (Dr. Who, BSG, Marvel films).

    Meh. It's funny. I watch. I read the vanity card at the end. I think they're all good actors - at least within the scope of the show.

    • by SQLGuru (980662)

      Even early on, I recognized a very real effort to make the science real (and there have been articles stating as much). For this, I can tolerate the sharks they have jumped (such as introducing the girls and allowing Raj to speak to girls and what not). It became less nerdy and turned mainstream once it became popular -- it's very much a more traditional sitcom these days......but it's one of the more scientifically accurate shows on TV these days. Especially over the more "scientific" dramas that we lov

      • by mythosaz (572040)

        I think the Raj speaking phobia joke played itself out, pure and simple. They had painted themselves into a box with him, especially as the direction of the show went from a Leonard/Sheldon/Penny-third-wheel show to a compare-and-contrast of all of their relationships...Leonard/Penny, Sheldon/Amy, Howard/Bernadette, Raj and the chick from Garfunkel and Oats...

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by RobinH (124750)
      Pullleeeze. To even suggest that is to suggest that the persecution of nerds is equivalent to the persecution of African American minorities in the United States. Certainly nerds are persecuted, particularly in high school, but they are in no way equivalent. Besides, it's not like the show doesn't make fun of people who are "smart and good looking".
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Pullleeeze. To even suggest that is to suggest that the persecution of nerds is equivalent to the persecution of African American minorities in the United States. Certainly nerds are persecuted, particularly in high school, but they are in no way equivalent. Besides, it's not like the show doesn't make fun of people who are "smart and good looking".

        Tell that to the parents of any "nerd" that has committed suicide due to the bullying. Go on. Straight to their face.

        • Pullleeeze. To even suggest that is to suggest that the persecution of nerds is equivalent to the persecution of African American minorities in the United States. Certainly nerds are persecuted, particularly in high school, but they are in no way equivalent. Besides, it's not like the show doesn't make fun of people who are "smart and good looking".

          Tell that to the parents of any "nerd" that has committed suicide due to the bullying. Go on. Straight to their face.

          Tell that the families of thousands of blacks who were lynched simply because racist white guys wanted to. Go. Straight to their face.

      • by Dins (2538550)
        As a self professed nerd/geek, the "Nerd Blackface" doesn't offend me, and I certainly don't feel "persecuted" by it. But I can't stand it in a TV show, and so I pretty much stopped watching after half an episode. That, and after many modern examples of sitcoms and half hour comedy shows without laugh tracks, I absolutely cannot stand shows with laugh tracks anymore.
        • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @04:47PM (#47609439) Homepage Journal

          As a self professed nerd/geek, the "Nerd Blackface" doesn't offend me, and I certainly don't feel "persecuted" by it. But I can't stand it in a TV show, and so I pretty much stopped watching after half an episode. That, and after many modern examples of sitcoms and half hour comedy shows without laugh tracks, I absolutely cannot stand shows with laugh tracks anymore.

          (cue laugh track)

        • Re:Nerd Blackface (Score:4, Informative)

          by roc97007 (608802) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @04:55PM (#47609507) Journal

          I agree on the annoyance of laugh tracks, but TBBT is filmed in front of an audience, and it's the audience's actions you hear, not canned laughter.

          • by Knuckles (8964)

            The audience's actions being prompted by people with cue boards, etc., of course.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      One comment I've read sums it all: "Arrested Development was a smart show about dumb people. BBT is a dumb show about smart people".

    • Re:Nerd Blackface (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @04:13PM (#47609165) Homepage

      The argument against is that BBT is, essentially, Nerd Blackface.

      That wouldn't be my argument against it. My argument is that it's not a good show. I don't find the characters relateable. I don't think it's particularly funny. It seems like someone took a very bland, unoriginal sitcom and attached a geek gimmick to try to make it interesting, but in my mind it fails. It's not interesting, and the geek gimmick doesn't really work.

      If you wanted to talk about it's problem with relation to "geek culture", I don't feel like it's right to say it's like "nerd blackface". I would argue the problem is more like, if you had a bunch of kids thinking that they understand urban black culture because they're listening to rap music, but the rap music they're listening to is Vanilla Ice.

      Sorry, no, you don't understand geeks and nerds and "geek culture" from watching Big Bang Theory. You don't understand comic books and Doctor Who from learning the references that the show uses. From the episodes that I've seen, the characters don't seem like authentic geeks and nerds. Not really. It mostly seems like a crappy "Friends" ripoff where the characters are all wearing nerd costumes and talking in nasal voices. I don't think it's mainstreaming geek culture, but more like jumping on the bandwagon of geek culture that has managed to mainstream itself.

      That's my take. I don't require that anyone else agrees.

      • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @04:42PM (#47609395)

        I would argue the problem is more like, if you had a bunch of kids thinking that they understand urban black culture because they're listening to rap music, but the rap music they're listening to is Vanilla Ice.

        Well most people would see that as satire and not that the elements of geekdom are to be taken literally as 100% true. There is a category for shows like that: documentaries. I would argue most TV shows does not follow subjects faithfully. Since you mentioned "Friends", I don't think people really believe that New Yorkers spend all of their time hanging out in a coffee shop. Chuck probably does not represent a true government agent any more than Will Smith was your average Bellaire teen.

        Personally I thought one of the funniest episodes was "The Alien Parasite Hypothesis" where Howard and Raj decide to settle a dispute by wrestling. In real life, two people angry at each other would have actually wrestled regardless of lack of skill instead of the hilarity of two nerds circling each other endlessly.

        • Since you mentioned "Friends", I don't think people really believe that New Yorkers spend all of their time hanging out in a coffee shop.

          Yeah, but nobody was trying to say, "Friends is a great show because it's finally New Yorkers' chance to feel represented." People do seem to be latching on to "Big Bang Theory" as some sort of recognition, appreciation, or celebration of geeks and "geek culture".

      • Dharma & Greg: "The show starred Jenna Elfman and Thomas Gibson as the title characters, whose characters were complete opposites: Dharma's world view being more spiritual, 'free spirit' type instilled by "hippie" parents, contrasted with Greg's world view of structure, social status requirements, and "white collar duty" instilled by his generations of affluent parents/ancestors." (from wikipedia)

        Two and a Half Men - same basic "mismatched cohabitants" schtik.

        BBT - Mismatched cohabitants combined with

      • Re:Nerd Blackface (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Xest (935314) on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @02:57AM (#47612191)

        This is exactly what's great about The Big Bang theory, and especially discussions on Slashdot about it, there are always a bunch of geeks who will sit and say they don't relate to it and it doesn't represent "proper" geeks, all the while completely oblivious to the fact they're sounding exactly like Sheldon hence disproving their own theory that it's not representative. If you sat Sheldon down in front of a show like the Big Bang Theory this is probably exactly what he'd say:

        "That wouldn't be my argument against it. My argument is that it's not a good show. I don't find the characters relateable. I don't think it's particularly funny. It seems like someone took a very bland, unoriginal sitcom and attached a geek gimmick to try to make it interesting, but in my mind it fails. It's not interesting, and the geek gimmick doesn't really work. "

        It's like a kind of circular ignorance of what makes the show great. I'd say that contrary to your assertion people watching Big Bang Theory exactly understand geeks and nerds, because when they think of Sheldon and what he'd have to say about it, they'd imagine exactly the sort of holier than thou, no true geek (aka no true Scotsman) argument you've made.

        • Re:Nerd Blackface (Score:4, Insightful)

          by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @06:29AM (#47612743) Homepage

          That's a great, clever argument, since it basically closes off my options. No matter what I say, you can just respond, "Oh you, you're such a Sheldon! That's exactly what he'd say!" In reality, you're only illustrating the sort of dumb ideas that the show inspires. It makes people think they understand-- like I said, in about the way that a bunch of rich white suburban teenage boys, a couple of decades ago, might think that they understood inner city black culture because they bought a Starter jacket and listened to Vanilla Ice. And it's not a "no true scottsman" argument and more than it would be to say, "in fact, Vanilla Ice was not a true inner-city black person".

          But fundamentally, it's not a "no true geek" argument. Really, it's a "these characters are weak, poorly written, and representative of nothing" argument. It's a "I've tried watching this show, and found it painfully unfunny" argument.

    • any show with a laugh track (with the conspicuous exception of maybe Seinfeld) that has a laugh track is not funny. It's condescending.. "Hey dummy, this is funny, laugh!"

      Side note, there are two reasons to watch that show, and neither of them have to do Kaley Cuoco's acting ability. :(

  • by OzPeter (195038) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @03:46PM (#47608895)

    Seinfeld was in the $600,000 to $1,000,000 range (depending on the actor) back in the late 90's

    • The friends cast was paid that much too, then they wanted more so they cancelled the show.

      • by edawstwin (242027)

        ...they wanted more so they cancelled the show.

        That's untrue. They only reason that there was a tenth season is that they got the $1M per ep they asked for (a ridiculous sum at the time, of course, and one I don't think they expected to get). Schwimmer and Kudrow said they wanted season nine to be the last season, but that amount of money is hard for anyone to turn down.

    • by ark1 (873448)
      Jerry apparently turned down $5 millions/episode for 22 episode to continue for a 10th season. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J... [wikipedia.org]
    • Seinfeld was in the $600,000 to $1,000,000 range (depending on the actor) back in the late 90's

      The cast of Friends was making $1M/episode as well.

  • Over paid (Score:2, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745)

    for what they do. VASTLY overpaid.

    • by dave562 (969951)

      For an interesting thought project, work backwards to how much the advertisers must be paying the networks to support those kinds of salaries for the actors. Do not forget to factor in production costs, everyone working below the line, etc.

      • by cdrudge (68377)

        So $3m/episode for the main stars. The other stars aren't making anywhere near that, and factoring in production costs, say we double the amount to $6m. Average show has 8 minutes of commercials and presuming 30-second ads, that's $375k/commercial (or probably less)

        Coincidentally, ads were $326k last fall [businessinsider.com] so my $6m/episode may not be that outlandish.

        This also doesn't factor in any other money they make from merchandise sales, syndication ($1.5m/episode several years ago), and "goodwill" for other shows tha

        • by onepoint (301486)

          Using this source https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_pub... [fcc.gov]
          We can guess that there must be between 400 to 500 broadcasting stations
          Now the quoted figure 326K for 30 seconds, should be for the nationwide broadcast of ads that the local and regional broadcaster cannot use (BB's own time).

          So thinking that about 200 stations buy BB, and they give up the 30 second, that would 200 x 326 that's about 65 million gross income per episode.
          I think that the number 326K is the NYC, CHI, LA top rates. I would guess that the nati

        • by ark1 (873448)
          Don't forget international broadcasting rights.
    • by morcego (260031)

      I both agree and disagree with you.
      On other hand, they are making the production company and NBC a ton of money.
      On the other hand, the writers are getting much less than the actors, and I think that at least 60% of the money being made by the show is because of the actors.
      The rationale, however, is that the writers are (in theory) easier to replace than the actor, because the public don't see them.

    • by edawstwin (242027)
      How are they overpaid? The production company and the network make millions off of this show. The actors are (obviously) an integral part of the success of the show, and therefore the revenue, so why not pay them whatever they can negotiate?
      • by geekoid (135745)

        Do you think the production company dips into their own pocket, or that the price of advertising goes up to make the difference?
        Consumers pay those bills. Every time you buy something, you are paying those outrages salaries.

        It's not life risking, it's not overly hard, they are off a great deal of the year.

        If it was actually funny they wouldn't need that laugh track to tell you when the joke is.

        Compared to almost every other job on the planet, they are ridiculously over paid.

        • by edawstwin (242027)

          Do you think the production company dips into their own pocket, or that the price of advertising goes up to make the difference? Consumers pay those bills. Every time you buy something, you are paying those outrages salaries.

          It's not life risking, it's not overly hard, they are off a great deal of the year.

          If it was actually funny they wouldn't need that laugh track to tell you when the joke is.

          Compared to almost every other job on the planet, they are ridiculously over paid.

          The price of advertising is already at its maximum. If the network could charge one dollar more for a 30-second spot, they would. The advertisers won't pay more just because the stars now get paid more.

          I don't think you understand the concept of value. No one is arguing that what they do is "life risking", but that's not the point (and what "life risking" profession gets paid millions?). What they do is get millions of people to watch a TV show 24 times a year, and that is extremely valuable. If the netwo

          • by geekoid (135745)

            "The advertisers won't pay more just because the stars now get paid more."
            false.

            "I don't think you understand the concept of value."
            I actually do.

            "so this obviously (well, maybe not to you) makes great sense for all parties involved."
            except the consumer. Anyone who buys a product, regardless if the watch the show, pays and gets no say.

            " Have you tried acting/making people laugh week after week for years?"
            No, but there are 100,000 of actors that do. Those actors are not special.

            " It is incredibly difficult"
            M

            • by EvilSS (557649)

              "so this obviously (well, maybe not to you) makes great sense for all parties involved." except the consumer. Anyone who buys a product, regardless if the watch the show, pays and gets no say.

              I wanted to break this out because I find it fascinating that you feel this way.

              Ignoring the fact that you can vote with your dollars and not buy said product, how exactly do you feel that you are entitled to a say in how a company that you buy a product from spends its money? The vast majority of companies are not monopolies (if they were, they wouldn't need to advertise so much) so you have a choice when you buy a product. For most essentials you can even choose generics that don't have much ad cost b

          • by onepoint (301486)

            good actors are hard to find consistently, and a blend of actors whom work decently well together is rarer yet.
            That's why Mash, Happydays (until Ron Howard left), dukes of hazard, loveboat, and many other shows lived season after season ( Chico and the man were my favorite )

            I can not even think of how many shows per year fail just after the pilot, or even after first broadcast.

    • by timeOday (582209)
      Just accept on faith that the market valuation is infallible by definition, it makes everything so much simpler that way.
    • by retchdog (1319261)

      yeah, most of us are if you think about it.

      "... and perchance I may think myself so much better than I am, and I know not that. No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main... And therefore never [ask] for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

  • "People have so many choices on TV now, so no one's asking for you to marry us. You can enjoy our show without a weekly appointment."

    And that, my friends, and part of the reason people keep turning on to watch it.

  • no TV actors have EVER [cnn.com] been paid that much b4! [nytimes.com]

    Is this considered /. news because the show portrays "nerds" and nerds in this sites tag line?
  • by denzacar (181829) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @03:58PM (#47609031) Journal

    After all... it's a show about and for people and culture who promote file sharing. Sorry, piracy.

    Checking Piratebay it is obvious that it is heavily shared, with thousands of seeds.
    Why isn't this show being canceled due to everyone involved with making of it dying from starvation?
    I was told that sharing... sorry, pirating of video directly hurts people who make these shows.
    I demand that someone does something about it!

    Like... take them all behind the shed and shoot them in the head.

  • by xfizik (3491039) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @04:05PM (#47609103)
    Given that the show is going into season 8, I wouldn't be too surprised if it went downhill from here, like it usually happens to long running sitcoms. It's not like money will reflect the quality of acting.
  • Yawn (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wcrowe (94389) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @04:16PM (#47609187)

    I don't get the controversy. I like the show. It makes me laugh. I don't care what the actors get paid. It's none of my business. I think the comparisons to "black face" are in error. Poking fun at people because of their behavior is not the same as poking fun at people because of their skin color. It's just a sitcom. They come and go. It hasn't jumped the shark yet (not for me, anyway). When it does I'll probably stop watching. And if CBS should cancel it tomorrow, I won't care. My life does not revolve around characters on a tv show, nor does it revolve around the actors and writers. They're getting $1million per show... yawn.

    • by mvdwege (243851)

      I do get the controversy.

      I like the show; when it takes its character and setting seriously, it brings some good humour to the table, and some interesting plotlines.

      Of course, there's a "however..." in this. Too many episodes focus on the outside view of geek culture, making it more a case of laughing at geeks instead of laughing with the characters about things that are relatable.

      And then there is their wildly inconsistent characterisation. Especially Penny swings from 'willing to accept Leonard's idiosync

      • by vux984 (928602)

        Especially Penny swings from 'willing to accept Leonard's idiosyncracies', to the mainstream standard 'grow up and throw your toys away' attiturde.

        Wildly inconsistent perhaps; but that's women for you. Show nails it. (*ducks*)

        In all seriousness, people aren't that rigid and conflicting emotions are common -- what bubbles to the surface today may not be the same as tomorrow. For example I usually tolerate my kids rooms being messy until the days I don't, and then make them clean them up thoroughly - dustin

  • Incredible! Think how much the writers will be making, seeing as their talent is the real reason for the show's success.

  • Entertainers get paid according to the market value of the entertainment they provide. Full stop. Personally I'm happier seeing them get it for making me laugh than to see someone make more than that kicking a football / hitting a golf ball / swinging a tennis racket (etc). Top footballers (soccer...) earn silly money [thisismoney.co.uk], and I'm sure it's the same with American football, baseball, basketball etc...

    If people stopped paying to watch them, stopped spending a fortune on the satellite and cable packages, the rewar

  • by paiute (550198) on Tuesday August 05, 2014 @05:39PM (#47609831)
    I play hockey with a bunch of high IQ programmers and scientists. We drink beer after in the parking lot and talk about women, technology, and too much about Marvel Comic movies. Those are the intelligent people I hang around with. Sure, I also know flabby, ugly, borderline Asperger's nerds. But why are the only smart people we see in the media modeled on them?

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