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Could This Be the Last Season of The Simpsons?

Remember that wacky idea about The Simpsons TV channel when the show goes off the air? Well, it could happen sooner than later.

The popular Fox cartoon could come to an end this spring after 23 seasons thanks to a nasty contract dispute, according to Lloyd Grove of The Daily Beast:

“The reason is a negotiating impasse between the studio and the six principal actors who voice the beloved characters on the animated series that hilariously satirizes middle-class Midwestern angst.

Difficult bargaining is nothing new for the show, which was created by James L. Brooks and Matt Groening. Fox studio execs have occasionally threatened to replace uncooperative cast members with sound-alike actors. But for the first time in nearly a quarter century of haggling, the executives have insisted that if the cast doesn’t accept a draconian 45 percent pay cut, The Simpsons will die an abrupt death as a first-run series.”

A Fox spokesman released the following statement Tuesday:

“23 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. 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.”

Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Yeardley Smith, Nancy Cartwright, Hank Azaria and Harry Shearer would see their salaries slashed from roughly $8 million annually to about $4 million. No matter how rich you are, a 45 percent pay cut is a total insult when you consider the show will continue to make billions in syndication.

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