The Malcolm matriarch--who missed several days of shooting last season due to what she claimed were migraines, but sources on the set suggested were a negotiating ploy--is close to getting a big-bucks raise that locks her in to at least two more seasons on the Fox hit.
Kaczmarek's new deal would pay her $100,000 per episode for the upcoming fourth season, then $150,000 per for the 2003-04 season, according to the Hollywood Reporter. She'll also get a retroactive pay bump covering last season.
There has been no official comment from Fox, Regency or Kaczmarek on the purported deal.
The 46-year-old actress, who plays the long-suffering Lois on Malcolm, called in sick for the better part of three weeks in February and March, ultimately forcing Fox and producer Regency Television to scrap the planned 24-show season and shoot only 22 episodes.
Kaczmarek's camp attributed her absences to "extremely painful" migraine attacks and even offered to bring out a doctor's note. "She has been medically diagnosed as suffering from severe migraine headaches," the actress' publicist said at the time.
But show insiders speculated the headaches were brought on by a budding salary dispute. Like the rest of the cast, she was locked into a long-term deal for a relatively low salary, but when the show took off--and she earned two Emmy nominations in two years--she apparently felt she deserved a big raise. Last fall, at the start of the show's third season, she reportedly staged a two-day walkout that resulted in small pay bumps for the whole Malcolm family.
While producers were under no legal obligation to renegotiate deals for the ensemble, it's considered a given that if a show becomes successful, the cast members will be rewarded. Regency and Fox had been planning on giving out raises once the show was sold into syndication, according to the Reporter, but the depressed TV ad market has forced the sale to be put off. Still, the producers wanted to keep the cast happy and decided to open up the checkbook now.
The Reporter says once Kaczmarek has been taken care of, Regency will be ready to renegotiate with the show's star, Frankie Muniz, and dad Byran Cranston.
Muniz, who recently pocketed $2 million for his next big-screen role in MGM's Agent Cody Banks, is expected to ink a deal similar to Kaczmarek's. Cranston, meanwhile, will reportedly get a raise in "the high-five figure range" per episode, the Reporter says, as well as a six-figure signing bonus in lieu of retroactive pay for last season.