TV salary disputes


Hawaii Five-0 made headlines with the exits of series regulars Grace Park and Daniel Dae Kim. The two Asian American stars, who had been with the show since its start, exited ahead of the upcoming season eight. After their exits were announced, reports surfaced indicating the two stars were seeking a salary equal to their costars Alex O'Loughlin and Scott Caan. Kim, CBS and showrunner Peter M. Lenkov all addressed the reports in their own way, but this isn't the first time TV contract negotiations and salary disputes played out publicly.

"I will not be returning to Hawaii Five-0 when production starts next week. Though I made myself available to come back, CBS and I weren't able to agree to terms on a new contract, so I made the difficult choice not to continue," Kim said on Facebook.

"I'll end by saying that though transitions can be difficult, I encourage us all to look beyond the disappointment of this moment to the bigger picture. The path to equality is rarely easy," he concluded.

CBS responded and said the show made the actors offers. "Daniel and Grace have been important and valued members of Hawaii Five-0 for seven seasons," the network said in a statement. "We did not want to lose them and tried very hard to keep them with offers for large and significant salary increases. While we could not reach an agreement, we part ways with tremendous respect for their talents on screen, as well as their roles as ambassadors for the show off screen, and with hopes to work with them again in the near future."

The Hawaii Five-0 news and exits came shortly after The Big Bang Theory stars renegotiated their contracts. The cast was all signed through the recently wrapped season 10, but went into negotiations for future seasons—the show was eventually renewed for two more years—with a twist. Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch were seeking raises to get their salary closer to costars Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar. The five were series regulars from the start, Rauch and Bialik joined in later seasons. To get their costars raises, Parsons, Galecki, Cuoco, Helberg and Nayyar all reportedly agreed to take $100,000 cut in salary. The original cast of Big Bang previously banded together to get raises, bringing their total to about $1 million per episode.

Before the cast of Big Bang Theory negotiated together, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander and Michael Richards banded together for raises on Seinfeld. Then the cast of FriendsLisa Kudrow, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer—did the same. The cast was originally paid $22,500 per episode at the start of the show, but then raises were given that saw salaries in a range. The cast got together for equal pay, eventually topping out at $1 million an episode with backend royalties.

The Simpsons, '90s TV Catchphrases


Like Hawaii Five-0, The Simpsons cast lost a member due to contract talks, albeit briefly. Throughout the show's lengthy run, the voice actors repeatedly sought salary increases and backend profits. In May 2015, Harry Shearer announced his exit from the series on Twitter. In a statement, executive producers Al Jean, James L. Brooks and Matt Groening said, "Harry Shearer was offered the same deal the rest of the cast accepted, and passed. The show will go on and we wish him well. Maggie took it hard." His characters were going to be recast, but his exit didn't last long.

By July 2015, Shearer had reached a deal with the series to return.

"Fox is proud to confirm that each and every member of the iconic series' voice cast will be returning in the roles they've brought to life since the show's beginnings as a series of animated shorts nearly 30 years ago," the network said in a release.

Not all contract negotiations go the way of The Simpsons.

Back in the day, Suzanne Somers  and Three's Company feuded, with Somers seeking a big raise for her work on the sitcom at the start of season five. Somers wanted to go from $30,000 an episode to $150,000 (this was back in 1980). This caused friction with costars John Ritter and Joyce DeWitt, and Somers was regulated to appearing in the closing tags of episodes. Her contract was terminated and she went on to sue ABC.

The X-Files, David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson


 "My career was dead, because the public got mad at me for being greedy. And I was portrayed as greedy. And really what I was asking for I still think I deserved it," Somers told ABC News.

Like Somers, David Duchovny also got into it legally with his network, in this case The X-Files and Fox. Duchovny sued 20th Century Fox Film Corp., alleging the studio cheated him out of millions in profits from the hit series. This was during the show's seventh season, and eventually resolved. Duchovny's Mulder appeared in only a handful of episodes of season eight and again at the end of season nine. He returned alongside Gillian Anderson for the 2016 revival of the hit series, but it was for those six episodes that Anderson had an issue with the pay.

Anderson was reportedly offered half of what was offered to Duchvony for the revival. "Especially in this climate of women talking about the reality of [unequal pay] in this business, I think it's important that it gets heard and voiced," she told The Daily Beast. "It was shocking to me, given all the work that I had done in the past to get us to be paid fairly. I worked really hard toward that and finally got somewhere with it."

Anderson reportedly received equal pay for the revival.

Another 1980 contract standoff happened with Dallas. Even if you've never seen the series, you've probably heard of the infamous "Who Shot J.R." episode. The cliffhanger was huge for Dallas, pulling in record ratings. Series star Larry Hagman used this to his advantage and sought to increase his wages from $15,000 an episode to $100,000.

"In essence I broke my contract. And whether that's morally good or not, I don't know," Hagman told ABC News. He got his way. After all, he was J.R. Ewing. Hagman's deal eventually went up to $250,000.

And then there are times, like with Kim and Park and Hawaii Five-0, when the raises don't come and the stars get the boot or leave on their own. Valerie Harper's Valerie became The Hogan Family after Harper tried to get a raise and a cut of the backend profits after the series became a bigger hit in its second season. The battle became very public and lawsuits were filed (and eventually dismissed or won).

While the show wasn't named after him, David Caruso is probably the most famous example of a contract-induced exit (aside from Somers) in recent TV history. After winning the Golden Globe for NYPD Blue season one, Caruso asked for a raise to $100,000 an episode. He didn't get it and coupled with his desire for movie roles, he departed early in the show's second season.

Contract disputes and raise requests are nothing new in the world of TV. While Hawaii Five-0 and Park and Kim's exits are just the latest examples, you can sure expect these types of stories to continue as long as television exists.

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