The Big Bang Theory is one of the most popular shows on TV, raking in an average of 20 million viewers per episode. Naturally, such strong viewing figures mean that the pay checks awarded to the core cast has been rising exponentially since the show first aired in 2007 — Jim Parsons, for example, is now currently the highest-paid TV actor in the world.
Which is why it's so awesome to hear reports that Parsons (Sheldon) and the other four main cast members — Johnny Galecki (Leonard), #KaleyCuoco (Penny), Simon Helberg (Wolowitz), and Kunal Nayyar (Raj) — have made a gesture to decrease their pay checks so that Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch can have theirs increased. The gesture was made as the two actresses are currently negotiating new contracts, and are seeking parity with their costars.
Bialik and Rauch both joined the cast in Series 3, as Sheldon's eccentric live-in girlfriend #AmyFarrahFowler and Howard's wife Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz respectively. The pair were then promoted to series regulars in Series 4, and have been very much a part of the core cast for some time. #MayimBialik has been nominated for four supporting actress Emmys for her role as Amy, and Rauch's character Bernadette recently had a baby, which provided a huge jump in ratings.
Reps for both Bialik and Rauch have been pushing CBS to increase their pay checks to match the rest of the ensemble, who each receive $1 million per episode (in contrast, Bialik and Rauch receive a reported $200,000 per episode). As the pair go through talks for contract renewal, multiple sources have confirmed that the rest of the cast are looking to take a $100,000 cut to free up an extra $500,000 for Bialik and Rauch — which, split between the two, would bring their new total up for $450,000 per episode.
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This is not the first time new deals have been forged for the Big Bang cast — as of this most recent season, Helberg and Nayyar have earned a severn-figure salary, putting them on par with Parsons, Galecki and Cuoco.
Neither CBS, Warner, Bialik or Rauch have commented on the reports, so it's unclear whether the pair will decide to take the $450,000, or continue to push for that seven-figure pay check. Unfortunately, this comes during a particularly turbulent time for Warner Bros. TV and Time Warner, who are working out an $85 billion merger with AT&T, so all spending will be even more heavily scrutinized.
While the The Big Bang Theory has been extremely lucrative for the network, it's unclear whether Bialik and Rauch will get that juicy pay check they're hoping for, especially when rumors of cancelation are circling — but it's amazing to see such a solid display of camaraderie from the rest of the cast. Looks like they're just as close in real life!
Do you think $1 million per episode is too much money?