The actors who provide the voices of The Simpsons and the athletes who compete in the NBA are clashing with the powers who write their paychecks -- and it now appears that they're losing and that both the next season of The Simpsons and at least the first weeks of the basketball season will be canceled as a result. Both Fox TV, which airs The Simpsons, and the NBA owners maintain that they cannot justify paying the sky-high salaries of their talent. On Tuesday, the NBA canceled its preseason games and warned that it was on the verge of canceling the first weeks of the regular season unless the players agreed to take a sizable cut in pay. At the same time, TheDailyBeast.com reported that Fox was demanding that the voice actors of The Simpsons take a cut of 45 percent or face cancellation after 23 seasons. "We believe this brilliant series can and should continue, but we cannot produce future seasons under its current financial model," the network said. Television ratings in recent years have been lackluster for both The Simpsons and the NBA (except during the playoffs -- which do not affect most teams), and their respective owners would likely have much to gain from cancellation. Or at any rate, less to lose. In a much-quoted note to clients on Tuesday, analyst David Bank of RBC Capital Markets noted that the original syndication agreement for The Simpsons allowed Fox to sell the shows only to local broadcast stations. Cancellation would allow it to sell them to cable networks, potentially opening up additional revenue of around $750. But in reporting on the stand-off, Los Angeles Times media writer Joe Flint noted, "A Sunday night without The Simpsons , would be like 60 Minutes without Andy Rooney." He then added, "Oh, wait a minute."

05/10/2011