The Simpsons, the beloved American cartoon comedy, is in danger of coming to an end after voice actors became embroiled in a financial dispute with 20th Century Fox Television, reports the Los Angeles Times. The studio is seeking to dramatically cut the six-figure incomes of key actors, including Dan Castellaneta and Nancy Cartwright, who voice Homer and Bart Simpson.
In a statement condemning the current salaries, 20th Century Fox said it "cannot produce future seasons under its current financial model". Over the years, Fox has enjoyed billions of dollars of income from Simpsons Dvd's, re-runs, merchandise, video games and the hit feature film. However, this season the show has averaged only 7.1 million views, a drop of nearly 20% from five years ago. Also at odds with the studio are Julie Kaver, the voice of Marge, Harry Shearer, who voices Mr Burns and Ned Flanders, and the popular American actor Hank Azaria, the man behind Moe, Chief Wiggum and Apu. Despite the dispute, Fox noted, "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".
The first episode of The Simpsons hit screens on 17th December 1989 - it is currently airing its 23rd season.