'Big Bang Theory' contract talks delay hit show's filming (+video)

'Big Bang Theory' contract talks halted the start of production this week as CBS and the hit show's biggest stars work to negotiate new deals. CBS executives are optimistic that the 'Big Bang Theory' contract talks will be resolved soon.

By , Associated Press

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    This image released by CBS shows Jim Parsons in a scene from 'The Big Bang Theory.' Parsons and co-stars Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco are embroiled in contract talks with CBS that are delaying the start of production for the hit TV show.
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Production on a new season of "The Big Bang Theory" is being delayed because of a contract dispute with its top actors.

The Warner Brothers Television studio, which makes television's most popular comedy, said that Wednesday's scheduled first day of work after the summer hiatus was postponed. There's no word on when "The Big Bang Theory" team will be back at work.

The CBS series is heading into its eighth season, and the studio is trying to hammer out new deals with actors Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar.

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Contract disputes aren't unusual at popular, long-running TV series, and CBS Entertainment Chairman Nina Tassler seemed to take it in stride when asked about the negotiations two weeks ago.

"I just love being able to answer these questions year after year, primarily because we have successful shows," she said. "And when you have successful shows, you have renegotiations. We're feeling very confident that everything will work out. These deals manage to get done somehow miraculously year after year."

CBS had no additional comment on the negotiations Wednesday.

It's considered far too early for such a dispute to affect the timing of a show's season premiere. "The Big Bang Theory" opens its new season on Sept. 22. The show is moving temporarily to Mondays for the beginning of the new season with CBS airing NFL football games on Thursdays for the first half of the season.

Variety had additional details on the negotiations Wednesday: 

"The “Big Bang” actors were set to return from their summer hiatus today for a table reading of the first episode for the show’s eighth season. But with no new deals in place with the show’s core trio, plus Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar, Warners had little choice but to table the table reading rather than add to the tension between the studio and the thesps.

“Due to ongoing contract negotiations, production on ‘The Big Bang Theory’ — which was originally scheduled to begin today — has been postponed,” WBTV said in a statement.

Talks between Warners and the actors’ reps has been on and off since January. The offers on the table for Parsons, Cuoco and Galecki has topped the $1 million per episode mark, plus a larger sliver of the show’s backend, for a three-season commitment. “Big Bang,” from the prolific Chuck Lorre Prods., is projected to gross more than $1 billion in syndication sales for the studio, thanks to mammoth first-cycle deals with TV stations and cabler TBS and strong advertising sales.

But the negotiations have been complicated by the fact that Parsons’ team is said to be angling for a bigger payday than Cuoco and Galecki, while those two are insisting on parity with Parsons. Helberg and Nayyar are said to be unsatisfied with offers that are lower than those for the other three.

Parsons is a three-time Emmy winner for his “Big Bang” role, and he’s a two-time nominee this year for “Big Bang” and for his work in the HBO telepic “The Normal Heart.”

The back-and-forth has made for long days on the Warner Bros. lot this week. The hope is that the studio can come to terms with the thesps before too long or risk having to trim its 24-episode order for the coming season."

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