Simpsons voices sign, 20th season official

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The question wasn't whether or not there was going to be another season of The Simpsons; the question was how much it was going to cost Fox.

The animated show is one of Fox's staples and has been every year since it debuted in 1989. Its importance goes way beyond Sunday night ratings; the property makes a ton of its cash off licensing, endorsements, and merchandise.

So when the actors who provide many of the show's recognizable voices balked at continuing without a little more "incentive," Fox's hands were tied and it was forced to open up its wallet. And open its wallet it did.

The network will be handing checks for $400,000 per episode to each major voice actor of The Simpsons, says Variety. That's a bump from their $300,000-plus salaries from last season, but less than the actors' asking price of half a million dollars.

The Simpsons actors who can now afford to buy a new Rolls Royce after every episode include Hank Azaria (Moe, Apu), Dan Castellaneta (Homer), Julie Kavner (Marge), Yeardley Smith (Lisa), Nancy Cartwright (Bart), and Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders).

The decision was a no-brainer for Fox, but the late agreement does mean that season 20 will be short a couple of episodes. Variety reports that the upcoming season will lose a couple of shows and clock in around 20 episodes for the season instead of the normal 22.

With the cast locked into place, Fox thought it would be a good time to officially announce the show's 20th season, extending its record as the longest-running primetime animated series in history and tying with Gunsmoke as the longest-running regularly scheduled series in television history.