CBS Paramount is asking the on-air talent on most of its dramas to accept freezes on their salaries in an attempt to cut costs, Entertainment Weekly‘s Michael Ausiello reports.
EW: CBS Paramount is asking the on-air talent on the majority of its dramas to forgo their annual raises and keep their salaries flat next season. (Multiyear contracts typically have standard yearly increases built in.) The unprecedented move, part of an overall cost-cutting measure, is an effort to keep budgets down at the CSIs, NCIS, Numb3rs, and their kin, and prevent further behind-the-scenes layoffs. (CBS dramas produced by outside studios — i.e., Ghost Whisperer, The Mentalist, and Without a Trace — won’t be affected.)…
But what if David Caruso, or another CSIer, demands a pay increase? The studio can’t fire the actor, but they can choose not to pick up his contract option at the end of the season. It’s more likely though, that a second-tier actor, or a few, will get fired.
“The leverage they will use is ‘Freeze your already ludicrously high salary, or watch a bunch of your coworkers lose their jobs,'” [a showrunner at a rival network says.]
In fact, one exec producer at a CBS Paramount drama is already preparing for such a worst-case scenario. “If our lead doesn’t accept the freeze, we will have no choice but to let one of our supporting actors go,” says the exec. “There’s no question that it’s the second-tier actors who are most vulnerable.”
Meanwhile, could other studios follow suit?
Reps at NBC Universal and Twentieth Television insist no such measure is on the table, while a Warner Bros. spokesperson could not be reached for comment.