Big Bang Theory is one of the most successful sitcoms in recent memory.  The stars of the show find themselves in a unique position to leverage that into a huge payday.  With the show’s production set to begin on July 30, the stars took advantage of that opportunity.

Indeed, production of the eighth season of the hit comedy has been delayed.  The five stars of the show – Kaley Cuoco, Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar – are all negotiating for hefty pay raises.  Cuocco, Parsons and Galecki, the shows three biggest stars and central characters, have enter negotiations together.  Those three were making $325,000 per episode previously.  They are reportedly demanding more than $1 million per episode as well as a share of the show’s revenue stream.

Big Bang Theory Jim Parsons SDCCHelberg and Nayyar are also negotiating as a team.  That duo is reportedly seeking a dramatic pay increase as well, though the amount has gone largely unreported to this point.  Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch negotiated new deals previously for substantial pay raises of their own.

The show was recently renewed by CBS for three more seasons.  This gives the stars the leverage they need in negotiations to make such high demands.  The five stars have taken small stands recently to show they were serious in the negotiations even prior to forcing a work stoppage.

The show was scheduled to host a panel at the recently completed San Diego Comic Con.  The panel was completed without any of the five stars included.  The panel consisted of writers from the series instead of cast members.  While it has been reported that this was an unplanned “no show” by the cast, it is important to realize that no cast members participated during last year’s con.  Due to the timing of the negotiations, their absence caused assumptions to be made.  One interesting note from SDCC is that Parsons was in fact there and participated in a panel to support his new film Home, an animated film from DreamWorks.

The negotiations seem to be following in the footsteps of NBC’s hit comedy Friends.  That show eventually paid the stars each $1 million per episode when they came to the bargaining table as a team prior to the final season.  The cast members of that show also received portions of the syndication proceeds, a precedent the Big Bang Theory cast hopes works in their favor.

The syndication rights may be the most important, and lucrative, part of the process for the cast.  Jerry Seinfeld has reportedly made over $400 million from the syndication rights of his show.  The profits from syndication of Seinfeld were missed out on by the remainder of the cast.  Jason Alexander, Michael Richards and Julia Louis-Dreyfus yielded the syndication payout in their final contract.  The trio settled for a portion of the DVD sales instead.

Big Bang Theory is set to debut on CBS as part of their Monday night lineup to start the season.  It will eventually anchor the Thursday night run of shows after CBS airs it’s final NFL game of the season.

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