Don't have a cow, man, but The Simpsons may be on its last legs.

It's transpired that 20th Century Fox Television can no longer afford to produce the show without its talented bunch of voice actors taking a huge pay cut.


company issued a statement after a report said it had threatened to end

the cartoon unless the actors accepted a whopping 45 per centreduction in their wages.


industry sources said producers have enough episodes to keep the comedy

on the air until the end of the 2011-12 TV season in May but beyond that the airvaves could be devoid of the humourous yellow family.

"We believe

this brilliant series can and should continue, but we cannot produce

future seasons under its current financial model," the Fox statement said.


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 Simpsons, currently in its 23rd season on Fox, is the longest-running comedy series on US TV. It generates billions of

dollars through global syndication as well as merchandise and as DVD sales.

The principal voice cast members – including the voices of

Marge (Julie Kavner), Homer (Dan Castellaneta), Bart (Nancy Cartwright)

and Lisa (Yeardley Smith) – earn a respectable $8m (£5m) each per

season or about $400,000 (£259,000)-per-episode.

There is a long history of disputes between Fox and the show's voiceover payment, with negotiations delaying production by several months in 1998, 2004 and 2008 after talks stalled.

In fairness to the actors, reports have emerged that the talented cast had

tried unsuccessfully to negotiate a 30% pay cut in return for a portion

of the show's profits. Fox did not dispute the report.

It is understood the dispute has to be settled by December so

writers could  work on either the season finale or the series

finale, depending on how the actors choose to play it.

Other members of the cast and crew are also reportedly being asked to take pay cuts.

In the meantime, just enjoy this classic The Simpsons clip from 1991. It even has Michael Jackson in it.