The Simpsons has seen an array of stars move through its studios in the show’s illustrious 30-year-plus history – from the dazzlingly famous to the intriguingly bemusing.
We’ve seen Lady Gaga and Red Hot Chili Peppers, Serena and Venus Williams and Dustin Hoffman, too; Leonard Nemoy and Ricky Gervais, to Barry White and Simon Cowell – if you’re famous, you’ve probably become an animated Fox character alongside Homer and co.
But how much does one earn when money is both not an issue and still probably something you can demand a lot of for your time and name?
According to Mike Reiss, long-time writer and producer of The Simpsons, who has been in the room when these stars have come in to record their lines and waltz back out to their waiting limo, the figure is a mere $400 (£283) – paltry for a millionaire, we should stress, but we wouldn’t kick it out of bed.
The producer spoke with Metro.co.uk about the ins and outs we’re dying to know about the show amid the launch of his podcast, What Am I Doing Here? and shared this fascinating tidbit of financial gossip while recalling whether or not to invite late radio host Rush Limbaugh on the series…
Mike – who has worked on the series since its inception in the 80s, bar a few seasons off in the 90s – said: ‘We wrote a part for him on the show, then we thought, “Do we want to give Rush Limbaugh another $400?” That’s all we pay our guest stars.
‘We thought, “No we don’t want to give him another $400”, so we made our own version of Rush Limbaugh.
‘Same thing with Trump, I don’t want to give him another 400 bucks.’
When talking about the money matters of the show’s most famous cameos, Reiss also recalled season 14 guest star, Little Richard, who appeared in episode Special Edna as the host of the Teacher Of The Year ceremony.
According to Reiss, the late performer appeared in order to pay off a reported debt with Fox which was, apparently, a very convenient $400.
Reiss explained: ‘There’s a story, I think I can tell this now, we had written the part for a celebrity. We just needed a celebrity guest. We couldn’t decide who it was, the field was too wide.
‘And our casting agent said, Little Richard, the rock star, owes Fox $400. We don’t know why, we don’t know how he ran up a tab with Fox, but that was the story, he owed the studio 400 bucks, so let’s get Little Richard to come in and work off his debt.
‘That’s how we ended up with Little Richard on an episode.’
While you might expect every star and their dog would be champing at the bit to get a slice of the Simpsons pie, it didn’t matter how many emails, calls and free merch was thrown some celebrities’ way there was no getting them into the studio.
The Boss for instance, no chance.
Reiss said: ‘I think the ones we haven’t been able to get we’ve finally given up on. They tried for a long long time to get Bruce Springsteen. We tried so many ways, through his manager, through Clarence Clemons his saxophone player, we sent him Simpsons merchandise and we never got him – to the point we thought “screw him”.
‘We wanted Eminem when Eminem was really huge, we never go him.
‘The other one is we asked every US president except, I think, Donald Trump. They’ve all turned us down.’
If Trump wants a few hundred in the pocket we know a job who might take him…
What Am I Doing Here with Mike Reiss is available on the Bleav Podcast Network now.
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