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NBC, `SEINFELD' CAST REACH DEAL.

Byline: Daily News Wire Services

After protracted negotiations that for a time left the future of television's most popular comedy series in doubt, NBC announced Saturday that it has reached agreement with the stars of ``Seinfeld.''

The settlement came just two days before NBC was to announce its lineup of prime-time shows for the fall television season, cutting things far closer than any hit show has ever done before.

An NBC executive who spoke on condition of anonymity said Saturday that the deal had been concluded.

Each of the three supporting stars agreed to remain with the show for two more seasons. But star Jerry Seinfeld agreed only to appear next season. He will wait until January to decide whether to return for a 10th season, the network said.

``We're extremely pleased that `Seinfeld,' the `show about nothing' that means everything to viewers nationwide, will be with NBC for another year,'' Warren Littlefield, president of NBC Entertainment said in a statement.

Although NBC officials would not reveal details, the New York Daily News reported that the stars would receive $600,000 per episode, well above the $150,000 per episode each was paid for the 1996-97 season.

Previously, series star and executive producer Seinfeld inked his own deal for $1 million an episode.

The co-stars had held out to make up for not having a financial stake in the sale of repeats. The three supporting actors were united in an all-for-one, one-for-all negotiation.

Seinfeld has netted an estimated $40 million from such sales.

``Seinfeld'' generates more than $300 million a season in advertising revenue.

The main stumbling block throughout the talks was the demand by the show's three co-stars, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss and Michael Richards, for a salary of $1 million each for every episode filmed in the coming season.

That would mean a salary of at least $22 million each for the year. The stars had been making about $160,000 an episode for this season's 22 episodes.

The stars argued that the payment was justified because other participants in the show, including its creator, Seinfeld; NBC; and the show's production company, Castle Rock, had each made far more money than they had during the show's eight-year run. The three co-stars are widely acknowledged to have been crucial to the show's enormous success.

It is estimated that ``Seinfeld'' will eventually make close to $1 billion in revenues in the syndication market. Seinfeld has a significant stake in those syndication profits.

According to advertising industry estimates, NBC has made more than $200 million a year in profits on ``Seinfeld,'' and the show has helped spawn numerous other hit shows for the network.

But NBC remained opposed to the escalation of the co-star salaries to the million-dollar level, fearing setting a precedent for other hit shows.

NBC tried to protect what leverage it had in the negotiations by making a separate deal earlier with Seinfeld. That agreement guaranteed that the show would remain at NBC.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 11, 1997
Words:495
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