US Shameless star Emmy Rossum is reportedly locked in a groundbreaking salary negotiation, which is said to have left an eighth series of the hit TV show hanging in the balance.
Having starred in the American adaptation of Channel 4’s original TV series since 2009, Rossum is said to have made it clear that salary parity with co-star William H. Macy, is the only way she’ll continue.
As well as demanding that she earn the same wage per episode as Macy, who plays Frank Gallagher, however, Rossum has also addressed the fact that she has been paid far less than her male counterpart for some years.
So to make up for it, she’s also asking producers to pay back the deficit via an additional salary bonus. Yes, that’s right, Rossum is a badass.
According to Hollywood Reporter, Rossum’s salary negotiation with producers Warner Bros. Television (WBTV) have left the show’s entire future in question, as without her in the role of young matriarch Fiona Gallagher, it’s unclear whether US channel Showtime will continue to air the series.
Following the seventh season, in which Rossum made her directorial debut while also playing a major leading role in every episode, Shameless has now become a key piece of the channel’s scheduling.
But despite the stakes being high on all sides, Rossum is said to be firm in her position.
It’s standard practice among television producers to pay actors with a bigger back-catalogue of work and more ‘name-brand’ recognition a higher wage than their lesser known co-stars.
With years in the business plus an Oscar nomination for his role in Fargo, such was the case for Macy.
But since Shameless became a hit in the US, it’s Rossum, many have argued, that has become the show’s real breakout star. She is also said to be making the case that her character plays a much larger role in key plot lines compared with Macy’s, and now receives more screentime, too.
If successful, Rossum’s new salary deal could spark a renegotiation among the cast of other WBTV shows, including The Big Bang Theory.
Rossum isn’t the first female TV lead to make a stand for equal pay. Robin Wright has spoken openly about her fight for parity on House of Cards.
During a talk at The Rockefeller Foundation’s Insight Dialogues conversation series, Wright told the audience; “I was like, ‘I want to be paid the same as Kevin.’
“It was the perfect paradigm. There are very few films or TV shows where the male, the patriarch, and the matriarch are equal. And they are in House of Cards,” she explained.
“I was looking at the statistics and Claire Underwood’s character was more popular than [Frank’s] for a period of time. So I capitalised on it. I was like: ‘You’d better pay me or I’m going to go public.’
“And they did.”
Unlike Wright, however, Rossum is thought to be the first female actor to demand a TV salary that goes beyond parity.