Harry Shearer

The Simpsons star Harry Shearer says he's willing to take a 70 percent pay cut in exchange for profits as a Friday deadline approaches for the cast to accept a 45 percent salary cut.

Speaking out about the negotiations for the first time, Shearer said in a lengthy statement that his team asked Fox Thursday for the lowest possible salary he would have to take in order to get a share of the sitcom's hefty profits. Fox said there were "simply no circumstances under which the network would consider allowing me or any of the actors to share in the show's success," Shearer said.

Fox gives Simpsons actors an ultimatum

Shearer — who said he was speaking only for himself — and his five co-stars, Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith and Hank Azaria, have until noon to decide on Fox's offer, which would allow the show to continue past its current 23rd season. They currently make $440,000 per episode, but that would be cut to $250,000.

"Fox wants to cut our salaries in half because it says it can't afford to continue making the show under what it calls the existing business model. Fox hasn't explained what kind of new business model it has formulated to keep the show on the air, but clearly the less money they have to pay us in salary, the more they're able to afford to continue broadcasting the show," Shearer said. "And to this I say, fine — if pay cuts are what it will take to keep the show on the air, then cut my pay. ... I'm willing to let them cut my salary not just 45 percent but more than 70 percent. ... All I would ask in return is that I be allowed a small share of the eventual profits."

Is The Simpsons coming to an end?

However, should the cast accept, a 24th season would likely be the sitcom's last, as the network reportedly thinks since it's no longer profitable.

"As a member of the Simpsons cast for 23 years, I think it's fair to say that we've had a great run and no one should feel sorry for any of us," Shearer said. "But given how much joy the show has given so many people over the years — and given how many billions of dollars in profits News Corp. has earned and will earn from it — I find it hard to believe that this is Fox's final word on the subject. At least I certainly hope it isn't, because the alternative is to cancel the show or fire me for having the gall to try to save the show by helping Fox with its new business model. Neither would be a fair result — either to those of us who have committed so many years to the show or to its loyal fans who make our effort worthwhile."

Calls and emails to Fox were not immediately returned.