Studies show people with advanced degrees make more money, but this might be the first example of unrestrained geek power in Hollywood.
The Big Bang Theory, CBS's Monday night comedy about a quartet of genius nerds and their beautiful, non-academic neighbor, has been picked up for syndication after three seasons in what's being called the most lucrative deal in television history. Which should make Houston's Jim Parsons (who stars on the show as nerd king Sheldon Cooper) very happy and perhaps very able to pick up many dinner checks for old friends from his Catastrophic Theatre days.
(Details of what type of syndication money Parsons will get are not yet available, but people are already congratulating him on Facebook.)
After a competitive bidding war between Fox, Tribune, FX, TBS and MTV, the series will air on Fox and TBS starting in 2011. Though the official release does not disclose details of the financial deal, Deadline reporter Nikki Finke says TBS paid $1.5 million per edisode for the cable rights and Fox took broadcast station rights for $500,000 per episode.
The $2 million total blows away both the $800,000 off-network deal FX made for Two and a Half Men in 2006 and even the $1 million per-episode take from the original run of Seinfeld on TBS.
Like Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory is produced by Chuck Lorre. It stars Parsons as Cooper (a role that earned him a Best Actor Emmy nomination in 2009) and is the highest-rated comedy on television among coveted 18-49 viewers.
There is some thought that TBS thinks highly enough of Big Bang Theory's drawing power to eventually air it at 9 p.m. as the lead in to Conan O"Brien's new TBS talk show.