Parks and Recreation is one of NBC’s most successful and memorable TV shows, and it’s still bringing in money through syndication and streaming deals, but it appears the cast are not always benefitting from those profits at a level they would have wanted.
Actors Rob Lowe and Nick Offerman, who played Chris Traeger and Ron Swanson on the show, recently spoke about this on the newest episode of Lowe’s podcast.
Offerman said the union representing the Parks and Rec cast was not able to get them a lucrative deal at the beginning of the show. Offerman also suggested that the union “bargained away” the cast’s residual payments as part of the negotiations.
“The Office and Parks and Recreation are these crazy juggernauts that make me sorry that our union was at a very weak place when we started Parks and Rec,” he said. “So they gave us these ‘shrug’ deals where they were like, ‘You know, you have no leverage. You should just take what they offer. And also, we’re going to bargain away your residuals. Have a good day. See ya.'”
Lowe chimed in to say that Parks and Rec and The Office together bring in “hundreds of millions” of dollars in revenue, and people might be “shocked” to learn how little the cast of Parks and Rec makes in residuals.
“We do fine. Nobody needs to hold a benefit for either one of us. But I think people would be shocked to know that, for the most part, Ron Swanson and Chris Traeger are not really participating [in the revenue share],” Lowe said.
Offerman went on to say that the landmark collective bargaining deals that the casts of Friends, Everybody Loves Raymond, and Will & Grace signed together instead of individually might have scared network executives who were looking to save on costs.
“The famous deals that came out of the casts negotiating together with Friends and Everybody Loves Raymond, and even Will & Grace, the networks said, ‘Whoa! These actors are getting paid way too fairly,'” Offerman said.
Parks and Rec is currently available to stream on Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, but that won’t be the case for much longer. In October, the show is moving to NBC’s streaming platform, Peacock. NBC Universal, which owns the company, reportedly paid a fee in the nine-figure range, which is $100 million and above, to get the rights for this.
The Parks and Rec cast recently reunited for a one-off special that helped raise money for COVID-19 relief efforts.