The three biggest stars of The Big Bang Theory, the CBS series that is primetime's No. 1 sitcom and the highest rated syndicated show in America, are planning to band together and hold out for HUGE salary increases from their production studio, Warner Bros. Television, RadarOnline.com has exclusively learned.
On the eve of the Sept. 26 season seven premiere, the cast have privately pledged to do a Friends-like deal in a bid to bring back the entire ensemble for an eighth season.
The stars -- Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco -- will demand salary increases to as much as half-a-million dollars per episode each across the 24 episode season, plus a percentage of the series' profits in syndication, a benefit they gained in the show's last renegotiation, according to a television insider with knowledge of the situation.
The trio all currently earn $350,000 per episode.
In a move reminiscent of David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox and Matt LeBlanc, who used solidarity as leverage to secure a salary of $1 million an episode, each, for the last season of Friends in 2002, the stars believe their posturing is simple: CBS and Warner Bros. have to have the show back.
"The cast is already talking about it the next round of negotiations," the source told Radar.
"They know the critical position Big Bang holds on CBS' prime-time schedule and the only thing preventing them getting what they want would be a spectacular ratings demise this season. That isn't about to happen anytime soon. They'll put on a united-front during negotiations."
Indeed, the CBS comedy -- nominated for eight Emmys -- closed out its sixth season with 18.6 million viewers and a 6.2 rating in the key adult 18-to-49 demographic, making it the No. 1 comedy in both measures.
"What they've been able to achieve is a feat unheard of for a show in recent history and they all deserve to get compensated for it," the source added.
The Big Bang Theory returns with a one-hour premiere on Thursday, Sept. 26 at 8/7c on CBS.