Mo’Nique and Countess Vaughn say it’s time for CBS to pay them “fairly” for the work they did on their early 2000s sitcom, The Parkers.
The two stars, who played mother and daughter respectively, both released video statements this week amid the ongoing Writers Guild and SAG-AFTRA strikes.
On Tuesday (Sept. 19), Mo’Nique and her husband Sidney Hicks posted a video on Instagram voicing similar complaints to the actors and writers walking the picket line — with the couple alleging Mo’Nique is being short-changed when it comes to profits from The Parkers.
“We’re coming to y’all today to let you know we’re standing with all the unions that are striking right now,” Mo’Nique said in the video. “And we have a story that we must share of our own with the community.”
The actress and comedian’s comments came five months after she sued CBS and Paramount alleging breach of contract over her share of revenue from The Parkers. Filed in April, the suit names CBS Studios, Paramount Pictures and production company Big Ticket Productions as defendants in the case.
In her video statement, Mo’Nique noted that the series — which originally ran on UPN from 1999 to 2004 — has continued to air for 24 years. Hicks said the show has made more than $700 million dollars.
“It’s baffling being that when you have a conversation with the executive producers and they allude to the fact that the show in its entirety — five years — was made for under $70 million dollars. It went out of production in 2004, but by 2009, we see profit participation statements that show the program made over $700 million dollars, but yet was in a close to a billion, if not a billion dollar deficit,” he explained.
Mo’Nique then brought up Dave Chappelle’s years-long dispute with CBS sister network Comedy Central over licensing fees for Chappelle’s Show. In 2021, Chappelle announced ViacomCBS, parent company of Comedy Central, had settled their financial dispute and made the “past right.”
Mo’Nique urged CBS to make things right with the stars of The Parkers as well.
“What we’re asking you CBS, is can you please treat these two Black women fairly?” she said. “Don’t pay us any more, but don’t pay us any less.”
Countess Vaughn also released a video statement on Tuesday and called out CBS.
“You know people always trip me out when saying something like, ‘You’re lying. It’s not true.’ Yes, give us our money,” she said in the video.
“You would be mad if you worked all week and when it’s time to get you your check, they go, ‘Oh, the last other checks that should cover it. We paid you already.’ No, but did you get me for my services now? Today? All the days that you have played our episodes. Pay that. It’s not fair,” the actress added.
Neither CBS nor Paramount has publicly addressed their complaints.
Profit sharing or residuals is one of the key issues in the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Writers and actors are calling for a bigger share of profits when TV shows and movies re-air, particularly on streaming platforms.
The writers strike began on May 2. While actors started walking picket lines in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and other cities on July 14.
SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher slammed “greedy” studio executives in a fiery speech right after the union called the strike.
“We are the victims here. We are being victimized by a very greedy entity,” Drescher said.
The studios and streamers have said they offered a contract with “historic pay and residual increases,” but SAG-AFTRA rejected the agreement.
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents the studios and streamers in the contract talks, said the WGA also turned down its contract offer.
The WGA and the AMPTP returned to the bargaining table on Wednesday, Sept. 20.
The two sides released a rare joint statement saying the talks were “encouraging” and they would meet again on Thursday.