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Jim Parsons raises the ceiling for LGBT actors with new contract

Actor Jim Parsons attend the premiere of Focus Features' 'Wish I Was Here' at DGA Theater on June 23, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.
Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Jim Parsons made quite the splash this week by signing a new three-year contract with the CBS hit comedy series “The Big Bang Theory.” It was announced on Monday that Parsons, along with co-stars Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco, will make $1 million per half-hour episode for the 72 remaining episodes expected from Seasons 8 through 10. In total, the Emmy winner can earn at least $90 million. The deal also makes Parsons the highest-paid openly gay actor in television and now one of the highest-paid actors (gay or straight) since Kelsey Grammer.

The deal involving Parsons, Galecki and Cuoco came after a marathon of negotiations between reps of the three actors and “The Big Bang Theory” producer Warner Bros TV. At the end, the trio scored a contract that rivals that of cast members of the NBC hit comedy series “Friends,” and tripled their previous salaries of $350,000 an episode. According to Deadline, the three actors have also quadrupled their ownership on the show, raising it from 0.25 to more than a point.

Parsons, Galecki and Cuoco can also raise their potential earnings to $100 million if the show continues its strong run in syndication and auxiliary market. The big payday is reflective of both he popularity of the show and the many awards the show has received. Parsons will be going for his fourth Best Comedy Actor Emmy for his portrayal of Dr. Sheldon Cooper, which already made him a hot commodity entering into negotiations.

Parsons’ deal tops all other LGBT actors currently in a major or recurring role on network and cable television. That list includes Neil Patrick Harris, Anna Paquin, “Frasier” star David Hyde Pierce, Matt Bomer and “Modern Family’s” Jesse Tyler Ferguson. Of course sexuality is not the focus of the deal, but it does raise the ceiling for other LGBT actors in an already historic year at the Emmys. Several LGBT actors have received nominations for various roles, including Parsons’ nomination for “The Big Theory” and for his dramatic role in “The Normal Heart.” It is an indication that being openly gay in Hollywood doesn’t necessarily deter an actor or actress’s success.

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