Better safe than sorry. That must be what NBC executives were thinking in 1998 when they agreed to pay "Mad About You" stars Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser $1 million an episode. Timing was crucial; the deal was sealed hours before Hunt won the best actress Academy Award for "As Good as It Gets." It gets pretty good: That's four times their previous salaries for playing an NYC couple [source: Hontz]. If the network had hesitated, Hunt's Oscar win would have put her in an even stronger negotiating position.
NBC made a prudent bet. "Mad About You" had solid ratings since its 1992 debut. During the 1997 to '98 season, the series averaged 14.3 million viewers [source: Huff]. The network needed "Mad" to maintain a strong Thursday night lineup, because "Seinfeld" was ending. Well played, NBC, well played.