Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser
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.