Julianna Margulies on not guesting on ‘The Good Fight’: ‘CBS wouldn’t pay me’

Eva Longoria's Hollywood Star Ceremony Post-Luncheon

As many of you might remember, I was a stan for The Good Wife for years. I probably watched every episode from Seasons 1 through 5. So I abandoned the show in the last two seasons, when the storylines became stupid and everything just became The Alicia Show. The strength of The Good Wife was the outstanding ensemble, from Josh Charles (arguably his sexiest role) to Christine Baranski to Archie Panjabi. Archie became something of a breakout star in the first five seasons – people loved her badass character, Kalinda. Around Season 4 and 5, the Kalinda character had less and less to do and there was little to no consistency with the writing (for Kalinda, and for Cary Agos, played by Matt Czuchry). We learned later that Julianna Marguiles had basically mean-girl’d the f–k out of Archie Panjabi because Julianna was so pissed at all of the attention Archie got for the character. Their relationship was so toxic that they apparently couldn’t even be in the same room together to film Kalinda’s last scene.

I bring up this backstory because the whole thing kind of ruined Julianna Margulies for me. I used to be a big fan, but she ruined the show by demanding that the story center around her character’s melodrama too much. After The Good Wife ended, there was immediately talk of a spinoff, and CBS eventually put it together: The Good Fight, starring Christine Baranski, reprising her role as Diane Lockhart. Many of the old characters from The Good Wife have come back for The Good Fight. But not Julianna. As it turns out, there was a three-episode arc for Julianna, but she ended up turning it down because they wouldn’t pay her enough. Julianna had a lot to say to Deadline about it:

In February, The Good Wife star Julianna Margulies revealed to Deadline that she almost reprised her role as Alicia Floreck on the current third season of the spinoff series The Good Fight on CBS All Access. She said she “really wanted to do it” but “the deal didn’t happen.”

The Emmy-winning actress is now opening up about the reasons the deal did not come together. “CBS wouldn’t pay me,” Margulies told Deadline on Sunday while attending The Contenders Emmys event to promote her new Nat Geo miniseries The Hot Zone. She had addressed the issue at the Series Mania festival in France last week where she was quoted as saying, “The showrunners had found a nice away to reintroduce my character, a story that was to span three episodes. I was really excited about the idea, but CBS refused to pay my (ask).”

She elaborated to Deadline that she had not asked for more than her regular fee, which I hear was in line with what Margulies made on The Good Wife. I hear what she was offered was a Good Fight guest star rate.

“I’m not a guest star; I started the whole thing with The Good Wife,” Margulies told Deadline. “I wanted to be paid my worth and stand up for equal pay. if Jon Hamm came back for a Mad Men spinoff or Kiefer Sutherland wanted to do a 24 spinoff, they would be paid.”

She argued that her potential stint on The Good Fight would’ve pleased fans and attracted viewers to the spinoff.

Margulies also said that she regrets not being able to bring back Alicia for the fans who had been asking for the character’s return to The Good Fight ever since the spinoff was announced. The Good Wife star today echoed some comments she made last week in France. “To be perfectly honest, I was shocked. I was more surprised than hurt. I thought, what are you worth? If you are worthless, if you are not valued for your work, than what’s the point?”

[From Deadline]

On one side, I think it’s badass for Julianna to come out and really talk about money and stand up for what she’s worth, and call out her former producers for failing to meet her price. As Deadline says, she wasn’t asking for the moon – she was asking for her per-episode salary from The Good Wife years. And they couldn’t or wouldn’t meet it. Now, that being said… I feel like there’s something else to the story, don’t you? Like, maybe producers ultimately didn’t give a sh-t about having Julianna reprise the character because they don’t want The Good Fight to become The Alicia Show Redux? I feel like a lot of people from The Good Wife (who are now on the Good Fight) were gritting their teeth and just trying to get through the last seasons of The Good Wife and they’re happy to be free of Julianna at this point?

Eva Longoria's Hollywood Star Ceremony Post-Luncheon

Photos courtesy of ‘The Good Wife’/CBS.

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24 Responses to “Julianna Margulies on not guesting on ‘The Good Fight’: ‘CBS wouldn’t pay me’”

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  1. lucy2 says:

    I’ll give her credit for talking about the money, and she’s right with her Hamm/Sutherland examples. That said, a three episode guest spot shouldn’t be paid the same as when she was the lead on a long running show, should it?

    Given all the talk about how difficult she was, I can’t imagine they tried TOO hard to get her for this one. I watched the whole series, and the increased focus on Alicia towards the end was really visible, and made the show worse, IMO.

    • CA Family Code says:

      I agree. I can’t remember how many times I read that production didn’t want to work with her. AND Alicia’s character was not my favorite on Good wife. Her character was boring, distant and cold. At the risk of sounding like I’m calling a woman with a voice a “bitch”, she definitely has an edge–a cold way of expressing herself (my perception) which in Hollywood, like it or not, is not a great way to promote oneself.

    • SM says:

      I agree. I think she ruined the show and people, actors, writers, producers just were wanting to get it over with. This is why the last couple of seasons were crap. And this is what makes the Good Fight a much better show. Marguiles is no Baransky who is ten heads higher that Julianna. And it feels from the style and sets of the show, a lot of the same people work on the current show which again proves that people just wanted to change the environment of the Good Wife. I am not even talking about Julianna’s increasingly frozen face and wacky wigs in the last couple of seasons.
      And last, she is a guest star, which means she would have much less work than she did when she was a lead. Coupled with the fact she obviously is difficult to work with, and the decision not to treat her as a star when she is the one who ruined the show in the first place, is quite fair. She is not Ellen Pompeo who never complains (Julianna would go on and on about how difficult it is to be a lead on the legal drama) and always is very much appreciative of people around her.

  2. Char says:

    One of the reasons why The Good Fight is GREAT is the lack of Alicia. The show doesn’t need her, it needs Eli Gold and David Lee.

    • Susannah says:

      Yes! This show took my favorite character from the Good Wife and built a show around her that’s fun, interesting, intriguing and political. Then they added Audra McDonald just to make things perfect! Julianna is a talented actress but I really don’t want Alicia Florrick to ever show up on the Good Fight.

    • CA Family Code says:

      AGREED! I loved those characters

  3. Jenns says:

    The Good Wife was such a great show. But when it became the Alicia Floreck hour, it was pretty bad and Alicia became the worst part of the show. So I’m not sure how her character on The Good Fight would attract viewers. Maybe they wanted her back because the series finale was awful that the producers thought they could give her a better sendoff.

  4. Clare says:

    Look, I’m normally all for women knowing their worth and standing their ground – but regardless of what she seems to think, she was offered a 3 episode GUEST arc. To demand the same salary as when she was the central character of a show named for her character, is kind of ridiculous. Personally, I think she is trying to rile the GW/Alicia fans against this new show, because she didn’t get what she wanted, and wants to make a point that the new show will be less successful without her.

    I guess my opinion is totally biased because I don’t really like her after how she treated Archie Panjabi – maybe someone should remind her that Archie is also a woman, who deserved equal pay and fair treatment at her job.

  5. mint says:

    She ruined the good Wife for me. I recently rewatched it and what an awful character she was.
    The good Fight is perfect as it is. No need for her to come back and I do hope she stays away

  6. Valiantly Varnished says:

    Yeah I used to be a fan until that whole Archie Panjabi story came out (Julianna and I share the same birthday). She definitely seems like someone who started believing her own hype. And I feel like the same thing happened with The Good Wife that happened with SATC and Sarah Jessica Parker and thaf when they hit the season 6/7 mark it became all about their characters and the ensemble cast got crap storylines.
    As for getting what she’s worth; clearly CBS didn’t feel she was worth it. And that speaks volumes IMO.

    • BlueSky says:

      I was a stan GW watcher too until it became
      all about Alicia and the “will they/won’t they” tired storyline with Will. I think once she became executive producer the storylines centered around her and it got boring really quick. I didn’t like the way Archie was treated either and how they made her hyper sexual and kinda gross.

      I understand what she is saying but she is the guest star now not the star. I think they realize it was not worth putting up with all the BS that was there before with her. I’m sure she was hoping she would turn this into a regular acting gig for her too.

  7. sa says:

    I think she has a point, that she wouldn’t be just another guest star. I don’t know any more than what’s here, but she may have been willing to negotiate her pay, but when their offer was the same as any guest star would get, she may have decided it was futile.

    Basically, maybe her former rate was intended as her opening offer, but when they treated her as any standard guest star, she realized there was no point to further negotiations.

    (this is obviously pure conjecture on my part).

  8. TQB says:

    It’s interesting – she’s basically doing the same thing now that she did to TGW. When faced with popular co-stars crowding the show, she used her power to push them out. She was willing to come back, but not willing to compromise. Do I think she harmed the artistic integrity of both shows with her demands? Of course. But it’s show BUSINESS. If she were the head of a company and fought to keep a powerful position and salary, would we still want to brand her as a prima donna asshat?

    FWIW, i realize my analogy kind of breaks down in the sense that we’d probably prefer the corporate bigwig nurture the new talent below her, to make the company better, in any event. But I still come down on her side for demanding CBS show her the money and walking when they wouldn’t.

    • Stella Alpina says:

      The thing is: is she really worth it now? The Good Wife suffered because of her meddling. She became a producer on that show and her influence turned out to be detrimental. It was all about making herself the sole focus at the expense of a great supporting cast. She didn’t make TGW what it was – that credit belongs to the writers.

      Way to go for standing up for herself and demanding fair pay, but The Good Fight is doing very well without her ever being a part of it. Expecting a lead star’s salary for guesting on three episodes says more about her inflated ego than any value she would bring to another series.

      It’s too bad The Good Fight is subscription-based only. It deserves to have a wider audience.

      • TQB says:

        That’s a good and tricky question. If CBS was making a big deal of this, selling a story that she let down fans by demanding too much money, than I’d say, she’s worth what she thinks she worth, and the fact that she demanded that and refused to take less is something I respect. But the fact that she’s airing this, well, it does sound like she WASN’T worth it to CBS. I guess that puts me with you – good for her standing up for herself, but the show is doing just fine without her.

        It’s the dark side of the whole “Lean In” business – sometimes when you put yourself out there and make the demands, the other party says no thanks. You’ve established your value (apparently somewhere south of what you thought it was) but you don’t get the opportunity.

        I’m annoyed with All Access over this and Star Trek!

  9. minx says:

    Same on all of this—l LOVED the Good Wife until it became too much about Alicia. And that ridiculous final scene between Kalinda and Alicia was insultingly cheesy.

  10. WTF says:

    Good for her! I never liked her character on The Good Wife, and I’m not crazy about her (I’m still made about ER) but this is what it looks like when women stand up and demand their worth. This is the price. Pay it or kick rocks. I’m unbothered either way. I hope more women follow suit.

  11. Cine says:

    There is a very real chance that, being a CBS All-Access show, NONE of the players are paid what they were on the GW. I think, too, that she’s forgetting that some tv / movie stars guest star, and waive their fee, or donate it to charity. She lost a chance, IMO, to get some good PR.

  12. Gobo says:

    If she was seeking her Good Wife rate… what’s the betting that’s higher than Baranski’s rate? Which would be pretty inappropriate.

  13. CK says:

    The Good Wife drama soured her for me, but I fine with both sides sticking to their guns over the salary. I think a previous per-episode rate for a guest starring arc that more than likely eclipses the lead’s salary is pretty ridiculous and I think JM shouldn’t work for less than what she feels she is worth. Not all stalemates have to be resolved. It would be a cold day in h*ll before I pay her more than Cush Jumbo, Christine Baranski, and Rose Leslie for 3 episodes of a show that they’ve been carrying for years. The Good Fight is much better without Alicia anyway.

  14. Caroline says:

    OMG thank you Kaiser for saying this. I used to love TGW and was very active on some of the recap sites (esp NYMag’s) where there was so much great commentary from the fans but I absolutely feel the same about Marguiles. She ruined the show, she ruined my opinion of her with the way she conducted herself (so blatantly narcissistic and paranoid) that I also had to stop watching it.

    And sure, it’s great she stood up for her money, but all that she knows now is that her worth is a lot less than she thinks it is. She’s no Ellen Pompeo, who is both powerful *and* in a position to ask, but who is also grateful for the chance to headline a hit show for so long. This is karma and I’m here for it.

  15. Clay says:

    yes to this. speak up, shame them, it takes courage and women in a position such that risking not getting any more offers won’t affect them as to others less successful and wealthy. She is risking that the powers to be will be so pissed off that she’ll never work again, she’s rich enough to take the punch but is not fair in any case. So kudos to her and Chastain and Williams and Wright and all the others speaking up and shaming the studios and networks.

  16. Darla says:

    This was definitely Josh Charles’ sexiest role, IMO, and by far. It really went down hill after he left, and soon enough, Alicia just became such a horrid character that I lost interest. For a time, I put it neck and neck with Mad Men as the best show on television.

  17. Ally says:

    The Good Fight has become bloody awful this season. Making the Trump storylines so prominent is pointless and undermines the ‘reality’ of the show. It’s become the Wine Mom Fantasy Hour.

    Regardless of Marguiles’ history, you’d think CBS would be more careful about not being seen to carry on Les Moonves’s attitudes towards women standing up for themselves.