It looks like no one is safe from the current economic turmoil. Sarah Silverman and crew are facing large budget cuts of their own as they head into the third season of “The Sarah Silverman Program” on Comedy Central and apparently it is not going well at all:

The show’s executive producers — Silverman, Dan Sterling and Rob Schrab — have threatened to quit after the cable network told them the budget for their series would be slashed by more than 20%.

At the center of the holdup is the proposed budget for Season 3. Citing cuts imposed on the network by parent company MTV Networks, Comedy Central had proposed that the trio bring back the WGA Award-nominated show at about $850,000 an episode, sources said, down from the $1.1 million an episode for the show’s second season.

The contracting ad market during the recession is hitting networks hard. MTV Networks’ parent Viacom in December laid off 7% of its work force, though Comedy Central largely was spared because it had been through the ringer following the 2003 acquisition of Time Warner’s 50% ownership in the network and had little left to cut.

Amid the economic woes, ABC Studios and 20th TV asked all of their showrunners to cut 2% of their series budgets. The proposed budget cut on “Sarah Silverman” is more than 10 times that.

I’ve watched a few of the episodes in the series and let me say, “wow.” I had no idea that show could possibly cost over a million dollars an episode! Maybe Comedy Central could just run 30 minutes of kittens and puppies but giveaway a million dollars at some point during that so you had to keep watching. Seems like a better use of the money.

Update: Sarah Silverman has decided she’ll press on with her series despite the budget cuts. I guess holding her breath didn’t work out.

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