Patricia Richardson Says ‘Home Improvement’ Ended After She Asked for Equal Pay

TV Shows

According to Patricia Richardson, the 1990s sitcom Home Improvement would have gotten a ninth season had Disney, which co-produced the ABC series through its Touchstone Television company, accepted her request for equal pay between her and co-star Tim Allen.

“When I took the job, they said it wasn’t meant to be the Tim Allen show. It was meant to be our show,” Richardson said in a new interview with the Los Angeles Times, reflecting on her time playing Jill Taylor on the hit series. “I’ve always said, I don’t want to play the thankless wife.”

For Season 3, Richardson got a new deal entitling her to four Jill-centric episodes per season and a profit share point for a portion of the back-end money, she told the Times. “I knew that residuals just get less and less, and I felt that I am going to end up being a huge part of whatever this show is,” she said. “It’s going to work because of me almost as much as because of Tim.”

But while Allen was made an executive producer in Season 6, Richardson was snubbed of a producer credit, despite her constant input on her character and the show in general, she explained. (Disney Television Studios declined to comment to the Times, and co-creator Carmen Finestra told the newspaper she didn’t recall conversations about a producer credit for Richardson and that it “could very well have been a Disney decision.”)

By Season 8, Richardson had renegotiated her contract again and scored more profit points, but she and Allen agreed that the show should come to an end. But then the two actors got offers for a 25-episode ninth season: $1 million per episode for Richardson and $2 million per episode for Allen. Richardson told the Times Allen was eager to agree, but she declined. “All I really care about is having enough money to live on, get my kids to college and leave them some,” she said. “I don’t need a plane. I don’t need a boat.”

So she countered with a deal of her own: If Disney gave her $2 million an episode and an executive producer credit, thus matching Allen’s reported deal, she’d agree to a Season 9. As she expected, that counter-proposal wasn’t accepted.

“I knew that Disney would in no way pay me that much,” she told the Times. “That was my way to say ‘no’ and was a little bit of a flip-off to Disney. I’d been there all this time, and they never even paid me a third of what Tim was making, and I was working my ass off. I was a big reason why women were watching.”

Despite how things ended — and despite how Home Improvement hasn’t taken off on streaming like other ’90s sitcoms — Richardson looks back on the show with fondness. “I’m really proud of what it meant to our audience,” she said. “I don’t care what anybody says, I’m proud of the legacy.”

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