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Monday, 16 July, 2001, 14:25 GMT 15:25 UK
West Wing stars 'offered pay rises'
The cast of The West Wing
The West Wing: 18 Emmy nominations this year
Four members of the US TV programme The West Wing have been offered salary increases to end their strike over pay, according to reports.

Allison Janney, Richard Schiff, Bradley Whitford and John Spencer refused to attend rehearsals for the show last week and threatened not to attend the first day of production on 16 July unless their salary was revised.

Warner Brothers have now offered to double their salary, according to the Hollywood Reporter newspaper.

The television studio says the pay-rise offer is in recognition of the 18 Emmy nominations the drama received last week, the paper reports.

Warner Brothers has denied the four actors' assertions that they were promised rises for the new series in line with the show's success.

'Obligations'

"What they are asking is merely for Warner Bros to make good on what it promised when they made their original deals," Peter Nelson, a lawyer for the actors, told Daily Variety before the reported pay offer was made.

"The best way to put it is, the actors are fully prepared to meet their work obligations Monday, assuming Warners meets its obligation to them," Nelson added.

It is not yet known if the reported pay rise will be enough to persuade the actors to attend the filming on Monday.

The reported rise is still thought to be less than the $100,000 (70,000) an episode the actors are demanding.

Breach of contract

The four were absent from an initial script reading on 9 July and say they are underpaid in comparison to other cast members such as Martin Sheen and Rob Lowe.

Negotiations took place over the weekend, but the outcome was inconclusive, with neither Warner Brothers nor the quartet of actors initially prepared to give way, according to Variety.


There is a fever in Washington among people who believe there may be a chance for a second career in television via The West Wing

Lawrence O'Donnell, producer
Their demands are fairly modest in comparison to the pay demanded by other top television stars.

Frasier's Kelsey Grammer is rumoured to be paid more than $1.6m (1.1m) per episode, and the stars of Friends earn about $750,000 (535,000) per episode.

As well as salary negotiations, Warner Brothers are having to contend with an influx of unemployed White House staff made redundant with the departure of Bill Clinton from the White House, according to the Los Angeles Times.

"There is a fever in Washington among people who believe there may be a chance for a second career in television via The West Wing," former senate aide Lawrence O'Donnell told the Los Angeles Times.

O'Donnell is now a producer on The West Wing.

Controversy

It is not all bad news for the producers of The West Wing, however. Actress Stockard Channing has been made a regular cast member.

Her contract to appear as the First Lady has been expanded to include a three series commitment and an appearance in at least 12 episodes of the forthcoming series.

Martin Sheen
Martin Sheen: Strong political views
The show has already had its fair share of controversy.

Martin Sheen, who stars as US President Josiah Bartlett, is known for his outspoken political views, including calling new President George W Bush a "bad comic" in a recent interview with the Radio Times.

Creator Aaron Sorkin was recently ordered to undergo drugs rehabilitation after being arrested at Burbank Airport in possession of a small bag suspected of containing drugs in his hand luggage.

See also:

28 Jun 01 | Showbiz
Sheen gets three years' probation
20 Jun 01 | TV and Radio
Friends stay together - Schwimmer
20 Jun 01 | TV and Radio
West Wing creator in rehab
03 May 01 | TV and Radio
West Wing creator pleads innocent
01 May 01 | TV and Radio
West Wing creator charged
17 Apr 01 | Entertainment
West Wing creator arrested
13 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Sheen slates 'bad comic' Bush
25 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Sheen attacks Hollywood 'sleaze'
11 Sep 00 | Entertainment
The West Wing sweeps Emmys
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