Sources confirmed to E! Online Friday that disgruntled West Wing staffers Allison Janney (press secretary C.J. Cregg), John Spencer (chief of staff Leo McGarry), Bradley Whitford (deputy chief of staff Joshua Lyman) and Richard Schiff (communications director Toby Ziegler)--embroiled in a pay squabble with the show's powers-that-be for the past two weeks--have inked lucrative new deals with the producers of the White House drama.
Although exact terms of the deal were not made public, Hollywood trades report the foursome will see their current $30,000-per-show salary bumped up to about $75,000 per episode (there are usually 22 episodes in a season) for the upcoming third season. The actors will receive small raises over the course of the deal, which extends them through the show's seventh season in 2005-06.
Warner Bros., the studio that produces the show for NBC, originally was only offering $65,000-per-show raises and wanted the quartet to hang around for an eighth season, reports Daily Variety. In the end, the two camps agreed to the revised deal.
The behind-the-scenes intrigue began earlier this month. The foursome, who apparently decided that while they play civil servants didn't want to be paid as civil servants, failed to show for some preliminary cast meetings, including a photo shoot and script reading. The plot thickened a few days later when all four picked up Emmy nominations in the supporting-actor categories, contributing to the show's 18 nods in all.
By then they joined forces and secured a lawyer to renegotiate their salaries, claiming they were promised pay raises by the third season if the show was successful. (They were reportedly looking to triple their episodic salaries to get more in line with the six-figure paychecks of the show's name-brand stars, Martin Sheen and Rob Lowe.) However, producers insisted no such promises were made: The actors' original contracts covered the first six seasons, Warners said , and the studio was not obligated to cut new deals.
The studio also issued an ultimatum: If the actors continued to hold out, they would be considered in breach of contract and the lawsuits would start flying.
The chest-thumping eventually calmed down as both sides began talks in earnest. (At one point, show creator Aaron Sorkin and executive producer John Wells offered to dip into their own bank accounts to smooth things over, but the studio declined the offer.) The actors finally reported for work duty last week and the only question became when a new deal would be sealed.
This isn't the first pay squabble to erupt on the show, which won a record nine Emmys last year, including Outstanding Drama Series. Several of the show's writers have complained about being underpaid, and that has led to an ongoing Internet message-board battle between one former Emmy-winning West Wing writer and Sorkin.
The strength-in-numbers negotiating tactic has become de rigeur in Hollywood ever since the six cast members of Friends banded together five years ago and wound up with monster contracts that currently pay them about $750,000 per show.