''West Wing'' stars Allison Janney, Richard Schiff, Bradley Whitford, and John Spencer don't simply serve at the pleasure of the president. They want to get paid, too. Variety reports that the four stars, in a rerun of a drama played out two summers ago, are asking the show's producers to double their salaries. Back then, however, the show was network TV's hottest drama, but now, ''West Wing'' is coming off a year of major turmoil.
Variety estimates that the four want their pay raised from $80,000 per episode to $150,000. In 2001, the foursome also got their salaries doubled after a walkout, though there's been no walkout this time.
The new demands come after a year in which the series lost writer/creator Aaron Sorkin, director Thomas Schlamme, costar Rob Lowe, and much of its audience. Nonetheless, the NBC drama still draws a respectable 13.5 million viewers a week, many of them high-spending, upscale watchers that advertisers love. Plus, there's syndication money coming in from NBC-owned Bravo. And with the departures of Sorkin, Schlamme, and Lowe, producers Warner Bros. Television and John Wells may not want to risk losing more familiar faces. So the stars may well get at least some of what they want. Variety reports that producers have already offered a bump to $100,000 per show. Stay tuned.