Attention, aspiring Brad Garretts. Networks are taking an increasingly tough stance with TV actors hell-bent on scoring a raise before their contracts are over. Prime-time stars with six-year deals traditionally try to renegotiate in season 3, when it's supposedly clear whether the show's a hit (the Friends, who now earn $1 million-plus per episode, first pulled their all-for-one, one-for-all thing in year 3). But actors' demands are beginning to fall on deaf ears: Cast members on the four-year-old Yes, Dear were given the brush-off last season when they tried to get raises from roughly $50,000 an episode, as were Ed stars Tom Cavanagh and Julie Bowen, who now earn $50K to $75K an episode.
''There's this assumption they're entitled. That's wrong,'' says an exec. ''Now it's, You've made a deal, stick with it.'' Still, there are exceptions. Sources say ABC is poised to give Jim Belushi (now at $75K per episode) more coin for According to Jim, a third-season show that slaughters NBC's Frasier in 18- to 49-year-olds (ironically, Frasier's Kelsey Grammer is TV's second-highest-paid actor, at $37 million, behind Everybody Loves Raymond's Ray Romano, who earns almost $40 mil). Jim is ABC's second-most-popular comedy with adults 18-49 -- which makes all the difference come negotiation time.