West Wing Shutdown Averted

A crisis at the (fictional) White House was averted Monday as four West Wing cast members who threatened to skip work unless their salary demands were met showed up "right on time."

Actors Allison Janney, Richard Schiff, Bradley Whitford, and John Spencer hired a lawyer to represent them in their contract renegotiations, who hinted to Daily Variety that the quartet might stay away from the show as a negotiation tactic. The foursome could have been considered in breach of contract had they failed to turn up for work.

One source said the studio has offered to double the actors' salaries, but Variety reported that the two sides were roughly $35,000 per episode apart in their talks.

The hit series, which stars Martin Sheen as fictional U.S. President Josiah Bartlet, won nine Emmys for its first season, including the prize for best dramatic series.

Last Thursday, the show claimed another 18 nominations for its second season, including nods for all four co-stars involved in the salary talks. Two of them, Janney and Schiff, won Emmys last year for their respective roles as White House press secretary C.J. Cregg and communications director Toby Ziegler.

Last week, the four missed an initial "table reading" of the script for the season premiere, forcing executive producer Aaron Sorkin to proceed with Sheen and other cast members without the missing co-stars, sources said.

In other West Wing news, Stockard Channing, who plays the fictional first lady on the series, has become a regular cast member.

Reuters contributed to this story.