NEW YORK – Rob Lowe has voted himself out of The West Wing.
Lowe — who plays White House deputy communications director Sam Seaborn on NBC's hit drama — and producer Warner Brothers are discussing just when his term will end.
The reason appears to be money.
A high-ranking source on the show said Lowe became disgruntled a few weeks ago when he learned Martin Sheen — who plays President Josiah "Jed" Bartlet — won a whopping salary increase to $300,000 an episode, almost tripling what he was paid last season.
"Martin got his raise and Rob wants to be on par with Martin," the source said.
"But Rob is not viewed as being on the same level as Martin, he's viewed as being part of the ensemble. He's a valuable part of the show, but not more valuable than those other players and will not be paid more than they are — they are all making the same amount of money."
Most of the main characters on The West Wing — including Lowe — are paid about $70,000 per episode.
When The West Wing debuted in 1999, Sheen and Lowe were the two best-known actors in the cast, and the best paid.
But almost every other regular cast member — except Lowe, who agreed to take a pay cut from his usual big-bucks asking price when he first joined the show — has been given a raise as The West Wing has grown more popular.
"It's hard to work where you're underappreciated," a source close to the show said.
Another source said, "Rob kept saying, 'I want this much' and they kept saying, 'Forget it.' "
Warner Bros., NBC and Lowe's personal representatives declined comment yesterday.
The West Wing has been something of a second chance for Lowe.
His career was infamously sidelined after a grainy video surfaced of him having sex with a minor during the 1988 Democratic Convention in Atlanta.
This is the second consecutive summer that the show's actors have been involved in a contractual dispute.
Last year, co-stars Allison Janney, Bradley Whitford, John Spencer and Richard Schiff refused to report to work until they received raises.