Sopranos Actors Gang Up for Raise

Four members of Tony Soprano's family want a bigger piece of pie.

Sopranos co-stars Robert Iler (A.J. Soprano), Tony Sirico (Paulie Walnuts), Drea de Matteo (Adriana) and Jamie-Lynn Sigler (Meadow Soprano) have banded together and are demanding per-episode pay increases, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The co-stars are said to make between $20,000 and $30,000 per episode apiece -- and each is reportedly asking for $100,000.

The Sopranos airs 13 episodes a season -- meaning Iler, Sirico and the others would each walk away with $1.3 million if they get their raises.

By comparison, the six stars of Friends are each earning $1 million per episode this season for 22 episodes -- bringing their take to $22 million each for the season.

The highest-paid TV star was Tim Allen, who was raking in $1.5 million an episode at the end of his Home Improvement days in the late 1990s.

Sources told The Hollywood Reporter that de Matteo's attorney, Todd Rubenstein, is negotiating for the group -- reminiscent of how four members of The West Wing cast negotiated for raises from NBC last year.

Sopranos star James Gandolfini is said to be waiting for the group to resolve their contracts before trying to snag a nice raise for himself.

Gandolfini shouldn't have much of a problem since, without him, the show would lose its main attraction.

HBO officials had no comment on the contract negotiations.

The Sopranos is now in its fourth season. Series creator David Chase has said that next season will be the show's last -- but there have been reports of a Sopranos movie in the works, which could change that scenario and add another year or two to the series.

The Sopranos has become the most successful series in HBO history, giving the four co-stars a lot of leverage in contract negotiations.

However, keep in mind that any of the characters could be "written out" of the scripts if negotiations hit a snag or some sort of compromise can't be reached. After all, in a show about the mob, "hits" are not uncommon.

Last month's Sopranos season opener notched 13 million viewers to become the most-watched show in HBO's 30-year history.

Since then, viewership has steadily declined each week, with Nielsen reporting that 9.7 million viewers tuned in to last Sunday's episode.

That's still an extremely healthy number for a cable show, considering that last season's breakout hit, MTV's The Osbournes, was averaging upwards of 10 million viewers a week by the time it completed its first season.

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