Locks him up for two years, option for two more

Warner Bros. TV has restructured its deal with Drew Carey, the star, executive producer and co-creator of ABC’s “The Drew Carey Show,” who will now earn an estimated $300,000 per episode.

Warner Bros. TV and reps for Carey would not comment on the deal or disclose terms, but one source said that the pact locks Carey up for a minimum of two more years, and Warner Bros. has the option to keep him for two additional years beyond that.

If the show goes to a seventh season, Carey will net at least $26 million for his acting and writing services over the four-year period. Carey also has backend participation in the show, which will add even more to his personal pot.

The deal with Carey comes on the heels of a new four-year, $20 million agreement with Bruce Helford, the executive pro-ducer and co-creator of the sitcom (Daily Variety, Feb. 25). Helford’s deal was inked by Skip Brittenham and Cliff Gilbert Lurie.

ABC recently renewed “Drew Carey” for the next two seasons, and Warner Bros. Domestic TV Distribution has already sold the show into syndication and is expected to make at least $2 million per episode.

The show anchors ABC’s successful Wednesday lineup and consistently beats NBC’s “3rd Rock From the Sun” in the Wednesday 9 p.m. timeslot.

Carey’s new deal is exceptional for a single lead actor of a series that’s only in its third year. Jerry Seinfeld makes $1 million per episode, and Tim Allen, the star of “Home Improvement,” is expected to earn $1.25 million per episode next season.

The six “Friends” cast members each make about $100,000 per episode, but they are not producers like Allen, Seinfeld and Carey. Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser of NBC’s “Mad About You” are also expected to earn between $600,000 to north of $1 million per episode if they return next season.

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