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'Jersey Shore' cast near deal for hefty raise

Cast jersey shore Exclu: The cast of "Jersey Shore" is near a deal for a substantial pay increase.

Though the group's contract negotiations have held up production on season "2.5" of the series, which is scheduled to commence shooting this week, sources tell THR a deal is very close.

The cast initially asked the network for $30,000 per episode -- a 200% raise.

MTV is countering with a number that's close to that figure, and at least a couple key members of the cast are expected to accept by the end of the day. 

Though the production delay is holding up resumption of the current 24-episode season (which includes filming in Florida and New Jersey), the salary increase may not kick into effect until a presumed third season.

Some say MTV was only interested in keeping Snooki, The Situation, JWoww and Pauly D. But another source counters MTV firmly wanted to keep the cast intact and that all are expected to return.

Not every member of the cast will receive the exact same number, however. As reported on TMZ, The Situation was also offered a hefty bonus should "Jersey" meet certain ratings targets.

The "Jersey" cast shot the first season for $5,000 per episode, then haggled a salary bump to $10,000 for the second season of the show.

MTV released the following statement: "We don't comment on any contractual conversations. Season 2 premieres July 29 and production is on schedule."