Titus scene-stealer Zack Ward may not have received a pay hike for his work on the comedy's upcoming third season (kicking off Wednesday at 9:30 pm/ET), but don't expect him to stage a dramatic sick-out &#224 la the supporting casts of NBC's The West Wing and CBS's Becker. Explains the cut-up: "My renegotiating angle is, 'Hey man, I'd like to have some more cash, okay?' They're like, 'No.' So [I threatened], 'I'll go back to work for what you were paying me before!' I'm not contentious about it."

That's not to say, however, that Ward felt an increase wasn't warranted. "My attitude is, I get paid pretty good money to do what I do," admits the 28-year-old actor, who plays Dave, the dim-witted younger bro of series star Christopher Titus. "I think I could earn more cash, because the money we're getting paid now was based upon... a pilot that nobody [knew was] going to be a success. Now, we're a part of a show that is a success, [and] that makes Fox money. So, based upon that reality, we deserve more cash. But at this point, due to [the soft ad market], 20th Century Fox has decided to say no bumps."

Of course, the network's attitude could change if the third-year sitcom takes off in its new Wednesday night timeslot following The Bernie Mac Show. Sink or swim, Ward says the show's dark mission will remain the same: "We do cutting-edge television. We really take some risks. We do stuff you have not seen before," he says proudly. "If our show tanks [on Wednesdays], so be it. But we are going to keep on doing what we do and try to do it better. The rest of it we can't affect, so why the [expletive] worry about it."

That said, Ward — who describes Titus's fans as "insane, crazy bastards" — confesses that he has given some thought to his new formidable competition: NBC's The West Wing. "Nobody really wants to go up against The West Wing," he admits. "We'll lose [among] overall [viewers] like we did to Millionaire last year, but Fox is a demographic network... so if we continue to do the demographics that we did, we'll be in great shape."