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DEVIL OF A SALARY PROBLEM

It's tough to be an angel in Hollywood when you're underpaid. So says "Touched by an Angel" star Della Reese.

Reese claimed Monday that CBS reneged on an agreement to match her salary increases to those of co-star Roma Downey. Downey's pay was doubled this season, Reese said, but she got only a 12.5 percent raise.

"I'm trying not to believe it's because I'm black, 'cause I was black when they hired me," said Reese, a 66-year-old ordained minister. "They knew what age I was. . . . I don't know what it is."

She would not say what her salary is, but said Downey's pay has consistently been higher. Each had received equal pay increases in the show's first three years, Reese said.

The show follows the adventures of two Earth-bound spirits, played by Reese and Downey, who help troubled souls.

In a statement Monday, CBS said it was "puzzled" by Reese's comments and her decision to make her negotiations public. The network said it had offered her a 25 percent increase.

Reese had said she was only informally aware of such an offer.

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