Mental Money Makers

BATD ON Aug 12, 2010 AT 11:23 am

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey gets paid $315 million-a-year for her talk show.

The TV star – whose series ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ will end after 25 seasons in September 2011 – topped a list of the highest paid talk show hosts in the US, with her staggering wage more than the combined total of the next four top earners, Judge Judy Sheindlin and David Letterman, who earn $45 million and $28 million respectively, ‘Tonight Show’ star Jay Leno on $25 million and Conan O’Brien, who gets paid $10 million for his self-titled programme.

Charlie Sheen was the highest paid comedy actor, receiving $1.25 million per episode of ‘Two and a Half Men’ – more than double the $550,000 paid to his co-star Jon Cryer, who was second on the list.

‘House’ actor Hugh Laurie was named the top earning actor in a drama by TV Guide magazine, taking home a minimum of $400,000 per episode, while ‘American Idol’ host Ryan Seacrest was the top earning reality TV star, with a salary of $15 million, and Matt Lauer from ‘Today’ earned $16 million, making him the highest-earning news presenter.

Despite the huge pay cheques, Hollywood insiders insist that salaries have dropped in recent years.

One source said: “No one broke the bank on anything this year.”

Hugh Laurie

Hugh Laurie

TV Guide magazine’s list of highest-earning US TV stars:

Drama (per episode):

1. Hugh Laurie (‘House’) $400,000+
2. Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay (‘Law & Order: SVU’) $395,000 (each)
3. David Caruso (‘CSI: Miami’) $375,000
3. Marg Helgenberger (‘CSI’) $375,000
3. Mark Harmon (‘NCIS’) $375,000
4. Laurence Fishburne (‘CSI’) $350,000
4. Kyra Sedgwick (‘The Closer’) $350,000
4. Denis Leary (‘Rescue Me’) $350,000
5. Gary Sinise (‘CSI: NY’) $275,000

Late Night/Talk Syndication (per year):

1. Oprah Winfrey $315 million
2. Judge Judy Sheindlin $45 million
3. David Letterman (‘The Late Show’) $28 million
4. Jay Leno (‘The Tonight Show’) $25 million
5. Conan O’Brien (‘The Conan O’Brien Show’) $10 million

Reality (per year):

1. Ryan Seacrest (‘American Idol’) $15 million
2. Joel McHale (‘The Soup’) $2 million
3. Piers Morgan (‘America’s Got Talent’) $2 million
4. Kate Gosselin (‘Kate Plus 8’) $250,000 per episode
5. Nicole ‘Snooki’ Polizzi (‘Jersey Shore’) $30,000 per episode 

Tina Fey

Tina Fey

Comedy (per episode):

1. Charlie Sheen (‘Two and a Half Men’) $1.25 million
2. Jon Cryer (‘Two and a Half Men’) $550,000
3. Marcia Cross (‘Desperate Housewives’) $400,000
3. Teri Hatcher (‘Desperate Housewives’) $400,000
3. Felicity Huffman (‘Desperate Housewives’) $400,000
3. Eva Longoria Parker (‘Desperate Housewives’) $400,000
3. Dan Castellaneta (‘The Simpsons’) $400,000
3. Julie Kavner (‘The Simpsons’) $400,000
4. Tina Fey (‘30 Rock’) $350,000
4. Jeremy Piven (‘Entourage’) $350,000
5. Steve Carell (‘The Office’) $297,000 

News (per year):

1. Matt Lauer (‘Today’) $16 million +
2. Katie Couric (CBS) $15 million
3. Brian Williams (NBC) $12.5 million
4. Diane Sawyer (ABC) $12 million
5. Meredith Vieira (‘Today’) $11 million

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