TV's Top Earners

Hugh Laurie, Oprah, Ryan Seacrest, Charlie Sheen lead way
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 12, 2010 5:48 PM CDT
TV's Top Earners
Oprah Winfrey is tops in 'late night/talk syndication' with her annual salary of $315 million. Judge Judy is a distant second at $45 million.   (AP Photo/Evan Agostini, file)

TV stars still make good money, but they make a bit less of it now than in recent years—studios have lowered the starting salary for a series star from a consistent $150,000 to $200,000 to between $75,000 and $125,000. Established stars, however, rake in much bigger bucks. Yahoo breaks down the leaders, via TV Guide numbers:

  • Drama: Hugh Laurie picks up $400,000 per episode of House, while Law and Order: SVU duo Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay each get $395,000.

  • Talk/Late Night: Oprah reigns supreme with a $315 million annual salary—literally hundreds of millions more than runner-up Judge Judy Sheindlin at $45 million.
  • Reality: American Idol host Ryan Seacrest is tops with $15 million per year.
  • News: Matt Lauer's $16 million salary edges Katie Couric's $15 million.
  • Comedy: Charlie Sheen gets $1.25 million per episode of Two and a Half Men, while co-star Jon Cryer is No. 2 at $550,000.
(Read more Hugh Laurie stories.)

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