Pop Culture

What Your Favorite (And Not So Favorite) TV Stars Make

I usually don’t like finding out how much money people make, because I either end up angry (CEO’s earn how much?!?!?) or sad (think: teacher, social worker, anyone who is really helping make a difference in the community, etc.). 

TV Guide just released a report on the salaries of some of television’s biggest stars, and it’s eye opening. Ashton Kutcher will be making $700,000 for each episode of Two and a Half Men, which is actually saving the network more than $500,000. Yes, Charlie Sheen made $1.25 million an episode before he went off into seclusion and privately dealt with his issues. Don’t feel too bad for co-stars Jon Cryer or Angus T. Jones – they made $550,000 and $250,000, respectively.

Last season, The Desperate Housewives women – Marcia Cross, Teri Hatcher, Eva Longoria, and Felicity Huffman – all earned a cool $400,000 an episode, as did Dan Castellaneta and Julie Kavner for providing their voices to The Simpsons. Following close behind are my favorite cops Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni, who received $395,000 a piece for each Law & Order: SVU episode, and David Caruso (CSI: Miami), Marg Helgenberger (CSI) and Mark Harmon (NCIS), who all make a whopping $375,000 an episode.

Syndicated and late night stars did very well for themselves, as seen by David Letterman earning $28 million, Jay Leno $25 million, Conan O’Brien $10 million, Ellen DeGeneres $8 million, Jimmy Kimmel $6 million, and $3.5 million for both Chelsea Handler and George Lopez. That’s all a pittance compared to what Oprah earned: $315 million. Coming in very far behind from the Big O was Judge Judy, with $45 million.

The omnipresent Ryan Seacrest makes $15 million just from American Idol, Joel McHale takes home $2 million from The Soup, and Piers Morgan earns $2 million from America’s Got Talent. Matt Lauer earns more than $16 million for The Today Show, while his former co-host Meredith Vieira took home $11 million.

Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi can buy herself a whole lotta pickles with her $30,000 an episode for Jersey Shore, and that’s how much Glee’s Matthew Morrison and Wizards of Waverly Place’s Selena Gomez make as well. Hopefully someday they’ll catch up to America’s favorite mom, Kate Gosselin, who earns $250,000 an episode for I Hate Kate Kate Plus 8.

That’s just a small sampling of what television stars are making, and a vast majority of the celebrities listed make even more money from other ventures – for example, Ellen DeGeneres is a Cover Girl spokeswoman, Joel McHale also stars in Community, Chelsea Handler has written several best-sellers, and Piers Morgan has his CNN talk show. For more salaries, check out TV Guide‘s list.

I can’t even wrap my head around the thought of making $300,000 a week, let alone adding additional income from royalties, advances, etc. What would you do if you were taking home Mariska Hargitay’s paycheck?


By Catherine

Catherine is a Southern California based freelance writer, whose work has appeared in everything from the New York Times to Entertainment Weekly. The highlight of her life (so far) was being featured on MSNBC for a story she wrote on Hello Kitty wines...she knew one day her love of all things HK would come in handy.

2 replies on “What Your Favorite (And Not So Favorite) TV Stars Make”

If i made that much, I’d hopefully give a lot to charity. But in terms of fun things, I wouldn’t buy a giant house, instead I’d buy several modest houses in awesome cities, like a peed-a-terre in Paris and a London flat. I’d also do a crap-ton of traveling.

I’ve also had a dream to set up the “James Franco is an ass and took your spot in your dream MFA/PhD program” scholarship fund. It would go to the person who got knocked off the list because of James Franco.

Leave a Reply