Judge Judy rules! TV court jurist is the highest paid television star - NY Daily News
Matt Lauer makes $21.5 million a year for doing two hours in the morning and David Letterman makes $28 million for doing an hour at night.
But if you're looking for the biggest on-camera earner on TV, the verdict is clear: Judge Judy Sheindlin, whose annual pay for her syndicated afternoon court show is $45 million, according to the annual "Who Earns What" survey by TV Guide.
Simon Cowell of Fox's "X Factor" actually earns more, notes survey coauthor Stephen Battaglio, with Forbes magazine estimating his annual income at $90 million. But much of that comes from production and show ownership.
The TV Guide report, which hits newsstands Thursday, says Sheindlin's fellow syndicated TV judge Joe Brown earns $20 million - the same as Kelly Ripa for her syndicated morning show. No wonder no one's in any hurry to get her a partner.
In addition to NBC's Lauer, CBS's Letterman, Sheindlin, Brown and Ripa, TV's $20 million club includes NBC's Jay Leno at $25 million.
In contrast, the highest paid actor in a scripted drama is Mark Harmon of CBS's "NCIS," at $500,000 an episode or $11 million for a full season.
Mariska Hargitay of NBC's Law & Order: SVU" is second with $385,000 an episode, following by three "Grey's Anatomy" stars on ABC, Sandra Oh, Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey, at $350,000 an episode each.
The top two sitcom earners, by a wide margin, are on the same CBS show, "Two and a Half Men."
Ashton Kutcher rings in at $700,000 an episode and Jon Cryer gets $600,000.
Their closest competitor is Tina Fey of NBC's "30 Rock," at $350,000.
Actors in scripted shows, TV Guide says, earn less than they did a few years ago - partly because of the influx of actors from the movies, which have cut back on character dramas, and from theater.
So while Jon Hamm of AMC's "Mad Men" earns $250,000 an episode, Lea Michele of the high-buzz "Glee" on Fox earns a relatively modest $75,000 and Zooey Deschanel of "New Girl," also on Fox, $95,000.
Neil Patrick Harris earns $210,000 an episode for CBS's "How I Met Your Mother," while Michael C. Hall earns $295,000 for Showtime's "Dexter," and Claire Danes earns $110,000 for Showtime's "Homeland."
Lucy Liu will earn $125,000 for CBS's "Elementary" this fall, while Kaley Cuoco and Jim Parsons will each earn $300,000 an episode for CBS's "The Big Bang Theory."
That's the same pay Dan Castellaneta and Julie Kavner get for lending just their voices to Fox's long-running animated hit, "The Simpsons."
The bigger bucks these days, says TV Guide, are going to reality and personality shows.
Mariah Carey just signed for $17 million as a judge on Fox's "American Idol," vaulting her past the $15 million Howard Stern gets for judging NBC's "American's Got Talent" and the $10 million Britney Spears will be paid to judge "X Factor" this year.
They're all well ahead of the judges on NBC's "The Voice," where Christina Aguilera gets $225,000 an episode and her three cohorts, Blake Shelton, Adam Levine and Cee Lo Green make $100,000.
Ryan Seacrest makes $15 million a year for hosting "Idol," and the old reliable Kardashian family clocks in at $10 million.
Conversely, the Landry Family of "Swamp People" on History get just $25,000 an episode.
In the news game, Bill O'Reilly of Fox News is second to Lauer in this survey, earning $15 million a year.
Brian Williams of NBC tops the broadcast network nightly news anchors at $13 million, followed by Diane Sawyer of ABC at $12 million and Scott Pelley of CBS down at $4 million.
Anderson Cooper of CNN earns a reported $11 million, while other morning show personalities include Robin Roberts of ABC at $6 million and Lara Spencer of ABC at $1.5 million.
Other late-night hosts include Jon Stewart of Comedy Central at $16 million, Jimmy Kimmel of ABC at $8 million, Jimmy Fallon of NBC at $5 million and Conan O'Brien of TBS at $12 million.
And one of the newcomers to the list this year has already caused some stir: Crystal the monkey from NBC's new "Animal Practice," reportedly will earn $12,000 an episode.
Judge Judy getting PAAAAAAID. so is Jon Stewart