The Highest Earning TV Stars In America

Here are the top five earners in TV, among actors, reality hosts and talk show personalities, via Barry Ritholz:

Actors: TV Drama (per episode)
Hugh Laurie (House) $400,000+
Christopher Meloni & Mariska Hargitay (Law & Order: SVU) $395,000 (each)
David Caruso (CSI: Miami) $375,000
Marg Helgenberger (CSI) $375,000
Mark Harmon (NCIS) $375,000

Actors: TV Comedy (per episode)
Charlie Sheen (Two and a Half Men) $1.25 million
Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men) $550,000
Marcia Cross (Desperate Housewives) $400,000
Teri Hatcher (Desperate Housewives) $400,000
Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives) $400,000

Reality Hosts (per year)
Ryan Seacrest (American Idol) $15 million
Joel McHale (The Soup) $2 million
Piers Morgan (America's Got Talent) $2 million
Kate Gosselin (Kate Plus 8) $250,000 per episode
Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi (Jersey Shore) $30,000 per episode

Talk Show Hosts (per year)
Oprah Winfrey $315 million
Judge Judy Sheindlin $45 million
David Letterman (The Late Show) $28 million
Jay Leno (The Tonight Show) $25 million
Conan O'Brien (The Conan O'Brien Show) $10 million

Read the longer lists at The Big Picture.

Presented by

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

The Blacksmith: A Short Film About Art Forged From Metal

"I'm exploiting the maximum of what you can ask a piece of metal to do."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

Video

An Ingenious 360-Degree Time-Lapse

Watch the world become a cartoonishly small playground

Video

The Benefits of Living Alone on a Mountain

"You really have to love solitary time by yourself."

Video

The Rise of the Cat Tattoo

How a Brooklyn tattoo artist popularized the "cattoo"

More in Business

Just In