The likes of Game Of Thrones, House Of Cards, Stranger Things and Better Call Saul mean that we’re constantly reminded that this is the Golden Age Of Television. But the big question is whether or not its stars are reimbursed accordingly for their work on these shows, especially in comparison to their big-screen peers.
We now have our answer, as the top salaries in television have been revealed and they make for eye-watering reading. According to Variety the highest paid TV actress (although she does talk shows) is none other than Ellen DeGeneres, who takes home $50 million a year because of her work on her daytime talk show. She is closely followed by Judith Sheindlin, otherwise known as Judge Judy, who pockets $47 million. Matt Lauer ($25 million), American Idol’s Katy Perry ($25 million) and Kelly Ripa ($22 million) round off the top 5 highest paid TV actors.
The Big Bang Theory’s leading quintet of Kaley Cuoco, Johnny Galecki, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar and Jim Parsons then come next, averaging around $21.6 million a year each, courtesy of their $900,000 per episode contracts. Game Of Thrones’ leading actors only take home $5 million a year, as they’re paid $500,000 for 10 episodes, while Modern Family’s Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ed O’Neill, Eric Stonestreet and Sofia Vergara earn around $12 million a year because of their $500,000 contracts over 24 episodes.
Robert De Niro actually earned the highest per-episode amount for dramas, as he will be paid $775,000 for David O. Russell’s impending Amazon drama, which is still untitled, but should run for 16 episodes across two seasons. If Robert De Niro is in all of them, he will ultimately make $12.4 million.
Other major revelations are that Jimmy Fallon is just ahead of his talk-show rivals, as he is paid $16 million a year compared to Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel on $15 million, while Conan O’Brien and the returning David Letterman are on just $12 million. But whether they were near top or bottom, any of the people featured on the list can be very happy with a good year’s work.