US TV rich list: Ellen, Judge Judy, Big Bang & more …

The big money to be made in American TV is in producing your own syndicated show, according to figures released today by Variety.

Reality / News hosts are on the big bucks, with Comedy more lucrative than Drama, for individual performers.

Ellen DeGeneres comes out on top at a cool $50m annually, including back-end and production fees, followed by the doyenne of small screen justice, Judge Judy Sheindlin at $47m. Today’s Matt Lauer ties with Katy Perry’s upcoming American Idol deal at $25m.

In the Comedy stakes The Big Bang Theory cast are at $900,000 an episode (while you are choking on your Corn Flakes on that fee it’s actually down from $1M a year ago… diddums).That’s nearly $22m annually. HBO’s Dwayne Johnson is at $650,000 followed by the Modern Family team on $500,000. Note that Forbes has previously valued Sofia Vergara at $43m -however probably based on annual revenue not per episode salary.

In Drama Robert de Niro moves to the top of the list thanks to an untitled Amazon project from director David O. Russell. That will be $775,00 per episode please. Last year it was the Gilmore Girls on top. NCIS man Mark Harmon is next at $525,000. The Game of Thrones folk will easily pay their debts with $500,000 an ep, matched by Kevin Spacey and now Mr. Kevin Costner. Big question: where is Robyn Wright please?

You can see the full lists here.

Reality  / News*



* includes back-end / production fees

Source: Variety


  1. Not a full list by any means but enough to give Senator Hanson a jolt of reality.
    Most of the drama/comedy actors on these lists would be treading water without someone to put the words in their mouths.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.