TV’s Highest-Paid Leading Men Aren’t Even on TV

by | October 13, 2011 at 10:44 AM | TV News

Highly paid, not on TV (clockwise from upper left): Charlie Sheen, Ray Romano, Steve Carell, Laurence Fishburne (Photos: Getty, NBC, CBS)

Highly paid, not on TV (clockwise from upper left): Charlie Sheen, Ray Romano, Steve Carell, Laurence Fishburne (Photos: Getty, NBC, CBS)

A new list of TV’s highest-paid actors reveals there’s millions to be made on TV, even when you’re not actually on TV.

In a list of TV’s Top 10 highest-paid male actors that was just posted by Forbes magazine here, half of the 10 are not even currently on television, starting with Charlie Sheen.

With an estimated $40 million in earnings between May 2010 and May 2011, Sheen is TV’s top earner (among actors, that is — others who likely earn more include a handful of producers and, possibly, Jay Leno and David Letterman). As everyone knows, Sheen is not on TV currently, and won’t be until (or if) he gets his new, proposed sitcom, “Anger Management,” up and running.

His earnings, of course, included his salary for “Two and a Half Men” (up until he was fired last March) and ongoing residual payments for the reruns, which run constantly on local TV stations and on cable (FX).

But Charlie’s only one of five male stars on the list who were paid handsomely for their TV work, but are not currently working on television.

The rest of the Top 10:

No. 2: Ray Romano (estimated annual earnings: $20 million). Ray’s latest series, “Men of a Certain Age” bit the dust earlier this year, but he’s still raking in millions from “Everybody Loves Raymond” reruns.

No. 3: Steve Carell (estimated annual earnings: $15 million). Now that “The Office” is in repeat syndication, Carell’s revenue comes from rerun residuals plus his lucrative career as a star of film comedies.

No. 4: Mark Harmon (estimated annual earnings: $13 million). Harmon’s the first on the list who’s still on TV. He earns the No. 4 position mainly because his CBS series, “NCIS,” is TV’s top-rated drama.

Watch the latest episode of “NCIS” here:




No. 5: Jon Cryer (estimated annual earnings: $11 million): Charlie Sheen’s not the only one profiting from “Two and a Half Men.” Co-star Cryer is earning rerun residuals and a handsome salary from still working on the show.

No. 6: Laurence Fishburne (estimated annual earnings: $11 million): Fishburne earned his money on “CSI,” where he remained for two seasons before returning to feature films (most notably, the current epidemic movie “Contagion”).

No. 7: Patrick Dempsey (estimated annual earnings: $10 million): Stay in one TV show long enough and you’re bound to rake in big paychecks. That’s what happened to Dempsey, who’s played heartthrob doc Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd for eight seasons on “Grey’s Anatomy.”

No. 8: Simon Baker (estimated annual earnings): $9 million. Few jobs in front of the camera on TV are better than starring in a CBS procedural, since most of them turn out to be long-running hits. That appears to be the case for “The Mentalist,” which helped Baker make it on to this list of highest-paid TV actors.

No. 9: Hugh Laurie (estimated annual earnings: $9 million): Laurie deserves every penny he makes on “House” since he’s arguably Fox’s biggest star.

Watch a full episode from the new season of “House” right here:




No. 10: Chris Meloni (estimated annual earnings: $9 million): Wanna get rich? Get on one of the “Law & Order” shows — as Meloni did on “SVU” — and earn residuals now and forever. By the way, Meloni’s the fifth actor on this list who’s not currently on TV.



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