Star Salaries: This Year’s Highest Paid TV Personalities – Report

by | August 8, 2012 at 3:04 PM | TV News

Kelly Ripa, Mark Harmon, Ashton Kutcher (Photo: Getty Images)

Mariah Carey, Mark Harmon, Crystal the Monkey….just which TV stars earn the most these days? TV Guide‘s annual star salary report is out, with figures culled from agents, network and studio execs. Find out who’s the top banana and who makes peanuts (by Tinseltown standards)….

And the highest paid male in a dramatic series is… Mark Harmon for “NCIS” with $500,000 per episode. In the female category, TV’s highest paid drama queen is “Grey’s Anatomy’s” Ellen Pompeo at $350,000 per episode.

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And yes, some stars really are laughing all the way to the bank: Ashton Kutcher pulls in $700,000 per episode for “Two and a Half Men” (that’s less than Charlie Sheen but still no joke) and every nerd’s favorite babe Kaley Cuoco makes $300,000 for every episode of “The Big Bang Theory.” Meanwhile, the main cast of “Modern Family,” who recently held out in negotiations and doubled their salaries, now earn $175,000 each, per episode.

If you think that’s bananas, note that “Animal Practice” star Crystal the Monkey, who plays “Dr. Rizzo on the upcoming NBC sitcom, makes $12,000 per episode.

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On the late-night front, David Letterman tops Jay Leno in the paycheck department, pulling in $28 million per year versus Leno’s $25 million. For comparison, the hipper and cooler Jon Stewart makes a cool $16 million a year.

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Judge Judy still rules over daytime, making a whopping $45 million. The daytime pay scale is all over the board, with Kelly Ripa at the $20 million mark, while Sherri Shepherd makes $1.5 million annually to share her “View” on TV. Meanwhile celebrity chef Mario Batali makes crumbs from “The Chew,” earning $6,000 per episode.

Matt Lauer still tops the news category with his $21.5 million payday for “Today,” followed by Bill O’Reilly in second place with $15 million, and Diane Sawyer faring well for the newswomen with $12 million a year.

Becoming a reality TV judge is the hottest gig in Hollywood. New “American Idol” judge Mariah Carey has out-diva’d J.Lo, pulling in $5 million more than Jennifer Lopez got for “Idol” run with Carey $17 million for the season. “America’s Got Talent” judge Howard Stern banks $15 million per season.

In the sad-but-true category: “Jersey Shore” DJ Pauly D earns the same amount as movie star Kevin Bacon, who’s coming to TV in midseason for Fox’s thriller “The Following.” Both earn $175,000 per episode, per TV Guide’s article.