Celebrity Salaries


Don’t you always wonder what those celebrities make on TV?    Years ago ago I’d read that Vanna White was pulling in about 100k per show for “Wheel of Fortune” (it may be more now), and Pat Sayjak 250,000  (these may be higher now).  This seemed especially remarkable given that Wheel rarely gives away even a tenth of those combined salaries in prize money, and I think *never* has given away as much as the two “stars” earn.    Although I’m not for putting salary caps on stars I think these numbers certainly reflect bizarrely on what we value here in the good old USA.

These are from July 2007 – could not find newer numbers but I’m guessing these are current ballpark as well:

The morale of this story?   Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be Production Assistants ….

NETWORK PRIME TIME (salary per episode)

William Petersen, CSI $500,000   Update:  600,000
Update: Keifer Sutherland makes about 500,000 now for “24”
Zach Braff, Scrubs $350,000

Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: SVU $350,000
Chris Meloni, Law & Order: SVU $350,000
Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men $350,000
Hugh Laurie, House $300,000  Update: Hugh Laurie’s Salary is rising to $400,000 per episode next season.
Patrick Dempsey, Grey’s Anatomy $225,000
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Old Christine $225,000
Eva Longoria, Desperate Housewives $200,000
Ellen Pompeo, Grey’s Anatomy $200,000
Jeff Foxworthy, Are You Smarter… $150,000
T.R. Knight, Grey’s Anatomy $125,000
Chandra Wilson, Grey’s Anatomy $125,000
Sally Field, Brothers & Sisters $100,000
Special guest stars per hour episode minimum $6,527
Stand-ins per day minimum $145
Background actors w/ special abilities per day $140
Background actors or “extras” per day $130

NEWS ANCHORS (salary per year)
Katie Couric, CBS Evening News $15 million
Matt Lauer, NBC Today coanchor $12 million
Diane Sawyer                                                              $12 million
Meredith Vieira, NBC Today coanchor $10 million
Brian Williams                                                               $8 million
Anderson Cooper                                                         $5 million
Keith Olbermann, MSNBC anchor $4 million
Harry Smith, CBS The Early Show coanchor $3 million
Ernie Anastos, New York City local news anchor $2 million
Lesley Stahl, CBS 60 Minutes correspondent $1.8 million
Sr producer for network newsmagazine $250,000-$400,000
Average local TV news anchor                                        $75,500
Broadcast news associate entry level $30,000

CABLE (salary per episode)
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer $250,000
Julian McMahon, Nip/Tuck $125,000
Dylan Walsh, Nip/Tuck $125,000
Joely Richardson, Nip/Tuck $90,000
James Roday, Psych $60,000

DAYTIME
Oprah Winfrey, per year $260 million*
Judge Judy, per year $30 million
Bob Barker, per year $7 million
Ellen DeGeneres, per year $5 million
Jerry Springer, per year $3-4 million
Tyra Banks, per year $3.5 million
Star performer, daytime drama, per episode $7,500-$9,000
Writer, daily children’s show, per week $5,631
Freelance director, daytime drama, per program $3,726
Writer, daytime drama, per script $3,087
Question writer, quiz show, per week $1,324

* Includes earnings from Rachael RayDr. Phil other TV shows in her empire.

BEHIND THE SCENES
Director, per hr episode min. $35,927
Writer, for story and script, per hr episode $30,823
Staff writer, per wk minimum $2,890
Executive story editor, per episode average $8,500
Crafts services (provides food to cast and crew), per hr $25.40
Film editor, per wk min. $2,575
Sound editor, per wk min. $1,887.94
Music editor, per wk min. $1,887.94
Head makeup artist, per wk $2,271
Head hairstylist, per wk $1,804
Costume designer, per wk min. $2,009.65
Scenic artist, per wk min. $1,840
Microphone boom operator, per day $309.78
Production assistant, per hr $8

Source:  TV Guide

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About JoeDuck

Internet Travel Guy, Father of 2, small town Oregon life. BS Botany from UW Madison Wisconsin, MS Social Sciences from Southern Oregon. Top interests outside of my family's well being are: Internet Technology, Online Travel, Globalization, China, Table Tennis, Real Estate, The Singularity.
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18 Responses to Celebrity Salaries

  1. leland stamper says:

    Slightly interesting, is this part of the illusion of relevance?

  2. horatiox says:

    Most reasonable people would probably agree a Couric’s salary falls in the class of Obscene, Injust, Immoral, and so forth. It’s not like Miss Couric’s some great mind, or research scientist, or even talented Creative ala George Lucas, or Thomas Pynchon. She merely reports the news, at $15 million per annum.

    Economic critique at times thus seems dependent on normative considerations which are not easily quantified; in effect, Couric and her millionaire anchor cronies offend the reasonable person’s sense of distributive justice (Rawls’ Theory of Justice provides a good introduction to that topic. One might object to Rawlsian conclusions–as many Aynnie Rand types have–but he brings up some important considerations related to the social contract).

  3. glenn says:

    Personally I don’t think it is anyone’s business what private citizens make. They shouldn’t have to release this kind of information.

  4. horatiox says:

    So, according to Glennsternomics, Katie Couric and Oprahocracy represent the benefits of the free market.

  5. glenn says:

    (4) With people like Soros in the world who know who is getting paid what and by whom…I just don’t think ANYONE’s income is our business unless of course we are paying for it.

    I have no idea how some of these people can command the rates they are getting (i.e. Simon Cowell, Oprah, Howard Stern) same with baseball players, etc.

    What I think has transpired is people are collecting on “brand” worth and the derivative revenue downstreams that are occurring.

    However just as I think it is obnoxious for people to pay these sums…I think it is EVEN more obnoxious for someone to state they don’t deserve it or EVEN more obnoxious is that the government thinks they can dictate ANYONE’s worth.

    As long as people are willing to tune into crap like Oprah they will continue to get outrageous sums of money.

  6. glenn says:

    You guys get upset over celebrity salaries…take a look at what CA has been doing…

    CALPERS, the California Public Employee Retirement System, is now paying annual retirement benefits of more than $100,000 to 5,115 employees, including nearly $500,000 to the most highly-compensated former employee.

    CALPERS’ most highly-paid retiree is Bruce Malkenhorst, former city administrator of Vernon, California, whose pension pays $499,674.84 per year.

    Never heard of Vernon, California? Well, no wonder. It the smallest incorporated city in Southern California with a population of just 91. Yes, you read that correctly. 91 total residents. The city is best known for sprawling industrial facilities and massive corruption. Malkenhorst was paid $600,000 per year to manage a city with 91 people. But that apparently was not enough for Malkenhorst, because he’s been charged with misappropriating $60,000 of city funds for his personal use.

    (One of the largest firms headquartered in Vernon is Claugherty Packing’s “Farmer John” company, which made the news yesterday for landing a “stimulus” contract that paid far above the going rate for ham.)

    If you can’t get a job working for the city of Vernon, the Top 10 list makes it appear that you next best bet would be working for the California State University system. Joaquin Fuster, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA takes home $296,555.88 in retirement benefits. Donald Gerth, former President of Cal State Sacramento, takes home an annual pension of $278,054.64. John Schlag, a professor of neurobiology at UCLA is paid $255,600.48 in retirement.

    We’re not sure who bears the most blame here. Is it the government entities that negotiate the sweetheart deals? Or the employee unions that demand them?

    Public employee unions + Obama stimulus = bankruptcy.

    This madness cannot be sustained at the state level nor the federal level. Not on your back. And not on ours.

    http://www.ihatethemedia.com/california-is-paying-5115-retired-public-employees-over-100000-per-year

  7. horatiox says:

    That offends only slightly. Malkenhorst probably worked hard, had a certain degree of skills and education, so forth. He may be slightly overpaid, but he earned it.

    Couric, Sawyer, Williams, Cooper Oprah offend to a higher degree. Anchors don’t really work: they are merely celebrities–not even really actors or actresses (though I agree many actors are way overpaid as well). They are sort of salesmen. For that matter, CEOs, corporate barons, the Forbes 400 types, Gates, Jobs, Schmidt, Ellison, oil execs, etc. earn millions more than do the best-paid bureaucrats and union bosses. It’s not the govt.that’s out of control; it’s corporations.

  8. glenn says:

    (7) Horatiox Malkenhorst ran a town of 91 people…ARE YOU FREAKING SERIOUS? He was also involved in several corrupt activities, etc…

    OMG…any government worker…they work hard, they deserve it…ROFL…how does that kool-aid taste?

  9. horatiox says:

    Has he been found guilty of any crimes, Glennster? Until that happens, mere anecdotal reports–and even if he’s found guilty, we don’t know for sure whether he did it or not. Besides, the CA civil code allows for it–so blame the system which allows Malkenhorst, or the officials/judges which don’t put a stop to it (assuming your report is accurate–it sounds a bit Limbaughish).

    A local elementary school teacher probably has a higher IQ, better quantitative abilities, and more real-world skills than a Katie Couric does. I’d venture to claim many CA office personnel–and bureaucrats– even do more for the “public good”.

  10. glenn says:

    (9) Horatiox your missing the point…the town had 91 people – total population and somehow you think he is entitled to $600k a year for his pension???? Are you related to this guy?

    I know town managers in towns with 50,000 population that make less than 100k a year.

    This is a prime example of why CA is in trouble, just like the Federal government they do not understand debt and living within their means.

  11. horatiox says:

    Typical Glennster red herring. The topic of the thread concerned celebrity salaries, not bureaucratic salaries.

    Anyway, CA is in trouble mostly because of Ahhnuld’s borrowing practices, AND the GOP’s old tax scam Prop 13 which has kept the property tax rates on wealthy areas of CA far too low, plus the spineless Demos who gave up on a gas tax and other measures (including changing the 2/3’s law for the Assembly). The bureaucracy’s not that different than any other state (just that CA is most populous).

  12. glenn says:

    Horatiox there is no such thing as being taxed too high.

    All taxes are too high in all states. The states need to cut back on their services and do what is reasonable.

    The illegal alien problem in this country is costing us 10’s of billions of dollars a year. If CA cracked down on giving away so much for free…they would be way better off.

    The government isn’t the answer to everyone’s needs and wants that is how Marxists look at the world. Nothing is for free and when you take money you give up your freedoms.

  13. horatiox says:

    Sounds like you’ve been reading Aynnie Rand again, Glennster.

    The founding fathers weren’t hysterical-anti-tax types like the Randians. There were estate taxes, tariffs, and income tax early on. Besides, about half your Fed taxes go to the DoD. Are you suggesting that we not fund the US Military? Or that we should be able to check off the taxes we want to pay, and those we don’t. I don’t like high taxes either–though taxing the wealthy, say via capital gains is more than justified– but that’s a price we pay for living in a modern democracy.

  14. glenn says:

    (13) income tax early on? I don’t think so…the taxes were on gains…not on what you earned working. The income tax is where the entire system went wrong.

    The only fair tax that exists is a tax on consumption (i.e. national sales tax) everyone gets taxed the same including all the illegal money in this country.

    We all just have to accept personal responsibility for ourselves, and look to ourselves for our happiness and opportunity and NOT to the government because that only leads to tyranny and misery as evidenced throughout the entire history of the civilized world.

    Remember the pilgrims tried this kind of crap and they almost all died. These government ideals just don’t work because they are rooted in plans to control people and not help them. People can only help themselves.

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  16. Carl says:

    Support 90% (personal income tax) for the ONE (top 1% net earnings)!
    Vote accordingly!

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