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

Redbox Rocks – Brilliant!


Although it’s probably a transitional mode of movie distribution until streaming becomes the preferred mode – probably in 3-4 years, Redbox really puts conventional movie stores to shame when you want a popular title.

The friendly big movie boxes are located at heavy traffic stores like Wal Mart, and offer popular titles (as well as a limited selection of older films) at only $1.    The combination of a very intuitive and simple touchscreen interface, credit card scan, networking and the “robotics” of the Redbox are impressive to me.  The entire system seems well designed to eliminate the challenges that face other touch systems – clunky navigation and printer problems.   No printer problems at RedBox because they don’t use one – instead you are emailed both when you rent and when you return.

Another innovative solution is to avoid the frustrating and usurous “late fees” by simply charging a dollar a day – the standard low rental rate – until 25 days after which you own the movie.   This is an approach likely to get some revenues from movie sales and avoid pissing off customers who forget or keep the film for a few extra days.   I’d guess the optimal “you’ve bought it” number is lower than this – probably about $12 or so – but to know that you’d have to have information such as the cost to replenish titles in the machines, cost of lost revenue before titles are replenished, etc.    I’m assuming that RedBox’ largest long term cost is the human interaction needed to maintain and load the machines.

———- Return receipts are emailed immediately ——-

Dear JHUNKINS@GMAIL.COM:

Your copy of “Cloverfield” was successfully returned on 7/11/2008 11:30 AM.
Your return was on time. You will receive a receipt via email when we process your account.

Thanks for using Redbox!

Return Details

Barcode: 0—-6
Transaction ID: 13—1
Return location: Wal-Mart (view inventory here)
300 W Valley View Rd
Talent, OR 97540-9629
Rent date/time: 7/10/2008 1:16 PM
Due date/time: 7/11/2008 9:00 PM
Return date/time: 7/11/2008 11:30 AM
Questions? Comments? Contact Redbox Customer Service

Phone: 1-866-REDBOX3
Email: questions@redbox.com
FAQ: http://www.redbox.com/Help/Faq.aspx

DVD rentals cost only $1.00 + tax until 9:00 PM the next evening, then $1.00 + tax for each night thereafter. After 25 days, rental charges will cease and the DVD is yours to keep.

Startup.com * * * *


I’m not sure if I enjoyed this documentary so much because it was great or just because I’m very  familiar with the internet bubble, startup themes, and the complications of getting up and going with a large internet project.

I found Startup.com fascinating, touching, and tragic.    The true life documentary, condensed brilliantly from some 400 hours of footage, follows childhood pals Tom and Khalial as they conceptualize and build a site for government business interactions called GovWorks.com, raise 60 million dollars in Venture Capital, and then preside over the collapse of the company, friendly relationships, and more.    

A little more research reveals why this is so good.  It’s by Jhane Noujaim, one of the world’s most brilliant documentary filmmakers.  She made “Control Room” about spin before and as the Iraq War began, and she’s the winner of the prestigious TED Prize in 2006.    

  • Noujaim Films
  • Jehane Noujaim at the Internet Movie Database
  • Official Control Room website
  • Jehane Noujaim’s 26 min TEDPrize Talk at TED Conference (2006) Monterey, CA.
  • International Trailer
  • Control Room at the Internet Movie Database
  • Metacritic – Control Room review collection
  • Rotten Tomatoes – Control Room review collection
  • Open Directory Project – Control Room directory category
  • Pangea Day
  • Michael Clayton * * * *


    This superb legal drama was one of the best films of the year with George Clooney in excellent form as the “fixer” for a large legal firm handling a massive and complex liability case.     Clayton’s friend, a manic depressive in charge of the case, is brilliantly played by Tom Wilkinson.    Fast paced, rich dialog makes this a joy to watch as the plot unravels and Clayton faces his greatest personal challenge.

    No Country for Old Men * * *


    This finely crafted film has been judged by many to be a masterpiece, but I think this over-rating is simply because it offers a “different” approach to the genre – something critics who have seen far too many films enjoy a lot more than they should.   No Country for Old Men is another quirky vision of America from the Coen Brothers.  It’s a grim, gray, and violent vision of the Western landscape.   Mostly centered on a psychopathic murdering rampage by a the seemingly indestructible Anton Chigurh, the film’s characters stand as stark metaphors for various features of humanity. 

    I read Roger Ebert’s glowing review and still don’t see why he loved the film so much, but clearly I’m in something of a minority to suggest that a film like 3:10 to Yuma is a better movie in both style and treatment of the theme of morality, violence, and moral ambiguity.

    The Namesake * * * *


    This excellent film chronicles the life and cultural journey of an American Indian family from their roots in Calcutta to the American “dream” with its quirky and affluent complications.  Kal Penn and Tabu are marvelous as Indian mother in America and American son of India.

    The film does a fantastic job of transitioning almost seamlessly between two very different cultures, and offers insights into the deep history of Indian tradition and family values.   A great movie for anybody with an interest in other cultures.

    Singularity – the Movie – is near


    Ray Kurzweil is one of the most exciting thinkers anywhere, and unlike some “futurist advocates” of the past he’s distinguished himself in several fields relevant to those he speaks about.    He’s producing a film based on his book “The Singularity is Near” that will take the form of a narrative storyline featuring cyberterror, nanotechnology, and virtual beings and also a documentary with interviews featuring many leading thinkers about the future of technology.    See the Singularity website for more.

    Ironically the early misguided optimism about AI has led even some early AI pioneers to scoff at the notion we are near the brink of conscious computing.  Yet a lot of evidence now suggests we are near reaching the capability of creating consciousness in machines. 

    First, the IBM Blue Brain project is within about 8 years of a good working model of the brain.  They are not claiming to seek “consciousness” with the model  – rather they are focusing on brain and disease research – but I see no reason to think they won’t soon attain a conscious computer as the machine approaches the number of connections we have in our own brains.  

    Second, the computational power of computers is approaching that of a human brain.   Kurzweil discusses this at great length in “The Singularity is Near”, noting that exponentially improving processing and memory capacity will soon lead to plenty of power in computers to replicate human thinking patterns.

    Third, the explosion in profitability for massively parallel computing power – such as that used by Google and Microsoft – will fuel innovation for many years to come.

    The question of “Do you believe in a technological singularity” needs to be replaced with “what are we going to do when the singularity happens?”

    Hey, I’ve written a lot more about the Singularity , because I think it’s the biggest thing to hit humanity since….ummmm…. the advent of humanity?