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Highest-Paid TV Actors in 2016
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Judge Judy’s salary for 2016 was reportedly $47 million. Photo courtesy of Deadline.

While the majority of actors are not making millions a year, a look into the salaries of a few superstars is enough to get us all wanting to pull a Gerald Butler. It’s well known that the actor studied law at the University of Glasgow, but he ultimately abandoned the profession for the glitz and glamour of Hollywood.

Recently, Variety’s Michael Schneider and Cynthia Littleton compiled data of some of the top TV actors from 2016. Netflix’s Gilmore Girls’ leads topped the drama list while CBS’ The Big Bang Theory’s three stars led the comedy section with $1 million/per episode.

  
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Judge Judith Sheindlin, aka Judge Judy, was the highest paid star on the reality/host/news list. Her reported salary was a whopping $47 million/a year. While Judge Judy may make her fortune by bridging law with entertainment, former lawyer Megyn Kelley made a big pay day from transitioning from law to news. She reportedly brought in $10-12 million from conservative outlet, Fox News. Not a bad career move for the Albany Law School grad.

 

Drama

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ACTOR / SHOW / NETWORK ESTIMATED PER EPISODE
Lauren Graham Gilmore Girls (NETFLIX) $750,000
Alexis Bledel Gilmore Girls (NETFLIX) $750,000
Mark Harmon NCIS (CBS) $525,000
Kevin Spacey House of Cards (NETFLIX) $500,000
Peter Dinklage Game of Thrones (HBO) $500,000
Lena Headey Game of Thrones (HBO) $500,000
Kit Harington Game of Thrones (HBO) $500,000
Emilia Clarke Game of Thrones (HBO) $500,000
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau Game of Thrones (HBO) $500,000
Claire Danes Homeland (SHOWTIME) $450,000
Mariska Hargitay Law & Order: SVU (NBC) $450,000
Ellen Pompeo Grey’s Anatomy (ABC) $400,000
Joel Kinnaman Altered Carbon (NETFLIX) $350,000
Reese Witherspoon Big Little Lies (HBO) $350,000
Nicole Kidman Big Little Lies (HBO) $350,000
Kiefer Sutherland Designated Survivor (ABC) $300,000
Michael Weatherly Bull (CBS) $300,000
Naomi Watts Gypsy (NETFLIX) $275,000
Sarah Jessica Parker Divorce (HBO) $275,000
Hugh Laurie Chance (HULU) $275,000
Daniel Craig Purity (SHOWTIME) $250,000
Clive Owen The Knick (CINEMAX) $250,000
Viola Davis How to Get Away With Murder (ABC) $250,000
James Spader The Blacklist (NBC) $250,000
Billy Bob Thornton Goliath (AMAZON) $250,000
Kerry Washington Scandal (ABC) $250,000
Aaron Paul The Path (HULU) $225,000
Tom Selleck Blue Bloods (CBS) $200,000
Angie Harmon Rizzoli & Isles (TNT) $185,000
Wentworth Miller Prison Break (FOX) $175,000
Dominic Purcell Prison Break (FOX) $175,000
Sarah Wayne Callies Prison Break (FOX) $175,000
Michelle Monaghan The Path (HULU) $175,000
Main cast Westworld (HBO) $175,000
Taraji P. Henson Empire (FOX) $175,000
Terrence Howard Empire (FOX) $175,000
Keri Russell The Americans (FX) $175,000
Jensen Ackles Supernatural (THE CW) $175,000
Rob Lowe Code Black (CBS) $175,000
Mandy Patinkin Homeland (SHOWTIME) $150,000
Scott Bakula NCIS: New Orleans (CBS) $130,000
Tea Leoni Madam Secretary (CBS) $130,000
Jennifer Jason Leigh Antarctica (NETFLIX) $125,000
Geena Davis The Exorcist (FOX) $100,000
Kyle Chandler Bloodline (NETFLIX) $100,000
Sam Heughan Outlander (STARZ) $100,000
Caitriona Balfe Outlander (STARZ) $100,000
Michael Sheen Masters of Sex (SHOWTIME) $100,000
Lizzy Caplan Masters of Sex (SHOWTIME) $100,000
Abigail Spencer Timeless (NBC) $75,000
Lyon kids Empire (FOX) $20,000
Source: Compiled by Michael Schneider and Cynthia Littleton. Numbers are estimates.
Based on industry sources, and may include producing fees and/or profit participation.

Reality/Host/News

ACTOR / SHOW / NETWORK ESTIMATED PER YEAR
Judy Sheindlin Judge Judy (SYNDICATED) $47M
Matt Lauer Today (NBC) $22M-$25M
Ellen DeGeneres Ellen (SYNDICATED) $20M
Bill O’Reilly The O’Reilly Factor (FNC) $18M-$20M
Kelly Ripa Live With Kelly (SYNDICATED) $16M-$20M
Miley Cyrus The Voice (NBC) $13M-$15M
Adam Levine The Voice (NBC) $13M-$15M
Jimmy Fallon The Tonight Show (NBC) $13M-$15M
Jimmy Kimmel Jimmy Kimmel Live (ABC) $13M-$15M
Pat Sajak Wheel of Fortune (SYNDICATED) $12M
Conan O’Brien Conan (IBS) $12M
Robin Roberts Good Morning America (ABC) $10M-$14M
Megyn Kelly The Kelly File (FNC) $10M-$12M
Shepard Smith Shepard Smith Reporting (FNC) $10M
Chelsea Handler Chelsea (NETFLIX) $10M
George Stephanopoulos GMA (ABC) $10M
Anderson Cooper Anderson Cooper 360 (CNN) $9M-$11M
David Muir World News Tonight (ABC) $7M
Rachel Maddow Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC) $7M
Andy Cohen Watch What Happens Live (BRAVO) $4M-$5M
Jeff Probst Survivor (CBS) $4M*
Alec Baldwin Match Game (ABC) $3M*
Steve Harvey Celebrity Family Feud (ABC) $150,000+
‘Shark Tank’ sharks Shark Tank (ABC) $50,000+

*PER SEASON +PER EPISODE



Source: Compiled by Michael Schneider and Cynthia Littleton. Numbers are estimates.
Based on industry sources, and may include producing fees and/or profit participation.

Comedy

ACTOR / SHOW / NETWORK ESTIMATED PER EPISODE
Jim Parsons The Big Bang Theory (CBS) $1,000,000
Kaley Cuoco The Big Bang Theory (cBs) $1,000,000
Johnny Galecki The Big Bang Theory (CBS) $1,000,000
Dwayne Johnson Bailers (HBO) $400,000
Drew Barrymore Santa Clarita Diet (NETFLIX) $350,000
Emma Stone Maniac (NETFLIX) $350,000
Jonah Hill Maniac (NETFLIX) $350,000
Nancy Cartwright The Simpsons (FOX) $315,000
Dan Castellaneta The Simpsons (FOX) $315,000
Julie Kavner The Simpsons (Fox) $315,000
Yeardley Smith The Simpsons (FOX) $315,000
Jeffrey Tambor Transparent (AMAZON) $275,000
Julia Louis-Dreyfus Veep (HBO) $250,000
Tim Allen Last Man Standing (ABC) $250,000
Patricia Heaton The Middle (ABC) $250,000
Julie Bowen Modern Family (ABC) $250,000
Ty Burrell Modern Family (ABC) $250,000
Jesse Tyler Ferguson Modern Family (ABC) $250,000
Eric Stonestreet Modern Family (ABC) $250,000
Sofia Vergara Modern Family (ABC) $250,000
Ted Danson The Good Place (NBC) $225,000
Kevin James Kevin Can Wait (CBs) $200,000
Matt LeBlanc Man With a Plan (CBS) $200,000
Mindy Kaling The Mindy Project (HULU) $140,000
Zooey Deschanel New Girl (FOX) $130,000
Kristen Bell The Good Place (NBC) $125,000
America Ferrera Superstore (NBC) $125,000
Pfefferman family Transparent (AMAZON) $100,000
Anthony Anderson Black-ish (ABC) $100,000
Andre Braugher Brooklyn Nine-Nine (FOX) $100,000
Jeff Garlin The Goldbergs (ABC) $90,000
Tracee Ellis Ross Black-ish (ABC) $80,000
Gina Rodriguez Jane the Virgin (THE CW) $60,000
Source: Compiled by Michael Schneider and Cynthia Littleton. Numbers are estimates.
Based on industry sources, and may include producing fees and/or profit participation.

 

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