Follow the money… to TV! Variety just released the estimated salaries for some of our favorite television actors and on-air personalities. And while we occasionally get salary updates in real time when celebs are negotiating their contracts, seeing their (estimated) income laid out, spreadsheet style, is shocking — for a lot of reasons.
One surprise is that 2017’s highest-earning actor in a drama series is Robert De Niro, whose show hasn’t even started filming yet. (It doesn’t even have a working title.) The project, which will air on Amazon, is from David O. Russell of Silver Linings Playbook fame, and though details are still scarce, De Niro is reportedly taking home $750,000 per episode. The next highest-paid actor in a drama is Mark Harmon, who makes an estimated $525,000 per episode for his work on the CBS stalwart NCIS. (According to Variety, some “per episode fees reflect additional compensation for [stars’] work as producers or for their profit participation stakes.”)
Each of the main Game of Thrones players — Emilia Clarke, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Kit Harrington, and Peter Dinklage — earns an estimated $500,000 per episode, making them the highest-paid ensemble in a drama. But the stars of the highest-paid comedy ensemble — Kaley Cuoco, Johnny Galecki, Simon Helberg, Jim Parsons, and Kunal Nayyar for The Big Bang Theory — make almost double that.
Cuoco and Co. take home a whopping $900,000 per episode, making them the highest-paid actors on television. (They used to make $1 million per ep, but they took pay cuts so costars Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch, who make $500,000 each, could get raises.) According to Variety‘s list, comedies generally pay more than dramas, but the highest-paid celebs on the small screen aren’t actors at all — they’re reality TV and talk show hosts.
Ellen DeGeneres is the highest-paid host on television, raking in an estimated $50 million a year thanks to syndication. The second highest-paid star might surprise you: Judge Judy Sheindlin‘s no-nonsense reality court show brings its star a reported $47 million a year. But perhaps even more surprising is Netflix’s commitment to former Late Show host David Letterman — the streaming service reportedly paid Letterman $12 million dollars for his six-episode talk show, set to air later this year.
See the full list of salaries on Variety.com.
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(Photos via Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images + HBO + Christopher Polk/Getty Images for People’s Choice Awards)