TV's Highest Paid Stars: What They Earn

TV Guide
Jon Stewart | Photo Credits: Martin Crook/Comedy Central

There is a new king of late night, according to TV Guide Magazine's annual survey of star salaries. And he's a very rich king.

The Daily Show host Jon Stewart is now earning between $25-30 million a year, according to several sources (his network, Comedy Central, did not comment). That puts Stewart ahead of the past perennial late night salary leaders Jay Leno and David Letterman. Leno took a significant pay cut last year, as NBC wanted to reduce costs at Tonight. He now earns around $20 million a year after being up near $30 million. Letterman is also said to be in the $20 million range as the license fee CBS pays to his production company, Worldwide Pants, for Late Show has been reduced in recent years.

Stewart's ratings have made him worthy of his status as highest paid late night host. His show is regularly the top rated late night program among viewers aged 18 to 49, the demographic advertisers covet the most, and is especially strong in the younger half of that age group.

It's the biggest shift in this year's survey, based on conversations with agents, managers, and studio heads and network executives. Ashton Kutcher remains the top paid actor in prime time with $750,000 an episode for his role on Two and a Half Men. NCIS star Mark Harmon is still the salary champ in drama, with $525,000 an episode plus a piece of the show's profits.

But there could be some new titleholders on the horizon, sources tell TV Guide Magazine. The three leads of The Big Bang Theory - Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons and Kaley Cuoco - are expected to seek new deals that pay them up to $1 million an episode of the top rated sitcom. Each member of the trio currently earns around $325,000 an episode in the contracts that expire after the upcoming season.

Judy Sheindlin is biggest earning performer in any genre, taking in $47 million a year for the top rated syndicated daytime show Judge Judy. Simon Cowell's The X Factor has not been the ratings blockbuster that Fox hoped for, but his ownership of the music competition franchise that airs around the world makes him a mogul with earnings of around $95 million.

A full list of salaries for more than 150 stars appears in this week's of TV Guide Magazine, on newsstands Thursday, August 22!

DRAMA (per episode)

Mark Harmon (NCIS): $525,000 + points

Claire Danes (Homeland): $250,000

Michael Weatherly (NCIS): $250,000

Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones): $150,000

Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black): $50,000

COMEDY (per episode)

Ashton Kutcher (Two and a Half Men): $750,000

Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother): $225,000

Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation): $200,000

Robin Williams (The Crazy Ones): $165,000

Max Greenfield (New Girl): $75,000


Howard Stern (America's Got Talent): $15 million per year

Keith Urban (American Idol): $5 million per year

Blake Shelton (The Voice): $4 million per cycle

RuPaul (RuPaul's Drag Race): $50,000 per episode

Reza Farahan (Shahs of Sunset): $18,000 per episode

LATE NIGHT (per year)

Jon Stewart (The Daily Show): $25-30 million

Jay Leno (The Tonight Show): $20 million

David Letterman (Late Night): $20 million

Jimmy Kimmel (Jimmy Kimmel Live): $10 million

Andy Cohen (Watch What Happens Live): $2 million

NEWS (per year)

Matt Lauer (NBC): $22-25 million

Rachel Maddow (MSNBC): $7 million

Megyn Kelly (Fox News Channel): $6 million

Scott Pelley (CBS): $5 million

Chris Cuomo (CNN): $2.5 million


Judy Sheindlin (Judge Judy): $47 million

Katie Couric (Katie): $10 million

Michael Strahan (Live with Kelly and Michael): $4 million

Sharon Osbourne (The Talk): $1 million

Aisha Tyler (The Talk): $1 million

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