Want to feel really depressed about your job? Look at list of what TV stars earn. In fact, several TV stars are probably feeling a little depressed about their jobs, too, after TV Guide compared their salaries this week. Case in point, TV’s top actor is Charlie Sheen, who hauls in $1.25 million per episode of Two and a Half Men. And guess what, that was last season’s salary. This year, after pleading guilty to domestic violence charges that stemmed from a Christmas Day fight with his wife, he got a salary bump to about $1.8 million per episode. Yeah, I wasn’t kidding about feeling depressed.
To take the sting off, a few queer stars and queer-favorites did make the top earner list. Law & Order: SVU star Marisa Hargitay is TV’s top dramatic actress, taking home $395,000 per episode along with her co-star Christopher Meloni. 30 Rock mastermind Tina Fey can buy $350,000 worth of night cheese per show. Bisexual actress Anna Paquin makes $75,000 per True Blood episode. Out actress Jane Lynch makes $50,000 for each time she feels Glee. And The Great Panted One herself, Ellen DeGeneres, earns $8 million per year for her syndicated talk show.
But still, the inequities are glaring. Like, did you know inexplicably famous Kate Gosselin makes $250,000 per episode, which is more than Paquin, Lynch, Betty White ($75,000 per Hot in Cleveland) and Jim Parsons ($40,000 per The Big Bang Theory) combined? Combined. The message this sends is obvious — hey kids, be a success by staying in school, studying hard, getting an education and then having a whole litter of babies.
In drama, only three of the top 10 per episode earners are women (Hargitay, $375,000 for CSI’s Marg Helgenberger and $350,000 for The Closer’s Kyra Sedgwick). In comedy, however, the ladies bring home the laughs and the bacon as six of the 10 are women ($400,000 each for Desperate Housewives Marcia Cross, Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman and Eva Longoria Parker, $400,000 for The Simpsons’ Julie Kavner and $350,000 for Fey). Overall, 11 women made the drama list out of 40 overall and 12 women made the comedy list out of 32.
And here’s a stat that should stop you dead in your tracks for days: Jersey Shore famebot Snooki makes the same as Glee teacher man Matthew Morrison. And if you really want to feel ill, Angus T. Jones (the Half on Two and a Half Men) makes $250,000 per episode. That’s a quarter of a million dollars a show, people.
That means he earns more per episode than Edie Falco ($175,000 for Nurse Jackie), Julianna Margulies ($175,000 for The Good Wife), Dana Delany ($150,000 for Body of Proof), Lauren Graham ($150,000 for Parenthood), Jada Pinkett Smith ($150,000 for HawthoRNe) and Angie Harmon ($75,000 for Rizzoli & Isles). Oh, and I mentioned he is 16, right?
Look, I don’t begrudge people making money. This is America; it’s basically our national pastime. But I do begrudge the inequity of making money. Talent should count for something. So, with that, I’d like to propose my own list of people who deserve to have big bags of money thrown at them. I mean, if it’s there, it should at least be going to the right people.
- Instead of relative unknown (except to All Over Me fans, who remember him as the douchey boyfriend) Cole Hauser making $100,000 for the as-yet-unaired Chase, how about giving that dough to proven tough girl and co-star Rose Rollins.
- Instead of Jeremy Piven hugging it out to the tune of $350,000 per episode of Entourage, how about giving that cash to unquestionably excellent and soon-to-be Emmy adored Laura Linney for her new (and amazing) show The Big C.
- Instead of David Spade remaining gainfully employed to the tune of $150,000 for a show I never plan to watch no matter if CBS adds a gay character (Rules of Engagement, for the record), how about sending all his cash to the Skins cast because they all have more acting ability in their little toes than he has in his entire body.
So, television, I expect you to rectify these wrongs immediately. Otherwise, I’ve got to tell you, my big takeaway from this salary chart is that to become a big-money TV star I should beat my wife, have a lot of babies and possibly get punched in the face. And, that can’t be the message you are trying to send, right? Right.