Top Salaries On TV
MARCH 26, 2007: Entertainment Weekly reports about a new battle of TV's most popular entertainers to force Hollywood studios to shell out top dollar on their top talent. So who makes what on TV?
It all began in January when The Closer star Kyra Sedgwick forced TNT to give her $250,000 per episode of her top-rated cable series. When the news of her pay rise hit trade press, actresses across Hollywood asked themselves: "If Kyra can make so much money, why can't I?"
Studios and networks often complain about rising production costs, but they have been nevertheless willing to pay top bucks to retain their most recognizable faces.
ABC Studio, for instance, which produces the sitcom "Scrubs" for the NBC network, has promised its star Zach Braff a salary of $350,000 per episode should the low-rated comedy series get renewed for a seventh season.
Legendary TV producer Dick Wolff, on the other hand, threatened his top Law & Order: SVU stars Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay that they would be fired if they insisted on earning a salary of more than $600,000 per episode.
The duo's new deal ($300,000 per episode) will however still put them into TV's top echelon of stars, including CSI's William Petersen ($500,000) and 24's Kiefer Sutherland ($400,000).
The stars of broadcast TV's top-rated drama "Grey's Anatomy" are not even entitled to pay rise since their still under their original contracts. The studio has however given most of its stars retroactive salary increases dating back to the beginning of the third season.
That means most of the stars of ABC's Seattle-set medical drama will be earning about $125,000 per episode, with principal stars Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey earning more than $200,000 per episode.
Former "Ally McBeal" star Calista Flockhart earns about $150,000 per episode of her ABC drama "Brothers & Sisters", while her co-star Academy Award winner Sally Field locks in about $100,000 per episode.
Even some of the pilots currently in production have proven to be expensive from the get go. The pilot getting some of the strongest early buzz, Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton fronted comedy "Action News" for CBS will bring its stars $150,000 to $275,000 per half-hour episode, should the sitcom get picked up for fall.
The above-stated salaries have become a staple in today's top-tier TV business. Inexperienced actors, however, who are yet to build a name for themselves are on the other side of the spectrum earning only about $25,000-$40,000 per episode.
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Labels: TV Business