For many years, TV was often looked at as the younger cousin of feature films, but the tables are starting to turn.
Television has started to attract some of the biggest names around, mainly because their production budgets are getting higher and higher. If a new series can attract viewers with an esteemed name or popular face, it has a much better chance of lasting longer than its competitors.
On the other hand, shows that have large amounts of followers over a number of years will see huge pay increases for their stars in order to keep them around for a lot longer. This is why the stars of shows like The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones haul in some incredible paychecks.
Comedies Making Bank
While many people think of dramas with high budgets as the place to go for a paycheck, popular comedies actually shell out top dollar for their actors. The Big Bang Theory is a prime example.
Heading into the eleventh season of the CBS sitcom, stars Kaley Cuoco, Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Simon Helberg, and Kunal Nayyar top the list of the highest-paid TV actors. All five of Big Bang's most recognizable stars will be pulling in $900,000 per episode this season.
That's right, each of those actors is earning almost $1 million for each episode of The Big Bang Theory, which usually has about 22 episodes per season. Supporting cast members Mayim Blalik and Melissa Rouch also earn an impressive salary for that series, with each of them in line to make $500,000 per episode.
Outside of The Big Bang Theory, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is the highest-earning actor on a television comedy. Johnson produces and stars in Ballers on HBO, and he brings in about $650,000 per episode.prevnext
Heading into this new TV season, networks are starting to bank on the success of reviving shows that were popular back in the day. With that in mind, ABC and NBC really shelled out the cash to put their hits back on the air.
ABC ordered a revival of Roseanne this season, and getting the two main stars on board wasn't cheap. Both Roseanne Barr and John Goodman will each make around $250,000 per episode of the new series.
NBC made the same offer to the stars of its Will & Grace revival, but there are double the amount of paychecks to cut. Sean P. Hayes, Debra Messing, Megan Mullally, and Eric McCormack will also earn $250,000 for each episode.
The Will & Grace revival seems to be on the right track, as NBC has already renewed it for a second season. Roseanne is set to premiere sometime this winter.prevnext
While no one starring in a drama is bringing in almost $1 million per episode, there are still some hefty price tags for the stars of TV's biggest programs.
The highest-paid actor on a show that's currently on the air is Mark Harmon, star of NCIS. The CBS crime-drama is heading into its 15th season, and Harmon is now earning $525,000 for each of its episodes.
Game of Thrones is an expensive production, but not just because of the flying dragons and deadly ice zombies. The show's five biggest stars - Emilia Clarke, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington, Lena Headey - are all making $500,000 for each episode, according to this report. When you do the math, that's a total of $17.5 million spent on those five actors in Season 7.
Acclaimed actresses Claire Danes and Ellen Pompeo are both getting some pretty significant paychecks to star in their respective dramas, Grey's Anatomy and Homeland. Each actress reportedly walks away with $450,000 per episode.
In addition, here are some other notable drama stars - on traditional television - that bring home substantial paychecks.
- $350,000: Emmy Rossum & William H. Macy (Shameless)
- $300,000: Anthony Hopkins (Westworld), Kiefer Sutherland (Designated Survivor), James Spader (The Blacklist)
- $250,000: Kerry Washington (Scandal)
Because of the changes to format and rules, these streaming services are able to attract some to Hollywood's biggest stars. Let's be honest, these companies also have some deep pockets.
Robert De Niro recently signed on to star in an upcoming Amazon original series from David O. Russell, and he's getting paid handsomely for his services. The two-time Oscar winner will earn $750,000 for each episode of the series. Amazon also pays Billy Bob Thornton about $350,000 per episode of Goliath.0comments
Netflix has been writing some hefty paychecks for the stars of some of its biggest shows. Kevin Spacey earns $500,000 for each episode of House of Cards, while Jason Bateman and Laura Linney each bring in $300,000 for every episode of Ozark.
Over on Hulu, it's no surprise that Elisabeth Moss is the highest-paid star of the original programs. The critically-acclaimed Handmaid's Tale nets the actress $200,000 per episode. Jeffrey Donovan stars in Shut Eye for the streaming service, where he makes $175,000.prev