By Stephen Battaglio and Michael Schneider,
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 + pointsClaire Danes (Homeland): $250,000Michael Weatherly (NCIS): $250,000Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones): $150,000Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black): $50,000
COMEDY (per episode)Ashton Kutcher (Two and a Half Men): $750,000Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother): $225,000Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation): $200,000Robin Williams (The Crazy Ones): $165,000Max Greenfield (New Girl): $75,000
REALITYHoward Stern (America's Got Talent): $15 million per yearKeith Urban (American Idol): $5 million per yearBlake Shelton (The Voice): $4 million per cycleRuPaul (RuPaul's Drag Race): $50,000 per episodeReza Farahan (Shahs of Sunset): $18,000 per episode
LATE NIGHT (per year)Jon Stewart (The Daily Show): $25-30 millionJay Leno (The Tonight Show): $20 millionDavid Letterman (Late Night): $20 millionJimmy Kimmel (Jimmy Kimmel Live): $10 millionAndy Cohen (Watch What Happens Live): $2 million
NEWS (per year)Matt Lauer (NBC): $22-25 millionRachel Maddow (MSNBC): $7 millionMegyn Kelly (Fox News Channel): $6 millionScott Pelley (CBS): $5 millionChris Cuomo (CNN): $2.5 million
DAYTIME/SYNDICATION (per year)Judy Sheindlin (Judge Judy): $47 millionKatie Couric (Katie): $10 millionMichael Strahan (Live with Kelly and Michael): $4 millionSharon Osbourne (The Talk): $1 millionAisha Tyler (The Talk): $1 million
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NCIS Two and a Half Men Ashton Kutcher Jay Leno Johnny Galecki Jon Stewart Mark Harmon Kaley Cuoco The Daily Show With Jon Stewart David Letterman Simon Cowell Judge Judy Judy Sheindlin Jim Parsons The Big Bang Theory The X Factor View the original article on TVGuide.com