Jon Stewart is the new best-paid host of a late-night show, receiving $25-30 million a year, according to TV Guide’s latest rankings of the highest paid stars. Stewart bests other late-night hosts Jay Leno and David Letterman ($20 million each) and Jimmy Kimmel ($10 million). There is only one person in television who makes more than Stewart (at least for people in front of the camera). It’s not anyone starring in a drama or sitcom, nor is it a top news anchor.
It’s Judge Judy.
Yes, Judy “don’t pee on my leg and call me it’s raining” Sheindlin makes about double that of Stewart at $47 million every year, according to TV Guide. Judge Judy, the apparent queen of daytime television (Katie Couric places second in that category at a measly $10 million per year), has monetized sassiness like no one before her. Judge Judy remains the first and by far the most successful celebrity judge. Her show/courtroom managed to form a hybrid of courtroom drama and talk show human interest drama.
Some other interesting nuggets from TV Guide’s list of highest-paid stars:
Ashton Kutcher is the best-paid actor in a comedy at $750,000 an episode of Two and a Half Men, and that’s three times the next person on the list, Jason Segal of How I Met Your Mother. TV Guide anticipates that the stars of the Big Bang Theory will rocket up the list once they negotiate new contracts.
The highest paid reality show star is…Howard Stern! The America’s Got Talent host rakes in $15 million, triple that of American Idol’s Keith Urban, who is next on the list.
NBC’s Matt Lauer is the only news anchor to bring in anything close to his $22-25 million each year. He is followed by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow ($7 million) and Fox News’ Megyn Kelly ($6 million).
Lastly, you’ll be glad to know that it still pays to be RuPaul. The biggest name in drag queens brings in $50,000 for each episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race, a show I have never heard of, but I’m glad that it exists.