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TV's top salaries: Winfrey, Seacrest, Sheen, Laurie

Hugh Laurie, Charlie Sheen, Matt Lauer, Ryan Seacrest and, naturally, Oprah Winfrey are among TV's highest-paid performers in various categories according to a newly released salary breakdown.

Though studios have been cracking down on paydays overall to keep costs in line amid sinking broadcast ratings, key performers still draw stunning numbers, with indispensable performers like the Sheens and Snookis of the world continuing to leverage salary bumps. 

Here's a select sample of some of the top performers from TV Guide's survey (for the full list go here):

david carusoDrama actors (per episode):

Hugh Laurie (House) $400,000+
Christopher Meloni & Mariska Hargitay (Law & Order: SVU) $395,000 (each)
David Caruso (CSI: Miami) $375,000
Marg Helgenberger (CSI) $375,000
Laurence Fishburne (CSI) $350,000
Jeffrey Donovan (Burn Notice) $200,000
Nathan Fillion (Castle) $100,000
Jon Hamm (Mad Men) $100,000
Alex O'Loughlin (Hawaii Five-0) $100,000

Talk show hosts (per year):

Oprah Winfrey $315 million
Judge Judy Sheindlin $45 million
David Letterman (The Late Show) $28 million
Jay Leno (The Tonight Show) $25 million
Conan O'Brien (The Conan O'Brien Show) $10 million

(Judge Judy makes four times as much as Conan? So wrong...)


Ryan Seacrest (American Idol) $15 million
Joel McHale (The Soup) $2 million
Piers Morgan (America's Got Talent) $2 million
Kate Gosselin (Kate Plus Eight) $250,000 per episode
Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi (Jersey Shore) $30,000 per episode

(Of course, there are many reality performers who make far more than Snooki ... but you can't have a list nowadays without her).

Comedy actors (per episode):

Charlie Sheen (Two and a Half Men) $1.25 million
Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men) $550,000
Dan Castellaneta and Julie Kavner (The Simpsons) $400,000
Tina Fey (30 Rock) $350,000
Jeremy Piven (Entourage) $350,000
Steve Carell (The Office) $297,000
Ed O'Neill (Modern Family) $100,000
Betty White (Hot in Cleveland) $75,000

News (per year):

Matt Lauer (Today) $16 million +
Katie Couric (CBS) $15 million
Bill O'Reilly (Fox News) $10 million
Keith Olbermann (MSNBC) $7 million
Wolf Blitzer (CNN) $3 million