Winfrey tops list of highest-paid TV stars


Talk might be cheap, but Oprah is not, topping a list of the highest-paid television stars in the U.S. Oprah Winfrey, host and supervising producer of "The Oprah Winfrey Show," earns an estimated $260 million a year, according to a list in TV Guide magazine's July 23 issue.

Music producer Simon Cowell, the blunt and often contentious British judge of "American Idol," placed a distant second to Winfrey, with $45 million for his role on the Fox network's smash hit talent show and other projects.

Courtroom chief Judge Judy (Judith Sheindlin), CBS News anchor Katie Couric and "Scrubs" actor Zach Braff round out the top five.

The list breaks down star salaries by category -- primetime TV, daytime, cable and news with a partial listing below:

Top five (salaries per year)
Oprah Winfrey ("The Oprah Winfrey Show"): $260 million
Simon Cowell ("American Idol"): $45 million
Judge Sheindlin ("Judge Judy"): $30 million
Katie Couric ("CBS Evening News Anchor"): $15 million
Zach Braff ("Scrubs"): $6.3 million

Network primetime (salaries per episode)
William Petersen ("CSI"): $500,000
Charlie Sheen ("Two and a Half Men"): $350,000
Mariska Hargitay ("Law & Order: SVU"): $350,000
Chris Meloni ("Law & Order: SVU"): $350,000
Hugh Laurie ("House"): $300,000
Julia Louis-Dreyfus ("New Adventures of Old Christine"): $225,000
Ellen Pompeo ("Grey's Anatomy"): $200,000
Eva Longoria ("Desperate Housewives"): $200,000

Daytime (salaries per year)
Judge Judy: $30 million
Bob Barker: $10 million
Maury Povich (per year plus profits): $7 million
Ellen DeGeneres: $5 million
Jerry Springer: $3 million - 4 million
Tyra Banks: $3.5 million

News anchors (salaries per year)
Katie Couric ("CBS Evening News" anchor): $15 million
Matt Lauer (NBC "Today" co-anchor): $12 million
Meredith Vieira (NBC "Today" co-anchor): $10 million