The peak TV era has increased the paychecks of in-demand talent to eye-popping levels. The high fees for television’s 1% — at a time when business models, episode orders, and distribution strategies are in the midst of a massive transition — has exacerbated the earnings gap between stars and supporting players.
Variety conducted a wide survey of actors, executives, attorneys, agents, managers, and other representatives in an effort to offer a snapshot of the earnings power of talent at all levels in primetime, late-night, daytime, and news. The figures presented here are estimates based on extensive research to determine talent paydays in the most current seasons of specific series. In some cases, those numbers include backend fees. These numbers do not reflect income that many actors and personalities realize from other projects, licensing and merchandising, and business ventures.