Oprah Winfrey tops the Forbes list of highest-paid celebs, earning $165 million for the 12 months beginning in May 2011, followed closely by Michael Bay at $160 million thanks to “Transformers: Dark of the Moon.”
Steven Spielberg was next at $130 million, then Jerry Bruckheimer at $115 million. Dr. Dre rounded out the top five at $110 million thanks to his Beats by Dr. Dre headphones.
Oprah’s had the exalted No. 1 perch for four years running, but Forbes noted that her reign may not last much longer since this was the last year all her syndication money will be included. She ended her syndicated talkshow last year after a 25-year run. But through her Harpo Prods. she has her hand in “Dr. Phil,” “Rachael Ray” and “Dr. Oz,” plus her magazine O, a satellite radio channel and cable network OWN, a joint venture with Discovery Communications.
Forbes said it considers upfront pay, profit participation, residuals, endorsements and advertising work. The numbers are estimates.
Bruckheimer’s and Bay’s hauls are determined in large part by the pics that come out each year. Spielberg, however, is pretty steady due to residuals from his films, shown repeatedly on TV around the world. He also gets a consistent cut of ticket sales at Universal Studios, money he earns from DreamWorks and directing fees.
The other celebs in the top 20 are Tyler Perry ($105 million); Howard Stern ($95 million); James Patterson ($94 million); Simon Cowell and George Lucas (tied at $90 million); Glenn Beck and Elton John (tied at $80 million); Tom Cruise ($75 million); Dick Wolf ($70 million); Rush Limbaugh ($69 million); Manny Pacquiao ($67 million); Dr. Phil McGraw ($64 million); Donald Trump ($63 million); Ryan Seacrest ($59 million); Britney Spears ($58 million); and Tiger Woods ($58 million).