The worlds of finance and showbusiness rarely mix unless the question being asked is ‘how much’, and it seems as though business magazine Forbes are giving themselves another platform on which to answer with their reveal of the highest-paid celebrities on American TV.
Much like how he holds the status in the UK, English record producer and TV talent show judge Simon Cowell leads the list of Forbes’ ‘Highest-Paid TV Personalities’, although in this instance The X Factor creator will have to be content with sharing the limelight (and 1st position) with radio personality and America’s Got Talent judge Howard Stern. Between June 2012 – June 2013, both men ‘earned an estimated $95m’ (£61m).
For Cowell’s total across the year, his income has primarily stemmed from selling his X Factor and ‘Got Talent‘ franchises to TV markets across the world alongside work for his record label Syco, as Forbes notes: “Since he left American Idol, Cowell’s profile in America has become more modest. But in addition to his judging work on The X Factor, he’s still a major behind-the-scenes mogul. The X Factor is now on in 41 countries and his Got Talent is the biggest-selling television franchise in the world. And then there’s music: Cowell is the man behind the hit group One Direction, which formed out of the 2010 British version of The X Factor.”
Stern, meanwhile, is notable for being one of the highest-paid radio personalities in the world, and along with work on America’s Got Talent and other TV shows, is comfortably the best-paid person on the list that has few ventures away from the cameras. Forbes’ caption states: “Stern lost in an attempt to revive his lawsuit against Sirius claiming that the satellite radio company owes him $300 million for reaching certain subscriber milestones. Sirius claims those targets were reached only because the company merged with XM. Even without those millions, Stern is well compensated. In addition to the money he gets to produce his SiriusXM show, Stern is paid a reported $15 million to serve as one of the judges on America’s Got Talent.”
Continuing the list were two more big-hitters in third and fourth, with conservative news anchor Glenn Beck ($90m) followed by chat show host and network owner Oprah Winfrey ($77m). The ‘file notes’ on Beck recognise his recent involvement in the online media industry, stating: “With his website The Blaze, Beck has proven that there is a way to make money with news on the Internet. His site caters to a very specific demographic which is happy to pay $100 per year for access to Beck’s online videos. Now the conservative talk-show host is happily taking money from Dish for the satellite company to carry his TV content. Expect wider distribution coming soon.”
Forbes’ comments on Oprah, meanwhile, read: “Despite a drop of more than half her income since her talk show went off the air in 2012, the queen of entertainment is back [in the top spots] thanks to earnings from Harpo-produced TV spin-offs (Dr. Phil, Rachel Ray, The Dr. Oz Show), as well as her unparalleled access. The world’s only African-American billionaire has attracted stars from Lance Armstrong to Rihanna for sit-down confessionals on her OWN network, a joint venture with Discovery Communications which looks set to turn a profit by the end of 2013. Winfrey’s portfolio also includes a deal with Sirius radio network and O: The Oprah Magazine.”
Rounding out the top 10 of the list are Dr. Phil McGraw ($72m), Rush Limbaugh ($66m), Donald Trump ($63m), Ryan Seacrest ($61m), Ellen DeGeneres ($56m), and ‘Judge’ Judy Sheindlin ($47m).
Forbes’ ‘rules’ for their estimations were that only ‘entertainment-related income’ could be considered (speaking to producers, agents, and ‘other experts’ to clarify salaries and appearance fees), whilst ‘taxes, agent fees, and other celebrity-related expenses’ are not deducted from the final estimations. The result is obviously Cowell and Stern being crowned the kings of American entertainment, and the moral of the story when looking at this well-known top 10? You don’t need to become an actor, just be ‘yourself’, it pays even more generously…