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The 5 Most Shocking Salary Revelations About 2012's Top-Earning TV Stars

Posted: 08/10/2012 1:37 pm

by Julie Miller, Vanity Fair

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Disheartening news for anyone who does not earn $12,000 per episode of "working out of a cramped cubicle" each week: TV Guide has released some highlights from its annual "Television's Highest Paid Stars" report, and among the relatively predictable numbers -- David Letterman and Jay Leno may earn more in a year than you will in 20 lifetimes ($28 million and $25 million, respectively) -- there are some shocking figures that may make you want to travel back in time and choose "television judge" or "monkey actor" as your undergraduate major.

In order of the least to most depressing revelations:

1) Howard Stern earns $15 million per year at his part-time job on America's Got Talent. It's also what Bill O'Reilly earns annually for his primary job hosting The O'Reilly Factor.

2) Pauly D, spray-tanned beachgoer best known for fist pumping and binge drinking on MTV, earns 350 percent more than Betty White does on her reality show. (Pauly comes in at $175,000/episode on The Jersey Shore, while White makes $50,000/episode on Off Their Rockers.)

3) Two and a Half Men star Ashton Kutcher makes the same as four adult Modern Family stars per episode. (Kutcher's rate is $700,000/episode versus Modern Family's $175,000/episode rate.)

4) Thanks to a lucrative $45 million syndication deal for her namesake court-room show, crotchety TV personality Judge Judy earns more than David Letterman ($28 million) and Jon Stewart ($16 million) do on theirs, combined. (Also surprising: Judge Judy has a last name, Sheindlin.) Second-rate television public officer Joe Brown makes a comparatively measly $20 million per year.

5) Crystal the Monkey -- for anyone who did not catch that, again, it's Crystal the Monkey -- has scrawled(?) a $12,000/episode deal for her upcoming ABC comedy, Animal Practice. As a point of reference, this is twice what Mario Batali, actual human and acclaimed chef, earns per episode of ABC's The Chew.

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