TV’s Highest Paid Actors Prove It’s Good To Be On ‘The Big Bang Theory’ And ‘Gilmore Girls’

Now that television is no longer movie’s baby brother, it’s easier for networks to attract huge names to projects, especially for “limited series.” Matthew McConaughey wouldn’t have agreed to star on True Detective if HBO demanded a five-year contract, but eight episodes over one season? That sounds alright, alright, alright. Drew Barrymore (Santa Clarita Diet), Meryl Streep (The Nix), Ewan McGregor (Fargo) — they’ll happily take a big screen break for a hefty small screen paycheck. The downside of this is that a large chunk of the budget is going towards attracting frontline talent, so if you’re not Meryl F*cking Streep, or anyone on The Big Bang Theory, you’re probably making less than you would have for the same role even five years ago.

Variety spoke to “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.” Or in non-Hollywood speak: the Gilmore Girls are getting paid. Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel will make $750,000 per episode of the Netflix revival series, Gilmore Girls: A Day In Life, more than any other actor on a drama (Mark Harmon is second at $525,000). The Game of Thrones headliners — Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Kit Harington, and Emilia Clarke — are pulling in $500,000, while Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman, whose Big Little Lies has yet to debut on HBO, will happily add another $350,000 per episode to their respective piles of money.

On the comedy side: The Big Bang Theory cast is making big bucks. A cool million an episode, at least for Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, and Kaley Cuoco. No other comedy actor makes even half of what they do; the closest is Ballers star Dwayne Johnson with $400,000, followed by Barrymore ($350,000); Netflix’s Maniac leads Emma Stone and Jonah Hill ($350,000); and the voice of the Simpsons family ($315,000 — weirdly, Hank Azaria and Harry Shearer are nowhere to be found). The most egregious misuse of money, or lack there of, is Jane the Virgin‘s Gina Rodriguez, who should be making a lot more than $60,000 per episode. Maybe if she changes her name to Gina Bigbangtheory, then she’ll start earning some real dough.

To find the list of salaries, head here.

(Via Variety)

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