Oprah Winfrey, The Distinctive Highest-Paid TV Celebrity


REUTERS/Nielsen

When it comes to what pays on US television, talk doesn't come cheap - nor apparently does a loud mouth.

Financial magazine Forbes has published a list of the highest-paid TV celebrities, with daytime talk show host Oprah Winfrey leading the way by earning US$260 million between June 2006 and June 2007. Nobody else came close.

Second in the list was Jerry Seinfeld earning US$60 million.

Winfrey was joined at the top of the list by another talk show host, David Letterman, who landed at No. 4 by raking in US$40 million in the same period from his Late Show with David Letterman.

Simon Cowell, the arrogant and harshly critical judge on top-rated talent show American Idol earned US$45 million to land at No. 3, and Donald Trump, whose boisterous exclamation "You're Fired" from reality show The Apprentice became part of the pop culture lexicon, was No. 5 with US$32 million.

The list shows that in the media arena, it pays to own and produce either all or part of your shows, like Oprah.

That notion becomes abundantly clear in the No. 2 slot, where Jerry Seinfeld sits with US$60 million earned mostly from reruns of his co-owned 1990's sitcom Seinfeld.



Despite the fact that prime-time TV shows win awards and critical acclaim, Forbes Senior Editor Lea Goldman noted that daytime TV and news is where stars rake in the dough.

"Daytime personalities dominate our list of TV's top earners, with most competition among morning and afternoon talk show hosts," said Goldman.

Barbara Walters, another star who owns and co-produces her daytime show The View, landed at No. 18 with US$12 million.

The remaining top 20 is as follows;

6. Jay Leno, US$32 million
7. Dr. Phil McGraw, US$30 million
8. "Judge" Judy Sheindlin, US$30 million
9. George Lopez, US$26 million
10. Kiefer Sutherland, US$22 million
11. Regis Philbin, US$21 million
12. Tyra Banks, US$18 million
13. Rachael Ray, US$16 million,
14. Katie Couric, US$15 million
15. Ellen DeGeneres, US$15 million
16. Ryan Seacrest, US$14 million
17. Matt Lauer, US$13 million
18, Barbara Walters, US$12 million
19. Diane Sawyer, US$12 million
20. Meredith Vieira, US$10 million

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