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August 30, 2014

Simon Cowell Tops TV's Male Earners (So, Kids, Being Mean Does Pay)

by Gary Susman, posted Nov 11th 2009 12:15PM
Simon CowellMore proof that nice guys don't finish first: The two best-paid men on primetime TV this year were Simon Cowell and Donald Trump.

Forbes' new top 10 list of the best-paid men in primetime estimates that the 'American Idol' judge took home $75 million last year, while the 'Apprentice' kingpin earned $50 million from his entertainment ventures. Like many on the list, Cowell and Trump have diverse showbiz holdings that earn them much more than just the salaries they get for their on-air appearances on primetime reality shows.Simon CowellMore proof that nice guys don't finish first: The two best-paid men on primetime TV this year were Simon Cowell and Donald Trump.

Forbes' new top 10 list of the best-paid men in primetime estimates that the 'American Idol' judge took home $75 million last year, while the 'Apprentice' kingpin earned $50 million from his entertainment ventures. Like many on the list, Cowell and Trump have diverse showbiz holdings that earn them much more than just the salaries they get for their on-air appearances on primetime reality shows.

Both men earn extra as TV producers, while Cowell also rakes it in from music publishing rights, while Forbes counts Trump's income from such sources as book sales and licensing deals that slap his name on everything from menswear to bottled water. (Makes you wonder when he finds time to run his real estate empire, or how big a drop in the bucket his real estate earnings are.)

No. 3 on the list is Ryan Seacrest ($38 million), who also collects multiple paychecks as a producer (on such shows as 'Keeping Up With the Kardashians') that add to his hosting work at 'E! News Daily' and 'Idol.'

Charlie SheenAt No. 4, Charlie Sheen is one of the few names on the list who has just one stream of income, but it's a good one: he's TV's top-paid actor, starring on TV's top-rated comedy and between first-run and syndication payments for 'Two and a Half Men,' Sheen took home an estimated $21 million last year. 'The Office''s Steve Carell is close behind with $20 million, but that includes his movie wages as well.

Rounding out the top 10 are Howie Mandel ($15 million), Kiefer Sutherland ($13 million), Jeff Foxworthy ($11 million), Hugh Laurie ($10 million) and Patrick Dempsey and David Caruso (tied at $9 million).

It's worth noting that this is a primetime list; otherwise, David Letterman and Jay Leno would surely be on it (though now that Leno's on primetime, he may make the list next year). The list also omits voice-over actors, which seems the only reason why 'Family Guy' creator Seth McFarlane (who currently has three lucrative shows on the air) isn't here.

Also, nobody who makes a living on basic cable (such as 'Rescue Me' actor/writer/producer Denis Leary) is here; either they weren't considered for the list, or network TV, despite its shrinking audience, is still the place to go to earn big bucks.

For comparison's sake, Forbes last month released a list of primetime's top-earning women. Topping the list were Tyra Banks ($30 million), Katherine Heigl ($18 million), Marg Helgenberger ($9.5 million), Eva Longoria Parker, Mariska Hargitay, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Maura Tierney, Tina Fey, Marcia Cross, Ellen Pompeo and Jennifer Love Hewitt. Looks like more women will have to follow Tyra's lead and move into producing if they want to earn on a parity with TV's best paid men.

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