"House" star Hugh Laurie joins TV's richest list

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - He is the star of the biggest drama on television. Now Hugh Laurie is poised to become one of the highest-paid actors on TV with a new deal to continue on Fox’s “House.”

The British actor’s salary is expected to rise to about $400,000 an episode, or more than $9 million a year, under a pact with producer Universal Media Studios.

Laurie, 49, who had humble beginnings on “House” with a starting salary in the mid-five figures in 2004, got his first major salary bump in summer 2006 when his per-episode fee was upped to $250,000-$300,000 an episode.

The list of highest-paid actors on drama series is now topped by departing “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” leading man William Petersen ($600,000 per episode) and “24’s” Kiefer Sutherland (close to $500,000), who both serve as executive producers on their series.

Just as Sutherland’s Jack Bauer is synonymous with “24,” curmudgeonly medical genius Dr. Gregory House is at the heart of “House.” The role has earned Laurie two Golden Globes and three Emmy nominations.

He also would get some sort of producing credit on the medical drama, which returns for a fifth season Tuesday. The deal also adds another year to Laurie’s contract on the series, assuring he will stay on at least through the 2011-12 season.

This past season, the medical drama averaged 16.7 million viewers, the second-highest-rated scripted series behind ABC’s “Desperate Housewives.”

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter