Oprah tops list of highest paid TV stars

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Talk might be cheap, but Oprah is not, topping a list of the highest-paid television stars in the United States.

Oprah Winfrey arrives to attend the 2007 CFDA Fashion Awards in New York, June 4, 2007. Talk might be cheap, but Oprah is not, topping a list of the highest paid television stars in the United States. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Oprah Winfrey, host and supervising producer of “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” earns an estimated $260 million a year, according to a list in TV Guide magazine’s July 23 issue. Music producer Simon Cowell, the blunt and often contentious British judge of “American Idol,” placed a distant second to Winfrey, with $45 million for his role on the Fox network’s smash hit talent show and other projects.

Courtroom chief Judge Judy (Judith Sheindlin), CBS News anchor Katie Couric and “Scrubs” actor Zach Braff round out the top five.

The list breaks down star salaries by category -- prime-time TV, daytime, cable and news with a partial listing below:

TOP FIVE (all salaries are per year)

Oprah Winfrey (“The Oprah Winfrey Show”): $260 million

Simon Cowell (“American Idol”): $45 million

Judge Sheindlin (“Judge Judy”): $30 million

Katie Couric (“CBS Evening News Anchor”): $15 million

Zach Braff (“Scrubs”): $6.3 million

NETWORK PRIME TIME (all salaries are per episode)

Slideshow ( 3 images )

William Petersen (“CSI”): $500,000

Charlie Sheen (“Two and a Half Men”): $350,000

Mariska Hargitay (“Law & Order: SVU”): $350,000

Chris Meloni (“Law & Order: SVU”): $350,000

Hugh Laurie (“House”): $300,000

Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“New Adventures of Old Christine”): $225,000

Ellen Pompeo (“Grey’s Anatomy”): $200,000

Eva Longoria (“Desperate Housewives”): $200,000

DAYTIME (all salaries are per year)

Judge Judy: $30 million

Bob Barker: $10 million

Maury Povich (per year plus profits): $7 million

Ellen DeGeneres: $5 million

Jerry Springer: $3 million - 4 million

Tyra Banks: $3.5 million

NEWS ANCHORS (all salaries are per year)

Katie Couric (“CBS Evening News” anchor): $15 million

Matt Lauer (NBC “Today” co-anchor): $12 million

Meredith Vieira (NBC “Today” co-anchor): $10 million