Oprah earns four times more than other TV stars

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - When it comes to what pays on U.S. television, talk doesn’t come cheap -- nor apparently does a loud mouth.

Oprah Winfrey arrives to attend the 2007 CFDA Fashion Awards in New York June 4, 2007. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

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

Second in the list was Jerry Seinfeld earning $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 $40 million in the same period from his “Late Night with David Letterman.”

Simon Cowell, the arrogant and harshly critical judge on top-rated talent show “American Idol” earned $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 $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 $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 $12 million.

The remaining top 20 is as follows;

6. Jay Leno, $32 million

7. Dr. Phil McGraw, $30 million

8. “Judge” Judy Sheindlin, $30 million

9. George Lopez, $26 million

10. Kiefer Sutherland, $22 million

11. Regis Philbin, $21 million

12. Tyra Banks, $18 million

13. Rachael Ray, $16 million,

14. Katie Couric, $15 million

15. Ellen DeGeneres, $15 million

16. Ryan Seacrest, $14 million

17. Matt Lauer, $13 million

18, Barbara Walters, $12 million

19. Diane Sawyer, $12 million

20. Meredith Vieira, $10 million