- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 26, 2007

Lady O in the money

Talk might be cheap, but Oprah is not.

Topping a list of the highest-paid television stars in the U.S. is Oprah Winfrey, host and supervising producer of “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” who earns an estimated $260 million a year, notes the Hollywood Reporter, citing a list in TV Guide’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 Fox’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 following partial list breaks down star salaries by category — prime time TV, daytime, cable and news:

Top five (salaries per year)

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

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

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

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

Zach Braff (“Scrubs”): $6.3 million

Network prime time (salaries per episode)

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 (salaries 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 to 4 million

Tyra Banks: $3.5 million

News anchors (salaries per year)

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

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

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

HBO wants more ‘Love’

HBO has renewed “Big Love” for a third season — one for each of polygamist Bill Henrickson’s wives.

The renewal will allow the show to begin work on scripts for the next season in August, with filming scheduled for fall. The quick turnaround would assure that the season was completed in advance of a potential actors’ strike next summer, says Zap2it.com, citing reports from Variety.

As with the show’s first two seasons, year three will consist of 12 episodes.

“Big Love” follows the lives of Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton) and his polygamous family, which includes three wives (Jeanne Tripplehorn, Ginnifer Goodwin and Chloe Sevigny), their children and a host of other relatives.

The current season is averaging about 2 million viewers a week for the show’s initial Monday-night airing, down from about 4 million last year — when it aired on Sunday and benefited from having “The Sopranos” as a lead-in. HBO estimates, however, that the cumulative weekly audience for “Big Love,” which includes multiple airings and DVR and on-demand viewing, is about 6 million people.

Plea deal for Moore

Actor Shemar Moore was sentenced to probation and community service after pleading no contest in an alcohol-related speeding case, Associated Press reports.

The 37-year-old star of the CBS series “Criminal Minds” was arrested June 1 after being stopped by the California Highway Patrol driving faster than 65 mph on a city street, officials said. He was charged June 22 with driving under the influence and driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or above, city attorney spokesman Frank Mateljan said.

As part of a plea deal, Mr. Moore pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of exhibition of speed and the DUI charges were dropped, Mr. Mateljan said.

The actor was given 36 months’ probation and agreed to serve DUI-related conditions, including not driving with alcohol in his system, officials said. He also agreed to 80 hours of community service and was given the choice of wearing an alcohol-monitoring ankle bracelet, Mr. Mateljan said.

“Shemar has not yet made a choice with regard to his community service,” his publicist Staci Wolfe said.

Mr. Moore, who had a starring role on CBS‘ “The Young & the Restless” for eight years, plays FBI profiler Derek Morgan on “Criminal Minds.”

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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