Ashton Kutcher has emerged as the new highest paid actor in North American Television.
Since replacing Charlie Sheen, Kutcher, 34, has been earning $700,000 per episode for his starring role in popular sitcom Two and a Half Men.
Sheen received a standard rate of $800,000 per episode, before re-negotiating his contract in 2010 to bring this figure up to just under $2m per episode. In 2011, however, Sheen was fired from the series after an angry rant left the show’s producers deeply offended.
For the past five years, the highest paid TV actor has been whoever held the leading role in Two and a Half Men.
The second highest paid actor, NCIS star Mark Harmon earns $500,000 per episode. Behind him in third is Grey’s Anatomy‘s Ellen Pompeo, who earns $350,000 per episode.
Sheen no longer appears in the highest paid list with his new show, Anger Management. Someone familiar with the deal tells us he is paid ‘significantly less’ per episode for Anger Management than he was for Two and a Half Men. However, Sheen reportedly owns a 40% stake of the show, which could become valuable if it becomes popular outside of the U.S.
By comparison, movie stars have always command much higher salaries than television series actors.
Tom Cruise was the highest earning male actor this year, raking in $75m last year despite the box-office bomb ‘Rock of Ages’. Both Adam Sandler and Leonardo DiCaprio tied for second place, earning $37m each last year.
However, there may be some hope for TV actors yet, as the salaries for nationally syndicated shows increased this year. Judy Sheindlin, better known as Judge Judy, earned $45m last year, followed by rival Judge Joe Brown, who earned $29m.