Ashton Kutcher, Mariah Carey Will Earn A Lot On TV, But Not As Much As Judge Judy

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Mariah Carey, Judge Judy, Ashton Kutcher among TV's highest-paid stars

According to TV Guide‘s latest survey of salaries for TV actors, hosts and judges, the average pay rate has gone down in recent years. The reason, they say, is that a lot of movie stars are getting into TV, and competition is pushing down prices. So, you know, the typical star of a new TV show might only earn $30,000 an episode (tiny tears). Still, there are some mighty impressive paychecks being earned by the big names. Ashton Kutcher, for example, is raking in $700,000 an episode for his second season on Two and a Half Men, and his co-star Jon Cryer earns a not-too-shabby $600,000 per. They’re followed close behind by NCIS star Mark Harmon at $500,000 an ep (yes, that show is still on the air and very popular; ask your grandma). Mariah Carey’s $17 million gig on American Idol makes her reality-TV’s top earner.

But those folks have nothing on the syndicated TV stars. Judge Judy gets a reported $45 million a year, while Joe Brown and Kelly Ripa earn $20 million. David Letterman earns $28 million, and Jay Leno is a bargain at $25 mil. This makes sense of course, since all of the above work throughout the year, as opposed to your typical TV series. But if you’re planning your career, kids, the moral here is that there’s no money in sitcoms — go straight for the robe and gavel!

[Photos: Getty Images]