Ashton Kutcher helped keep “Two and a Half Men” alive and thriving after Charlie Sheen‘s departure, and for that he is the highest-paid actor working in television — even if he’s not making Sheen-level money.
Kutcher and “NCIS” lead Mark Harmon are the two highest-paid stars working on scripted shows, according to TV Guide’s annual survey of TV star salaries. Kutcher makes a reported $700,000 per episode, while Harmon pulls down half a million dollars for each installment of his show.
They’re joined in the TV stratosphere by new “American Idol” judge Mariah Carey, whose contract with the FOX talent competition will pay her $17 million this season. On a per-episode basis, though, that’s less than what Kutcher and Harmon make: Since “Idol” typically airs about 40 episodes per season, that works out to $425,000 per show for Carey.
TV Guide also notes that while stars are still paid very, very handsomely, the days of million-dollar-per-episode contracts may have ended with Sheen’s firing from “Two and a Half Men.” The adult cast members of “Modern Family” will each make about $175,000 under their new deals, which puts them behind the likes of Kutcher and Kaley Cuoco of “The Big Bang Theory” ($300,000 per episode).
In terms of raw dollars, “Judge Judy” star Judy Sheindlin pulls in the most per year at $45 million. Her highly rated syndicated show tapes more than 200 episodes for each season, though, so her per-episode salary is a relative bargain.