Though television studios have been cracking down on paydays overall to keep costs in line amid sinking broadcast ratings, key performers still draw stunning paychecks.
Indispensable performers like the Sheens and Snookis ("Jersey Shore") of the world continue to leverage salary bumps. Here's a select sample of some of the top performers from TV Guide's survey.
Drama actors (per episode): Hugh Laurie (House) $400,000+ Christopher Meloni & Mariska Hargitay (Law & Order: SVU) $395,000 (each) David Caruso (CSI: Miami) $375,000 Marg Helgenberger (CSI) $375,000 Laurence Fishburne (CSI) $350,000 Jeffrey Donovan (Burn Notice) $200,000 Nathan Fillion (Castle) $100,000 Jon Hamm (Mad Men) $100,000 Alex O'Loughlin (Hawaii Five-0) $100,000
Talk show hosts (per year): Oprah Winfrey $315 million Judge Judy Sheindlin $45 million David Letterman (The Late Show) $28 million Jay Leno (The Tonight Show) $25 million Conan O'Brien (The Conan O'Brien Show) $10 million
Reality TV (per year): Ryan Seacrest (American Idol) $15 million Joel McHale (The Soup) $2 million Piers Morgan (America's Got Talent) $2 million Kate Gosselin (Kate Plus Eight) $250,000 per episode Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi (Jersey Shore) $30,000 per episode
Comedy actors (per episode): Charlie Sheen (Two and a Half Men) $1.25 million Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men) $550,000 Dan Castellaneta and Julie Kavner (The Simpsons) $400,000 Tina Fey (30 Rock) $350,000 Jeremy Piven (Entourage) $350,000 Steve Carell (The Office) $297,000 Ed O'Neill (Modern Family) $100,000 Betty White (Hot in Cleveland) $75,000
News (per year): Matt Lauer (Today) $16 million+ Katie Couric (CBS) $15 million Bill O'Reilly (Fox News) $10 million Keith Olbermann (MSNBC) $7 million Wolf Blitzer (CNN) $3 million
For a full list, go to http://www.tvguide.com/News/Top-TV-Earners-1021717.aspx