Charlie Sheen, Mariska Hargitay Among TV's Highest Paid Stars

Wednesday, Sep 30, 2009  |  Updated 4:15 PM CDT
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Charlie Sheen, Mariska Hargitay Among TV's Highest Paid Stars

CBS

Charlie Sheen achieved commercial success in the movies Wall Street and Platoon, but his career declined as his partying took over. In 1995 he testified at the Heidi Fleiss trial and in 1998 he overdosed on cocaine. He's since cleaned up his act and has had successful runs on two top sitcoms: Spin City and Two and a Half Men.

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Charlie Sheen is at the top of the scripted TV heap, according to TV Guide.

The mag reported that the "Two and a Half Men" star takes home $875,000 an episode for his role as Charlie Harper on the CBS sitcom.

VIEW THE PHOTOS: Primetime Hunks

Last year, "Sopranos" star James Gandolfini led the pack with a whopping $1 million an episode for the final season of the HBO mob drama.

Among the rest of TV's highest paid men in 2009 are "24" star Keifer Sutherland ($550,000 an episode), "House" doctor Hugh Laurie ($400,000) and Christopher Meloni of "Law & Order: SVU" ($400,000).

VIEW THE PHOTOS: The Ladies Of Primetime Television

Lower down on the list were such stars as "30 Rock's" Alec Baldwin ($300,000), "Grey's Anatomy's" McDreamy, Patrick Dempsey ($250,000) and "Mad Men" main man Jon Hamm, who earns $75,000 per episode – just above "Gossip Girl" star Chace Crawford ($50,000).

On the ladies' side, Christopher Meloni's "Law & Order: SVU" counterpart brings home top dollar – along with a quartet of successful "Housewives."

Mariska Hargitay earns $400,000 an episode for her role as Detective Olivia Benson on NBC's "SVU," tying her with four "Desperate Housewives" stars – Eva Longoria Parker, Teri Hatcher, Marica Cross and Felicity Huffman.

VIEW THE PHOTOS: Charlie Sheen

TV's other highest-paid women include "30 Rock" creator Tina Fey ($300,000) and "The Closer's" Kyra Sedgwick ($275,000).

However, actors aren't the only ones in TV land with serious paychecks. Among the stars of late night, CBS' David Letterman earns $32 million a year, outdistancing the salary of any actor – and also his NBC competitors, Jay Leno ($30 million) and Conan O'Brien ($14 million). And a number of newscasters are also top earners, led by Katie Couric at $15 million a year and Matt Lauer at $13 million.

And in the world of reality, generally bargain rates compared to scripted television, some stars still earn paychecks to write home about. Ryan Seacrest earns $15 million a year for his "American Idol" hosting duties, while reality stars such as former couple Jon and Kate Gosselin take home $75,000 an episode for TLC's "Jon & Kate Plus 8." No word yet if that number may shift in November, when the show relaunches as a Jon-free "Kate Plus 8."

(AH NATION: Who do you think are primetime TV's most overpaid stars? CLICK HERE to let your voice be heard!)

Related Content from AccessHollywood.com:
PLAY IT NOW: Teri Hatcher & James Denton Give A Helping Hand
PLAY IT NOW: Mariska Hargitay's Joyful Heart Gala (May 5, 2009)

MORE ACCESS ON THESE TOPICS: Charlie Sheen - TV - Hugh Laurie - David Letterman - Ryan Seacrest

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