According to The Hollywood Reporter, the highest-paid sitcom star is going to be Charlie Sheen, about to sign a deal worth $350,000 per episode. That’s not Friends money (or Frasier or Everybody Loves Raymond money), but then, Two and a Half Men isn’t Friends.
In fact, no sitcom today is. EW’s lead news story in the new issue notes that only two of the top 30 shows last season were comedies, and several TV insiders discuss why the genre is at what looks like an all-time low. (Short answer: It’s the writing, stupid! Oh, and the economics.) Don’t worry, though, that Sheen won’t earn enough to cover his alimony payments; he’s got a piece of the back end, too, which means syndication and DVD rights could earn him another $50 to $60 million.
Two questions, then: First, how come no similar love for Jon Cryer? He got demoted to supporting actor at the Emmys, too, but his part is as big as Sheen’s. Second, does Sheen really deserve to be the top-earning sitcom star? Yeah, his show is TV’s most-watched comedy, but let’s imagine for a moment that TV salaries were based on merit. Who, then, would deserve top pay? Jason Lee? Julia Louis-Dreyfus? Steve Carell? (Maybe, but The Office is such an ensemble show that one would hope for a profit-sharing plan at Dunder-Mifflin.) Who, then?