Mariah Carey; Matt Lauer
If Norma Desmond from Sunset Boulevard worked as a TV actress today, her famous line would be: "I am big. It's the paychecks that got small."
Networks and studios have continued to take a hard line on holding down salaries, based on TV Guide Magazine's annual survey drawn from conversations with agents, network executives and studio heads. Rare is the lead actor who can enter a new series earning more than $125,000 an episode. The exceptions are those with a ratings track record of having a major hit show (Matthew Perry) or a significant career in feature films (Kevin Bacon).
Premium cable networks such as...
Kat Dennings, Simon Cowell
The 2011-2012 TV season ended with a whimper, as all five broadcast networks posted year-to-year drops in viewership during May sweeps. But the season as a whole wasn't too bad: Sure, some big swings (Pan Am, Terra Nova) missed, but a solid 15 freshman shows (out of 45) were renewed. Here's a roundup of this year's winners and losers.
CBS' 2 Broke Girls was the year's highest-rated new comedy, averaging a strong 5.6 million viewers with adults 18-49. The show has already been upgraded to a plum 9pm time slot for fall. "That shows enormous...
Get those season passes ready. The networks have announced 39 new series for 2012-2013, spanning virtually every kind of drama (procedurals, serials, thrillers) and comedy (family, workplace, romantic). And while new X Factor judges Britney Spears and Demi Lovato threaten to dominate the media's attention this fall, even they may be no match for Dr. Zaius, the monkey M.D. on NBC's Animal Practice, or the drippy aliens on ABC's The Neighbors. Here's a look at what viewers will encounter next season...
A lot of people think TV is better than movies these days. For many actors, it certainly pays better. Unless you're able to play a superhero, it's tough to get super-rich from big-screen work, so more actors are moving to series TV. The expanded talent pool has given networks and studios extra leverage in negotiating salaries. "There are so few gigantic stars in features and the rest are not making any money," says one industry executive familiar with this year's deal-making. "That's helpful."
The general rule across the TV business is to keep lead performers on new network prime-time series to $125,000 an episode. (Cable networks are going as high as $150,000.) That's not Charlie Sheen money, but it's not bad. "Times that by 22, [and] you can maintain a pretty good lifestyle based on what you were making in features but now you're not," the executive says.
There are always exceptions
Jennifer Lopez, Charlie Sheen
Despite suffering through a lethargic fall, the networks had reason to be upbeat as the TV season came to a close on May 25. Reality veterans American Idol and Dancing With the Stars staged healthy comebacks, while plenty of scripted series still showed some legs. Here's a roundup of prime time's hits and misses from 2010-2011.
American Idol Some thought TV's No. 1 show would be doomed without its signature judge Simon Cowell, but that turned out to be wishful thinking on the part of Fox's competitors. Idol was up 5 percent for the season, with an average of 25 million viewers. The producers delivered on a promise of younger and more authentic contestants. Another big help: two finalists who performed country music, which does well...