While the top-earning TV shows may not be reality TV, the top-earning male prime-time TV stars are reality stars.
The three men who lead Forbes’ list are American Idol judge and America’s Got Talent producer Simon Cowell, who’s estimated earnings for June 1, 2008, to June 1, 2009, were $75 million; Apprentice blowhard Donald Trump, who made $50 million; and American Idol host and reality show producer Ryan Seacrest, who made $38 million.
All three are producers of reality series in addition to talent, which explains why they beat out #4 Charlie Sheen ($21 million) and #5 Steve Carrell ($20 million). At number six was Howie Mandel, who made $15 million thanks to his game show Deal or No Deal, and his dumb NBC prank reality series Howie Do It.
Last month, Forbes created a similar list for prime-time women, which was led by Tyra Banks and her $30 million a year, which would have made her #4 here.