Forbes has released its list of the highest paid TV actresses for 2011 and Tina Fey and Eva Longoria top the list with $13 million apiece.
The annual list looked at the actress' earnings from May 2010 to May 2011. Forbes estimates each actress' gross earnings, not taking into account any agent or manager fees. Rather, the number is calculated after discussions with lawyers, producers, and agents in the know to find out what each star made per episode, from syndication deals, and from endorsements.
The top 10 actresses earned a combined $94 million. While that may seem like a lot, the stars of the small screen earn far less than their big screen counterparts.
The top three women in movies (Angelina Jolie, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Jennifer Aniston) combined earned about the same figure ($88 million) in the same time frame.
Though the starlets of television may earn considerably less, Forbes notes that there are some advantages. Several of the women on the list are working mothers, and television roles usually allow the actresses to stay in New York or L.A. for months on end whereas film actresses are required to jet around the world. The television stars on the list also have the benefit of a steady paycheck and meaty roles. None of the women on the list play doting girlfriends or damsels in distress. Instead, they all portray well-rounded, strong-willed women with room to change and grow from season to season. On the flip side, their film star colleagues tend to play lighter roles (i.e. Jennifer Aniston) and bounce from job to job.
The top two, Tina Fey and Eva Longoria, each earned money outside of their regular series. Longoria's success came not just from her role in Desperate Housewives, but also from lucrative endorsements with L'Oreal and LG. The compulsive multitasker, Fey earned income not only from her role as star, producer and head writer of 30 Rock, but also from her book Bossypants, which recently sold its millionth copy.
The 2011 list is full of Wives of all kind. The Good Wife star and recent Emmy winner Julianna Margulies joined all four of ABC's Desperate Housewives on this year's list. Other regulars include CSI's Marge Helgenberger, Law & Order: SVU's Mariska Hargitay and Grey's Anatomy's Ellen Pompeo.
Interestingly, several of the stars will be leaving their shows this year, while others are slated to come to an end. The 2012 list could turn out to be quite different from the one we see today.
Here's a look at this year's top 10 highest paid actresses on television: