Highest Paid Author

Highest Paid Author

If you’re not familiar with the rags to riches story of J. K. Rowling, then you’ll at least know of her bestselling Harry Potter books. The immensely popular series has been translated into sixty-five languages, made into five of the twenty highest-grossing movies of all time and is even being adapted for Broadway. All of these facts have led to J. K. Rowling becoming the world’s highest paid author.

Before being published by Bloomsbury, J. K. Rowling was Joanne Rowling (no middle name—the ‘K’ is only present in her pseudonym). She was a single mother living off of welfare in Edinburgh, Scotland. She had been writing Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone when her mother died and was later diagnosed with clinical depression. These experiences informed elements of her books, such Harry’s own loss.

Now, Rowling is worth over £560 million (or US $972 million). In 2007, she made roughly £3 million a week. She is known for philanthropy and political contributions, including the establishment of the Volant Charitable Trust and a £1 million donation to the Labour Party. She is also the president of One Parent Families.

Highest Paid Bollywood Singer

Daler Mehndi has just become Bollywood’s highest paid singer. If you haven’t heard of the well-paid performer, you may remember him as five multicolored desert wizards in the internet-popular video, Tunak Tunak Tan.

Daler increased his rates based on his “90% hit ratio” in film music, claiming that his songs become hits regardless of whether the films themselves become hits. The well-paid performer also admits that he’d love for only the biggest of filmmakers to be able to afford his music.

Currently, most Bollywood musicians are making around 25-40 thousand rupees (US $545-873) per song. That’s a far cry from the highest-paid singer in Bollywood, however, whose commands 5 lakhs—that’s 500,000 rupees or US $10,919—per song.

Check out Tunak Tunak Tan, below.

Highest Paid Spy

Highest Paid Spy in American History

They may not have quite the high tech gadgetry that you see in a James Bond movie, but that doesn’t mean that spying can’t be a lucrative profession. At least five American spies have managed to make over a million through their work for or against the country. Aldrich Ames, the highest paid spy in American history, falls into the latter camp.

The son of a CIA agent, Ames first went to “The Farm” at the age of sixteen to receive CIA training. Eventually, his skill with photographing sensitive documents landed him a job as Counterintelligence Branch Chief of Soviet Operations.

His problems started when he brought his mistress, Maria Del Rosario Casas, to DC. Daily calls to her native Colombia, among other expenditures, quickly mounted up to $35,000 in debt for Ames. Among Ames’ plans to reconcile the debt were such ideas as robbing a bank and selling secrets to Russia.

Apparently, he decided that selling secrets was the most feasible plan.

Receiving $50,000 for the names of three CIA agents in the Soviet Union allowed Ames to pay off his debt but, after another turncoat was caught in the act, Ames decided it would be best to go ahead and give the Soviets pretty much all the names he knew. Of the twenty-five spies he named, at least ten were executed. In return, he was given an annual salary of $300,000—making him the highest paid spy in the world.

Ames and Rosario spent nine years living well beyond the means of his $70,000 CIA salary before they were caught in 1994. Ames was given a life sentence and Rosario served five years in jail before being deported.

America’s Highest Paid CEO

Highest Paid CEO in the US - Larry Ellison

The Associated Press recently released a list of the highest paid CEOs in the United States. Topping the list was the founder and CEO of Oracle Corp., Larry Ellison. In 2008 alone, Ellison will earn $84.6 million.

The 64 year old CEO was born to a 19 year old single mother and raised by her aunt and uncle. In fact, it would be almost half a century before he met his real mother. By then, he had already founded Oracle Corp.

The company was founded in 1977 with only a $2,000 investment from Ellison. Originally Software Development Laboratories and then Relational Software Inc., the company’s current name comes from Oracle database, the company’s flagship product. Having survived a 1990 marketing mistake which nearly resulted in the company’s bankruptcy, and having toppled two competitors—Sybase and Informix, Oracle is now the third largest software company in the world.

So how does Ellison enjoy his earnings? Various boats, cars, a private jet and a $200 million home tell us that Larry Ellison enjoys his money, despite claims that he’s only able to actually spend a little over 10% of his net worth. He’s even attempted to buy a pair of professional sports teams and is looking into a third.

Directly following Ellison on the list of the nation’s highest paid CEOs are Merrill Lynch & Co.’s John Thain ($83.1 million), CBS Corp.’s Leslie Moonves ($67.6 million) and Freeport-McMoran Copper & Gold Inc.’s Richard Adkerson ($65.3 million).

Highest Paid Female CEO

In 2007, despite an average 15 percent decrease in compensation for CEOs of the 500 largest corporations in the US, female CEOs’ average compensation increased by 27 percent. Even so, the average female CEO takes home only $6.5 million—just over half the $12.8 million average of all CEOs. Even the nation’s highest paid female CEO made less than the overall average.

Indra Krishnamurthy Nooyi, chairwoman and CEO of PepsiCo, was appointed on Ocotober 1st, 2006 after being named Steve Reinemund’s successor in August of the same year. In her time at PepsiCo, the company has seen a 72% increase in annual revenue.

Highest Paid Female CEO in the US

Indra K. Nooyi (Photo by World Economic Forum. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

She has been awarded Padma Bushan, India’s third highest civilian award, and has been named the #1 Most Powerful Business Woman in the world by Fortune Magazine in both 2006 and 2007.

Aside from her duties at PepsiCo, she serves as a Successor Fellow at Yale Corporation and has been elected to the fellowship of the Academy of Arts and Sciences.

For all that, she still only took home $12.7 million in 2007, making her the 139th highest paid CEO in the US. Other highest paid female CEOs of 2007 include Avon Products’ Andrea Jung ($12 million) and Xerox’s Anne Mulcahy ($11 million).

Highest Paid Actresses

Hollywood has once again proven to be an unfair town. While they’re not exactly impoverished, these female performers aren’t raking in the dough like their male counterparts. Gender issues aside, these are the highest paid actresses in Hollywood.

Hollywood's highest paid actresses - Gwyneth Paltrow

5. Gwyneth Paltrow – $25 million

Born in LA to actress Blythe Danner and director/writer/producer Bruce Paltrow, Gwyneth Paltrow started acting professionally at 18, making her film debut in Shout (1991). In her breakthrough role, she played wife to Brad Pitt in Se7en (1995). Most recently, she played Robert Downey, Jr.’s capable assistant in Iron Man (2008)—a role she is reprising in the 2010 sequel.

Hollywood's highest paid actresses - Reese Witherspoon

4. Reese Witherspoon – $25 million

At the age of fourteen, Louisiana native Reese Witherspoon auditioned for a bit part in The Man in the Moon (1991). Instead, she landed the lead role. She garnered worldwide recognition for her portrayal of Elle Woods in Legally Blonde (2001). That film’s sequel, despite poor reviews, made her one of Hollywood’s highest paid actresses.

Hollywood's highest paid actresses - Jennifer Aniston

3. Jennifer Aniston $27 – million

With only a number of failed television shows and the poorly received Leprechaun (1992) under her belt, Jennifer Aniston almost quit acting altogether. Her role in Friends (1994-2004), however, ensured her continued career. She is mostly known for comedies such as Office Space (1999) and romantic comedies such as The Break-Up (2006).

Hollywood's highest paid actresses - Keira Knightley

2. Keira Knightley – $32 million

The only non-American actress on the list, Keira Knightley’s first role was a small part in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999). Cast for her resemblance to lead actress Natalie Portman, she played a decoy meant to deflect assassination attempts. Since then, she has become a lead actress in her own right and went on to star in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy (2003-2007) with fellow highest paid thespian Johnny Depp.

Hollywood's highest paid actresses - Cameron Diaz

1. Cameron Diaz – $50 million

Hollywood’s highest paid actress as of this year, Cameron Diaz spent five years as a fashion model before landing the lead female role in The Mask (1994). She won her first award, a Golden Globe for Best Actress–Musical or Comedy, for There’s Something about Mary (1998). She has since starred in Charlie’s Angels (2000), Vanilla Sky (2001) and the Shrek (2001-2010) trilogy, among others.

Highest Paid Football Player (Soccer)

Association football, known as soccer in the States, has just produced its highest paid player. After his transfer to Chelsea in 2008, Nicolas Anelka made over £15 million (around $29.4 million USD). This marks the French footballer’s eighth transfer or loan in just over ten years.

Highest Paid Soccer Player - Nicolas Anelka

The world’s highest paid soccer player started his career in 1995 playing for Paris Saint-German. He transferred to Arsenal in 1997, but left them for Real Madrid in 1999 in order to get a salary that, he felt, better reflected his experience in the game. Anelka’s other moves include a return to Paris Saint-Germain in 2000 and a loan to Liverpool from 2001 to 2002. His most recent transfer took him from the Bolton Wanderers to Chelsea, where he’s had only a single appearance as of this writing.

The highest paid soccer player in the world is called “Abdul-Salam Bilal” by his friends after his conversion to Islam. He was married on April 1st, 2007, to Krishan Khatri.

Highest Paid Actors

Of all the celebrities making time in the American psyche, none are nearer and dearer to our hearts than our actors and actresses. Of these, it turns out that the men are commanding higher payoffs than their female counterparts. These are the highest paid (male) actors in Hollywood.

Highest paid actor - Leonardo DiCaprio

5. Leonardo DiCaprio – $45 million

Despite his phenomenal success in 1997 as Titanic’s pretty boy, Jack Dawson, Leonardo DiCaprio sees himself as an indie actor. His filmography certainly backs up that assertion, with such movies as The Beach (2000), Gangs of New York (2002) and Blood Diamond (2006) under his belt. He has been nominated for Best Actor at either the Academy Awards or the Golden Globes for each of his three most recent movies and took home a Golden Globe for his role as Howard Hughes in The Aviator (2004).

Highest paid actor - Mike Myers

4. Mike Myers – $55 million

English by birth, Mike Myers was relocated to Ontario when he was still a baby. Supposedly, a role in a commercial with Gilda Radner when he was only 9 years old led to him swearing that he, like Radner, would eventually be on Saturday Night Live. He made good on his promise in 1989. In 1992, he and Dana Carvey adapted their Wayne’s World skit into a feature-length film. Since then, he has starred in a number of comedies, notably the Austin Powers (1997-2002) and Shrek (2001-2007) trilogies—both of which have fourth installments in the works.

Highest paid actor - Eddie Murphy

3. Eddie Murphy – $55 million

The highest-grossing film actor in history, Eddie Murphy began his career as a stand-up comedian around the age of 19. Shortly thereafter, he became a cast member on Saturday Night Live. In his first film, he played Reggie Hammond in 48 Hrs (1982). Signing an exclusive contract with Paramount, he went on to become their most successful franchise at the time, with the possible exception of Star Trek. His thirty-three films to date have grossed over $3.4 billion.

Highest paid actor - Johnny Depp

2. Johnny Depp – $72 million

A native of Owensboro, Kentucky, Johnny Depp’s first major film, A Nightmare on Elm Street (1983), was released when he was only 21 years old. Since then, he has had a number of memorable roles including gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), Captain Jack Sparrow in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy (2003-2007) and a variety of quirky characters in films by director Tim Burton.

Highest paid actor - Will Smith

1. Will Smith – $80 million

Born in West Philadelphia, Smith is among the few celebrities to have achieve success in three different mediums. The highest-paid actor began his career rapping under the stage name “Fresh Prince,” which launched his popular television show, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which ran from 1990 to 1996. His first movie, Where the Day Takes You (1992), won the Golden Space Needle Award at the Seattle International Film Festival.

His most recent film, Hancock, is his eighth consecutive film to gross over $100 million in the domestic box office. He is the first (and only) actor to have such an achievement under his belt.

Highest Paid Television Stars

Hollywood isn’t the only place you’ll find a camera or two. While the most celebrated actors and actresses pull in the biggest checks, the people we see every day on the television may just have the most impact. These are the highest paid television stars.

Highest Paid Television Stars - Charlie Sheen

5. Charlie Sheen
$20 million/year

Taking on the role of a wealthy playboy may not be a stretch for this actor, but it’s certainly rewarding. Making $825,000 per episode of Two and a Half Men, Sheen is television’s highest paid actor.

Highest Paid Television Stars - Dr. Phil

4. Dr. Phil
$30 million/year

Unlicensed since 1989, psychologist Dr. Phil McGraw spun his celebrity from appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show. His career has been plagued with a number of controversies and scandals including a Federal Trade Commission investigation resulting in the discontinuation of his line of weight loss products and an unannounced visit paid to Britney Spears in which he tried to get her and her family to take part in an intervention on Dr. Phil.

Highest Paid Television Stars - David Letterman

3. David Letterman
$32 million/year

After twenty-six years of hosting late night television, it’s no surprise that Letterman is one of the highest paid personalities in television. Even a quintuple bypass in 2000 couldn’t keep the Late Night host down and he continues to host it to this day.

Highest Paid Television Stars - Simon Cowell

2. Simon Cowell
$50 million/year

This English television personality, producer and A&R executive is known for his brutally honest judgment in some of television’s hottest reality shows. In US television, he has most recently been seen on American Idol. He is currently working on The X Factor in the UK.

Highest Paid Television Stars - Oprah Winfrey

1. Oprah Winfrey
$385 million/year

Known as both a talk show host and spiritual icon, Oprah Winfrey has been called “the most influential woman in the world.” With an international talk show, a trendsetting book club and a net worth of $2.5 billion, it’s not a claim we’re willing to dispute.

Highest Paid Screenwriter

For feature length films, Hollywood screenwriters initially earn an average minimum of $40,000 for a screenplay. Some writers, however, can earn substantially more. Joe Eszterhas, for instance, became the highest paid screenwriter in 1992 when he was paid $3 million for the script to Basic Instinct. Fifteen years later, though, that title has changed hands. Who is currently Hollywood’s highest paid screenwriter?

Highest Paid Screenwriter - Terry Rossio and Bill Marsilii for Deja Vu

The screenplay for Déjà Vu (2006), the science fiction crime thriller starring Denzel Washington, brought in $5 million between the $2 million guarantee and the $3 million production bonus, making it the most expensive screenplay ever. However, the movie had two screenwriters, Terry Rossio and Bill Marsilii. The screenplay for Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006) earned $4 million, but this was also split between two writers, Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. Panic Room (2002) earned its single writer, David Koepp, $4 million but this includes his services as producer of the film.

Highest Paid Screenwriter - Shane Black for The Long Kiss Goodnight

The title of highest paid screenwriter belongs to Shane Black. Black wrote the screenplay for The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996), a thriller starring Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson. The screenplay earned $4 million and Black shares the writing credits for this movie with no other writers.

Hollywood’s highest paid screenwriter has most recently written Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) and A.W.O.L. (2006).

Next Page »