TV Star Salaries 2011: Who Gets Paid The Most?

Acting: it ain't a bad gig, if you can get it.

Stardom and creative expression fuel aspiring performers' willingness to starve, working catering jobs (as so gloriously chronicled by the late, great Starz comedy, "Party Down) and take on other assorted tasks, but the potential prosperity of tomorrow certainly plays into the voluntary suffering of the poverty of today. And while the standard dream is to be a big movie star, in this day in age, TV acting is just as, if not more, lucrative.

As the number of cable networks grow and shows continue to push boundaries, actors and actresses jump more and more between the big and small screens. Just this year alone, movie vets such as Ashton Kutcher, Christina Ricci, Christina Applegate and Zooey Deschanel will take the dive to TV series, wooed by leading roles and weekly exposure.

On the doorstep of the upcoming fall TV season, TV Guide has the roundup of the highest paid TV stars, dropping the scoop on which veteran names take in the most cash.

Gone this year, of course, is Charlie Sheen and his mammoth $1.2 million an episode salary for "Two and a Half Men"; Kutcher takes his place as the top earner with a $700,000 an episode paycheck. At 22 installments per year, still not too shabby. Hugh Laurie, of "House," will earn the same, which should cheer even his grumpy MD character up at least a little bit.

Mariska Hargitay, in perhaps her last year on "Law & Order: SVU," will command $350,000; her partner on the show, Christopher Meloni, split after he couldn't come to an agreement over his paycheck. Another CBS hit is saving some cash, too, as Ted Danson will make $225,000 per to join "CSI," a significant cut below Laurence Fishburne's salary.

As for reality shows, well, as the mogul behind "The X Factor," Simon Cowell will make $75 million per season. Rumor has it that he was offered up to $144 million to stay with "American Idol," though that's hard to nail down; two seasons ago, he supposedly made $36 million. He should undoubtedly make a pretty penny from his ownership of "The X Factor," in any case.

Back in 2007, EW reported that Keifer Sutherland made $400,000 per episode for "24," the same bit Kevin James made for "The King of Queens," and a bit more than Zach Braff's $350,000 per for "Scrubs."

For many more salaries, click over to TV Guide.