Sunday, May 15, 2011
Earlier this week, it was reported Ashton Kutcher would replace Charlie Sheen on the CBS sitcom "Two and a Half Men" and his per-episode (that's 20-minute episode) salary will be 'only' $800.000-900.000,- (down from Sheen's 1,2 mil + profits). 80s stars could only dream of such exuberant salaries.
Of course, $1 million today is more like $500.000,- in the 80s. Still, those shows used to attract much bigger audiences ("Dynasty" would regularly pull in about 40 million viewers in its heyday, and there were fewer people around, so it was a greater share of the general population than 40 million would be today).
And yet, the highest salaries on TV in the 80s used to be in the $100.000-150.000 range. In this video segment from the late 80s, John Forsythe's reported salary is $100.000,- per episode.
Although his co-star Joan Collins famously negotiated a higher salary several times, he had a stipulation in his contract that ensured his salary was always the highest among the cast.
So, when Collins failed to show up for work at the beginning of season 6 (in July 1985) and Spelling subsequently agreed to pay her more money, that immediately ensured a raise for Forsythe, as well.
Although Collins loves to say how she "didn't really make that much money from 'Dynasty' back then," it's certainly true she would have been much better off if "Dynasty" were a top-10 hit today.