Every time you watch a “reality” television show don’t you want to know how much they are getting paid to act a fool, eat worms or risk their lives? For some the pay is quite lucrative.

“American Idol”


Simon Cowell, the former “American Idol” judge, reportedly raked in $36 million last year. After salary negotiations, it’s rumored that he made somewhere around $45 million. Paula Abdul was making $4 million per year, but left after they refused to double her salary. But host Ryan Seacrest has them both beat. ABC News reported that Seacrest signed a $45 million, 3-year contract, making him the highest paid reality TV star. That is a salary I could do a lot with, picture me rolling.

Strange families

Who didn’t love watching Ozzy shuffle around his house every day? Not me, but a lot of people thought it was interesting. I don’t need to watch someone speaking English with subtitles. Members of the family have become breakout celebrities thanks to the show. The Osbournes were paid $5,000 each per episode for the first season and anywhere from $1 million to $5 million (depending who you believe) for the second season. That’s some raise! Jon and Kate (of Plus Eight fame) earned $75,000 per episode. I really hope they’re putting most of that aside for their children’s therapy bills. Apparently, the 14 children of crazy OctoMom, Nadya “I-wish-I-was-Angelina-Jolie” Suleman, are collectively getting paid $250,000 over the next three years.

Costly catfights

Last year, around the country, Real Housewives were making $30,000 an episode. However, the NYC housewives are negotiating six-figure salaries for their new season. So maybe this is why Sheree is the new tattle tail, she is trying to ensure that her antics will guarantee a new contract so she can fill that hole in the ground with a new house. How about the extended friends and family, do they get paid, too? Over on the Hills, the DailyBeast.com reports that “22-year-old Kristin Cavallari will earn $90,000 an episode. Her predecessor, Lauren Conrad, made $2.5 million per year.”

Grand prize

“Big Brother” contestants received $750 a week for each week they stayed in the house. That isn’t much if you have a life to maintain on the outside. The grand prize is $500,000, second place is $50,000 and the Viewer’s Choice award is $25,000. “Dancing with the Stars” celebrity contestants get a base salary of $125,000 and bonuses for each week they stay on. Bonuses range from $10,000 to $50,000 (for the final weeks). The winner gets an extra $100,000. That isn’t bad because you can dance some of your butt off while there. It is like being on “The Biggest Loser” at the same time.

Free rent

“The Real World” gets free rent, but not much money. However, they can parlay their “fame” into speaking engagements that earn them $10,000 a pop.

But the real money for reality TV stars comes from endorsements. For example, shows like Real Housewives plan segments around their housewives’ new products. The more they sell the better for everyone. Can you say Louboutins?

(Email the columnist at debbie­norrell@aol.com)

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