Judge Judy, Judge Joe Brown Among TV's Top-Paid Stars - Celebrity Justice
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Judge Judy, Judge Joe Brown Among TV's Top-Paid Stars

Judge Judy rules as America's highest-paid TV star, and Judge Joe Brown also makes the list, according to TV Guide's annual survey of TV personalities' salaries.

Judge Judith Sheindlin tops the salary docket by making $45 million a year, TV Guide reports. That makes Sheindlin higher-paid than even "American Idol's" Mariah Carey ($17 million per season), "Two and a Half Men's" Ashton Kutcher ($700,000 per episode, or about $18 million per season), NBC "Today's" Matt Lauer ($21.5 million a year), and "The Late Show's" David Letterman ($28 million a year).

So where does Judge Joe Brown stand on the list?

While Judge Judy is the No. 1 highest-paid TV star overall, Judge Joe Brown comes in just behind her at No. 2 in the category of highest-paid daytime or syndicated TV personalities, according to TV Guide.

Judge Joe Brown rakes in $20 million a year for his eponymous TV show. That’s tied with Kelly Ripa of “Live! With Kelly.”

Though “Judge Joe Brown” and Sheindlin’s “Judge Judy” are designed to emulate real-life court battles, in reality they are legally considered to be arbitration hearings.

In an arbitration, parties agree to argue their case before a neutral decision-maker, and agree to abide by the decision-maker’s ruling. In general, arbitrators can set their own rules for the proceeding, and their decisions generally cannot be appealed.

Though Judge Judy’s salary breaks down to more than $120,000 per day, the folksy jurist is sticking to her story that she’s just a simple girl from Brooklyn. “Right now I am shopping in Kmart in Wyoming, for leather cleaner to get a pen mark off my car seat,” she told the New York Daily News on Wednesday.

As far as viewers go, Judge Judy’s top-tier salary reflects her show’s ratings: “Judge Judy” was seen by 8.6 million viewers in the week ending July 29, tying for the No. 1 spot among syndicated TV shows. “Judge Joe Brown” was No. 18 with 3.5 million viewers, according to the website Zap2it.

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