Mon, Oct 10, 2011 - Page 13 News List

Planet Pop

Agencies

Watch out Oprah Winfrey, there’s a savvy pop star and an ambitious real housewife nipping at your financial heels.

Winfrey remained the entertainment world’s top woman earner, but Lady Gaga and Bethenny Frankel, one of the original housewives in the Real Housewives of New York, are moving quickly up the ranks of the rich, according to Forbes.com.

Winfrey held on to the top spot with US$290 million in earnings from May 2010 to this May and an estimated net worth of US$2.7 billion.

But Winfrey’s daytime talk show, which she wrapped up in May, was her chief money earner and her

newly launched cable network, OWN, has drawn paltry ratings since its January launch.

“The network has a long way to go before advertisers start paying the kind of rates Winfrey was charging for her syndicated show,” said Forbes’ Dorothy Pomerantz, who compiled the list by culling information from agents, managers, lawyers and others in the know.

Lady Gaga was a distant second with US$90 million in gross earnings, followed by Frankel with US$55 million. Frankel, who launched her own diet and lifestyle brand, sold her Skinnygirl Margarita cocktail mix for an estimated US$100 million and has been expanding her brand, which will soon include food, supplements and a possible talk show.

Four women, model Gisele Bundchen, singer Taylor Swift, talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and “Judge“ Judy Sheindlin, each earned US$45 million last year and tied for fourth place.

Not quite so well paid are the cast members of The Simpsons. Fox Television has approved two more seasons of show, the broadcaster said Friday, ending a standoff after a pay row threatened to sink the long-running show.

Fox, a unit of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp had threatened to axe the hit cartoon show after 23 seasons if no deal was reached with the actors who voice Homer, Bart et al.

The voice behind the greedy Mr Burns had even offered to take a 70 percent cut in pay to keep The Simpsons on the air, only for Fox Television to reject his proposal.

But late Friday Fox said on Twitter that it had renewed show — the longest-running animated television series in history — for a 24th and 25th season.

It gave no details about how the pay dispute had been resolved.

Fox threatened Tuesday to pull the plug on The Simpsons over the dispute, saying that as “brilliant” as the show may be, the network could not keep producing it under “its current financial model.”

The Daily Beast news Web site has reported that Fox wanted the voices behind Bart, Homer, Marge, Lisa, Krusty the Clown and other Simpsons characters to agree to a 45 percent salary cut.

But the cast members — including Dan Castellaneta, who voices Homer, and Nancy Cartwright, alias Bart — had proposed a 30 percent cut so long as they get a slice of syndication and merchandising income.

The six principal voice cast members on The Simpsons now earn about US$8 million a year each for about 22 weeks of work, according to The Daily Beast.

Chart-toppers, soul singers and three generations of Michael Jackson’s family — including his children — celebrated the King of Pop at an energetic tribute concert, urging fans to focus on the late star’s music rather than his death.

The run-up to the Michael Forever concert Saturday was overshadowed by the Los Angeles manslaughter trial of Jackson’s doctor, and marred by fan criticism, sluggish ticket sales and dissension within the Jackson family. But once the four-hour show started, Jackson’s musical genius, and the warm tributes of friends and family, carried the night.

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