Jim Parsons: TV’s Highest Paid Openly Gay Actor
By Stacy Lambe
Earlier this week, news broke that Jim Parsons and his Big Bang Theory co-stars were inching closer to finalizing new deals that would make them the highest paid actors — gay, straight, or otherwise — on TV since Kelsey Grammer negotiated for $1.6 million per episode for the final two seasons of Frasier.
As of Tuesday, Deadline reports that Parsons, Johnny Galecki, and Kaley Cuoco have come to an agreement on a new three-year contract that would extend the CBS series into 10 seasons and garner each actor a $1 million paycheck for each of the next three seasons’ 72 episodes. The contract, which also includes backend deals and signing bonuses, would earn each star up to $90 million over the course of three years.
In addition to joining the cast of Friends as one of the highest paid casts, Parsons becomes the highest paid openly gay actor on TV. His $1 million paycheck surpasses all other LGBT actors currently in major or recurring role on network and cable television.
For perspective, David Hyde Pierce was previously the highest paid gay actor, reportedly making up to $750,000 per episode when he was on Frasier. Other gay actors’ deals pale in comparison.
Neil Patrick Harris, who is currently wrapping up his Tony-winning Broadway performance as Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, only made $210,000 in his final season of How I Met Your Mother. Openly bisexual Anna Paquin earns $200,000 for True Blood and Matt Bomer takes home between $80,000 and $100,000 for White Collar.
Another high-profile show, Modern Family, created a stir two years ago when the adult cast held out for higher salaries. The final negotiations bumped Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s paycheck to $65,000 (we know, we were surprised as well) with bonuses bringing his episodic pay up to $175,000.
What does this deal mean for LGBT entertainers? In addition to smashing another hole in entertainment’s glass ceiling, it means there is plenty of room to reward other LGBT actors — especially when you consider a historic year at the Emmys.