The Best Paid Men in Entertainment

The Best-Paid Men In Entertainment
Lacey Rose, 04.30.07, 6:00 AM ET

In Pictures: The 25 Best-Paid Men In Entertainment

Hollywood’s leading ladies may be better at grabbing glossy ink, but when it comes to earning top dollar, the men still have them beat.

Fair or not, men are bigger earners both in front of and behind the camera. In fact, the male entertainers, excluding athletes, on Forbes’ annual listing of the World’s Most Powerful Celebrities earned on average nearly twice as much as the list’s women. Moreover, the 25 top-earning men on the list alone raked in $1.9 billion collectively over the course of a year, compared with their counterparts’ $671 million.

In Pictures: The 25 Best-Paid Men In Entertainment

Among the advantages of the actor over the actress: career longevity.

“Men playing romantic leads into their 60s are not at all uncommon,” says Robert Thompson , the founding director of the Center of Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University. “That’s not so much the case with women. Every now and again, a juicy Meryl Streep role will come along, but the good roles have tended to include a much smaller age span for women than they do for men.”

And while Thompson believes that’s beginning to change, as evidenced by Diane Keaton’s recent roles in Something’s Gotta Give and Because I Said So, he doesn’t see it happening too quickly.

James Ulmer, author and creator of the Ulmer Scale, which measures stars’ bankability, chalks it up to simple economics. “The demand for women in star-driven tent-pole movies isn’t there,” he explains. “And even though women are a growing force at the [box office], studios still feel more comfortable making these huge action adventures geared toward international male audiences.”

That explains why Tom Cruise, despite his couch-jumping antics, raked in $67 million over the course of the year. Or why Denzel Washington, who boasts a laundry list of action-packed flicks, earned $38 million. By comparison, Jodie Foster, the top-earning actress on the list, garnered only $27 million during that same time period.

One thing the experts do agree on: The discrepancy is no different, and perhaps even greater, for those in director positions. In fact, there were no women among the six directors in our admittedly small sample of best-paid celebrities. And when Martha Lauzen, a professor of communication at San Diego State University, looked at the 250 top-grossing films of 2006, she found that only 7% had women in director positions.

“We’ve got all of these superstar directors–the Scorseses and the Tarantinos,” says Thompson. “There is a certain … I don’t want to say machismo, but let’s face it, directing has kind of got that.”

Also falling into the category of the high-profile and the high-paid is Steven Spielberg, who pulled down $332 million in the span of a year. And with many major projects to come, big money will continue to flow his way. Among the director’s upcoming ventures: the much-buzzed-about Transformers flick and the fourth installments of the Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park franchises. Add to that On the Lot, a reality TV project to find the next big filmmaker, with Survivor’s Mark Burnett on News Corp.’s (nyse: NWS – news – people ) Fox.

Then there’s George Lucas, who earned a hefty $235 million over the course of a year, thanks in part to residuals from his beloved Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises. The director’s wallet is expected to grow still thicker when Indiana Jones’ fourth installment, which he co-wrote and executive produced, hits theaters next year.

“I wish there was a happier story to tell,” adds Lauzen. “And I think we don’t hear a lot about it because it isn’t a happy story.”

To determine which entertainers made the most money over the course of a year, we turned to the 2006 edition of the Forbes Celebrity 100 list, which ranks the most powerful actors, authors and directors based on their media exposure (magazine covers and TV and radio mentions), Web presence (number of Google hits) and earnings.

In Pictures: The 25 Best-Paid Men In Entertainment

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