While it used to be news when sitcom stars like Charlie Sheen, the cast of Friends, the stars of The Big Bang Theory and others renegotiated contracts to get $1 million per episode, that sort of financial commitment used to be based on the performance of the show itself.
However, with Oscar-winners lending their talents -- and their prestige -- to gritty dramas and award-worthy limited series orders, some stars are taking home million-dollar salaries for their first or second seasons, before the show's even had a chance to establish itself.
Recently, Variety broke down some of the astronomical paychecks TV stars are earning, and the numbers are surprising.
According to the report, Kevin Costner is possibly the highest-paid actor on TV, taking home $1.3 million per episode for his performance in Yellowstone. It's a number only rivaled by Mahershala Ali, who is reportedly getting around $1.3 million for his role on The Plot, which is set to air on Hulu and has not yet premiered.
Meanwhile, Elisabeth Moss has also moved into the highest ranks of paycheck earners for her new series Shining Girls for Apple TV+, taking home $1.1 million.
Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren are also taking home big bucks, earning $1 million per episode for their roles in the Yellowstone prequel series 1923. Michael Keaton is reportedly earning the same for his award-winning performance in Hulu's drama miniseries Dopesick, as is Sylvester Stallone for his role in the upcoming series Tulsa King.
The Shrink Next Door co-stars Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd are both taking home $1 million per episode as well, and the only comedy star to be a part of the Million Per Episode Club is Jason Sudekis for leading the critically beloved series Ted Lasso.
ET spoke with Variety TV Editor Michael Schneider, who penned the report, and he explained why so many stars are commanding such large paydays.
"We're seeing more million-dollar paydays, partly, because it's a nice round number, and also these days episodes are normally about eight to 10 for a series, which allows big stars, A-list stars, who don't wanna be bogged down with doing an entire 22-episode season of television to actually come and do some television," Schneider explained. "So, when they're doing eight to 10 episodes, that’s sort of roughly the equivalent of doing a movie."
With regards to Costner's sizable salary, Schneider said he doesn't "think it's a surprise at all."
"First off, Yellowstone is a tremendous hit. It's one of the biggest shows on television right now and Kevin Costner is, of course, the leading force behind that show," Schneider said. "He's a movie star, he's now a TV star, he's been around for a long time, he's the kind of person that fetches a pretty penny when working, so when you want to get a star like Kevin Costner, you’ve got to open up the pocketbook from the beginning."