Originally created 03/09/99

Forbes: Seinfeld the top-earning celebrity



NEW YORK -- Selling "Seinfeld" into television syndication proved to be a bonanza for its star, Jerry Seinfeld, helping him to become the top-earning celebrity in 1998, according to Forbes magazine.

Seinfeld and collaborator Larry David earned $267 million and $242 million respectively from the $1.7 billion sale of the recently ended sitcom, placing them first and second on the magazine's list of leading celebrity earners.

Forbes created estimates based on figures compiled from interviews with attorneys, managers, agents, executives and entertainment insiders. It counts pretax gross income when it is earned, not when the celebrities are paid -- a key criteria, especially for Seinfeld and David, who moved to the top of the list even though they may not see the bulk of their money for a few years.

Directorproducer Steven Spielberg, whose movie "Saving Private Ryan" is nominated for an Oscar for best picture, is third on the list with $175 million.

He is followed by talk-show host Oprah Winfrey with $125 million and 'Titanic' director James Cameron with $115 million.

Rounding out the top 10 are actor Tim Allen ($77 million), recently retired basketball player Michael Jordan ($69 million), writer and director Michael Crichton ($65 million), actor Harrison Ford ($58 million) and the Rolling Stones ($57 million).

The business magazine released the list in conjunction with its first-ever Forbes Celebrity 100 ranking, which combines income and media buzz -- a blend of prominence on the Internet, on magazine covers, on TV and radio and in newspaper clippings -- to come up with a measure of future earning power.

While Seinfeld was 1998's top earner, he ranked only fourth on the power list, behind Jordan, Winfrey and film heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio (who ranked 36th on the earnings list with $37 million).

Other people ranked in the top 10 of the Celebrity 100 include Spielberg, Ford, the Spice Girls, actor Robin Williams, singer Celine Dion and the Rolling Stones.

Top-earning celebritiesForbes magazine's list of the highest-earning celebrities worldwide:

1. Jerry Seinfeld, comedian, producer, $267 million

2. Larry David, writer, director, $242 million

3. Steven Spielberg, director, producer, $175 million

4. Oprah Winfrey, TV show host, actress, producer, $125 million

5. James Cameron, director, $115 million

6. Tim Allen, actor, $77 million

7. Michael Jordan, basketball player, $69 million

8. Michael Crichton, writer, director $65 million

9. Harrison Ford, actor, $58 million

10. Rolling Stones, rock group, $57 million

11. Master P., music producer, $56.5 million

12. Robin Williams, actor, $56 million

13. Celine Dion, singer, $55.5 million

14. Mel Gibson, actor, director, producer, $55 million

15. Garth Brooks, singer, $54 million

16. Sean "Puffy" Combs, music producer, $53.5 million

17. Greg Daniels, writer, director, $53 million

18. Mike Judge, writer, director, $53 million

19. Chris Carter, writer, director, producer, $52 million

20. David Copperfield, illusionist $49.5 million

21. Spice Girls, singers, $49 million

22. Paul Reiser, actor, writer, director, $48 million

23. Eddie Murphy, actor, $47.5 million

24. John Travolta, actor, $47 million

25. Drew Carey, actor, $45.5 million

26. Bonnie and Terry Turner, writer, director, $45 million

27. Tom Hanks, actor, director, producer, $44 million

28. Danny Jacobson, writer, director, $42 million

29. Kevin Costner, actor, director, producer, $41 million

30. BrightKauffmanCrane, TV producers, $40.5 million

31. Brad Pitt, actor, $40 million

32. Stephen King, writer, director, $40 million

33. Nicolas Cage, actor, $38 million

34. Bruce Helford, writer, director, $38 million

35. Michael Schumacher, race car driver, $38 million

36. Leonardo DiCaprio, actor, $37 million

37. John Wells, writer, director, $35 million

38. Will Smith, singer, actor, $34 million

39. Jim Carrey, actor, $32.5 million

40. Metallica, rock group, $32 million

41. Helen Hunt, actress, $31 million

42. Dave Matthews Band, music group, $30 million

43. Sergei Fedorov, hockey player, $29.8 million

44. Tiger Woods, golfer, $26.8 million

45. Brian Grazer, writer, director, $26 million

46. Dale Earnhardt, race car driver $24.1 million

47. Jerry Bruckheimer, director, producer, $22 million

48. Grant Hill, basketball player, $21.6 million

49. Howard Stern, TV and radio host, $20 million

50. Oscar de la Hoya, boxer, $18.5 million