Perry gets first-dollar gross participation, owns the copyright, receives 50% of film profits with Lionsgate, and receives 100% of the proceeds from DVD sales. In its quarterly reports, Lionsgate credits his theatrical releases and television program, among others, with helping drive the company’s $976.7 million in revenues for fiscal 2007.
Perry knows how to keep production costs relatively low-an average of less than $5 million per project. And he recently opened a 60,000-square-foot production facility in his adopted hometown of Atlanta. The man with the golden pen clearly knows how to leverage his Hollywood clout. -Carolyn M. Brown
SHONDA RHIMES : the ensemble cast of the abc hit grey’s anatomy is reported to be among the highest-paid television actors, earning $125,000 to $225,000 per episode, or more than $30 million combined. So, it’s no shocker that the show’s creator, Shonda Rhimes, is one of TV’s top earners behind the cameras.
Rhimes’ medical comedy-drama is also one of the highest-rated scripted shows on television. The 2006-2007 prime-time Nielsen ratings wrap by The Hollywood Reporter showed that Grey’s averaged 19.5 million viewers per episode. It ranked sixth, beating out Desperate Housewives. ABC moved it after its third season from its Sunday time slot to anchor the network’s prime-time programming on Thursday, considered the most competitive night on television. Advertising Age reported that Grey’s commands $419,000 per 30-second spot, making it the highest priced ABC show, projecting annual ad revenues of slightly more than $500 million.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Rhimes renegotiated her production pact at Disney’s Touchstone Television after the series’ se
cond season, extending it through the 2008-2009 lineup. The three-year deal was reportedly worth about $10 million-a rare perch for African Americans. Rhimes also serves as an executive producer of the drama, which is now in its fourth season. As a result of the writers strike, however, Rhimes and the cast found themselves marching in support of residual rights.
Viewers may have an ongoing love affair with the characters, but the show has also garnered industry and critical acclaim, receiving Emmy nominations in 2006 and 2007. The program won a Golden Globe for Best Drama TV Series in 2007.
Recently, Rhimes created the ABC spin-off Private Practice. Before going on hiatus because of the strike, the series premiere, which aired in September 2007, averaged 14.4 million viewers. As a result, it was the most watched show in its time slot, proving that for the 38-year-old producer, lightning can strike in the same place twice. -Carolyn M. Brown
DENZEL WASHINGTON: Denzel washington’s uncanny ability to lure audiences to theaters, pick quality scripts, and convincingly portray hero or villain has kept him in Hollywood’s upper echelon for years. In American Gangster, the 53-year-old reportedly earned his $20 million asking price twice because of his pay-or-play guarantee (the script and director changed and a new creative team meant a new contract). The wait may have been well worth it, considering American Gangster has grossed more than $223 million to date worldwide. Washington receives another payday from the film because he