Mark Harmon, star of "NCIS," just became the most remunerated star in the history of television (that's right, Mr. Jerry Seinfeld — You have been leap-frogged). He signed a one-year extension to remain at "NCIS."
The importance of this deal to CBS can't be overstated or understated, and just to prove how huge it is, Leslie Mooves, president of CBS, even made the rare — indeed, almost unheard — act of ultimate gratitude: He wrote the news release.
"In a world gone niche, NCIS keeps getting bigger, and Mark Harmon continues to define the role of leading man on the #1 show on television," said Leslie Moonves, President and Chief Executive Officer, CBS Corporation. "NCIS is the type of franchise every company wants in today’s global content ecosystem — high-quality storytelling that generates passionate viewers and drives revenue on every conceivable platform."
Oddly enough, Moonves is right. "NCIS" is a huge fish in a pond filled with teensy guppies. Some of those guppies are better shows, of course, but that's besides the point. America loves "NCIS". End of story. America especially love Jethro Gibbs — the boss everyone wishes they had, but — alas — does not.
How big is this deal for Harmon? To paraphrase the Donald, it's huuuugggge. Ashton Kutcher is currently the single, highest-paid thespian on TV ($24 million per season) while Hugh Laurie was in second place at $18 million per season. Alec Baldwin and Harmon were tied in third place at $15 million.
CBS did not release figures, but would you like my guesstimate? He'll make over $25 million - or about $1 million per episode. I may be on the low side but this is undoubtedly lucrative, and would edge him above Kutcher. Harmon - like most major stars - owns a piece of the syndication back end of "NCIS," and as an executive producer, (technically he doesn't "own" the show — CBS and Paramount do) has some ownership points in it too. But a show like this (one hour) isn't likely to have a giant afterlife in syndication. That would dictate a larger payday on the front end.
In any case, CBS just had a good day, and so did Harmon. Now, on to the rest of the cast .?.?.