Big Bucks for Pair of TV's Big Bad Stars

Fans of prime-time television can breathe a little easier today. Two of its biggest (and, in the past, most indulgent) stars, Kelsey Grammer and Drew Carey, have agreed to continue on in their hit shows for at least another couple of years.

And Grammer, who plays the effete and snobbish Seattle shrink Frasier Crane on the veteran sitcom Frasier, did it in record-breaking fashion. According to Daily Variety, Grammer will stay with the NBC comedy for the 2002 and 2003 seasons for the tidy sum of more than $1.6 million per episode, which makes him the highest-paid actor in TV history. Altogether, the two-year deal with Paramount Network Television, the show's producer, is worth about $75 million.

By contrast, the six mostly unbearable stars of Friends each earn about $750,000 per episode. Jerry Seinfeld in his heyday earned more than $1 million per, although he also shared in Seinfeld's syndication revenues.

Drew Carey also earns profits from syndication in his new two-year deal with Warner Bros. Television, which runs through 2004 and could be worth up to $60 million, but the Drew Carey Show co-creator will earn an embarrassingly paltry $600,000 to $750,000 per episode. In a related deal, ABC has finalized a $152 million deal with Warner Bros. Television to keep The Drew Carey Show on the network through at least 2004.