Judge Judy is one of the highest-paid TV stars of all time. She earns a staggering $47 million per year. Her salary was questioned recently in a lawsuit brought by a company called Rebel Entertainment Partners in 2016, which claimed that CBS has diminished the profits Rebel was supposed to make. In Sheindlin’s videotaped testimony, recently uncovered by The Hollywood Reporter, she took her opponents to the woodshed.
The story goes that a pair of producers —Sandi Spreckman and Kaye Switzer— came to her and told her she should be on TV. Sheindlin agreed,
“I thought I would make a great TV judge.”
Rebel now believes that it’s entitled to a 5% share of Judge Judy profits thanks to work it did for the show in the mid-90s. Of course, Sheindlin sees it differently and criticized Rebel president Richard Lawrence, claiming she hasn’t seen or heard from him “in over 21 years,” though he’s made about $17 million for “what was perhaps two, three hours’ worth of business.”
“It’s very important for you to know, because part of your complaint is that CBS conspired with me to deprive Mr. Lawrence of his backend profit. CBS had no choice but to pay me what I wanted, because otherwise I could take it wherever I wanted to take it or do it myself.”
The judge also told how she renegotiates her salary every three years with CBS —at a dinner at Grill on the Alley with the company’s president.
“We sit across the table, and I hand him the envelope and I say, ‘Don’t read it now, let’s have a nice dinner. Call me tomorrow. You want it, fine. Otherwise, I’ll produce it myself.’ That’s the negotiation.”
Another executive tried to do things differently one year —John Nogawski, the former president of CBS TV Distribution. Sheindlin shot him down. Nogawski had brought his own card to the table.
“I said, ‘I don’t want to look at it.’ He said, ‘Why not? Maybe it’s more than what’s in your envelope.’ And I said, ‘Well, John, if I look at your envelope, it’s a negotiation. This isn’t a negotiation.’ And he put his envelope away and they gave me what I wanted . . . whatever it was, done.
They pay me the money that they do because they have no choice. They can’t find another one. They’ve tried to find another Judy. If they find another Judy, good for them. So far they haven’t.”
And that’s why she’s Judge Judy. Mic drop. (Btw, that $47 million a year translates into just under $1 million per workday. She works just 52 days per year. Judy Sheindlin is worth around $300 million.)
Here’s why she’s paid the big bucks.
(Photo, YouTube; via Vanity Fair)