Are They Worth It?: TV star edition

Hargitay_lPerhaps Law & Order‘s classic "chung chung" should be changed to "ka-ching!" SVU stars Mariska Hargitay and Chris Meloni have just re-upped their contracts — after a long negotiation with NBC brass — for at least another two seasons at the rate of $330,000 per episode, or roughly $6.5 million each. Though it’s paltry compared to Friends/Frasier/Raymond moolah, the new deal is enough to make new mom Hargitay (pictured) the highest-paid actress on television, topping The Closer star Kyra Sedgwick. (Meloni still trails Charlie Sheen, who gets paid approximately $350,000 an episode for Two and a Half Men.)

Apparently, TPTB briefly flirted with the idea of replacing the two increasing expensive stars, so I’m just glad NBC came to their senses and ponied up the cash. Benson and Stabler ARE SVU — unlike the original L&O, the Special Victims crew always get way too emotionally invested in their cases and thus, we become way too invested in their (sigh, fictional) lives. Plus, Hargitay and Meloni (heck, the entire SVU cast) attend EW’s Oscar Party in Manhattan every year and play nice, so kudos to them.

But this is all coming from a die-hard SVU fan who can watch re-runs on the USA network all day. Given how small NBC’s average audience is these days, do you think Hargitay and Meloni are worth their new salaries? And who else is deserving (or undeserving) of their current TV deals?addCredit(“Mariska Hargitay: Will Hart”)

Comments (48 total) Add your comment
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  • Evie

    I just don’t know. As much as I love both of them, especially Mariska, who is to say that Ice T and Richard Belzer aren’t worth that, or poor unappreciated Dann Florek? I know they are not of the same calibre but they make the show for me way more than watching Eliot and His Issues every week.

  • Dre

    I have been a long standing fan of this show and I believe that Stabler and Benson are excellent characters and are an integral part of the show. That being said, recently I’ve felt that the episodes have been getting weaker and relying more and more on guest stars than on compelling police stories. I think since the producers are placing a lot of importance on the roles of Benson and Stabler that maybe the show should return to it’s roots and once again produce episodes that focus on the two detectives solving sex-crimes not far-fetched cases that have very little, if anything to do with Special Victims.

  • Nose

    I am with you, Dre…the show has gotten disjointed and confusing with the parade of guest stars and Mariska’s absence. Please, give us back our Benson and more new faces!!

  • Sally

    That’s why movie stars are transitioning over to TV – it PAYS MORE.

  • Me

    I think they are totally worth it. I agree with you they are the show and I think the reason it felt so off was because Mariska was gone. It is only an example of how strong the character and her chemistry with Meloni is. In addition, I think that the rest of the cast also deserves a raise obviously not as high but everyone on that show is great and really this is the only L&O where the characters are as important to the weekly case.

  • DANA

    Charlie Sheen gets 350,000? How can that be? the show looks like it’s done in half that budget.

  • Eri

    Mariska is definitely worth the amount. Everyone watches for Benson & Stabler. There is a odd dynamic between the two, and we love getting insight. Mariska was wonderful in the episode that won her an Emmy. The one with the little girl from Columbia that had been kidnapped and held in the basement. She was on the speakerphone the majority of the episode with limited interaction with her partners. I can watch that episode everytime it comes on. Everything she’s trying to convey comes across clearly. Right before they announced the winner for category, I was sitting there thinking if she doesn’t win for this performance this show has no credibility.

  • Sean

    Meloni is definitely worth the money. I only watch the show to see him, honestly, because the stories aren’t that good, anymore. I’m happy for him.

  • Paul

    I think that they are both worth that amount to stay on SVU. As you said, they “make” the show. It would not be the same show without them. Also, when comparing to the sitcom stars, remember that they are doing twice the work per episode; SVU is an hour long program.

  • Paul

    I think that they are both worth that amount to stay on SVU. As you said, they “make” the show. It would not be the same show without them. Also, when comparing to the sitcom stars, remember that they are doing twice the work per episode; SVU is an hour long program.

  • Kevin

    Why in the world would Charlie Sheen make more than she does? Terrific show, terrific actress. Good for her.

  • mrclean

    I say, good for them… SVU has had the least tunrover of any law and order…. they have a great chemistry and I can watch that show all day long. I also find SVU is the most fun to watch even when I’ve seen it 10 times… I just hope Richard Belzer gets a raise too….

  • TorontoTom

    TOTALLY WORTH IT. They are two of the most interesting, likable actors on TV today. I was glad to see Hargitay win an Emmy – Meloni deserves one too!

  • junior

    WORTH IT AND THEN SOME! What am I gonna watch for Ice T and Richard Belzer? I don’t think so.

  • Mark

    There is no way they could SVU without Benson and Stabler. Chris Merloni and Mariska Hargitay are the heart and soul of the show. Glad NBC re-upped, I love watching the re-runs on USA.

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