It's no surprise to see Oprah Winfrey is still managing to stay on top. The media mogul is No. 1 on Forbes' annual list of highest-paid celebrities.
Hollywood director Michael Bay came in second on the list, earning an estimated $160 million, thanks in large part to the Transformers franchise, which "Dark of the Moon" brought in $1.1 billion at the box office alone. Simply put, his fame in Hollywood continues to rise at the same time Oprah is experiencing a major decline in her earnings from the past years.
Mind Thoughts... Oprah is Bad Hollywood Politics
Oprah ended her daytime television show, "The Oprah Winfrey Show," last year to devote herself to launching and running her own cable network. She saw a drop of $125 million in income, largely to her talk show going off the air last fall. Some of her declining earnings, however, can be attributed to the struggles of OWN to find traction with audiences.
OWN launched in January of 2011 and has struggled with declining ratings since that time. In less than two years, the daytime show has lost more than $300 million by some estimates. Several shows have turned out to be high-profile failures, including talk shows hosted by Rosie O' Donnell and Oprah's best friend Gayle King, and were canceled after just a few months on the air.
Oprah will continue to generate high annual salary as long as talk shows starring Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz and Rachael Ray remain rating winners. All three shows are produced through Harpo Productions, Oprah's production company. Still, Michael Bay has an excellent chance to overtake her as a top-earning celebrity down the road.
Things look to get even better for Michael Bay in the years ahead. His Platinum Dunes production company has released a number of successful films, especially within the horror genre in recent years. Remakes of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Friday the 13th" have revived those dormant slasher franchises. "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" led to a successful prequel and a sequel for "Friday the 13th" is also in development.
He is also taking his talents to the small screen. He's the executive producer of the upcoming TV series, "Black Sails," that explores the origins of Long John Silver and how he came to be a notorious and successful pirate. The pilot episode is in pre-production under acclaimed director Neil Marshall and is slated for an early 2014 debut on Starz. If the series is a success in its first season as expected, it could pave the way for more TV shows from Bay and Platinum Dunes.
Michael Bay could climb to the top of the Forbes list by 2014 because he will also direct a fourth "Transformers" movie that will be released into theaters that summer. Then it will be Bay who will set the standard for power, influence and income that all other celebrities will be chasing down the road.
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