For the fourth year in a row, Oprah Winfrey sits atop the Forbes list of the highest paid celebrities. All the cogs in the Oprah machine came out to $165 million of income between May 2011 and May 2012.
Winfrey beat out super director Michael Bay by just $5 million, as Bay realized quite a haul over the past year from the third in the Transformers franchise, “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” which took in $1.1 billion at the box office—not to mention a raft of Transformer toys.
With a stake in shows by Dr. Phil, Rachael Ray and Dr. Oz, it’s clear that Oprah will be raking it in for years to come. But Forbes says her days at the top of the list may be numbered: this is the last year they will count the money she earns from the syndication of her show.
Perhaps the most surprising entry on the Forbes list is Dr. Dre, who came in at fifth place at $110 million—thanks to selling a 51 percent stake in his Beats by Dr. Dre headphones company (which he co-founded with Interscope Chief Jimmy Iovine in 2006) to HTC for $300 million. Forbes said that although Dre makes millions a year as a producer, odds are he won’t be finishing as the fifth highest celebrity next year.
Right behind Dre is super producer/director/actor/writer Tyler Perry, who came in 6th at $105 million with his vast entertainment empire. As Forbes points out, Perry’s films usually have such low overhead that they don’t need to earn a ton of money to become profitable. His best moneymaker to date was 2009’s “Madea Goes to Jail,” which earned $90 million.