Angus T. Jones, the star of Two And A Half Men, turned 17 today. I feel like I should wish him a happy birthday or something, but CBS kind of stole all the thunder from me. You see, CBS just renewed his contract for the next two years and this kid is now pulling in a modest $300,000 per episode.
You can stop rubbing your eyes. You read that correctly. $300,000 per episode. For two years with a 48 episode minimum, that’s 14.4 million dollars. And that doesn’t include the half a million he earned as a signing bonus.
Seems crazy does it not? But let’s see what he is really earning. For this article I did the most grueling bit of investigative journalism I have ever undertaken. I watched an episode and clocked how often Jones appears on screen and for how long.
Now granted, this particular episode, A Pudding Filled Cactus, did not feature Jones’ character very heavily, but that’s the beauty of his contract. It doesn’t matter. He still gets paid the full amount whether he’s in the entire episode or shows up for one scene. Anyway, this particular Tuesday, Jones'' character showed up for a grand total of...
One minute and six seconds.
Yes. Sixty six total seconds of screen time grabbed him more money than Jon Hamm makes in three episodes of Mad Men. One minute and six seconds of the entire episode, which lasted twenty one minutes and thirty nine seconds. That’s about $4,500 per second of screen time.
Now granted, it usually takes about an hour of off screen work to get a second of air worthy material. Still, that’s $300,000 dollars for an hour's worth of work. And knowing how television shows function, that included a lot of waiting around in a trailer for the scene to start filming. He did appear at the end of the episode in heavy make-up. That might have cost him another hour. So he’s down to making $150,000 per hour. Poor kid. He might have to start a paper route.
Okay, so screen time isn’t really that important. How many lines did the kid have? He had seven lines. Five of those lines were under ten words. All totaled he spoke forty nine words. That’s about $43,000 per line and just over $6,000 per word.
But, just like the rest of us, he isn’t taking all of that home with him. His agent commands 10% of each pay check so that’s $30,000 down the drain. Managers command anywhere from 10% to 15%, so let’s just say he gives his manager 12%. That’s $36,000. He also has to put 15% away in his Coogan account which is mandated under California law. Every child actor has to put 15% away in a trust fund that they can’t access until they’re 21. So that’s $45,000 that he’ll get in four years. So all totaled that’s $111,000 that goes to various people. Then he has taxes and since he’s in that top tax bracket, you know he’s getting reamed. The NY Post estimates that kid stars only bring in about 30-40% of their pay check after taxes and everything, but still that would mean Jones pockets $120,000 an episode.
Now, I have no idea about this kid. For all I know, he might be a saint and deserve every penny of it. He could be a great actor and be the nicest guy around. I don’t know. But what I do know is that Two and A Half Men is a horrible, lazy, unfunny show and this kid is making a hell of a lot more than the hard working folks that tune in by the millions each week to watch his show. Just think about that next time you watch.