The Easiest Gigs in Showbiz
By Bruce Haring Posted Nov 26th 2009 10:00AM
It's everyone's dream: Make massive money, get mass recognition and it all comes with no heavy mass to lift. It's called an easy gig, and there are plenty of them in show business. With Thanksgiving filling the bellies of Americans across the country, let's spotlight a few celebrities who should say a special prayer of Thanksgiving this weekend, for they have been blessed with lucrative tasks that require little beyond showing up and signing their checks.
Name: Vanna White
Job: "Wheel of Fortune" hostess
Key Duties: White has been on "Wheel" since 1982. Her duties have evolved from actually turning the letters to merely touching them (thanks, technology!). She's also appeared in Playboy and authored a best-selling book, "Vanna Speaks!" In short, she's made a career out looking good ... which she does quite well.
Payday: People magazine estimated her salary at $100,000 per year in 1986. Reports suggest that's risen to between $3 million and $5 million per year.
Name: Michael Buffer
Job: Ring Announcer
Key Duties: Says "Let's Get Ready to Rummmmmmmmmble" while looking snazzy in a bow-tie before people start beating on each other at boxing and wrestling matches.
Payday: ABC News reports Buffer has earned more than $400 million from his trademarked phrase.
Name: Tony Siragusa
Job: Fox NFL football sideline commentator
Key Duties: Siragusa allegedly tells us what we're watching on the field and updates us on sideline action during the course of NFL games. Unlike a lot of sideline reporters of the opposite sex, he doesn't have to dress to the nines or look great -- the 300-pounder can pretty much roll out of bed and do his gig. And since he played the game as a former defensive tackle with the Baltimore Ravens, he doesn't really have to bone up on a lot of details to describe what he's seeing on the field.
Payday: Siragusa reportedly had a million-dollar NFL salary in his prime and lasted 12 years in the league. His sideline reporter gig probably pays several hundred thousand, and hosting the DIY Network's "Man Caves" gives him drinking money.
Job: Walk on stage, sing and be earnest.
Key Duties: Several generations of fans think of Bono when they think rock star. Thanks to his earlier hard work, it's reached the point where U2 is beyond a bad review. He can merely show up and, man, it's Bono! Not to suggest he's resting on his laurels, but no one is pushing him.
Payday: His gig with U2 brings in $100 million a year, according to an estimate by the London Times. He's also a managing director for Elevation Partners, a private equity firm that invests in intellectual property.
Name: Jillian Michaels
Job: Personal trainer on TV's "The Biggest Loser"
Key Duties: The secret to weight loss has long been known to be diet and exercise. So Michaels is part of a team that isolates fat people on a ranch, monitors their food intake and forces them to get off the couch and work out. Mirabile dictu, they lose weight! And since Michaels is already fit, keeping up with the fatties as they huff along isn't all that hard for her.
Payday: In addition to her salary from "The Biggest Loser," she endorses videos, diet supplements and more. Let's just say she's eating off the good part of the hog.
Name: Randy Jackson
Job: American Idol judge. Sit and listen
Key Duties: No one has seen Jackson's backside since the early 2000s, since it's usually planted in a seat. Yes, as a judge on "American Idol," he must endure some of the most god-awful caterwauling this side of a slaughterhouse (maybe less so since Paula Abdul is leaving the show). But hey, dawg, he's getting paid for it.
Salary: Estimated at about 10% of fellow American Idol judge Simon Cowell's alleged $36 million per year. But his recent gig touting Oreos was probably worth its weight in free cookies.
Name: Joe Jackson
Job: Talent developer
Key Duties: The father of the Jackson 5 and Michael Jackson, hustler Joe always seems to have something going on. And he's only too glad to tell you about it, no matter whether it's deemed appropriate or not (see his hawking of a record label during Michael's post-death days). Loves putting his charges through hours of grueling rehearsals, which requires little more than sitting and threatening. Who will be the next star developed by Joe? He's got his eye on Blanket, Paris and Prince Michael for a 2010 tour, according to reports.
Payday: In a court petition to get money from his son Michael's estate, Joe listed his monthly expenses as $1,200 for rent on his Las Vegas home; $2,500 to eat out; $1,000 for entertainment, gifts and vacations; $2,000 on air travel and $3,000 on hotels. Meaning the 80-year-old must earn at least $10,000 per month to make his nut. He claims $1700 in Social Security income.
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