Oprah Winfrey remains a top contender despite her lack of a daily presence on TV as of late, while big Hollywood directors and producers round out the list.
You thought Tom Cruise was wealthy with his $75 million paycheck this year? Turns out it’s the people behind the scenes who are really making bank in the entertainment ‘biz.
To determine this year’s ranking, Forbes says they considered “who the highest-paid celebrities are, we considered upfront pay, profit participation, residuals, endorsements and advertising work. We talked to manager, agents, lawyers and other in-the-know folks to come up with our estimates. We did not deduct for things like agent fees or the expenses related to being a celebrity.”
Although 'X Factor' didn't prove as successful in the ratings as 'American Idol,' the U.K. version of the show had a breakout band, One Direction, for Cowell's label, Syco Records.
One Direction are the first UK group to debut at No. 1 in the U.S. Billboard 200 album chart.
The man behind the 'Star Wars' films could easily retire, but Lucas takes his earning from the franchise and puts the money back into his company Industrial Light and Magic, which does special effects for movies such as 'Battleship' and 'The Avengers.'
Lucas is still making films, such as January's flop 'Red Tails' about the Tuskegee airmen, which was made for $58 million but only earned $50 million at the box office. Not that Lucas needs the money.
Author James Patterson wrote 14 books in 2011 alone. An adaptation of his 'I, Alex Cross' is in the works, with Tyler Perry stepping into the role previously played by Morgan Freeman.
Despite the success of E.L. James' '50 Shades of Grey,' Patterson is this year's top-earning author in the world.
Tyler Perry is a working director, producer, writer and actor.
But it isn't Perry's low-budget, high earning films such as the recent 'Good Deeds' that have made him so successful, it's his TV empire that includes shows like 'House of Payne,' 'Meet the Browns' and 'For Better or Worse.'
Perry's most successful film to date was 2009's 'Madea Goes to Jail,' which has earned over $90 million at the box office.
This rapper/music producer's most successful business venture has been his headphones, Beats by Dr. Dre.
'In August, HTC paid $300 million for a 51 per cent stake in Beats by Dr. Dre, the headphone company he co-founded with Interscope chief Jimmy Iovine in 2006,' reports Forbes. 'Each owned about a third of the company, pocketing about $100 million apiece, before taxes, from last summer's deal.'
After taking a hiatus from directing in recent years, Spielberg earned two Oscar nominations this year for 'The Adventures of Tintin' and 'War Horse,' which opened in theatres last Christmas.
Spielberg's DreamWorks company also ventured into TV this year, producing both 'Smash' and 'Terra Nova.'
But most of Spielberg's money comes from residuals from his classic films like 'E.T.' which are shown time and again on TV the world over.
'Spielberg also gets a consistent cut of the ticket sales at Universal Studios amusement parks in addition to the money he earns at DreamWorks studio and his directing fees,' reports Forbes.
Michael Bay beat out the likes of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas to become this year's highest paid director after 'Transformers: Dark of the Moon' brought in $1.1 billion at the box office, despite being panned by critics.
Bay also takes home a percentage of sales from 'Transformers' toys and new 'Transformers'-themed ride at Universal Studios in Hollywood.
After 'The Oprah Winfrey Show' ended in May 2011, the media mogul's earnings dropped a whopping $125 million from last year--but she still takes the top spot.
The big O's big earnings continue to come from her portfolio of projects: O: The Oprah Magazine, spin-off shows from Harpo Productions such as 'The Dr. Oz Show' and 'Rachael Ray,' and a radio deal with Sirius.
While Winfrey doesn't take a salary at OWN, Forbes reports 'as chairman and CEO of the joint venture with Discovery Communications, she hopes a recent restructuring, new programming and a distribution deal with Comcast will turn the network around.'
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.