To paraphrase Mel Brooks: It’s still good to be the king. Despite the post-recession economic malaise, top entertainment executives continue to be handsomely rewarded. Media moguls might not rule the roost as they did in 2010 — when Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman’s $84.5 million in cash and stock made him the highest-paid CEO in America — but The Hollywood Reporter‘s examination of public filings reveals that showbiz titans can compare wallets with the CEOs of almost any industry.
The big winner for 2011 appears to be CBS Corp.’s Leslie Moonves, who got $69.9 million, up 21 percent. The increase in Moonves’ compensation package was about half of the 40 percent gain in the stock of CBS Corp. last year. The company filing also lauded the CEO for his deal making prowess and keeping the CBS broadcast network on top in the ratings.
Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav also did quite well, taking home $52.4 million in overall pay, up 23 percent from the previous year. Zaslav, 52, benefited from the value of stock option awards, which jumped from $15.4 million in 2010 to $23.9 million in 2011. Despite the troubles at OWN, Discovery’s partnership with Oprah Winfrey which at least one analyst says will lose $143 million this year, the company’s 12 percent revenue gain to $4.24 billion and 32 percent operating profit gain to $1.8 billion justify his swelling compensation.
Says Miller Tabak analyst David Joyce, “2011 was good for Discovery because of strong content, ratings and ad growth in the U.S. and internationally.”