A LOS Angeles Superior Court judge has ruled that celebrity TV judge Judy Sheindlin's massive annual salary is not "unreasonable".
It was revealed last year that Sheindlin — who has starred in reality courtroom series Judge Judy since 1996 — gets a whopping US$47 million (NZ$64.8m) a year. The show has grossed more than US$1.7 billion NZ$2.3b) during its time on the air.
The latest ruling comes in a lawsuit brought by talent agent Richard Lawrence, who receives a commission on that profit. Lawrence — through his company Rebel Entertainment Partners — has accused Big Ticket Television and CBS of creative accounting, in the form of overpaying Sheindlin, in a bid to reduce his portion of the profits.
"That Judge Sheindlin is paid more than other television hosts does not establish her salary is unreasonable or that Defendants negotiated the salary in bad faith," Judge Joanne O'Donnell wrote, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
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"Plaintiff has presented no evidence that the salary was negotiated in bad faith or is unreasonable in light of the undisputed 'resounding success' of Judge Judy and the fact that without its namesake star the show would not continue."
Details of the tough tactics employed by Judge Sheindlin to negotiate her contract were brought to light last year thanks to the legal dispute.
"CBS had no choice but to pay me what I wanted because otherwise I could take it wherever I wanted to take it or do it myself," she said in court transcripts obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.
Off the back of years of success, Sheindlin claimed she could easily produce the show herself and cut out the middleman. But given her age — she's 75 years old — and her tidy savings, she doesn't feel the need to do so.
The celebrity judge instead revealed that she meets the CBS president for dinner every three years, and hands him an envelope with her demands — which often includes a pay rise.
During her testimony last year, she recalled a story of one encounter in which president John Nogawski approached her with a counteroffer.
"John Nogawski came to the meeting at the Grill on the Alley, and I handed him my envelope, and he said, 'Judy, I have my own envelope.' And I said, 'I don't want to look at it.' He said, 'Why not? Maybe it's more than what's in your envelope.' And I said, 'Well, John, if I look at your envelope, it's a negotiation. This isn't a negotiation.' And he put his envelope away and they gave me what I wanted."