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Do Girls Make Less Than Boys? (Hi, Paula Abdul!)

Paula Abdul Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Did Paula leave because she didn't get as much money for Idol as Simon or Ryan? Is the pay still that much lower for women in Hollywood?
—Jojo, Pierre, S.D.

By now we all know that Ryan Seacrest just inked a $45 million deal for three Idol years, while Simon Cowell takes in about $30 million a year (and is denying rumors of a reported $144 million deal). Good for them.

Paula Abdul earned somewhere around $2 million a year, and reportedly was about to get a 30 percent raise. That still wouldn't have put her anywhere near her male counterparts. And if you think she's alone, wait till I tell you about Julia Roberts. And Angelina Jolie. And...

...the rest of the A-list set. Roberts made big news back in 2000 when she broke the $20 million mark for Erin Brockovich. That's really great—until you learn that Jim Carrey broke that barrier four years before for, of all projects, The Cable Guy.

Not that great of a time discrepancy, maybe—but then take a look at the list of the top 10 highest-paid actors of 2008: There are no women in the top five, and there are only two women—Jolie and Reese Witherspoon—on the list at all.

Per the Quigley Publishing Co.'s annual survey: Will Smith, Robert Downey Jr., Christian Bale, Shia LaBeouf, Harrison Ford, Adam Sandler, Witherspoon, George Clooney, Jolie, Daniel Craig.

Nicole Kidman, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rachel McAdams, Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Emma Watson—not on the list.

Of course there are also plenty of men not on that list—including Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise, and Oprah still remains squarely in position as Empress of Planet Earth. But the general lopsidedness is hard to explain away as coinky-dink.

"There is absolutely a discrepancy in pay, and it still exists," Tobie Loomis of the organization Women in Film tells me. "We haven't really come to a consensus as to what causes this discrepancy, and it depends on who you ask."

One thing is for sure, however, Loomis says: "The more we get women to the level of decision-making, the faster the equality will happen."

"Producer" Paula, anyone?

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Miss Idol? Us, too. Relive it in our season eight gallery.

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