How much do reality-TV stars like the girls of MTV's The Hills get paid?
—Alex, San Francisco
The B!tch Replies: Well, Lauren "L.C." Conrad does get to operate an ongoing hot war with Heidi Montag in the pages of Us Weekly every week, free of charge. If that's not a fine compensation, I don't know what is.
Oh, wait. Yes, I do. How about an estimated $10,000 to $25,000 per episode? That's the general industry range for top reality stars such as Conrad, Montag and wannabe K-Fed Spencer Pratt. How do I know this? Blunt-force research, of course, care of Shawn Mitchell, senior casting agent at Hollywood North in Santa Clara, California.
"Most reality shows, like Big Brother, will guarantee participants at least 50 grand per season," says Mitchell, whose company has done casting for several seasons of that show.
Of course, that doesn't include all the free tank tops and lip gloss these kids can haul into their free apartments with their spindly little arms. I would be shocked if Heidi has paid for anything she's worn, lived in or placed in her hair over the past six months. That's what ambitious publicists are for, see.
And there's even more cash to be made, if these girls are smart. (Insert your own IQ-related joke here.) L.C., for one, has parlayed her "fame" into a fashion line and an endorsement deal with Mark cosmetics.
"There is so much aftermarket money," Mitchell says. "It's not unusual for these people to double, triple, quadruple their money through endorsements."
Or speaking fees—around $5,000 to $10,000 per appearance, says Robert Tuchman of TSE Sports & Entertainment.
Or record deals in which racy blondes try to wedge their white-rapper fiancés into the first single, only to be shocked, just shocked, when the track is "stolen" and "leaked" to a top deejay.
Gotta go. Busy funneling my fame into a line of jeans. Would you pay $200 for a pair of wide-leggers with the word B!tch on the ass? Of course you would. See you at Kitson in the fall.