updated 1 Oct 2011, 09:47
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Fey, Longoria top US highest-paid TV actress list

It pays to be a desperate housewife, at least on TV, or a crime investigator or just Tina Fey.

Fey, the star and creator of NBC comedy 30 Rock, shares the distinction of being the highest paid woman on television with Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria. Each earned US$13 million (S$16.8 million) in the 12 months ending in May 2011, according to a new list from financial news website

Close behind at No. 3 was another Desperate Housewives actress, Marcia Cross, who earned US$10 million and landed in a three-way tie with Emmy-winning actress Mariska Hargitay of cop drama Law & Order: SVU and Marg Helgenberger on crime procedure show, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Not too far behind were other key actresses in Desperate Housewives, a comedy about women living in a typical US suburb where audiences learn all sorts of secrets hidden in their closets. Teri Hatcher and Felicity Huffman shared No. 6 with US$9 million each in earnings, according to

While it's hard to disparage earning that much money in one year, the female stars of TV make less than half what their counterparts in films bring home. This past July, said Angelina Jolie and Sarah Jessica Parker were the top-paid female movie stars, earning US$30 million a year, each.

'Our top three TV women earned a total US$36 million compared to the US$88 million earned by the top three movie stars. But there are advantages to working in TV,' said Forbes staff writer Dorothy Pomerantz.

'The parts tend to be better, especially for women. Actresses who are working moms can usually stay in LA or New York and see their kids and there's a steady pay check.'

Fey climbed from her spot at No. 7 on last year's list, when it was estimated that she earned US$7.5 million. Longoria also climbed from her spot at No. 4 on's similar list one year ago, having earned US$12 million.

And maybe it is a sign of the gloomy economic times that this year's No. 1 is nowhere near last year's top earning female, Ellen DeGeneres, who took in US$55 million at a time she was judging No. 1-rated show, singing contest American Idol.

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