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Michael Jackson Remains Highest-Paid Entertainer; Aging Rockers On A Roll

September 19, 1989

NEW YORK (AP) _ Without moonwalking much or doing new pitching for Pepsi, pop star Michael Jackson will make an estimated $65 million in 1989 to remain the world’s highest-paid entertainer, according to Forbes magazine.

Aging rock groups who were in their prime 20 years ago banked on reunion tours and a nostalgia wave to join Forbes’ list of 40 richest entertainers, while some list perennials slipped a bit or dropped off entirely.

Jackson made $125 million in 1988-89 to edge movie maker Steven Spielberg, who made an estimated $64 million this year for a two-year total of $105 million.

Forbes, which is publishing the list in its Oct. 2 issue, said Spielberg is getting a big boost from the videocassette release last year of his blockbuster film ″E.T. - The Extraterrestrial.″

Dropping from second to third on the list was Bill Cosby, the comedian turned television star and author who amassed some $60 million this year and $95 million in 1988-89, according to Forbes’ calculations.

Jackson, 31, who gained national attention at age 5 in the Motown family combo The Jackson Five, has made only two albums in the last seven years - ″Thriller″ in 1982 and ″Bad″ in 1987 - but reaps millions from sales and endorsements.

The androgynous singer announced after ending his ″Bad″ tour in January that he would not perform on stage anymore.

Forbes said Jackson’s last two records have brought in $100 million; three videocassettes since 1983 sold over 2 million copies; the Beatles music catalog he bought in 1985 makes him $3 million annually; and his autobiography, ″Moonwalk,″ has sold some 425,000 copies.

Jackson also has a $9 million endorsement deal with Pepsi - although he made no new commercials for Pepsi in 1989 - and last week signed a deal worth a reported $20 million with shoe and sportswear manufacturer L.A. Gear.

Each of the top three easily outpaced earnings for the best-paid American corporate executives. Michael D. Eisner, head of Walt Disney Productions, made $40 million last year, followed by Steven J. Ross of Warner Communications Inc., who had about $14.16 million, and Richard L. Gelb of Bristol-Myers Co. with $14.14 million, according to Forbes.

The rest of the top 10 entertainers and their combined 1988-89 earnings were:

-Mike Tyson, boxer, $71 million.

-Charles M. Schulz, cartoonist, $60 million.

-Eddie Murphy, comedian, actor, $57 million.

-Pink Floyd, rock group, $56 million.

-The Rolling Stones, rock group, $55 million.

-Oprah Winfrey, talk-show host, $55 million.

-George Michael, pop singer, $47 million.

Resurgent performers who either began performing or peaked in popularity in the 1960s and ’70s - The Rolling Stones, The Who, Aerosmith, The Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd - all either debuted or rose higher on the list.

Now in their 27th year, the five durable Stones recently began a nationwide tour to promote a new album. Psychedelic rockers Pink Floyd don’t need an education in money-making: they jumped to No. 7 from No. 19 thanks to a tour.

Unranked two years ago, the Los Angeles heavy metal group Guns N’ Roses made $24 million in 1988 and 1989, ″selling millions of records with their winning combination of racism, sexism and all-around smut,″ Forbes said.

Overall, the music industry led the list with 19 acts. The film industry had 11 names on the list, including new entries actors Mel Gibson and Bill Murray. There were only three women on the list, down from five last year: Winfrey, singer-actress Madonna and actress-exercise guru Jane Fonda.

Among those vanishing from the list: singers Tina Turner, Sting and Wayne Newton; actors Paul Hogan and Bruce Willis; and boxer Michael Spinks.

Forbes said it calculated the entertainers’ earnings based on their pre-tax profits, as estimated by the magazine.

End advance for AMs Monday Sept. 18

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