Judge Judy tops list of highest paid TV hosts of 2018
Judge Judy Sheindlin topped Forbes' list of the highest paid TV hosts of 2018, which hit the Internet on Nov. 26. She reportedly took home an estimated $147 million before taxes between June 2017 and May 2018 — thanks in part to a lucrative deal she signed with CBS in August 2017 for the rights to more than 5,000 episodes of her eponymous courtroom series. She also pockets $47 million a year for starring on "Judge Judy" and producing "Hot Bench." This is the first time Judge Judy has topped Forbes' list. Ellen DeGeneres ranked second with an estimated $87.5 million, Dr. Phil McGraw came in third with an estimated $77.5 million, Ryan Seacrest is fourth with an estimated $74 million and Steve Harvey rounded out the top five with an estimated $44 million.
"SpongeBob SquarePants" creator Stephen Hillenburg dies at 57
"SpongeBob SquarePants" creator Stephen Hillenburg died on Nov. 26 at the age of 57 following a battle with ALS. According to Variety, he was diagnosed in March 2017. The former teacher is survived by his wife of 20 years, Karen Hillenburg, with whom he shared son Clay.
RELATED: Celebrities who died in 2018
"MacGyver" star George Eads exiting series
George Eads is leaving the CBS reboot of "MacGyver," on which he's starred as the title character's partner, Jack Dalton, since the series debuted in September 2016. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the "CSI" alum's decision to leave the series follows an October altercation that ended when he "stormed off the show's Atlanta set despite having several remaining hours of production remaining for the day." THR adds that "MacGyver" producers agreed to let him out of his remaining contract. His final episode will air in 2019. (The character will be written out of the show rather than recast.) THR reports that Eads "had been asking to be let go from the Atlanta-based series for some time to spend more time with his young daughter in Los Angeles." He memorably took a hiatus from "CSI" back in 2013 after clashing with one of the procedural's writers, who was pregnant at the time. THR previously reported that Eads had been unhappy with the creative direction his character, Nick Stokes, was taking. He even threatened to quit during a meeting with showrunner Carol Mendelsohn.
"Murphy Brown" and "Happy Together" ending
CBS will not move forward with more episodes of "Murphy Brown" or "Happy Together" at the end of their current 13-episode orders. (The new sitcom "Fam" and the third season of "Man with a Plan" will replace them on the midseason lineup.) According to The Hollywood Reporter, the rebooted Candice Bergen comedy, which has so far underperformed in the ratings department, could still be renewed at a later date. It's unlikely the Harry Styles-inspired sitcom "Happy Together" — for which star Damon Wayans Jr. reportedly earned one of the most lucrative deals of the year for a TV actor — will be so lucky.
Tom Arnold responds to Secret Service visiting his house over tweets
On Oct. 25, the Secret Service paid a visit to the home of vocal Donald Trump critic Tom Arnold after he tweeted a not-very-funny joke about beheading the reality TV star-turned-politician. (Two agents interviewed the actor for about an hour in his living room to determine whether or not he posed an actual threat to the president. They also warned him that his tweets could potentially incite violence.) On Nov. 26, Tom tweeted a statement about the ordeal: "Thank you US Secret Service for risking your lives keeping democracy safe," he wrote. "I appreciate you coming to my home on what must've been a busy day. I heard your message loud & clear. Words matter. Tone matters. Words can incite violence. Be responsible. I'm sorry Donald Trump hasn't listened to you all the times you've had this exact conversation with him. I'm sorry the President & White House say things that they know could incite violence on the media & US Citizens almost daily. I'm sorry because the Secret Service agents are more at risk than anyone & as I learned you are people with kids just like me who just want to know the best place to trick or treat." The "True Lies" actor's original tweet about beheading Trump followed a campaign rally in Missoula, Missouri, during which Trump praised a Republican congressman for body-slamming a reporter last year: "Any guy that can do a body slam — he's my kind of guy," he said. "He's a great guy. Tough cookie."
Wayne Maunder, 1960s Western star, dies at 80
Wayne Maunder — who was known for his work on several TV Westerns during the 1960s — died of cardiovascular disease at the age of 80 in Battleboro, Vermont, on Nov. 11, Variety confirmed on Nov. 21. The actor starred as the titular Union Army commander on ABC's "Custer" (pictured) and also had the title role on CBS's "Lancer."
Tamera Mowry-Housley makes emotional return to "The Real" after niece's death
Tamera Mowry-Housley returned to "The Real" on Nov. 26 for the first time since her niece, 18-year-old Pepperdine University student Alaina Housley, was killed during the mass shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, California, on Nov. 7. "Our family's been through a lot, but the interesting thing about grief is that you've gotta find the balance of moving forward and grieving at the same time. It's just been a little over two weeks," the actress said through tears. "[Alaina] would want me to be here. And she would want me … to move forward. I don't like to say 'move on' because I don't think I'll ever move on with the fact that she's not here with me or with our family. But she would want me to move forward and to use her voice as a catalyst for change, and that's why I'm here today." The mother of two went on to call for "change when it comes to gun violence."
Jerry Springer segues from trashy talk to new courtroom show "Judge Jerry"
Jerry Springer will preside over various legal disputes on the upcoming hour-long syndicated courtroom series "Judge Jerry," which will debut in the fall of 2019, Variety reported on Nov. 26. The former mayor of Cincinnati, who has a law degree, hosted "The Jerry Springer Show" from 1991 to July 2018, when it finally came to an end after 27 seasons. According to Variety, "Judge Jerry" is expected to air on many of the same stations that carried "The Jerry Springer Show." The new series has reportedly been sold to stations covering 75 percent of U.S. TV households.