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December 25, 1989 12:00 PM

Former U.S. President—184 million yen

Americans paid Reagan $2 million to be Reagan for eight years. In October the Japanese paid Ronald Reagan $2 million to do the same for eight days. The deal stirred controversy in the States, but the ex-President’s corporate sponsor, the giant Fujisankei Communications Group, got what it wanted: gilt by association.

Ex-Speaker of the House—$50,000 to $400,000 per commercial

After 50 years of corruption-free public service, Tip O’Neill, 77, retired with $2,900 in his bank account. Which helps fans forgive him for popping out of a suitcase for Quality Inns International and sparring verbally with Alexander Haig in an ad for the Trump shuttle.

Ex-Beatle—$8.5 million

Paul McCartney, whose old band, the Beatles, recorded “Money (That’s What I Want),” says critics of his deal with Visa to promote his 1990 U.S. tour should do time back in the U.S.S.R. “I don’t see it as a sellout,” says McCartney. “Anyone who does ought to live in Russia. This is a capitalist country, after all.”

World’s Greatest Rock Band—$60 million

“I don’t particularly enjoy corporate sponsorship,” says Mick Jagger, who nixed tobacco company offers in favor of Budweiser. “The others didn’t care,” he says. “They smoke like chimneys.” Partner Keith Richards also worries—all the way to the bank—about the propriety of going the sponsorship route. “It’s a very touchy subject,” he says.

The World’s Other Greatest Rock Band—$30 million

Explained guitarist Peter Townshend of his decision to reconvene The Who and tour after a seven-year layoff: “Somebody in the end said to me, ‘Well, what would you do it for? What would be a price that you’d go out and endanger your hearing and push yourself closer to that inevitable knee operation…?’ [And] the price I named was one million five hundred thousand pounds, after tax.” Most of the money came from ticket and T-shirt sales; Miller beer contributed as a partial sponsor.

Suave Leading Man—$2 million to $5 million

He’s handsome, he’s manly and, until this month, he was a virgin—at least in America. Paul Newman, who had previously done commercials in Japan and Spain, decided that he liked the color of American Express’s money and agreed to promote the company in the U.S. In addition to wads of cash, Newman will get “creative control” of advertisements.

Journalist—$550,000 (reported)

Linda Ellerbee built a career on integrity and wit, which may explain why some found her series of Maxwell House coffee commercials bitter to the last drop. Selling out is selling out—or, as Ellerbee wrote in her best-seller, And So It Goes, “dreck is dreck, and no amount of fancy polish will make it anything else.”

Idealistic American Actors—28 million yen and up

They wouldn’t think of shilling products back home. But in Japan, where yen for integrity is a steal, Eddie Murphy appears on TV kissing a Toyota, Arnold Schwarzenegger hawks soup, Sigourney Weaver stands tall by Nippon Steel, Sylvester Stallone hustles ham, and Charlie Sheen sells Tokyo Gas air conditioners. The going price for U.S. stars? An Eddie Murphy reportedly gets more than $1 million; a Weaver $200,000.

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