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THE ENTERTAINERS 1996

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On the grand scale of dysfunction, 1996 was a doozy. Between the Jenny Jones Show murder trial, Michael Jackson’s marital roller coaster, celebrity drug downfalls, and Tupac Shakur’s death, the year brought enough interpersonal wrongdoings to shake even Mary Poppins. So is it any wonder that in seeking 1996’s superachievers in the worlds of TV, film, books, and music, we flocked to models of normalcy? Granted, the stability came in a variety of flavors: Hollywood powers (Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson) who have their feet on the ground, a talk-show host (Oprah Winfrey) who has her nose in a book, and, in 3rd Rock From the Sun, aliens who seem more down-to-earth than many earthlings. Even those who don’t seem all that ordinary really are: Under her sheath of angst hides a just-wanna-be-loved girl named Alanis Morissette, and between the spooky lines of The Green Mile rests the levelheaded storytelling of Stephen King. In a year when just plain folks were a precious commodity, then, it’s no surprise that at the top of our list reigns the most regular gal of all.

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