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Sultry singer Aaliyah tops EW's list of rising talents

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Aaliyah
Aaliyah: Corbis Sygma/TRA

Dr. Dre and Jennifer Lopez once graced this list of up and comers. Of course, so did former ABC Entertainment prez Jamie Tarses and not so big daddy Puffy Combs. Proceed with caution.

AALIYAH So what if Ricky Martin mispronounced her name (it’s ah-LEE-yah) at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards? After scooping up two statues that night for her chart topping hit ”Try Again” not to mention her impressive acting debut in ”Romeo Must Die,” the singer – actress, 21, next stars as vampire Akasha in Anne Rice’s ”Queen of the Damned.”

THE ROCK On the heels of a high rated ”Saturday Night Live” hosting appearance this spring, the WWF’s studly star, 28, is throwing his weight (all 275 pounds of it) around in Hollywood. After playing the Scorpion King in Universal’s upcoming ”The Mummy Returns,” the hulk born Dwayne Johnston nabbed a $5.5 million pay or play deal to headline a ”Mummy” prequel. That’s a wrap.

INTERMEDIA With a value of over $1 billion after going public on the Frankfurt stock exchange this May, the indie movie financier (”Nurse Betty,” ”Small Time Crooks”) is rich enough to produce the Jennifer Lopez romance ”The Wedding Planner” and attract production deals with Nicolas Cage, Reese Witherspoon, and Kate Winslet.

Lava Records’ JASON FLOM After five years, the 39 year old’s imprint at Atlantic is bubbling over with A list acts, including matchbox twenty, the Corrs, and the rap metal volcano himself, Kid Rock.

Artists Television Group’s ERIC TANNENBAUM Talk about a great opening act. In his first year of launching the TV division of Mike Ovitz’s AMG, the 37 year old signed a huge talent roster (Ellen DeGeneres, Darren Star) and landed four shows on prime time this season, including ”The $treet” and ”Madigan Men” — more new shows than his old employer, Columbia TriStar TV, put on air.

RIDLEY SCOTT In Hollywood, everyone can hear you succeed. Scott, 62, battled back onto A lists with the $187 million grossing ”Gladiator.” Next? At his signal, MGM will unleash hell — in the form of ”Hannibal,” the sequel to ”The Silence of the Lambs.” Though his commercial production company placed an antiunion ad widely viewed as racist early in the commercial actors’ strike, his swift apology was good damage control.

TONOS.COM Songwriting pros Carole Bayer Sager (Celine Dion), David Foster (‘N Sync), and Kenneth ”Babyface” Edmonds (Madonna) each boast enough gold statuettes to lend serious weight to this new dotcom, an online educational network for aspiring musicians who seek serious recording industry know how.

ALCON ENTERTAINMENT What started as a diverting side venture for FedEx founder Fred Smith now has a five year, 10 picture deal with Warner Bros., thanks to the $7 mil sleeper ”My Dog Skip” fetching $39 million worth of bones. Next up: Ashton Kutcher’s comedy ”Dude, Where’s My Car?” and the 18th century drama ”The Affair of the Necklace,” with Hilary Swank.

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN Al Gore’s No. 2 is on a mission to clean up Hollywood. The early V chip advocate and onetime stand-up, Lieberman, 58, helped call for the recent Federal Trade Commission study that found adult rated films, CDs, and videogames are marketed to kids. The report made Hollywood’s elite scramble, even as they backed the chutzpah driven veep wannabe. But is he ready for prime time?

DVD visionary WARREN LIEBERFARB In the early ’80s, this home video exec began obsessing about replacing videotape by putting a movie on a CD. Most in the industry scoffed. Now the 57 year old president of Warner Home Video is having the last laugh, as the DVD becomes a mainstay, with sales passing $2 billion last year and an estimated 13 million players in U.S. homes by year’s end.

Universal Records’ MONTE LIPMAN Gimme just one hit. Named president of Universal Records in January, the 35 year old former radio promotion exec has enjoyed early success with big records from Nelly, Godsmack, 98 Degrees, and Eiffel 65.

LIONS GATE Once written off as a Canadian also ran, the indie that brought ”American Psycho” and ”Dogma” to theaters just acquired rival Trimark (best known for ”Eve’s Bayou” and video fare like the ”Leprechaun” series). Willem Dafoe in ”Shadow of the Vampire” is already getting Oscar nibbles.

Rap attorney MURRAY RICHMAN Known as Don’t Worry Murray for helping rappers beat criminal charges, the 63 year old Bronx lawyer is a speed dial staple for artists in tha dogg house such as DMX, Jay-Z, and Shyne, the alleged gunman in Puffy’s club brouhaha (he pleaded not guilty). In fact, Richman’s so down with the hip hop scene he sports Versace ties in the courtroom. Can you say ”bling bling”?

Arista’s Antonio ”L.A.” REID With a proven track record at LaFace nurturing artists like TLC and Babyface, Reid, 43, was tapped by BMG top dog Strauss Zelnick to fill the large shoes of Clive Davis as Arista Records president-CEO. First task: to cope with fallout from recent layoffs and quiet grumbling from mainstays like Aretha Franklin miffed by the Davis ”retirement.”

NBC Studios’ TED HARBERT Drafted to run NBC’s in house production arm, the 45 year old former ABC Entertainment chair scored by placing five new shows on the lineup this fall (”Ed,” ”DAG”). And he’s in a prime position to move up should the Peacock bosses decide to pluck the feathers of entertainment prez Garth Ancier.

See who made EW’s Power List Top 10.

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