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Russell Crowe is EW's Entertainer of the Year

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Russell Crowe
Crowe: Armando Gallo/Retna

Talk about diversity: He played a sword brandishing Roman hero, a pudgy tobacco industry whistle blower, and a rogue lover in the middle of a tabloid feeding frenzy (yes, that last one is in real life). Now EW casts RUSSELL CROWE in a part that suits him perfectly: Entertainer of the Year. The magazine announced this week that Crowe tops its list of 2000’s best performers. ”The choice was clear,” says Maggie Murphy, the EW assistant managing editor who oversaw the 11th annual yearend issue. ”Crowe announced himself as a star this year.”

For starters, the 36 year old actor scored an Oscar nod for his nuanced performance as tobacco industry firebrand Jeffrey Wigand in ”The Insider.” Then he carried one of the year’s biggest blockbusters, the $187 million earning crowd pleaser ”Gladiator.” ”He was the most captivating thing on screen,” says Murphy. And given the tabloid drama surrounding his public romance with his ”Proof of Life” costar Meg Ryan, one imagines he was pretty darn captivating off screen, too.

The folks who rounded out EW’s list of 2000’s top dozen entertainers are also an eclectic, fascinating bunch.

No. 2 ”SURVIVOR” — ”the single most captivating entertainment event of the year,” says Murphy. The Isle Be Damned’s internecine warfare made Hollywood politics seem like kid stuff.

No. 3 Towheaded rapper EMINEM‘s spats with Christina, Britney, gays, his mom, his wife, the law… couldn’t obscure his 7 million selling ”Marshall Mathers LP” and show stopping ”MTV Video Music Awards” performance.

No. 4 The most talked about political drama of the year — okay, the SECOND most talked about — but this is the one with charismatic players and snappy dialogue: Aaron Sorkin’s NBC Emmy winner ”THE WEST WING.”

No. 5 Which boy band made the list? The one that rewrote pop music history by selling 2.4 million copies of their ”No Strings Attached” in its first week: ‘N SYNC.

No. 6 BRUCE WILLIS, who, with his triple box office whammy of ”The Sixth Sense,” ”The Whole Nine Yards,” and ”Disney’s The Kid,” became the last action hero standing.

No. 7 They might have been called ”Beyoncé and others to be determined later,” but this youthful R&B trio (Beyoncé Knowles, Kelly Rowland, and Michelle Williams) proved it’s greater than the sum of its (shifting) parts: DESTINY’S CHILD.

No. 8 George Michael (and then Limp Bizkit) said it best: ”You gotta have FAITH” (HILL, that is). Her Academy Awards performance (as a last minute fill in) was the most talked about of the show, her album ”Breathe” went five times platinum, and her national tour sold out faster than you can say ”pop crossover.”

No. 9 You don’t have to be able to tell THE WAYANS BROTHERS apart, so long as you recognize the stellar year these four guys (Keenen Ivory, Damon, Shawn, and Marlon) had. ”Scary Movie” earned $157 million, and the trio (Keenen, Marlon, and Shawn) made a deal for a sequel. Plus, Damon (”Bamboozled”) and Marlon (”Requiem for a Dream”) moved from comedy to drama, and won the critics’ hearts.

No. 10 Do yourself a favor: Watch every film that ANG LEE has directed — both Chinese and English language (of the former: ”Eat Drink Man Woman”; of the latter: ”Sense and Sensibility” and ”The Ice Storm”). Now go see his latest, the magnificent ”Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” You can thank us later.

No. 11 ELLEN BURSTYN has been a performer to reckon with since Russell Crowe was learning to toddle in the Outback. She returned this year with the rerelease of ”The Exorcist,” a nifty turn as Mark Wahlberg’s dying ma in ”The Yards,” and her harrowing depiction of a diet pill addicted hausfrau in ”Requiem for a Dream.” We’re thrilled Alice lives here again.

No. 12 No entertainers roundup would be complete without ANGELINA JOLIE, who this year joined her father, Jon Voight, as an Oscar winner (Best Supporting Actress for ”Girl, Interrupted”), nabbed the role of cyberbabe Lara Croft in ”Tomb Raider,” and surprised us all with her sudden marriage to fellow colorful character Billy Bob Thornton. (We’ll overlook ”Gone in 60 Seconds.”) Wild child Jolie says, ”There are, like, 40 people inside me.” Sorry, Angie, we can only fit one of you on the list.

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