Rick Tetzeli
November 23, 2007 AT 05:00 AM EST

Letter from the Editor

For 17 years, we’ve published a year-end issue featuring the Best and Worst of the Year, in which we dub someone the year’s top entertainer. We’ve honored everyone from Bart Simpson (the first) to Ellen DeGeneres, the cast and crew of The Lord of the Rings, and yes, Ricky Martin (the complete list and accompanying stories can be found at ew.com/pastentertainers). The pick usually comes as the result of spirited debate and tends to generate a ton of feedback from you readers, with your e-mails explaining why we were nuts for leaving someone off our list — and why you enjoyed it anyway despite its unimaginable flaws.

So this year, for the first time, we’ve broken out Entertainers of the Year as its own solo issue. We thought that this would be a fun, lavish way to celebrate 25 great performers — especially when the entertainment business is more fractured than ever. Studios and networks are struggling to find mass audiences, the music industry is a total mystery, Broadway’s largely shuttered, everyone’s scared of the Internet, and there’s that strike going on in Hollywood. It’s a crazy time. But when you look at our picks, it’s clear that none of this has shut down the creativity of our top artists. From upstarts like Rihanna and Shia LaBeouf to vets like the cast of The Sopranos, Angelina Jolie, and Will Ferrell (who has added ”Internet star” to his résumé), this is one amazing group.

The wonderful irony is that in the midst of this modern confusion, a good old-fashioned author stands out. There was no debate here about who should be Entertainer of the Year. J.K. Rowling is the first author we’ve ever chosen. If you’re wondering why, all I can say is ”Duh.” Which is what my 7-year-old son would say, if I could get him to look up from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. He’s as rapt as I was when I first dove in — during a recent walk home in 40-degree weather, he asked if we could just stop by the side of the road so he could finish a chapter. That’s entertainment, Jo Rowling-style.

As always, the last issue of the year will be our Best and Worst issue, with our critics’ top 10 lists. Till then, enjoy this one. And don’t hold back — let us know what you think of our picks by sending me a letter or logging on to popwatch.ew.com

Rick Tetzeli
Managing Editor

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