1990's 101 most influential people in entertainment
A who's who list of 1990's biggest players in movies, television, music, publishing, and video
They’re the masters of the multimedia universe: the studio heads, directors, and stars who light the fuse that begins a movie; the TV producers and performers who dominate prime-time (and the network executives who can make them stars); the writers who command astronomical advances and the editors and publishers who command the best-seller lists; the musicians and moguls who can pack adoring crowds into stadiums and record stores.
In this issue, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY offers a roll call of the 101 most influential men and women in the entertainment business. Some perform in the public eye; others prefer life in the background, pulling invisible strings. This year, at least, they share one thing. They’ve got the power.
A few ground rules: Those who made the list were chosen on the basis of their accomplishments in the last year. Merely holding an influential position isn’t enough. Paramount Pictures’ Ghost, for instance, may well be the year’s top-grossing film, but the company’s old president (Sidney Ganis) is gone, and the new one (David Kirkpatrick) has not held his job long enough to show real muscle. Neither man cracked our top 101. Nor did any number of perennial big shots — from Eddie Murphy to Johnny Carson — who still hold considerable sway in their media but have exercised it sporadically or ineffectively in 1990. Maybe next year. Also omitted were those who have already passed — or haven’t yet reached — the top of their game. (We do, however, offer separate lists of rising stars, fading greats, and powers stuck in limbo.) Finally, power doesn’t always equal fame, which is why you’ll find such household names as Madonna and Arnold Schwarzenegger rubbing shoulders with the likes of H. Wayne Huizenga and John C. Holt. Sure, they sound like candidates for American Express’ old ”You don’t know me ” commercials, but they’ve influenced your entertainment choices in surprising ways.
Who are the most powerful people in entertainment? Men and women who, for better or worse, have the authority to get a project started or stopped, who influence what you see, read, or hear, whose talent, connections, or reputation guarantee that attention will be paid. In most cases, it’s a lot more than attention. Multimillion-dollar salaries and billion-dollar businesses are commonplace in the following pages. So is an aggressiveness; most of these people didn’t simply have power handed to them — they took it. And once they seize it, they don’t easily relinquish it. ”Those who have been once intoxicated with power…even but for one year, can never willingly abandon it,” wrote statesman Edmund Burke. Here, then, is the class of 1990: They make the entertainment industry work — their way.
1. MICHAEL EISNER
Michael Eisner, 48, chairman/CEO of the Walt Disney Company, has the touch. ”If I do things I believe in, they tend to be good for the shareholders,” he says. ”If you try to outsmart any piece of the population, it never works. So you might as well do what you think is right. So far, it’s worked out pretty well.”
For Eisner’s definition of ”pretty well,” see Pretty Woman, 1990’s box- office Cinderella — complete with a last-minute happy ending and $175 million in nationwide ticket sales. Then add in Disney’s more traditional fare — The Little Mermaid won two Oscars this year and made more than $250 million in theatrical and video releases. The list of successes goes on. Under Eisner, the Mickey Mouse business he took over in 1984 has increased its earnings sevenfold, to $703.3 million last year, on revenues of $4.59 billion.
Movies now occupy just one corner of Eisner’s Magic Kingdom. The company’s TV division produces The Golden Girls and a new Disney hour for NBC, and recent additions include Orlando’s Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park, movie and music divisions Hollywood Pictures and Hollywood Records, and children’s-book publisher Disney Press. Even Eisner’s philanthropic ideas have synergistic fallout: The Disney Channel’s American Teacher Awards (Nov. 4) will also serve as a nice plug for the cable series The Disney Channel Salutes the American Teacher. The result, says Eisner, is ”good for the Disney Channel, good for our shareholders, good for everybody.”
”It’s very hard topping yourself,” Eisner asserts. ”To protect the sky from falling, you have to work harder to keep doing things that are innovative. I’m constantly nervous about finding that one good idea. That really is the pressure.”
2. MICHAEL OVITZ
Chairman, Creative Artists Agency
Michael Ovitz, 43, chairman of Creative Artists Agency, has signed 650 of Hollywood’s biggest names by the simple expedient of making CAA’s clients (including Tom Cruise, Madonna, Cher, and Sylvester Stallone) scandalously rich and unprecedentedly powerful. CAA squeezes unheard-of deals out of studios because, more than any talent agency in the U.S., it can combine stars, scripts and directors into big-name bankable talent ”packages.”
CAA has packaged 150 movies, including Rain Man, Born On the Fourth of July (which earned two Oscars and $69.7 million) and 1991’s Peter Pan story Hook, involving CAA clients Steven Spielberg, Dustin Hoffman, and Robin Williams. At its best, Ovitz’s strategy allows CAA to function as a mega- studio.
Last year, when Ovitz advised Sony in its $3.5 billion buyout of Columbia Pictures, it was rumored that he rejected Sony’s request to run Columbia. Amazingly, Ovitz could actually lose power as a studio chief. He’s currently setting up Matsushita’s bid for MCA Inc., the biggest (an estimated $7 billion) potential deal in Hollywood history.
It’s not surprising that Ovitz, who has reportedly taken Asian philosophy courses at UCLA, has been likened to a Zen master, a shogun, and a ninja warrior by those who study him. The labels enhance his growing mystique, and so does his careful avoidance of publicity.
Except for an acrimonious, embarrassingly public break with screenwriter Joe Eszterhas (Jagged Edge), who left CAA for rival ICM last year, Ovitz has kept his dealings out of the public eye. But the quieter he is, the louder his reputation roars. With a corporate philosophy direct from Japan Inc., Ovitz has brought the wisdom of the East to a business that runs like the Wild West.
3. BARRY DILLER
In his 20s, ABC programming executive Barry Diller invented the miniseries. In his 30s, he became chairman/CEO of Paramount Pictures Corporation and oversaw such megahits as Saturday Night Fever and Raiders of the Lost Ark. What happens when a wunderkind gets to his 40s? If you’re Diller, you start your own TV network.
When Diller, chairman and CEO of Fox Inc., introduced Fox TV in 1986, he faced ridicule from his competitors — NBC’s Brandon Tartikoff joked that Fox’s TV stations had the power of a coat hanger. But Diller, 48, claims Fox has become ”a player,” and the numbers support him: great demographics, growing ratings, and, in The Simpsons, 1990’s most successful new prime-time show. This year, Fox TV is even showing a $35 million profit — a number expected to double in 1991. Add to that Diller’s other fiefdom, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, which has stepped up production and will release up to 25 movies next year, and his entertainment empire’s reach becomes vast.
Nicknamed ”killer Diller” for his fiercely combative leadership style, Diller has fought aggressively to make Fox a contender. This year, he got an FCC waiver allowing Fox to produce and own 181 2 hours of programming weekly (networks are generally barred from producing most of their shows). Even bolder was sending The Simpsons head-to-head against NBC’s Cosby Show, a gamble that paid off when the cartoon clan’s season premiere outdrew Cosby and scored its highest rating ever. Fox’s growth isn’t without bumps — its announced expansion to five nights has been temporarily cut to four — but few at the Big Three are laughing anymore. These days, Diller’s plan to create a full-size, fourth prime-time network seems like an extremely possible dream.
4. STEVE ROSS
Chairman/Co-CEO, Time Warner
In his first year sharing the helm of the world’s largest media company, Steve Ross has been busy. In addition to working out the final details of the merger between Time Inc. and Warner Communications Inc., the new co-CEO (the other is Nicholas J. Nicholas Jr.) has helped keep the company on something of a roll. In television, Time Warner continues to score high ratings with such baby- boomer favorites as Murphy Brown and popular new shows for more youthful viewers, like Tiny Toon Adventures. Amid the summer’s noisy, ultraviolent action films, the classy Presumed Innocent drew impressively well (grossing $83 million), and the company’s fall movie line-up includes Martin Scorsese’s GoodFellas and Reversal of Fortune, about the Claus von Bulow murder trial. Coming for Christmas: the film version of Tom Wolfe’s best-selling novel Bonfire of the Vanities, with Tom Hanks and Bruce Willis. The corporation’s music division had hits with Madonna and Prince, and its magazine division began publishing ENTERTAINMENY WEEKLY last February. The new Time Warner Enterprises president, former MTV chief Robert Pittman, plans to launch a cable-television legal channel early next year. Time Publishing Ventures, a new publishing unit of the company, will market the first issue of the magazine Martha Stewart Living this month.
In his new role Ross continues to concentrate on what he does best: the personal discovery, development and cultivation of entertainment talent. His stars are first and foremost his friends, and his empire is built on loyalty.
Ross, who started out in the 1950s as a funeral-home director, is a congenital optimist. The Wall Street Journal recently called him ”the most bullish company chairman in the U.S.” Despite the current depression of media and entertainment stocks, Ross’ personal holdings of Time Warner shares, he vows, ”are going to make me more money than I’ve ever made in my life.” Considering the unprecedented stack of cash Ross has made so far, that is no small boast.
5. BRANDON TARTIKOFF
Chairman, NBC Entertainment Group
When Brandon Tartikoff moved up from president of NBC Entertainment to the new position of chairman last July, one reason was that there wasn’t much left to achieve in his old job. As the man in charge of scheduling at NBC, he had guided the network from third place in 1984 to five straight seasons as No. 1, a position it narrowly retains this fall. Tartikoff’s new role allows him even more authority in production and dealmaking, but he already misses life in the trenches.
”It’s been ups and downs,” admits the 41-year-old master programmer. ”There are days when I feel frustrated because I’ve removed myself too far from the product, and other days when my clarity of focus has never been better, primarily because I’m not in every single pitch meeting. That part of it’s been great. But I can’t say it’s been easy.”
Tartikoff’s touch remains evident in such programming strategies as October’s successful use of Jackie Collins and Danielle Steel adaptations against CBS’ baseball coverage. In addition, although his longtime No. 2 man, Warren Littlefield (see the Powers In Limbo list), has assumed his boss’ former duties, some say Tartikoff himself is still rearranging the ever- changeable prime-time schedule.
In his new position, Tartikoff will oversee production of shows through NBC Productions. ”We’re just starting to bring to fruition some of the international co-production ventures we’ve been working on,” he says. He won’t be more specific about his next move, except jokingly. ”If I had to guess,” he muses, ”I’ll be at the Betty Ford Center for Nielsen Withdrawal.”
6. THOMAS POLLOCK
Chairman, Universal Pictures
When Thomas Pollock was named chairman of MCA’s Universal Motion Picture Group in 1986, cynics scoffed at the idea of a lawyer, even an entertainment lawyer whose clients included George Lucas and Ron Howard, running a movie studio. Sure, Pollock knew how to make deals — which he quickly proved by persuading Arnold Schwarzenegger, Danny DeVito, and producer-director Ivan Reitman to forgo upfront salaries in favor of a bigger chunk of the box-office take so Twins could be made for a below-average $15 million. But how would he know which deals and what pictures to make?
What the critics didn’t realize is that the 47-year-old Pollock is a longtime film buff with a genuine appreciation for movie talent. And his eclectic taste has served Universal well. Not only has he revived the studio’s fortunes (from box-office grosses of $306 million in 1987 to $833 million in 1989) with commercial entertainments like Twins (which grossed $112 million), he has also bet on such iconoclastic filmmakers as Martin Scorsese (The Last Temptation of Christ) and Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing). In mixing mass with class, Pollock has demonstrated that success doesn’t always stem from a pursuit of the lowest common denominator.
While Universal hasn’t abandoned blockbusters — witness the forthcoming Kindergarten Cop, with Schwarzenegger — Pollock has demonstrated that aiming smaller movies at specific audiences can also be lucrative. ”I wouldn’t make a movie that I didn’t believe would be profitable. But that doesn’t mean that you always go into it believing it’s going to be hugely profitable. It’s all about the mix.”
7. SUMNER REDSTONE
One morning 11 years ago, Sumner Redstone awakened to find his Boston hotel room on fire. With no chance for escape, he climbed out a window, clung to the sill, and waited until help arrived. Severely burned, he underwent five operations lasting over 70 hours. ”The doctors didn’t think I’d live,” the billionaire once recalled. ”I sometimes think about that when I’m hitting a tennis ball.”
This remarkable force of will has helped Redstone, 67, parlay two drive-in theaters inherited from his father into a 650-movie-screen operation and one of the largest media conglomerates in the world. As chairman and 84 percent owner of Viacom Inc., he controls MTV Networks (which operates MTV, VH-1, Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite, and HA!), the Showtime and Movie Channel networks, Viacom Productions (which makes Jake and the Fatman, Matlock, and Perry Mason TV movies), and Viacom Enterprises (which syndicates thousands of hours of reruns, including The Cosby Show and The Honeymooners). Working for him are such high-powered executives as Frank Biondi (president and CEO, Viacom International) and Tom Freston (chairman and CEO, MTV Networks). Viacom also owns 5 TV stations, 14 radio stations, and 14 cable systems. Redstone’s personal fortune has been estimated at $2.3 billion; Viacom’s assets in June were estimated at $3.9 billion.
”I’ve never been motivated by money or power,” says the Harvard Law School graduate. ”I’ve just tried to do the best job I could, no matter what I was doing.”
8. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER
One-time Mr. World, five-time Mr. Universe, seven-time Mr. Olympia, and full- time Mr. Maria Shriver, Arnold Schwarzenegger, 43, has been edging toward a new title in recent years: World’s Biggest Movie Star.
In 1990, his box-office muscle nearly matched his gargantuan physique. Total Recall earned $8 million in one day, just a shade under his reported personal take of $11 million (plus 15 percent of the profits). The star will next flex his professional lats in this winter’s Kindergarten Cop, and then appear next summer in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. All this for a guy who might be described (from a safe distance) as muscle-bound, and whose Austrian- accented English does not always flow trippingly from his tongue. Not that it matters. From 1977’s Pumping Iron to the amusing Conan the Barbarian, The Terminator, and Predator, he has made a career of flaunting his limitations and then surpassing them. To those who said he couldn’t do comedy, he responded with the 1988 blockbuster Twins. In answer to those who said he was more brawn than brain, he built a real-estate empire and a reputation as one of Hollywood’s shrewdest stars. The gap-toothed grin, deadpan jock humor, and agile bulk draws crowds from the Riviera to Lenin Square — his movies on video are expensive black-market items in the Soviet Union.
Ever since Schwarzenegger’s marital merger with Shriver, there has been speculation that he may someday step into the political ring. ”The joy in public office is a tremendous idea,” he has said. ”I think it could be the greatest challenge yet.”
9. H. WAYNE HUIZENGA
Chairman/CEO, Blockbuster Entertainment Corp.
He set out on the road to success riding a trash truck. In 1962, H. Wayne Huizenga started a waste disposal company; by 1971, when his firm merged with Waste Management Inc., Huizenga was hauling in $10 million a year — and he proceeded to guide the company into the billions. Having cleaned up in the garbage business, Huizenga retired and in 1987, with two associates, bought a major interest in Blockbuster. He has since expanded the chain from 19 stores to nearly 1,500 and expects revenues of more than $1 billion this year.
Blockbuster rents nearly 1 million tapes a day — one for every three people who buy movie tickets — giving Huizenga the power to turn a box-office flop into?well, a blockbuster. Hollywood movie companies pay their respects by wining and dining Blockbuster employees at conventions. But Huizenga, whose company is based in Fort Lauderdale, isn’t impressed by his own impact. ”I don’t have time to think about it,” he says. ”We’re too busy opening up new stores.” Blockbuster is opening them at the rate of one a day. ”We go through hundreds of low-budget movies a month” Huizenga says, ”trying to decide on 60 or 70 new titles to stock.” He won’t carry X-rated tapes, and NC-17 movies will be approved case by case, though his blessing would give the new adults-only rating the kind of legitimacy it needs.
Huizenga proudly calls his company ”the McDonald’s of video stores.” But unlike the burger business, Blockbuster doesn’t have to take responsibility for the cuisine. ”If someone rents a movie and doesn’t like it,” he once said, ”they blame Hollywood, not us.”
10. GENE SISKEL/ROGER EBERT
Roger Ebert, 48, and Gene Siskel, 44, already the most powerful movie critics in history, reached the peak of their influence this year. Each reportedly earns more than $1 million annually for Siskel & Ebert, their movie-review show, watched by at least 3 million viewers a week. Siskel also appears on CBS This Morning, but this doesn’t impress Ebert. ”I reach more people than he does, because there’s nobody watching TV at that hour,” he says. ”My column appears in more than 200 papers; he has about a third as many. My Movie Home Companion book has about a half-million copies in print. It’s facile to put him first.”
Though they snipe at each other, it is together that they carry the most clout. Eddie Murphy has credited them with the power to kill a film. They can certainly save one: 1981’s My Dinner With André was about to close when their double-thumbs-up rave propelled it to a wider release and cult status.
Their thumbs pack so much wallop today that they can actually change the way films are made. Early on, ”we contributed to the demise of the mad-slasher movie,” Siskel boasts. Adds Ebert: ”We were the first to do anything on TV about colorization. I feel we’ve won that battle.” Their greatest triumph, though, is the new NC-17 rating. ”We were the first on TV to deal with the ratings system,” Ebert says. ”We can take a certain amount of credit for the fact that the ratings system has been revised.”
They have had a few setbacks — most of which seemed to have worked to their advantage. After panning Nuns on the Run, the pair were barred for a time from screenings of Fox movies. But Ebert says they’ve never missed a single Fox product. ”We came out of that stronger than ever, because Fox was seen as firing from the hip and shooting themselves in the toe.”
11. JOHN C. HOLT
As chairman/CEO of A.C. Nielsen Co., Holt, 50, 11holds incalculable (if indirect) sway over TV schedules. Every year the networks spend $10 million to hear Nielsen’s analysis of viewing habits, and advertisers spend close to $10 billion based on the info. Recently, the networks have called the data unreliable. But for now, Holt’s numbers remain the only game in town.
12. NORHIO OHGA
As successor to Sony CEO Akio Morita, 12 Ohga, 60, could make Sony the entertainment giant. The key is his plan to ”synergize” Japanese hardware with U.S. software — meaning that when high-definition TV and the digital-tape Walkman arrive, there’ll be plenty of movies (from Sony-owned Columbia Pictures) and music (from Sony-owned CBS Records) to play on them.
13. DAVID GEFFEN
Geffen’s March sale of his company to MCA for 13$550 million in stock landed him in the Forbes 400 — and put him in the position to diversify. Not that he hasn’t already — besides musical associations with everyone from Guns N’ Roses to Cher, Geffen, 42, has produced movies (Risky Business) and Broadway shows (Cats). The next step: a rumored film-production deal with a major studio.
14. LEN RIGGIO
As president/CEO of the country’s largest 14 bookselling operation, Barnes & Noble Inc., Riggio, 49, sells $1 billion worth each year through more than 1,000 stores. Just as important, the competition from his chains (including B. Dalton, which he bought three years ago) has boosted sales for the entire industry. Latest project: ”superstores” that carry 100,000 titles and feature antique furniture.
The numbers tell the story: 50 million albums sold, $100 million in tickets for this year’s Dick Tracy, and zillions of fans who can’t wait to see who Madonna will be next. The Material Girl, 32, has become the top-grossing woman in entertainment by constantly reinventing herself, her sound, and her style. She’s her own best product. And so many people are willing to buy.
16. ROBERT DALY/TERRY SEMEL
Warner Bros.’ decade long reign as a steadily 16 profitable studio (Batman, Driving Miss Daisy, Lethal Weapon) is widely attributed to chairman/CEO Daly, 53, and president/chief operating officer Semel, 47. In 1990, Daly has been Hollywood’s negotiator in its billion-dollar feud with the networks over financial interest and syndication rules. Semel helped sign producer Jerry Weintraub.
17. TED TURNER
Some people call him a flake, others a visionary. But the 51-year-old TV potentate presides over one of television’s biggest cable kingdoms: superstation TBS, CNN, Headline News, and TNT — each reaching more than 45 million viewers. This year, he has faced letdowns (a $44- million loss on the Goodwill Games) and executive defections, but his TV empire rivals the networks in its reach.
18. ROBERT IGER
Since assuming the presidency of ABC Entertainment last year, Iger, 39, has solidified his network’s reputation for innovative prime-time programming — like this year’s surreal soap Twin Peaks. But Iger has a taste for mainstream hits as well; with America’s Funniest Home Videos, he turned ABC into a Sunday-night power and a contender for first place.
19. JEFF SAGANSKY
In less than a year as president of CBS Entertainment, Sagansky, 38, has moved fast to change the third-place network’s fortunes. With 10 new series and flashy movies, CBS’ fall lineup has begun to attract young viewers, and Sagansky has drawn praise even from rival Tartikoff. CBS roared into premiere week and, for the first time in six years, won.
20. JEFFREY KATZENBERG
Katzenberg, 39, chairman of Disney Studios, makes 150 phone calls a day. In six years, his dialing and dealing have taken Disney from the bottom of the heap to the top. This year, it is likely to finish No. 1 in box-office grosses (Pretty Woman‘s total: $175 million). In 1991, he plans to double Disney’s Touchstone output with the new Hollywood Pictures division.
21. STEVEN SPIELBERG
So 1989’s Always didn’t soar. The blockbuster king, 42, is still a frequent flier. He has signed to produce six movies for TNT, launched TV’s Tiny Toon Adventures, sewed up production plans for A Brief History of Time, proposed work on an animated film version of Cats, and prepared to direct Dustin Hoffman and Robin Williams in Hook.
22. CLIVE DAVIS
Davis, 58, president of Arista Records, should have a dream year thanks to Whitney Houston’s new album, which arrives three years after her last. He hasn’t done badly in the interim: Arista artists include Lisa Stansfield, Milli Vanilli, Taylor Dayne, Carly Simon, and the Grateful Dead. His peers know that Davis can make any record fly.
23. ROBERT SHAYE
As chairman and CEO of New Line Cinema, Shaye, 51, heads up the country’s most successful independent film distributor. Its output ranges from an art-house hit like Metropolitan to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which grossed more than $130 million-before the sales of 7 million cassettes. Shaye knows a good thing: A Turtles sequel is due in March.
24. ROBERT MORGADO
Prince’s Graffiti Bridge, Madonna’s I’m Breathless, Paul Simon’s The Rhythm of Saints — Morgado, 47, had a chart-topping 1990. As head of Time Warner’s music division — home of the Atlantic, Elektra, and Warner Bros. labels — he runs the world’s largest record company. In 1989, his golden ear generated $2.5 billion in global revenues.
25. ABBEY KONOWITCH
Insiders call Konowitch, senior vice president of music and talent at MTV, the most important figure in the music-video industry. As point man between MTV and the record labels, Konowitch, 39, oversees what plays where, when, and how long on the music network. Acts that benefited greatly from his enthusiasm: Living Colour and Faith No More.
26. S.I. NEWHOUSE
The $11 billion publishing empire of Si Newhouse, 62, includes Vanity Fair, Vogue, The New Yorker, and Random House. ”I do not like charity cases,” Newhouse has said with a brusqueness that hasn’t endeared him to Random House executives, a number of whom were ousted this year. Newhouse is not Mr. Popularity, but he gets his way — or else.
27. RON HOWARD
After Opie, Happy Days, and a directorial career boosted by 1984’s Splash, Howard, 36, cofounded Imagine Entertainment, whose imprimatur can be found on Problem Child, NBC’s Parenthood, and Schwarzenegger’s upcoming Kindergarten Cop. Given Imagine’s 20-film distribution deal with Universal, it’s a safe bet that in Hollywood, Opie jokes are a thing of the past.
28. JAMES L. BROOKS
Most producer-director-writers would kill for one shelf of Brooks’ trophy case, which includes Emmys for Mary Tyler Moore and Tracey Ullman and Oscars for Terms of Endearment. But Brooks, 50, is just warming up. Last year he signed a $30 million, three-series deal at ABC, and a multimillion-dollar movie/TV contract with Columbia. His latest venture: The Simpsons.
29. JOHN G. MALONE
As CEO of Tele-Communications Inc., the largest U.S. cable company, Malone, 49, controls the wiring of 25 percent of America’s cable subscribers. (Newcomers HA! and the Comedy Channel are struggling in part because Denver-based TCI doesn’t carry them.) Congress is balking at TCI’s role in producing shows, so Malone plans to create a separate programming company.
30. CHARLES KOPPELMAN
Koppelman, 50, chairman/CEO of SBK Records, bought CBS Inc.’s music-publishing catalog in 1986 for $125 million and sold it last year for $337 million. His eye for a deal has made SBK rich; his ear for talent has made it respected. In 1990, SBK has been on a winning streak, including Wilson Phillips’ debut and the stunning successes of Technotronic and Vanilla Ice.
31. LYNN NESBIT/MORT JANKLOW
Janklow’s big-ticket style (like a record $3.2 31 million for Princess Daisy) complements the prestige of Nesbit, 52 (when at ICM, she shepherded Robert Caro, Tom Wolfe, and Nora Ephron). They run what Janklow, 60, calls ”the largest literary agency in the world.” A partial list of their ’90 successes — Danielle Steel’s Message from Nam, Caro’s Means of Ascent — speaks volumes.
32. RUPERT MUDOCH
Murdoch’s company owns 20th Century Fox, seven TV stations, more than 100 newspapers, the Daily Racing Form, Premiere, TV Guide, Seventeen, New York, and HarperCollins Publishers. Recent spending sprees ($2.8 billion for the TV Guide deal) have burdened Murdoch, 59, with $8.7 billion in debt. But with his company’s breakup value estimated at $20 billion, he has plenty of assets.
33. QUINCY JONES
Producer, musician, composer, arranger, band- leader-for a résumé, just check out the new documentary Listen Up: The Lives of Quincy Jones. At 57, ”Q” dabbles where he pleases; in the last year, he has brought hip-hop to prime- time in NBC’s Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, started The Jesse Jackson Show, and produced his own platinum album, Back on the Block. We are the world indeed.
34. JEFFREY BERG
Berg, 43, chairman of International Creative Management, can afford to keep a lower profile than archrival Michael Ovitz of CAA: ICM handles about twice as many clients and has a global and intellectual reach, from Bernardo Bertolucci to John Le Carré, that CAA lacks. Ovitz has more heavy hitters, but the intellectual Berg aims to make ICM the Tiffany of the industry.
35. JOEL SILVER
Silver’s crash-and-burn action movies — Lethal Weapon, Die Hard, Predator — pack in the crowds, and the movies’ sequels tend to do even better. This year’s Die Hard 2 was a $114 million smash. Will loud continue to draw a crowd? Warner Bros. is betting on it; Silver, 38, who has a producing fee of $1 million per picture, has a five-year deal with the studio.
36. THE LAWYERS
Hollywood joke: Where do movies get made? In lawyer’s offices. These days hardly a major entertainment deal is done without attorneys. Names to know: Armstrong & Hirsch (Madonna); Ziffren, Brittenham & Branca (Harrison Ford, Michael J. Fox); Grubman, Indursky, Schindler, Goldstein & Flax (Bruce Springsteen) (Allen Grubman is pictured above); and Gang, Tyre, Ramer & Brown (Spielberg).
37. TINA BROWN
Editor Brown, 36, has as much star quality as any famous face in her slick magazine. Summoned in 1984 to rescue Vanity Fair, Brown shamelessly mixed highbrow journalism and low-down gossip, went big-name hunting for pricey writers, and made VF the splashy party-in-print that celebs most craved to crash. With circulation now up to about 750,000, Brown plans a British edition.
38. ARSENIO HALL
Whether extracting spanking tips from Madonna or squeezing Tom Cruise for divorce dirt, Hall has succeeded where Joey Bishop, Dick Cavett, and Joan Rivers failed — as a hip pretender to Carson’s twilight throne. In 1990, the 30-ish Hall’s syndicated show became an essential pitstop for celebrities with claims to cool, and must viewing for over 4 million young insomniacs a night.
39. JEFF AYEROFF
As co-managing director of Virgin Records America, Ayeroff, 43, has attracted one of the hippest, most visible rosters of performers, including Paula Abdul, Soul II Soul, Neneh Cherry, Lenny Kravitz, Steve Winwood, and Public Image Ltd. A skilled imagemaker (with Madonna and the Police), Ayeroff has also been a leader in this year’s anti-censorship fight.
40. ROONE ARLEDGE
In 13 years, Arledge has turned ABC’s news division into a dynasty. In 1990, World News Tonight was TV’s top-rated newscast (40 straight weeks and counting), Nightline‘s Ted Koppel brought his anchor skills to Iraq, and 20/20 drew 18 million viewers every Friday. At 59, Arledge retains a flair for showmanship and an ability to sign superstars (most recently, Diane Sawyer).
41. JONI EVANS
After splitting from her husband, Simon & 41 Schuster CEO Richard Snyder, in 1987, Evans, now 48, left for her own power base in Random House’s adult trade division, where her all-business style is paying off. Her big 1990 book, Donald Trump’s Surviving at the Top, faltered, but spring will bring Mario Puzo’s new novel, bought when Evans topped a rival’s offer by $1 million.
42. ROGER STRAUS
Straus, 73, runs Farrar, Straus & Giroux with a salty elegance befitting his prestigious authors. He’s suffered defections (Philip Roth), but beneath his gentility lies business acumen: By striking a tandem deal with Bantam, he won hardcover rights to Bonfire of the Vanities, and in 1990 FSG’s logo could be found on Scott Turow’s million-selling Burden of Proof.
43. AL DITOLLA
As president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, DiTolla, 64, has brought about a quiet revolution at the union. A strike by IATSE — its 70,000 members include cameramen, costumers, carpenters, set builders, and effects wizards — could bring Hollywood to its knees. But this year DiTolla helped engineer a three-year contract with producers.
44. SYDNEY POLLACK
Known for his directing skills — Three Days of the Condor, Tootsie, and Out of Africa — Pollack, 56, is also a prolific but highly selective producer. His Presumed Innocent was a summer hit, grossing $83 million. Another of his book purchases, Glenn Savan’s White Palace, arrived on screens this fall. Due around Christmas is Havana, his first directorial work in five years.
45. AMANDA URBAN/ESTHER NEWBERG
When Lynn Nesbit (31) left ICM, two protégés, Urban and Newberg, stepped up to grab the baton. Binky Urban, 44, has gained a reputation for nurturing (and getting big advances for) writers like Bobbie Ann Mason, Jay McInerney, and Mona Simpson. Newberg, 48, represents prize winners Thomas L. Friedman (From Beirut to Jerusalem) and Pete Dexter.
46. RUSSELL SIMMONS
As owner of Def Jam Records and OBR and partner in the new Rush Associated Labels group, Simmons, at 33, is rap’s youngest grand old man. The guiding force behind the careers of million-sellers Run-DMC, Beastie Boys, L.L. Cool J, and Public Enemy, he’s equally at home hammering out a contract in a boardroom or scouting talent in a hip-hop club.
47. MARIO KASSAR
Having made a fortune from three Rambo movies, Carolco Pictures chairman Kassar, 39, is one of Hollywood’s big spenders: He paid Sly Stallone $16 million for Rambo III, spent $50 million-plus on 1990’s Total Recall, and gave a private jet to Arnold Schwarzenegger as payment for Terminator 2. Recently, he shelled out a record $3 million for Joe Eszterhas’ screenplay Basic Instinct.
48. LARRY GORDON
Gordon, 54, chairman of Largo Entertainment, could be considered Tokyo’s man in Hollywood. While Sony gobbled up Columbia Pictures, JVC/Victor Co. of Japan bankrolled one man, producer of Die Hard and Field of Dreams. With nearly $100 million to spend, Gordon will test the waters next spring with Point Break, a cop-surfing movie starring Patrick Swayze.
49. OLIVER STONE
$ Stone, 44, has turned Big Issues into Big Box Office, garnering two of the last four Best Director Oscars (Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July). The Doors, his ode to Jim Morrison, could venture into NC-17 territory. Stone will direct Le Hayslip’s When Heaven and Earth Changed Places and produce an adaptation of the Harvey Milk biography Mayor of Castro Street.
50. REBECCA SINKLER
As editor of The New York Times‘ Sunday Book Review, which has more than twice the pages of any other newspaper literary section and four times the staff, Sinkler, 53, harnesses a power that can sell books, influence publishers, and make careers — or break them. For practical purposes, a book just does not exist if it doesn’t get reviewed in the Sunday Times.
51. BARRY LEVINSON
Director Levinson,48, proves that you don’t always have to be commercial to be commercial. His beguiling 1988 character study Rain Man grossed $172 million; 1987’s Good Morning, Vietnam made $124 million. His soft touch pays off in hard cash, and has given Levinson the leverage to follow up Diner with more period films about Baltimore: Tin Men and his latest, Avalon.
52. SPIKE LEE
Unlike his knock kneed character Mars Blackmon, the real Lee, 33, plays to win. Starting with his $175,000 movie She’s Gotta Have It (which grossed $7 million in 1986), he’s had creative control of his films. Lee can sell product — $26 million in tickets for Do the Right Thing, $16 million for 1990’s Mo’ Better Blues, pumped-up sales for Nike shoes — as well as his politics.
53. MARCY CARSEY/TOM WERNER
Carsey, 45, and Werner, 40, are TV’s most formidable comedy producers. Formerly ABC executives in charge of such shows as Taxi and Mork & Mindy, they teamed up in 1981 and now produce three top prime-time series (Roseanne, A Different World, and The Cosby Show). Another of their shows, Grand, hasn’t been nearly as popular, but it stays on the air because they want it to.
54. BETTE MIDLER
Producer-actress-singer Midler, 44, first appeared in a Disney- Touchstone feature in 1986, and now she’s got her own suite there. One of the few women who can ”open” a picture — bring in first-night crowds — Midler has brought Disney $300 million in grosses on six pix (from Down and Out in Beverly Hills to this year’s Stella). Coming up: Scenes from a Mall with Woody Allen.
55. OPRAH WINFREY
( The richest woman on TV (1990’s earnings estimate: $38 million) is also one of the shrewdest. Not content with just her Emmy-winning talk show, the 36-year- old gab queen is diversifying. Her film-TV company, Harpo Productions Inc., owns The Oprah Winfrey Show, film rights to hot books such as Toni Morrison’s Beloved, and a new 100,000-square-foot Chicago studio.
56. BRUCE WILLIS
Willis, 35, hasn’t had to do any moonlighting lately. He’s earned $36 million since 1988, and 1990 was especially kind: Die Hard 2 made him Schwarzenegger’s biggest rival as an action star. Look for him as a boozed-up reporter in Brian De Palma’s film adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s 1987 novel Bonfire of the Vanities — due Dec. 19 — and in the adventure-comedy Hudson Hawk.
57. PAT KINGSLEY
Publicists used to be considered flunkies to the stars, but Kingsley, 58, is more like the power behind the galaxy. Her 35-member firm, PMK, steers the public careers of about 60 heavy-duty celebrities. Kingsley protects shy giants such as Woody Allen, Tom Hanks, and Goldie Hawn, spurning all but the most alluring media inquiries with ruthless, calculating intelligence.
58. TONY BROWN
Early in his career,Brown, 43, played a piano in Elvis Presley’s band. Now, as head of artists-and-repertoire for MCA Records in Nashville, he rakes in a King’s ransom for some of the greatest names in country music, whom he produces with a musician’s ear and a power broker’s muscle. They include Reba McEntire, Rodney Crowell, Lyle Lovett, and Nanci Griffith.
59. MICHAEL FUCHS
The number of households subscribing to HBO has leveled off, but it’s still the nation’s biggest pay-cable channel, and after six years as its chairman/ CEO, Fuchs, 44, is expanding. In 1990, he shepherded the Comedy Channel through its first year, and his emphasis on original programming turned a Madonna concert into one of HBO’s most-watched specials ever.
60. ANTONIO REID/KENNETH EDMONDS
”L.A.” Reid, 31, and ”Babyface” Edmonds, 30, wrote Whitney Houston’s ”I’m Your Baby Tonight” — but that’s just their hit du jour. They’ve helped launch Paula Abdul and Bobby Brown. And with a producing streak of 17 No. 1 hits on Billboard‘s black-singles chart and their own new label, La’Face Records, they’re the closest thing to a hit factory since Holland-Dozier-Holland.
61. JANE KAPLAN
In the wee hours of every weekday, Kaplan decides who gets first crack at the marketplace. As a segment producer, she books entertainment guests for ABC’s highly rated Good Morning America. Kaplan, 35, along with her associate Jeane Willis, 32, rules the morning airwaves. They can make a fledgling celeb’s reputation and give a film a big boost.
62. ANDREW WYLIE
For his sly way of wooing — some have said heisting — clients, New York literary agent Wylie, 42, leaves rivals grumbling. Yet authors are inclined to forgive his excesses, considering the $1 million-plus advance he reportedly got in a three-book deal for Philip Roth. Others who have signed up with Wylie: David Mamet, Corazon Aquino, and Benazir Bhutto.
63. NAN A. TALESE
One sure sign of power in the book business: your own imprint. And Talese, 56, just got one from Doubleday. The first Nan A. Talese/Doubleday books rolled off the presses in August: Brian Moore’s Lies of Silence and Alice Miller’s Banished Knowledge. Among the coming attractions: new novels from Margaret Atwood and Pat Conroy.
64. SAM COHN
As head of ICM’s New York office, Cohn, 61, is Manhattan’s most powerful agent. His clients include Meryl Streep, Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Mike Nichols, and Sigourney Weaver. Last year he helped put together the team for Postcards From the Edge. For an encore, he provided director Fred Schepisi for The Russia House, the $23 million spy thriller due in December.
65. RUSS SOLOMON
Solomon, 65, controls one of the world’s largest retail record Chains — Tower Records. With more than 50 supermarket-size stores around the globe, he makes decisions that affect the entire music industry: His aggressive marketing of CDs has helped change the way millions listen to music. Plans include a Tower Moscow. Let the glasnost roll.
66. MERYL STREEP
After some commercial duds (like Ironweed), Streep, 41, came back to box- office life this year with a big fall hit, Postcards From the Edge. She’s talented enough to survive films that flop and uses her fame to focus attention on issues. At SAG’s National Women’s Conference in August, the Academy Award winner blasted Hollywood for the dearth of decent roles for women and their low pay.
67. ANNIE LEIBOVITZ
There’s almost no bigger confirmation of cool than a portrait shot for Vanity Fair by Leibovitz, 41. Her contract with the magazine and her distinctive ads for American Express and the Gap have made her queen of celebrity photographers. Also on the big-picture roster: Herb Ritts (whose rate is $20,000 a day), Matthew Rolston, and Greg Gorman.
68. STEVEN BOCHCO
Three years ago, ABC and Twentieth Century Fox agreed to pay Bochco $50 million to produce 10 series over 10 years. The deal, which set car phones buzzing all over Hollywood, made the 46-year-old creator of Hill Street Blues one of TV’s top producers. The contract has netted one hit (Doogie Howser, M.D., in its second season) and one apparent flop (this year’s Cop Rock).
69. TED KOPPEL
With such scoops as Gary Hart’s 1987 on-air mea culpa (”I made a serious mistake”) and George Bush’s 1988 on-air blunder (”Dan, I’ll take all the credit”), Koppel, 50, has made ABC’s Nightline possibly the most influential news show, attracting millions of viewers a night. In 1990, he struck again: He was the first U.S. journalist to cover the Gulf crisis from inside Iraq.
70. DON HEWITT
As creator of CBS’ 60 Minutes, Hewitt, 67, controls TV’s most important prime-time newscast. In its 23rd season, the show still attracts huge ratings: Its Iraq coverage was among the summer’s best-watched programming. In fact, 60 Minutes is the only series to finish in Nielsen’s top 10 for 13 straight years. It’s also a huge money-maker, generating upwards of $1 billion in profits since its debut.
71. M.C. HAMMER
Please Hammer Don’t Hurt Em’ went triple-plantinum in 1990, selling more than 6 million copies. Only the third rap album to hit No. 1 on the charts, Please Hammer helped the music become mainstream. Hammer (a.k.a. Stanley Kirk Burrell), 27, also started his own record label, Bustin’, and signed a $TK million endorsement deal with Diet Pepsi (he carried a can with him during this year’s MTV video awardsres: check on style).
72. WOODY ALLEN
Allen was once asked if he wanted to achieve immortality through his films. He said no, he wanted to achieve it by not dying. Woody, 55, will have to settle: As America’s most respected comedian, he’s one of the few filmmakers given total creative control. His movie for this year: Alice, due next month and featuring William Hurt. Almost everyone wants to work with him: Madonna has signed up for his next film.
73. TOM CRUISE
Cruise, 28, is such a bankable star that this summer’s popular Days of Thunder — which grossed $81 million — was considered something of a disappointment. Last year’s Vietnam drama, Born on the Fourth of July, did about the same — $70 million — and earned Cruise an Oscar nomination. Whatever the ticket-booth take, the actor is handsomely paid: he made $19 million in 1990.
74. GOLDIE HAWN
A good year for Goldie. After a number of flops (Swing Shift, Protocol, Overboard), the 44-year-old actress/producer made a comeback. Bird on a Wire scored big at the box office — earning $70 million — and she signed a $30 million, seven-film acting and production deal with Disney’s Hollywood Pictures. The first project is Crisscross, in which she’ll play a stripper.
75. SONNY MEHTA
When Robert Gottlieb left Knopf, publishing insiders worried that the prestigious house would lose its aggressive edge. But Mehta, 47, has continued the firm’s tradition of printing distinguished writers. This year, he published such powerhouse authors as John Updike (Rabbit at Rest), Gabriel Garcia Marquez (The General in His Labyrinth), and Anne Rice (The Witching Hour).
76. MEL GIBSON
Gibson’s box-office pull — proved once again with 1989’s $147 million-grossing Lethal Weapon 2 — means the 34-year-old actor can play any part he wants — even Hamlet. And he will, in a new film version of the play due this Christmas. Don’t look for Gibson on 1991’s power list, though: His continuing clout has made him so comfortable he’s taking next year off.
77. DANIELLE STEELE
Critics complain about her writing — ”adolescent scribblings,” said One — but millions of fans made Steel, 43, one of the year’s biggest authors. Her 26th novel, Delacorte’s Message from Nam, soared onto the best-seller lists last spring. Other 1990 successes: Two NBC movies, based on Fine Things and Kaleidoscope, were among the fall’s best-rated TV films.
78. JEAN AUEL
Auel’s The Plains of Passage had the largest first printing ever for hardcover fiction — 1.6 million copies — and went into a second printing even before those books reached stores. Auel, 54, also broke the record for first-day sales: Over 15,000 copies were sold Oct. 3. With her 1990 success, she leads Crown Publishers’ A list, along with Judith Krantz and Dominick Dunne.
79. STEPHEN KING
King has been so successful in recent years it’s almost scary. First the horror-meister, 43, signed a $35 million, four-book deal with Viking. Then he lived out every writer’s fantasy: He restored 150,000 words edited from 1978’s The Stand, and it debuted at No. 1 on The New York Times‘ best-seller list. His other best-sellers in ’90: The Dark Half and Four Past Midnight.
80. ROB REINER
Another nice year for the former Meathead: The 43-year-old actor-turned-auteur directed his first thriller, the $21 million Misery, due out Nov. 30. It’s a bold departure for Reiner, best known for light comedies (When Harry Met Sally?). But as a partner in the production company Castle Rock Entertainment, Reiner has more movie-making power than ever.
81. JACK NICHOLSON
The Two Jakes received some of 1990’s worst reviews, but it says a lot about Nicholson’s power that he got the film made. The idea for a Chinatown sequel had been kicking around for years; it wasn’t until the 53-year-old Oscar winner stepped behind the camera that it happened. Why such clout? Batman helped. It grossed $250 million in the U.S. alone (Nicholson’s take: $50 million).
82. MICHAEL JACKSON
It didn’t start out as a thriller year for Jackson: His promotional deal with L.A. Gear bombed. Still, the 32-year-old singer’s clout was clear when rumors he might switch labels rocked the music industry — and reportedly triggered the departure of CBS Records chief Walter Yetnikoff. Jackson’s renegotiating and is expected to sign a deal worth more than $50 million.
83. TOM CLANCY
Ten years ago, Clancy was writing insurance policies. Today, the Hunt for Red October author, 43, writes nothing but best-sellers. He has signed a reported $50 million, four-book contract with Putnam, and is considered the most successful spy novelist since Ian Fleming. His latest, Clear and Present Danger, sailed straight to the top of the best- seller list.
84. KEN FOLLETT
Early in 1990, it seemed publishing was backing away from megabuck deals. Then Dell Publishing gave Follett, 40, a $12.3 million, two-book package, and the industry was agog: The novelist (Eye of the Needle, Pillars of the Earth) is popular enough, but isn’t yet a Steel-size name. (Author Jeffrey Archer may have done even better; he claims to have been offered $20 million for three books.)
85. RICHARD HEFFNER
As head of the MPAA rating board, Heffner helps decide which filmmakers have been naughty and which have been nice. This year the 65-year-old Rutgers professor seemed especially cranky: He gave an X rating to Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, Hardware, and several other provocative, much-praised films. The outcry resulted in the less stigmatizing NC-17 rating.
86. JAMES MICHENER
It was one of the shortest pieces Michener had ever written — a three-page memo — but it touched off a panic at Random House. In March, after several firings at the publisher, the 83-year-old author threatened to leave for ”some small house, obedient to the old traditions.” Random House owner S.I. Newhouse smoothed things over with the writer, who signed a big two-book deal in April.
87. ROBERT REDFORD
After a four-year absence, Redford, 53, returns to the screen in December in Sydney Pollack’s Havana. But Redford has been busy off-camera, running the influential Sundance Institute, the cinema think-tank he founded a decade ago. This year, its film festival was bigger than ever, launching the critical hit Metropolitan; last year’s winner was sex, lies, and videotape.
88. MICHAEL DOUGLAS
Most actors want to direct; Douglas wants to produce — and does. This year the 46-year-old Academy Award winner is working behind the scenes on the jazz drama Men in Trouble and on the fantasy-adventure Radio Flyer. He will get $15 million for a role in the thriller Basic Instinct and is costarring with Melanie Griffith in the spy romance Shining Through, due next year.
89. SUZANNE DE PASSE
This month Motown will celebrate its 30th birthday with a big-deal TV special: a sequel to Motown’s Emmy-winning 25th. De Passe, 43, has produced both — and, as head of Gordy/de Passe Productions, also was responsible for last year’s acclaimed miniseries Lonesome Dove. By boosting Motown’s nonmusical budget 400 percent in 10 years, she has made the company a multimedia player.
90. JANE FONDA
She’s the titan of exercise tapes. Fonda has sold nearly 6 million copies of her 12 videos, ringing up more than $165 million in retail sales. This year’s model is Lean Routine. Fonda, 52, still appears in movies (Stanley & Iris with Robert De Niro) and still produces (she has six films in development, including a remake of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown).
91. BILL COSBY
Cosby, 53, is the highest-paid entertainer, says Forbes (the magazine claimed the comedian will make $55 million in 1990). His commercials don’t seem to count as much as they once did, and his last book, 1987’s Time Flies, was considered a disappointing seller. But his sitcom is even more vital to NBC’s fortunes now that it’s competing with Fox’s The Simpsons.
92. GERALDINE LAYBOURNE
As head of cable’s Nickelodeon children’s channel (available in 53 million homes), Laybourne, 43, has pioneered such tot-friendly programming as Super Sloppy Double Dare, the talk show Don’t Just Sit There, and the acclaimed puppet show Eureeka’s Castle. In 1990, more children watched kids’ shows on Nickelodeon than on the three big broadcast networks combined.
93. DON SIMPSON & JERRY BRUCKHEIMER
Bruckheimer, 43, and Simpson, 45, made some of the ’80s’ biggest hits: Flashdance, Beverly Hills Cop, and Top Gun. Despite a box-office disappointment like this year’s Days of Thunder (which earned $81 million), the two producers have what may be the most lucrative production deal in Hollywood history: a $300 million, five-year contract with Paramount.
94. MICHAEL DI CAPUA
Children’s books are a grown-up business these days: Publishers sold about $900 million worth in 1989, an industry record. Di Capua, 42 — and colleague Stephen Roxburgh, 40 — are two of the most powerful names in the biz: In 1990, the Farrar, Straus & Giroux editors brought out Alexandra Day’s Carl’s Christmas (first printing: 200,000) and William Steig’s Shrek! (75,000).
95. BARRY GORDON
As president of the Screen Actors Guild, Gordon, 41, represents 75,000 film and TV actors, a noisy constituency as dependent on the industry as the industry is on them. Unlike his predecessor, Ed Asner, the centrist Gordon has calmed tensions between the guild’s liberal and conservative factions. By quickly signing producers to a new contract last year, he avoided a repeat of the crippling 1980 strike.
96. HERBERT A. ALLEN JR.
The 50-year-old investment banker may be the savviest show-biz speculator on Wall Street. Last year, when Sony Corp. bought Columbia Pictures, Allen helped arrange the deal, pocketing $106 million in fees and profits for his investment banking firm, Allen & Co. Allen has let it be known that he’s still active in entertainment, but, typically, is mum on the details.
97. THOMAS B. MOTTOLA
After volatile CEO Walter Yetnikoff’s departure, CBS Records president Mottola, 41, could move into the record industry’s hottest slot if Sony wants him. September was CBS’ strongest month ever, and with George Michael selling oodles alongside New Kids on the Block and Mariah Carey, the streak should continue. A reportedly successful renegotiation with Michael Jackson could put him over the top.
98. JENNIFER LAWSON
Despite shrinking production budgets and increasing cable competition, PBS’ 44-year-old head of national programming pulled off an extraordinary feat in 1990: She gave public TV its biggest hit ever: The Civil War, which attracted 50 million viewers over five nights. Innovation didn’t stop there: Under Lawson, PBS began advertising its shows on commercial networks.
99. A.D. MURPHY
Murphy, 57, is Hollywood’s top numbers cruncher. As a box-office analyst for Daily Variety, he’s the unofficial — but much read — statistician of the cinema, the man who counts the grosses, sizes up the market shares, watches the trends, and determines which pictures are hits and which are flops. He’s been doing it for 26 years — and his audience is as attentive as ever.
100. PEGGY CHARREN
Charren, 62, head of the lobbying group Action for Children’s Television, has been working to improve kids’ TV for 22 years. Her biggest victory in 1990 came when Congress passed legislation reducing the amount of advertising time allowed in children’s programs (it’s limited to 10 1/2 minutes an hour on weekends and up to 12 minutes an hour on weekdays).
101. PETER MORTON
Morton, 43, owns the Hollywood power restaurant, an unassuming West Hollywood bar-and-grill named, appropriately, Mortons. Regulars include Warren Beatty, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Arsenio Hall, Barbra Streisand, Michael Douglas, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Mel Gibson. If a bomb dropped in the place on a Monday night, Hollywood would be out of business.
Written by: Tim Appelo, Giselle Benatar, Margot Dougherty, Mark Harris, Greg Kilday, Kelli Pryor, and Benjamin Svetkey. Additional reporting by: Michael Angeli, MArtha Babcock, Meredith Berkman, Jess Cagle, David Craig, Steve Daly, Melina Gerosa, Roberta Grant, Kate Meyers, Jim Oberman, and Anne Thompson.