The 101 most powerful people in entertainment

By EW Staff
October 29, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

The World Wrestling Federation may have ?Stone Cold’ Steve Austin and Bad Ass Billy Gunn, but the truly bone-crunching, back-slamming action takes place in a much tougher arena: Hollywood. This year the competition has been especially brutal — at least for space in these pages — with producers like Rollickin’ Scott Rudin and Jerry ‘the Rock’ Bruckheimer rising to title contenders, while stars like Kevin (It’ll Cost Ya) Costner and Brad ‘not such a hit’ Pitt took it on the chin. Even 1999’s championship-belt winner — Sumner ‘he’ll carve your headstone’ Redstone — needed help from a new tag-team partner (Mel ‘Bad Karma’ Karmazin).

So sit back, slip into some boxer shorts, and get ready to rummmmble, as we referee its 10th year of celebrity death matches. Among the heavyweights to pin your hopes on: Fightin’ Michael Crighton, Hammerin’ Cameron Diaz, Mike ‘the Zipper’ De Luca, To Helen and Back Hunt, Maimin’ Matt Damon, and Harrison ‘no comparison’ Ford.

And, oh yeah, Madonna.

1. Sumner Redston and Mel Karmazin: Chairman-CEO-Reigning Media Champ; President-COO, Viacom Inc. (last year 8/16).

Ages 76/56. Poor Sumner Redstone. For all his wealth (estimated at $9.4 billion) and power (as head of Viacom, he oversees MTV, VH1, Paramount Pictures, and Blockbuster Video), he’s never been able to find what he’s always longed for: True Love.

But in August, something extraordinary happened: This media Methuselah looked up from his spreadsheets to find the soul mate of his dreams — CBS CEO Mel Karmazin. After a brief corporate wine and dance, the duo announced their engagement — and now top EW’s 10th annual Power list.

With Viacom’s purchase of the Tiffany net, Redstone adds a $37 billion behemoth (160 radio stations, syndie giant King World) to his holdings. He also creates a media empire to rival Disney and Time Warner, which could generate an estimated $11 billion in ad revenues. But the real dowry may be Karmazin, who’s perfectly cast to play Redstone’s Mini-Me.

A workaholic (he arrives at the office at 6 a.m. and sometimes answers the phones), Karmazin is as ruthlessly ambitious as Redstone. He began as a salesman at CBS Radio, left to create radio giant Infinity Broadcasting (championing Howard Stern along the way), and returned triumphant in 1996 when CBS acquired his company. And, like Redstone, he knows the value of a dollar…and a penny (he claims to travel coach and scrutinizes employee expense reports).

”Mel seduced me,” Redstone dreamily told reporters and investors after the merger was announced, sounding for all the world like a blushing bride. Certainly Wall Street couldn’t be prouder: Viacom’s stock surged. The only one who might object to the union is the FCC, but so far the feds are holding their peace.

Yet, for all the rice throwing, skeptics insist this media marriage won’t be happily ever after. For one thing, Viacom and CBS cater to different constituencies (MTV viewers are hip; CBS’ need hip replacements), which could make for an awkward honeymoon. For another, there’s Redstone’s romantic track record (just ask ousted Viacom president and CEO Frank Biondi — or Sumner’s wife, Phyllis, 74, who has filed for divorce). And did we mention that Karmazin is ambitious? Could Redstone find himself prematurely ejected from their wedding bed?

So far, Karmazin sounds like he’s in the throes of passion. “We are the 21st-century media company,” he said, adding that his job is “to make Sumner’s stock worth more than Bill Gates’.” It’s not exactly “How do I love thee,” but so long as Redstone can count the ways in the billions, he’ll be one happily married man.

2. Rupert Murdoch and Peter Chernin, Chairman-Chief Executive; President-COO, News Corp. (last year 3/10)

Ages 68/48. Credits Also in a marrying mood, Murdoch wed exec Wendi Deng, 32, and publicly committed to Chernin as heir (until his kids are ready). Wall Street analysts like Rupe’s global reach. Launched high-tech studio in Australia, where Star Wars: Episode II will be filmed. Debits When this Asia-forward company’s movies go East, protests follow (The Beach, Anna and the King, Brokedown Palace). A Fox TV Y2K nightmare if Party of Five and The X-Files go dark next season. Company still has no Net byte—yet. FYI Thanks to his Titanic bonus, Chernin earned nearly $5.4 million more than Murdoch this past year.

3. Gerald Levin and Ted Turner, Chairman-CEO; Vice Chairman, Time Warner (last year 5)

Ages 60/60 Credits The exit of longtime Warner execs Bob Daly and Terry Semel gave Levin and Turner authority they’ve long craved over big-spending, erratically performing music and movie divisions. Stepped up Net profile by announcing merger of Columbia House with wundersite For most of ’99, stock exceeded Wall Street expectations; earnings from cable-operating systems more than doubled to $894 million. Debits NewsStand, joint venture of (EW publisher) Time Inc. and CNN, fizzled. From Wall Street to Wilshire, huge wait-and-see attitude toward new music and movie teams. FYI Turner is the largest private landowner in the U.S.

4. George Lucas, Producer-Director-En-Forcer (last year 4)

Age 55 Credits Redefined the critic-proof movie with The Phantom Menace, which, despite mixed reaction, grabbed $427 million in North America—and, despite forecasts of cannibalization, raised all box office boats, with a record number of other films grossing over $150 million this summer. ?DEBITS? Enough Menace merchandise didn’t sell to leave licensees wary; so busy recycling, he’s not likely to realize dream of making experimental films; fourth Indiana Jones flick may languish while he’s busy cranking out two more Star Wars episodes. FYI His love of silent movies (which helps account for his weak dialogue) shows in the vintage pre-talkie posters scattered around Skywalker Ranch.

5. Steven Spielberg, Director-Producer (last Year 2)

Age 52 Credits Still enjoying Private Ryan Best Director props. Vision for DreamWorks becoming viable (see American Beauty). Keeps current all over town. “He reads every script, sees every film,” says one colleague. Producing fall NBC Marine drama Semper Fi. ?DEBITS? Seems determined to be beholden to no one (even his partners): Is he a DreamWorks team player (Minority Report) or hot-shot director for hire (Columbia’s Memoirs of a Geisha)? Even Spielberg can’t have it both ways forever. FYI Often skips morning meetings to spend time at his kids’ preschools.

6. Oprah Winfrey, Queen of all media (last year 1)

Age 45 Credits Her positivity pulpit trumped a defanged Jerry Springer in the ratings by preaching good reads (her book club crowned its 26th best-seller) and self-improvement. New ventures include multimedia company Oxygen; her magazine is due out next spring. A CBS stockholder since it bought King World, she may be $175 mil wealthier after CBS-Viacom merger. ?DEBITS? Beloved was a sign her flock won’t follow her everywhere, no matter how hard she preaches. FYI Principle-Centered Leadership is required reading for biz course she’s teaching at Northwestern.

7. Tom Hanks, Actor-Director-Producer (last year 6)

Age 43 Credits Like Hershey’s chocolate, he’s a universally trusted brand. Attach his name to any project—whether it’s a three-hour death-row movie like The Green Mile or a deserted-island fantasy like next year’s Cast Away—and you’ve got instant credibility. Mile could be another Academy Award front-runner for him (yawn!). Probable biogenetic effects of Toy Story 2: a new generation of Hankophiles. ?DEBITS? Uh…doesn’t walk on water. FYI In addition to Bosom Buddies, his early TV resume includes playing Uncle Ned on Family Ties.

8. Julia Roberts, Actress-American Sweetheart (last year 37)

Age 32 Credits Not since Mary Pickford has an actress so dominated Hollywood. In last three years, three out of five of her films have earned over $100 million, and this summer she hit the bell twice: Notting Hill and Runaway Bride. ?DEBITS? She’s worked nonstop for three years. “I hope,” says one close adviser, “what’s in the works is a good long break.” FYI Loyal. Wanted Disney—which did Pretty Woman and is headed by her buddy Joe Roth—to be part of her Bride deal at Paramount. Studios agreed that Disney would get the film’s international rights.

9. David E. Kelley, Writer-Producer Last Year 44

Age 43 Credits As if the Michelle Pfeiffer thing weren’t envy-inducing enough, his twin Emmys for Best Drama (The Practice) and Comedy (Ally McBeal) cement his status as the ’90s’ most influential TV producer. Currently involved in some capacity in five network series, including Chicago Hope and ratings surprise Snoops—the best sign yet of Kelley’s critic-proof status. Debits Fans rejected film forays Lake Placid and Mystery, Alaska. And what’s with the lesbian thing? FYI Vocal. When he disagreed with a review of Ally, he personally faxed the critic.

10. Michael Eisner, Chairman-CEO, The Walt Disney Co. (last year 7)

Age 57 Credits Squeaked through annus horribilis with hit-happy film division (Tarzan, The Sixth Sense). Exterminating $500 million in operating costs, in part by selling off ancillary businesses (Fairchild Publications). Promoting consolidation at ABC and Disney. Debits Downsizing hasn’t upsized stock price. When his true feelings about Jeffrey Katzenberg went public (“I hate the little midget”), he lost a lot more than a $250 million lawsuit. FYI Has a windowless safe room in his Aspen home with a special phone hookup in case of a break-in.

11. Edgar Bronfman Jr., President-CEO, The Seagram Co. Ltd. (last year 23)

Age 44 Credits With Universal-PolyGram merger complete, he now heads America’s largest music factory. Slumping Universal Pictures returned from the dead with The Mummy, Notting Hill, and American Pie. Debits Genius at irritating shareholders: A New York Times spread on his lavish town house appeared days after the stock took a 9 percent dive. FYI Had brief career as tune writer “Junior Miles”; Dionne Warwick recorded one of his songs.

12. Joe Roth, Chairman, Walt Disney Studios (last year 12)

Age 51 Credits Disney’s ahead in U.S. market share; he’s got a sixth sense for deal making. In return for bailing Bruce Willis out of the $14.8 mil Broadway Brawler jam, Roth got him to make Armageddon, Sixth Sense, and upcoming The Kid. Sweet. Debits His name surfaces every time a big job opens elsewhere. Is there no Tomorrowland for him at Disney? FYI He’s a Luddite: no cell phone. Never uses a PalmPilot. Doesn’t even wear a watch.

13. Bill Mechanic and tom Rothman, Chairman-Ceo, Fox Filmed Entertainment; President, Twentieth Century Fox, Film Production (last year 10)

Ages 49/44 Credits “Niche blockbuster” approach perfect for $80 million-plus hits (Entrapment). 2000’s slate includes The Beach (Leo!), X-Men (geek heaven!), and Me, Myself and Irene (Carrey + the Farrellys!). And, yeah, had Phantom Menace. Debits Your nana could’ve sold Menace. Fight Club must’ve made Rupert pop a gasket. FYI Rothman almost freaked one morning when he saw Irene’s crew downing beer—until the Farrellys yelled “Gotcha!”

14. Leslie Moonves and Nancy Tellem, President-CEO, CBS TV; President, CBS Entertainment (last year 16/-)

Ages 50/43 Credits Thanks to Judging Amy and Now and Again, CBS TV is getting younger. CBS Corp.’s acquisition of King World (Oprah) gives foothold in syndie biz; Viacom merger promises more growth. News flash: The network promises to make money this year. ?DEBITS? Evening News ratings lagging. Bryant Gumbel is a gamble. ?FYI? Moonves’ wife and Tellem share same first name, allowing him to joke about his “daytime” and “nighttime” Nancy.

15. Bob Wright, Scott Sassa, and Garth Ancier: President-CEO, NBC; President, NBC WEST COAST; President, NBC Entertainment (last year 14/-/65)

Ages 56/40/42 ?CREDITS? Buy into Pax TV gives NBC real estate and leverage over uppity affiliates. On cable front, CNBC becoming a must-see. Ex-Fox execs Sassa and Ancier provide next generation of Peacock leadership and have smoothed over rough relations with program suppliers. Debits Rivals making inroads on young demos. Dateline franchise flatter than the Friends‘ abs. FYI Ancier made pile of dough as creator of Ricki Lake show.

16/16.5. Harvey and Bob Weinstein, Co-chairmen, Miramax Films (last year 18)

Ages 47/45 Credits Shakespeare in Love, the Talk launch, and Bob’s Dimension—which rolls out its biggest pic ever, Ben Affleck’s $34 mil Reindeer Games, in February. ?DEBITS? Talk. Skipped Blair Witch but ponied up deal worth $10 mil for underperforming Happy, Texas. Will the emperor of Oscar have killer clothes this year? FYI Senior staff’s wicked imitations of the brothers are a highlight of Miramax’s pre-Oscar party.

17. Tom Cruise, Actor-Producer (last year 13)

Age 37 Credits Helped get Eyes Wide Shut impressive $21.7 million opening weekend; shows new versatility in Magnolia; a return to bigger box office glory with Mission: Impossible sequel next summer…Debits…if Mission has overcome recent production problems. Any way you look at it, the $56 mil-grossing Kubrick film was a creative and financial black eye. FYI Cousin William Mapother, 34, has landed parts in four of his movies, including Magnolia and M:I 2.

18. Thomas D. Mottola, Chairman-CEO, Sony Music Entertainment (last year 25)

Age 49 Credits Sony’s top tastemaker championed Ricky Martin’s English-language debut, making “Latin crossover” synonymous with “Latin takeover.” Debits Disappointments of high profilers Jamiroquai, Ben Folds Five, and silverchair forced him to make awkward public show of support for Epic Records Group prez Polly Anthony. New Michael Jackson CD is MIA. FYI The young macher was the subject of droll 1976 hit “Cherchez la Femme/Se Si Bon.”

19. Jonathan L. Dolgen and Sherry Lansing, Chairman, Viacom Entertainment Group; Chairman, Motion Picture Group, Paramount Pictures (last year 11)

Ages 54/55 Credits Their good-cop/ bad-cop shtick. Lansing purrs to talent; Dolgen cuts budgets and makes ’em fly coach. Knack for winners, no matter how lowbrow (Double Jeopardy). Pioneered cofinancing—now used by all studios; teamed with Miramax on The Talented Mr. Ripley. Debits Lost the Election—big time. Signed Peter Guber to rich production deal. FYI Agents dub Dolgen “Vlad, the Vertical Integrator” for his biz-wonk ways.

20. Doug Morris Chairman-CEO, Universal Music Group (last year 30)

Age 60 Credits With president-COO Zach Horowitz, oversaw consolidation of PolyGram and Universal labels into new behemoth with premium stars (Beck, Sheryl Crow) and top American market share. Debits More than 2,000 firings worldwide and de facto dismantling of A&M, Island. Raised retailers’ hackles by raising classic catalog prices, with many best-ofs hitting a sky-high $18.98. FYI Produced Brownsville Station’s 1973 juvenile-delinquent classic “Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room.”

21. Barry Diller, Chairman-CEO, USA Networks, Inc. (last year 24)

Age 57 Credits Ordered Jerry Springer to tone it down. Picked up October and Gramercy at Universal fire sale to launch new utilitarian studio, USA Films. Debits After heavily waged campaign to buy Lycos unraveled, he surmised, “Lycos wouldn’t be a good fit for us now,” which left critics wondering, was this (a) sour grapes or (b) proof that, appearances aside, he was never that committed? FYI Onetime Fox chieftain was the inspiration for The Simpsons‘ Mr. Burns.

22. Robert Shaye, Michael Lynne, and Michael De Luca: Chairman-CEO; President-COO, New Line Cinema; President-COO, New Line Cinema Productions (last year 27)

Ages 60/58/34 Credits Austin Powers 2 topped $200 mil; they’ve got the next dingbat Adam Sandler pic, Little Nicky; directors kill to work with De Luca. Debits Aside from Powers, it’s been frickin’ ugly, baby (The Astronaut’s Wife, Dog Park, Drop Dead Gorgeous), and 2000 doesn’t look much better; what happens if De Luca ever leaves? FYI Move over, Coppola: Lynne is owner of a North Fork, L.I., winery.

23. Jim Carrey, Actor-Provocateur (last year 22)

Age 37 Credits Just finished Me, Myself & Irene with the Farrellys. Odds-on fave to steal Xmas ’00 box office with The Grinch. Channeling Andy Kaufman in Man on the Moon could put him in this year’s Oscar stratosphere… Debits …if the Academy doesn’t hold his pouty react to Truman Show snub against him; no longer doing eagerly awaited Incredible Mr. Limpet reunion with Ace Ventura‘s Steve Oedekerk. FYI As a kid, he would hole up in a 4′ x 4′ closet to write poetry.

24. Howard Stringer, John Calley, and Mel Harris: Chairman-CEO, Sony Corp. of America; Chairman-CEO; Co-President-COO, Sony Pictures Entertainment (last year -/19/-)

Ages 57/69/57 Credits Putting Sony on course. Stringer, who ascended to the top U.S. slot in December, is in the driver’s seat as king of tactical moves. Harris oversees powerhouse Sony TV, while Calley brought stability (if not nonstop hits) to a movie arm that had been fractured. Debits The grapevine says Calley wants to retire. FYI Harris is a Vietnam vet who also launched Entertainment Tonight.

25. Clive Davis, President, Arista Records (last year 33)

Age 66 Credits Who knew retirement age could be so rocking? Reviving the sting of Carlos Santana (2 million units and counting), toughing out another hit for Whitney Houston, and surviving the burden of being Puff Daddy’s boss, the king of Arista still brings home the bacon. Next month he attempts to recharge another career: that of P. Debits Hasn’t even hinted at a successor. FYI Lives in a duplex penthouse in New York’s Ritz Tower.

26. Richard D. Parsons, Barry M. Meyer, and Alan Horn: President, Time Warner; Chairman-CEO; Presdent-COO, Warner Bros. (last year -)

Ages 51/55/56 Credits Will attempt to do what Daly and Semel no longer could: make Warner movies No. 1 again. Meyer, who steered TW cash cow Warner TV, will handle the biz; Horn, a Castle Rock vet, mans the creative. Parsons is there to make it go the way the guys at No. 3 want it. Watch Green Mile give them a running start. Debits None yet—it’s a new regime. FYI Horn is a third-degree black belt in karate.

27. James Cameron, Director-Producer-Writer (last year 9)

Age 45 Credits Making the highest-grossing film ever still carries some weight. Childhood fantasies keep driving him, this time to Mars (an IMAX film; a Fox miniseries). Debits Seems hesitant to announce next feature. How do you outdo Titanic? FYI Gave his daughter, Josephine, a Styrofoam cup that was fossilized during a two-and-a-half-mile descent below the surface of the Atlantic during the filming of Titanic. Later, the cup rode aboard the space shuttle.

28. Jeff Bewkes and Chris Albrecht, Chairman-CEO, HBO; President, HBO Original Programming (last year 35/-)

Ages 47/47 Credits Bolstered by topnotch original programming (The Sopranos, Sex and the City, The Chris Rock Show, Oz), HBO boosted ratings and boasted 23 prime-time Emmys, more than any other network. Debits Which one doesn’t belong: Sopranos, Sex, Chris Rock, Oz, or…Arli$$? Enough with the ho-hum biopics (Dorothy Dandridge, Lansky). FYI Yale-and-Stanford grad Bewkes belongs to the Council on Foreign Relations think tank.

29. Mike Myers, Actor (last year 88)

Age 34 Credits Rewrote the book on sequels. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me grossed more its opening weekend than the original did in its entire run. Will likely party on and into the $20 million club with Sprockets, which finds Gunther in L.A. in search of…David Hasselhoff? ?DEBITS? Overexposure, baby. One more Virgin Shaglantic billboard and it’s backlash time. FYI Myers is a distant relative of William Wordsworth.

30. Adam Sandler and Robert Simonds, Actor-Producer; Producer (last year -/-)

Ages 33/35 Credits Topped their box office streak of frat-boy gag films with Big Daddy ($163.3 mil); Sandler’s new album, Stan and Judy’s Kid, set a first-week comedy-album sales record. Next on Simonds’ plate? Head Over Heels, with Freddie Prinze Jr. and Monica Potter. Debits What happens to Sandler’s success as an arrested adolescent when his fan base grows up? FYI Simonds dated fellow Yalie Jennifer Beals while in college.

31. Ron Meyer, Stacey Snider, and Brian Mulligan: President-COO, Universal Studios; Co-Chairman, Universal Pictures (last year flux/-/-)

Ages 53/38/40 Credits Stability back after Psycho/Meet Joe Black/Babe 2 ’98 winter whammy, with Meyer taking control and installing whip-smart Snider and Mulligan. Marketed The Mummy, Notting Hill, American Pie into summer swans. Man on the Moon could be a winner. Debits Struck out with For Love of the Game; major-league tussle with Kevin Costner over final cut. FYI Meyer has three Andy Warhol prints of Mao Tse-tung in his office.

32. Mel Gibson, Actor-Director-Producer (Last Year 20)

Age 43 ?CREDITS? A hands-on producer, Gibson did Payback reshoots without director Brian Helgeland, propelling thriller to $80 mil. With Icon, financing films like Atom Egoyan’s Felicia’s Journey. Debits Teaming with Emmerich/Devlin for Revolutionary War pic The Patriot doesn’t ring Oscar bells. FYI What with What Women Want and a possible reunion with Jodie Foster (Mace and Mardi), his long-ago-announced directorial effort Fahrenheit 451 is on the back burner.

33. Robert A. Iger, Patricia Fili-Krushel, Stu bloomberg and Lloyd Braun: Chairman, ABC Group, Pres., Disney International; Pres., ABC TV Network; Co-Chairs, ABC Entertainment TV Group (last year 36/36/36/-)

Ages 48/45/50/41 Credits Made shrewd programming moves (Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Once and Again); Good Morning America no longer DOA. Debits More top-heavy than a Hooters waitress—how many people does it take to program a network? FYI Though Alan Thicke fired him as a writer on the 1976 variety show Cos, Bloomberg cast Thicke in Growing Pains.

34. Sandy Grushow, President, Twentieth Century Fox TV, (last year 47)

Age 39 Credits His shop now has the most prime-time shows on the nets (21), surpassing rival Warner Bros.; corners the market on zeitgeisty hits (The X-Files, The Practice, Ally McBeal, Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Debits After siccing Two Guys and a Girl on us, ups the annoyance with NBC’s Stark Raving Mad; will X-Files and Bochco lawsuits affect studio’s relationship with creative types? FYI Knows how to win the rat race: He ran track at UCLA.

35. Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen, Parners, Dreamworks Skg (last year 15)

Ages 48/56 Credits Emerging as boutique rather than major studio/label, thanks to properties like American Beauty and Rufus Wainwright. Katzenberg got big-cheese settlement out of Michael Eisner. Debits Best Pic bobble for Private Ryan; Playa Vista studio plan fell apart; Katzenberg now also reports to Spielberg deputies on live action. FYI As a teen in NYC, Katzenberg worked on John Lindsay’s mayoral campaign.

36. Roger Ames, Chairman-CEO, Warner Music Group (last year – )

Age 49 Credits Meet the other new Warnerite: Ex-PolyGram pooh-bah Ames aims to put Warner more in tune with the global market. Debits Inherits a label group that’s fallen to next-to-last place in current domestic market share. Needs an Rx for Warner Records: According to SoundScan, new Paula Cole album sold just 16,000 the first week. FYI As Poly prexy, he championed All Saints—a credit overseas, a debit here.

37. John Travolta, Actor-Producer (last year 34)

Age 45 Credits Costs $20 mil a picture—and earns it. Case in point: Fueled exceptional box office for The General’s Daughter despite repellent violence quotient. ?DEBITS? Battlefield Earth (wife Kelly Preston has a cameo), a $70 mil adaptation of Scientology guru L. Ron Hubbard’s novel, may invite unwelcome scrutiny about his religion. The Los Angeles Times reports that the IRS has asked Travolta for $1.1 mil in unpaid taxes. FYI Along with $20 mil fee, he gets pages of perks.

38 Scott Rudin, Producer (last year 96)

Age 41 Credits Volatile yet respectable; keeps Paramount flush with auteurs (Martin Scorsese’s Bringing Out the Dead, Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow) and classy Oscar projects (Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes); 2000 (Wonder Boys, Shaft, Rules of Engagement) looks killer. Debits Burton’s never a sure thing, and Dead isn’t vintage Scorsese. Ticked off Paramount during ratings flap over South Park feature. FYI Didn’t care about ticking off Paramount.

39. Jimmy Iovine and Tom Whalley, Co-Chairman; President, Interscope Geffen A&M Records (last year 38/-)

Ages 46/47 Credits Knack for breaking bands; you can thank/blame them for Eminem and Limp Bizkit. Thanks to Universal merger, get to work with Beck and Rob Zombie. Debits Wounded feelings over acts dropped as result of merger (Aimee Mann). Celebrated selling savvy hasn’t jump-started Sting or Chris Cornell. FYI First Interscope breakthroughs were Gerardo’s “Rico Suave” and Marky Mark’s “Good Vibrations,” both in ’91.

40. Amy Pascal President, Columbia Pictures (last year 19)

Age 41 Credits One of few women with power to green-light; used it to snag Adam Sandler for Big Daddy before his salary soared. Could have Oscar nom in Angelina Jolie for Girl, Interrupted. She’s also John Calley’s heiress apparent. Debits When you cut Big Daddy’s $163 million gross out of the picture, she’s got a lot of explaining to do (Eight Millimeter, Cruel Intentions, Dick, Random Hearts). FYI Drinks black espresso obsessively (sounds like our kind of gal).

41. Stephen King, Author (last year 49) Last Year 49

?AGE? 52 ?CREDITS? Best known for horror, the maestro of macabre had one of his strongest years with kinder, gentler offerings: two No. 1 best-sellers (The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, Hearts in Atlantis). Film version of prison drama The Green Mile (starring Oscar magnet Tom Hanks) opens December. Debits Fans want to be scared sleepless again. FYI King purchased the minivan that seriously injured him in a June 19 accident—so he could beat it with a sledgehammer.

42. Thomas Middelhoff, Strauss Zelmick, and Peter Olson: Chairman-CEO, Bertelsmann AG; President-CEO, BMG Entertainment; Chairman-CEO, Random House Inc. (last year 58/67/58)

Ages 46/42/49 Credits Middelhoff’s Internet jones produced cyberdeals with AOL, Zelnick runs BMG, now No. 2 in U.S. thanks to Arista (Santana), RCA (‘N Sync, for now), and 20 percent of Jive (Backstreet Boys, for now). Olson heads Random House, which had 157 best-sellers last year. Debits Major misfire on Dutch bio; BMG will suffer if ‘N Sync flees. FYI Bertelsmann began as tiny German book publisher in 1835.

43. Brian Grazer, Co-Chairman, Imagine Entertainment (last year 28)

Age 47 Credits Yuks-meister is overseeing Jim Carrey in Grinch (directed by Imagine partner Ron Howard) and Eddie Murphy’s phat return to The Nutty Professor 2. Imagine TV includes Felicity, Emmy-winning Sports Night. Made shortlist for Universal exec position during reshuffle last winter. Debits Misguided Psycho, whimsical-but-rejected EDtv. FYI Gets psyched by spending the occasional day with non-Hollywood professionals.

44. Tom Freston, Judy McGrath, John Sykes, and Herb Scannell: Chairman-CEO, MTV Networks; President, MTV; President, VH1; President, Nickelodeon (last year 55/-/-/-)

Ages 53/47/44/42 Credits MTV regroovinated thanks to TRL (and success of MTV Films’ Varsity Blues); VH1 no longer ugly step-sibling, courtesy Divas Live ’99 and Behind the Music. Nickelodeon? Two words: SpongeBob SquarePants. Debits Potential flameout if Viacom-CBS merger means crossovers like Carson Daly on Cosby. FYI Beatles fan McGrath has pictures of the Fab Four on her bedroom wall.

45. Bruce Willis, Actor-Producer (last year -)

Age 44 Credits Does he know how to die hard or what? The Sixth Sense revived his box office life. Hopes to pull another Lazarus at Planet Hollywood with flush investor Prince Alwaleed. Debits Has a good eye for a great indie, but after $117,884 gross for Breakfast of Champions—which he partially financed—he needs new contacts. FYI Demi has her dolls, but Willis has his collection of baseball caps—he owns more than 100.

46. Don Ienner, Chairman, Columbia Records Group (last year 54)

Age 48 Credits Vaunted cross-genre instincts (Nas, Destiny’s Child, Dixie Chicks, Dawson’s Creek soundtrack) prove you don’t have to be named Ricky to sell platinum. Debits On watch when Barbra Streisand delivered A Love Like Ours, arguably one of her worst; last album from New York rockers D Generation reputed to be one of the label’s weakest-selling ever. FYI Bob Dylan recently gave him a vintage guitar inscribed Donnie, you’ve got what it takes.

47. Andy Kaplan and Helene Michaels, Exec. VP, Columbia Tristar TV Group; President, Columbia Tristar TV (last year 53/-)

Ages 38/37 Credits In Sony driver’s seat after exec shakeout, overseeing 34 shows, including eye candy V.I.P., Party of Five, and Dawson’s Creek. Will launch cable soap channel in 2000. Debits Pushing the envelope too far: Manchester Prep never made it on the air; Action has viewers yelling “Cut!” Unlike Sony Music’s Latin sensations, their Spanish-language foray, Telemundo, is not muy bien. FYI Michaels was once a Palm Springs TV news reporter.

48. Richard Lovett, Bryan Lourd, and Kevin Huvane: President; Managing Directors, Creative Artists Agency (last year 43)

Ages 39/38/40 Credits Struck back at poaching ex-parent Mike Ovitz, forcing clients like Claire Danes to choose sides. Still home to A list (Spielberg, Damon, Affleck). Partnered with ad agency SS+K to extend connections to companies like Polo Ralph Lauren. Debits Ovitz battle cost ’em Robin Williams and Martin Scorsese. FYI Agents that play together, stay together: Lovett, Lourd, and Huvane holiday annually in Martha’s Vineyard.

49. Harrison Ford, Actor (last year 39)

Age 57 Credits Studios green-light anything with his name attached to it (even if Anne Heche is involved). Continues to flirt with fourth Indiana Jones. Debits No longer guarantees boffo opening weekend: Random Hearts took in murmur-inducing $13 mil. Insiders long for unpredictable parts (a la Mosquito Coast). It’s up to Robert Zemeckis’ thriller What Lies Beneath to reclaim Ford’s mystique. FYI Adam Sandler’s Chanukah song got it right—he does have Jewish roots.

50. Madonna, Singer-Actress/Co-CEO, Maverick Recording (last year 57)

Age 41 Credits Bought out Maverick partner/former manager Freddy DeMann for reported $20 mil. Hit big with Austin Powers 2‘s “Beautiful Stranger.” Stars with Rupert Everett in 2000’s The Next Best Thing. Debits Mediocre year for Maverick; Alanis Morissette’s latest a sales disappointment; only other hits were from soundtracks. FYI Heard about her upcoming stint as a guest lecturer at Cambridge? Hold those applications: The rumor’s untrue, says her publicist.

51. Peter Roth, President, Warner Bros. TV (last year 29)

Age 48 Credits Enthusiastic Fox TV executive made splashy entrance at Warner, luring Chuck Lorre (Dharma & Greg) and the team behind Will & Grace to Burbank. Unlike previous regime, he’s into serious synergy with The WB. Debits Price tag for wooing talent: $25 million on the above deals alone. Will have to fight to keep Warner’s Jesse and Veronica’s Closet on NBC. FYI Gets up at 3 a.m. to read scripts. Loves to hug.

52. Jim Wiatt, President-Co-CEO, William Morris Agency (last year 45)

Age 53 Credits Woke sleeping giant by moving to William Morris; took Eddie Murphy, Sylvester Stallone, Nora Ephron, and ICM agent Dave Wirtschafter with him. Watch for Ovitz to hand-feed him clients, which will help Wiatt smite ex-ICM partner Jeff Berg. Debits Ruffled feathers during slash-and-burn, unceremoniously dumping some of Morris’ major figures. FYI An avid gum chewer, he takes it out while on the phone, then pops a fresh piece.

53. Lorenzo Di Bonaventura, President of Production, Warner Bros. (last year -)

Age 42 Credits Due to his hands-on shepherding of The Matrix and Three Kings, Warner Bros. seems ready to shake stodgy rep and make itself into a hipper, younger (possibly more profitable) studio. Debits Being in the spotlight also means being accountable—and there’s usually a Wild Wild West for every Matrix. Get the Maalox handy. ?FYI? After Nic Cage bowed