Why Russell Crowe beat Leonardo DiCaprio, George Clooney beat Mel Gibson, and more decisions in our annual power list

By EW Staff
Updated October 27, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT

Marquee value matters more than ever. That’s why always-bankable stars Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks are joined in the top 10 by man-with-a-Mission Tom Cruise and the unbreakable Bruce Willis. Gladiator hunk Russell Crowe debuts at No. 15, while Leo DiCaprio gets beached. And just as The Perfect Storm outsailed The Patriot at the July 4 box office, George Clooney edges out Mel Gibson.

Thanks to a Scary box office surprise, Miramax cochair Bob Weinstein zooms into the top 10, followed closely by maverick Joe Roth and his Disney replacement, Peter Schneider. The toppers of newly profitable MGM leap 45 places, while Fox experiences some slippage. The same goes for New Line: No Powers means less power, baby.

By upsetting the music industry apple cart, Napster’s founder makes the highest debut on the list (No. 6). Partners in rhyme Dr. Dre and Eminem and leader of the bare-midriff pack Britney Spears also break through, while Universal’s music honcho cracks the top 10. And the heads of teen-pop dynamo Zomba/Jive Records rise 60 spots.

CBS prez Leslie Moonves kept his Eye network focused on the peaks of power, but his counterparts at the other major nets didn’t do as well. And while Law & Order franchiser Dick Wolf climbs 51 spots (buh-dang), Ally McBeal creator David E. Kelley slips 54 ticks to land between rivals Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing) and Darren Star (Sex and the City).

The biggest rise goes to No. 5 J.K. Rowling, whose wizardly creation Harry Potter landed at 101 last year. And among the newly crowned on this year’s list are teen-pop gatekeeper Carson Daly, NAACP chief Kweisi Mfume, and the Cartoon Network’s kick-butt kindergartners the Powerpuff Girls. After all, can the X-Men save the world before bedtime?