June 29, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

If you could stage the ultimate cocktail party, an evening of glamour and wit stocked with dignitaries both living and dead, whom would you invite? It’s a tantalizing prospect, and it’s all a question of…balance. You’d want the geniuses to mix it up with the babes. You’d want the young firebrand to wind up at the bar with the world-weary veteran. You’d want to catch a whiff of romantic combustion.

Consider the It List ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY’s version of the ultimate cocktail party. Our annual anointed are a diverse bunch; there are doe-eyed ingenues and goggle-eyed Web designers, earnest troubadours and prickly satirists, metaphysical visionaries and mighty physical visions. What unites them? Simply that they’ve got enough intangible It energy to fire up one hell of a hoedown. Imagine svelte Estella Warren swapping quips with stout Josh Kornbluth. Jill Scott jamming with David Gray. Erika Christensen, 18, catching a few life lessons from Rodney Crowell, 50. (We’re open to dead folks, too: Richard Farina, allow us to introduce you to Sir Ernest Shackleton….) We’d want them to mingle — although we suspect you’d have a hard time keeping Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst apart — and after the party ended, we’d expect them to talk about It for a long, long time….

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