The No. 1 spot goes to two hitmaking Hollywood execs, but Hanks, Roberts, Oprah, and Tom Cruise all make the top 10

By Brian Hiatt
Updated October 19, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT
Julia Roberts
Credit: Julia Roberts: Chris Delmas/Zuma Press

A mummy, some dinosaurs, and a nice warm pie helped propel two Universal execs to the top of Entertainment Weekly’s Power List of the 101 mightiest players in the world of entertainment. Ron Meyer and Stacey Snider, the suits behind summer smashes ”The Mummy Returns” ($417 million gross worldwide), ”Jurassic Park 3” ($258 million), and ”American Pie 2” ($182.7 million), land at No. 1 for their role in revitalizing the studio — which was once nearly as dead as high priest Imhotep.

”They’ve had flat-out the best year of all the studios — it was one hit after another,” says Mary Kaye Schilling, the EW assistant managing editor who oversaw the Power Issue (on newsstands Oct. 19). Schilling also points to Universal’s newfound ability to move beyond sequels and other known quantities with surprise hits like ”The Fast and the Furious” ($139 million).

A somewhat more familiar figure — Tom Hanks — holds down the No. 2 slot, where he’s touted as ”America’s most beloved face.” ”At this point in his career he doesn’t seem able to make a mistake,” Schilling says. In addition to his starring roles in ”Castaway” and the upcoming ”The Road to Perdition,” Schilling also cites Hanks as a producer of the critically acclaimed HBO series ”Band of Brothers.”

Last year’s No. 1 player, CBS president-CEO Les Moonves, slips to No. 3, buoyed by the popularity of ”Survivor 2,” ”CSI,” and the Monday night comedies ”King of Queens” and ”Everybody Loves Raymond.” And for the second year in a row, those Dreamworks guys — you know, Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen — hold down the No. 4 slot, thanks to ”Gladiator” and ”Shrek.” ”We thought about breaking [Spielberg] out on his own and doing Dreamworks separately,” Schilling says. ”But I think a lot of people felt if you just did Spielberg, you’d have to take him down a lot because of ‘A.I.’ Whether you liked the movie or not, it wasn’t what it was supposed to be.”

Meanwhile, after snagging a Best Actress Oscar for ”Erin Brockovich,” Julia Roberts hits No. 5, in part for leading the admittedly mediocre ”The Mexican” and ”America’s Sweethearts” to respectable box office takes. ”She is probably the most powerful female actress of all time,” Schilling says. ”She’s proved that with her ability to get Americans into movie theaters.”