By EW Staff
Updated January 09, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST

Once a bad boy, always a bad boy? Our cover featuring the outspoken star of 21 Grams and Mystic River drew impassioned, if divided, reactions: Some wrote him off as a poison Penn; others defended their pal (#739, Nov. 28). ”Sean Penn is not only one of the most gifted actors but one of the most politically insightful,” says Greg Wright of North Providence, R.I. ”Should he be silenced because he is an entertainer? I applaud Penn for being brave enough to speak his mind and trying to educate Americans who are merrily going about their lives.” Less than merry, however, were fans of our 50 Greatest Tearjerkers, who cried foul over what didn’t make the cut. ”How could you leave Beaches off the list?” asks Cathy Jones of Southboro, Mass. ”When you do the follow-up with the ones you left off, that better be there.” More than 1,000 similar suggestions came our way, and in response, we have compiled a list of the top 10 sob stories we missed (see page 50). So, Cathy, wipe away those tears.

Patriot Actor

Thank you for the fine article about Sean Penn. Penn is a true patriot for traveling to Iraq and questioning the Bush administration’s policies there. How many other celebrities today have risked their careers or derision for a cause? He sets a good example for everyone who cares about an issue — celebrity or not. CLAUDE M. GRUENER Austin

What a surprise to see Sean Penn on the cover. One may not agree with his politics (I do), but you have to admire his talent. Will the Academy finally wake up and give this man his due! GEORGE SEAMON Lakewood, N.J.

When I read the description of the Sean Penn story on your cover, I thought you were publishing a serious, thoughtful piece on him. But when you called him ”America’s Best Actor,” I realized EW had finally printed a parody issue! Who cares what Penn thinks? He’s just another overblown, self-important Hollywood elitist. He’s entitled to his opinions, but he should know we really don’t care. TOM CHRISTENSEN Rosemount, Minn.

Censor Sensibility

After reading your article on Jimmy Kimmel (”The Year of Living Anxiously”), I was surprised that the ABC censors are so concerned about his program’s content. I watch just to see what crazy thing Jimmy will say next. Who would tune in just to see the assortment of no-name guests on each night? ABC, you can’t offend anyone if nobody’s watching, so let Jimmy take some risks. GEOFF MITCHELL Brantford, Ontario

Tears of Joy

Thanks a lot, EW — just reading about the 50 Greatest Tearjerkers had me in need of a mascara touch-up! The Kleenex Moments were right on target, evoking all the emotions of the films themselves. LAURIE KISNER Lewisville, Tex.

Thank you for The 50 Greatest Tearjerkers. I am ashamed to admit I started to cry when I read the article. My husband makes fun of my very sensitive side when I watch movies. He couldn’t believe an article about sad movies could make me cry! PATTI NEILL Pittsburgh