The Power List 2004 -- EW's Power Issue tracks the rise and fall of entertainment's most riveting players

By EW Staff
October 22, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

The list is history.

Our 15th annual Power Issue features a big change: For the first time, you won’t find a numerical ranking. When we created our list in 1990, power — how to get it, keep it, and most importantly, take it away from the next guy — was a blood sport in Hollywood. Michael Douglas’ greed-is-good speech from 1987’s Wall Street was still ringing in our ears and Michael Ovitz was using The Art of War to turn CAA into the center of the entertainment universe.

Don’t get us wrong; 14 years later, power remains the currency of the realm. But a ranked list isn’t as relevant. For one thing, as a culture, we ‘re no longer enthralled by those so-called ”Masters of the Universe.” And ordering 100 of them from top to bottom seems kind of beside the point — it’d be like comparing apples and oranges, Sopranos and Corleones, J. Lo’s and Jay-Z’s.

So we’ve rejiggered our list to hone in on what we think you really want to know: Who gained — or lost — power in the last year, and how did that happen? Rather than revisit the ever-powerful (yes, Oprah is still a force, but no more so than in 2003), we’ve chosen to focus on the movers and shakers whose careers and lives changed dramatically in the last 12 months. This year’s players range from our maverick cover subject to Dave Chappelle, comedy’s $50 million man, to independent film’s guru, Harvey Weinstein. Their stories are, in our opinion, the most compelling of 2004.