The new 007, Chris Rock, and others: See who made waves in showbiz this year
Daniel Craig
Credit: Daniel Craig: Ian West/AP

Daniel Craig & James Bond
Moviegoers may not be so familiar with this guy’s name, but they’ve sure got his number. By signing on to play 007 in Casino Royale, the 37-year-old Englishman (best known for playing a likable drug dealer in Layer Cake) is taking on the most durable action role in Hollywood. No wonder pretty much every actor in the British Commonwealth — from Hugh Jackman to Julian McMahon — wanted the part (the pay’s not bad either; Pierce Brosnan was said to be earning close to $20 million per picture before getting booted from the franchise). Question is, will Sony get what it needs from the deal? The Bond films were one of the main reasons the studio paid $4.8 billion to purchase MGM, and after a disastrous 2005 (Stealth was one of Sony’s most expensive flops ever), it now needs Bond more than Moneypenny ever did.

Steven Soderbergh & 2929 Entertainment
It’s not the largest deal of the year in terms of dollars — the combined budgets of the films involved wouldn’t cover King Kong‘s banana bills — but it may turn out to be among the most important. By simultaneously releasing each of his next six indie pictures in theaters, on cable, and on DVD, director Soderbergh and 2929 are gambling on what some believe will be the distribution model of the future. ”The movie industry is the only [one] that insists on how you get to view things and in what sequential order,” explains 2929 CEO Todd Wagner. ”If you’re hearing a song on the radio, they don’t say, ‘Now wait five months and you’ll get to buy that CD.’ It’s an immediate thing.” If they’re right, it’ll be bad news for the already-suffering theater chains, but it would at least solve the piracy problem. Who needs bootlegs when Tower will have the real deal on opening weekend?

Howard Stern & Sirius
Move the smack, the junkies will follow. And never underestimate the addictive qualities of Howard Stern, who keeps promising to take his audience — 6 million a day — with him when he ditches FM for satellite in January. Since Sirius announced the deal, subscriptions have quadrupled, from 600,000 to 2.2 million. Rival XM hasn’t been backsliding either; even without Fartman, they’ve doubled their tally from 2.5 million to 5 million. As a signal change, this may prove to be the fart heard round the world.

March of the Penguins
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