The Hollywood Reporter's 35 Most Powerful People in New York Media 2015

5:39 PM 4/6/2015

by THR Staff

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  • Roger Ailes

    Chairman and CEO, Fox News

    Courtesy of FOX News
    WHY HE MATTERS The dominant cable news network for more than a decade, Ailes’ Fox News funnels billions into the coffers of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox. SNL Kagan estimates the channel will earn $2.18 billion this year, the bulk of it from ad revenue and subscriber fees, dwarfing the potential of CNN ($1.16 billion) and MSNBC ($509 million). In fact, Ailes, 74, no longer views those networks as rivals. “We’re competing with TNT and USA and ESPN,” he says. Indeed, in February Fox News was the most-watched network in all of cable in primetime. And for the first quarter of 2015, the net jumped 10 percent in primetime among viewers 25-to-54, the demo most desired by advertisers.
     
    CAREER HIGH POINT “When we finally beat CNN [January 2002], that was good because they had made fun of us along with The New York Times and other people. So it’s always good to actually land the airplane.”
     
    CAREER LOW POINT “When I was [producing] The Mike Douglas Show, I knew every star in the business. I had a room in the Beverly Hills Hotel. I was living pretty good and was 28 years old. When I left the show, I couldn’t get people to return my phone calls.”

     
    SURPRISE TV PICK “So You Think You Can Dance. I flip to MSNBC occasionally to make sure their blind pig didn’t find an acorn. But they never have once. I tell you who I do like at MSNBC — I like Joe and Mika. I don’t watch much CNN, they got out of the news business in primetime. But I look to see if they have a good documentary or movie. If they do, I’ll watch that.”
     
    PEOPLE IN HOLLYWOOD ... “are hopelessly misguided. Amy Pascal said talent is a bottomless pit of need, and that covers everybody out there. They think they’ll stand out and do better by criticizing the institutions and values that made the country great. I like Hollywood people. But they need a history lesson.”
  • Jesse Angelo and Col Allan

    CEO/publisher, New York Post and the Post Digital Network, and editor-in-chief, New York Post

    Getty Images; AP images
    WHY THEY MATTER In the wake of News Corp.’s 2011 phone-hacking scandal and the shuttering in 2012 of its tablet newspaper, The Daily, Rupert Murdoch’s news holdings looked to be on rocky footing. Enter Angelo, who segued from the top job at The Daily to publisher of Murdoch’s New York Post — and wasted no time turning the 214-year-old tabloid into a nimble digital brand. (The paper, with its Page Six, also remains a must-read for the city’s media, Wall Street and showbiz power base.) Under Angelo, 41, Post Digital Network sites have seen triple-digit increases in traffic — 29 million monthly uniques — while Allan, 62, keeps print humming with a stream of carnage and celebrity scandals. The paper’s ad campaign — its first in a decade — trades on that reputation. Reads one taxi-top display, “If this were the Post, there’d be a body in the trunk.”
     
    FAVORITE POST HEADLINE THIS YEAR Angelo: “‘DELETER OF THE FREE WORLD,’ written by Josh Tanzer, was a classic, for sure, but there were an awful lot of good ones.”
     
    FAVORITE PLACE TO CONDUCT BUSINESS IN NEW YORK Angelo: “On the newsstand!”
  • Stephen Colbert

    Future host, 'Late Show With Stephen Colbert'

    MediaPunch Inc/REX USA

    WHY HE MATTERS The man CBS CEO Leslie Moonves anointed David Letterman’s “only logical successor” signed off from Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report in December after nine years (to a series high of 2.5 million viewers) and is set to launch Late Show on Sept. 8. Colbert, 50, will ditch his satirical blowhard persona as he enters a cutthroat broadcast late-night arena armed with a coveted commodity: youthful fans. At an average age of 42, Report viewers skewed almost two decades younger than Letterman’s core.

  • Anderson Cooper

    Host, 'Anderson Cooper 360'

    Charles Sykes/Invision/AP
    WHY HE MATTERS The face of CNN is reaping the benefits of his network’s ratings rebound. Cooper’s 360 telecast is up double digits from 2014 for an average 619,000 viewers (209,000 of them adults 25-to-54) during the first quarter — where he was second only to cable news king Bill O’Reilly in the 8 p.m. hour. Cooper, who remains a regular contributor to 60 Minutes, also enjoyed rare and decisive victories over Fox News Channel on several occasions for his coverage of the unrest in Ferguson, Mo.
     
    WHAT TIME I WAKE UP “I stay up till about 2 a.m. so I like to sleep until 9.”
     
    WHERE I ORDER LUNCH AT MY DESK “I eat the same thing every day: Acai Bowl from Juice Generation and a salad from Fresh & Co. It's one less decision I have to make.”
     
    GROSSEST THING I SAW IN THE SNOW THIS WINTER “I shovel the snow outside my [renovated] firehouse. There’s two bars next door and I see quite a bit of frozen vomit.”
  • Dean Baquet

    Executive editor, The New York Times

    AP Photo/Bill Haber

    WHY HE MATTERS Pulitzers are nice, but Baquet, who stepped into the top job at the nation’s most prestigious news outlet in May — around the same time a report about needed innovation at the paper was leaked — will be judged by a less tangible and even more crucial metric: how the quality of the paper’s reporting is preserved as digital advances. “Ten years ago, who would have thunk the phone and watch are where people would get their news?” says the 58-year-old New Orleans native. “Some of the best stuff this paper does, like ISIS or Ebola videos, doesn’t even appear in print.”

  • Jeff Fager

    Executive producer, '60 Minutes'

    Getty Images
    WHY HE MATTERS 60 Minutes’ ticking stopwatch may be iconic, but the series shows no signs of winding down — it remains television’s most prestigious newsmagazine, scoring world leaders from Barack Obama to Syria’s Bashar al-Assad for headline-making sit-downs. It’s also the most watched show of its kind, by a large margin, averaging 12.93 million weekly viewers this season, up 2 percent from last year. Fager’s challenges: maintain that momentum while extending the brand’s digital reach with web series 60 Minutes: Overtime.
     
    CAREER LOW POINT “We once did a segment about Poland after the collapse of communism. What didn’t [60 Minutes creator] Don Hewitt like about that segment? Everything.”
     
    DREAM INTERVIEW “The pope. Or Vladimir Putin. Maybe together.”
  • Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers

    Host, 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon'; and host, 'Late Night With Seth Meyers'

    AP Images
    WHY THEY MATTER The Saturday Night Live vet turned Tonight Show frontman has done the near impossible for NBC: reinvigorate the late-night format, with a snark-free show heavy on talent-packed bits that routinely go viral. Who else could get first lady Michelle Obama to demonstrate mom dancing (22 million views on YouTube) or Brad Pitt to breakdance (nearly 11 million views)? Since moving Tonight back to New York two years ago, Fallon has owned the late-night launchpad for Hollywood, and studios increasingly have shifted premieres from L.A. to New York. The show averages 3.9 million viewers and bests David Letterman’s and Jimmy Kimmel’s shows in every key demo. Now, Fallon, 40, has turned “Lip Sync Battle,” a viral Tonight segment, into a hit show on Spike; 2.2 million watched the April 2 debut, making it the network’s biggest unscripted bow ever. Meyers, 41, Fallon’s fellow SNL alum, consistently outrates his 12:30 a.m. competition in the all-important 18-to-49 demo. He also is a producer on Hulu animated comedy The Awesomes and is a go-to host whose recent gigs include the NFL Honors and the 2014 Emmys.
     
    GROSSEST THING I SAW IN THE SNOW THIS WINTER Meyers: “Half a Croc sticking out of a snow drift.”
  • James Goldston, Tom Cibrowski and Barbara Fedida

    President; senior vp programs, newsgathering, special events; and senior vp talent and business, ABC

    WHY THEY MATTER The ABC News machine continues to roll over its broadcast competition, not skipping a beat during Ben Sherwood’s transition from news chief to Disney-ABC Television Group president. Goldston’s first year in Sherwood’s old gig saw a third consecutive season of ratings dominance for a.m. flagship Good Morning America and a successful handoff on World News Tonight — where David Muir stepped in for Diane Sawyer Sept. 2 and has since topped NBC’s perennial No. 1 Nightly News 14 times in the demo race (with and without Brian Williams).
     
    CAREER HIGH POINT “Beating the Today show,” says Cibrowski, 47.
     
    CAREER LOW POINT “I was sent to Ohio to book Jeffrey Dahmer’s prom date for a show called Day One,” recalls Fedida, 47. “This was before the Internet or cellphones, and when I got there, she wasn’t home. I needed to get on a flight because I had to have my wedding dress fitted, but my producer said absolutely not. I remember having tears in my eyes thinking, ‘My wedding dress isn’t going to fit because I can’t find Jeffrey Dahmer’s prom date.’”
     
    DREAM INTERVIEW Goldston, 46, covets Charlie Rose’s recent get: Syrian president Bashar al-Assad; Cibrowski: Ray and Janay Rice; Fedida: Pope Francis.
     
    PEOPLE IN HOLLYWOOD ... “are brilliantly creative and fun to have a drink with,” says Goldston.
     
    FAVORITE SHOW ON A COMPETING NET “I love me some CBS Sunday Morning,” says Goldston, seconded by Fedida: “It is a symphony.”
  • Lester Holt

    Anchor, 'NBC Nightly News'

    Charley Gallay/Getty Images
    WHY HE MATTERS It’s tempting to call Holt the accidental Nightly anchor, sliding as he did into the desk of the nation’s most watched newscast (averaging 9.3 million viewers a night this season) amid the mushrooming Brian Williams scandal. But Holt, 56, long has been a key player at NBC. He’s a seasoned live anchor and has ably led multiple broadcasts (weekend Today, Dateline). Many of his colleagues are openly pulling for him to keep the evening anchor job even though ABC’s newscast with David Muir snapped NBC Nightly News’ 288-week winning streak for the week that ended April 3.
     
    WHERE MY PHONE IS AT NIGHT “I’m one of those throwbacks who still has a house phone, so if anyone needs to call me in the middle of the night, they shouldn’t bother with my cell. It’s firmly in the off position.”
     
     
  • Arianna Huffington

    Chair, president and editor-in-chief, Huffington Post Media Group

    Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
    WHY SHE MATTERS Everyone from President Obama to Prince William and Amal Clooney have blogged for The Huffington Post — a testament to the power and reach of this vast digital brand (214 million global unique visitors each month) and its charismatic leader. Ten years after the mogul founded the influential portal, it continues to expand, with upcoming launches of Australian and Arabic sites that will bring HuffPost’s international edition tally to 15. At 64, the mother of two daughters, who lives in Soho, is slowing down — a little: “I have made many changes in the way I live my life, including getting eight hours of sleep a night.”
     
    CAREER HIGH POINT “Launching HuffPost Greece last November was the ultimate homecoming.”
     
    IDEAL NYC TEMPERATURE “There's no ideal temperature. All that matters is that New Yorkers have the chance to complain about the weather. Now we’re complaining about the never-ending winter. But eventually it will end and we can transition to complaining about the heat.”
     
    BEST MEAL FOR BUSINESS MEETINGS “Afternoon tea, with scones — did you know you can get gluten-free ones? — clotted cream and cucumber sandwiches. And walnuts, pistachios, cheeses, berries, Juice Press juices. I inherited my mother’s love of feeding people. She honestly believed that if you didn’t eat something every 20 minutes, something terrible would happen to you.”
     
  • Andy Lack, Deborah Turness and Phil Griffin

    Chairman, NBC News and MSNBC; president, NBC News; and president, MSNBC

    WHY THEY MATTER With NBC News and MSNBC in a period of transition and the fate of exiled anchor Brian Williams still a question mark, 67-year-old Lack — who stepped in as chairman April 6 — has his work cut out for him. “You only learn from the hard stuff,” he said in a 2011 interview. The NBCUniversal brand is still formidable; even as the No. 2 morning show, Today is a money-minting machine, earning nearly $600 million in ad revenue last year, according to Kantar. And despite a ratings slide, MSNBC is expected to make $509 million in revenue this year, according to SNL Kagan. “We have a strong brand, we believe in our brand, and that’s not going to change,” says Griffin, 58. “Andy is a content guy. He’s really engaged and curious. I worked with him for eight years. So I get him.”
     
    CAREER LOW POINT “After working as vacation relief for the Today show in 1984 for six months, there was no head count to keep me. I was devastated," says Griffin. "I walked out of the building and I saw [NBC News correspondent] John Palmer on Sixth Ave. and I couldn't stop to talk to him. Five months later, they called me with a permanent position (as producer, writer).”
     
    INTERVIEW I WISH I HAD “Osama bin Laden,” says Turness, 48.
     
    MOST ADMIRED LEADER “Coach Taylor on Friday Night Lights,” says Griffin. “He’s rational, he’s direct, he’s calm, and he’s got heart. I love the guy.”
  • Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie and Hota Kotb

    Anchors, 'Today'; and host, 'Today'

    WHY THEY MATTER The longest-serving anchor in morning TV, Lauer, 57, is the smooth glue that’s held Today together for more than two decades amid ratings and personnel turmoil. He signed a two-year deal in 2014, and all signs point to the married father of three remaining a Today staple alongside co-anchor Guthrie, 43 (who herself signed a contract in January that will keep her in the co-anchor chair for at least three more years). Emerging as a key player is Kotb, 50, who co-hosts Today’s fourth hour while effortlessly pinch-hitting on hard news and contributing to Dateline NBC.
     
    CAREER HIGH POINT Guthrie: “Anchoring seven hours straight during Boston Marathon bombing coverage.” Lauer: "First day at Today."
     
    DREAM INTERVIEW “Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin,” says Kotb. “They figured out how to make peace — we need a refresher.”
     
    SURPRISE TV PICK Lauer: Modern Family; Guthrie: Top Chef; Kotb: Girl Code on MTV
     
    PEOPLE IN HOLLYWOOD... “are not in need of Spanx,” quips Kotb. 
     
    GROSSEST THING I SAW IN THE SNOW THIS WINTER “[Al] Roker's autograph in yellow,” says Lauer.
     
  • Mark Lazarus

    Chairman, NBC Sports Group

    Virginia Sherwood/NBC

    WHY HE MATTERS Lazarus, 51, has his hand in some of NBC’s greatest successes, from scoring NFL rights, which resulted in a 2015 Super Bowl with the highest-ever audience for a television program (114.4 million viewers), to taking a chance on NHL rights, which paid off when teams from the No. 1 (New York) and No. 2 (L.A.) markets delivered the Stanley Cup Final’s highest ratings in two decades. This summer, he’ll welcome NASCAR back to the NBC fold in a 10-year, $4.4 billion deal. “It’s a major focus for the entire organization,” he says. “We’re very bullish on NASCAR.”

    CAREER HIGH POINT “Melding Comcast and NBC, two different companies with a lot of sports properties, into one brand was a high.”

    CAREER LOW POINT “Telling my kids I had to move them from Atlanta when they were in high school.”
  • Megan Liberman

    Editor-in-chief, Yahoo News Group

    Getty Images
    WHY SHE MATTERS Since joining Yahoo 18 months ago, Liberman has turned the heavily trafficked portal into a breaking-news destination. The 47-year-old former deputy news editor at The New York Times has been on a hiring spree, building up newsrooms in New York and Washington with a roster of seasoned journalists such as politics guru Matt Bai and investigator Michael Isikoff. “We did not have a breaking-news organization here at all before I got here,” says the born-and-raised New Yorker of the portal’s home page, which draws more than 800 million viewers a month. “We want to be known as a destination that you turn to when big things are happening.” After years overseeing digital initiatives at the Times, Liberman, who lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their two children, relishes Yahoo’s tech-first environment. “[Yahoo CEO] Marissa Mayer says … ‘We’re the world’s biggest startup,’” she adds. “I love that energy and sense of possibility.” But she still reads the Times. “And yes, I still get it in print.”
     
    CAREER HIGH POINT “Editing and working with Nate Silver through the 2012 election was quite a ride.”
     
    DREAM INTERVIEW Katie Couric’s interview with Sarah Palin in 2008. “It’s a classic. It’s a high bar for political interviews going forward because there are few that have been that revealing or consequential,” she says. “A good Hillary Clinton interview where she really wants to talk would be great. And all U.S. news organizations would love to get the pope. Everyone wants to talk to the rock-star pope.”
     
  • Sean McManus

    Chairman, CBS Sports

    AP Images
    WHY HE MATTERS Managing the biggest attraction on the most watched network puts McManus in a power position. With the NFL and NCAA Tournament locked in through 2022 and 2024, respectively, he focused this year on building CBS’ new Thursday Night Football, which averaged about 16 million viewers — a bit lower than expectations, but many of the games were blowouts and the NFL renewed the one-year deal for a reported $300 million. Ratings for March Madness (shared with Turner) were up this year, and McManus, 60, has high hopes for golf’s The Masters, airing April 9 to 12. Still, cable property CBS Sports Network is still a work in progress. “We haven’t chosen to spend hundreds of millions of dollars [on rights fees],” he says of the net’s conservative approach. “We’re trying to build it organically and slowly.”
     
    MEMORABLE SPORTS MOMENTS “Being with my father [sportscaster Jim McKay] at the 1972 Olympics in Munich and presenting Tiger Woods’ 1997 Masters victory.”
  • Lorne Michaels

    Executive producer, 'SNL,' 'The Tonight Show' and 'Late Night'

    Frank W. Ockenfels 3

    WHY HE MATTERS Never was Michaels’ power more evident than on Feb. 15, when he assembled comedy’s biggest stars — Will Ferrell, Eddie Murphy and Chevy Chase, to name just a few — for Saturday Night Live’s 40th Anniversary Special. With 27.3 million viewers, the three-hour-plus show was the net’s top-rated entertainment program, save for post-Super Bowl shows, in more than a decade. On a weekly basis, the weekend stalwart still lures A-list hosts, including Jim Carrey and Chris Rock, and more than 6 million viewers. During the week, Michaels’ back-to-back late-night shows regularly outrate their competition. At 70, he has no plans to slow down: “I’m going to keep doing it as long as I possibly can because I love it and because it’s what I do.”

  • Rand Morrison

    Executive producer, 'CBS Sunday Morning'

    Getty Images
    WHY HE MATTERS While CBS Sunday Morning scores its share of big gets (President Obama was on to talk about the anniversary of the Selma march), most weeks it offers an eclectic mix of serious-minded and entertaining topics that scores with audiences. The March 1 episode delivered 6.63 million viewers, marking the show’s sixth-biggest audience since 1987. “Our challenge is always making ends meet,” says Morrison, 65, who feeds his staff ice cream on Fridays to get them through the weekend slog. “We don’t enjoy a lavish budget.”
     
    MOST ADMIRED LEADER “I would’ve loved to spend more time with Charles Kuralt. He was nearly out the door when I got here. You get the sense that the pioneers of early television had the best time on earth.”
     
    SURPRISE TV PICK Newsroom for the entertainment, not the journalism. “I’d love Jane Fonda to be my news director.”
  • David Muir

    Anchor, 'ABC World News Tonight'

    Andrew Hetherington
    WHY HE MATTERS The 41-year-old, who inherited the anchor desk from Diane Sawyer in September 2014, snapped NBC Nightly News' 288-week winning streak for the week ending April 3. Averaging 9.1 million viewers this season, Muir's World News also has won the evening news demo race for 14 weeks. “Not a day goes by when we’re not grateful to see that viewers seem to be responding,” he says, especially in light of the public’s distrust of news media. “I wouldn’t wish it on anyone or any organization, and I probably would say it wasn’t great for the industry as a whole,” says Muir of the Brian Williams scandal. “But we try to earn that viewer’s trust every single night.” Muir's broadcast is the only one to significantly grow its tune-in this season, adding half a million viewers on average and recently closing its most watched quarter in eight years.
     
    DREAM INTERVIEW “Kim Jong-un. I’d ask him, ‘Where have you been? Why so secretive?’”
     
    FAVORITE SHOW ON A COMPETING NET “So we’re gonna do a promo for the other network? (Laughs.) 60 Minutes. I’ve always watched and still do.”
     
    IDEAL NYC TEMPERATURE “Anything above freezing.”
     
    GROSSEST THING I SAW IN THE SNOW THIS WINTER “I don’t look down.”
  • Sheila Nevins

    President, HBO Documentary Films

    WHY SHE MATTERS After arriving at HBO in 1979, Nevins built the network’s storied documentary division from the ground up. Going Clear, Alex Gibney and Lawrence Wright’s Scientology expose, pulled in 1.65 million viewers, making it HBO’s most watched doc premiere since Spike Lee’s 2006 When the Levees Broke. Andrew Jarecki’s The Jinx made national news when, the night before the premiere of the Jinx finale — in which Robert Durst was recorded saying, “[I] killed them all” while in a bathroom — Durst was arrested in the 2000 slaying of his friend Susan Berman. “If fish are dying in the Hudson, that’s not the same as someone confessing in a toilet,” says Nevins. “But in terms of what’s going to change the world, a story about pollution is a greater story for humankind. I’d like to be able to make noise and also nudge the world at the same time. I’m not sure they always go together.”
     
    CAREER LOW POINT “I have high points and low points every day. I have a bipolar career; I have a lot of low points. I’m a chronically dissatisfied person.”
     
    WHERE HER IPHONE IS AT NIGHT “Plugged in by my bed. When its battery runs down, I take it as a personal insult.”
     
    IDEAL NYC TEMPERATURE “I don’t like my arms, so I would have to wear something that has sleeves. 64 sounds about right.”
     
    SURPRISE TV PICK “I like late-night sex shows.”
  • John Oliver

    Host and executive producer, 'Last Week Tonight'

    WHY HE MATTERS In the year since HBO introduced his weekly comedy show, Oliver has achieved a cultural cachet with hot-button interviews (he traveled to Moscow for a sit-down with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden that aired April 5) and an ability to turn boring or impenetrable issues into comedy gold (witness his 13-minute dissection of net neutrality). “It’s his ability to express disbelief and outrage while remaining sort of idealistic and human [that] makes him so good,” says Jon Stewart, Oliver’s former Daily Show boss, “and a finely tuned meter for knowing the difference.”
     
    CAREER HIGH POINT “I was a voice on The Simpsons last year. Seeing my name in that yellow writing was an out-of-body experience.”
     
    CAREER LOW POINT “I once did a college gig in England as the middle act between Mr. Methane, a man in a green suit who farted into a microphone, and Stevie Starr, who billed himself as The World’s Only Professional Regurgitator. I was the audience’s third-favorite act that night, by quite a margin.”
     
    ADMIRED BUSINESS LEADER “Anyone who can honestly say, ‘I am the opposite of Donald Trump.’”
     
    GROSSEST THING I SAW IN THE SNOW THIS WINTER “There is always a particular day each year in New York where the snow melts to reveal the collected horrors it has contained and you can’t help but feel like Rutger Hauer at the end of Bladerunner: ‘I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe …’ I can’t talk about what I saw this year yet. I’m just not ready.”
  • Bill O'Reilly

    Host, 'The O'Reilly Factor'

    WHY HE MATTERS No one comes close to O’Reilly’s winning streak: the most watched cable news program for 15 years; the most watched program in all of cable at 8 p.m.; No. 1 for 172 consecutive months; and up nearly 20 percent in the critical 25-to-54 demographic (503,000) and 6 percent among total viewers (2.87 million) for March. He even saw a ratings bump when he became part of the news cycle, vigorously defending his record covering the Falklands War as a CBS News correspondent. And, of course, he had the full support of his boss, Roger Ailes: “Typical Bill, full steam ahead, man the torpedoes. And I admire that.”
     
    CAREER HIGH POINT “Raising millions of dollars for vets by having the five living presidents sign 10 photos of themselves at the opening of George W. Bush’s library. We auctioned them on the Factor and sold replicas for donations.”
     
    SURPRISE TV PICK “Rizzoli & Isles. The ladies are great.”
     
    ADMIRED BUSINESS LEADER “Roger Ailes is a genius, but outside of my tent, I admire Jeff Fager, who runs 60 Minutes. Honest, creative and a stand-up guy.”
     
    PEOPLE IN HOLLYWOOD ... “overall suffer from lemming-itis. My Hollywood partners, the Scott Free folks (who recently did Killing Jesus), are tremendously talented.”
  • Megyn Kelly

    Host, 'The Kelly File'

    WHY SHE MATTERS Since its October 2013 launch, Kelly’s 9 p.m. show has been second only to fellow Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly’s, pulling in 2.37 million viewers a night and beating the offerings on CNN, MSNBC and HLN combined. The 44-year-old married mother of three displays an independent streak (she pushed back hard on Rudy Giuliani for questioning President Obama’s patriotism) and a sly humor that has made her a favorite among the network’s politically independent viewers. “So much of the news is so dark,” she says. “I try to make people laugh when I can.”
     
    CAREER HIGH POINT “That moment with Karl Rove [on election night 2012]. I knew that would be a big moment. People always ask me if it was scripted and planned. It was neither. That turned out to be a pivotal point in my career.”
     
    DREAM INTERVIEW “Hillary Clinton. I respect her accomplishments. I see the glass ceiling that she shattered. So it would not be some slugfest, but it would not be any thrill up the leg either. If you just keep talking to the leg thrillers, I don’t think you’re going to persuade anybody.”
  • Scott Pelley

    Anchor/managing editor, 'CBS Evening News'

    AP Photo/CBS Broadcasting, Inc., John Paul Filo
    WHY HE MATTERS With a game of musical chairs going on at rivals ABC (planned) and NBC (unplanned), CBS’ Pelley now is the time period’s longest-tenured anchor. Since he joined Evening News as anchor and managing editor in 2011, the newscast has added more than 1 million viewers, with 7.4 million regularly tuning in this season. The 57-year-old was the only anchor to broadcast from Cuba the day President Obama announced U.S. plans to normalize relations, and he followed up with an eye-popping report for 60 Minutes. As a full-time correspondent on the Sunday evening stalwart, Pelley reported from the front lines in the fight against ISIS in Iraq and snagged FBI Director James Comey in his first major television interview to talk about the threat of Americans joining ISIS and the dangers posed by cybercrime.
     
    DREAM INTERVIEW Pope Francis
     
    LAST MOVIE I SAW Nightcrawler. I knew people like that.”
  • Jonah Peretti and Ben Smith

    Founder/CEO and editor-in-chief, BuzzFeed

    AP Images
    WHY THEY MATTER February was a big month for BuzzFeed. Smith, a Brooklyn father of three, landed an interview with President Obama, and a subsequent video starring the commander in chief has garnered more than 51 million views on Facebook. Days later, a post about a blue-and-black (or was it?) dress broke BuzzFeed traffic records with 29.4 million views in less than 24 hours. BuzzFeed sprouted from the depths of web culture, and began its life as a place to find delightful things on the Internet,” Smith, 38, wrote in an email to the staff the day after #TheDress went viral, adding that the spontaneous phenomenon “is a reminder that while we now do so many more things, we’ve never moved away from our roots.” In the nine years since Peretti, 41, founded his viral content lab while still at The Huffington Post, the company has become a digital media powerhouse, churning out listicles and breaking-news posts that attract 200 million visitors a month. Peretti, who lives in Brooklyn with his wife and twin sons, now also has his eyes set on Hollywood with BuzzFeed Motion Pictures. 
     
    DREAM INTERVIEW Smith: “Tom Lehrer, the musical satirist who rose to fame in the ’50s and subsequently disappeared from public view. And of course, the pope.”
     
    WHERE I GET MY NEWS Smith: Twitter
  • David Rhodes

    President, CBS News

    Getty Images
    WHY HE MATTERS With Jeff Fager focused on 60 Minutes, Rhodes, at just 41, now is firmly in charge at CBS News and reporting directly to CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves, who recently extended Rhodes’ contract into 2019. Although CBS ranks third in mornings and evenings, both CBS This Morning and CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley are up in viewers this year (to 3.5 million in the February sweep and 7.7 million for the first quarter of 2015, respectively). And Rhodes, a Bloomberg and Fox News alum (and the youngest person to ever lead a network news division), scored a coup this year bringing in Steve Capus from NBC to produce the evening broadcast.
     
    CAREER HIGH POINT “Still to come, I hope — I’m 41.”
     
    SURPRISE TV PICK “City Drive Live. It’s hypnotic. An endless streaming loop of New York City traffic cameras on channel 72 in Manhattan.”
  • Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan

    Hosts, 'Live With Kelly and Michael'

    Miller Mobley
    WHY THEY MATTER Morning standard Live is more relevant than ever in its third season pairing Ripa with Strahan. The syndicated talker, one of the few that doesn’t tape in L.A., is on a ratings hot streak — it most recently averaged 4.4 million viewers and hit seven-year highs in the targeted demographic of women 25-to-54 — and nabbed Daytime Emmy nominations for both the show and hosts. Perhaps most important, Live remains a booking must for anyone whose promotional tour heads to the East Coast. Recent guests include Oprah Winfrey, Amy Adams and Channing Tatum.
     
    BEST MEAL FOR A BUSINESS MEETING Ripa: “Coffee over the phone.”
     
    WHERE MY IPHONE IS AT NIGHT Strahan: “My iPhone is plugged in by my bed because it’s my alarm — but I don’t really need it because I automatically wake up and only sleep about five hours a night.”
     
    GROSSEST THING I SAW IN THE SNOW THIS WINTER Ripa: “Dog shit. Everywhere!”
  • Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos and Lara Spencer

    Anchors, 'Good Morning America'

    WHY THEY MATTER What’s the secret behind TV’s top-rated network morning show, which for three years has outpaced NBC’s Today in both total viewership and the 25-to-54 demographic? Look to its winning trio: Stephanopoulos, Roberts and Spencer. Throw in a lively mix of stories ranging from the quirky (a profile of a 175-pound pit bull named Hulk) to the newsmaking (Stephanopoulos’ exclusive sit-down with Darren Wilson, the Ferguson cop acquitted of fatally shooting Michael Brown), and it all adds up to one of the most impressive media success stories of the decade: It’s GMA’s robust ad revenue — which rose 12 percent in 2014 to $260 million, according to SNL Kagan — that keeps the rest of ABC’s news division afloat. Stephanopoulos also has made waves with his Sunday morning public-affairs program, This Week — his interview with Indiana Gov. Mike Pence was a tipping point in the backlash against the state’s religious freedom law.
     
    DREAM INTERVIEW “I always wanted to interview Nelson Mandela,” says Roberts, 54. “I admired how he was about reconciliation and not retaliation.”
     
    WHAT TIME THEY WAKE UP "3:15 a.m.,” says Roberts. “I meditate for 20 minutes, watch the overnight news, and I’m out the door headed to the studio by 4:45 a.m.” Stephanopoulos, meanwhile, wakes 45 minutes earlier, at 2:30 a.m. “I get about six hours of sleep a night,” he says.
     
    ADMIRED BUSINESS LEADER “Bob Iger, for his affable rigor,” says Stephanopoulos. “And he’s my boss.”
  • Charlie Rose, Gayle King and Norah O'Donnell

    Anchors, 'CBS This Morning'

    WHY THEY MATTER It might trail Today and GMA, but CBS’ more cerebral morning offering is the only one that can claim an uptick of 7 percent in total viewers this year. And as other shows pepper their lineups with reality-show cast interviews, CBS has leaned into hard news. Which is not to say the show shies away from Hollywood fare. In fact, King, 60, still is holding out hope she’ll snag a Bruce Springsteen interview. “Smart and fascinating,” she says of the media-shy rocker. Rose, 73, who also hosts his own PBS show, and O’Donnell, 41, a rising star at the network, both pop up on 60 Minutes as well. O’Donnell calls the latter a career high: “I’ve been watching every Sunday since I was a kid.”
     
    DREAM INTERVIEW “Kim Jong-un,” says O’Donnell. “My father served for 30 years in the U.S. Army, and our family was stationed in Seoul for a couple of years. North Korea is still the most reclusive and secretive country in the world.” Says Rose: “I’d like to interview Pope Francis and Jack Nicholson, together.”
     
    SURPRISE TV PICK Rose: “Formula One Racing.”
     
    FAVORITE TV SHOW King: “I drank the Empire Kool-Aid big time! So ghetto and fabulous, not to mention brilliant.”
     
    HOURS OF SLEEP I GET King: “I wear one of those Jawbone bands to remind me of the sleep I am not getting. It’s basically four to five hours a night. If I get six, I am doing the hula!” Rose: “I wake up at 4:30 a.m., and I generally get about six hours of sleep each night. I also take two naps each day.”
  • Diane Sawyer

    Anchor, ABC News

    ABC
    WHY SHE MATTERS Since she gave up the confines of the 22-minute nightly newscast last summer, Sawyer, 69, has notched a series of primetime specials that have taken her to Austria with Julie Andrews for the 50th anniversary of The Sound of Music (7.3 million viewers — 20/20’s most watched hour this season) and to the seedier corners of New York City for an investigation into sex trafficking. And on April 24, ABC will air what is sure to be her next blockbuster: an intimate interview with former Olympian Bruce Jenner about his decision to undergo a sex-change operation. “It’s this great gift of evolution. Arriving here, back where I started in a way [at newsmagazines] with the freedom from the tyrannies of a schedule every day. Ben Sherwood [current head of Disney-ABC] calls us the pirate navy. And that’s who we are. We just sort of show up and then set out on these different adventures.”
     
    PEOPLE IN HOLLYWOOD ... “are the great explorers,” says Sawyer, whose husband, director Mike Nichols, died in November. “They’re the Magellans. They remind us that art is such a gift and not just the class you go to to get away from calculus.”
     
    WHERE MY IPHONE IS AT NIGHT “It takes a village every night to find my phone. I have two. I can never find them.”
  • Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski and Rachel Maddow

    Host and co-host, 'Morning Joe'; host, 'The Rachel Maddow Show'

    WHY THEY MATTER Though MSNBC has seen ratings slide, Morning Joe and The Rachel Maddow Show remain key brands for the network, serving as tentpoles at the opposite ends of the day (Joe at 6-9 a.m. and Maddow at 9-10 p.m.). With Scarborough, 52, and Brzezinski, 47, at the helm, Joe remains MSNBC’s most valuable asset with one of the wealthiest, most educated audiences in morning news (Maddow, 42, boasts the same demo). Still, Joe is falling behind CNN’s New Day, which rankles Scarborough. “I’m really competitive. I like to win, but given the choice of having the most important news show to the influencers or beating CNN by a couple of points, that’s not even a close call,” he says.
     
    CAREER HIGH POINT Scarborough: “Having Tim Russert bust into our Iowa caucus show in 2008 and asking if it was all right for him to sit in with Mika and me.”
     
    DREAM INTERVIEW Scarborough: “As always, Paul McCartney. Everybody else is a distant second. If he’s not available, I guess the pope will do.” Maddow: Dick Cheney.
     
    SURPRISE TV PICK Scarborough: South Park; Brzezinski: “Modern Family reruns with my daughter on her laptop. I am totally Claire Dunphy, except not as cute.” Maddow: “River Monsters. Is that surprising? That's probably not surprising.”
     
    LAST MOVIE I SAW Scarborough: “Cinderella. I loved it!”
     
    MOST ADMIRED LEADER Maddow: “I admire everything about how Andrea Mitchell does her job.”
     
    WHERE THEIR IPHONES ARE AT NIGHT Brzezinski: “Laying beside me in bed, and it’s phones, not phone.” Maddow: “Banished.”
  • John Skipper

    President, ESPN, and co-chairman, Disney Media Networks

    AP Images
    WHY HE MATTERS Skipper holds the crown jewel in Disney’s TV empire — the No. 1 cable network in advertising revenue, affiliate fees and viewers (topping perennial champ USA in 2014), according to SNL Kagan. The flagship network is said to be worth more than $50 billion, with ad revenue projected to hit $2.2 billion by 2016. Skipper, 59, who splits his time between New York and ESPN’s Bristol, Conn., headquarters, cites the network’s World Cup coverage and a nine-year, $24 billion extension of its NBA deal (shared with Turner) as recent highlights. But he raised eyebrows when ESPN was included in Dish Network’s new Sling TV over-the-top offering aimed at younger viewers. He says he’s not interested in killing the traditional cable-bundle cash cow. “We’re buttressing the bundle, not dispensing with the bundle.”
     
    CAREER LOW POINT “Mowing lawns as a kid. The grass stain on my white Chuck Taylors was devastating.”
     
    SURPRISE TV PICK Da Ali G Show. Booyakasha!”
     
    WHERE HIS IPHONE IS AT NIGHT “It sleeps and charges in a little fur-lined basket underneath my bed.”
  • Shane Smith

    CEO, Vice Media

    AP Images
    WHY HE MATTERS In 2014, Vice sold 10 percent stakes to both A+E Networks and venture capital firm Technology Crossover Ventures in deals that valued the business at more than $2.5 billion, leaving Smith with a $500 million war chest for expansion. “What I’m most proud of is that we have experienced such tremendous growth and have maintained our independence,” says the gregarious, uncensored Smith, 45, who lives in Tribeca with his wife and two young daughters. “We’re allowed to do whatever the hell we want to do because we run the company.” Vice, which reaches an audience of 500 million a month and could reach $1 billion in revenue this year, has pacted with Rogers Communications for a $100 million studio and 24-hour Vice TV channel in Canada; with 20th Century Fox to release two feature films a year; and with HBO to re-up its show for another two years and expand its footprint with a daily newscast (the largest content deal the cable network has ever struck). The company also has a deal with Snapchat for its new Discover platform and recently pacted with Live Nation on a music site set to launch later this year.
     
    DREAM INTERVIEW “I have three: Vladimir Putin because he doesn’t really talk to the press unless it’s his press; the pope because he is probably the most dynamic political, religious, cultural figure the world has seen in the past 50 years; and Fidel Castro, to talk to him before he dies about his vision of the revolution and where he thinks it’s going to go.”
     
    MOST ADMIRED BUSINESS LEADER “I model myself after [former Viacom CEO and Vice consultant] Tom Freston, not only in my business style but also in my life. He’s definitely an example of that saying, ‘You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.’ He’s a good guy. Everyone loves him. He’s a lot nicer than I am, and I try to always be nicer every day. I think he was one of the last charismatic media executives.”
     
    SURPRISE TV PICK “I like a Sunday afternoon Downton Abbey on the couch. It’s relaxing.”
     
    BEST MEAL FOR A BUSINESS MEETING “A boozy lunch. There’s a study that says you should always do business when someone has eaten because when you’re hungry or thirsty, the natural human reaction is to say no. So if you have a boozy lunch, the reaction when you’re fully satiated is yes.”
  • Howard Stern

    Radio personality, SiriusXM

    AP Images

    WHY HE MATTERS He’s an essential rainmaker for SiriusXM, where his audience makes up a sizable chunk of the company’s 27.4 million listeners. His show has become the first stop for A-list stars including Bill Murray, Bradley Cooper and even Madonna, who willingly serve up intimate revelations (Madonna revealed details of her rape at age 19) in return for massive exposure. Since 2011, he’s served as a judge on America’s Got Talent, and produced a host of TV projects. But while he earns $95 million a year — $50 million from Sirius alone — the restless Stern, 61, is hinting he may leave the company when his contract runs out this year.

  • Jon Stewart and Larry Wilmore

    Host/executive producer, 'The Daily Show'; host/executive producer, 'The Nightly Show'

    WHY THEY MATTER Stewart’s Feb. 10 announcement that he would leave The Daily Show this year made international headlines. Through more than 16 years behind his faux anchor desk, Stewart, 52, transformed the show into a cultural arbiter that skewered both the hypocrisy of Washington and the selective outrage of the media, lifting Comedy Central’s fortunes in the process. “I've come to value comedy in a way I didn't before,” says Stewart. “The more I learned how to do it the more I wanted to utilize it to express what I really thought.” He’s also launched myriad careers: Steve Carell, Samantha Bee, John Oliver, Wilmore and, most recently, Trevor Noah, who will inherit the Daily Show desk. Stewart has yet to reveal what he’ll do next — besides have dinner with wife Tracey and their children — but could claim just about any perch he desires. Wilmore, 53, launched The Nightly Show in January (Stewart serves as executive producer). Since then, The Daily Show’s former Senior Black Correspondent has become a brutally funny debunker of America’s supposed post-racial culture, commenting on everything from the racist chant at the University of Oklahoma (“I’ll stop talking about race when you stop being racist”) to Bill Cosby (“He was never a hero of mine”). Wilmore maintains an executive producer credit on ABC breakout Black-ish, and saw his HBO comedy with Issa Rae ordered to pilot earlier this year.
     
    CAREER LOW POINT Wilmore: “Getting fired from The Bernie Mac Show, the show which I created.”
     
    DREAM INTERVIEW Wilmore: “The pope. I want to see if he would keep it 100 [a reference to Wilmore’s segment that challenges guests to give 100 percent honest answers].”
  • Anna Wintour

    Artistic director, Conde Nast, and editor-in-chief, Vogue

    AP Images

    WHY SHE MATTERS She oversees 20 Conde Nast titles and has ruled Vogue with a manicured hand since 1988 (current circulation is 1.2 million, but the style bible claims 12 million eyeballs). She also created the Vogue/CFDA Fund to encourage new designers; nurtured talent like John Galliano and Zac Posen to the top of the designer heap; often casts the deciding vote when an international luxury brand is hiring for the top job; and has raised over $125 million for the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute — renamed in 2014 The Anna Wintour Costume Institute. To the outside world her image is still shrouded in mystery, just as her eyes are frequently hidden by oversize shades. But among her inner circle, Wintour’s intelligence, taste — and loyalty — are renowned and superlatively praised. “Anna is a great friend first and foremost,” says producer Harvey Weinstein, whose wife is Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman. “In 2008 when my company was having a rough time, she was the most loyal. When you know her, you know that she truly loves what she does — and on top of that, she’s so stylish and so smart. She’s made Vogue bigger than life. She’s it. And what’s interesting is, her stamp on Vogue is her sophistication, yet there’s no one who can’t read it.” Says designer Michael Kors, “In the over three decades I have known Anna, she has never wavered in her curiosity about what’s new and next. She understands better than anyone I know how different worlds intersect, from fashion to Hollywood to sports to big business to politics. To be powerful and relevant in today’s world and to combine experience and curiosity is the best possible combination, particularly in the media.”

     

     

  • Jeff Zucker

    President, CNN Worldwide

    AP Images
    WHY HE MATTERS Give the man his due: CNN’s morning show New Day has been a bright spot, beating Morning Joe for three quarters in a row. And competitors might poke fun at CNN’s nonstop Malaysia Airlines coverage, but Zucker has no regrets. “When there is breaking news, we go all in,” he says. “The formula is proven.” While some point out that the deal for Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown was put together before the 49-year-old stepped into his role, Zucker notes it flourished on his watch. “Clearly, this has all worked.”
     
    DREAM INTERVIEW “The pope. No pope has ever sat for an extended interview, but there hasn’t been a pope like this one.”

    FAVORITE SHOW ON A COMPETING NET “The O’Reilly Factor at 11 p.m. I just find Bill very informative and entertaining. Make sure it’s noted I watch it at 11, not 8.”

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