The Hollywood Reporter's 35 Most Powerful People in New York Media 2014

2:55 AM 4/16/2014

by THR Staff

New entries this year include BuzzFeed's Jonah Peretti and Ben Smith, Vice Media's Shane Smith and Gawker's Nick Denton.

Matt Furman
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  • Jill Abramson, David Carr and A.O. Scott

    Executive editor, media and culture columnist and chief film critic, The New York Times.

    1.26 million: Average print circulation of the Sunday Times

    Why they matter: The institution has made leaps forward under Abramson, 60, who unveiled two new online monthly subscription tiers this year, and considers the union of print and digital content one of her banner priorities: "I've been the strongest partner on the news side pushing for an integrated and highly innovative newsroom," she has said. Meanwhile, industry observers look to Carr, 57, and Scott, 47, as trusted guides to navigate the media landscape. Scott's influential reviews are quoted even when he doesn't want them to be: "Scott Rudin appreciated my Tweet about Inside Llewyn Davis so much, he used it in an ad, even after I told him he couldn't."

    Proudest accomplishment this year: Says Carr, a married father of three: "I did a series of columns about the shift in power from institutions to individuals [i.e., bloggers] in breaking the [NSA leak Edward] Snowden revelations," while Scott cites his Cross Cuts column, "which gives me a chance to look at how movies function within the culture as a whole." Spike Lee obviously reads it, blasting Scott last month for a perceived insult of his Brooklyn credentials. "I certainly didn't intend it to be," says Scott, married with two kids, who was pleased that Lee (perhaps unwittingly) name-checked his great-uncle, legendary actor Eli Wallach, as an authentic borough hero.

    Goal for coming year: "I hated that I was caught so flat-footed by Jeff Bezos buying The Washington Post -- I was literally sitting on a beach when I found out," says Carr, so "I'd like to talk newspapering with Jeff Bezos."

  • Roger Ailes

    Chairman and CEO, Fox News

    Courtesy of FOX News

    2.15 million: Nightly viewers of the primetime block on FNC -- the No. 1 news network for 12 consecutive years

    Why he matters: With a successful (and rare) revamping of the dominant cable news net's primetime block in October, the chief has improved his flagship's showings in the 9 and 10 p.m. hours as MSNBC and CNN continue to wrestle for a distant second place (even combined they're bested by a margin of more than 2 million total viewers). The 73-year-old also made a star out of Megyn Kelly, who has staged a successful segue from daytime, and is trying to bolster Fox Business Network, notably by poaching Maria Bartiromo from CNBC.

    Goal for next year: "To improve the Fox Business Network, maintain the growth of the Fox News Channel and to improve news in the local stations owned by Fox," says Ailes. "Whatever success I've had is because I do hire good people. This whole change in the primetime lineup, that was dangerous, slightly difficult, yet every single decision we made we won."

     

  • Jesse Angelo and Col Allen

    Publisher and editor-in-chief, New York Post

    Getty Images; AP images

    15 million: Visitors to NYPost.com and PageSix.com in March

    Why they matter: With headlines like "Osama Bin Wankin'!" and "Weiner's Rise and Fall," the New York Post continues to be impossible to ignore since being founded in 1801 by Alexander Hamilton. Last year, parent company News Corp. split its film and TV assets from its publishing ones, and now the pressure is on Angelo, 40, and Allan, 61, to turn around millions being lost on the print edition. Last September, Angelo led a reboot of the Post's digital properties, and so far, returns have been impressive, with unique visitors up to 15 million a month, compared to about 10 million six months ago. The publication also has been gaining online revenue through integrated ad partnerships with the likes of Bravo TV and the Tennis Channel. The trend has led Rupert Murdoch to muse that the Post might be all-digital in a decade. "There's not a news proprietor who hasn't mused whether there will be a print product in 10 years," responds Angelo. As for Allan, he's just back from an assignment to revamp News Corp.'s struggling Australian papers. Did Angelo miss him? "Desperately."

    Proudest accomplishment this year: "Fifty percent of traffic is coming from mobile devices," says Angelo. "That is up from 30 percent a year ago. Growth is explosive."

    Goal for next year: "Bigger, better, faster, more innovative, breaking more stories and, oh, there will be a big new push into video," says Angelo.

  • Michael Bloomberg and Justin Smith

    Founder and owner of Bloomberg LP; CEO, Bloomberg Media Group

    Bloomberg Media; Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

    340 million: Homes Bloomberg TV is in globally, which will increase as Bloomberg and Smith expand international market share, with media watchers speculating they will target audiences in Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia.

    Why they matter: In July, Bloomberg's luring of Smith, 44, from his former post as Atlantic Media Group president was considered a major coup. The exec, who has a reputation as an aggressive digital innovator, was widely credited with righting the ship at Atlantic, which became profitable in 2010 after operating in the red for years. Among his key initiatives was the creation of groups combining business and editorial staff with the goal of coming up with new ideas, spawning The Atlantic Wire and Atlantic Cities websites.

    Proudest accomplishment this year: In March, Smith unveiled a six- pronged strategy he says will ensure Bloomberg remains the premiere news source for the world's most influential people. "Getting two thumbs up from Mike Bloomberg and our CEO Dan Doctoroff" on the plan was a milestone, says Smith.

    Goal for next year: Launching online destinations beyond Bloomberg.com and Businessweek.com and investing in digital video. Smith and his team will "tap into the entrepreneurial spirit that built Bloomberg LP," based on the "owner's insistence on long-term perspective," Smith has said of Bloomberg, a New Yorker who counts as family partner Diana Taylor and daughters Emma, who recently left her post as head of the anti-poverty nonprofit Robin Hood Foundation, and equestrian Georgina, who just gave birth to son Jasper.

    Nemesis: "Digital media start-ups chasing big dreams without fear of failure" as sources of the next big idea, says Smith.

    Off-hour: The father of two splits his time between New York and Washington, D.C., and enjoys taking his daughter, Esme, 11, and son, Auden, 7, to local animal shelters to play with dogs and cats, all while "resisting adopting another."

  • Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough

    Co-hosts, MSNBC's Morning Joe

    Brian Ach/AP Images for The Hollywood Reporter

    360,000: Average total viewers for the first quarter, good enough to beat CNN for the 17th straight quarter.

    Why they matter: The crackly chemistry between Brzezinski, 46, and Scarborough, 51, gives their morning report a can't-miss jolt that occasionally invites teasing. "People view us exactly how Samantha Bee described us in her deadly accurate 60 Minutes-style exposé about the Morning Joe dysfunctional family," says Scarborough of the Daily Show segment that portrayed the hosts as bickering parents. The show is as comfortable becoming a pop-culture punch line -- its website touts its viral June interview/takedown by Russell Brand as one of its 2013 highlights -- as it is tackling serious subjects, including recent segments about post-traumatic stress disorder and veteran suicides.

    Big get: Vice President Joe Biden stopped by for an exclusive gun-safety roundtable in April 2013.

    Off-hours: "After the show, I spend a good chunk of my day in the studio recording music," says Scarborough, who plays guitar, bass and keyboards and describes his style as "alt-pop." Meanwhile, Brzezinski will host a conference on success and well-being based on Arianna Huffington's book Thrive in April.

    They can't work without: "My venti extra hot, extra foam Black Eye Misto," says Brzezinski (Starbucks sponsored the show until last summer). Scarborough cites his "$29.95 L.L.Bean pullover sweater that I wear every morning from Oct. 15 to March 15." (Although Brzezinski eventually took him suit shopping.)

  • Stephen Colbert

    Host, Comedy Central's The Colbert Report

    Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP

    1: Emmy win for outstanding variety series for Colbert Report -- which unseated decade-long champ The Daily Show in 2013

    Whey he matters: When CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves had to find a replacement for late-night icon David Letterman, who will retire next year after 34 years in broadcasting, there was only one person on his list. Colbert, said Moonves, is "the greatest replacement we could find" and "the only logical successor."

    And so Colbert, 49, will wrap up his Comedy Central show for a lucrative five-year deal as the host of CBS' Late Show. He'll leave behind his high-wire act of a conservative persona-slash-parody but, one hopes, none of his subversive humor, as demonstrated by the #CancelColbert campaign that sprouted up after The Colbert Report tweeted one of Colbert's racist jokes out of context. Rather than apologize, he deftly parlayed the controversy into comic fodder, noting on the air, "Who would have thought a means of communication limited to 140 characters would ever create misunderstandings?"

  • Bill O'Reilly

    Host, The O'Reilly Factor

    Charles Sykes/Invision for The Hollywood Reporter/AP Images

    2.79 million: Total viewers

    Why he matters: Factor has been the No. 1 cable news show in total viewers and in the 25-to-54 demo for 14 straight years. In the 8 p.m. time slot, O'Reilly's audience is bigger than CNN's, MSNBC's and HLN's combined. When not hosting, he's writing best-selling books, two of which — Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy — were ratings bonanzas as TV movies for National Geographic Channel. The third book in the series, Killing Jesus, was the biggest-selling nonfiction book of 2013 and will also make its way to Nat Geo next year. "We're rolling in the entertainment industry," says O'Reilly, 64.

    Proudest accomplishment this year: "The Obama interview on Super Bowl Sunday," he says. "We got a lot of stuff on the record that had not been there and it was live with no wiggle room at all." The host says it was particularly important to challenge the president on alleged IRS and Benghazi scandals, and at-risk youth "getting pounded by pernicious entertainment," he says. "A few weeks after that he launched the My Brother's Keeper initiative and invited me to the White House."

    How his rivals view him: "After 18 years on the air, they've tried everything to destroy me and it didn't work, particularly MSNBC. So now they're just resigned to knowing they have no realistic hope of winning the 8 p.m. hour."

    What he does with a free day: "I like to be active," says O'Reilly, who enjoys ice skating and playing half-court basketball. "And I coach my son's Little League team. You should see it. I'm a throwback to the way baseball used to be. There's no whining and we get our uniforms dirty."

  • Megyn Kelly

    Host, The Kelly File

    623,142: Adults 25-to-54 who made Kelly cable's most watched anchor in the key news demo during her first week in primetime

    Why she matters: Simply put, Kelly, 43, is the fastest-rising star on the top cable news net. After she and husband Douglas Brunt welcomed their third child in July 2013, Kelly was promoted from her daytime show into the coveted post-Bill O'Reilly slot at 9 p.m. With cable news' biggest lead-in and her rep for eagerly sparring with guests, she's become the face of the aging net's future.

    Her big get: "Judge Judy [Sheindlin] -- and that one will stand the test of time," she says. "I know it sounds silly, but she's important to me. I've really looked up to her, and I never got to meet her until I launched this show. They said no [to our first asks]. It never caused me to stop loving her, but I was crushingly disappointed whenever I saw her someplace else. Finally she said yes. I was starstruck."

    One thing she can’t work without: “My coffee. It's cliché, but it's the truth. I have three kids, for God's sake."

    Goal for next year: "I don't consider myself a feminist -- though Sheryl Sandberg said I am one, I just don't know it -- but there are so few women in primetime, there's an opportunity to start featuring more successful, powerful women on the show."

  • Sean Hannity

    Host, Hannity

    Fox News Channel

    1.5 million: Total viewers

    Why he matters: Liberal media pundits cited Hannity's move from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. in October as evidence his influence was waning. Since then, his ratings are 27 percent higher in the key 25-to-45 demo than previous time-slot occupant On the Record With Greta Van Susteren, and the married father of two has a bigger audience than CNN's Anderson Cooper and MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell combined. Hannity is the fourth-highest-rated cable news program in the demo. The conservative host also attracts an estimated 13 million listeners a week to his radio show, which makes him the second-most-popular political talker in the medium, trailing only Rush Limbaugh.

    Proudest accomplishment: "I mentioned a couple of years ago on radio that if I was out of work, I'd move to North Dakota and work for the oil companies," says the host. "Some people who heard me packed up their bags and moved there, and now I'm getting calls from people thanking me because they're making $100,000 a year." Hannity says those conversations with radio listeners prompted him to schedule two days in the state for an upcoming TV segment. "It's killing me that 50 million people are on food stamps. My view is, government sucks, so we're going to bypass bureaucrats and help people who need help." Maybe it's that attitude that got Hannity some unsolicited press recently when he took some friends to dinner (among them a Duck Dynasty castmember and a U.S. senator) and left a $5,000 tip. "My first job was when I was 12 washing pots and pans for $2.25 an hour, so for years now I tip 100 percent," he explains.

    What he does with a free day: "Anything outdoors is fun," says Hannity, adding that he skis, fishes and plays a mediocre game of golf (his best score is 84). His children, a son age 15 and daughter age 12, play competitive tennis. "So usually I'm traveling the country watching balls go back and forth," he says. "They won't let me warm them up anymore because I'm not good enough."

    How his rivals view him: "I don't give a flying rip. But I think they're arrogant, egotistical, selfish, narcissistic morons. Their channel is horrible. They're on a mission 24/7 of left-wing radicalism. I'll leave it to you to decide who I'm talking about."

  • Anderson Cooper

    Host, CNN's AC360, correspondent, CBS' 60 Minutes

    Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

    452,000: Viewers in the key demo who tuned in to him at the peak of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 mania, beating long­time ratings leader The O'Reilly Factor three days in a row

    Why he matters: Throughout Jeff Zucker's tumultuous first year at the helm of CNN, Cooper, who reportedly pulls in a salary of $11 million, has been the one constant and has become the face of the CNN brand. But it was the mystery of a missing jetliner that, for better or worse, turned around a ratings cold streak for the 46-year-old newsman, with his exhaustive (some might say exhausting) coverage boosting viewership by 36 percent compared with the previous year. "I certainly understand those people who say it's too much," Cooper says. "Look, as somebody who flies all the time, I think it's fascinating."

    Off-hours: The lifelong resident of Manhattan, who lives in a restored 110-year-old West Village firehouse with his boyfriend of five years, bar owner Ben Maisani, says: "It just sounds lame, but I can nap pretty much anywhere at any time. As we speak here, I could be asleep in five minutes."

    Proudest accomplishment this year: "We did a documentary about the Boston Marathon bombing survivor Adrianne Haslet-Davis [that aired April 8 on CNN]. I met with her at the hospital days after the bombing. She'd had part of her leg removed, and she's a dance instructor. We followed her over the course of the whole year, showing the ups and downs she's gone through."

    Guiltiest pleasures: Cooper says he has rid himself of his addiction to trashy reality TV, instead streaming dramas on Netflix like The Fall, a BBC mystery starring Gillian Anderson. "But I watch The Soup and Tosh.0 and Andy Cohen's show [Watch What Happens Live]," he admits. "It keeps me abreast of a whole lot of stuff that I don't watch live."

  • Bob Costas

    Commentator, NBC Sports & Olympics

    AP Photo/Evan Agostini

    23.5 million: Viewers who tuned in to the Sochi Olympics on Feb. 17, Costas' first night back on air after contracting an eye infection

    Why he matters: It's a testament to Costas' singular place in sports that his eye infection became one of the most memorable headlines to come out of NBC's Winter Olympics coverage. Costas can laugh about it now, but being sequestered in a darkened hotel room while Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira ably filled in was a blow -- albeit softened by his return to those record-breaking ratings. Through 14 Olympics and more than 30 years in broadcasting, Costas, 62, has become the antidote to the saccharin that has crept into sportscasts. He offers reasoned opinions on the racial insensitivity of the NFL's Washington Redskins ("If you encountered a group of Native Americans, would you say, 'Hello, Redskins!'? It's absurd") and the NFL's troubling gun culture, among other issues. "Would I talk about steroids with the bases loaded in the ninth inning? No," he says. "There's a time and a place -- a well-constructed 20 seconds can get the job done."

    Goal for next year: "I'd like every football season to include a legitimate, substantial sit-down with [NFL commissioner] Roger Goodell, whom I like very much. But he runs the league; he should be subject to direct but fair questioning."

    He can't work without: "Evidently, eye drops."

    Off-hours: "Both of my children are in New York: My son, Keith, 27, is at MLB Network, and my daughter, Taylor, 24, is getting a master's at Columbia," says Costas, who lives on Central Park West with his wife, Jill, "so I spend as much time with them as I can, whether it's going to the movies or a ballgame or play."

  • Nick Denton

    Founder and publisher, Gawker Media

    Sipa via AP Images

    47 million: Monthly U.S. readers of the company's portfolio of sites

    Why he matters: The financial journalist turned Silicon Valley entrepreneur (networking event operator First Tuesdays; news aggregation service Moreover Technologies) turned controversial media titan has called the Internet a "secret-spilling machine." His Gawker Media -- which has exposed everything from football player Manti Te'o's fake girlfriend to existence of video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack -- is the cog that keeps that machine running. Since launching it in 2002, Denton, 47, has grown the company into an eight-blog clickbait empire with an estimated $40 million in annual ad revenue.

    Current goal: Denton, who lives with his fiance, actor Derrence Washington, in SoHo, is focusing his energy on Kinja, a commenting tool, distribution platform and social network that he hopes will turn Gawker commenters into de facto reporters to crowdsource a story. "Kinja is the expression in software of the editorial mission that has driven Gawker since 2002," he wrote during a company town hall conducted via Kinja. "What's the real story, what really happened? That's the question we've tried to answer since the very beginning."

    Nemesis: Denton called Jonah Peretti's BuzzFeed "the perfect competitor" to Gawker. "It's a meaningful fight, because Gawker Media and BuzzFeed represent two very different forces struggling for the soul of Internet media."

  • Jeff Fager and David Rhodes

    Chairman, CBS News, and executive producer, 60 Minutes; president, CBS News

    12.6 million: Average weekly viewers for 60 Minutes, the No. 1 newsmagazine on air

    Why they matter: It may have been a challenging season for the news division's venerable and still top-rated 60 Minutes. But Fager is adamant that the broadcast has recovered from an October report that failed to vet an eyewitness account during the U.S. embassy attacks in Benghazi, Libya. "'Recovered' is one way of putting it," says Fager, 59, a married father of three grown kids. "We all make mistakes, and that was a tough one for us. It's a very resilient organization as long as you don't walk past something like that. We learned a lot from it." Fager has added veteran CBS News anchor Bill Whitaker to 60's stable of correspondents, and the division is expanding its footprint with a digital streaming service, spearheaded by Rhodes, set to launch in the fall. "It's going to take time," admits Rhodes, 40, who is married with two young sons. "But we want to accomplish a technological transition and do it in a way that reinforces everything that we're doing on broadcast TV."

    Proudest accomplishment this year: "The Assad interview, easily," says Rhodes. Charlie Rose sat down with Syrian President Basharal-Assad in September, weeks after 1,400 Syrian men, women and children were killed in a chemical attack. Adds Fager, "It symbolized what we hope to accomplish on a daily basis: big important story, right in the heart of it, difficult to get."

  • Jimmy Fallon

    Host, NBC's The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

    NBC

    11.3 million: Viewers who tuned in to watch his first night as host of NBC's Tonight Show

    Why he matters: Who would have thought Fallon -- that scrappy SNLer best known for musical impressions and characters like Jarret the webcam stoner -- would command late night's most hallowed institution? Well, Lorne Michaels. He campaigned to have Fallon take over for a departing Conan O'Brien in 2009. The world knows how that played out for O'Brien (cue trombone slide), but long shot Fallon proved perfect for the job, his unjaded enthusiasm, absurdist humor and social-media know-how adding up to an addictive talk-show cocktail. Fast-forward to April, and the 39-year-old funnyman, six weeks into his high-stakes Tonight gig, is pulling in stunning ratings, with an average 5.2 million viewers tuning in nightly to catch such high-wattage guests as Michelle Obama and Will Ferrell, who both participated in a teen-girl talk-show sketch called "Ew!" (Fallon, who lives with his producer wife, Nancy Juvonen, and their baby daughter in Gramercy Park East, says it was the comedy highlight of his year.) In the words of giddy NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke, "If we could have had anybody in the world for 11:35, it would have been Jimmy."

    Proudest accomplishment this year: Not a hard one for Fallon, who tells THR, "Bringing The Tonight Show back to New York City for the first time in over 40 years."

    Goal for next year: "Drastic plastic surgery."

    He can't work without: "Our writers. They keep coming up with fresh ideas every week. I don't know how they do it. Except [longtime colleague] Patrick Borelli, who's represented at [comedy managers] Principato Young by Tucker Voorhees. So if you know of any work, he'll be looking soon."

  • Pat Fili-Krushel and Deborah Turness

    Chairman, NBC Universal News Group; president, NBC News

    Jesse Dittmar

    147 million: Monthly viewers the NBCU news portfolio reaches on air and online

    Why they matter: While Fili-Krushel, 60, has spent the past year focused on expanding the NBCUniversal news division's digital footprint, her recent hire Turness, 47, has been bent on getting Today back to No. 1, where it spent 16 years before being knocked off that pedestal by ABC's Good Morning America in April 2012. Turness, a former U.K.-based ITV executive, has steered the show toward harder news; though still No. 2, it has closed the gap. "When I arrived in early August, Today was still losing viewers," she says. "By September, we were back in growth, and we've been sustaining year-to-year growth now for seven months." Although NBC's weekend flagship Meet the Press has stumbled (third place behind CBS' Face the Nation and ABC's This Week for three consecutive quarters), NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams is logging its strongest ratings since 2005. With former GMA face Josh Elliott defecting to NBC Sports, Fili-Krushel and Turness, each married with two children, have many wondering if they will poach the affable anchor for rival Today when his six-month noncompete clause ends. All Turness will offer: "He just got hired, so that's as far as it goes, but he's a great talent, and I'm obviously very happy."

  • Phil Griffin

    President, MSNBC

    Frederick Brown/MSNBC

    739,000: MSNBC's average weekday primetime viewership in 2013

    Why he matters: Despite a rocky run of new anchors during the past year -- short-lived Alec Baldwin, low-rated Ronan Farrow -- and a series of public apologies (see: Martin Bashir on Sarah Palin), Griffin, 57, lords over a network with considerable influence. One need only look to its leading coverage of the Chris Christie bridge scandal, led by Rachel Maddow and Steve Kornacki, as proof. While still lagging behind top-rated Fox News, the married father of two's cable news channel rounded out 2013 with a bigger average weekday primetime audience than rival CNN for a fourth straight year. In the key 25-to-54 demo, the left-leaning network led by Griffin, a hands-off manager with strong talent relationships, lured 203,000 viewers, topping CNN for a fifth straight year.

    Proudest accomplishment this year: "We've really made an effort to shine a light on stories that aren't getting a lot of attention, whether that's our coverage of the Duke Energy issues in North Carolina, voting-rights issues in Florida, Texas and Missouri or education issues in Arizona. I like this notion that we're getting outside of Washington."

    Goal for next year: "I really want to own the midterm elections."

    Weekend activity: "My weekends are built around sports. Unfortunately my teams are the Mets, Knicks and Jets, so it's a very dark world."

  • Arianna Huffington

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

    Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

    79 million: Monthly audience for The Huffington Post, per comScore

    Why she matters: The mogul's reach continues to extend with March's New York Times No. 1 best-seller Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder and her AOL-owned website expanding to its 10th country, Brazil. HuffPo's global audience has increased by 12 percent during the past year.

    Big get: The WorldPost, a joint venture with billionaire financier Nicolas Berggruen, shows off the New Yorker's world-class Rolodex with a slate of contributors including Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Yo-Yo Ma. Its board is equally impressive, boasting Google's Eric Schmidt and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.

    Proudest accomplishment this year: It's a tie between the launch of WorldPost in January and Thrive, which Huffington, 63, calls "a deeply personal book" inspired by her mother. Of the book's theme, the mother of Yale students Isabella and Christina (the latter made waves in Glamour's September issue, penning an essay detailing her recovery from drug addiction) says, "Our traditional notion of success based solely on money and power is dangerous and costly -- and is not making anyone very happy."

    Nemesis: None, except an inner voice she describes as "the obnoxious roommate" living in her head. "It feeds on putting us down and exploiting and magnifying our insecurities and doubts," she says.

  • Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie and Willie Geist

    Anchors, NBC's Today

    NBC

    $504 million: Today's ad revenue for the first three quarters of 2013, per Kantar Media

    Why they matter: Despite combating ABC's ratings winner Good Morning America and ever-present worries about a succession plan for Lauer, Today remains a cornerstone at NBC. Among other milestones, Lauer, 56, scored exclusives with scandal-plagued Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and Paula Deen at the height of the celebrity chef's N-word imbroglio, and Guthrie, 42, nabbed attention while attending a Jan. 8 skydive by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona. Meanwhile, Geist, 38, crossed a sought- after interview off his wish list: Mick Jagger. "If you knew about the Stones indoctrination that took place in my family," he says, "you'd understand what a big personal get that was."

    Goal for next year: "On a personal level, to give birth to a healthy baby and be the best mom I can be," says the newlywed Guthrie, who is 20 weeks pregnant. "On a professional level, to continue the momentum we've had at the show." Adds Lauer, "I want to win the Masters."

    Nemesis: "None, but I'm accepting applications," quips Lauer.

  • Mark Lazarus

    Chairman, NBC Sports Group

    Virginia Sherwood/NBC

    21.4 million: NBC's average primetime viewership during the Sochi Olympics

    Why he matters: Lazarus, 50, was integral in securing NBC's rights to the next four Olympics only a month after taking his position in May 2011; oversaw the rebranding of Versus into NBC Sports Network in January 2012; expanded NBC's digital footprint to a record 61.8 million unique users during the Olympics; and kept Sunday Night Football atop the ratings as TV's most-watched franchise with more than 21 million viewers a game during the 2013 season. And he's only two years into a five-year plan. "In many ways, we are just a really well-funded startup," he says. With the Olympics "part of NBCUniversal's DNA," Lazarus, who oversees two national cable channels (NBC Sports Network and Golf Channel) and 12 regional sports nets, jokes that there was "just a little pressure" to keep them on the network.

    Proudest accomplishment this year: "We had high aspirations for NBC Sports Network, but the English Premier League has exceeded what we thought we could do," with more than 27 million viewers to date across platforms.

    Goal for next year: "We have bought a lot of deals and committed long-term to a lot of properties [including the NHL and NASCAR]. The excitement now is to build these businesses that the company has entrusted us with."

  • Rachel Maddow

    Host, MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show

    974,000: Maddow's average viewership for the first quarter of 2014, nearly twice the audience for her CNN competition Piers Morgan

    Why she matters: Never less than cheerful in her ruthless pursuit of "gonzo political corruption," Maddow stands out as a beacon of rationality amid the high-volume melodramatics of cable news. During these nonelection years, the 41-year-old star of liberal punditry has set about sniffing out abuses of power on the state level. The strategy has paid off richly, most notably with her coverage of the Chris Christie bridge scandal -- a story upon which Maddow was among the first to pounce with a Dec. 9 segment titled "When Politics Is a Rejected Plotline From The Sopranos." The ensuing coverage lifted MSNBC to its first victory over Fox News in the key demo in more than a year, and Maddow makes no apologies for having "covered it intensely" since then. Despite a bumpy year of apologies and mea culpas for her network, Maddow says she could not be more proud of her co-workers at MSNBC, where "we know who we are and are comfortable in our own skin."

    Thoughts on former colleague Alec Baldwin: Baldwin called Maddow a "phony" in New York magazine and suggested she played a role in his firing. Responds Maddow with signature bemusement: "The people who run the network don't ask for my advice, and I don't offer it. I've never had any interaction with [Baldwin]. I've certainly had nothing to do with his show coming or going -- and if he thinks that, it's not based in truth."

    Proudest achievement this year: "That I'm still in this job."

    Power lunches? Don't count on it: "My social life occurs in the 10s: I can have a breakfast meeting at 10:30 a.m. before I go to work, and I can have dinner with you at 10:30 p.m.," says the host, who spends every spare moment at the western Massachusetts farmhouse she shares with her partner, artist Susan Mikula. "Between that, in that 12-hour slot, there is nothing that is not work."

    Helpful hints for Ronan Farrow: "He doesn't need advice from me. He is such a great combination of charismatic and smart and creative. Launching a show is hard, and launching a show dayside is a very difficult environment. I hope he does this for a very long time because I think he could be a really big deal."

  • Sean McManus

    Chairman, CBS Sports

    AP Images

    164.1 million: Viewers who watched regular-season NFL games on CBS during the 2013 season

    Why he matters: McManus, 59, always will be known as the executive who brought the NFL back to CBS in 1998 after a five-year absence. Deals for the network's most-watched sports properties, the NFL and the NCAA men's basketball tournament, are locked in through 2022 and 2024, respectively. When the NFL began shopping an eight-game Thursday night package in late 2013, it's safe to say all four of the league's media partners -- ESPN, Fox, NBC and CBS -- were eager to snap up even more of a sure ratings thing. CBS won out, paying nearly $300 million plus production costs for one season of games to be simulcast on NFL Network. "We're going from a position of strength to strength," says McManus, a married father of a daughter, 14, and a son, 12.

    Proudest accomplishment this year: "Working with [CBS Corp. president and CEO] Leslie [Moonves] to acquire Thursday night football for CBS. The NFL is the No. 1 property in America."

    Goal for next year: "Convincing the NFL that Thursday Night Football should remain a property on CBS." Will he succeed? "I wouldn't be in this job if I didn't think I'd be successful in that."

    How his peers view him: Asked if the commissioners of the major pro sports leagues would call him a tough negotiator, McManus allows: "I've had a lot of excellent mentors in this industry, starting with my father [sportscaster Jim McKay], and the one lesson I've learned is it's important to be very tough at times. But it's just as important to be fair all of the time. Winning one negotiation because you're tough and leaving the other person wounded might be beneficial in the short term, but long term it's not going to serve you very well."

  • Lorne Michaels

    Executive producer, NBC's Saturday Night Live, Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Late Night With Seth Meyers

    AP Images

    11.5: Hours of weekly late-night programming Michaels produces for NBC

    Why he matters: Within the halls of 30 Rock, no man is mightier than Michaels. The Saturday Night Live impresario has added to his already rich portfolio The Tonight Show, starring his former SNL castmember Jimmy Fallon, as well as Late Night With Seth Meyers, fronted by another Michaels find. Since the late-night shows' February launches, they have remained remarkably steady in the ratings, with Fallon's Tonight more than doubling Tonight's year-ago results with Jay Leno and Meyers' Late Night averaging 2.1 million viewers. "Jimmy is the full entertainer. He sings, he dances, he does impressions," Michaels, 69, told THR of Fallon's allure in February, adding of Meyers: "And Seth is truly funny and really smart, and he has a way of being smart that doesn't bother anyone." In addition to producing the 11:30 p.m.-to-1:30 a.m. weekday block on NBC, Michaels continues to lure top talent (Louis C.K., Lady Gaga, Drake) and drum up headlines (the diversity issue) at SNL, which currently is registering its highest 18-49 demo rating in four years. The reach of the married father of three extends beyond late night, too, with his Broadway Video production company producing projects including IFC's Portlandia, Hulu's The Awesomes and Fox's upcoming John Mulaney comedy.

    Proudest accomplishment this year: Installing Fallon and Meyers at Tonight Show and Late Night, respectively: "Despite all the time-shifting and various mobile devices, I think they will take their place in the landscape -- and I have a feeling they'll have a big impact."

  • Rand Morrison

    Executive producer, CBS News Sunday Morning

    Getty Images

    6 million: Average total viewers during the 2013-14 season

    Why he matters: A thoughtful, low-key alternative to the usual hyper-caffeinated Sunday morning political shouting matches, Sunday Morning With Charles Osgood is enjoying one of its best seasons during the 15 years Morrison has been at the helm. The show averaged 6.1 million viewers during the first quarter of 2014, its biggest audience in 20 years. Viewers are attracted to the in-depth longform stories and coverage of arts and literature neglected on other morning shows. For publishers and power publicists like Alan Nierob, Sunday Morning -- which celebrated its 35th anniversary in January, having debuted in 1979 with host Charles Kuralt -- is their first choice for authors, with an appearance perceived as a surefire boost to sales. Morrison, 64, and CBS recently convinced former Today and Dateline anchor Jane Pauley to come aboard as a contributor.

    Proudest accomplishment this year: A Daytime Emmy for outstanding morning program, beating Today and Good Morning America.

    Goal for next year: "For the show, a little more diversity in stories -- more science, more history. For myself, just a little more time off."

  • Scott Pelley

    Anchor, CBS Evening News

    AP Photo/CBS Broadcasting, Inc., John Paul Filo

    5: Times Pelley has interviewed President Obama

    Why he matters: Defined by his penchant for hard news, Pelley, 56, has a shelf full of awards including three News and Documentary Emmys in 2013 alone. (CBS claimed 12 wins, the most for any network.) But the anchor singles out as most significant the duPont-Columbia Award in December for CBS' coverage of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings: "It was especially gratifying because it was awarded to all of our broadcasts, which came together in our best traditions when the nation needed great reporting."

    Proudest accomplishment this year: "Seeing my son graduate from college with high honors." And professionally speaking: "Training a brilliant team of young journalists," he says. "The quality of our democracy is tied, tightly, to the quality of our journalism. Giving young people 'fire in the belly' for accuracy, fairness and honesty is the most important thing I ever do."

  • Jonah Peretti and Ben Smith

    Founder/CEO and editor-in-chief, Buzzfeed

    AP Images

    130 million: Monthly unique visitors to the social news site

    Whey they matter: BuzzFeed might be known best for listicles and pop-culture quizzes, but since The Huffington Post co-founder Peretti, 40, began his viral content experiment in 2006, the site has built on Facebook posts and Twitter links to become a media powerhouse of more than 180 staffers across six international newsrooms. BuzzFeed takes a data-driven approach to making content that will generate, well, buzz. Smith calls Peretti a "distribution genius" whose secret formula for viral success is central to the company's DNA. "He's incredibly brilliant and sees things about the media business like no one I've ever encountered before," he says. "But he's also hilarious. His editorial suggestions are three-quarters brilliant and one-quarter would-be disasters if we ever did them." For his part, Smith, 37, has brought a degree of credibility to BuzzFeed's journalistic endeavors, creating investigative, political, entertainment and foreign reporting units. Despite his more traditional career path -- he began on the crime beat at The Indianapolis Star and most recently was one of the top reporters at Politico -- he is as pragmatic about the role GIFs and baby animals play as he is serious about ramping up reporting (a notable hire in October: Pulitzer Prize winner Mark Schoofs as head of BuzzFeed's new investigative unit). "If you care about politics, you know we are breaking news," says Smith. "We also love making quizzes. People want to be entertained, and it's often the same people [who read both]."

    Proudest accomplishment this year: "We got some of the best coverage in the world of the Ukraine crisis," says Smith. "It's traditional foreign reporting, but with an eye for the fact that this news spreads on Twitter."

    Big get: "Our coverage of the sexual assaults at Occidental College really moved the ball forward," says Smith.

    Off-hours: "I have three kids, ages 10, 8 and 4," says Smith. "We hang around Brooklyn and go geocaching, this incredibly nerdy thing where there's this whole network of random people hiding things around the world."

    How Smith's peers view him: "The joke people make about me is that I manage by wandering around. It's a real management style: I just wander around and talk to people."

  • Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan

    Hosts, Live! With Kelly and Michael

    David Steele/Disney-ABC Domestic TV

    3.9 million: Total average viewers in 28 weeks of current season

    Why they matter: Culminating in a ratings win the morning after the Oscars -- edging out The Ellen DeGeneres Show for the No. 1 spot -- Live continues to build on the appealing chemistry of its co-hosts. In particular, Strahan's shot of adrenaline to the show paid off in a busy year ahead for the former NFL star. Strahan, 42, will alternate among co-hosting Live, talking football on Fox Sports and appearing on the 7 a.m. hour of ABC's Good Morning America. Ripa also is enjoying gains outside the show, which is up 13 percent in total viewers year-over-year. Her production company, Milojo, which she oversees with her husband, Mark Consuelos, is developing two scripted comedies for ABC and a web series following a multigenerational Hispanic family with World Cup tie-ins.

    Proudest accomplishments this year: "Being able to juggle multiple facets of entertainment, from sports at Fox to daytime at Live, and doing it at the level I've been able to do it at for the past two football seasons," says Strahan.

    Big get: "Jack Nicholson backstage at the Oscars," says Ripa. As for future dream gets: "Who doesn't want the president? But Brad Pitt wouldn't be bad," says Strahan. "Angelina Jolie, Leonardo DiCaprio would be a great get. So if any of them are reading this … come on down."

    Off-hours: "If I had a day off, it would be somewhere nice and sunny with a cocktail in my hand, my feet up, music playing and nothing else on my mind," says Strahan. Adds Ripa, "Prancercise."

  • Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos, Lara Spencer and Tom Cibrowski

    Anchors and senior executive producer, Good Morning America

    5.9 million: Total average viewers for the first quarter of 2014, besting Today 88 of the past 92 weeks

    Why they matter: Over the past year, despite turnover at the anchors desk, GMA reigned over Today in total viewership and in the 25-to-54 demo, notching an ad-revenue windfall of $100 million. Meanwhile, Roberts, 53, made a successful return to GMA after undergoing a bone marrow transplant a year earlier; in December, she finalized a new long-term deal worth a reported $14 million a year. The show scored interviews with Amanda Knox, Jason Collins and a juror for the George Zimmerman trial who recounted how they came to their verdict. "I hope we'll continue to take chances and try new things," says Spencer, 44. "That's what got us to first place."

    Proudest accomplishment this year: "Coming together as a team to hold the fort down while Robin got better," says Spencer. Senior executive producer Cibrowski seconds the sentiment: "Through the help of some divine intervention, getting Robin back to GMA after her transplant -- and not missing a beat through her leave and some of the recent changes on the show."

    Dream get: "Pope Francis," says Stephanopoulos, 53. Adds Cibrowski, 46: "Hillary Clinton, if she was announcing [her candidacy for president]."

    Goal for next year: "To work out with [contributor] Michael Strahan," jokes Stephanopoulos.


    Spencer can't work without: "My BlackBerry. I write my scripts on it every day. ABC is no longer issuing them, so this is my last one. If I have to switch to the iPhone, I am not sure I will get on the air. And if I do, Lord knows what that spell-check will have me saying!"

     

  • Charlie Rose, Gayle King and Norah O'Donnell

    Co-anchors, CBS This Morning

    AP Images

    11 percent: Ratings growth from first-quarter 2014 (3.2 million total viewers) compared with the same period a year earlier

    Why they matter: The broadcast morning show that stays out of Page Six has continued to build a small but loyal following in its third year. "I was at the airport, and a woman came up to me and said, 'I like watching you guys because every day I learn something new,' " says King, 59. The anchors are encouraged by the increasing receptiveness to their program's signature refusal to shy away from hard news in the morning. "We all have a great curiosity about people and about what's happening around the world, and it's heartwarming that there's a growing audience for that," says O'Donnell, 40. Adds Rose, 72, "CBS has created a brand that says something important in morning television and, most importantly, something significant in journalism."

    Big get: In recognizing the show for broadcasting excellence, the Peabody Awards called Rose's exclusive September sit-down with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad "the biggest journalistic get of 2013."

    Chemistry lesson: "I think it was Johnny Carson who once said, 'It's hard to talk about comedy, you just have to do it,' " says Rose. "It's so apparent and authentic." O'Donnell agrees that the trio's easy rapport is hard to describe: "If you could bottle it, you'd make a billion dollars!"

  • Diane Sawyer

    Anchor, ABC World News

    ABC

    8.7 million: Viewers for first-quarter 2014

    Why she matters: A popular theory in new-media circles is that the nightly news broadcasts are dead. Don't tell Sawyer, 68, that. World News is coming off its most-watched quarter in six years while notching a 10 percent uptick among viewers 25-to-54 for its best showing in the demo in three years. Sawyer, married to director Mike Nichols since 1988, knows it's all about the get, whether it's controversy-wracked New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie or an exclusive with the cast of Mad Men.

    Proudest accomplishments this year: Her March 27 interview with Christie in the wake of the bridge scandal -- in which he admitted thekerfuffle made him want to "spend a lot more time at home" -- gave World News a win over perennial leader NBC Nightly News.

    Retirement plans: While many wonder if she soon will pass the mantle over to weekend anchor and protege David Muir, Sawyer has maintained, "I'm still here and loving it."

     

  • Ben Sherwood and James Goldston

    Co-president, Disney-ABC Television Group; President, ABC News

    ABC

    $12 billion: Value of the Disney-ABC portfolio that Sherwood will inherit from Anne Sweeney

    Why they matter: After a little more than three years as the president of ABC News, Sherwood on March 24 was named Sweeney's successor as the head of Disney-ABC television assets. It was a meteoric rise considering that four years ago, Sherwood was living in his native Los Angeles and writing books in self-imposed exile from the TV news business. Little wonder, though, that Disney CEO Bob Iger tapped Sherwood for the bigger job in Burbank (which he officially will assume in February). His stewardship of ABC News is marked by a huge, lucrative accomplishment, with Good Morning America's ascent to the top of the morning-news heap bringing hundreds of millions in ad revenue and everyone from A-list authors to Hollywood stars clamoring for an audience with the show's nearly 6 million daily viewers. Goldston, who arrived at ABC News 10 years ago as a senior producer at Nightline, was among the chief architects of GMA's transformation to an ensemble format that stressed tight storytelling and fun banter. He also was the hand (with talent senior vp Barbara Fedida) behind the anchor shuffle, with the addition of Amy Robach and Michael Strahan following the loss of Josh Elliott and Sam Champion. Sherwood, 50, the father of two young boys who is married to Imagine Entertainment's Karen Kehela Sherwood, says he is "optimistic about the future of ABC News and GMA. I'm realistic, too, about the fight. If we keep hustling, adapting and innovating, I am confident that our best days are ahead." Concurs Goldston, 45, "It has been great for our team here to see ABC News reach its strongest position in a generation."

    Goal for next year: "I have so much to learn from Anne Sweeney and her team," says Sherwood. "Goal No. 1 is a smooth and successful transition. Goal No. 2 is to consume an unhealthy number of Dodger Dogs with my boys at the stadium."

    Secret weapon: "A full bowl of clementines, my rocket fuel," says Goldston, who bikes to work from Brooklyn Heights, where he lives with his wife, Laura Trevelyan, a BBC anchor, and their three young boys. Adds Sherwood: "My wife, Karen. 'Nuff said."

    Nemesis: "An empty rack of Citi Bikes," says Goldston, "drives me crazy."

  • John Skipper

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

    AP Images

    $45 billion: Value of ESPN, according to Bernstein Research

    Why he matters: Skipper presides over easily the most valuable brand in sports media with $1.6 billion in ad revenue for the flagship channel alone, according to SNL Kagan, and the richest subscriber fees in television, generating close to $7 billion last year. And since January 2013, the one-year mark on his tenure as head of ESPN, he has been on an expansion tear, launching 80 new shows, services or events, including Keith Olbermann's ESPN2 program, daily soccer show ESPNFC, Colin Cowherd's Sunday morning football show, the Nine for IX documentary series, Grantland shorts and the acquisition and relaunch of Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight. And this spring, ESPN will unveil a $25 million, 10,000-square-foot SportsCenter studio at its Bristol, Conn., headquarters. So it's safe to say he has successfully fended off a series of new challengers of late, including Fox Sports 1 and NBC Sports Network. "We're live 35,000 hours a year -- that's almost four hours an hour," says Skipper, 58, who splits his time between Bristol and New York. "We do it at a very high level. And I think sometimes because we've been out there on our own, people underestimate how hard that is to do well."

    Thoughts on Ben Sherwood, Disney Co-chair as of February: "We know each other well. It's a whole new world in terms of Good Morning America and sports. Our level of cooperation has been high, and I'm excited about working with Ben. He gets sports, and he's got a couple of young boys who watch a lot of SportsCenter. The more SportsCenter you watch, the better you do in school! We have lots of research to prove that."

    How his peers view him: "I think with suspicion and disdain mostly," he says dryly. "I hope with respect, certainly. I'm friendly with most of my peers around the business. I have a hard time thinking of anyone with whom I have a difficult relationship who is currently working." (Laughs.) "But it's hard for me to know."

  • Shane Smith

    CEO, Vice Media

    AP Images

    $70 million: What Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox paid last year for a 5 percent stake

    Why he matters: When Smith, 43, first announced that his small punk magazine had grown into a multimedia youth media company worth $1 billion, few took him seriously despite the fact that he had persuaded Tom Freston, the 68-year-old veteran who had helped launch MTV, to invest and serve as adviser. These days, nobody is laughing. With an HBO newsmagazine show, a YouTube channel with nearly 4.5 million subscribers, a record label with artists like Snoop Dog, a film division that released festival hit Lil Bub & Friendz and an in-house ad agency tapped by AT&T for a smartphone campaign for millennials, Vice recently sold a 5 percent stake to 21st Century Fox that values the company at $1.4 billion. It's hardly a stretch. Vice is expected to post $500 million in revenue this year, with Smith promising the company will hit the billion-dollar mark by 2016. "If money is the modern-day report card, we get an A-plus," he says. Smith is openly speaking about a potential IPO and believes the company would be valued at an amount that's on par with the $28.9 billion given to Twitter during its IPO in November.

    Proudest accomplishment this year: "The launch of Vice News. We had some of the best coverage of Ukraine and Crimea out there, and all of the news agencies were picking us up."

    Secret weapon: "Our editors. People think it's easy to make online video that drives hundreds of thousands of viewers."

    Nemesis: "At one point, it would have been Gawker, but we put them in our rearview mirror. Now it's the status quo media like The New York Times. All the guys who are looking down their noses at us because we are taking their market share. We are coming to eat their lunch."

    How his peers view him: "I think we were the cute kid brother and I was the bombastic huggable drunk guy. Now that people are realizing that there is a method to our madness, they're saying, 'These guys aren't as stupid as we thought.' "

    Off-hours: "I have a place in Costa Rica that is in the middle of the jungle," says Smith, who lives in Tribeca with his wife, Tamyka, and two daughters, Martina and Piper. "There's no Internet. There's no TV. Do I work there? Hell no."

  • Howard Stern

    Radio personality, SiriusXM

    AP Images

    25 million: Number of SiriusXM subscribers, 12 percent of whom regularly listen to two dedicated Stern channels

    Why he matters: In 2005, Stern left terrestrial broadcasting for satellite after landing a five-year deal worth a reported $500 million (he re-upped in 2010 for an additional $400 million; the contract expires in 2015) and by 2013 he proved that he had perfected his interviewing skills with such A-listers as Paul McCartney and Lady Gaga. "I think I've evolved -- God, I hope I have," he says. "My biggest criticism of broadcasters is that they just stick with their ways." Stern certainly has not judging by his extracurriculars, from America's Got Talent on NBC to hosting elaborate pay-per-view events, like his recent 60th birthday party at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom.

    Proudest accomplishment this year: Landing coveted interviews with Quentin Tarantino and Lena Dunham, who called in to the show after Stern called her fat on air. Stern says the understanding is that he'll "celebrate [a celebrity's] career and really get into their process of how everything works. Slowly but surely the industry is waking up to it."

    Goal for next year: "I'm convinced I could interview Robert De Niro and get him to talk. No one's a bad interviewee."

    Secret weapon: "You've got to care," insists Stern. "It would be very easy not to, [but] I never got into radio for the money. It was because I really cared about the medium; I thought I could be my funniest and my best on the radio, not anywhere else."

  • Jon Stewart

    Host and executive producer, Comedy Central's The Daily Show

    Martin Crook/Comedy Central

    10: Consecutive Primetime Emmy wins for outstanding variety, music or comedy series from 2002 to 2012

    Why he matters: As America's satirist-in-chief, Stewart shows no signs of slowing down after 15 years atop Comedy Central's flagship. After taking a two-month hiatus last summer to direct the film Rosewater, about British journalist Maziar Bahari's harrowing imprisonment in Iran, he returned to Daily Show in September to boffo ratings, averaging more than 2 million viewers. As late-night's highest-paid star, with a reported annual salary between $25 million and $30 million a year, Stewart -- who is raising two children with wife Tracey while owning multiple multimillion-dollar properties including in New Jersey and Tribeca -- credits his award-winning staff for his phenomenal success. "We have a very deep bench, and there are a lot of people here who kind of work their asses off," he says. "I marvel sometimes at what they pull together."

    Nemesis: On alienating his show's targets (like CNN and its BP-sponsored morning-show "couch walk"), Stewart says, "When my run is over here, I will not have that many friends left in the media. I won't have that many people to talk to at the 21 Club, where I'm always sitting in a back room with Swifty Lazar."

    Keeping things fresh: "One of the more difficult things is the [news] cycle, [which] while relentless is also very redundant," says Stewart. "[It's] such that there are times where you think, man, a little deja vu here. We're always looking to find ways to organically evolve the process in which we're trying to deconstruct things."

  • Brian Williams

    Anchor, NBC Nightly News

    NBC

    238: Number of consecutive weeks Nightly News has won in total viewers over ABC

    Why he matters: Nightly News saw its viewership jump 10 percent in the first quarter (to 9.3 million viewers a night). At least some of that growth can be attributed to the halo effect of NBC's coverage of the Sochi Winter Olympics. But Williams also has carved out a unique niche in the pop-culture firmament. He has hosted Saturday Night Live, skewered the anchorman stereotype in cameos on 30 Rock and proved a reliable late-night guest for Jon Stewart and Jimmy Fallon, where he slow-jammed the news with The Roots.

    Big get: "Anyone worth the title 'get' has a letter or phone message from me -- and all of my peers -- on their desk," he says. "It's so competitive, I can't give away more than that."

    Off-hours: "My favorite place -- at all times except at the height of Sandy -- is our place at the Jersey Shore."

    Nemesis: "Without question, Anthony Bourdain. It's all envy on my part: He has found a way to do television for pay while eating his way around the world. He is also able to swear, apparently at will, on air. What a life. He's figured it out. Who wouldn't harbor abject professional hatred toward him?"

  • Anna Wintour

    Artistic director, Conde Nast Publications; editor-in-chief, Vogue

    AP Images

    90 million: Combined reach of the 20 brands Wintour oversees as artistic director

    Why she matters: Wintour's perch drives home the point that magazine covers still matter, both in setting the national agenda and as marketing for actresses, actors and brands. And the tastemaker's actions are dissected ad nauseam. A move as innocent as sitting in the second row of a show can spark a frenzy, as it did at Valentino's Paris Fashion Week show, where the New York resident gave up a front-row seat to her web reporter.

    Big get: Vogue's April issue with cover stars Kim Kardashian and Kanye West caused an outcry among fashion's faithful while generating a publicity bonanza and predicted newsstand sales of 300,000 to 400,000, well above the monthly 250,000-plus average.

    Proudest accomplishment this year: In her first year as artistic director, Wintour, 64, had a big hand in the revitalized Lucky; she also has set her sights on Glamour, which debuted as a more fashion-focused publication with its March issue. Next on her list? The ailing Self, which in a masthead shake-up named Joyce Chang editor-in-chief in April. On the personal side, her daughter, Bee Shaffer, is a segment producer on NBC's Late Night With Seth Meyers, while her son, Charlie Shaffer, is preparing for a June wedding while in his second year of medical school at Columbia. In May, the Metropolitan Museum of Art will rename its Costume Institute the Anna Wintour Costume Center.

  • Jeff Zucker

    President, CNN Worldwide

    AP Images

    200: Number of countries where CNN is available

    Why he matters: With a little more than a year under his belt at CNN, Zucker -- the former CEO of NBCUniversal -- has launched seven new programs comprising 25 hours a week and broadened the network's programming with documentary acquisitions, including the Oscar-nominated Blackfish, and series fronted by well-known unscripted stars, including Anthony Bourdain and Morgan Spurlock. Bourdain's show, Parts Unknown, garnered CNN its first primetime Emmys last year and now is the network's most-watched program. At the same time, CNN Films has become a player on the film festival circuit, snapping up docs from such A-listers as Alex Gibney, Robert Redford, Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman. If many of Zucker's programs, including morning show New Day, are also-rans behind top-rated Fox News and MSNBC, CNN's nonpartisan brand still plays well with advertisers (and viewers) not looking to choose political sides. Zucker, 49, a married father of four, also recently declared that the primetime interview show, epitomized by former CNN mainstay Larry King, is dead. All eyes are on the net's new nightly lineup, which will have original series and documentaries at 9 p.m., to see if the former Today executive producer still has that producer's gut.

    Goal for next year: "To truly go there [the network's new tagline] with our new brand and continue to improve our primetime performance."

    Proudest accomplishment this year: "Making CNN more relevant."

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