Chuck Lorre's Sheen-Kutcher Gamble, Netflix Gone Awry, Kardashian Brand's 72-Day Wild Ride: THR Features 2011's Biggest Rule Breakers

1:30 PM PST 12/19/2011 by Leslie Bruce
Bridgette Sire/Robyn Twomey/Kwaku Alston

In Hollywood Reporter's inaugural year-end issue, the publication recounts the people and stories that changed (and challenged) the world of entertainment.

For the first time, The Hollywood Reporter has put together a year-end portfolio of Hollywood’s risk takers, those people who both bucked convention (and courted controversy) in the past 12 months.

The 22-page special, shot over the course of the past nine months, features four cover subjects in a special split run: Chuck Lorre and Ashton Kutcher, Reed Hastings, the Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close team and Kim Kardashian.

PHOTOS: 2011's Biggest Rule Breakers Kim Kardashian, Netflix's Reed Hastings, Chuck Lorre and Ashton Kutcher: THR Year In Review

When Lorre decided to reboot his CBS sitcom, Two and a Half Men after Charlie Sheen’s epic and highly publicized departure (one that sent the star into a professional and personal tailspin), the creator took a gamble that Kutcher could help him resurrect the series.

"It was a terrifying experience," says Lorre. "Everything was being scrutinized, parsed, analyzed and condemned. It wasn’t just a TV show, it had become something else." The bet paid off: the ninth season bow was the show’s highest rated air to date with 27.7 million viewers.

PHOTOS: 2011's Hollywood By the Numbers -- THR Year in Review

For his part, Netflix's CEO Hastings began 2011 as a visionary: Threatening the traditional business model with streaming video. Even with Netflix stock in a free fall since mid-July -- slicing $12 billion off the company's market cap and costing Hastings an estimated $313 million in personal wealth -- the company's ability to monetize library content on the Internet and give new life to little-noticed independent films, the company's influence on Hollywood has never been greater. "And we're in just 1 percent of global households, so there's plenty of room for growth," says chief content officer Ted Sarandos.

Love them or hate them, the Kardashian family has proven that reality fame no longer translates into a meager 15 minutes. Based purely on their stick-to-itiveness (and without any identifiable talent), Kim Kardashian and momager Kris Jenner challenged the naysayers and brought 10.5 million viewers to E! for the network’s two-day wedding spectacular, Kim’s Fairytale Wedding: A Kardashian Event.

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Despite a highly scrutinized 72-day marriage to NBA forward Kris Humphries that critics hoped would topple their reality empire, the second season bow of Kourtney and Kim Take New York in November was the network’s highest rated Kardashian-premiere to date.

“I’m really looking forward to the new year,” says the newly single Kim. “It’s a fresh start.” The reality star also hints at the next Kardashian-themed spinoff:  “I think we’ll see more of my younger siblings [Kylie and Kendall] and my brother Rob.”

And positioned as a December surprise -- and late entry to the heated Oscar race --  the team behind Warner Bros’ Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is the first major motion picture to confront the legacy of the September 11th World Trade Center attacks. When many criticize Hollywood’s inability to generate fresh content and original ideas, this film tackles a subject still unfolding. “At the end of the day people want to go in to a movie theater to see something they never expected,” says Tom Hanks.

PHOTOS: The Hollywood Reporter's Cover Stories

The edition, which hits stands on Dec. 19, takes readers through a gorgeous 22-page photo portfolio spanning the last twelve months of those industry players that successfully shook up Hollywood, featuring the likes of Bridesmaids’ star Melissa McCarthy, director Paul Feig, producer Judd Apatow and co-writer Annie Mumolo; the multi-hyphenate and 2012 four-time Golden Globe nominee George Clooney; the team behind box office Cinderella story, The Help: Brunson Green, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Kathryn Stockett and Tate Taylor; the 3D pioneers and box office heavyweights James Cameron and George Lucas and many, many more proving once again that Hollywood is a town built on creation and that, ultimately, great risk often leads to great reward.

Read the complete 2011 Rule Breaker cover story, including profiles, here.

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