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This story appears in the April 20 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
The death on April 7 of Mike Wallace — who for nearly four decades was 60 Minutes’ resident pit bull — is a timely reminder, if we needed one, of the power of rigorous journalism to turn newsmen and women into newsmakers.
In addition to its primary function of keeping viewers informed, entertained and moved to action, TV news continues to mint superstars: Matt Lauer (THR's cover subject, who just signed a new Today deal that will make him the highest-paid anchor in history), Diane Sawyer (her news bona fides are so well-established, it’s hard to imagine she was ever viewed as a beauty-queen lightweight by Wallace, no less), Anderson Cooper (his globe-trotting humanism and unflagging energy have led to not one but three jobs) and Bill O’Reilly (his independent streak has kept him atop the cable-news ratings for 125 consecutive months).
And, of course, in this era of political skullduggery and death-match campaigning, the satire of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert has earned them both unparalleled influence (215,000 people attended their 2010 rally in Washington) and status as the incredulous and absurdist voices of a new generation. Meanwhile, David Letterman continues to conduct among the most incisive interviews of every political season, asking questions his peers in TV news dare not (“It seems like everyone’s gone wacky in the Republican Party,” he said to John McCain during a January Late Show appearance. “Is it the influence of the Tea Party, or am I over-examining this?”).
It might be 3,000 miles from Hollywood, but New York still is the media capital of America, where a steady stream of actors, musicians and authors clamor for a slot on Lorne Michaels’ newsmaking Saturday Night Live, the broadcast morning shows, Kelly Ripa's revolving co-host chair and, yes, Wendy Williams’ bawdy daytime chat show.
The Hollywood Reporter's second annual Power List honors the anchors, executives, late-night impresarios and media moguls who drive the news cycle, influence the entertainment industry, take us into the lives of the famous (and infamous) and keep us connected to our world.
Click below for THR's 35 Most Powerful People in Media list.
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