The Hollywood Reporter Names 2013's 35 Most Powerful People in Media

2:00 AM 4/10/2013

by THR staff

From Bill O'Reilly to Robin Roberts, Roger Ailes to Jeff Zucker, THR released its third annual list of New York's men and women who control the megawatt megaphone for Hollywood and beyond.

Issue 14 NY Power List 4 split - P 2013

Issue 14 NY Power List 4 split - P 2013

This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

They are courted by presidents and despots, Hollywood heavyweights and superstar athletes. Their decisions, tastes and every last word drive thoughts and behaviors and set a national agenda in ways far more powerful than any 140 characters strung together ever could.

But the past several months have brought a turnabout: The television news anchors, late-night impresarios and executives who make up New York’s vibrant media news culture themselves have become the story.

PHOTOS: THR's 35 Most Powerful People in Media 2013

On April 3, Jimmy Fallon — cast as the reluctant co-star in another NBC drama with Jay Leno — finalized a new deal to become host of the 59-year-old franchise The Tonight Show. Two days earlier, amid retirement reports, Barbara Walters, the tenacious grand doyenne of the TV interview, offered a typically evasive response as to whether at age 83 she finally might be ready to hang it up: “I have nothing to announce,” she said on The View. And when Matt Lauer opened his mouth in March to say something — anything — about Ann Curry’s departure from NBC’s Today, the ferocious backlash was felt from Connecticut to California — and all over social media — as the anchor, and the story of his future, suddenly became the story.

STORY: THR Celebrates New York Issue With Four Covers

Next up? Fox News chairman Roger Ailes and his cable news empire are the subject of not one but two books — one he cooperated with and one he most definitely did not. Miss the rancor of the last presidential election? Get ready for new ringside seats.

If Washington, D.C., has politicians, and Hollywood has celebrities, the media power brokers are the personalities who define New York. In this, THR’s third annual list, there are new entrants (Jeff Zucker, Michael Strahan), departed names (did we mention Ann Curry?) and, of course, a mix of the A-list movers and shakers who control what we consume — an influence that extends to entertainment and much, much more.

VIDEO: THR's 35 Most Powerful People in Media Get Personal During Photo Shoot

Edited by Marisa Guthrie and Jeanie Pyun

Written by: Seth Abramovitch, Matthew Belloni, Leslie Bruce, Erin Carlson, Stephen Galloway, Marisa Guthrie, Michael O’Connell, Lacey Rose, Stacey Wilson and Jordan Zakarin

  • Jill Abramson

    This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    In September 2011, Abramson was appointed the first woman to assume the highest-ranking position in the Grey Lady's 162-year history. The Manhattan native, 59, wields indisputable power in curating the national conversation, to which Hollywood pays very close attention by optioning articles and garnering movie rights from such writers as Times sportswriter Juliet Macur; the rights for her Lance Armstrong book proposal were acquired by J.J. Abrams in January.

    PHOTOS: The 35 Most Powerful People in Media 2013

    The Times -- with a total average circulation that Abramson has seen rise to 1,613,865 for weekday editions, a 40 percent increase over last year -- confers the ultimate stamp of approval for anyone seeking legitimacy to open a movie, talk to Wall Street or get buzz going. The paper can "set the tone for an awards campaign," says Oscar-campaign publicist Michele Robertson (and rep on the NYT documentary Page One), particularly for smaller films, "which use full-page ads in the Times as their trade paper. And when a client is profiled in the Times, we say, 'Ah, we've arrived.' "

     Abramson, a married mother of two, also has displayed rare openness about the paper's struggles as it loses print-ad dollars (down 5.6 percent in fourth-quarter 2012) and slowly morphs its business model, spurring painful staff cuts. 

    FUN FACT: Abramson sports a tattoo of a New York subway token on her shoulder.

  • Roger Ailes

    This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    Since he reinvented cable news 16 years ago with the launch of the Fox News Channel, Ailes has built a $1 billion empire that today accounts for 40 percent of parent News Corp.'s annual profit.

    PHOTOS: The 35 Most Powerful People in Media 2013

    A former talk-show producer (on The Mike Douglas Show) and Republican consultant (for Ronald Reagan's and George H.W. Bush's presidential campaigns), Ailes, 72, has become a reliable liberal bogeyman, drawing complaints from the White House and the ire of liberal Hollywood. Unchallenged in ratings dominance for 11 years, the network's news coverage and conservative commentary has won him a loyal audience -- and equally loud critics.

    "They hate me because I make money ... and they don't like my politics," the married Garrison, N.Y., resident, who has raised two children, told THR in 2012. "And that's America." But he's not going anywhere; last year, Ailes -- who was paid $21 million in 2011 -- signed a deal that keeps him at Fox through 2016. 

    FUN FACT: He wrote a joke for Mike Douglas he claims was lifted by Bill Cosby.

  • Mike Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough

    This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    Contrary to popular belief, there is at least one morning show in the NBCUniversal empire with chemistry to spare. Brzezinski and Scarborough's rapport is so strong, it acts as a Rorschach test.

    "Everyone takes away whatever they feel, whether it's brother-sister, parent-child -- I'd be the parent," jokes Brzezinski, 45, of her relationship with Scarborough, 50. Since 2007, the political talker has had a devoted following drawn to its passion, such as when Scarborough, a former Republican congressman from Florida, delivered a condemnation of the NRA after the Newtown tragedy.

    PHOTOS: The 35 Most Powerful People in Media 2013

    "Our Bill of Rights does not guarantee gun manufacturers the right to sell military-style, high-caliber, semiautomatic combat assault rifles with high-capacity magazines to whoever the hell they want," said Scarborough on the Dec. 17 show.

    When it comes to Hollywood interlopers, the pair have welcomed the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker and George Clooney, says Brzezinski. "We like smart people, and there happen to be some smart people in Hollywood." 

    PROUDEST MOMENT: "Joe would never say this," she says, "I think for him, it's when he took on [Nobel Prize-winning economist] Paul Krugman on Charlie Rose."

  • Stephen Colbert

    This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    When Colbert's not moving books or promoting TV shows with interview parodies, the fake news personality takes great pleasure in messing with the real world.

    Take the run-up to last fall's presidential election, when the host ran ads in August 2011 urging Iowans to write in then-POTUS candidate Rick Perry "with an A for America" so that the misspelling would mess with a Republican poll. (A peeved Washington Post editorial said of Colbert's antics, ["There's] no excuse for trying to disrupt the presidential election system, as it appears Colbert has tried to do.")

    PHOTOS: The 35 Most Powerful People in Media 2013

    More recently, Colbert, 48, married with three kids and living in Montclair, N.J., announced a legit political endeavor: He would help his sister Elizabeth Colbert Busch, who's running for a House seat in their home state, South Carolina, by hosting fundraisers in Washington, D.C., and New York. Such off-hour antics have been a boon for The Colbert Report, which for the first time since its October 2005 debut is beating Jay Leno's The Tonight Show in the key 18-to-49 demo while scoring an average nightly audience of nearly 2 million viewers.

    With a cache of critical kudos (28 Emmy noms and two wins) and the least predictable guest lineup (Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, pig-farmer geneticist Carl Blake, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor), Colbert is the meta-quirk king of New York's late-night universe. 

    FUN FACT: Colbert was a castmember and writer on the short-lived The Dana Carvey Show alongside future Daily Show castmate Steve Carell, screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and Louis C.K.

  • Anderson Cooper

    This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    "I know what it's like to have a camera pointed at me at a time of grief," says Cooper.

    Perhaps that's why CNN's biggest star, a Vanderbilt scion who lost his father to a heart attack at age 10 and his older brother to suicide a decade later, produced some of his best work covering December's shootings in Newtown, Conn., capping a watershed year.

    PHOTOS: The 35 Most Powerful People in Media 2013

    Cooper, 45, came out as gay in July, a move that drew widespread plaudits. During the nine months since, the plug was pulled on his daytime talker, Anderson Live. "I wish we had the show the first year that we ended up with the second year," he says. Cooper, who lives in a converted firehouse in Greenwich Village with his partner, Benjamin Maisani, 40, says he's "incredibly excited" about his new boss, CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker.

    He similarly is energized by his contributions to 60 Minutes; a recent assignment saw him scuba diving perilously close to Nile crocodiles. With his CNN contract set to expire in the fall, Cooper finds his name on top of every network's wish list. NBC denies it's courting him to replace Today's Matt Lauer but acknowledges that "exploratory talks" took place. He even has been rumored as a successor to trivia maestro Alex Trebek, which Cooper dismisses with a laugh.

    "I've won twice, and I've lost once," says the lifelong Jeopardy! addict of his appearances on the show's celebrity edition. "When I lost, I lost to Cheech Marin. That was pretty devastating." 

    MOST ADMIRED: "Wolf Blitzer, the hardest-working guy in the news business."

  • Bob Costas

    This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    The face and soul of the Olympics, Costas drove the London Games to historic ratings with 219.6 million viewers. Yet popularity never blunts his edge -- he can still lace commentary with controversy like no one else.

    Costas spurred clamorous debate about the NFL's well-documented gun culture weeks before Newtown and earned global plaudits for calling out Olympic organizers for declining to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Munich tragedy. Often pressed into service by NBC News for reasoned analysis on stories that jump the line from sports (on Today and Meet the Press), the married father of two adult children conducts his most incisive interviews on NBC Sports Network's Costas Tonight.

    PHOTOS: The 35 Most Powerful People in Media 2013

    But random talk-show appearances even yield essential truths: During a September visit to Conan O'Brien's TBS late-night show, he aimed a dart at his own network for pre-empting The Who's Closing Ceremony appearance at the Olympics for Animal Practice: "Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend [or] monkey in a lab coat. … When it comes to the tough calls, NBC usually gets 'em right." 

    Costas, 61, maintains network brass "know it's a joke," adding: "Conan had a history with NBC, so it's half a joke on Conan. I wouldn't have said that to Jimmy Kimmel." 

    MOST DESIRED "GET": "I asked Jack Nicholson for an interview years ago, and he said: 'Bobby, Bobby, you're a nice kid. How can I put this nicely? No f--ing way!' "

  • Katie Couric

    This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    Racking up exclusive gets from Manti Te'o (the Notre Dame football star who claimed he was a victim of a hoax after it was revealed that his deceased girlfriend had never existed) to Sue Paterno (the wife of the deceased Penn State coach accused of covering up his assistant coach Jerry Sandusky's serial child molestations), Couric has distinguished herself in daytime.

    PHOTOS: The 35 Most Powerful People in Media 2013

    Her syndicated talk show is the rocky season's No. 1 new series with more than 2.5 million viewers. "The grind of a daily one-hour show has certainly been an adjustment, but I have a smart, energetic staff, plus the support of Disney and ABC, with the tremendous resources of ABC News," she says, sharing the credit as one might expect from someone whose empathetic openness -- she admitted in September 2012 that she suffered from bulimia in college -- has helped her land all those exclusives. 

    BEST GUEST: "Robert De Niro came on to talk about Silver Linings Playbook, and that led to a conversation about mental health and how it is treated in this country. He became very emotional, and it was just one of those great television moments."

  • Jeff Fager

    This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    "Jeff is a news guy through and through," says CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves. "He has it in his blood." The EP of 60 Minutes since 2004 and chairman of CBS News since 2011, Fager has been on a mission: to graft the 60 Minutes DNA -- original reporting and investigations -- onto the rest of the news division.

    The result has been more cross-pollination between Scott Pelley's CBS Evening News and 60 Minutes, as well as an uptick in viewership, not to mention a division known solely for news, not its personalities making headlines (unlike ABC and NBC). Evening News has posted two consecutive years of growth, the first time since the advent of electronic ratings records. Meanwhile, CBS This Morning, which last summer added seasoned Washington reporter Norah O'Donnell to the anchor table with Charlie Rose and Gayle King, is up 14 percent this season. 

    PHOTOS: The 35 Most Powerful People in Media 2013

    Fager, 58, and CBS News president David Rhodes are not beholden to market research or second-guessing from corporate overlords. "If we think [a story is] important, we're going to tell it well," says Fager, who is married with three kids in their 20s, including one who is a producer at Vice Media. "The onus is on us to make it as interesting as we can." 

    MY MENTOR: "[60 Minutes creator] Don Hewitt, who taught me more than anybody else about what we do. But my role model was my dad, who is a better man than Don and me combined."

  • Jimmy Fallon

    This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    Fallon's late-night value to NBC is so great that the network pushed aside the genre's most-watched host, Jay Leno, to ensure Fallon stays in the fold.

    On April 3, NBC announced a deal to have him assume the coveted role as host of The Tonight Show in 2014. The decision, which comes four years after Fallon, 38, launched his iteration of the Late Night franchise on NBC, speaks to his critical appeal among the elusive YouTube generation.

    PHOTOS: The 35 Most Powerful People in Media 2013

    When Justin Timberlake needed a destination to promote his new album, The 20/20 Experience, he chose Fallon's show -- for a week. Further proof of the host's multiplatform savvy includes such viral bits as mom dancing with Michelle Obama and slow-jamming the news with Brian Williams, all of which were seen by a web audience far greater than the 1.7 million who tune in at 12:35 a.m.

    Similarly compelling: a Twitter following of 8.3 million and the highest Q-score among TV's late-night hosts. 

    FUN FACT: As a kid, Fallon would watch and then re-enact the PG parts of Saturday Night Live, which his parents would tape for him.

  • Pat Fili-Krushel

    This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    Fili-Krushel's portfolio -- NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC -- is the largest aggregate news audience anywhere in the U.S, reaching 120 million viewers a month. That's a lot of influence.

    CEO Steve Burke brought the 59-year-old married mother of two college-age children to NBCUniversal when Comcast assumed control of the company in 2011, and last July, he put her in charge of news assets with the mandate to break down longtime silos and promote more synergy among NBC News, CNBC and MSNBC.

    PHOTOS: The 35 Most Powerful People in Media 2013

    Today Fili-Krushel spends at least one day a month at CNBC's Englewood Cliffs, N.J., campus and is in the midst of finding a new president for NBC News. "I'm casting a wide net," she says. The first order of business for that person -- who will likely be picked from the outside -- will be to get the Today show on solid footing after a bruising series of reports about Matt Lauer's role in the messy transition from Ann Curry to Savannah Guthrie.

    "There's been a lot of noise," concedes Fili-Krushel. "But I do not think it affects viewership. I think we're moving in the right direction."

    HAPPIEST MOMENT: "The call we got from Richard Engel [the NBC News correspondent kidnapped in Syria in December 2012] when he and his team were safe."

  • James Goldston

    This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    "We make no bones about it -- we're fiercely competitive," says Goldston, 44.

    Just ask the folks at Today: ABC's Good Morning America snapped NBC's 16-year stranglehold on morning dominance in April 2012 and mostly has remained on top since. It was Goldston who put GMA on that path during his yearlong stint as senior EP of the show.

    PHOTOS: The 35 Most Powerful People in Media 2013

    For the past year, the married father of three young boys has overseen an array of bold ventures: On the broadcast network, they include limited primetime series such as NY Med and Final Witness. On cable, there is a joint venture with Univision to found the news channel Fusion. Then there are digital efforts like GMA Live and, in what would be the ultimate asset extension, a third hour of GMA.

    Goldston won't confirm that the network is poised to launch it, but he cryptically offers, "We're always looking at ways to extend the brand, and obviously we're in a good place at the moment." 

    THE SHOW ON A COMPETING NETWORK I WATCH MOST OFTEN: "CBS Sunday Morning does what it does very well."

  • Phil Griffin

    This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    One could say Griffin is sitting pretty: His network is the picture of stability compared with broadcast sibling NBC. Griffin's name is reflexively on the lips of prognosticators handicapping favorites to replace Steve Capus as president of NBC News. But, says Griffin, "I'm president of MSNBC, and I love it here."

    And why not? Deft at spotting and managing talent, Griffin has the respect of his staff, autonomy from corporate meddling and leadership of what is essentially the liberal conscience of America. MSNBC remains a distant second behind cable news leader Fox News (having passed CNN in the ratings in 2008), but the network enjoyed a 20 percent across-the-board bump in 2012 while growing its African-American audience by more than 60 percent.

    PHOTOS: The 35 Most Powerful People in Media 2013

    The network's hosts -- which include the Rev. Al Sharpton and Melissa Harris-Perry -- examine issues ranging from immigration reform to marriage equality, which resonate with a diverse audience. Says Griffin, "If you don't address these issues, you're going to be left behind."

    PROUDEST MOMENT: "We took a real leadership position in addressing voter-rights issues across the country. We got on early and stayed with it."

  • Sean Hannity

    This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    There is a very simple process for requesting an interview with President Obama, if you happen to be Hannity.

    "You call, they laugh; you call back, and they laugh again," says the 51-year-old pundit, laughing a bit himself. "I would ask him questions that no one else would have the courage to ask him." But the married father of two does not need an interview with the president to stay part of the political dialogue.

    PHOTOS: The 35 Most Powerful People in Media 2013

    Although his nightly Fox News show's ratings have dipped since the 2012 election -- in the first quarter, Hannity fell behind fellow Fox broadcast The Five to No. 3 on cable news -- his still-robust 1.9 million viewers continue to give him a wide margin of victory over his direct competitor, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. (CNN's Piers Morgan is a distant third.)

    And on the subject of CNN, Hannity is quick to admit that it's still possible to relaunch and rebrand a cable network in 2013's complicated media landscape, but Jeff Zucker, in his mind, is falling short. "There is a way, but I'm not going to tell them how to do it," he says. "They don't get it." 

    PROUDEST MOMENT: "I'd like to say helping to win the election, but I really can't bring that up, can I?"

  • Megyn Kelly

    This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    If coverage of election night 2012 is remembered for just one moment, that moment belongs to Kelly.

    The Fox News anchor, who mans America Live for two hours every weekday, woke up an Internet darling the day after President Obama's re-election when footage of her challenging Karl Rove went viral. "Awkward," the 42-year-old said to the Fox contributor when he insisted on challenging the network's assertion that Obama had won Ohio.

    PHOTOS: The 35 Most Powerful People in Media 2013

    She proceeded to confirm returns with the network's number crunchers. Kelly's own numbers, a strong 1.1 million viewers at the less-than-ideal 1 p.m. slot, affirm her thrall with viewers. And her increasingly high profile -- the pregnant mother of two has posed for glossy fashion spreads in GQ and Harper's Bazaar -- seems to have her poised for primetime, which might not be too far off: Her current contract runs out this summer.

    Kelly says she continues to take cues from colleague Brit Hume, whom she counts as her biggest career influence. "Brit reinforced a life lesson I use every day," says Kelly. " 'Winners take responsibility, losers blame others.' " 

    MOST DESIRED "GET": "I've interviewed politicians from Barack Obama to Mitt Romney, but I've yet to get my No. 1 guest -- and idol -- Judge Judy."

  • Steve Kroft, Lara Logan, Scott Pelley, Morley Safer, Bob Simon, Lesley Stahl and Anderson Cooper -

    This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    Lara Logan emerges from her 60 Minutes office on the ninth floor of an anonymous West 57th Street office tower that shares its lobby with a BMW dealership. She greets a visiting reporter before taking off in a speed walk down the hall, calling out, “It’s a bit stressful,” over her shoulder. The correspondent is preparing for a screening with 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager of her upcoming piece about the hunt for African warlord Joseph Kony.

    “This is a story I care a lot about,” explains Logan, a South African who made her bones covering the violence of her country’s post-apartheid regime. “And I hate for him not to be happy,” she adds, referring to Fager.

    To read more about the 60 Minutes correspondents, click here.

  • Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Willie Geist

    This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    It's been a very public fall for the heretofore perennial morning news leader. Keeping their chins up is one way for the Today team to regain morning dominance.

    "I try really hard not to be distracted by [the negative media attention]. One hundred percent of our focus is putting on the show," says Guthrie. "And the fact that we're putting on a really strong show is what makes me feel good."

    PHOTOS: The 35 Most Powerful People in Media 2013

    ABC's Good Morning America bested them for the first quarter in total viewers (5.4 million versus 4.7 million) and by a thin margin among viewers 25-to-54 (2 million versus 1.9 million), marking the first time GMA has won a first quarter demo race with Today since 1993. But the ratings picture for the controversy-free 9 a.m. hour continues to be rosy. Co-hosted by Geist, Natalie Morales and Al Roker, the hour tops competitors The ViewThe Chew and The Talk.

    "Nobody is screaming at each other, it's business as usual," says Geist. "I view it as a very upbeat place to be." 

    THE SHOW ON A COMPETING NETWORK GUTHRIE WATCHES MOST OFTEN: "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, and 60 Minutes." 

    GEIST'S MENTOR: "My dad, [CBS News'] Bill Geist. When he shows you that TV is fun, it makes it all pretty easy."

  • David Letterman

    This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    It was 21 years ago that he lost the fierce, high-profile battle for The Tonight Show, but now it's official: Letterman has won the war of longevity.

    When Jay Leno leaves in spring 2014 -- and even as ratings show he's the bigger hit -- Letterman will continue on CBS' Late Show as the king of the cool kids on late-night TV, with the likes of Julia Roberts only going on his show. When ABC's Jimmy Kimmel hosted a week of shows in his native Brooklyn in September, Letterman, 65, sat as a special guest, and it was all Kimmel could do to keep from bursting with glee.

    PHOTOS: The 35 Most Powerful People in Media 2013

    Letterman, who has a 9-year-old son, Harry, with wife Regina Lasko, is signed through 2014, and CBS CEO Leslie Moonves says, "We think we have the best guy in late-night television." 

    FUN FACT: Letterman attended Ball State University with Jim Davis, creator of Garfield, who once caught his standup act at a fraternity party.

  • Rachel Maddow

    This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    Maddow is the centerpiece of primetime programming on progressive cable network MSNBC. So why did she dedicate her book to Dick Cheney, the ultimate liberal villain? Simple: She wanted to have him on her show. "That was my greatest gambit," she says. "But I still don't hold much hope." 

    Maddow, whose hourlong show surged in ratings during the election season and whose book, Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power, has become a best-seller, is arguably the face of MSNBC in the post-Keith Olbermann era. Her show, which has pushed topics including Obama's drone program and voting rights to the top of the national agenda, is also a breeding ground for other MSNBC stars like Chris Hayes, installed in a weeknight slot at 8.

    PHOTOS: The 35 Most Powerful People in Media 2013

    She has several times surpassed Fox News conservative Sean Hannity in key demos. She won't gloat too much, though. "The rivalry between Fox and MSNBC is real; we are very different companies that approach what we do very differently, but that doesn't extend to personal animosity," says Maddow, 40, who had Fox News chairman Roger Ailes write a blurb for her book. 

    SHOW ON A COMPETING NETWORK I WATCH MOST: "I'm not a good TV watcher in general. I'm like our viewers, who watch us with people sending them clips on Facebook and in podcasts."

  • Lorne Michaels

    This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    As the recent Tonight Show transition proves, Michaels' power only has increased within 30 Rock.

    Michaels, who has been producing former Saturday Night Live castmember Jimmy Fallon's Late Night show since it launched in March 2009, will move with him to Tonight in early 2014. The news comes as Michaels' SNL -- still the place for guests to prove they've made it, or can poke fun of themselves during a scandal -- has been delivering some of the highest ratings of any entertainment show on NBC's schedule, and that's without former heavyweights Kristen Wiig and Andy Samberg. The sketch show drew its highest numbers in more than a year -- 8.4 million viewers -- with host Justin Timberlake on March 9.

    PHOTOS: The 35 Most Powerful People in Media 2013

    The 68-year-old married father of three also saw his niche hit Portlandia on IFC nab Emmy nominations, his critically adored 30 Rock on NBC bid farewell and his Will Arnett-Christina Applegate comedy Up All Night on the same network fall apart.

    Looking ahead, Michaels, through his Broadway Video banner, has a comedy pilot in contention at NBC with his latest protegeSNL writer John Mulaney

    FUN FACT: He once turned down a lucrative opportunity to host an Apprentice-style series for NBC.

  • Piers Morgan

    This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    Morgan, 48, hosts the most-watched nightly show on CNN (averaging about 500,000 viewers and airing in more than 200 countries). But it's his relentless advocacy for gun control, especially in the wake of the Sandy Hook school massacre, that this year thrust him into the news cycle.

    "I'm a clear voice," he says. "I don't want to be Mr. Shouty. It's about choosing the right issue, and this is the right issue for America."

    PHOTOS: The 35 Most Powerful People in Media 2013

    As CNN transforms to better compete with Fox News and MSNBC under new chief Jeff Zucker -- who, ironically, allowed Morgan to take his current job when Zucker was running NBCUniversal and Morgan was under contract at NBC's America's Got Talent -- clear voices like Morgan's seem to be a priority.

    Two years after replacing CNN legend Larry King, the former Daily Mirror editor says he is much more comfortable battling guests like Ted Nugent on the air (and on Twitter, where he has amassed 3.4 million followers), though he admits the CNN ratings turnaround is a work in progress.

    "The key challenge is to make the programs distinctive," he says. He's especially proud of newsy PML exclusives with the Dalai Lama, Bill Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

    MOST DESIRED "GET": "Jack Nicholson. I know Jack will read this. He should know I will never relent."

  • Bill O'Reilly

    This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    O'Reilly continues to pile on the hats.

    At 63, cable news' highest-rated host -- with an average of 2.8 million viewers -- has parlayed his prolific writing career (his books total 13 to date) into a Hollywood adaptation career. Killing Lincoln, the first of three TV movie adaptations of his fictionalized history books optioned by National Geographic Channel, debuted to a record-breaking 3.4 million viewers in February.

    "I decided after writing nine consecutive nonfiction books, all contemporary, that I had really said what I wanted to say," explains the Fox News personality, who will see a September release of his Killing Jesus.

    PHOTOS: The 35 Most Powerful People in Media 2013

    It's not just his career moves that surprise. The noted conservative recently implied that he has softened his views on gay marriage during a Proposition 8 discussion on Fox colleague Megyn Kelly's America Live, even while The O'Reilly Factor remains TV's go-to destination for right-leaning politicos. 

    "It's an interesting phenomenon," says O'Reilly. "The loyalty factor really is sustaining Fox News through this transitory time." 

    WHAT HE LIKES ABOUT TV MOVIES: "The B.S. component is very small. We get a good screenplay, we shoot it, and we put it on."

  • Scott Pelley

    This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    Pelley's deep, measured voice is a reflection of his broadcast, which he characterizes as "serious, well-written news" that reports "without fear or favor."

    The CBS Evening News anchor, who took over for Katie Couric in May 2011, prides himself on returning the show to Cronkite-era substance. Its focus on the issues over the horse race in the 2012 presidential campaign provided viewers "an island of calm in a sea of absurdity," says the 55-year-old Texan, in contrast to the "shouting" and "confusion" of cable news. 

    PHOTOS: The 35 Most Powerful People in Media 2013

    Evening News still is in third place, but it's up 7 percent this year and, with last year's gains, the broadcast is up two years in a row for the first time since the advent of electronic ratings records.

    In August, the married father of two interviewed a member of the SEAL team that took down Osama bin Laden and was using his pseudonym, Mark Owen. Fox News, however, revealed the soldier's real name. "I cannot think of any public interest that was served, and now his life and the lives of all of his family members are in danger," says Pelley. "If the people at Fox have a reason, I'd be awfully interested in hearing it." 

    MOST DESIRED "GET": "Justin Timberlake is talented in so many different areas; I'd like to do a profile on him for 60 Minutes."

  • David Rhodes

    This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    Rhodes is no stranger to power. The 39-year-old counts CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves, Fox News chief Roger Ailes and billionaire New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg among his mentors. 

    Moonves, he says, imparted an expertise for picking talent. Ailes, whom Rhodes still talks to after 12 years at Fox News, taught him to focus on the onscreen picture: "You can't for a moment look inferior to the other guys," he says. And from Bloomberg -- Rhodes was head of U.S. television operations at Bloomberg TV for 2½ years -- he learned the benefit of transparency in the workplace. "The worst aspect of these media organizations is the culture of [gossip]. You can devalue gossip if you share more information."

    PHOTOS: The 35 Most Powerful People in Media 2013

    So when Rhodes, CBS News chairman Jeff Fager and CBS This Morning exec producer Chris Licht realized in the summer that Norah O'Donnell was a better fit with Charlie Rose and Gayle King than Erica Hill, they pulled the trigger quickly. "It was a very smooth transition," says the married father of two young boys. "I think everybody appreciated that."

    It also stands in contrast to a certain other morning-show transition that transpired in 2012. "I'll allow you to draw your own conclusions," says Rhodes. "But if you ask me what I am proudest of in the last year, it's that." 

    SHOW ON A COMPETING NETWORK I WATCH MOST: "It's a pretty good bet I'm watching PBS' Charlie Rose while you're reading this."

  • Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan

    This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    In September, after 59 guest hosts rotated in and out of the Live chair next to Ripa, former NFL defensive end Strahan, 41, nabbed the seat once occupied by Regis Philbin.

    “Even though I knew I had the job, it was surreal to see my name up there with Kelly’s,” recalls the father of four, who is engaged to VH1 reality star Nicole Murphy. It’s a transformative moment for the talk show, which launched in 1983 and was rebranded as Live With Regis and Kathie Lee in 1988.

    “I was very emotional,” says Ripa, a mother of three with husband Mark Consuelos, adding jokingly of the co-host audition process: “They kept us sequestered like they do on The Bachelor. We weren’t allowed to see each other.”

    PHOTOS: The 35 Most Powerful People in Media 2013

    Seven months later, their chemistry has taken off: Live matched its strongest February in five years during sweeps week and topped Ellen as the No. 2 syndicated talk show with more than 3 million viewers.

    “Michael is one of these men that could have chemistry with a doorknob, a chicken sandwich or a flashlight,” jokes Ripa.

    FAVORITE GUESTS: Dolly Parton for Ripa: “I laugh every time I watch it.” Mitt and Ann Romney for Strahan: “They were game for anything, which was unexpected.”

  • Charlie Rose, Gayle King and Norah O'Donnell

    This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    When you have Rose, TV’s consummate interlocutor for more than 20 years on his eponymous PBS interview program, you don’t need cooking segments.

    “We said from the get-go that we wanted to reimagine the morning, and to our own instincts,” says Rose, 71. 

    The strategy is paying off. CBS This Morning is up 14 percent this year and is now winning some of morning TV’s storied booking wars. CTM landed the first joint interview with then-GOP candidate Mitt Romney and wife Ann during the thick of the presidential campaign. Serious-minded A-listers like Brad Pitt, Ben Affleck and Robert De Niro now make the pilgrimage to the show’s West 57th Street studio.

    PHOTOS: The 35 Most Powerful People in Media 2013

    Tellingly, the show has fans at competing networks. “I’m not giving names,” says co-anchor King, 58. “So many people come up to me and say, ‘I’ve switched from fill-in-the-blank.’”

    King’s Rolodex of friends in high places (Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey) and O’Donnell’s deep network of political sources amassed over a decade as a Washington correspondent for NBC News mean CTM can draw on three anchors with different skill sets.

    Since joining CBS News in June 2011, O’Donnell, 39, a mother of three with husband and chef-restaurateur Geoff Tracy, has distinguished herself as a skilled interviewer, first with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg on 60 Minutes.

    “It is interesting that in 2013, the issue of women in the workplace is quote-unquote controversial,” says O’Donnell, adding about co-host Rose, “But the good news is, Gayle and I work with one of the most modern men, and he’s always on our side.”

    SHOW ON A COMPETING NETWORK I WATCH MOST: King and O’Donnell in unison: “The Charlie Rose show!”

  • Diane Sawyer

    This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    Not every legend bothers to tweak his or her talents like Sawyer, who is getting a reputation as the anchor who can move books.

    Her empathy with interview subjects, including kidnapping survivor Jaycee Dugard, has helped her land one of the biggest gets of the year: Amanda Knox, the American exchange student caught in a nightmare Italian justice system. Her sit-down with Knox will air April 30 on ABC in conjunction with the release of Knox’s hotly anticipated memoir, Waiting to Be Heard.

    PHOTOS: The 35 Most Powerful People in Media 2013

    The 67-year-old anchor married to director Mike Nichols is helping World News inch closer to rival NBC Nightly News. Averaging more than 8 million viewers for the first quarter of the year, Sawyer’s program is the closest it has been to Brian Williams’ broadcast in five years.

    “Diane Sawyer believes in trying to make a better program, a better piece, a better interview, a better booking,” says ABC News president Ben Sherwood.

    FUN FACT: Sherwood first met Sawyer 30 years ago when he was an intern on the CBS News morning show she co-hosted with Bill Kurtis.

  • Ben Sherwood

    This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    Since taking over ABC News in late 2010, Sherwood, 49, can boast of several big gets: a Yahoo content partnership; the launch with Univision this summer of Fusion, a new network targeting English-speaking Hispanics; and Peabody Awards for Superstorm Sandy coverage and Robin Roberts’ efforts to promote bone marrow donors.

    But they all pale in comparison to Good Morning America dethroning Today as the morning ratings leader. For the first quarter of 2013, GMA averaged 5.4 million total viewers (and 2 million in the target 25-to-54 demo), nearly 1 million more than its NBC rival. And in 2012, GMA generated $318 million in ad revenues, according to Kantar Media.

    PHOTOS: The 35 Most Powerful People in Media 2013

    “It’s a fun show to watch, it’s a fun show to produce,” Sherwood says of GMA, dismissing criticism that the show is lightweight and has milked Roberts’ recent illness for ratings. “From the get-go, we wanted to balance her privacy with her desire to make her message,” he says.

    The Harvard grad and married father of two boys began as an associate producer at ABC News in 1989 and worked his way up. It hasn’t been perfect — Sherwood was in the studio during Diane Sawyer’s bizarre election-night loopiness (“We both joked about it and moved on,” he says) — but ABC News clearly has momentum.

    FUN FACT: Sherwood’s sister Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall is a special assistant to President Obama. Like her brother, she earned a Rhodes scholarship.

  • Howard Stern

    This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    "I’ll be between Ann Curry and the Naked Cowboy,” joked the shock jock about his placement on the THR Power List during the March 25 broadcast of his Sirius XM Radio show.

    The sarcastic remark was tame compared to most on his long-running, raunch-driven radio program (Stern’s $400 million contract extends through 2015). Despite whispers of retirement, the 59-year-old married father of three has no intention of slowing down; he signed on for a second season in the judge’s chair on America’s Got Talent.

    PHOTOS: The 35 Most Powerful People in Media 2013

    However, when rumors swirled that he was being considered for Jimmy Fallon’s late-night chair in 2014, Stern shot them down, calling the idea an “insult” to his 30-plus-year career, adding, “Maybe if I’m really nice to NBC, they’ll let me take over Carson Daly’s show at 2 o’clock in the morning.”

    LATEST CONTROVERSY: Stern caused a media firestorm in January by calling Girls creator Lena Dunham a “little fat chick”; he later apologized.

  • Jon Stewart

    This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    He has long downplayed his influence, protesting that he is simply a comedian, but judging from the headlines when Stewart, 50, announced a summer sabbatical to direct his first film, Rosewater, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

    The Daily Show is a must-stop for actors and authors, with a level of engagement and smarts that can drive sales and social-media storms, and is a launching pad for stars like Olivia Munn, to boot. Stewart was named in a 2009 survey as the most trustworthy journalist, and his stature has only risen since then. The host has in the past year landed interviews with presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton and grilled Al Gore over the sale of Current TV to Al Jazeera.

    PHOTOS: The 35 Most Powerful People in Media 2013

    The married father of two is trusted by young viewers — Stewart now beats late-night leader Jay Leno overall in the 18-to-49 demo — who cite him as their main source of news. Daily Show correspondent and producer John Oliver will fill in for Stewart this summer, and though he is highly regarded, politicians may breathe a sigh of relief.

    FUN FACT: Stewart performed as a caped magician for a children’s show at South Street Seaport sponsored by Caroline’s comedy club.

  • Barbara Walters

    This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    Talk about a nondenial denial. Although network sources say Walters already had been planning to retire in 2014 when reports of it broke, the ABC News vet responded by saying, “I have no announcements to make,” on her daytime talk show, The View.

    The news shouldn’t have come as a surprise: Walters, 83, recently suffered a health setback when she contracted chicken pox after collapsing at the home of the British ambassador. She was hospitalized and off the air for weeks. “It was just amazing to me that I had the chicken pox at my age,” she observes, adding, “I’m fine.”

    PHOTOS: The 35 Most Powerful People in Media 2013

    Meanwhile, The View continues to dominate daytime as the No. 1 broadcast talker this season, edging out CBS’ The Talk in total viewers as well as the syndicated programs Dr. Oz, Maury and Rachael Ray. The TV icon clearly relishes the influence her “hot topics”-fueled show has in daytime: “I am proud of the fact that The View is going into its 17th year and is being copied,” she says, likely referencing The Talk.

    However, changes are afoot: In March, original View panelist Joy Behar announced she will depart this summer at the end of her contract. And sources tell THR that Elisabeth Hasselbeck plans to follow Behar. “I truly like these women," says Walters. "I helped to choose them, [executive producer] Bill Geddie and I.”

    What does Walters make of gossip reports that Ali Wentworth, Brooke Shields and Christie Brinkley are in the running as replacements? “We haven’t really begun to look yet,” she says, lips sealed.

    Walters will mark the 20th anniversary of her 10 Most Fascinating People special later this year.

    MOST DESIRED "GET": “With a new baby coming in the British royal family, we wish we could interview Kate and William.”

  • Brian Williams

    This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    Williams remains something of a saving grace for NBC News during a turbulent season at the network. The 53-year-old anchor’s Nightly News has been the most-watched evening newscast for 185 consecutive weeks (averaging 8.9 million viewers in the first quarter).

    The married father of two (his daughter Allison currently stars on the HBO comedy Girls) was a dominant figure during the 2012 election, having secured an unprecedented amount of time and access to President Obama. In March, however, the newsman found himself at the center of a Hollywood controversy when it leaked that WME co-CEO Ari Emanuel had sent NBC a missive expressing his discontent with Williams’ interview with Emanuel and his two brothers, Chicago Mayor Rahm and bioethicist Ezekiel Emanuel.

    PHOTOS: The 35 Most Powerful People in Media 2013

    “It’s an eye-of-the-beholder thing,” counters Williams. “I’ve known them all for years in varying degrees. I will let our work and the profile speak for itself.” Williams continues to secure sought-after interviews, including Apple CEO Tim Cook for the executive’s first TV appearance since taking over the company after the death of Steve Jobs. And he remains a go-to guest on the late-night circuit, playing the wry newsman for David Letterman, Jon Stewart and, of course, Jimmy Fallon, who will inherit The Tonight Show in 2014.

    “I feel a special closeness to Jimmy,” says Williams. “I’m selfishly thrilled that The Tonight Show is coming back to New York." Now, Williams will only have to travel three floors to get there.

    HIS MENTOR: “It’s not a shadowy mythical figure, it’s Tom Brokaw. My life is very simple, I owe much of what I enjoy today to just one guy, and that keeps things very simple."

  • Wendy Williams

    This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    Williams, 48, is famously emotional, high energy, fun-loving, loud and gossipy, and her loyal and diverse viewership hangs on her every “How you doin’?”

    Now in its fourth season, her show — on which she has hosted guests ranging from the Trumps to Alicia Keys — has been tweaked with an expanded, commercial-free, talk-of-the-day segment, now 20 minutes rather than eight. So far this season, it’s up double digits in the key women 25-to-54 demo.

    PHOTOS: The 35 Most Powerful People in Media 2013

    Williams and her husband, Kevin, recently inked a first-look development deal with Oxygen. Arriving in July: her debut wig line, Wendy Williams Hair World.

    MOST RECENT BIG ACCOMPLISHMENT: Losing 20 pounds: “Who wants to be in HD looking like a hippo? Thanks to Lycra, [I don’t] need a whole new wardrobe.”

  • Anna Wintour

    This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    Being on the cover of Vogue can anoint a fashion star (and deliver a lucrative contract), boost a designer and influence how American actresses dress.

    Now, as artistic director of Conde Nast in addition to being editor of Vogue, Wintour has say over — and can ostensibly apply her make-or-break eye to — all Conde Nast covers, which in this era of declining print relevance still deliver impact for Hollywood (think Vanity Fair; Conde Nast circulation totals more than 13.6 million).

    PHOTOS: The 35 Most Powerful People in Media 2013

    The promotion in March ended speculation she might become Obama’s ambassador to the U.K. Arguably the most influential woman in fashion, the 63-year-old also has — not always willingly — fueled book and film sales thanks to the satirical The Devil Wears Prada.

    FUN FACT: In the 25 years since becoming Vogue’s editor in chief, Wintour has counseled filmmakers such as Baz Luhrmann and advised moguls including LVMH chief Bernard Arnault.

  • Jeff Zucker

    This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    After scaling the highest corporate peaks, Zucker, 48, has returned to his roots at the helm of the original cable news network.

    Even as he was ensconced in the 51st-floor CEO suite at Rockefeller Plaza, home of his former employer NBCUniversal, he was a guiding hand for the company’s news division. He has brought that same hands-on approach to CNN, where he has axed longtime contributors Roland Martin, Bill Bennett and husband-and-wife pundits James Carville and Mary Matalin, hired Chris Cuomo and Jake Tapper from ABC News and Rachel Nichols from ESPN, and spurred the most competitive climate in the TV news business in recent memory, say agents representing TV news talent.

    PHOTOS: The 35 Most Powerful People in Media 2013

    Zucker, a married father of four, has indicated that he’s looking to expand the network’s purview with nonfiction programming (Anthony Bourdain’s wanderlust hour bows April 14) and additional beats on Hollywood and sports.

    “News is more than politics and war,” said Zucker upon assuming the job at CNN. “We can’t say everything that we’ve been doing is working, and if we don’t try different things within the legacy of CNN, we won’t succeed.”

    FUN FACT: Zucker’s son Andrew, 14, was appointed to the advisory board of Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker’s social media side project, billed as Pinterest for video.