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Were your ears burning over the past few months? It’s very likely, as just about every name in entertainment was bandied about for inclusion on this, our inaugural THR 100, a ranking of Hollywood’s most powerful people.
First, some clarification on how power was defined. Like beauty, it often is in the eye of the beholder. That’s a given. I know this list will be dissected, criticized and scrutinized. Since the beginning of the year, editors and writers spent many, many hours engaging in dozens of off-the-record conversations with the town’s top players — and battling in our own conference rooms — trying to measure something intangible: clout.
For some, power is the ability to get a green light. Others say it’s the ability to give a green light. Access to gigantic sums of money was a part of the equation, as were fame (turning heads when you enter a restaurant is practically a primal form of alpha-ism) and smarts (information is power). The key criterion was influence in the transactional machinery of day-to-day Hollywood. Boiled down, the simplest test of determining the differential between people became this: Whose phone call would you return first? Not because you like them but because your financial future and career just might, might, be altered by the time you hung up?
Needless to say, certain moguls who are one step removed from the scrum (Comcast’s Brian Roberts, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos) were disqualified. Overlord Bonnie Hammer — whose $2.8 billion cable empire made her the last reigning woman at No. 1 on THR‘s Power 100 ranking (now unranked) — fell behind Dana Walden and Gary Newman, whose ability to buy (through their network) and sell (through their prolific studio) put them in the white hot center of town commerce. Pure digital and social media players, who need Hollywood content but don’t produce it, were written off. And Philippe Dauman, whose role as Sumner Redstone’s diminished emissary is engulfed in a firestorm of litigation, was exiled, $54 million a year in compensation be damned.
And lastly, yes, we know that a lot of this list is white guys. We won’t need social media, thanks anyway, to drop an anvil on our heads to realize this. Out of the 124 names on the list (due to some shared groupings), there are only 19 women and 10 people of color (six African-Americans, two Asians, two Latinos). I’d like to think we cover the issues of gender and diversity that plague Hollywood with a critical eye and will continue to. And I hope and expect that one day in the near future this list has a wholly improved and reflective composition.
So, congratulations to the elite THR 100. It’s a great club to be in. In fact, it’s fair to describe Hollywood as the world’s biggest, toughest Fight Club. And for one brief window, this list and its accompanying stories talk about Fight Club. And we hope you do, too.
How Much Ink Did the Top 25 Players Get in THR?
What’s in a name check? Everything, at least in Hollywood, where recognition is a crucial part of the power equation. Below, a tally of how many THR stories over the past year (in 43 issues) mentioned those at the top of the THR 100.
This story first appeared in the July 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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