Apparently, the big news this year was that America’s favorite mega-mogul, Oprah Winfrey was finally unseated from the number one spot by the beautiful, talented and extremely skinny Angelina Jolie. According to Forbes, Angelina’s new ranking came thanks to her exploding film career plus the publicity garnered from the birth of her twins, her philanthropic efforts and her relationship with the equally pretty Brad Pitt (who came in at No. 9 on the list - right behind his even prettier ex-wife Jennifer Aniston). Given that last year Oprah earned about 200 million more than Angelina and is about to launch her own TV network, her demotion strikes me as a little strange. It makes me wish that at least a few other factors had been taken into consideration. As much as I like Angelina, I still think Oprah could take her in a cage fight.
In other “surprises,” the top four slots were occupied by women (Angelina and Oprah were followed by Madonna and Beyonce) and almost half of the top ten were African-American (which at least demonstrates some progress in how wealth and celebrity is being doled out these days). This was also the first year that a sitting U.S. President made the list with Barack Obama coming in at No. 49. Odd that a guy who is running two wars and holds the future of the U.S. economy in his hands would wind up so far down the list behind Miley Cyrus and 80’s hair band, Bon Jovi. I guess the term “powerful” doesn’t mean quite what it used to.
I don’t know about you, but I’m getting kind of sick of these lists. It seems like every rag on the newsstand now churns out some kind of annual list -- Most powerful, most beautiful, wealthiest, sexiest, fattest, youngest, oldest, thinnest, drunkest, stupidest. And who exactly puts these lists together? I can only imagine the sort of horrible, pasty little trolls who sit around debating why Dr. Phil should get the No. 21 spot over say, Britney Spears. What is it with all these damn lists?
My friends in publishing tell me that the answer is simple. “Lists” sell magazines. For some reason, we lowly mortals want some kind of scorecard so we can see how the Masters of the Universe are doing. Who’s buying their own chateau? Who's starting their own clothing line? Dating a supermodel? Who's plucking yet another orphan from some crappy impoverished village? I gotta say -- This last phenomenon continues to amaze me. I know some folks praise these decisions since it will supposedly encourage more Americans to consider foreign adoption. Given the number of homegrown kids currently warehoused in foster care, I don’t see the logic. Personally, I liked Ms. Winfrey’s approach. Instead of picking one lucky child (to be raised by her staff) she instead chose to build a school overseas that would benefit thousands of children for years to come.
If I’m going to be painfully honest, I suppose the thing that pisses me off the most about these lists is that I’m never on them. If you rounded up all the people who know me, have worked with me (or have ever even heard of me) and polled them, I doubt the terms “Most Powerful” or “Sexiest Man Alive” would be the first thing out of their mouths.
I admit it. I’m a nerd. I have nerdy interests and nerdy problems. I worry about money. I can’t lose the 10 pounds I gained last year. My skin is not flawless and my phone calls are not instantly returned (by anybody). So I guess when I see people who seem to have lots of everything and are surrounded by legions of folks willing to help them do anything they want to do, it sort of stings a little. It just doesn’t seem quite fair.
I suppose the only real option is for me to start my own magazine. I’ve heard that the most successful periodicals these days are the ones that focus on celebrity gossip or "Green” issues. So, I'm thinking I might call it “Earth Nerd.” Each week we could feature a truly non-famous person on the cover and interview them about their un-extraordinary lives. Who knows? It might catch on! God knows there are enough unimportant people in the world that, if we all banded together, could make it a huge success! Every year we could publish our own list of the “100 People Who Should be Rich and Powerful, But Aren’t.” We’ll select the names by lottery and list them in alphabetical order just to be fair. And we’ll be known for our un-air brushed cover photos.
I suppose the Forbes list (if viewed in the right light) could provide a little healthy inspiration as well. It’s not like those people aren’t hard-working or smart. Stephanie Meyer (the author of the “Twilight” series) showed up on the list this year and she’s far too clever and talented for me to hate. Well, not yet anyway. As we all know, jealousy is a deadly confidence-eating virus that can strip the joy out of life. At least I can console myself with the fact that a few of 2008's “Power 100” got booted off the list this year; including Jennifer Lopez, Johnny Depp and Justin Timberlake. Thank God I don’t have to compare myself to those losers anymore!
THANK YOU, PHIL ABRAMS!!Copyright 2008 Quitcher-Bitchyn Entertainment, Inc.
David Dean Bottrell is an actor (“Boston Legal”) and screenwriter (“Kingdom Come”) who writes a weekly blog about being strangely middle-class in Hollywood at www.partsandlabor.tv