Our Famous 50: 2011


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Who are Connecticut’s hottest celebrities from the entertainment/news/sports/punditry fields? Here’s the latest list, with ranking based on recent accomplishments, standing among their peers and good old celebrity buzz. And, yes, they all live here, at least part of the time.

1. JOHNNY DEPP: Does the man ever stop working (or working “it”)? In 2009, he was People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive”; this October, he topped Entertainment Weekly’s list of the “50 Most Powerful Celebrities.” He sure knows how to win a young British girl’s heart, too—he popped into a class at Greenwich’s Meridian Primary School in full Capt. Jack Sparrow regalia after receiving a letter from said 9-year-old claiming that she and her schoolmates needed instruction in “mutinying” against their teachers (Depp advised otherwise). It didn’t hurt that he was filming the May 2011 release Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides at the nearby Greenwich Naval College.

2. MERYL STREEP: Twenty-ten has been a quiet year for La Streep—a $1 million donation to Washington, D.C.’s Women’s National History Museum notwithstanding—but it’s the calm before the storm. She may already be filming The Iron Lady, a biopic of Margaret Thatcher. Possible bad news: Her director is Phyllida Lloyd, who last guided her in (ahem) Mamma Mia! Good news: She’s also on deck for two films directed by pal Stanley Tucci, including Mommy and Me (she plays mommy to Tina Fey). But the “mother” of  all her new roles could be the matriarch in August: Osage County, also starring Julia Roberts.

3. JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE: Whither Justin T’s music career? Gone with The Social Network, apparently. He’s got big parts in this month’s Yogi Bear as well as next year’s Bad Teacher (co-starring Cameron Diaz) and Friends with Benefits. One question: Did he make them all wearing his “serious thespian” horn-rimmed glasses?

4. BRIAN WILLIAMS: We admire him as anchor of NBC’s longtime No. 1 evening network newscast—with 8 million viewers a night—and, until recently, proud dad at many a Yale home football game. All we would wish for him is that guest stint on “Mad Men” he secretly desires.

5. GLENN BECK: The number of people you believe attended Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally seems to be in direct proportion to how you feel about him. We’ve read a lot of speculation this year about his relationship with Fox News (from falling ratings/advertiser revenue to unhappy network bosses). All we’ll say is: The day he releases a book (like his newest, Broke: The Plan to Restore Our Trust, Truth and Treasure) and it doesn’t zip to No. 1 on Amazon, that’ll be a story.

6. SCOTT RUDIN: Lessee—having collected another Tony in 2010 for the revival of Fences, next year he’s producing Chris Rock’s Broadway debut, The Motherf---er with the Hat and the new musical The Book of Mormon (by the creators of “South Park”). His upcoming movie slate includes the Coen brothers’ True Grit (starring Jeff Bridges), Margaret (with Anna Paquin and Matt Damon), Moneyball (with Brad Pitt and Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Cleopatra (directed by James Cameron and starring—it’s rumored—Angelina Jolie). We’re also betting on some kind of Oscar nom(s) for The Social Network. Nonetheless, this seems like a slow year for him.

7. STEPHEN SONDHEIM: He’s so sizzling these days that they’ve even re-released works of his that we forgot we forgot: specifically, Evening Primrose, a TV musical that aired on ABC in 1966. His new memoir Finishing the Hat won a glowing review in The New York Times from fellow composer Paul Simon, who called it “a master class in how to write a musical . . . given by the theater’s finest living songwriter.”

8. JIM NANTZ: He anchored the 2010 trifecta of Super Bowl XLIV, the NCAA men’s basketball finals and The Masters golf tournament for CBS, making him a ubiquitous TV-sports presence. He’ll get the latter two again in 2011—and audiences most other entertainers/reporters can only dream about.

9. PHILIP ROTH: Just about every Literary Critic Who Matters seems to think his 31st and latest work, the surprisingly tender Nemesis, should have gotten him that Nobel. Ah, well—if 2011’s book doesn’t bring it home to Mr. Living Literary Legend, there’s always 2012 or 2013.

10. LAURA LINNEY: Last year, we called her “no rock star” (a compliment, really). Turns out it’s the quiet ones who score the diva treatment: Linney’s presence was considered so essential to Donald Margulies’ Tony-nominated play Time Stands Still that the producers actually shut it down temporarily while she filmed the first season of Showtime’s “The Big C”—which will also be back for a second go-round.

Our Famous 50: 2011

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