The Famous 50 - 2013

Who's up? Who's Down? Pat Grandjean dishes on 50 of Connecticut's best-known celebs.

Part-time Roxbury resident Daniel Day-Lewis is No. 1 on our list this year.

Part-time Roxbury resident Daniel Day-Lewis is No. 1 on our list this year.

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1. DANIEL DAY-LEWIS  He’s far from the busiest bee on this year’s Top 50, but when recent Time cover subject DDL sets his cap for something it’s the Tower of Pisa, Mona Lisa, Mickey Mouse and caviar rolled into  one. At press time, all most people had seen of him in Stephen Spielberg’s Lincoln was a trailer and a poster, yet just about anybody who makes predictions about such things is calling him a shoo-in for his third Best Actor Oscar, despite stiff competition from Joaquin Phoenix (The Master), John Hawkes (The Sessions) and Denzel Washington (Flight). If he brings home the statuette, he’ll be the first actor in Academy Award history with three wins.

2. SUZANNE COLLINS The author of The Hunger Games series now knows what it’s like to be J.K. Rowling. The movie adaptation earned $700 million worldwide this year, and plans for the sequels have unfolded quickly: The first, Catching Fire, began filming this fall (for a November 2013 release), with new cast members Philip Seymour Hoffman and Jeffrey Wright and a screenplay by Oscar-winner Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire). Collins’ third novel, Mockinjay, will be divided into two parts (released November 2014 and 2015), to be adapted by Danny Strong, author of HBO’s Emmy-winning movies Recount and Game Change.

3. MERYL STREEP It’s full steam ahead for Streep since winning her third Best Actress Oscar in 2012. She charmed everyone’s socks off in Hope Springs (and a dual guest shot on Lisa Kudrow’s Showtime series “Web Therapy”) and finished out the year filming August: Osage County, based on Tracey Letts’ Pulitzer Prize-winning black comedy and co-starring Julia Roberts and Ewan MacGregor. On the philanthropic side, she donated $1 million to the Public Theater, birthplace of her acting career, in honor of founder Joe Papp and good friend Nora Ephron. She also played an active part in the Center for Reproductive Rights’ celebrity campaign “Draw the Line,” asking all Internet-savvy Americans to sign the “Bill of Reproductive Rights” in support of access to abortion and contraception.

4. SCOTT RUDIN  Despite a rocky start, HBO’s Rudin-produced “The Newsroom” will return for a second season next June, and as usual, he’s producing a killer slate of movies, including the Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis (starring Justin Timberlake), Captain Phillips (Tom Hanks), Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel (pairing Anderson newbies Ralph Fiennes and Jude Law with vets Bill Murray and Owen Wilson) and Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha (which won accolades at the New York Film Festival). But now he and his partners are also poised (they hope) to steal Amazon’s thunder in the publishing industry with an online venture called Brightline, expected to release its own line of fiction and nonfiction books (including e-books) next year.

5. RON HOWARD He’s shaken up his Mayberry boy image a bit by directing the documentary Jay-Z: Made in America—which explores the rapper’s role as organizer of this year’s Budweiser “Made in America” festival—featuring rap bigwigs Run-DMC, Odd Future and D’Angelo. He’s also immersed in Canon USA’s Project Imagina10n 2, an initiative that has invited the public to submit photos that will influence the themes of 10 short films by five novice directors: actors Eva Longoria and Jamie Foxx, Marchesa co-founder and designer Georgina Chapman, singer-songwriter James Murphy and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone. And Ron will be back as narrator for the long awaited fourth season of the much-loved sitcom “Arrested Development,” which will make 10 new episodes available on Netflix. Lest we forget, Howard has Rush in the can—a biopic of Austrian Formula 1 racing driver Niki Lauda, who came back from a near-fatal crash in 1976—and awaiting release in September.

6. HARVEY WEINSTEIN We admit, we feel a tad “punked” when a producer who extols the virtues of TV over film, as Weinstein did to the San Francisco Chronicle, invests in projects like “Supermarket Superstars” (a reality show concerning competition for food product sales) and “The World Dance Awards,” a collaboration with Riverdance’s Michael Flatley that they’re touting as “the Grammys of dance.” After all, in his last year as movie producer he bested all comers with The Artist—the little Oscar magnet that could—and the future doesn’t look any less promising, with Silver Linings Playbook (now in theaters), Django Unchained (out at Christmas) and August: Osage County (almost completed) all part of his stable. Adding to Weinstein’s prestige factor this year was the August fundraiser he and wife Georgina Chapman threw at their Westport home for President Barack Obama, which raised roughly $2.5 million.

7. BRIAN WILLIAMS  “NBC Nightly News” and “Rock Center” seem to be humming along, and Williams knows how to sell his work—his two-day October campaign tour with President Obama became special segments not only on these shows but the “Today” show as well. The recipient of the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in 2009, he’s also developed a thriving second career doing what Cronkite would never have let his hair down enough to do: making fun of his serious “newsman” persona on “30 Rock,” “Saturday Night Live,” “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” “The Daily Show” and “The Late Show with David Letterman” (whew!) without losing a jot of credibility.

8. CYNDI LAUPER  A year ago, Lauper was promising us a musical, a memoir and a “me”-tastic reality show, and by gum, she’s delivered all three. Theater mavens are particularly excited about the Broadway-bound Kinky Boots— which Lauper collaborated on with Harvey Fierstein and formidable musical director Stephen Oremus (Avenue Q, Wicked, The Book of Mormon)—which won big thumbs up (if not unabashed raves) from critics during its pre-Broadway tryout in Chicago. Likewise, the candid Cyndi Lauper: A Memoir was a hit, and hopes are high for the WE’s “Cyndi Lauper: Still So Unusual,” which will feature husband of 21 years David Thornton and their 15-year-old son, Declyn. In June, the tireless supporter of LGBTQ rights was Grand Marshal of New York City’s Gay Pride Parade.

9. CHRISTOPHER  PLUMMER Now that he’s officially the oldest actor (82) to receive his first Oscar—for last year’s Beginners—he’s madly in demand. Currently, he’s in New Orleans shooting Elsa & Fred with Shirley MacLaine  (keep an eye out, too, for Muhammed Ali’s Greatest Fight, directed by Stephen Frears, and Hector and the Search for Happiness, with Simon Pegg). His work with the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario has inspired such adoration that the Stratford City Council is renaming Confederation Drive Christopher Plummer Drive. He never shirks his Fairfield County theater connections, either, having recently participated in a tribute to Terrence McNally at Westport Country Playhouse with Nathan Lane, Tyne Daly and Richard Thomas.

10. KEITH RICHARDS November marked the Rolling Stones’ 50th anniversary, celebrated with yet another greatest-hits album, GRRR!, which also featured two new songs, “Doom & Gloom” and “One More Shot.” After Keef dangled carrots all year about live-band performances to celebrate this milestone, they sold out a handful of big shows (two in London in November and two this month at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.), and that may just be the beginning of a full-out tour. As if that weren’t enough, Manhattan’s Museum of Modern Art is currently hosting the exhibit The Rolling Stones: 50 Years on Film, and a new documentary from the band’s point of view, Crossfire Hurricane, is playing HBO. Remember all the controversy surrounding Richards’ participation in The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise? Well, that’s over: He’ll be back for Installment V. Thank you, Johnny Depp.

The Famous 50 - 2013

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