The Famous 50 - 2013
Who's up? Who's Down? Pat Grandjean dishes on 50 of Connecticut's best-known celebs.
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.
11. GEORGINA CHAPMAN In addition to that little film project she’s doing with Ron Howard and that minor benefit she and husband Harvey Weinstein threw for President Obama in August, Marchesa’s Chapman—who specializes in red carpet couture for folks like Anne Hathaway, Sandra Bullock and Halle Berry—has created a “must-have” T-shirt (at $110 each) for deep-pocketed New York Jets fans, with a logo made of black Swarovski beads and pearls. Now she’s reportedly being inundated with offers from rival NFL teams.
12. JUDITH SHEINDLIN Fans admire her common sense, fairness and knowledge of the law—so we suppose that it was inevitable that someone posted a petition on Change.org proposing she moderate one of this year’s presidential election debates. Alas, only 50 people signed said petition, hardly an impressive showing for a woman whose signature show, “Judge Judy,” is still the highest-rated daytime TV series on the air. “Judge Judy” marked its 17th season this fall by broadcasting in HD; meanwhile, the professional mentoring program that Sheindlin and her daughter Nicole started for high school senior girls in Westchester County, N.Y.—called Her Honor—is back in session for its sixth year.
13. JIM NANTZ Yup, the veteran CBS sportscaster has called everything from The Super Bowl to The Masters golf tournament (and even some winter Olympics). But, thanks to an alliance forged with Greenwich neighbor and wine importer Peter Deutsch, of W.J. Deutsch & Sons—the man who made America love Yellow Tail—Nantz has now fulfilled a decade-long dream of launching his own label, The Calling. He and Deutsch have developed four varietals: Dutton Ranch Chardonnay ($30 a bottle); Rio Lago Cabernet Sauvignon ($35), Jewel Vineyard Chardonnay ($40) and Our Tribute Red Blend ($60). What better way to toast Super Bowl XLVII?
14. CONAN O’BRIEN Is Conan getting serious? Nah. Sure, he launched a Charlie Rose-style web show (“Serious Jibber-Jabber”) on his official site, Team Coco, in September—it debuted with a lengthy one-on-one with Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Edmund Morris—and accepted an honorary patronage from Trinity College of Dublin’s Philosophical Society the following month. But this is still the guy who made good on a promise to celebrate a successful donation drive to Autism Speaks (the goal: $100,000) by hosting his late-night TBS show in a full-body, bright orange spray tan; looking, as he put it, “like a member of the ‘Jersey Shore’ cast with acute hepatitis.”
15. PAUL SIMON This was Simon’s year to celebrate two silver anniversaries: the release of his seminal album Graceland, which was marked with a spring tour and a 25th anniversary box-set edition; and his charitable organization The Children’s Health Fund, which has helped 350,000 needy kids in America receive crucial medical care. An October fund-raising blowout at Radio City Music Hall, featured Stevie Wonder, Sting, James Taylor, Steve Martin, Tina Fey and Simon’s wife, Edie Brickell. As for the future, Simon told National Geographic that he was getting into the music of Mali and NASA’s recordings of sounds from space.
16. NICOLLE WALLACE This fall, the political novelist and former GOP strategist—who had worked as President George W. Bush’s communications chief, communications director of his 2004 reelection campaign and senior adviser (along with her husband, Mark) to the 2008 McCain-Palin presidential campaign—joined ABC News as political analyst-contributor. Her role in the 2008 campaign was immortalized in the Emmy-winning HBO movie Game Change, which she has called “true enough to make me squirm.” She and Mark, who served as Bush’s U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, welcomed their first child, Liam, to the family in January.
17. BARRY LEVINSON The defining quality of Levinson as a film director is that as much as he loves to work in well-traveled genres—political satires (Wag the Dog), biopics (Bugsy), coming-of-age stories (Diner), feel-good epics (The Natural)—he often manages to revitalize them at the same time. That explains all the appreciation he’s gotten for this fall’s brutal The Bay, a pseudodocumentary-style ecological horror film built on “found footage” that makes predecessors like Cloverfield and The Blair Witch Project look like dopey child’s play. He’s also struggling to overcome bad karma: Gotti: Three Generations, which stalled when co-star John Travolta’s on-set masseurs accused him of sexual assault. But new offers keep coming Levinson’s way, such as a biopic of baseball’s Hank Aaron and a drama about the Oklahoma City bombing.
18. DUSTIN HOFFMAN Looks like he might finally be emerging from Meet the Fockers/Kung Fu Panda limbo. His directorial debut Quartet—starring Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly and Pauline Collins—earned him honors from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and the Hollywood Film Awards, at which he was given the Hollywood Breakthrough Director Award. With a Dec. 28 limited release date (the film goes wide Jan. 4), Hoffman might even win an Oscar nod. Whether he does or not, he still has starring roles in The Contortionist’s Handbook (with Channing Tatum) and The Song of Names (co-starring Anthony Hopkins) to look forward to.
19. CHRISTOPHER WALKEN As usual, he keeps piling up movie offers like matchsticks. Seven Psychopaths won him kudos as dognapper Hans; next year will bring Stand Up Guys (with Al Pacino and Alan Arkin) and Freezing People Is Easy (with Paul Rudd and Owen Wilson). However, at press time our favorite Walken performance ever was “Cooking with Walken,” a segment for the website Funny or Die in which he prepared a chicken from Stew Leonard’s in his Westport home, accompanied by Bridgeport native Richard Belzer, as well as Belzer’s dog and mandolin-playing son-in-law. Somebody find this guy his own planet, stat.
20. CHRISTINE BARANSKI Around the time of the 2012 Emmy Awards she was doing a lot of promotion for “The Good Wife,” noting that the CBS drama’s fourth season would be “cataclysmic” for the law firm of Lockhart & Gardner. Her onscreen power as Diane, she told The New York Times, translates to real life: “I’m getting a lot more respect when I order my smoothies.” Just think of the respect she’ll get when she finally earns a drama Emmy of her own to bookend the one she won for “Cybill” in 1995—maybe a third nom in 2013 will prove to be the charm.
21. JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE He held his own in Trouble with the Curve against veteran scene stealers Clint Eastwood and Amy Adams, and cinemawise, 2013 looks like an even bigger year, with the release of Inside Llewyn Davis, Runner, Runner (opposite Ben Affleck) and The Last Drop. Timberlake also signalled that his Teen Beat heartthrob days are well and truly over by marrying his girlfriend of five years, actress Jessica Biel.
22. PHILIP ROTH Another raft of Nobel Prize announcements came and went, and again the crickets chirped, leading the Vanity Fair blog VF Daily to call him the “Susan Lucci of the Nobel Prize in Literature.” A different feather in his cap—an official biography, to be published by W.W. Norton & Co.—will be written by Blake Bailey, John Cheever’s award-winning biographer. Bailey will be working with Roth’s full cooperation, including extensive interviews and unrestricted access to the author’s papers and unpublished works.
23. MATT LAUER Last year at this time, Lauer was undisputed top dog of morning TV; but his fortunes seemed to have turned on a dime, thanks to the unfortunate removal of Ann Curry as his co-host. NBC’s “Today” ratings came in second to ABC’s “Good Morning America” for the first time since 1995, and because viewers believed that Lauer was the one to shove Curry off her perch, his TV “Q”—or popularity rating—dropped 25 percent (according to the New York Daily News). Time will tell whether NBC execs’ recent attempts to absolve Lauer of guilt will have any effect.
24. TOMMY HILFIGER Fall is the time Hilfiger reveals not only his spring collections—his 2013 golf apparel lines for men and women draw inspiration from the Arizona desert, the nautical vibe of Bar Harbor and the sun and sand of Palm Beach—but his better self. This October, for the sixth year in a row, he partnered with Breast Health International to promote his $298 limited-edition BHI handbag ($100 from every bag sold helps cover costs for women with breast cancer that insurance plans won’t). His helpmates in this initiative are actresses Charlotte Gainsbourg, who stars in a promotional video, and Drew Barrymore, who filmed it.
25. DENIS LEARY His Apostle Productions is behind two just-cast comedy series pilots: “Sirens,” for the USA network, concerning the behind-the-scenes lives of three Chicago EMTs (including “Pan Am” alum Michael Mosley and “Modern Family”’s Kevin Daniels)—“Rescue Me” redux, anyone?—and “Bronx Warrants,” for FX, which revolves around a group of less- than-ethical warrant detectives. Just in time for the holiday season, he’s released a brand-new profane “children’s book,” Denis Leary’s Merry F***in’ Christmas, with a portion of the proceeds to be donated to the Leary Firefighters Foundation.
26. STEPHEN SONDHEIM Now that practically all of his major musicals have been revived on and off Broadway for the past decade, Sondheim-mania on stage seems to have cooled a bit. A bit, we said: Everyone loved Keen Company’s ardent off-Broadway revival of his odds ’n’ sods revue Marry Me a Little; in February, off-Broadway’s renowned Classic Stage Company will mount a new production of Passion. Into the Woods is headed to the big screen with star Meryl Streep—if it’s a hit, expect Sondheim to conquer Hollywood, too.
27. GARRY TRUDEAU Evidence that Trudeau has lost none of his incisive point of view or trademark effrontery after 40-plus years came last March, when his oh-so-“liberal” Doonesbury set off a firestorm over a week of strips created in response to state laws requiring women who seek abortions to undergo transvaginal ultrasound. Some newspapers pulled the cartoons altogether, citing “graphic language and inappropriate images” (words like “contraceptive,” “sonogram” and “genitals,” and a drawing of a transvaginal wand did turn up); others relegated the strips to their Internet sites—because, as we all know, online readership is so much more select.
28. CHRIS BERMAN Few sports fans are indifferent to “Boomer”: The New York Daily News recently saluted ESPN’s most familiar face as “one of the few 300-pound gorillas left in an industry populated by assembly-line drones frantically searching for the next great pop culture/sports cliché.” On the other hand, the website Awful Announcing has skewered him gleefully for years, currently coming close to putting him on its “Mount Rushmore” of badness. Meanwhile, ESPN marked Berman’s 33rd anniversary with the network by signing him to a new multiyear contract. Love him or not, he’s a superstar.
29. LAURA LINNEY After a couple of release-date shifts (and showcases at both the Toronto International and New York film festivals), Hyde Park on Hudson is finally set for an early December release. Linney has soldiered on in Showtime’s “The Big C,” even starring in a print PSA (for Stand Up to Cancer and the Melanoma Research Alliance) designed to raise awareness about the dangers of unprotected exposure to UV rays. In other good works, she spent a day in September with “Broadway Builds” helping revitalize eight homes in a multifamily building in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, to promote Habitat for Humanity.
30. MARLO THOMAS Yup, she still has clout aplenty. Though she was slated to star this fall in the play Clever Little Lies at New Jersey’s esteemed George Street Playhouse, that project got pushed aside when Thomas was offered a recurring role in the NBC sitcom “The New Normal.” At which point the Clever creative team happily put things on hold until she’s available again. And her vlog “Mondays with Marlo”—carried on Huffington Post—features good advice from the likes of chef Rocco DiSpirito, parenting expert Carrie Goldman and fashion guru Bobbie Thomas.
31. MICHAEL J. FOX Perhaps the only thing more gratifying than the spontaneous, heartfelt standing O Fox received at the 2012 Grammy Awards—he’d been nominated for two different guest shots last season on “The Good Wife” and HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm”—is the news that he’ll be back in his own prime-time comedy series next fall (NBC has committed to airing a full 22-episode season sight unseen). Meanwhile, still a hugely influential role model for those with Parkinson’s and other disabling diseases, he provided inspiration aplenty in his appearance at this year’s Atlantic Dream Festival, held in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
32. JASPER JOHNS Prior to the 2012 presidential election, Johns participated in an initiative called “Artists4Obama”—along with Richard Serra, John Baldessari, Ann Hamilton and 15 others—for which he made prints of his 1961 lithograph “Map” available to art collectors for $28,000 (a particular bargain given that prints of his works have been known to sell for up to $75,000). A new book by Veronica Kavass, Artists in Love, details his 1955-61 affair with Robert Rauschenberg.
33. KYRA SEDGWICK She exited “The Closer” leaving ’em wanting more, and fans are excited about seeing her as Marian Carr in the movie Kill Your Darlings, about the 1944 murder that brought beat poets Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe), Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) and William Burroughs (Ben Foster) together—it also stars David Cross, Michael C. Hall and Martha Marcy May Marlene’s Elizabeth Olsen. Sedgwick, along with her husband, Kevin Bacon, and Meryl Streep, is part of the Center for Reproductive Rights’ “Draw the Line” campaign, and has been speaking out about the dangers of plastic water bottles.
34. KEVIN BACON Just how gory is “The Following,” Bacon’s highly anticipated new Fox series, in which he stars as a hard-drinking ex-FBI agent on the trail of a charismatic literature professor turned serial killer/cult leader (James Purefoy)? No matter—we suspect its January debut will easily win fans of the star and creator Kevin Williamson (of “Dawson’s Creek” and Scream franchise fame).
35. GIANCARLO ESPOSITO Looks like he who got blown up on “Breaking Bad” has since landed on his feet. He’s gone from playing criminal mastermind Gus Fring on the AMC show—which earned him a 2012 Emmy nom—to a stint as murderous militia member Capt. Tom Neville on NBC’s current breakout hit “Revolution,” and while critics seem ambivalent about the series, they love Giancarlo. Icing the cake this year was his role in the October movie Alex Cross, Tyler Perry’s take on author James Patterson’s serial-killer hunter. Esposito seems well-positioned to join the Hollywood A-list before long, and about time.
36. SAM WATERSTON Now an integral part of HBO’s “The Newsroom” (as TV news division president Charlie Skinner), Waterston, like many Connecticut celebs, has ramped up his activism during this election year. Alongside fellow Litchfield County-ans Christine Baranski and Oliver Platt, he performed at Vice President Joe Biden’s October fundraiser for President Obama in Kent—and also went anti-Citizens United by making a video pitch on behalf of Fair Elections for New York, a state campaign backed by a coalition of labor unions, environmental organizations and good-government groups. In January, he’ll be inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame with actress Betty Buckley, director Trevor Nunn and playwright Christopher Durang.
37. OLIVER PLATT This year, he’s moved from helping retrieve the 12 bronze heads of the animals in the Chinese Zodiac—Jackie Chan’s December film release—to mucking about with the 12 top deities on Mount Olympus in Gods Behaving Badly (which we’d heard about for so long, we doubted it would ever hit the streets, but it finally filmed this fall). Platt was recently seen in the family comedy-drama The Oranges, and at Stanley Tucci’s fall wedding to literary agent Felicity Blunt (he was a groomsman). And yes, he’ll be back for the final season of Showtime’s “The Big C.”
38. STEPHEN SCHWARTZ He participated in the re-imagination and revival of the musical Working, playing through the end of the month at off-Broadway’s Prospect Theater Company, and has been hired as lyricist for Dreamworks’ Mumbai Musical, based on the Indian epic Ramayana and debuting on movie screens in 2015 (ostensibly the first animated film done Bollywood-style). As a cool sidenote, he’s contributed to a new audio-guided walking tour of Broadway, sharing personal anecdotes and music with listeners along the way.
39. BRIAN DENNEHY Theater-mad as always, Dennehy just starred in the off-Broadway Culture Project’s 10th-anniversary production of The Exonerated—an award-winning dramatization of the real-life stories of six death-row inmates ultimately declared innocent and released from prison—along with rotating celebs Stockard Channing, Steve Earle, Delroy Lindo and Brooke Shields. Next summer, he’ll star in Waiting for Godot at the Stratford, Ontario Shakespeare Festival. Meanwhile, keep an eye out for his guest shot this season on “The Good Wife.”
40. TOM BERGERON In an era when reality-show hosts range from sappy (“Extreme Home Makeover”’s Ty Pennington) to rankly obnoxious (Simon Cowell) to simply “Whaaa . . .?” (Donald Trump), Bergeron’s laid-back Mr. Congeniality-with-a-side-of-knowing-snark routine is welcome, especially amidst the cheesy insanity of “Dancing with the Stars” and “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” They should have awarded him that 2012 prime-time Emmy years ago.
41. A.R. GURNEY A new play by the 82-year-old Gurney is always good news, even if his latest politically themed work has gotten mixed reviews. Heresy, described as a rewrite of the Gospel of Mark set in a modern military state, played the ever-devoted-to-Gurney’s-political-works, Obie-winning, 74-seat Flea Theater this fall in TriBeCa. Time will tell whether Heresy gets developed further, or whether we’re treated to something else from Pete’s pen.
42. HARRY CONNICK JR. The Broadway revival of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever didn’t last long, but its premise—a ’70s psychiatrist undergoes a melodic emotional meltdown—did a great public service for theater critics by giving them plenty of license to play with theme-appropriate zingers. Said the AP, “It needs more time on the couch”; quoth Ben Brantley of The New York Times, “It has the approximate fun quotient of a day in an M.R.I. machine.” In short, for star Connick, The Pajama Game it wasn’t. Still, he was a “break-evener” in the Seinfeldian sense, getting plaudits for a successful TV stint in “Law and Order: SVU” early in the year. He’ll next be seen onscreen in the family flick When Angels Sing, co-starring Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett and Kris Kristofferson.
43. CANDACE BUSHNELL Not a banner year for Carrie Bradshaw’s creator: Her 10-year marriage to real-life Mr. Big, Charles Askegard, came unglued over his affair with New York City Ballet dancer Georgina Pazcoquin, prompting Bushnell to put the Greenwich Village apartment they shared on the block (for $2.8 million). To add insult to injury, she was also forced to renegotiate a settlement with former manager Clifford Streit, whom she’d already paid roughly a quarter-million from 2006 to 2009 in response to his claim that she owed him commissions for helping her make connections that led to the Sex and the City franchise. Now, he’ll also get a cut of the movie and DVD-sale profits.
44. DON IMUS He may be one of the greatest radio talk show hosts of all time, but this year he seemed to suffer a significant loss of cool, highlighted by his oft-professed friendship with buffoonish Fox News broadcaster Sean Hannity. We also wonder about his loyalty to longtime producer Bernard McGuirk—believed to be the main instigator behind the Rutgers 2007 basketball controversy that was almost Imus’s undoing—who went on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” to opine that Randy Newman’s “I’m Dreaming of a White President” proves the satirical songwriter is a “liberal racist.” Confidential to the I-Man: Conservatism is your prerogative, but cluelessness is fatal.
45. ROB ZOMBIE Rock ’n’ roll roadmances can get soo bitchy. About nine dates into his “Twins of Evil” co-headlining tour with Marilyn Manson (which ends this month in Italy, more than 25 shows later—if in fact it’s still on), Zombie reportedly snapped and called his co-star a “punk-ass bitch.” That was because Manson threatened to “kick Rob Zombie’s ass” in response to Zombie cutting Manson’s opening set off prematurely. Whoever was the biggest divo, Zombie was the quicker to do damage control, citing his harmonious tours with “Pantera, Slayer, Alice Cooper, Korn and Megadeth.” We’re more interested in how he and Dee Wallace hit it off on The Lords of Salem.
46. GRETCHEN CARLSON In 2012, “Fox & Friends” went from regular “Daily Show” target status to mainstream media notoriety as one of President Barack Obama’s most strident adversaries, an approach that reached a much-criticized peak in May when the show aired a four-minute attack ad on Obama’s first-term record—Time magazine wrote, “It’s hard to imagine a more over-the-top parody of Fox News’ raw-meat-hurling, fear-stoking, base-pleasing agitprop.” Carlson’s willingness to play along has drawn some abuse; on one occasion, she was punked by a Columbia College of Chicago student who got on air pretending to be a “disaffected Obama supporter.” Yet, Fox’s “base” keeps “F&F” by far the highest-rated morning show on cable, and Carlson’s folksy congeniality is still a big reason why.
47. LISA LAMPANELLI Since she underwent gastric-sleeve surgery and lost 80 pounds, wags everywhere have started calling her “The Queen of Lean” (instead of, har har, “Mean”). She’s been touring her live show in the U.S. and Canada this fall (her final date will bring her to the MGM Grand at Foxwoods Dec. 15) and will be more of a screen presence in the new year, both in David Chase’s movie Not Fade Away and the animated TV series “Bounty Hunters,” debuting on CMT.
48. 50 CENT Seems like Fiddy’s been a little touchy about his hip-hop career lately—delaying the release of his fifth CD, Street King Immortal (a couple of single releases, “New Day” and “First Date,” haven’t charted well) and feuding with rival French Montana of Bad Boy on Twitter (better nasty tweets than gunfights, we’d say). The August death of friend and manager Chris Lighty has left him understandably dispirited yet determined to steer his own future for now; the brightest venture seems to be his custom line of headphones, SMS Audio.
49. GRAYDON CARTER Longtime Vanity Fair editor and Hollywood maven Carter turned heads with his cameo in Arbitrage; otherwise, to borrow a turn of phrase from Shakespeare, this seems to have been the autumn of his aggravation. The Church of Scientology responded to VF’s recent article about Tom Cruise like Pavlov’s dog to a bell, and Janet Jackson, who objected to allegations made in the mag’s excerpt of the new book Untouchable: The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson, also got litigious. Carter’s acquisition and revival of Manhattan’s historic downtown Beatrice Inn also caused him headaches: While word is that he plans to return the Bea to its 50-year-old roots as a sedate neighborhood Italian restaurant, he heralded its reopening with the kind of “catnip-for-paparazzi” parties (featuring Scott Rudin, George Clooney and L.A. Reid) that got the place closed by exasperated neighbors in 2009.
50. JIM CALHOUN/GENO AURIEMMA: In September Calhoun stepped down after 26 years as the University of Connecticut’s head basketball coach to devote himself to fundraising for the university, politicking for Chris Murphy and mentoring his handpicked successor, novice Kevin Ollie. Meanwhile, Ollie has forged a mutual admiration society with UConn’s women’s basketball coach Auriemma, who coached the U.S. Women’s National Basketball team to a gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics. While last season wasn’t a fabulous one for the Lady Huskies, he remains the winningest coach ever in college basketball, with an .861 percentage.