The Famous 50


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21. Wanda Sykes: Gained heightened celeb status in 2009 as the first black woman headliner of the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner (and earned points with the LGBT community for parenting twins with spouse Alex); heads into 2010 hosting “The Wanda Sykes Show” on Fox.

22. Joe Lieberman and Chris Dodd: This double entry neatly encompasses both our U.S. senators, each of whom regularly found the headlines in 2009—Lieberman for his steady saber rattling and awkward GOP/Dem./Ind. “Three Faces of Joe” routine; Dodd for his questionable personal financial dealings and steep drop in approval polls.  

23. 50 Cent: Survivor of a thorny career (and even uglier backstory), this Queens-born rapper re-entered the commercial thunderdome in 2009 with the CD release Before I Self Destruct and his “bible” for success in life, The 50th Law, a collaboration with The Art of Seduction author Robert Greene.

24. Chris Berman: After 30 years, he remains the face and voice of ESPN—and absolutely true to the fan-friendly, lucky-to-have-such-a-good-seat observer he’s been since day one. How he juggles the Applebee’s and NutriSystem weight-loss endorsements is a thing of wonder.

25. Garry Trudeau: So he’s kept Doonesbury alive and lively for 40 years. What really matters is what he’s done for Twitter: inventing fictional Fox News war reporter Roland Hedley, whose tweets were collected in The New Yorker and the new book My Shorts R Bunching. Thoughts?

26. Paul Simon: One of the most underrated guitarists in the history of pop music. Toured with Artie G. in 2009 (and played the 25th anniversary concerts for the R ’n’ R Hall of Fame). We hear that NYC’s Public Theatre may do a revival of his 1998 Broadway show The Capeman.

27. Stephen Sondheim: Everything’s coming up roses for America’s leading musical theater visionary in ’10: Broadway’s West Side Story revival keeps rolling merrily along, A Little Night Music opens in April (with Angela Lansbury), and the 80th birthday retrospective Sondheim on Sondheim hits Studio 54. After that—a new show?

28. Keith  Richards: Doesn’t need to do a thing to make this list. The fact that he won the “Immortal Rock Award” at last year’s Spike TV Scream Awards (the presenter was fellow pirate Johnny Depp) is just gravy.

29. Christopher Walken: Like Ron Howard, hardy survivor of a childhood acting career—but while Howard’s trajectory seems to have been designed by Frank Capra, Walken’s is more David Lynch. Last year’s The Maiden Heist went straight to DVD despite an A-list cast (maybe it just needed more cowbell).

30. Don Imus: For good or ill (“nappy-headed hos” aside), we still sometimes wish we could communicate in 100 words what the I-man gets said in three. Few have done more on behalf of the Iraq vets. “Imus in the Morning” joined the Fox Business Network last October; his recent targets include David Letterman and Harry Reid.

The Famous 50

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