The sixth annual list from our sister publication The Hollywood Reporter is out this morning, crowned in print by a photo of Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner posing at their A Casual Romance office in Los Angeles. The pair are being recognized for the immediate and impressive impact of the Lenny Letter and are listed in the sub-category “5 Top Cultural Influencers” alongside Spike Lee, Hamilton creator Lin Manuel-Miranda, author-journalist Ta Nehisi-Coates and documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney.
In some of “The 35 Most Powerful People in Media” mini-bios, compiled by a team of a nearly a dozen THR editors and writers, there is a portion slugged What People Might Be Surprised to Learn About Me. Fittingly, in several cases, what is revealed dovetails straight back to Hollywood and the business of making movies:
Jim Bankoff, CEO Vox Media: “I was runner-up for the Rick Schroder part in The Champ. Had Dustin Hoffman or Al Pacino been cast in the lead role instead of Jon Voight, they would have gone with the dark-haired kid as his son.”
James Goldston, president, ABC News: “I spent my childhood working as a film extra.”
All three New York dailies make appearances on the 2016 list in the form of New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet, Daily News editor in chief Jim Rich and the Post tandem of CEO-publisher Col Allan and editor in chief Jesse Angelo. There are two individual sidebars, one profiling NBC Nightly News savior Lester Holt and the other highlighting Kathie Lee Gifford’s first-person reflections about her late husband. Gifford starts it off with the hilarious recollection of how she and Frank Gifford first connected:
I get to Good Morning America and one morning – this was June 1982 – I was in very early to do an Alpo commercial with a Basset Hound that stunk to high heaven. I was walking down the hall, and I saw the greatest set of buns I’ve ever seen in my life leaning over a sink, putting his contact lenses in. And I had just had something called radial keratotomy, which was the precursor to Lasik. I had gone from legally blind to 20/20 vision with this operation. And so I yelled out, as I am wont to do, “Have I got an operation for you!”
And then for four years he became my friend, like my big brother. He was my patron saint. He did battle for me. He just cared. I was a new kid in New York, and he’d call me and go, “The cowboy is in town, do you want to have lunch?” Well, the cowboy was Don Meredith. And I’d go to lunch with these two legends and they’d laugh and make jokes and tease me and I would say to myself, “Kath, you’re not in Kansas anymore.”
Another sidebar playfully juxtaposes Ken Auletta and Amanda “Binky” Urban with stage actors Phillipa Soo (Hamilton) and Steven Pasquale (The Robber Bridegroom), framing these real-life pairings as, respectively, established and up-and-coming “power couples.” Finally, Beyoncé – no stranger to Power lists – may be interested to know that she makes an appearance in David Remnick’s comments. The New Yorker editor explains why she ranks as the magazine’s “dream interview” on the pop-culture front.