It’s Friday, and the lists keep coming. As Dorothy Snarker wrote yesterday, “You know you can’t resist them and, clearly, neither can I. So let’s put on our yelling caps and take a look at this puppy.” Today we have the annual Forbes Celebrity 100, a list of “the world’s most powerful–and best-paid–celebrities.” Who’s No. 1? Oprah Winfrey.
Worth an estimated $1.5 billion, last year Oprah earned approximately $260 million. She has two reality shows in ABC’s fall lineup in addition to her many other media ventures, and you may remember that this past year she opened the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa.
Oprah has often been a friend to the gays, too. Long dogged by rumors that she is a lesbian, she has never flinched from openly addressing the subject. And her talk show has covered lesbian and gay stories over the years, including “When I Knew I Was Gay” in November 2005 and “Wives Who Confess They Are Gay” in October 2006.
Oprah also played Ellen DeGeneres‘ therapist in the famous “Puppy Episode” of Ellen in 1997, and she hosted both Ellen and Anne Heche on her talk show when Ellen was coming out. All in all, I think it’s pretty great that an African-American woman ranks at the top of this list from a magazine that typically celebrates white male wealth and privilege.
Taking a look at the rest of the list, the stats are, however, more typical. Of the 100, 33 are women; only eight of those 33 women rank in the top 50, and only four are women of color. (I am not counting the cast of Grey’s Anatomy that came in at No. 12 or the cast of Desperate Housewives at No. 47 — see below for my interpretations of those.) There is one openly bisexual woman on the list (Angelina Jolie) and one will-be-bi-if-necessary (Madonna), but there are no out lesbians.
Given that it’s a list compiled of the powerful and wealthy, this could mean progress or same-old-same-old, depending on how you see it. Let’s take a look at some of the other women on the list:
3. Madonna — The only other woman to crack the top 10, she made an estimated $72 million last year, but her Confessions world tour brought in $194 million, which makes it “the top-earning tour by a female artist in history.” That success, however, was dampened by the heaps of negative press she got after adopting a Malawian baby.
12. The cast of Grey’s Anatomy
47. The cast of Desperate Housewives
I’m not sure how Forbes can really justify counting these two casts as single entities; I think it’s just a sneaky way to get some more people of color and women on the list, because you know that Sandra Oh and Eva Longoria wouldn’t have made it on there by themselves. It’s definitely a creative way to bring in more diversity (thumbs up) but doesn’t really jibe with the goals of the list (thumbs down). I’m crying foul.
14. Angelina Jolie — Forbes states: “The year’s biggest gainers include actress-advocate Angelina Jolie, who bounces to the 14th spot this year from 35th last year, thanks in no small measure to the media maelstrom surrounding her relationship with Brad Pitt.”
Great, Angie moves up because of Brad, who coincidentally lands at No. 5 due in no small part to his relationship with Angelina (“The hunky actor monopolized headlines for the last year thanks his new role as proud papa with stunning partner Angelina Jolie”). I think this means that Angie’s more powerful, because she managed to bump him up even higher than he did for her.
Some other interesting tidbits: Celine Dion still exists and is at No. 20, due largely to her Las Vegas show. Jennifer Aniston‘s at No. 44, partly due to her brief turn on Dirt. Forbes is still talking about it; they say she “Generated a minor media tizzy over her cameo on pal Courtney Cox‘s FX series Dirt , in which the pair share a steamy kiss.” Steamy? Uh, my definition of steamy must be totally different than theirs. Hey, at least fake lesbianism still pays!
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling is at No. 48, with earnings of $32 million, thus giving hope to all underpaid writers everywhere. Tennis star Maria Sharapova clocks in at No. 51, outranking Serena Williams, who’s at No. 69.
Friend-of-the-gays Tyra Banks, who always makes sure there’s something for us lesbians on America’s Next Top Model, is at No. 61, bringing in $18 million last year.
Seventeen-year-old golfer Michelle Wie ranks at No. 70 (outranking Annika Sorenstam, No. 83), having earned $19 million last year. She’s going to Stanford in the fall. Way to be an Asian-American success story, Michelle! (I’m being sincere, really. Now Asian-American girls have the option of telling their parents, “Hey, I can be a golfer in addition to a doctor/lawyer/electrical engineer!”)
And here’s an oddity: Food Network star Paula Deen, who specializes in heart-stopping Southern cuisine, ranks at No. 99. It makes more sense when you add her new magazine, four cookbooks, a memoir and a spinoff show to her $4 million in earnings. Or maybe Paula bribed the editors at Forbes with some of her food. I saw an episode of her cooking show once in which she cooked brunch on her back porch, and there was so much bacon there I swear I could smell it wafting out from the TV set. And then she did something absolutely mouth-watering: She fried a ton of potatoes in the bacon fat! Oh man.
On second thought, I think Paula was robbed. She should be way higher on the list — at least above Judge Judy (No. 59)!