I need to take a little credit for pushing an idea with Entertainment Weekly when I freelanced with them (’91 to ’96) that they totally ignored, but are now finally going with — a Hollywood “Smart List” that champions “the savants and the wunderkinds whose ideas are driving the film industry forward,” according to EW copy.
In ’93 or ’94 (it may even have been ’95), I sent at least a couple of faxed memos urging my then-editors (Cable Neuhaus, Maggie Murphy, Jim Seymour) to blow off the idea of putting out an annual Hollywood Power 100 list and go instead with an MVP issue — Most Valuable Players. The idea was to honor the people in the film industry who’d made the best movies, written the best scripts, introduced some valuable idea or innovation…anyone who’d moved the Hollywood legend along by doing something excellent or daring or in some way novel.
I was told at the time that Seymour (who at the time had a home on Wilton’s Belden Hill Road, only a short walk from where I lived during my Wilton High School years) was the “stopper.” He was heavily married to the Power issue and wouldn’t budge. In any case, the influence of newly arrived West Coast editor Sean Smith has resulted in EW finally going with a variation on my MVP idea…12 or 13 years later.
That said, EW‘s decision to put Judd Apatow at the top of the list is a good one. But what could have persuaded them to put Steven Spielberg — a man whose directorial innovations and pseudo-hip influence peaked 25 years ago — in the #2 slot, and James Cameron — making a 3D CG movie now, but a guy who’s basically been out of the game for 10 years — in the #3 position?
And Will Smith — a guy who’s done absolutely nothing in terms of moving the game along and stands for nothing whatsover except the fulfillment of a certain movie-star aura that leads to selling tickets and making big money — is in the fifth position? We all understand obesiance-before-power displays, but I thought the idea was supposed to be about something else.