Jolie tops female-powered Forbes list

Posted by · 2:59 am · June 5th, 2009

Angelina JolieI must say I’m always somewhat fascinated by the annual Forbes 100 Most Powerful Celebrities list, not least because I’ve never really understood how they arrive at it.

I have no doubt the financial publishing behemoth has some sort of intricate formula that factors in earnings and media exposure to somehow arrive at a rank order, but as a total idiot in such matters, I remain bewildered by a list that compares the wholly disparate (to me, at least) achievements of such  figures as Rush Limbaugh, Ryan Seacrest and Roger Federer.

But compare them they have, and this year’s number-crunching informs us that Angelina Jolie is officially the most powerful celebrity in the world.

I suppose I won’t argue with that: while I wouldn’t call Jolie the most influential actress in the game at the moment (surely that title goes to Meryl Streep in her newfound incarnation as summer-movie titan, which landed her at #64 on Forbes’ list), “celebrity” is a very different animal, and the number of magazine covers Jolie graces weekly at a newsagent’s near you speaks for itself.

Clearly that kind of exposure is a more crucial factor in Forbes’ estimation than earnings, as I’d reckon Jolie’s personal fortune is meagre compared to that of runner-up Oprah Winfrey. Interestingly, the top four spots in the list are held by women, which belies more than a few media perceptions.

Meanwhile, the man I’d always assumed was the biggest player in Hollywood at the moment, George Clooney, languishes at #48, which goes to show how much I know. Still, that puts him one rung ahead of Barack Obama, so don’t feel too bad for him. (Seriously, if we’re going to call the President a “celebrity,” are we really going to pretend he’s significantly less powerful than Angelina Jolie? Like I said, this is why I love the list.)

Forbes even gets in on the the awards-guessing racket, forecasting an Oscar nod for Cameron Diaz (#73) in “My Sister’s Keeper.” (Uh, have they seen the trailer?) Their top 10 is listed below. If you want to puzzle over the full list, click here.


1. Angelina Jolie
2. Oprah Winfrey
3. Madonna
4. Beyoncé Knowles
5. Tiger Woods
6. Bruce Springsteen
7. Steven Spielberg
8. Jennifer Aniston
9. Brad Pitt
10. Kobe Bryant

→ 15 Comments Tags: , , , , | Filed in: Daily

15 responses so far

  • 1 6-05-2009 at 8:19 am

    tdr said...

    I love that the 50th most powerful celebrity is fifty (50 cent). :)

  • 2 6-05-2009 at 11:25 am

    BobMcBob said...

    So you’re telling me 4 of the top 10 are women?

    Does anyone in their right mind believe that any of these women (besides maybe Oprah) yield power anywhere close to the men on this list?

  • 3 6-05-2009 at 11:27 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Five, actually — you’re forgetting Jennifer Aniston.

  • 4 6-05-2009 at 1:29 pm

    Diego said...

    The most powerful and beautiful. And a great actress.

  • 5 6-05-2009 at 3:08 pm

    Katie said...

    Diego, checkout “Alexander”. That accent. No.

    Re the Most Powerful Celebrity in the world title, I’m thinking they compute whether or not the celebrity can open a film, get a film made in the first place (Jolie took over Tom Cruise’s role in “Salt”, that’s power, although it helps that Tom Cruise isn’t in demand right now). Jolie is also one of the few female movie stars that can star in Action movies and open them with solid numbers (Wanted, Tomb Raider, Mr. & Mrs. Smith). Can Reese Witherspoon kick ass in an action film? Julia Roberts? It’s really rare for a female to crouch on a male dominated genre, and succeed. Also, press mentions were huge this year, with the big people magazine deal with Jolie and Brad Pitt’s twins and the Oscar nomination for “Changeling”, and the whole Jennifer Aniston showdown at the actual ceremony, that right there, especially after the “Uncool” comments by Aniston, probably gave Brangelinaniston 12 covers. It’s such an insane triangle, i think it’s the single thing keeping all three on these lists. And it makes the gossip industry so happy.

    Oprah hasn’t gotten the same immense press attention lately. Although both can move products off the shelf, Oprah’s show is unparalleled. Her “favorites things” show is a mecca for retailers. But Oprah hasn’t gotten more press mentions.

    I remember Brittany Spears was on top of this list once, it was puzzling, how can this poor creature be the most powerful right now? When she can’t even get custody of her kids? So it isn’t Power, but press mentions they use to determine the list. Brittany spears had a whole boat load of press that year, she shaved her head, went in and out of rehab, was strapped to a gurney, and lost custody of her kids..etc. (insane and incredibly sad).

  • 6 6-05-2009 at 3:18 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    “the whole Jennifer Aniston showdown at the actual ceremony”

    I hardly think one editor’s tacky decision to cut to a shot of Jolie while Aniston was presenting an award qualifies as a “showdown,” does it?

  • 7 6-05-2009 at 5:58 pm

    Diego said...

    Katie, checkout Changeling, Girl Interrupted, Gia, A mighty heart…
    Great Actress.

  • 8 6-05-2009 at 9:07 pm

    Katie said...

    Felt Changeling was one note, Girl interrupted/Gia wasn’t really acting… and a mighty heart was IN BROWN FACE/KINKY WIG. You’re saying you didn’t notice it was a vanity project? and Oscar vehicle? hmm. Am i being too jaded?

    To see it from my point of view, watch the mediocre and sometimes bad, really bad work in: Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Taking Lives, Beyond Borders, Lara Croft ( especially towards the end when the caves were imploding and she was skating out of it ‘just in time’ and starting LAUGHING, the worst acting laughing I have ever seen, that’s when i fell out of love).

    Also, The bone collector, Gone in 60 Seconds, and my favorite crappy Jolie: Life or Something like it.

    I remember Johnny Depp in “Cry Baby”, such a bad movie, but He was great in it. Hilarious imho. Was also disappointing with The Ninth Gate, the film, but his character was great in it as well. It really is possible to ‘rise’ above crappy Hollywood movies that actors have to do sometimes in order to move up, and be splendid, you know, get the character across so well, that you don’t completely regret paying for the crappy film.

  • 9 6-05-2009 at 11:54 pm

    Katie said...

    “I hardly think one editor’s tacky decision to cut to a shot of Jolie while Aniston was presenting an award qualifies as a “showdown,” does it?”

    — For film centric audience, no, but for the tabloid industry, it made for a whole lot of content. The celebrity blogs, the magazines, the entertainment talk shows..etc. It wasn’t just the cut away, it was also the build up to it (a good 4 years of “Team Jolie” vs “Team Aniston” stuff). A lot of the marketing for Jennifer Aniston’s Christmas movie Marley and Me centered about the actress talking about her ex husband (Brad pitt) and Jolie, she made some polarizing comments in magazine interviews that only re-awakened or heightened the Team Vs teamf blah blah blah. stuff. So it was like a “Poor ex-wife to finally face Vixen who stole her man!” kind of stuff. Mags love these things because it writes itself. Especially with ample pics of Aniston looking might uncomfortable on the stage.

    What garnered the most press mentions were the birth of Pitt and Jolie’s twins during the summer. In particular, Entertainment Tonight, the highest rated entertainment/celebrity show, falsely reported the birth and didn’t even retracted it. I remember that was especially embarrassing for ET and made for a lot of press mentions. Then the huge $$ deal with People. A lot of UN press mentions too, there was a Trip to Iraq where Jolie was pictured with General Petraeus (? not sure, think so). A lot of press mentions is the point.

    p.s: whatever is happening with “Atlas Shrugged”? Is that still on? I always pictured Johnny Depp as Galt. Or Leonardo Dicaprio as Galt and Winslet as Dagny.

  • 10 6-06-2009 at 2:46 am

    Ligaya said...

    Katie, there are a lot of people & critics who disagree with your assessment of Angelina Jolie as an actor. You’re wrong about about Jolie acting herself in Gia/Girl etc. As Mel Brooks said in his Blazing Saddles dvd commentary “never hire an alky to play an alky” (I’m paraphrasing). Jolie also played Cornelia Wallace, Gov. George Wallace’s 2nd wife, and there doesn’t seem to be any similarity between the two women other than hair color. No, A Mighty Heart was not a vanity project. Jolie & Pitt met Pearl independently of each other. It was Pearl who wanted Jolie to play her – maybe it was Pearl’s vanity project. I felt AMH was a better movie and better part than Changeling. I liked Changeling but had higher hopes for it with Eastwood directing.

    Beyond Borders didn’t work, although it had its moments – too bad. Hubby & I loved Bone Collector, and Taking Lives worked in a B-movie kind of way. I also thought Angelina was so subtly comic in “Life” that people didn’t get it/her – I think she should do more comedies.

    No woman can kick ass like Angelina and I take her action movies for what they are – mindless entertainment with a range in quality that I enjoy equally: M/M Smith, Wanted, Lara Croft movies, eye-patched Frankie, snake-handling Olympias & golden stiletto-heeled Beowulf’s mom – although the last two aren’t really action babes. No matter what she does, from preposterious to believable, she makes me laugh.

    Speaking about an actor/role being better than the film, that’s Angelina and Original Sin. It’s an overheated, bodice-ripper B-movie, but Angelina plays her character pitch perfectly. Her character is like Bess in Porgy & Bess. She grew up scrapping and fighting to survive in something like Fagin’s crew, her ‘brother’ looking out for her and eventually becoming her lover, running their scams. In this case, they’re scamming Antonio Banderas. She pretends to love him, then really falls in love with him, but still has emotional ties and sexual feelings for Thomas Jane. The push/pull she feels for each man flickers over her face in seconds. She doesn’t sell the ending and her acting there is bad, but for great parts of the movie, she is really superb.

    C’mon, if Morgan Freeman can intone, “The Loom of Fate,” and not lose his cred – Angelina should be home free, too.

    Whatever she’s in, she brings something – an energy that translates on the screen, brings your eye to her – maybe she’s not the best actor onscreen at the moment, but there’s something about her, and not just because she’s sexy or beautiful. She holds her own – even in an ensemble with Gena Rowland, Ellen Burstyn, Sean Connery, Jon Stewart, Gillian Anderson, Madeliene Stowe, Dennis Quaid, Anthony Edwards, Jay Mohr, Dave Duchovny, & Ryan Phillipe.

  • 11 6-06-2009 at 2:53 am

    Ligaya said...


    The Celebrity 100 is a measure of power based on money and fame. Earnings estimates, which include income from films, television shows, endorsements, books and other entertainment ventures, are calculated between June 2008 and June 2009. Figures were rounded off where appropriate. Sources include Billboard, Pollstar, Adams Media Research, Nielsen SoundScan, Nielsen BookScan, Nielsen Media Research and SNL Kagan. Fame is calculated using Web hits on Google Blog Search, TV/radio mentions on LexisNexis, overall press mentions on Factiva and the number of times a celebrity’s image appeared on the cover of 25 consumer magazines.

  • 12 6-06-2009 at 8:16 am

    Katie said...

    Regarding A Mighty Heart, I may be too biased here (i’m black), but the darkening of the skin and the wig really bothered me. But I was most unhappy with the adaptation itself.

    To explain, I read the memoir way back when it first came out, before it was made into a film. What really jumped out at me was the tenderness between Marian Pearl and her husband Daniel Pearl. This was missing in the film. The back story was completely missing. Also, the color of Marian Pearl’s skin, in my opinion, was an important part of this connection.

    **If you haven’t read the book or seen the film, please note that there may be some spoilers.

    As written in the memoir, they met at a dance, Marianne’s mother, who sadly passed away shortly. Her mother loved throwing these parties. He was there and had a date, a white woman. This discouraged Marianne when she first noticed this after they starting speaking at the party. This is important, if you are black yourself or understand the black culture…you’d know that there are certain men who Will. Not. Cross. Racial. Lines. Like, they won’t even consider any other girls but white women.

    Anyhoo, the point is, this part was so human and so relatable. This is important later on in the memoir when the more senseless events happen and Marianne is cold and focused. But you’re still very much aware of Love. In that Real World way. By Real World I mean the massive inconvenience of being from two completely different backgrounds. You still remember her as slightly insecure, and well, girly. You know she’s really really hurting.

    Their son, they called him Adam. Adam is the very first prophet and is shared by all three faiths (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism). This is important. The fact that they wanted to bridge their different heritage, into their mixed faiths and mixed child, a new beginning.

    Daniel Pearl talked about his frequent assignments and his book in Iran, he met her in France. The point is that the difference in their backgrounds, their Travels, their faiths, it is an important part of their connection. And it becomes an important part of the effort to bring Danny home. Daniel Pearl is eventually killed because of his faith. Being an American Journalist was a factor, but he was kidnapped specifically because the kidnappers found out he was Jewish. Before he died, he called out the street his father is named after in Israel, defiant in his principles until the end. Muslim police officers, American intelligence, all different faiths come together for this one Jewish man.

    Marianne Pearl asked him randomly what his driving values are? is it His Faith, religion? He replied no, his personal ethics. This is what binded them, and what binds a democracy. Not faiths, but simple ethics. Isn’t the story more bittersweet, more honest, when there is one hell of a melting pot? If the US were all Caucasian, it would be easy. But the fact that there are so many different peoples and they have all suffered immensely at some point in each century to have their race, religion be of no importance – is important.

    When you hire a white actress to portray this, this cannot be done. Hypocritical? Reverse Racism? No. Because you’re making a film about a real life person. You can’t cast Gary Oldman as Mandela. Freeman is obviously more appropriate. If you cast Oldman, it doesn’t matter how well he acts, the truth of the matter will not come across because we use our eyes to decipher information and not just the heart. And most importantly, because Mandela’s story is centered around race, it is important for the casting to be appropriate. The same argument applies towards A Mighty Heart. When you hire a white actress to portray this, it is not going to work like clockwork. There will be important pieces of the story missing. It is just too embarrassing to highlight race if a white actor is portraying the person of color.

    You can’t get to the “point” of the book by bypassing race all together. Their difference in race and their coming together is important. The film instead was limited to be a police procedural. The book was so much more. The underscore was not there. It didn’t SAY anything. The film began, ran it’s course, and ended. In the end, when emphasizing their coming together for Danny despite their differences, this rings hollow. Because all the important details, the human factor, were passed over. This is a common problem in adapting a book in itself, sections sometimes have to be cut off. This is not unique to this film, but it an important narrative was cut off when a White actor was cast. The Chief didn’t do anything he would not have ordinarily done. He is investigating a kidnapping. It doesn’t come across as anything significantly more. In the book, it was So. Much. More. In the film, empty. This is what lead me to believe that this is just a vanity film. The film didn’t have anything to say (even though there is obviously so much to express, there are a lot of themes to explore; Love, Terrorism, US Foreign Policy, Corruption within the Pakistan Government and especially the ISI, Journalism in times of war, Anti-semitism , Religion and Culture clash. The film’s main theme wasn’t backed up. The only thing that the film accomplished, was to showcase the return of Jolie’s acting chops. To me, that’s the only thing the film had to say. Or at least, that’s what I took from it. This is normal in Hollywood, almost every other production is a vehicle for a star. Oscar Oscar Oscar. Cred. Honor,..etc.

    They got a director with street cred, and it’s time to campaign. Marianne Pearl was Paid. I’m am in no position to criticize her character obviously, But I am very wary nonetheless. With such huge stars attached to her book, sales will go up. Brad Pitt produced and Jolie starred. Big stars. They met independently, I don’t think they did. To me, that’s just part of the campaign. In order to deflect any negativity about a white actress playing a woman of color, she had to support the film. When Marianne Pearl was asked how they met, she explained she was reading a magazine interview with Angelina Jolie and read that she was a single mom and so called her up and asked for a play date. Marianne Pear is reading a random celebrity magazine, likes the actress, thinks they could be great friends and just calls her up. Not for business, but just because. Say I’m a writer, and I’m reading a vanity fair interview with Madonna. And I like Madonna. So I just call her up and asks if she wants to go lunch.

    I am being too jaded here, but oscar campaigns are serious stuff. Consider that Pitt and Jolie don’t want to be regulated to the Tabloid world with Paris Hilton and all that nasty crap. Angelina Jolie actually Won an oscar, a supporting, but still an oscar. But from there, it was down a gross way, with media scandals (billy bob blood, brother kissing, Home Wrecker/Team Aniston drama), and crappy choices in films. They want oscar honor. Is image important in Hollywood? Is Image important to Brangelina? The Good Shepard, then A mighty Heart. It was built for that one scene, the oscar clip. Restraint, Restraint, then Tears. No nomination (oscar). The changeling, Tears, Tears, and Clint Eastwood. Nomination. Yeah, I’m may definitely be too jaded, but A Mighty Heart to me was just an oscar vehicle, simply because the film didn’t say anything more. It’s an oscar bait role. For a hardcore character actor, or just an actor who chooses to make real art, no compromises, no millions, just real films, I put all my jaded views to the side. From an actor making crappy film and crappy film (phoning it in, think Jim Carrey in Dick and Jane, Will Ferrel in Land of the lost), I expect Oscar Bait.

    But…to see it from your point of view Ligaya, I do see what you’re saying. In Original Sin, when Antonio Banderas lift his gun and her eyes followed the gun and watered up at the same time, there is a moment there. But, consistently, it is bad and sometimes mercifully mediocre work. I just don’t understand, how an actor, with dozens of films under her belt, could come up with such a crap of an accent in Alexander.

    I really apologize about the long posts, I probably could have condensed it. Thanks for listening, I promise I’m done.

  • 13 6-06-2009 at 8:27 am

    Katie said...

    Yikes. I’m banning myself from any more comments….but one more thing.

    Asra Nomani was Daniel Pearl’s friend. It was her house that were operating from. She is played by Archie Panjabi in the film. Here are her thoughts on the Film:

    and Further discussion about the film and Asra Nomani:

  • 14 6-28-2009 at 12:04 pm

    cedric said...

    for me I think the most powerful celebritie is Beyonce because she is beautiful she have a lot of money she can have what she wants she is for me most powerful than Angelina Oprah and other ………

  • 15 6-28-2009 at 12:10 pm

    cedric said...

    I can also tell that Madona Jay-z Rihanna Beyonce Janet Jackson Jennifer Love Hewit Brithney Spears Nicole Scherzinger are powerful