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ENRIQUE IGLESIAS At the dawn of the new millennium, Enrique Iglesias was the best-selling Latin recording artist in the world. The son of multimillion-selling singer Julio Iglesias, Enrique was born in Madrid, Spain, where he lived with his mother, his brother Julio, and his sister Chabeli. In 1982, his mother sent them to live in Miami with their father. While there, Enrique was exposed to three different cultures and musical influences -- Hispanic, European, and American. Iglesias' own career started when he was still attending Gulliver Private School, a very prestigious school in Miami. He made his singing debut in a production of Hello, Dolly, after which he began practicing his singing without his parents knowing. After a year studying business at the University of Miami, he decided to follow his passion for music. In 1995, he sang in person for his soon-to-be manager, who at Iglesias' insistence of not wanting to use his family name, first shopped his demos as an unknown Central American singer named Enrique Martinez. It wasn't until he earned a record deal with Fonovisa that Enrique told his father and mother of his aspirations. Then he flew to Toronto where no one knew him and he could concentrate just on music, to record for five months. That first album, Enrique Iglesias (1996), sold more than a million copies in three months (it earned him his first gold record in Portugal in a mere seven days) and to date has sold more than six million worldwide. The second album, Vivir (1997), enjoyed global sales of more than five million discs and launched his first world tour, backed by sidemen for Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, and Billy Joel. In a mere three years, Iglesias had sold more than 17 million Spanish-language albums, more than anyone else during that period. (The U.S. was his biggest market.) He also won the 1996 Grammy for Best Latin Performer, 1996's Billboard Artist of the Year, Billboard's Album of the Year for Vivir, two American Music Awards, a World Music Award, eight Premio Lo Nuestro Awards, two ACE Performer of the Year Awards, and ASCAP prizes for Best Composer of 1996 and 1997, in addition to countless accolades around the world. Iglesias was already a major star singing in Spanish before Enrique became his first English-language album. 1995's Grammy-winning Enrique Iglesias and 1997's Vivir are each RIAA-certified platinum in the U.S., with 1998's Cosas del amor gold and nearing platinum. The singer-songwriter sold more than 13 million albums of his first three releases- in a mere three years. In the Americas, Europe and Asia, songs such as Si tú te vas, Por amarte, Experiencia religiosa, Trapecista, No llores por mí, Enamorado por primera vez, Sólo en tí, Miente, Revolución, Esperanza and Nunca te olvidaré reached number one on various charts in the US and 18 other countries. Iglesias racked up 132 platinum records, 251 gold albums and scores of awards. Among the latter are the 1996 Grammy for Best Latin Performer; 1996's Artist of the Year for Billboard, 1998's American Music Award for Best Latin Artist, 1997's Billboard Album of the Year for Vivir; a World Music Award for Best-Selling Artist; eight Premio Lo Nuestro Awards; two ACE Performer of the Year Awards; and ASCAP prizes for Best Composer of 1996 and 1997. Then came Enrique and "Bailamos". Will Smith caught an Iglesias show in L.A. and made a special request of him to contribute to the soundtrack for Smith's film Wild Wild West (released jointly by Overbrook Records, Smith's label, and Interscope Records). Fusing full-throttle dance beats with Latin rhythms and Iglesias' characteristically rich, seductive vocals, "Bailamos" (pronounced "By-LA-Mos" and translated as "We Dance") was bootlegged by US radio stations playing European versions well before its official release, and it quickly became the most-requested track in several of the largest markets in the country, including Los Angeles, New York, Miami and Dallas. Upon its official debut, "Bailamos" shot to the top and so has Iglesias. As a co-writer, he won yet another ASCAP award for the song. An international artist in every sense of the word, he was named both Favourite Latino Artist at the 2000 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards and Male International Artist of the Year at the CCTV-MTV Music Honours in Beijing, China. On July 5, 2010, Iglesias released his ninth studio album, Euphoria, his first work to be released under his new label, Universal Republic. The album is Iglesias's first bilingual album with seven original English songs and six original Spanish songs. Iglesias worked with three producers whom he has worked with before; RedOne, Mark Taylor and Carlos Paucer. The album features collaborations with Akon, Usher, Nicole Scherzinger, Pitbull, Juan Luis Guerra and his third duet with Wisin y Yandel. In a joint venture with Universal Latino Iglesias will release different singles in both languages simultaneously to different formats. The first English single from the album, "I Like It", which features Cuban rapper Pitbull, was released on May 3, 2010 in the U.S. and became a success, reaching number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. After weeks on the chart, it reached to #1 on the Billboard Hot/Dance Club Play, making it Enrique's 7th number one song on that chart and also making him the male singer with most number-ones tying with Prince & Michael Jackson. "Cuando Me Enamoro" was released as the lead Spanish single from the album. The song debuted at number 8 and number 25 on U.S Latin Pop Songs and U.S. Hot Latin Songs, respectively. The song became his 25th top 10 single on the U.S. Billboard Hot Latin Songs & after 4 weeks of its release date it became his 21st No.1 song on this chart. Enrique now recorded in four languages-Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and English. An inveterate consumer of any and all music that comes his way, no matter its origins, he is deeply grateful for the musical education afforded by his immersion in three cultures- Latin, European and American. JACKIE CHAN Jackie Chan was born in Hong Kong on April 7th, 1954. His parents, Charles and Lee-lee Chan named him Chan Kong-sang which means "born in Hong Kong." Jackie weighed 12 pounds when he was born and his mother required surgery to deliver him. Jackie's parents were so poor that they had to borrow money from friends to pay the doctor. Although Jackie's parents were poor, they had steady jobs at the French embassy in Hong Kong. Charles was a cook and Lee-lee was a housekeeper. Together, the Chan family lived on Victoria Peak in Hong Kong. When Jackie was young, his father would wake him early in the morning and together they would practice kung fu. Charles Chan believed that learning kung fu would help build Jackie's character, teaching him patience, strength, and courage. When Jackie was seven years old Charles took a job as the head cook at the American embassy in Australia. He felt that it would be best for Jackie to stay behind in Hong Kong to learn a skill and so enrolled him in the China Drama Academy where Jackie would live for the next 10 years of his life. During Jackie's time at the school, he learned martial arts, acrobatics, singing, and acting. The school was meant to prepare boys for a life in the Peking Opera. Chinese opera was very different from any other kind of opera. It included singing, tumbling, and acrobatics as well as martial arts skills and acting. Students at the school were severely disciplined and were beaten if they disobeyed or made mistakes. It was a very harsh and difficult life but Jackie had nowhere else to go, so he stayed. He rarely saw his parents for many years. While at the China Academy, Jackie made his acting debut at age eight in the Cantonese movie "Seven Little Valiant Fighters: Big and Little Wong Tin Bar." He later teamed with other opera students in a performance group called "The Seven Little Fortunes." Fellow actors Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao were also members. Years later the three would work together and become known as The Three Brothers. As Jackie got older he worked as a stuntman and an extra in the Hong Kong film industry. When Jackie was 17, he graduated from the China Drama Academy. Unfortunately the Chinese opera was no longer very popular, so Jackie and his classmates had to find other work. This was difficult because at the school they were never taught how to read or write. The only work available to them was unskilled labor or stunt work. Each year many movies were made in Hong Kong and there was always a need for young, strong stuntmen. Jackie was extraordinarily athletic and inventive, and soon gained a reputation for being fearless; Jackie Chan would try anything. Soon he was in demand. Over the next few years, Jackie worked as a stuntman, but when the Hong Kong movie industry began to fail, he was forced to go to Australia to live with his parents. He worked in a restaurant and on a construction site. It was there that he got the name "Jackie." A worker named Jack had trouble pronouncing "Kong-sang" and started calling Jackie "little Jack." That soon became ―Jackie‖ and the name stuck. Jackie was very unhappy in Australia. The construction work was difficult and boring. His salvation came in the form of a telegram from a man named Willie Chan. Willie Chan worked in the Hong Kong movie industry and was looking for someone to star in a new movie being made by Lo Wei, a famous Hong Kong producer/director. Willie had seen Jackie at work as a stuntman and had been impressed. Jackie called Willie and they talked. Jackie didn't know it but Willie would end up becoming his best friend and manager. Soon Jackie was on his way back to Hong Kong to star in "New Fist of Fury." It was 1976 and Jackie Chan was 21 years old. Once Jackie got back to Hong Kong, Willie Chan took control over Jackie's career. To this day Jackie is quick to point out that he owes his success to Willie. However, the movies that Jackie made for Lo Wei were not very successful. The problem was that Jackie's talents were not being used properly. It was only when Jackie was able to contribute his own ideas that he became a star. He brought humor to martial arts movies; his first success was "Snake in Eagle's Shadow." This was followed by "Drunken Master" (another blockbuster) and Jackie's first ever directing job, "Fearless Hyena." All were big hits. Jackie was becoming a huge success in Asia. Unfortunately, it would be many years before the same could be said of his popularity in America. After a series of lukewarm receptions in the U.S., mostly due to miscasting, Jackie left the States and focused his attention on making movies in Hong Kong. It would be 10 years before he returned to make Rumble in the Bronx, the movie that introduced Jackie to American audiences and secured him a place in their hearts (and their box office). Rumble was followed by the Rush Hour and Shanghai Noon series which put Jackie on the Hollywood A List. Despite his Hollywood successes, Jackie became frustrated by the lack of varied roles for Asian actors and his own inability to control certain aspects of the filming in America. He continued to try, however, making The Tuxedo, The Medallion, and Around the World in 80 Days, none of which was the blockbuster that Rush Hour or Shanghai Noon had been. jackie biography Jackie's lifelong devotion to fitness has served him well as he continues to do stunt work and action sequences in his films. In recent years, Jackie's focus has shifted and he is trying new genres of film – fantasy, drama, romance – and is spending more and more time on his charity work. He takes his work as Ambassador for UNICEF/UNAIDS very seriously and spends all his spare time working tirelessly for children, the elderly, and those in need. He continues to make films in Hong Kong, including the blockbuster drama New Police Story in 2004. Jackie has been married to Lin Feng-Jiao since 1982 and has a son, actor-singer Jaycee Chan. WAYNE GRETKSY Wayne Douglas Gretzky, OC (born January 26, 1961) is a former professional ice hockey player. Born in Brantford, Ontario, Canada, he is known as "The Great One", and considered by many to be the best player of all time. Taught by his father Walter, Gretzky was a classic prodigy. At 6, he was skating with 10 year-olds. At 10, he scored 378 goals in 85 games, and the first story on him was published in the Toronto Telegram (now the Toronto Sun). At 14, playing against 20 year-olds, he left Brantford to further his career and signed with his first agent. He played one year in the Ontario Hockey League at the age of 16, with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. There he began wearing 99 on his jersey. He had wanted 9 — for his hero Gordie Howe — but it was already being worn by another teammate. At Coach Muzz MacPherson's suggestion, Gretzky tried and settled on 99. The next year, he signed with the Indianapolis Racers of the World Hockey Association. Eight games into the season, his contract was bought by Peter Pocklington, owner of the Alberta Oilers aka Edmonton Oilers. Gretzky played on four different NHL teams over a 20 year period: the Edmonton Oilers, the Los Angeles Kings, the St. Louis Blues, and the New York Rangers. After the 1978- 79 season, four WHA teams, including the Alberta Oilers (who would become the Edmonton Oilers), joined the National Hockey League. The other three WHA teams were the Quebec Nordiques, Winnipeg Jets, and Hartford Whalers. In his first NHL season, 1979-80, Gretzky was awarded the Hart Memorial Trophy as the League's Most Valuable Player (the first of eight in a row) and tied for the scoring lead with Marcel Dionne with 137 points (Dionne was awarded the Art Ross Memorial Trophy as the league's leading scorer because he had scored more goals, even though Gretzky played fewer games). Gretzky was not eligible for the Calder Memorial Trophy, given to the top NHL rookie, because of his previous year of professional experience. The rule, however, was changed a few years later. Teemu Selänne is a case in point of this rule change. He won rookie of the year with 76 goals even though he previously had professional experience. In his second season, Gretzky won the Art Ross (the first of seven consecutive years) with a single-season record 164 points, and won his second straight Hart Trophy. The Oilers were a young, strong team featuring forwards Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson and Jari Kurri, defenseman Paul Coffey, goalie Grant Fuhr, and Gretzky as its captain. In 1983, they made it to the Stanley Cup finals, only to be swept by the three-time defending champion New York Islanders. The following season, the Oilers met the Islanders in the Finals again, this time winning their first of four Stanley Cups over the next five years. In only Gretzky's second NHL season, he broke both Bobby Orr's record for assists in a season and Phil Esposito's record for points in a season. In 1981, Gretzky surpassed one of the game's most cherished records — 50 goals in 50 games — set by Maurice "Rocket" Richard during the 1944-45 season and tied by Mike Bossy during the 1980-81 season. On December 30, 1981, in Edmonton's 39th game, Gretzky scored his 50th goal of the season (and fifth of the game) into an empty net in the final seconds of a 7-5 win against Philadelphia. On 24 February, 1982, Gretzky broke Esposito's record for most goals in a season (76), when he scored four goals to help beat the Buffalo Sabres, 6-3. He ended the 1981-1982 season with 92 goals and a record 212 points in 80 games. Gretzky broke the season points record again in 1985-86 with 215 points and also set a season record with 163 assists. On August 9, 1988, in a move that drastically changed the dynamics of the NHL, Gretzky was traded with Marty McSorley and Mike Krushelnyski by the Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, $15 million cash and the Kings' first- round draft picks in 1989, 1991 and 1993. "The Trade," as it came to be known, so upset Canadians that one lawmaker demanded the government block it, and Pocklington was burned in effigy. Gretzky himself was considered a "traitor" by many Canadians for turning his back on his adopted hometown, his home province, and his home country. After "The Trade", Gretzky's personal popularity sank across Canada. Gretzky's first season in Los Angeles saw a marked increase in attendance and fan interest in a city not previously known for following ice hockey. The Kings, who then played their home games at the Great Western Forum, boasted numerous sellouts on their way to reaching the 88-89 playoffs. Despite being heavy underdogs against his old squad, Gretzky led the new-look Kings on and off the ice to a shocking upset of the defending Stanley Cup champion Edmonton Oilers, as Gretzky led his team back from a 3-1 deficit to win the series 4-3. Many credit Gretzky's arrival with putting Southern California on "the NHL map"; now California is home to three NHL franchises. Gretzky's time with the Kings reached its peak when he led the team to its first Cup finals in 1993. After winning the first game of the series, however, the team lost the next four in a row to the Montreal Canadiens. The team began a long slide that continued despite numerous player and coaching moves and failed to even qualify for the playoffs again until 1998. Long before that, running out of time and looking for a team with which he could win again, Gretzky had been traded from the Kings at his request. On February 27, 1996 he joined the St. Louis Blues in a trade for Patrice Tardif, Roman Vopat, Craig Johnson, and draft picks. While he scored 37 points in 31 games for the team (regular season and playoffs), and they got within one overtime game of the Conference finals, he never clicked with the team or with sniper Brett Hull on the ice as well as many had expected. On July 21, he signed with the New York Rangers as a free agent, rejoining Messier. He ended his professional career with the Rangers, playing his final three seasons there and helping the team reach the conference finals in 1997. His last NHL game in Canada was on April 16, 1999, and his final game was a 2-1 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on April 18. The national anthems in that game were adjusted to accomodate Gretzky's departure. "O Canada, we stand on guard for thee" was changed to "We're going to miss you Wayne Gretzky". The Star-Spangled Banner was changed from "the land of the free" to "the land of Wayne Gretzky". Gretzky was named as the first, second and third star of both April 16th and 18th games. In 2003, Gretzky took to the ice one last time to help celebrate the Edmonton Oilers' 25th anniversary as an NHL team. The Heritage Classic, was the first NHL game to be played outdoors. Preceding the NHL game was an exhibition game that reunited Gretzky and many of the old-guard Oilers against a superstar Montreal Canadiens team. JOHN TRAVOLTA John Joseph Travolta was born on the 18th of February, 1954, in Englewood, New Jersey. His father, Salvatore, was a semi-pro footballer turned tyre salesman. His mother, Helen, was the entertainer in the family. She had played in a radio vocal group called The Sunshine Sisters, and had acted and directed before becoming a high school drama teacher. John also had five brothers and sisters - Joey and Sam, and Ellen, Ann and Margaret. All of them have worked in TV, film or music. This clearly had much to do with Helen's influence, but also Salvatore's who encouraged his children by assembling a small theatre in the family's basement. At 16, with his parents' blessing, he dropped out of High School and went to live with sister Ann in Manhattan, aiming to break into theatre. In the early Seventies, he nabbed a few small TV roles, beginning as an injured hitch-hiker in Emergency! He also featured in a 1973 ad for the US Army. Then, in 1975, came the first big break, when he was cast as Vinnie Barbarino in Welcome Back Kotter, a huge hit involving a teacher returning to the inner city to teach a gang of lippy, witty teenagers. As Barbarino, the swaggering leader of the pack, armed with a mighty arsenal of rhyming insults, Travolta became the star of the show. Dumb but cool, he became the hero of drop-outs and young girls across the nation. With his charming smile and strut, Travolta had the teenage hooligan off to a tee, so he was perfect as the jealous Nancy Allen's brutish, pig-killing boyfriend in Brian De Palma's Carrie. But he also wanted more serious roles, and so played Tod Lubitch in The Boy In The Plastic Bubble, the tale of a young man confined to a virus-proof environment by a deficiency of his immune system. This was a touching movie, with Travolta performing well. It also saw him begin a relationship with his co-star, Diana Hyland, an actress 18 years his senior who played his mother in the movie. That cocky strut was about to take the world by storm as, prior to The Boy In The Plastic Bubble, Travolta had filmed a movie to be named Saturday Night Fever. Here he was Tony Manero - shop assistant by day, disco king by night - and he was fantastic. Yet, just as all was going so fabulously well, life dealt him a hammer-blow. In 1977, the year Saturday Night Fever was released, Diana Hyland died of cancer, in Travolta's arms. It was a tragedy, accentuated by his mother's death a year later. And it added a terrible pathos to Travolta's next movie, Moment By Moment, where he played a young man in a turbulent love affair with an older woman, Lily Tomlin. But, much as he may have liked to have taken an elongated sabbatical, Travolta's star was remorselessly rising. Next, in Grease, he was Danny Zuko - another ladykilling teenager, this time subdued by the prim Olivia Newton-John. The movie spawned huge hit singles for Travolta (You're The One That I Want, Sandy) and itself made over $400 million, making it the most successful musical ever. After a string of moderate hits and box office bombs, it's often said that Travolta was saved by Quentin Tarantino. And that's so. But Tarantino only cast Travolta in Pulp Fiction because Michael Madsen chose to appear in Kevin Costner's epic Wyatt Earp instead. So, Madsen's bitter loss (and he is hilariously bitter about it) was Travolta's gain. Accepting a mere $140,000 for his services, his Vincent Vega was a brilliantly jovial partner for born-again assassin Samuel L. Jackson. He was sleazy and cruel, but also, with his dopey speeches about chicken burgers and his groovy dancing with Uma Thurman, much like Tony Manero. Once again he was Oscar-nominated. Battling to regain his footing in the industry, Travolta now went populist. First he stepped onto the comic-book bandwagon with The Punisher (an earlier version, starring Dolph Lundgren, had actually been in the vanguard of this new wave of comic adaptations). Here Thomas Jane played the titular vigilante who swears revenge on all criminals when his family is massacred by Travolta, a notorious money launderer who's thoroughly ticked off when his son is killed in an FBI sting. Now expert at these baddie roles, Travolta would add depth with his convincing exhibition of grief for his son and jealous possessiveness over his wife. Following this would be Ladder 49, another action movie lifted above its genre by excellent characterisations. This would see Joaquin Phoenix as a fireman trapped in a major conflagration, with Travolta as his chief and mentor, single- mindedly co-ordinating the rescue attempt. Throughout, the movie would flash back over Phoenix's career, thoghtfully contemplating who'd be a fireman and why. Ladder 49 and The Punisher would pull Travolta back up again after his second fall from grace. Having been boosted by a series of comical Sky ads wherein he moves in with a family simply because they have Sky TV, he'd rise further up the Hollywood food-chain with 2005's Be Cool, reprising his role as Chili Palmer in Get Shorty. Travolta's only release of 2008 would be another success. This was Disney's Bolt, a family film reminiscent of The Truman Show, where Travolta would voice a dog who stars in a TV show and believes it all to be real, including his own superpowers. Trouble ensues, then, when he believes his owner, Miley Cyrus, to be kidnapped, and he takes off, aided by a reluctant cat and a hamster, to seek and save her on the mean streets of Manhattan. 2009 would begin with real tragedy for Travolta. Back in 1989, while filming The Experts, he'd met actress Kelly Preston. She was married at the time, but soon became single and met up once more with Travolta, the couple being married in September, 1991, first by a French minister of Scientology and then, when that was declared illegal, by someone deemed more official. The couple would have two children, son Jett and daughter Ella Bleu. Sadly, from an early age Jett had suffered from Kawasaki syndrome, causing a dangerous inflammation of the blood vessels and occasional fits. On January 2nd, 2009, while the family were holidaying at the Old Bahama Bay resort on Grand Bahama, Jett, would suffer a fatal seizure. Travolta still loves dancing, and music, and he loves to fly jets, owning at least four. In 1993, after a total electric failure, at night and in icy conditions, he managed to safely land his Gulfstream. He'd do something similar in 2007, making an emergency landing of a 34-seater at Shannon when problems hit his flight from Germany to New York. That's Travolta - smooth beyond the call of duty. JULIA ROBERTS One of the few bankable female stars of the 1990s, actress Julia Roberts remained an iconic figure whose assured, winsome performances underscored her undeniable public appeal. Following a breakthrough role in ―Mystic Pizza‖ (1988), Roberts earned critical acclaim and award recognition for her portrayal of the ill-fated Shelby in ―Steel Magnolias‖ (1989). But it was her performance as a hooker with a heart of gold opposite Richard Gere in ―Pretty Woman‖ (1990) that propelled Roberts into the upper tier of Hollywood actresses. Roberts quickly became one of the highest paid stars – male or female – in the world, eventually raking in $25 million for a film. Equally in the limelight for a torrent of high-profile and often rocky romances, Roberts managed to maintain an output of projects that consistently topped the box office. While sometimes accused of lacking the chops to be a serious actress, she erased all doubts with her Oscar-winning performance in ―Erin Brockovich‖ (2001), as well as other acclaimed roles in ―Closer‖ (2004) and ―Charlie Wilson’s War‖ (2007), all of which underscored Roberts’ unique ability to be both a huge box office draw and an accomplished performer. Born Oct. 28, 1967 in Atlanta, GA, Roberts was raised by her father, Walter, a vacuum cleaner salesman and her mother, Betty, a former church secretary-turned-real estate agent. Despite solid middle class jobs, her parents were also part-time actors who ran the Atlanta-based Actors and Writers Workshop out of their home. But in 1971, her domestic tranquility was shattered when her parents divorced. Roberts moved the following year to Smyrna, CA with her mother and sister, Lisa, while her brother, Eric, stayed behind with their father. Though she was intent on becoming a veterinarian, Roberts was suddenly interested in acting after landing her first stage role playing Elizabeth Dole in a mock election campaign. Immediately following graduation, she moved to New York City to pursue acting alongside her sister. After losing her thick Georgia accent with the help of a speech coach, Roberts worked at an Athlete’s Foot and an ice cream parlor to make ends meet, while she honed her craft in classes – which she quickly dropped – and looked for acting work. She first gained notice starring in "Mystic Pizza" (1988), playing a recent high school grad working with two friends at a Connecticut pizza parlor who is unsure what she wants from life, even to the point of doubting her relationship with a law school dropout. Roberts landed her big break in ―Steel Magnolias‖ when fellow actress Meg Ryan backed out to star in her own breakthrough film, ―When Harry Met Sally…‖ (1989), though Roberts went through a tough audition process in order to land the part of Shelby, the diabetic daughter of a woman dealing with both happiness and hardships with her female friends in a small Louisiana town. Roberts earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her affecting performance as the doomed daughter. Already a star on the rise, Roberts was catapulted into the stratosphere of stardom with her next performance in Garry Marshall's charming and immensely successful rags-to- riches saga, "Pretty Woman" (1990). Thanks to her winning performance – which earned her a surprising Oscar nod for Best Actress – and box office triumph, Roberts became one of Hollywood’s most popular and bankable stars overnight. At the peak of her early fame, Roberts took an unexpected break from acting to get her highly publicized personal life in order. Romances with costars Liam Neeson, Dylan McDermott – with whom she was briefly engaged – and most notably Kiefer Sutherland – whom she left just days before their wedding after discovering that he had been unfaithful. Adding to her laundry list was a whirlwind romance with odd-looking singer Lyle Lovett that resulted in a bare- footed marriage in 1993 only three weeks after meeting. But just two years later, the couple separated and eventually divorced. Once her affairs were in order, Roberts made her much ballyhooed return to the screen after two years, reasserting her commercial magic opposite Denzel Washington in the political thriller, "The Pelican Brief" (1993). In 1997, the actress reasserted her position as both America's sweetheart and a box-office winner with her starring role in the hit comedy, "My Best Friend's Wedding." Cast as a scheming restaurant critic who sets out to break up the wedding of the man she thinks she loves, Roberts turned what could have become an unsympathetic character into an audience favorite through the sheer force of her natural charm and vibrancy. She was abetted by Rupert Everett's scene-stealing supporting turn as her gay editor and a subtle script by Ron Bass that inverted many of the clichés of screwball comedy. In contrast, Roberts' much-anticipated teaming with Mel Gibson in Richard Donner's "Conspiracy Theory" (1997) proved to be somewhat disappointing, thanks to a muddled script. Ron Bass was one of several writers who worked on the script of "Stepmom" (1998), a comedy-drama that cast Roberts as the much younger girlfriend of a divorced man coping with his two children and his saintly ex-wife. Most critics dismissed the film as sentimental pap, but audiences lapped it up and made it a modest box-office success. Roberts followed with a turn as a world-famous movie star who falls in love with a bumbling British bookseller (Hugh Grant) in "Notting Hill" (1999), an uneven romantic comedy that nevertheless did extremely well at the box office. The much ballyhooed reunion with Richard Gere under Garry Marshall's guidance in "Runaway Bride" (1999) brought out the crowds, but the film could in no way compete with the "Pretty Woman" legacy that came before. Together these films earned over $300 million domestically, justifying the actress' standing as the highest paid female actor. Just as critics thought she was all charm and no real acting chops, Roberts took on the role of her life, essaying the real-life legal secretary who assisted in turning a water poisoning case into one of the largest class-action lawsuits in U.S. history, in "Erin Brockovich" (2000). In perhaps the best performance of her career, Roberts was in top form, thanks in part to the direction of Steven Soderbergh. Roberts earned just about every accolade in 2001, including an Academy Award for Best Actress. After such a heavy project, Roberts made a welcome return to comedy, playing the frustrated girlfriend of a low-level, somewhat bumbling gangster (Brad Pitt) in the "The Mexican" (2001). Although she and Pitt were not on screen together for very long, the pair shared an easy chemistry, though she had better rapport with James Gandolfini as the hit man who kidnaps her as insurance. Thanks to her collaborations with Soderbergh, Roberts was the only female member of a new Brat Pack crowd of actors that included Clooney, Pitt, Damon and Don Cheadle. She joined Clooney for his directorial debut, "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" (2002), the life story of game show producer and host, Chuck Barris (Sam Rockwell), who supposedly led a double life as a CIA hit man. Roberts delivered a game performance as a spy femme fatale who tries to ensnare Barris into a web of deceit. Roberts settled into more standard fare with "Mona Lisa Smile" (2003), playing Katherine Watson, a liberal- minded educator who takes a feminist position at Wellesley in the 1950s and quickly comes under fire for teaching her female students to aspire to something other than marriage and kids. While the film's premise and storyline – a female spin on the familiar "Dead Poets' Society" model – was predictable, Roberts' delivered a mature and engaging performance that in ways different from her previous efforts had audiences once again rooting for her. Just as Roberts began filming the anticipated sequel "Ocean's Twelve" (2004), the actress, who was by then onto her second marriage to cameraman Danny Moder, announced to the world that she was pregnant with twins. Perhaps due to the impending birth, Roberts appeared to be having more fun than in the first "Oceans," gamely playing off of her pregnancy and – in a harder-to-swallow plot spin – her character's uncanny resemblance to movie star Julia Roberts. Just prior to the release of that film, Roberts made international headlines when she gave birth to a boy and a girl, Phinnaeus and Hazel, in November 2004. ELLEN DEGENERES Ellen DeGeneres attracted massive media attention when she came out as a lesbian on her television show in 1997. Known as "the puppy episode," the program stirred controversy and drew criticism from conservative sectors. DeGeneres and her partner, actress Anne Heche, came out at the same time, DeGeneres appearing on the covers of national magazines. The caption accompanying her photograph on the cover of Time read, "Yep, I'm Gay Her place in history as TV's first gay lead character was thus secured. Born in New Orleans in 1958, DeGeneres' sometimes difficult life inspired her to use humor as a coping device. After her parents' divorce when she was 13, she and her mother, Betty, moved to Texas. It was a hard time, and DeGeneres used humor to buoy her mother's spirits. "My mother was going through some really hard times and I could see when she was really getting down, and I would start to make fun of her dancing," DeGeneres has said. "Then she'd start to laugh and I'd make fun of her laughing. And she'd laugh so hard she'd start to cry, and then I'd make fun of that. So I would totally bring her from where I'd seen her start going into depression to all the way out of it." After graduating from high school in 1976, DeGeneres moved back to New Orleans where she worked a series of dead-end jobs: house painter, secretary, oyster shucker, sales clerk, waitress, bartender, and vacuum salesperson. At the encouragement of friends, she tried out her comedy on an amateur-hour audience, in 1981. Her act went over well, and her niche had been found. Only a year later, she entered and won Showtime's "Funniest Person in America" contest. The title, which brought both criticism and high expectations, was her springboard to stardom. One of her better-known stand-up routines, "A Phone Call to God," came from one of her own darkest moments of despair, when a close friend and roommate had been killed in a car accident while out on a date. The girl was only 23, and it seemed very unfair to DeGeneres. She wanted to question God about a lot of things that seemed unnecessary, and again she turned to humor. She sat down one night and considered what it would be like if she could call God on the phone and ask him about some of the things that troubled her. As if it was meant to be, the monologue poured from her pen to paper, and it was funny, focusing on topics such as fleas and what their purpose might be. DeGeneres performed "A Phone Call to God" on the Johnny Carson show six years later. Everything clicked that night, and Carson signaled her over to sit on the couch after her performance. She was the only female comedian Carson ever called to come over and talk to him on a first appearance on the Tonight Show. DeGeneres continued on the comedy circuit and started acting; one memorable performance was with dancing fruit in Very Fine juice commercials. She eventually landed small roles in several short-lived television series: Duet, Open House, and Laurie Hill. Her feature acting debut was in the 1993 movie Coneheads. By 1994 she was starring in a series called These Friends of Mine on ABC. The first season was aided by a prime slot, following Tim Allen's Home Improvement. The network had such confidence in her that they announced that she would be the ABC spokesperson for radio ads and on- air promos, allowing her to introduce the debut of every show in the fall lineup. She also co-hosted the 1994 Emmy Awards ceremony. Despite DeGeneres' fervent backing by ABC, the show had a number of problems, not the least of which were critical comparisons to Seinfeld, and a number of personnel changes on both sides of the camera. The show's name was changed to Ellen for its second season, its concept was changed, and Ellen was given more creative input. By the third season, Ellen had failed to find an audience, however, and the show needed a boost. DeGeneres and her producers decided to announce the character's homosexuality to give the show a new edge--and to tell the truth. As DeGeneres told Time: "I never wanted to be the lesbian actress. I never wanted to be the spokesperson for the gay community. Ever. I did it for my own truth." After months of hinting around on the show, Ellen came out in an hour-long episode featuring guest stars Laura Dern, Melissa Etheridge, k.d. lang, Demi Moore, Billy Bob Thornton, and Oprah Winfrey. The result was a clamor among conservatives and the religious right; evangelist Jerry Falwell called DeGeneres a "degenerate." The show won an Emmy for best writing in a comedy series, and a Peabody award for the episode. Entertainment Weekly named DeGeneres the Entertainer of the Year in 1997. In 1998, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Defamation (GLAAD) awarded DeGeneres the Stephen F. Kolzak Award for being an openly gay celebrity who has battled homophobia. The series itself was given the award for Outstanding TV Comedy. The show was even praised by vice president Al Gore for forcing Americans "to look at sexual orientation in a more open light." In the following season the show continued to focus mainly on gay issues, despite declining ratings, and ABC decided not to renew the show for a sixth season. Critics noted that the show had become one-dimensional, with Ellen's homosexuality overshadowing all other topics. As the show declined, however, DeGeneres began branching out, writing a book, My Point ... And I Do Have One, in 1996 and releasing an album collection of stand-up material called Taste This. She also had her first leading role in a film, a romantic comedy with actor Bill Pullman called Mr. Wrong. Meanwhile, her series was picked up in syndication by the Lifetime channel in 1998. Is now in syndication today on the Oxygen channel. (2006) DeGeneres returned to series TV in 2001 with a new CBS sitcom, The Ellen Show. Though her character was again a lesbian, it was not the central theme of the show. It received critical praise but low viewership and was cancelled after one season. Although her second sitcom was not a success, Ellen did receive wide exposure on November 4, 2001, when she served as hostess of the Emmy Awards-TV show. Presented following two cancellations due to fears that a showy ceremony would appear insensitive following the September 11, 2001 attacks, the show required a newer, more somber tone that at the same time allowed viewers to temporarily forget the tragedy. DeGeneres delivered this, receiving several standing ovations for her performance that evening. She memorably delivered the following line: "We're told to go on living our lives as usual, because to do otherwise is to let the terrorists win, and really, what would upset the Taliban more than a gay woman wearing a suit in front of a room full of Jews?" DeGeneres lent her voice to the role of "Dory," a fish with short-term memory loss, in the summer 2003 hit animated Disney/Pixar film Finding Nemo. Finding Nemo was a box office hit, it had the biggest opening weekend of any animated film upon it's release on May 30rd, 2003. Pulling in over 330 million dollars total at the box office. It also Claimed the all-time first day USA record for home-release sales with 8 million copies sold (80% of which were on DVD). As of January 2005, it is the bestselling DVD of all time in the world with 22 million copies sold. The movie returned DeGeneres to the limelight, with critics giving her rave reviews. 2003 was a busy year for Ellen, she also narrated one of the highly successful VH1 Divas shows and wrote another book The Funny Thing Is. In September of 2003, DeGeneres launched a daytime television talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Amid a crop of several talk shows surfacing in 2003 and hosted by high-profile celebrities (including Sharon Osbourne and Rita Rudner), DeGeneres' show has consistently risen in the Nielsen Ratings and received widespread critical praise. DeGeneres' show was nominated for eleven Daytime Emmy Awards in its freshman season, winning four, including Best Talk Show. The show has won 15 Emmy Awards in its first three seasons on the air. The Ellen DeGeneres Show is the first talk show in television history to win the Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show for its first three seasons on the air. Ellen is known for her dancing with the audience in the beginning of the show. In August 2005, Ellen was selected once again as host of the 2005 Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony, which was held on September 18, 2005. (The awards show came three weeks after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, making it the second time Ellen hosted the Emmys following a national tragedy. Because Ellen is from New Orleans, the tragedy literally hit close to home) When she announced that she'd be again hosting the Emmys, she joked, "You know me, any excuse to put on a dress." She also hosted the Grammy Awards in 1996 and in 1997. DeGeneres' relationship with former Another World actress Anne Heche turned into material for the tabloid press. After several years in the spotlight, Heche broke up with DeGeneres and went on to marry male cameraman Coley Laffoon. DeGeneres then had a relationship with Actress/Director/Photographer Alexandra Hedison. They appeared on the cover of The Advocate magazine (ironically, after their split up had already been announced to the press). DeGeneres is now in a relationship with Arrested Development and former Ally McBeal star Portia de Rossi, which began in December 2004, they bought a 120 acre ranch together. In August 2008, Portia and Ellen married in Los Angeles. MARISKA HARGITAY Mariska Magdolina Hargitay (born January 23, 1964) is an American actress. She is the daughter of the late actor and professional bodybuilder Mickey Hargitay and late actress Jayne Mansfield. After winning the Miss Beverly Hills 1982 beauty pageant, she went on to study theater at the University of California and started acting at the age 20 with her film debut in the 1985 horror-comedy film Ghoulies. She made her first major television debut in season seven and eight of the soap opera Falcon Crest (1987) and appeared mostly in television shows throughout the late 1980's and most of the 90's, in small roles and guest appearances. In 1999 she was cast as Olivia Benson, a New York City detective who investigates sex crimes on the NBC television drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a role that has earned her multiple award nominations and an Emmy and Golden Globe since the shows' debut. She met her future husband Peter Hermann, who played Defense Attorney Trevor Langan on SVU. They were married in 2004, the same year she established an organization that provides support to women who have been sexually abused called the Joyful Heart Foundation and also volunteers as a rape crisis counselor. Early life and education Hargitay was born at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California, the daughter of Jayne Mansfield, an actress and 1950s-era sex symbol, and Hungarian-born former Mr. Universe Mickey Hargitay. Her first and middle names are Hungarian and refer to Mary Magdalene (Mariska is a diminutive of Maria). Her family name means "of Hargita". Hargitay has two half-sisters, Jayne Marie Mansfield and Tina Hargitay; two brothers, Miklós and Zoltán Hargitay; and a half-brother, Antonio Ottaviano (a.k.a. Tony Cimber), a former director whose works include the female wrestling show Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. Hargitay's parents had divorced in May 1963, but a judge later found their Mexican divorce invalid. They had reconciled a few months before Mariska's birth in January 1964 but soon separated again; and in August 1964, the Mexican divorce was ruled legal. A few weeks later, Mansfield married the director Matt Cimber, who had directed her in a 1964 production of the William Inge play Bus Stop. On June 29, 1967, Jayne Mansfield was killed in an automobile accident on a stretch of U.S. Highway 90 between New Orleans and Slidell, Louisiana. Her boyfriend, Sam Brody, and the driver were also killed. Asleep in the back of the vehicle, Mariska, then three-and-a-half years old, was left with a zig-zag scar on one side of her head. Her brothers, Miklós and Zoltán were also in the car, but escaped with minor injuries. After the death of their mother, the three siblings were raised by their father and his third wife, Ellen Siano. Hargitay was active in the theater program of her secondary school Marymount High School, and she attended UCLA School of Theater Film and Television (where she was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma), until she left before graduating when she began her acting career. In 1982, Hargitay was crowned Miss Beverly Hills USA, and was fourth runner up at the Miss California USA Pageant in Oxnard. Within a few years she had landed recurring roles in the television series Downtown and Falcon Crest, in which she played the character Carly Fixx. She portrayed police officer Angela Garcia in the 1992 series Tequila & Bonetti, and appeared in an episode of the fourth season of Seinfeld. Two years later, Hargitay portrayed Didi Edelstein, the sexy next-door neighbor, in the 1995 sitcom Can't Hurry Love, which starred Nancy McKeon. In 1997, Hargitay played detective Nina Echeverria on the drama series Prince Street, and had a recurring role as Cynthia Hooper during the fourth season of ER. Hargitay has appeared on numerous other television programs, including: Freddy's Nightmares, Ellen, All American Girl, Baywatch, Cracker, Gabriel's Fire, In the Heat of the Night, JoJo's Circus, The Single Guy, Wiseguy, and thirtysomething. Her voice is featured on the 2005 video game True Crime: New York City. Hargitay also had a minor role ("Hooker in Bar") in the 1995 film Leaving Las Vegas, and briefly replaced Gabrielle Fitzpatrick in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, although the footage was deemed unusable. Since 1999, Hargitay has portrayed Det. Olivia Benson, the female lead in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. "As a woman, it’s gratifying to play such a multilayered part," she stated on her official website. "Olivia is not only a competent, street-smart cop, she’s also an empathetic woman who can respond emotionally to victims of terrible crimes without compromising her professionalism." As a result of her casting, Hargitay was acknowledged as the "highest paid TV actress" working today in the Guinness Book of World Records 2008 Edition. Hargitay is a polyglot and speaks Hungarian, French, Spanish and Italian as well as English. On August 28, 2004, in Santa Barbara, California, she married Peter Hermann, an actor and writer who has often appeared on SVU as Defense Attorney Trevor Langan. During the last months of her pregnancy, she took maternity leave from SVU, and was temporarily replaced by Connie Nielsen. On June 28, 2006, Hargitay gave birth to her son August Miklos Friedrich Hermann, by an emergency caesarean section. She appeared in the January 2007 issue of Self magazine she stated that the 15-hour work days on the set of SVU, combined with the stress of an increase in episodes filmed each week caused her to resort to food for comfort and by her third trimester, she gained 54 pounds and contracted gestational diabetes. She cited in the interview, "I was overwhelmed by my lack of energy. All I could do to survive was to eat". That same month she and August appeared in a Got Milk? ad. Upon winning her Emmy on August 27, 2006, Hargitay made a point of thanking her father for everything he had done for her in her life. Just 17 days later, on September 14, 2006, her father died from multiple myeloma in Los Angeles, California, at age 80. In late December 2008, she suffered a partially collapsed lung after taking a fall during a stunt on the set of SVU. She underwent surgery in January and returned to work shortly after. On March 3, 2009, Hargitay was hospitalized after suffering chest pains related to the injury. It was disclosed that she would probably need more surgery. Despite this, she missed only one episode of season 10 of SVU. She has begun working on the 11th season of SVU, which premiered on Wednesday, September 23, 2009. Hargitay is founder and president of the Joyful Heart Foundation, an organization that was set up in 2004 to provide support to women who have been sexually assaulted. Hargitay has also worked with the Mount Sinai Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention program, Santa Monica Rape Crisis Treatment Center where she is a certified rape crisis counselor. She also appeared in the 17th season of NBC's ―The More You Know‖ public service announcement in 2006, and again in Spring 2009. She is an honorary board member director of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation CAROL BURNETT Carol Creighton Burnett is an American actress, comedian, singer, dancer and writer. Burnett started her career in New York. After becoming a hit on Broadway, she debuted on television. After successful appearances on The Garry Moore Show, Carol moved to Los Angeles and began an eleven-year run on the The Carol Burnett Show which was aired on CBS television from 1967 to 1978. With roots in vaudeville, The Carol Burnett Show was a variety show combining comedy sketches, song, and dance. The comedy sketches ranged from movie parodies to character pieces which featured the many talents of Burnett herself who created and played several well-known and distinctive characters. Burnett was born in San Antonio, Texas, the daughter of Ina Louise (née Creighton), a publicity writer for movie studios, and Joseph Thomas Burnett, a movie theatre manager. Both of her parents, particularly her father, suffered from alcoholism, and at a young age she was left with her grandmother, Mabel Eudoria White. Her parents divorced in the late 1930s, and Burnett and her grandmother moved to an apartment near her mother’s in an impoverished area of Hollywood, California. There, they stayed in a boarding house with her younger half-sister Chrissy. When Burnett was in the fourth grade she created for a short time an imaginary twin sister named Karen, with Shirley Temple-like dimples. Motivated to further the pretense Burnett recalled fondly that she "fooled the other boarders in the rooming house where we lived by frantically switching clothes and dashing in and out of the house by the fire escape and the front door. Then I became exhausted and Karen mysteriously vanished." After graduating from Hollywood High School in 1951, Burnett won a scholarship to the University of California, Los Angeles where she initially planned on studying journalism. During her first year of college, Burnett switched her focus to theater arts and English, with the purpose of becoming a playwright. During this time, Burnett performed in several university productions, garnering recognition for her comedic and musical abilities. In 1954, during her junior year, Burnett and her boyfriend, Don Saroyan, left college and moved to New York in order to pursue acting careers. Burnett and Saroyan got their money to get to New York from a man who approved of their dreams whom they met at a cocktail party. The man gave each of them a check for one thousand dollars. That same year, Burnett's father died of causes related to alcoholism. Burnett's mother disapproved of her acting desires: "She wanted me to be a writer. She said you can always write, no matter what you look like. When I was growing up she told me to be a little lady, and a couple of times I got a whack for crossing my eyes or making funny faces. Of course, she never, I never, dreamed I would ever perform." Burnett's first true taste of success came with her appearance on Broadway in the 1959 musical Once Upon a Mattress. In the same year, she became a regular player on The Garry Moore Show, which she would continue until 1962. She won an Emmy that year for her "Outstanding Performance in a Variety or Musical Program or Series" on the show. Burnett portrayed a number of characters, most memorably the put-upon cleaning woman who would later become her signature alter-ego. With her success on the Moore show, Burnett finally rose to headliner status and appeared in the 1962 special Julie and Carol at Carnegie Hall, co-starring her friend Julie Andrews. The show was produced by Bob Banner, directed by Joe Hamilton, and written by Mike Nichols and Ken Welch. Julie and Carol at Carnegie Hall won an Emmy for Outstanding Musical. Burnett also guest-starred on a number of shows during this time including the Twilight Zone, and a recurring role as a tough female Marine in Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C.. Burnett became good friends with the latter show's star Jim Nabors, who would later be her first guest every season on her variety show. The hour-long Carol Burnett Show, which debuted in 1967, garnered 23 Emmy Awards and won or was nominated for multiple Emmy Awards every season it was on the air. Its ensemble cast included Tim Conway (who was a guest player until the 9th season). Harvey Korman, Lyle Waggoner, and the teenaged Vicki Lawrence (who was cast partly because she looked like a young Burnett). The network did not want her to do a variety show because they believed only men could be successful at variety but Burnett's contract required that they give her one season of whatever kind of show she wanted to make. She chose to carry on the tradition of past variety show successes and the rest is history. Burnett became known for her acting and talent, and for ending each show by tugging her ear, which was a message to the grandmother who had raised her to let her know that she was doing well and that she loved her. A true variety show in its simplest of forms, The Carol Burnett Show struck a chord with viewers through parodies of films ("Went With the Wind"), television ("As the Stomach Turns") and commercials. Burnett and team struck gold with the original skit "Mama's Family" which eventually spun off into its own television show starring Lawrence. The Carol Burnett Show ceased production in 1978, and is generally regarded as the last successful major network variety show, to date. It continues to have success in syndicated reruns. She was open to her fans, never refusing to give an autograph and had limited patience for "Those who've made it, then complain about loss of privacy." Burnett starred in a few films while her variety show was running, including Pete 'n' Tillie (1972). After the show ended, Burnett assumed a number of roles that departed from comedy. She appeared in several dramatic roles, most notably in the television movie Friendly Fire. She appeared as Beatrice O'Reilly in the film Life of The Party: The Story of Beatrice, a story about a woman fighting her alcoholism. Her other film work includes The Four Seasons, Annie, Noises Off, and her newest movie "Horton Hears a Who" Burnett also made occasional returns to the stage: in 1974, she appeared at The Muny Theater in St. Louis, Missouri in I Do! I Do! with Rock Hudson and eleven years later, she took the supporting role of Carlotta Campion in the 1985 concert performance of Stephen Sondheim's Follies. In the 1980s and 1990s, she made several attempts at starting a new variety program. She also appeared briefly on The Carol Burnett Show's The Family sketches spinoff, Mama's Family, as her stormy character, Eunice Higgins. She also played the matriarch in the cult comedy miniseries Fresno, which parodied the night-time soap opera Falcon Crest, co- starring with Dabney Coleman, Charles Grodin, Teri Garr and Gregory Harrison. The first house Burnett lived in was the Beverly Hills house formerly owned by Harry James and Betty Grable. Growing up in rented rooms, a home was "a luxury" as "A Murphy bed was [her] idea of spacious." She married Don Saroyan on December 15, 1955; the couple divorced in 1962. On May 4, 1963, Burnett married TV producer Joe Hamilton, a divorced father of eight, with whom she had three daughters: actress and writer Carrie Hamilton, Jody Hamilton, and singer Erin Hamilton. The marriage ended in divorce in 1984, and Joe Hamilton later died of cancer. On November 24, 2001, she married Brian Miller (principal drummer in and contractor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra), who is twenty-three years her junior. In January 2002, her daughter Carrie Hamilton died of lung and brain cancer at the age of 38. Carrie Hamilton had become addicted to drugs as a teenager, but overcame the addictions with the help of her husband. Burnett and Carrie wrote a play together called Hollywood Arms, which was adapted from Burnett's bestselling memoir, One More Time. The Broadway production featured Linda Lavin as Burnett's character's beloved grandmother. PAUL NEWMAN Paul Leonard Newman was born on January 26, 1925 in Cleveland, Ohio. With more than five decades’ worth of great performances to his credit, Paul Newman was one of Hollywood’s most talented and beloved actors. He was not only an actor, but a humanitarian, donating 100% of the profits from the food company he founded to numerous charities. Newman grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, with his older brother Arthur and his parents, Arthur and Teresa. His father owned a sporting-goods store and his mother was a homemaker who loved the theatre. Newman got his first taste of acting while doing school plays, but it was not his first love at the time. In high school, he played football and hoped to be a professional athlete. Graduating high school in 1943, Newman briefly attended college before enlisting in the U.S. Navy Air Corps. He wanted to be a pilot, but he was told that he could never fly a plane as he was colorblind. He ended up serving as a radio operator and spent part of World War II serving in the Pacific. After leaving the military in 1946, Paul Newman attended Kenyon College in his home state of Ohio. He was on an athletic scholarship and played on the school’s football team. But after getting into some trouble, Newman changed course. ―I got thrown in jail and kicked off the football team. Since I was determined not to study very much, I majored in theater the last two years,‖ he told Interview magazine in 1998. After finishing college in 1949, Paul Newman did summer stock in Wisconsin where he met his first wife, actress Jacqueline Witte. The couple soon married, and Newman continued to act until his father’s death in 1950. He and his wife moved to Ohio to run the family business for a time. Their first child, a son named Scott, was born there. After asking his brother to take over the business, Newman and his family relocated to Connecticut where he studied at the Yale School of Drama. Newman made his Broadway debut in William Inge’s Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy Picnic in 1953. During rehearsals he met actress Joanne Woodward, who was serving as an understudy for the production. While they were reportedly attracted to each other, the happily-married Newman did not pursue a romantic relationship with the young actress. Around this time, Newman and his wife welcomed their second child together, a daughter named Susan. Picnic ran for 14 months, helping Newman support his growing family. He also found work on the then-emerging medium of television. In 1954, Paul Newman made his film debut in The Silver Chalice for which he received terrible reviews. He had better success on Broadway in the Tony Award-winning The Desperate Hours (1955), in which he played an escaped convict who terrorizes a suburban family. During the run of the hit play, he and his wife added a third child (a daughter named Stephanie) to their family. In 1956, Paul Newman starred as Brick in the film version of Tennessee Williams' play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) opposite Elizabeth Taylor. He gave another strong performance as a hard-drinking former athlete and disinterested husband who struggles against different types of pressures exerted on him by his wife (Taylor) and his overpowering father (Burl Ives). Once dismissed as just another handsome face, Newman showed that he could handle the challenges of such a complex character. He was nominated for his first Academy Award (Best Actor) for this role. During this year, he also remarried to actress Joanne Woodward. Newman continued to thrive professionally. He starred in Otto Preminger’s Exodus (1960) about the founding of the state of Israel. The following year, he took on one of his most famous roles. In The Hustler (1961), Newman played Fast Eddie, a slick, small-time pool shark who takes on the legendary Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason). For his work on the film, Paul Newman received his second Academy Award nomination. Taking on another remarkable part, Newman played the title character—an arrogant, unprincipled cowboy—in Hud (1963). The movie posters for the film described the character as ―the man with the barbed wire soul,‖ and Newman earned critical acclaim and another Academy Award nomination for his work as yet another on-screen antihero. In Cool Hand Luke (1967), Newman played a rebellious inmate at a southern prison. His convincing and charming portrayal led audiences to cheer on this convict in his battle against prison authorities. No matter how hard they leaned on Luke, he refused to bend to their will. This thoroughly enjoyable and realistic performance led to Paul Newman’s fourth Academy Award nomination. A lesser-known film from this time helped trigger a new passion for the actor. While working on the car racing film, Winning (1969), Newman went to a professional driving program as part of his preparation for the role. He discovered that he loved racing and started to devote some of his time to the sport. That same year, Newman starred alongside Robert Redford in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969). He played Butch to Redford’s Sundance, and the pairing was a huge success with audiences,bringing in more than $46 million domestically. Recapturing their on-screen camaraderie, Newman and Redford played suave con men in The Sting (1973), another hit at the box office. Around this time, Paul Newman scored his first racing victory at a Connecticut track in 1972. He went on to win a national Sports Car Club of America title four years later. In 1977, Newman made the leap and became a professional racer. Newman’s life was rocked by a personal tragedy around this time. In 1978, his only son Scott died of an accidental overdose of alcohol and prescription drugs. Newman established the Scott Newman Center, which seeks to stop drug abuse through educational programs. Shifting some of his energy away from acting, Newman started his own food company in the early 1980s. He was making bottles of salad dressing to give them out as gifts for Christmas one year with his friend, writer A. E. Hotchner. Newman then had an unusual idea as to what to do with the leftovers—he wanted to try selling dressing to stores. The two went on to found Newman's Own, whose profits and royalties are used for educational and charitable purposes. The company’s product line now extends from dressings to sauces to snacks to cookies. Since Newman’s Own inception, over $250 million has been donated to thousands of charities worldwide. A few years later, Paul Newman established the Hole in the Wall Camps to give children with life-threatening illnesses a memorable, free holiday. In 1988, the first residential summer camp was opened in Ashford, Connecticut. There are now eight camps in the United States, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and France. Some of the funds raised by Newman’s Own have gone to support the Hole in the Wall Camps. In addition to his charitable efforts, Newman continued to perform. He returned to the character of Fast Eddie from The Hustler in 1986’s The Color of Money. This time around, his character was no longer the up-and-coming hustler, but a worn-out liquor salesman. He is drawn back in the world of pool by mentoring a young upstart (Tom Cruise). For his work on the film, Paul Newman finally won the Academy Award for Best Actor. In his later years, Paul Newman took fewer acting roles, but was still able to deliver impressive performances. He earned an Emmy Award for his nuanced depiction of a lay- about father in the television miniseries Empire Falls (2005), which was adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning Richard Russo novel. The miniseries also provided him the opportunity to work with his wife Joanne Woodward. Known for his love of race cars, he lent his distinctive voice to the 2006 animated film Cars, playing the part of Doc Hudson—a retired racecar. He also served as the narrator for the 2007 documentary The Price of Sugar, which explored the work of Father Christopher Hartley and his efforts to help the workers in Dominican Republic’s sugar cane fields. A private man, Newman chose to keep the true nature of his illness to himself. He succumbed to cancer at his Westport, Connecticut home on September 26, 2008. This is where he and his wife had lived for numerous years to get away from the spotlight and where they chose to raise their three daughters, Nell, Melissa, and Clea. Paul Newman will be long remembered for his great films, his vibrant lifestyle and his extensive charitable works. And his relationship with Joanne Woodward will always be regarded as one of the most successful and enduring love stories in Hollywood history. MERYL STREEP Meryl Streep began her acting career with a level of worship typically reserved for seasoned veterans. From her early work in ―The Deer Hunter‖ (1978) and ―Kramer vs. Kramer‖ (1979), it quickly became apparent to the sharpest of critics – even the most casual of moviegoers – that the chameleon-like Streep was an unparalleled master of character, accents and genres. The benchmark was set for every working actress with Streep’s work as a Polish Nazi camp survivor, damaged by the unthinkable decision she was once forced to make in her Oscar-winning performance in ―Sophie’s Choice‖ (1982). Through ―Silkwood‖ (1983), ―Out of Africa‖ (1985) and ―A Cry in the Dark‖ (1988) Streep continued to set a standard few could hope to achieve – primarily with her mastery of accents, including Polish, Danish and Australian, among others. After he peak in the early 1980s, the multi-Oscar winner spent the subsequent decades maintaining her brilliance, showcasing yet another of her talents – singing – in ―Postcards from the Edge‖ (1990), capturing the aching desire of an aging woman in ―The Bridges of Madison County‖ (1995) and proving she could draw laughter as well as tears in ―The Devil Wears Prada (2006). Simply put, Streep could do it all, and generations of actresses coming up behind her, often cited her work as the reason they pursued the craft of acting in the first place. Mary Louise Streep was born on June 22, 1949 in Summit, NJ and raised in Bernardsville, the oldest sibling ahead of two older brothers, Harry and Dana. Her mother was a commercial artist; her father, an executive at a pharmaceutical company. Streep was extremely serious about music as a child, taking opera singing lessons from renowned coach, Estelle Liebling. By high school, shedding her braces and a dark-haired, bespectacled appearance, she willed herself into a dynamic, blonde-haired social butterfly, cheerleading and swimming on the Bernards High School squads and ultimately becoming its homecoming queen. Her mother devised the shortened version of her name, and ―Meryl‖ was christened. Streep also took acting classes in school, which became the dominant interest, leading her to Vassar College and an exchange program for one semester of playwriting and set design at Dartmouth. After earning her acting degree at Vassar in 1971, she headed to the prestigious Yale School of Drama, where her classmates and friends included actress Sigourney Weaver and playwright Wendy Wasserstein. Streep performed in over 40 plays, including ―The Father‖ with Rip Torn, before obtaining her master’s degree in 1975. After Tony and Emmy wins and just shy of her 30th birthday, Streep solidified her early reign over stage and screen with a supporting actress Oscar nomination for the five-time Oscar-winning ―Deer Hunter.‖ Streep’s nod came on the heels of a small, but pivotal role opposite Woody Allen in his sweetly comical ―Manhattan‖ (1979), with her character Jill, as Allen’s former wife, now living with a woman and writing a tell-all book about their love life. Heading into a new chapter of career and life, she was cultivating an audience of fans eager to watch the rising young star’s increasingly staggering command of craft. She wrapped up the decade with Robert Benton’s adaptation of ―Kramer vs. Kramer‖ (1979). Streep won raves opposite Dustin Hoffman, as Joanna Kramer, an unhappy woman who leaves her husband and son, only to return to claim the child in a messy divorce case. Streep’s real life was quite the opposite, as she and Gummer blissfully welcomed a son, Henry, into the fold, with the couple vacating New York to raise their family in northern Connecticut. At turns sympathetic and icy, Streep’s role in ―Kramer‖ won her an Academy Award in 1980, and the film made winners out of Hoffman, Benton and a nominee out of eight- year-old Justin Henry. Her reputation for immersing herself in character and accents served her well as she donned an impeccable English accent to play both a modern actress and a destitute Victorian woman engaged in parallel love affairs in the Harold Pinter-adapted movie-in-a-movie, ―The French Lieutenant’s Woman‖ (1981), bringing her back for a third Oscar nomination. Then came the part by which all others would be measured. Easing flawlessly into a Polish accent with ―Sophie’s Choice‖ (1982), Streep played Sophie Zawistowski, a Brooklyn-based concentration camp survivor living with her schizophrenic lover whose past, as told to their neighbor, reveals her torment from an unthinkable, life-changing decision. Streep’s seamless technique made for one of cinema’s finest and most heartbreaking performances, garnering her a well-earned second Oscar in 1983, a prize rivaled only by that year’s birth of her first daughter, Mary Willa. She continued to seek out characters with dramatic urgency, and Streep’s instincts proved to be rock solid, as evidenced in ―Silkwood‖ (1983), an account of the doomed, feisty real-life factory whistleblower Karen Silkwood, which netted her another Oscar nomination. Streep lightened things up with the sentimental drama ―Falling in Love‖ (1984), re-teaming with Robert De Niro in a tale of attraction between two modern-day married people, before returning to her trademark sweeping films with Sydney Pollack’s ―Out of Africa‖ (1985). In the grand epic, she gave yet another Oscar-nominated turn as Karen Blixen, a Danish plantation owner embarking on a love affair with a hunter, Denys Finch Hatton (Robert Redford), amidst an unhappy politically-motivated marriage. Following ―Africa,‖ Streep and Gummer took time out to add to their family with a second daughter, Grace. Expertly donning an Australian accent, she also went on to add yet another nomination to her impressive count with that year’s ―A Cry in the Dark‖ (1988), which focused on the country’s infamous Lindy Chamberlain case. In the film, the black-wigged Streep played the pariah Chamberlain, who was accused of coldly murdering her baby despite her insistence that it was eaten by a dingo during a camping trip. Amazingly, ―Silkwood,‖ ―Out of Africa,‖ ―Ironweed‖ and ―A Cry in the Dark‖ brought her an astounding four Oscar nominations in only five years, for a total of eight. Whatever the roles required – coldness or passion – and in whichever time or place they required her to be, Streep seemed capable of always finding the center. Still, when it came to comedy, despite inching closer, the weight of her dramatic work was often a liability toward her entry into other genres she was eager to tackle. In the critical hit, ―Postcards from the Edge‖ (1990), Streep’s actress and recovering addict Suzanne Vale tries to rebuild a bridge to the world by moving in with her alcoholic former actress mother, deftly portrayed by Shirley MacLaine, who managed to steal the scenes from her younger co-star, except when Streep was called on to sing. Not only did she have peerless acting ability, it turned out that had she also possessed surprisingly good pipes, bringing down the house with the film’s finale number, ―I’m Checking Out.‖ By the time another Oscar nomination came around for ―Postcards,‖ an almost-glowing Streep had found her comic groove, signing on to help veteran comic filmmaker Albert Brooks find love in the white-robed hereafter with the charming fantasy ―Defending Your Life‖ (1991). She and Gummer had recently relocated to Brentwood, CA for her work, where Streep gave birth to one more daughter, Louisa. In 1995, Streep was back in Connecticut and returned to the hallmark dramas of her early days, appearing with Clint Eastwood in his adaptation of the popular Robert Waller novel ―The Bridges of Madison County‖ (1995), a flashback story of a daydreaming, Iowa- based Italian-born housewife, Francesca, and her brief, passionate love affair with the photographer sent to take pictures of her town’s famed bridges. Eastwood and Streep displayed a palpable chemistry, with the director/actor putting Streep’s Academy Award- nominated role center stage. Approaching 50 years of age, Streep still had a luminosity that shined through even as she took on the role of the sick patient herself, the cancer-stricken matriarch Kate Gulden of ―One True Thing‖ (1998), based on Anna Quindlen’s book. The film gave Streep her eleventh Oscar nomination in 1999. Before the end of that year, she was back on screens in ―Music of the Heart‖ (1999), earning her twelfth Oscar nomination. Streep sense of play as an ensemble player was further displayed in Robert Altman’s meditative swan song, ―A Prairie Home Companion‖ (2006), a funny and somber account of the fictitious last show of Garrison Keillor’s long-running radio program. As Yolanda, one of the country-flavored Johnson Sisters along with co-star Lily Tomlin, Streep acted and served up her robust singing voice yet again. At the same time, Yolanda was as warm as Miranda Priestly – the Anna Wintouresque career-driven fashion editor of ―The Devil Wears Prada‖ (2006) – was cold. Her record-high 14th Oscar nomination showed Streep could even be good by being bad. With a Golden Globe Award for the role as well, she now laid claim to a record six Globe wins. In 2007, Streep also celebrated her first onscreen teaming with her oldest daughter, ―Mamie‖ Gummer in ―Evening,‖ with Gummer subbing for a young Streep as the 1950s Rhode Island bride Lila Wittenborn of Susan Minot’s adapted novel. Through 2008 and beyond, she had lined up a long list of projects, ones that would see her slide from period pieces to political thrillers to a musical based on the music of ABBA – ―Mamma Mia!‖ (2008) –even going from an imprisoned criminal to becoming the President of the United States, a dizzying array of roles which, in her hands, seemed completely plausible. CLINT EASTWOOD A tall, soft-spoken and leathery leading man who, since the 1960s, has diversified into directing and producing after achieving iconic status, Clint Eastwood arose from the world of television westerns to become the number-one box-office star in the world, and subsequently earned critical acclaim as a director. His production company, Malpaso, has crafted moderate-budget features that range from mainstream fare to personal and ambitious endeavors. Eastwood is not entirely part of the Hollywood establishment—his business is run out of Carmel, California, on the Monterey Peninsula, where he has also served as mayor and ran a restaurant. Eastwood grew up in Depression-era California, where his parents were itinerant workers. After high school, he worked as a lumberjack in Oregon, played honky-tonk piano and was a swimming instructor in the US Army. On the GI Bill, he studied at Los Angeles City College, after which he was signed by Universal. One of his first experiences with the indignity actors must suffer was in a "Francis the Talking Mule" movie, "Francis in the Navy" (1955). Also that year, Eastwood made a brief appearance as a Lab Technician in ―Revenge of the Creature‖, the sequel to ―Creature From the Black Lagoon‖ (1954). The movie was later lampooned on the popular cult television show, ―Mystery Science Theater 3000‖ (1989-2000)—Eastwood did not escape the barbs hurled by Mike and the bots. Many B-movies later, he moved to New York and gained recognition as trail boss Rowdy Yates in the successful television series "Rawhide" (1959-66)—a role he got despite trouble remembering lines in his screen test. A strong sensibility and understanding of the characters he played helped Eastwood develop the minimalist acting style for which he’s famous. It was first appreciated in Europe where he starred in a trilogy of popular spaghetti westerns directed by Sergio Leone in Spain. As the laconic and lethal Man With No Name, Eastwood embodied archetypal violent American whose philosophy in "A Fistful of Dollars" (1964) was "everybody gets rich or dead." The sequels, "For a Few Dollars More" (1965) and "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" (1966), became classic revisionist Westerns and made Eastwood an international star. He returned stateside and starred in "Coogan's Bluff" (1968), a smart urban Western that marked the beginning of a long and successful collaboration with director Don Siegel. Eastwood's second famed screen incarnation was Harry Callahan, the rogue cop of Siegel's "Dirty Harry" (1971) who found it easier to shoot suspects than interrogate them—hence the immortal line in "Sudden Impact" (1983): "Go ahead, make my day.‖ Despite controversy about Dirty Harry’s penchant for violence over procedure, Eastwood and Siegel were more interested in making an exciting film than a political statement. Eastwood has stated "My characters are usually callused men with a sensitive spot for right and wrong." He has also noted that "My movies add up to a morality, not a politics." Even his friendship with Ronald Reagan has attracted criticism from some, but Eastwood's concern for the environment, he claims, would make him befriend any President. Eastwood became a fixture of masculine action flicks, but he also did well in several popular comedies—"Every Which Way But Loose" (1978) and ―Any Which Way You Can" (1980). Though he could have coasted on his established persona, Eastwood chose to take chances with his material and subjected his image to thoughtful, but not always flattering scrutiny. His portraits of tormented men with intense inner lives and little ability to communicate reached an apogee with his acclaimed directorial effort, "Bird" (1988), a moody look at troubled jazz musician Charlie Parker (Forest Whitaker). Over the years, Eastwood has attained virtual artistic control on his projects, which has enabled him to make unusual Westerns—"High Plains Drifter" (1973) and "Pale Rider" (1985)— and cop movies exploring feminist concerns—"Sudden Impact (1983) and "Tightrope" (1984). Eastwood's commercial viability appeared to be in decline by the late 80s—the fifth Dirty Harry movie, "The Dead Pool" (1988), was less successful than its predecessors. In 1990, Eastwood saw two significant box-office failures: "The Rookie,‖ a formula cop outing, and "White Hunter, Black Heart", an interesting, semi-fictional account of the making of "The African Queen". Eastwood enjoyed a popular and critical rebirth, however, with "Unforgiven" (1992), a so-called anti-Western which earned Eastwood Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director as well as several other major awards. A spellbinding morality tale about the effects of killing on a man’s soul, "Unforgiven" took both an ironic and sentimental view of several of Eastwood's earlier gunfighter incarnations. Dedicated to his mentors—"Sergio" (Leone) and "Don" (Siegel)—the film was a solid commercial hit, grossing over $100 million over its long run. Even the most jaded critics praised Eastwood's restrained adaptation of "The Bridges of Madison County" (1995), which took a treacly best-seller and turned it into a well-acted adult love story. A detailed, mature look at passion, the film not only exhibited Eastwood's directorial skill but also provided him with a romantic lead that he played with confidence and charm. Starring opposite Meryl Streep, he exuded sex in a low-key manner and revealed a soft, yet masculine side. Eastwood contributed compositions to the soundtrack, released on his newly-launched Malpaso Records. That same year, Eastwood made an uncredited cameo in the fantasy "Casper.‖ In 2002, Eastwood was once again the director and star of a feature film, "Bloodwork," a competent, yet standard thriller with Eastwood as a detective taunted by a clever serial killer. Eastwood received high praise when he stepped behind the camera for "Mystic River" (2003), an adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s crime novel which explores the interwoven history of three men—played by Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon—and the terrible events from their boyhood that later force them to make irrevocable choices. It earned six Oscar nominations, including Eastwood's second as Best Director. Oscar buzz ignited anew with his follow up, ―Million Dollar Baby‖ (2004), which was an even more effective than "Mystic River." Co-starring Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman, Eastwood played Frankie Dunn, an old-school boxing trainer afraid of intimacy after a painful rift with his daughter. Praised by a majority of critics as an exquisite and subtle film, ―Million Dollar Baby‖ received wide acclaim after earning five Golden Globe nominations, including Best Director, the trophy that Eastwood ultimately claimed. He also beat out "The Aviator's" sentimental favorite Martin Scorsese at the Directors Guild Awards, and when Oscar nominations were announced in January 2005, ―Million Dollar Baby‖ came away with seven nods, including Best Picture, Best Director and a surprising Best Actor nomination for Eastwood—only the second of his long career. Eastwood didn't win for acting, but he did take home two Oscars, one as Best Director and one as one of the producers of the film, which was named Best Picture. As he mellowed with age, Eastwood became more ruminative and thought-provoking on a variety of themes—echoes were seen in his examination of violence in ―Unforgiven.‖ With ―Flags of Our Fathers‖ (2006), an epic World War II drama that focused on the three surviving U.S. servicemen who raised the American flag during the hellacious battle for Iwo Jima, Eastwood used the war genre to explore how a single image can rally a nation in a time of great need while cynical politicians callously disregard the truth and the people being propped up as gods among men. Leapfrogging from the violence of the black sand beaches to the war bond campaign back home, ―Flags of Our Fathers‖ focused on two Marines (Adam Beach and Jesse Bradford) and a Navy corpsman (Ryan Phillippe) being shuttled across the nation by the government to raise money as they cope with the official sanitized version of events in contrast to the nightmare of battle that continually haunts them. Even before the film was released, ―Flags of Our Fathers‖ was considered to be a top contender for Oscar consideration, including Eastwood, whose rich and deeply engaging direction seemed to poise him for a third straight nomination. But it was his companion film, ―Letters from Iwo Jima‖ (2006), which focused the oft-told tale on the unique perspective of the Japanese defenders of the black-sanded island, that earned Eastwood major award recognition. After winning Best Film from the National Board of Review and Best Picture of the Year from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, ―Letters from Iwo Jima‖ earned to Golden Globe Award nominations in 2006, including one for Best Director – Motion Picture for Eastwood. But he wasn’t finished—Eastwood earned a second Best Director nod for his work on ―Flags of Our Fathers.‖ He took one out of three nominations, winning a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film for ―Letters from Iwo Jima." He went on to earn yet another Best Director nomination at the Academy Awards, setting the stage for a potential third win. BARACK OBAMA Barack Hussein Obama was born Aug. 4, 1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii. His father, Barack Obama, Sr., was born of Luo ethnicity in Nyanza Province, Kenya. He grew up herding goats with his own father, who was a domestic servant to the British. Although reared among Muslims, Obama, Sr., became an atheist at some point. Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham, grew up in Wichita, Kansas. Her father worked on oil rigs during the Depression. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he signed up for service in World War II and marched across Europe in Patton’s army. Dunham’s mother went to work on a bomber assembly line. After the war, they studied on the G. I. Bill, bought a house through the Federal Housing Program, and moved to Hawaii. Meantime, Barack’s father had won a scholarship that allowed him to leave Kenya pursue his dreams in Hawaii. At the time of his birth, Obama’s parents were students at the East– West Center of the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Obama’s parents separated when he was two years old and later divorced. Obama’s father went to Harvard to pursue Ph. D. studies and then returned to Kenya. His mother married Lolo Soetoro, another East– West Center student from Indonesia. In 1967, the family moved to Jakarta, where Obama’s half-sister Maya Soetoro–Ng was born. Obama attended schools in Jakarta, where classes were taught in the Indonesian language. Four years later when Barack (commonly known throughout his early years as "Barry") was ten, he returned to Hawaii to live with his maternal grandparents, Madelyn and Stanley Dunham, and later his mother (who died of ovarian cancer in 1995). He was enrolled in the fifth grade at the esteemed Punahou Academy, graduating with honors in 1979. He was only one of three black students at the school. This is where Obama first became conscious of racism and what it meant to be an African–American. In his memoir, Obama described how he struggled to reconcile social perceptions of his multiracial heritage. He saw his biological father (who died in a 1982 car accident) only once (in 1971) after his parents divorced. And he admitted using alcohol, marijuana and cocaine during his teenage years. After high school, Obama studied at Occidental College in Los Angeles for two years. He then transferred to Columbia University in New York, graduating in 1983 with a degree in political science. After working at Business International Corporation (a company that provided international business information to corporate clients) and NYPIRG, Obama moved to Chicago in 1985. There, he worked as a community organizer with low-income residents in Chicago’s Roseland community and the Altgeld Gardens public housing development on the city’s South Side. It was during this time that Obama, who said he "was not raised in a religious household," joined the Trinity United Church of Christ. He also visited relatives in Kenya, which included an emotional visit to the graves of his father and paternal grandfather. Obama entered Harvard Law School in 1988. In February 1990, he was elected the first African–American editor of the Harvard Law Review. Obama graduated magna cum laude in 1991. After law school, Obama returned to Chicago to practice as a civil rights lawyer, joining the firm of Miner, Barnhill & Galland. He also taught at the University of Chicago Law School. And he helped organize voter registration drives during Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign. Obama met his wife, Michelle, in 1988 when he was a summer associate at the Chicago law firm of Sidley & Austin. They were married in October 1992 and live in Kenwood on Chicago's South Side with their daughters, Malia (born 1998) and Sasha (born 2001). On February 10, 2007, Obama announced his candidacy for President of the United States in front of the Old State Capitol building in Springfield, Illinois. The choice of the announcement site was symbolic because it was also where Abraham Lincoln delivered his historic "House Divided" speech in 1858. Throughout the campaign, Obama emphasized the issues of rapidly ending the Iraq War, increasing energy independence, and providing universal health care. During both the primary process and the general election, Obama's campaign set numerous fundraising records, particularly in the quantity of small donations On June 19, Obama became the first major-party presidential candidate to turn down public financing in the general election since the system was created in 1976. Obama delivering his presidential acceptance speech. A large number of candidates initially entered the Democratic Party presidential primaries. After a few initial contests, the field narrowed to a contest between Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton, with each winning some states and the race remaining close throughout the primary process. On May 31, the Democratic National Committee agreed to seat all of the disputed Michigan and Florida delegates at the national convention, each with a half-vote, narrowing Obama's delegate lead. On June 3, with all states counted, Obama passed the threshold to become the presumptive nominee. On that day, he gave a victory speech in St. Paul, Minnesota. Clinton suspended her campaign and endorsed him on June 7. From that point on, he campaigned for the general election race against Senator John McCain, the Republican nominee. On August 23, 2008, Obama selected Delaware Senator Joe Biden as his vice presidential running mate. At the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado, Obama's former rival Hillary Clinton gave a speech in support of Obama's candidacy and later called for Obama to be nominated by acclamation as the Democratic presidential candidate. On August 28, Obama delivered a speech to the 84,000 supporters in Denver. During the speech, which was viewed by over 38 million people worldwide, he accepted his party's nomination and presented his policy goals. After McCain was nominated as the Republican presidential candidate, there were three presidential debates between Obama and McCain in September and October 2008. In November, Obama won the presidency with 53% of the popular vote and a wide electoral college margin. His election sparked street celebrations in numerous cities in the United States and abroad. On November 4, 2008, Barack Obama defeated John McCain in the general election with 365 electoral votes to McCain's 173 and became the first African American to be elected President of the United States. In his victory speech, delivered before a crowd of hundreds of thousands of his supporters in Chicago's Grant Park, Obama proclaimed that "change has come to America." MICHAEL JACKSON Singer, songwriter. Jackson was born August 29, 1958, in Gary, Indiana, to an African- American working-class family. His father, Joseph Jackson, had been a guitarist but had put aside his musical aspirations to provide for his family as a crane operator. Believing his sons had talent, he molded them into a musical group in the early 1960s. At first, the Jackson Family performers consisted of Michael's older brothers Tito, Jermaine, and Jackie. Michael joined his siblings when he was five, and emerged as the group's lead vocalist. He showed remarkable range and depth for such a young performer, impressing audiences with his ability to convey complex emotions. Older brother Marlon also became a member of the group, which evolved into the Jackson 5. Behind the scenes, Joseph Jackson pushed his sons to succeed. Michael and his brothers spent endless hours rehearsing and polishing up their act. At first, the Jackson 5 played local gigs and built a strong following. They recorded one single on their own, "Big Boy" with the b-side "You've Changed," but it failed to generate much interest. The Jackson 5 moved on to working an opening act for such R&B artists as Gladys Knight and the Pips, James Brown, and Sam and Dave. Many of these performers were signed to the legendary Motown record label, and it has been reported that Gladys Knight may have been the one to tell Motown founder Berry Gordy about the Jackson 5. Impressed by the group, Gordy signed them to his label in 1968. Relocating to Los Angeles, Michael and his brothers started work on their music and dancing with their father as their manager. They lived with Gordy and also with Supremes singer Diana Ross when they first arrived there. In August 1969, the Jackson 5 was introduced to the music industry at a special event, and later served as the opening act for the Supremes. Their first album, Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5, hit the charts in December of that year. It's first single, "I Want You Back," hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in January 1970. For several years, Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5 maintained a busy tour and recording schedule, under the supervision of Berry Gordy and his Motown staff. Gordy wrote many of the songs recorded by the group and by Michael Jackson as a solo artist. The group became so popular that they even had their own self-titled cartoon show, which ran from 1971 to 1973. Despite Jackson's individual achievements and the group's great success, there was trouble between the Jacksons and their record company. Tensions mounted between Gordy and Joseph Jackson over the management of his children's careers, and their level of participation in making their music. The Jacksons wanted more control over their recordings, which led to most of the Jacksons breaking ties with Motown in 1975. Jermaine Jackson remained with the label and continued to pursue a solo career, having previously released several albums—none of which had matched the success of his younger brother Michael. Now calling themselves the Jacksons, the group signed a new recording deal with Epic Records. With 1978's Destiny, Michael Jackson and his brothers (which by now included younger brother Randy) emerged as talented songwriters, penning all of the record's tracks. Working with producer Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson wowed the music world with his next solo album, 1979's Off the Wall. It featured ann infectious blend of pop and funk with such hit tracks as the Grammy Award-winning "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough," "Rock with You," and the title track. He also found success with the ballad "She's Out of My Life." His next solo album, Thriller (1982), generated seven top 10 hits. On a television special honoring Motown, Jackson performed "Billie Jean"—eventually a number one hit—and debuted his soon-to-be-famous dance move called the moonwalk. Jackson, a veteran performer by this time, created this step himself and choreographed the dance sequences for the video of his other No. 1 hit, "Beat It." His most elaborate video, however, was for the album's title track. John Landis directed the horror-tinged video, which featured complex dance scenes, special effects, and a voice-over done by actor Vincent Price. The video for "Thriller" became immensely popular, boosting sales for the already successful album. It stayed on the charts for 80 weeks, holding the No. 1 spot for 37 weeks. In addition to its unparalleled commercial achievements, Thriller earned 12 Grammy Award nominations and won eight of those awards. At the top of his game creatively and commercially, Jackson signed a $5 million endorsement deal with Pepsi-Cola around this time. He, however, was badly injured while filming a commercial for the soda giant in 1984, suffering burns to his face and scalp. Jackson had surgery to repair his injuries, and is believed to have begun experimenting with plastic surgery around this time. His face, especially his nose, would become dramatically altered in the coming years. Releasing his follow-up to Thriller in 1987, Jackson reached the top of the charts with Bad. It featured five No. 1 hits, including "Man in the Mirror," "The Way You Make Me Feel," and the title track, which was supported by a video directed by Martin Scorsese. Jackson spent more than a year on the road, playing concerts to promote the album. While successful, Bad was unable to duplicate the phenomenal sales of Thriller. In 1991, Jackson released Dangerous, featuring the hit "Black or White." The video for this song included an appearance by child star Macaulay Culkin, and was directed by John Landis. In the video's final minutes, Jackson caused some controversy with his sexual gesturing and violent actions. Many were surprised to see the Peter Pan-like Jackson act this way. Jackson's music continued to enjoy wide-spread popularity in the upcoming years. In 1993, he performed several important events, including the half-time show at Superbowl XXVII. Jackson gave a rare television interview, which aired that February. Sitting down with Oprah Winfrey, he explained that the change in his skin tone was the result of a disease known as vitiligo. In August 1994, Jackson announced that he had married Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of rock icon Elvis Presley. The couple gave a joint television interview with Diane Sawyer, but the union proved to be short-lived. They divorced in 1996. Later that same year, Jackson wed nurse Debbie Rowe. The couple had two children through artification insemination. Son Prince Michael Jackson was born in 1997 and daughter Paris Michael Jackson was born in 1998. (Jackson later had a third child, Prince Michael Jackson II, nicknamed "Blanket," with an unknown woman.) Rowe and Jackson divorced in 1999 with Jackson receiving full custody of their two children. His musical career began to decline with the lukewarm reception to 1995's HIStory: Past, Present, and Future, Book I, which featured some of his earlier hits as well as new material. The record spawned two hits, "You Are Not Alone" and his duet with sister Janet Jackson, "Scream." "Scream" earned Michael and Janet a Grammy Award for Best Music Video, Short Form that year. Another track from the album, "They Don't Care About Us," however, brought Jackson intense criticism for using an anti-Semitic term. Reportedly in dire financial straits, Jackson sold his Neverland Ranch in 2008. He, however, sued to block the auction of some of his personal items from the home the following year. Around this same time, the largely reclusive Jackson announced that he would be performing a series of concerts in London as his "final curtain call." There had been some speculation regarding whether often fragile-appearing singer would be able to handle the rigors of 50 concerts. However, despite all of the allegations and stories of odd behavior, Jackson remained a figure of great interest, as demonstrated by the strong response to his concert plans. Set to appear at the O2 Arena beginning July 8, 2009, Jackson saw the tickets to these shows sell out in only four hours. Michael Jackson, one of the most popular artists of all time, died suddenly of cardiac arrest on June 25, 2009 in Los Angeles just before the concert series. He was 50 years old. OPRAH WINFREY American television host, actress, producer, philanthropist. Oprah Gail Winfrey was born January 29, 1954, in Kosciusko, Mississippi. After a troubled adolescence in a small farming community, she moved to Nashville to live with her father, Vernon, a barber and businessman. She entered Tennessee State University in 1971 and began working in radio and television broadcasting in Nashville. In 1976, Winfrey moved to Baltimore, where she hosted the TV chat show, People Are Talking. The show became a hit and Winfrey stayed with it for eight years, after which she was recruited by a Chicago TV station to host her own morning show, A.M. Chicago. Her major competitor in the time slot was Phil Donahue. Within several months, Winfrey's open, warm-hearted personal style had won her 100,000 more viewers than Donahue and had taken her show from last place to first in the ratings. Her success led to nationwide fame and a role in Steven Spielberg's 1985 film, The Color Purple, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Winfrey launched the Oprah Winfrey Show in 1986 as a nationally syndicated program. With its placement on 120 channels and an audience of 10 million people, the show grossed $125 million by the end of its first year, of which Winfrey received $30 million. She soon gained ownership of the program from ABC, drawing it under the control of her new production company, Harpo Productions ('Oprah' spelled backwards) and making more and more money from syndication. In 1994, with talk shows becoming increasingly trashy and exploitative, Winfrey pledged to keep her show free of tabloid topics. Although ratings initially fell, she earned the respect of her viewers and was soon rewarded with an upsurge in popularity. Her projects with Harpo have included the highly rated 1989 TV miniseries, The Women of Brewster Place, which she also starred in. Winfrey also signed a multi-picture contract with Disney. The initial project, 1998's Beloved, based on Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Toni Morrison and starring Winfrey and Danny Glover, got mixed reviews and generally failed to live up to expectations. Winfrey, who became almost as well-known for her weight loss efforts as for her talk show, lost an estimated 90 pounds (dropping to her ideal weight of around 150 pounds) and competed in the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC, in 1995. In the wake of her highly publicized success, Winfrey's personal chef, Rosie Daley, and trainer, Bob Greene, both published best-selling books. The media giant contributed immensely to the publishing world by launching her "Oprah's Book Club," as part of her talk show. The program propelled many unknown authors to the top of the bestseller lists and gave pleasure reading a new kind of popular prominence. With the debut in 1999 of Oxygen Media, a company she co-founded that is dedicated to producing cable and Internet programming for women, Winfrey ensured her place in the forefront of the media industry and as one of the most powerful and wealthy people in show business. In 2002, she concluded a deal with the network to air a prime- time complement to her syndicated talk show. Her highly successful monthly, O: The Oprah Magazine debuted in 2000, and in 2004, she signed a new contract to continue The Oprah Winfrey Show through the 2010-11 season. In 2009, Winfrey announced that she would be ending her program when her current contract with ABC ends. Winfrey is expected to move to the Oprah Winfrey Network, a joint venture with Discovery Communications. The show is currently seen on 212 U.S. stations and in more than 100 countries worldwide. According to Forbes magazine, Oprah was the richest African American of the 20th century and the world's only Black billionaire for three years running. Life magazine hailed her as the most influential woman of her generation. In 2005, Business Week named her the greatest Black philanthropist in American history. Oprah's Angel Network has raised more than $51,000,000 for charitable programs, including girls' education in South Africa and relief to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Winfrey is a dedicated activist for children's rights; in 1994, President Clinton signed a bill into law that Winfrey had proposed to Congress, creating a nationwide database of convicted child abusers. She founded the Family for Better Lives foundation and also contributes to her alma mater, Tennessee State University. In September, 2002, Oprah was named the first recipient of The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' Bob Hope Humanitarian Award. Winfrey campaigned for Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama in December 2007, attracting the largest crowds of the primary season to that point. Winfrey joined Obama for a series of rallies in the early primary/caucus states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. It was the first time Winfrey had ever campaigned for a political candidate. The biggest event was at the University of South Carolina football stadium, where 29,000 supporters attended a rally that had been switched from an 18,000-seat basketball arena to satisfy public demand. "Dr. (Martin Luther) King dreamed the dream. But we don't have to just dream the dream any more," Oprah told the crowd. "We get to vote that dream into reality by supporting a man who knows not just who we are, but who we can be." The power of Winfrey's political endorsement was unclear (Obama won Iowa and South Carolina, but lost New Hampshire). But she has a clear track record of turning unknown authors into blockbuster best-sellers when she mentions their books on her program. Since 1992, Winfrey has been engaged to Stedman Graham, a public relations executive. The couple lives in Chicago, and Winfrey also has homes in Montecito, California, Rolling Prairie, Indiana, and Telluride, Colorado. The 2010-2011 season of the Oprah Winfrey Show marked its 25th anniversary and the final season of the show. BONO Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, Paul "Bono" Hewson is the second child of Bobby and Iris Hewson. His brother, Norman, is the oldest. Described by Bobby as "a bloody exasperating child", Paul got a reputation at an early age for being both absent-minded yet argumentative...traits which earned him the unholy and ironic nickname "the Antichrist" from both family and friends. At the same time, he was starry-eyed and wickedly curious...the kind of youngster who viewed the world through rose-colored glasses, while at the same time questioning what he saw. The most notable example of this was witnessed by both Bobby and Iris Hewson when Paul was three-years-old, playing in their backyard garden: the couple watched with both horror and fascination as their toddler lifted honeybees off the flowers on his fingertip, talked to them, then put them back on the petals without ever getting stung. At the age of 15, Paul suffered a tragic and devastating loss, when his mother died of a brain aneursym while attending the funeral of her own father. (It's this incident which many fans and writers alike speculate may be the reason Bono has such a restless and inquisitive nature). During this time, Paul also found himself drawn to music and playing the guitar...absorbing inspiration from the music of such bands as Patti Smith, Thin Lizzy, The Ramones and Television. In high school, Paul's natural gift of gab and flair for the dramatic allowed him to move within nearly every school circle, and to experiment with a variety of artistic mediums. It was also during this time that Paul got his new name. Credit for this goes to his friend, Guggi, a high school cohort who stole it from a hearing aid store on O'Connell Street in Dublin. Fittingly enough, the original moniker meant "good voice" in cockeyed Latin. In school, Bono was a popular kid and a half-decent student. He excelled in history, chess and art, was considered a good painter, and had many girlfriends who adored his romantic, sweet-talking ways...although it was the feisty, no-bull nature of his dark- haired sweetheart Alison Stewart which eventually got him to become a "one woman" man. His greatest enjoyment, however, seemed to come from performing with a school theater troupe...during which he often could be seen on stage, singing. One day in 1976, he answered an ad posted on a bulletin board at the Mount Temple Comprehensive School in Dublin, asking for anyone who was interested in forming a band to meet after school at the house of one Larry Mullen Junior. With the younger, no- nonsense Larry serving as the talented drumming catalyst for the group's formation, the other members filled out what was to eventually become U2, one of the world's most memorable and famous rock groups: a gifted guitarist/guitar builder named Dave Evans, whose eventual nickname "The Edge" (by varying accounts) came from either the shape of his skull or his low-key personality; an amateur bassist named Adam Clayton, whose caftan coats, tinted glasses and use of such cool words as "gig" and "amp" made him seem like he knew more about music than he actually did; and finally, Bono...who couldn't play guitar or really carry a tune (yet), but whose earnest charm, intense poetic songwriting, and theatrical persona ultimately won him the position as the band's frontman and songwriter. At the same time, he has repeatedly flogged himself in the press for not being a proper "pop star" and has continually expressed a desire to become a great singer. Yet his powerful voice has evolved and morphed over the years with a versatility rarely heard in most rock bands: at the start of the decade, it was a teenage croon full of longing and rebellion on such 80's albums as "Boy" and "War"; near the end, it was a throaty roar full of anger and passion on "The Unforgettable Fire," "The Joshua Tree," and "Rattle and Hum." Though he is known as a socially-conscious songwriter who has tried to inspire crowds with his lyrics, Bono is a rarity in that he also tries to connect with them physically during a performance. The best example of this was seen by millions during the 1980's...especially the Live Aid concert in 1985, when (mid-way through an epic rendition of "Bad") he leapt off the stage, over a security barricade to the floor of the arena, and pulled a woman from the crowd to dance with her. In the 90's, when U2's political earnestness ultimately threatened to turn them into a caricature (due mostly to Bono's often politically-charged, on-stage sermonizing), the band vanished into Berlin, Germany to remake itself with a new sound. Having a full appreciation for the Brechtian and surrealist origins of rock performance, the lead singer followed suit...and altered his own earnest image into something more cyberpunk. With the help of band stylist "Fighting" Fintan Fitzgerald, Bono stylized his once-brown shoulder length hair into a jet-black coif, donned a pair of bubble-eye wraparound sunglasses, and slid into a skin-tight leather suit to become a funkified banshee called The Fly, a cool phantom hoodlum who howled amid the dark electronic flash and shash of the band's watermark album, "Achtung Baby." This character --part Jim Morrison, part Lou Reed and all trash -- begat other characters who appeared onstage during the band's worldwide Zoo TV tour: the Mirrorball Man, a glittering tribute to televangelists all over the world...and Mister MacPhisto, a gold lame- suited cross between the devil and Elvis all wrapped up in the frame of a broken-down soul singer during his final Vegas days. During this time, Bono also established himself as having a gift for lionizing others, as evidenced by his moving induction of both Bob Marley into the Rock 'n Roll Hall Of Fame, and his lifetime achievement tribute to Frank Sinatra at the 1994 Grammy Awards. More recently, he gave Bruce Springsteen an equally-memorable induction into the Rock 'n Roll Hall. Beyond U2, Bono has extended himself to other projects and causes, and has emerged over the years to be both a social animal and an activist...and has rallied numerous actors, artists and activists to his cause...most recently, his bid to end Third World Debt as spokesman for the Jubilee 2000 project and Netaid. Bono was recently presented with the Free Your Mind Award at the MTV Europe Awards held in Dublin, Ireland, in acknowledgement for his work on behalf of the Jubilee 2000 project to end Third World Debt. After receiving the award from Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger, the clearly- humbled singer humorously remarked: "This is only going to make me worse." Despite the obvious privilege of his lifestyle, Bono continues to display a generosity and genuine nature that is impressive to both friends and fans alike...the kind of person who could work a roomful wealthy socialites, then stop to chat with fans on the street about music, and then be seen giving cash handouts to the homeless. He and his wife, Ali, continue to make their home in Dublin with their four children. AL PACINO Alfredo James Pacino was born to a family of Italian immigrants in East Harlem, New York, on the 25th of April, 1940, his grandparents having crossed the Atlantic from Sicily. His father, Salvatore, was an insurance agent who split from Alfredo's mother Rose when the boy was just two - mother and child moving in with her parents in a dirt- poor area near the Bronx zoo. As an only child, he was zealously protected by his grandparents, hardly leaving the house till the age of seven. When he was older, his mother would take him to the cinema (he was terribly hurt when she died young in 1962) and he'd act out the plotlines to his grandma on his return. Shy and insular, he'd impress his school-mates with a fictional past he'd invented for himself, claiming for instance that he'd been raised in Texas. Thankfully, his teachers spotted his talent, cast him in school plays and asked him to read from the Bible at assembly. He enjoyed this but did not consider acting as a profession till, at age 14, he saw Chekov's The Seagull performed at the Elsmere Theatre in the South Bronx. This led to him enrolling at the prestigious High School of the Performing Arts but, flunking everything but English, he eventually, at 17, dropped out. In 1967, he spent a season at the Charles Playhouse in Boston, performing in Awake And Sing and America, Hurrah. Now, after The Indian Wants at Astor Place in New York, he'd play young hoodlum Graham in The Local Stigmatic at the Actors' Playhouse, then star as Bickham, a sadistic psycho in a drug rehab centre, in Does The Tiger Wear A Necktie? at the Belasco. This was another storming performance and deservedly won him a Tony. 1970 would see him move on to direct and perform in Rats and also star in Tennessee Williams' Camino Real at the Lincoln Centre. In theatre, he was now big news. Onscreen, his career was also moving fast. 1968 had seen him on TV in an episode of NYPD, playing a racist Southerner who's planted a bomb that killed two black girls and now finds himself pursued by black militants (the show would also feature Pacino's then girlfriend, actress Jill Clayburgh). The next year would bring a brief big screen appearance in Me, Natalie where he could be spied dancing with and then being an arse to Patty Duke at a party. But it was his ability to convincingly portray the intensity of street life, and in particular addiction - he'd spent much time researching in methadone centres - that really broke him in movies. The mortally depressing Panic In Needle Park, a tale of prostitution, incarceration and revenge where he was drug-driven to destruction along with Kitty Winn (soon to be seen as Ellen Burstyn's PA in The Exorcist) pushed him into the limelight. And then it really took off. With his very Italian combination of menacing contemplation and terrifyingly focused rage, he was chosen above Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson to play Michael Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather. Thoughtful, dignified, self-righteous and utterly ruthless, he was superb as Marlon Brando's initially reluctant heir, charged with the task of legitimising an ugly business. Pacino found himself rightly Oscar-nominated for his efforts ands, aside from 1973's The Scarecrow, wherein he crosses the existential emptiness of America along with Gene Hackman, he would be nominated for his next three roles too. First, he was the incorruptible cop in Sidney Lumet's gritty Serpico: then Corleone once more, even whacking his own brother in Godfather Part 2 (poor, silly Fredo!): and finally there was 1975's Dog Day Afternoon, again with Lumet, where he played a bi-sexual, horribly botching a bank robbery he'd hoped would pay for his lover's sex-change operation. Throughout this incredible spate of movie success, Pacino would continue to return to his first love - the stage. Indeed, he'd only make eight movies in the next 15 years. 1972 had seen him return to Boston for Richard III and The Basic Training Of Pavlo Hummel, both these productions serving him well. Reprising his Pavlo Hummel in New York in 1977, he'd pick up his second Tony. He'd also bring his Richard Crookback to New York, in 1979, and would famously use the play to spread the Shakespearean word when he made the documentary Looking For Richard. Another oft-repeated role would come in Brecht's The Resistible Rise Of Arturo Ui which Pacino would perform in Boston in 1975, then later in New York and London. 1976 would see him back in The Local Stigmatic, at New York's Public Theatre. 1979 would see him read Brecht's The Jungle Of The Cities at the Circle In The Square, then rehearse Othello at the Lincoln Centre and work through Hamlet with Joseph Papp. The next year he'd begin a long on-and-off run as Walter Cole in David Mamet's American Buffalo, between 1980 and '84 performing in New Haven, at New York's Circle In The Square and Booth Theatre, and in London. When he did venture back into the movies, he usually chose only the most intense and controversial parts. He was Oscar-nominated again in 1979, as the battling attorney in Norman Jewison's And Justice For All, then played an undercover cop in a relentlessly sleazy gay underground in William Friedkin's Cruising. In 1983, he was a blistering Tony Montana in Brian De Palma's lurid drug-drama, Scarface. Then came his one generally accepted failure (with the possible exception of Godfather 3), 1985's Revolution. As an early-American epic, directed by Hugh Hudson (then on a role after Chariots Of Fire and Greystoke), it should have worked. But it was too long and too slow, and critics were merciless in their mockery of Pacino's inappropriate New York accent. Badly stung, he would not return to the Silver Screen for four years, concentrating instead on his stage- work, playing Marc Antony in Julius Caesar and also acting in and producing a pet project - a short independent movie version of Heathcote Williams' The Local Stigmatic. Indeed, this tiny movie would become something of an obsession. In it, Pacino would reprise his stage performances as a crazed English gangster bent on absolute power - the play being concerned both with the nature of wickedness and the ways in which all of us are actors. For years, he would show it to small groups of friends and colleagues, tirelessly fascinated by their reaction. Of course, as a major filmic player of some 20 years standing, Pacino would not be kept from the Silver Screen for long, returning with a bang with 1989's Sea Of Love, a superior thriller with Ellen Barkin. Then he was a hilariously evil Big Boy Caprice in Warren Beatty's Dick Tracy, earning another Oscar nomination for his efforts. Next came Frankie And Johnny, a hugely popular romance, despite the critics' disbelief at Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer slaving in a greasy spoon. Then, finally, came the Oscar, for his performance as the romantic, predatory, abrasive and blind Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade in Scent Of A Woman, a remake of a 1975 Italian movie. He would be nominated for the eighth time the very same year, as a pushy real-estate salesman in Mamet's excellent Glengarry Glen Ross. More excellence followed. Pacino was tremendous as the street-wise players in De Palma's Carlito's Way (alongside a fantastically coke-addled Sean Penn) and Mike Newell's Donnie Brasco ("Fugg-ED about it!"). But it also seemed that his close-to- overblown portrayal of Frank Slade had left its mark. In Michael Mann's Heat, he almost became a parody of himself as the explosive cop hunting down the ultra-cool Robert De Niro, and he carried the same over-expansive qualities into The Devil's Advocate The list of movies Pacino has turned down is nearly as impressive as his filmography. There was Kramer Vs Kramer, Born On The 4th Of July, Apocalypse Now, Pretty Woman, Crimson Tide, even the part of Han Solo in Star Wars. But, in general, his choices have been good. Offscreen, he's had a harder time. He was once quoted as saying "The actor becomes an emotional athlete. The process is painful - my personal life suffers", and this does seem to have been the way for much of the time. TOM BRADY By the mid-2000s Tom Brady was the undisputed king of the gridiron. In 2002 he became the youngest quarterback in the history of the National Football League (NFL) to lead his team to a Super Bowl victory. Two years later, in 2004, he proved the magic was still strong when he led the New England Patriots to their second Super Bowl title in three years. In addition, Brady was named the Super Bowl's Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 2002 and 2004. The dimpled, clean-cut quarterback had reached career heights that most veteran football players envied, and he had done it all before he was thirty years old. Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. was born on August 3, 1977, in San Mateo, California, the youngest child, and only son, of Galynn and Tom Brady. The Bradys were a close- knit family, and they were all sports enthusiasts. The three Brady girls (Maureen, Nancy, and Julie) played every sport imaginable, including softball, soccer, and basketball. Tommy, as his family calls him, always went to their games and cheered them on. He also caught their competitive spirit. As Julie Brady explained to People Weekly, "We used to compete for absolutely everything, and we pushed [Tom] all the time." The nightly battles to control the television remote were especially fierce, and frequently the fighting took place with water pistols. Brady first played organized football as a freshman at San Mateo's Junipero Serra High School, a Catholic all-boys school. By his junior year he was a starting quarterback, and by his senior year he was being noticed by college and pro scouts. During Brady's high school quarterback career, he completed 236 of 447 passes (52.8 percent) for 3,702 yards, and thirty-one touchdowns. The multi-talented Brady was also a star catcher on the school's baseball team, and, when he graduated from high school in 1995, he was recruited to play professional baseball for the Montreal Expos. Instead, he opted to accept a scholarship to play football for the University of Michigan (U of M), in Ann Arbor. During his first two years as a U of M Wolverine, Brady warmed the bench as a backup quarterback for future NFL stars Brian Griese (1975–) and Scott Driesbach (1975–). He was frustrated by his lack of play, and at one point, considered transferring back to California. However, Brady stuck it out, and in 1998, his junior year, he earned the starting quarterback position. He went on to earn an All–Big Ten Conference honorable mention; he was an Academic All–Big Ten Pick (he had a 3.3 grade point average); and he set several University of Michigan records, including the record for most attempts (350) and completions (214) in one season. Brady also led the Wolverines to victory at the Citrus Bowl in 1999 and was named team co-captain the same year. In 2000 he became team captain. Despite his success, Brady faced a setback his senior year when he was forced to share his quarterbacking duties with teammate Drew Henson (1980–). Henson was only a freshman, but he had been highly recruited in both football and baseball, and Wolverine coach Lloyd Carr feared that if not played, Henson might leave U of M in favor of a pro baseball career. Brady worked all the harder and completed the year by throwing the twenty-five-yard pass that brought victory to U of M over the University of Alabama in the 2000 Orange Bowl. The Orange Bowl, like the Citrus Bowl is a post-season competition between two college football teams. The four most prestigious bowl games are the Orange Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, and the Rose Bowl. Bowl games are always played as close as possible to New Year's Day. During the 2000 NFL draft he was the 199th player chosen, and he was picked up by the struggling New England Patriots. According to sports analysts, coaches were leery of Brady. They questioned his speed, but mostly they wondered why Henson, a freshman, had received so much playing time at the University of Michigan over the more seasoned senior. Brady showed up at the Patriot's training camp determined to prove himself. His U of M coach expected nothing less. "The more he gets knocked down," Carr commented to People Weekly, "the harder he competes. You can't underestimate Tom." Although he was a fourth-string Patriot quarterback, Brady did not complain. Instead he watched and studied and prepared. He learned the Patriot playbook front to back, and he hit the weight room to bulk up his six-foot-four-inch frame from 204 to 220 pounds. He also pelted veteran teammates with questions about ways to improve his on-field strategy. By the end of his first season, Brady had played in only one game, during which he completed one pass. The game was against the Detroit Lions, and the Patriots lost 34 to 9. The team ended the season at the very bottom of the AFC East division with a record of five wins and eleven losses. The thirty-two football teams that are part of the NFL are divided evenly into two conferences: the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC). Within each conference, there are four divisions: North, South, East, and West. During the off-season, Brady continued to work on improving his game, and at the 2001 training camp he was one of the team's most improved players. Brady so impressed his coaches that he was named back-up to the Patriot's star quarterback, Drew Bledsoe (1972–). On September 23, 2001, during the second game of the season, Bledsoe received a stunning blow to his chest, and barely made it off the field. A jittery Brady, who had not expected to play, stepped in to finish the game, which the Patriots ended up losing. With Bledsoe out of commission, it seemed that the Patriots were doomed to face another losing season. However, as Brady began to get comfortable in his new role, things began to change. "I'm a big fan of Drew's," former Patriot safety Lawyer Milloy (1973–) told Michael Silver of Sports Illustrated, "but it was obvious the team needed something different, and Tom brought that youthful energy." With the calm confidence of someone much older than his twenty-four years, Brady helped the Patriots rack up a string of wins. In 2000 they finished at the bottom of the heap; in 2001 they were AFC Division champions, and they were going to the Super Bowl. Regardless of the predictions, Brady was so calm before the big game that he took a nap in the locker room. "When I woke up," Brady explained to Dave Kindred of The Sporting News, "I told myself it's a football game. It just comes down to playing football. I felt calm and confident." Brady's confidence was key since the game turned out to be a nail- biting battle. When the Rams tied things up with only one minute, thirty-nine seconds to go, people expected the game to go into overtime. Brady, however, set up a spectacular nine-play drive that positioned the Patriots for a field goal. With mere seconds left on the clock, the Patriots defeated the Rams, 20 to 17. The Super Bowl win was only the beginning of Brady's Cinderella story. He not only led his team to victory, he was also named MVP of the game, and he set a new record as the youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl at twenty-four years and 184 days old. One of the previous record-holders was his childhood idol, Joe Montana. In addition, Brady emerged as a true leader of his team, earning the respect of his coaches, teammates, and the sports press. According to sportswriter Paul Attner, "he has embraced his position with a passion and intelligence rarely seen in the game." Analyst Phil Simms of CBS noted that Brady "really knows how to play quarterback, how to interact with teammates, when to be their friend, when to be their leader and when to be their enemy when he has to. He can influence an entire franchise." Sweet repeat After the thrill of the Super Bowl, the following season was disappointing for the Patriots, and they did not make the playoffs. A determined Brady, however, rallied his team in 2003. The season started off slow with two wins and two losses, but then Brady and the Patriots took off on a winning streak. After winning fourteen games in a row, they were headed, once again, to the Super Bowl. Super Bowl XXXVIII, played on February 1, 2004, was a memorable match-up between the Patriots and the Carolina Panthers. The first half was agonizingly long as both teams fought hard to control the field. At half-time, the score stood at Patriots 14, Panthers 10. The second half of the game proved to be a humdinger. The two teams scored a combined 37 points in the fourth quarter, and with four seconds left on the clock, New England's Adam Vinatieri made a forty-one-yard field goal to win the game, 32 to 29. For the second time in three years, the underdog Patriots took home the championship. For Brady, it was a sweet repeat. His game statistics were impressive: thirty-two completions in forty-eight attempts for 354 yards, and three touchdowns. He was named, once again, Most Valuable Player, and he broke another record by becoming, at age twenty-six, the youngest quarterback to win two Super Bowls. MICHAEL J FOX Michael J. Fox (born June 9, 1961) is a Grammy Award winning Canadian-American actor, author and voice-over artist. With a film and television career spanning from the 1970s to the present, Fox's roles have included Marty McFly from the Back to the Future trilogy (1985–1990); Alex P. Keaton from Family Ties (1982–1989), for which he won three Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe Award; and Mike Flaherty from Spin City (1996–2000), for which he won an Emmy, three Golden Globes, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1991, and disclosed his condition to the public in 1998. Fox semi-retired from acting in 2000 as the symptoms of his disease worsened. He has since become an advocate for research toward finding a cure. In recent years, he had guest-starred on various television shows, and appeared as himself in his Emmy-nominated prime-time special Michael J. Fox: Adventures of an Incurable Optimist (A Personal Journey of Hope) in May 2009. Fox was born Michael Andrew Fox in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, the son of Phyllis, an actress and payroll clerk, and William Fox, a police officer and member of the Canadian Forces. Fox's family lived in various cities and towns across Canada because of his father's career. The family finally settled in the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby, British Columbia, when his father retired in 1971. Fox attended Burnaby Central Secondary School, and currently has a theatre named after him in Burnaby South Secondary. Fox co-starred in the Canadian television series Leo and Me (at age fifteen), and in 1979, at eighteen, moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. He was "discovered" by producer Ronald Shedlo and made his American television debut in the television movie Letters from Frank, credited under the name "Michael Fox". He intended to continue to use the name, but when he registered with the Screen Actors Guild, which does not allow duplicate registration names to avoid credit ambiguities, he discovered that Michael Fox, a veteran character actor, was already registered under the name. As he explained in his autobiography, Lucky Man: A Memoir, and in interviews, he needed to come up with a different name. He did not like the sound of "Andrew" or "Andy" Fox. He decided against using his middle initial because he didn't want to fit into a Canadian stereotype, as in Michael "Eh?" Fox, and because he did not want teen fan magazines referring to him as "Michael, A Fox!" He decided to adopt a new middle initial and settled on "J", in reference to actor Michael J. Pollard. Sometimes he jokes that the J stands for "Jenius" or "Jenuine". In addition to commercials such as Tilex and McDonald's, and his first role in a feature film in Midnight Madness (1980), Fox's first important role was as "Young Republican" Alex P. Keaton in the show Family Ties which aired on NBC for seven seasons, from 1982 to 1989. It had been sold to the network using the pitch "hip parents, square kids," and the parents were originally intended to be the main characters. However, the audience reacted so positively to Fox's character Alex P. Keaton during the taping of the fourth episode that he became the focus on the show. This happened despite the fact that Fox received the role only after Matthew Broderick was unavailable. Brandon Tartikoff, one of the show's producers, felt that Fox was too short in relation to the actors playing his parents, and tried to have him replaced. Tartikoff reportedly said that "this is not the kind of face you'll ever find on a lunch-box". After his later successes, Fox presented Tartikoff with a custom-made lunch-box with the inscription "To Brandon, this is for you to put your crow in. Love and Kisses, Michael J.Fox". Tartikoff kept the lunch-box in his office for the rest of his NBC career. A few years into Family Ties, Gary David Goldberg was approached and asked to let Fox star in a Steven Spielberg produced film about a time-travelling teenager. At first, Goldberg did not inform Michael about the offer, not wanting to lose Michael to film stardom. Months later, Goldberg was again asked about Michael because Eric Stoltz, who had been chosen for the part after Goldberg stated that Fox wasn't available, was reportedly not giving the energetic performance that Robert Zemeckis, the director, was looking for. Goldberg finally told Michael about the offer and he quickly agreed to play the role of Marty McFly in the film Back to the Future. Fox would rehearse for Family Ties from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. After he was done, he would be rushed to the Back to the Future set where he would rehearse and shoot until 2:30 A.M. This schedule lasted for two full months. On July 4, 1985 Back to the Future was number one at the box office. The film was number one for 11 consecutive weeks and eventually earned a worldwide total of $381.11 million. Two sequels, Back to the Future Part II and Back to the Future Part III were released in 1989 and 1990, respectively. During and immediately after the Back to the Future trilogy, Fox starred in Light of Day (1987), The Secret of My Succe$s (1987), Bright Lights, Big City (1988) and Casualties of War, (1989). In The Secret of My Succe$s, Fox played a graduate student from Kansas State University who moves to New York City where he has landed a job as a financier. During the shooting of Bright Lights, Big City, Michael was reunited with one time on screen girlfriend Tracy Pollan. Pollan had played Ellen Reed on Family Ties, a dance major at Leland college with whom Alex became involved. Pollan had played Ellen Reed for only one year on the show. Fox then starred in Casualties of War, a war drama about the Vietnam War, alongside Sean Penn. Casualties of War was not a box office hit, but Fox, playing a Private serving in Vietnam, received good reviews for his performance. In 1991, he starred in two films, Doc Hollywood, a romantic comedy about a talented medical doctor who decides to become a plastic surgeon and while relocating from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles, California, he winds up as a doctor in a small southern town; and The Hard Way, playing a famous actor, who is known for his action films. Between 1992 and 1996, he continued making several films, such as For Love or Money (1993) or The Concierge in some countries , Life With Mikey (1993), Greedy (1994), The American President (1995), and Mars Attacks! (1996). His last major film role was in The Frighteners (1996). He has also done voice work providing the voice of Stuart Little in the movie of the same name and its sequel, both of which were based on the popular book by E. B. White. He also voiced the bulldog Chance in Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey and its sequel Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco as well as Milo Thatch in Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Fox had decided to return to television during his shoot for The Frighteners which was filmed in New Zealand. His twin daughters had just been born and he was halfway across the world. While filming the movie in New Zealand, he would watch videotapes of American television shows, such as Seinfeld, Friends, Ellen and more. He saw what good things were going on in television and wanted to return. Also, television meant a more regular schedule and it would allow much more time to spend with his family. Spin City aired to critical acclaim and high ratings. The show ran from 1996 to 2002 on ABC, based on a fictional local government running New York City, originally starring Fox as Mike Flaherty, a Fordham Law grad serving as the Deputy Mayor of New York. During the third season of Spin City Fox made the announcement to the cast and crew of the show that he had Parkinson's Disease. During the fourth season of Spin City, Fox decided to retire from the show and focus on spending more time with his family. He announced that he planned to continue to act and would make guest appearances on Spin City (he made three more appearances on the show during the final season). After leaving the show, he was replaced by Charlie Sheen, who portrayed the character Charlie Crawford. Altogether 145 episodes were made. Fox also served as executive producer during his time on the show, alongside co-creators Bill Lawrence and Gary David Goldberg, and continued to be credited as executive consultant after he left. In 2004, Fox guest starred in two episodes of the comedy-drama Scrubs as Dr. Kevin Casey, a surgeon with severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. The series was created by Spin City creator Bill Lawerence, and Fox was one of many Spin City co-stars to appear on that series. In 2006, he appeared in four episodes of Boston Legal as a lung cancer patient who used his influence in an experimental drug test to ensure he received the real drug instead of a placebo. The producers brought him back in a recurring role for Season 3, beginning with the season premiere, where his character is arrested for trying to buy a lung. Though his character did not survive the season (it was revealed that his character died in Trick or Treat), Fox was nominated for an Emmy Award for best guest appearance. Also in 2006, E! True Hollywood Story profiled Fox in a two-hour episode about his life which continues to re-air on the network. In 2009, he appeared in five episodes of the television series Rescue Me which earned him an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series. He was also a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on April 28, 2009 (airing past midnight in some time zones). Additionally, his prime time special based on the New York Times Bestseller Michael J. Fox: Adventures of an Incurable Optimist aired on ABC on May 7, 2009. DIANE SAWYER Diane Sawyer is anchor of ABC's flagship broadcast World News. She is also the network's principal anchor for breaking news, election coverage, and special events. Ms. Sawyer is one of the most respected journalists in the world. She has traveled the globe delivering in-depth and breaking news reports and has conducted interviews with almost every major newsmaker of our time. Her primetime documentaries have won critical acclaim for shedding light on difficult and previously under-reported topics. During the historic 2008 presidential election, Ms. Sawyer co-anchored ABC News' coverage of the political conventions, Election Night, and the Inauguration. Over the course of the campaign, she conducted wide-ranging interviews with the candidates and also reported "Portrait of a President," two hour-long specials that revealed new insight into Barack Obama, John McCain and their families. In June 2009, along with Charles Gibson, Ms. Sawyer moderated "Questions for the President: Prescription for America," a conversation with President Obama about healthcare reform at the White House. Through her distinguished documentary work, Ms. Sawyer has tackled challenging issues in primetime. In 2006, her report on the crises in the foster care system was recognized with the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. In January 2007, Ms. Sawyer delivered an eye-opening report on poverty in America, "Waiting on the World to Change," which gave viewers insight into the lives of families in Camden, New Jersey -- the poorest city in America. Ms. Sawyer and her team of producers spent two years in the hills of Appalachia reporting the February 2009 special "A Hidden America: Children of the Mountains." Ms. Sawyer's other primetime documentaries include: an investigation into the warehousing of Russian children in state-run orphanages; a diary of life inside a woman's maximum security prison where she spent two days and nights with inmates; an investigation into the neglect and abuse at state-run institutions for the mentally retarded; and a landmark investigation into pharmacy prescription errors. In October 2006, Ms. Sawyer traveled to North Korea and brought viewers an unprecedented look inside that secretive country. The first American journalist to ever report live from North Korea, Ms. Sawyer also anchored "North Korea: Inside The Shadows," an hour-long primetime special that included interviews with key government and military officials and new information on what life is like for North Koreans. In February of 2007, Ms. Sawyer traveled to Syria and Iran, where she had conducted exclusive interviews with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In April 2008, Ms. Sawyer anchored Good Morning America from Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. Ms. Sawyer also reported from Southeast Asia in the wake of the deadly 2005 tsunami; from Moscow, where she made her way into the office of Boris Yeltsin at the pinnacle of the Soviet coup; from Egypt during the Gulf War, where she interviewed President Hosni Mubarak; and Amman, Jordan, where she interviewed King Hussein and Queen Noor. During the Iraq War, she conducted an exclusive interview with one of the main architects of Saddam Hussein's biological weapons program, Dr. Rihab Taha, nicknamed "Dr. Germ." Domestically, Ms. Sawyer reported from New Orleans on the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the fall of 2005. She also conducted a live, exclusive interview with President George W. Bush in the midst of widespread criticism of his Administration's handling of the storm. On September 11, 2001, Ms. Sawyer, along with Charles Gibson, began the network's award-winning coverage of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In the days that followed, Ms. Sawyer reported live from Ground Zero and later interviewed more than 60 widows who gave birth after the World Trade Center disaster. Ms. Sawyer's reporting has been recognized with numerous awards including duPonts, Emmys, Peabodys, the grand prize of the premier Investigative Reporters and Editors Association, an IRTS Lifetime Achievement Award, and the USC Distinguished Achievement in Journalism Award. In 1997, she was inducted into the Television Academy of Hall of Fame. Ms. Sawyer joined ABC News in February 1989 as co-anchor of "Primetime." In addition to that role, she was named co-anchor of "Good Morning America" in January 1999 and held the post until taking over the World News anchor chair in December 2009. In August 2009, "GMA" was recognized with its third consecutive Emmy Award for Outstanding Morning program. Prior to joining ABC News, Ms. Sawyer spent nine years at CBS News. There she made history as the first female correspondent of 60 Minutes. She also co-anchored the CBS Morning News and was CBS News' State Department correspondent. While at CBS, Ms. Sawyer covered the 1980, '84 and '88 national conventions as a floor and then podium correspondent. Ms. Sawyer was part of the Nixon-Ford transition team from 1974 to 1975 and assisted former President Nixon in the writing of his memoirs in 1974 and 1975. She began her career in broadcasting in 1967 in Louisville, Kentucky, where she was a reporter for WLKY-TV until 1970. A native of Glasgow, Kentucky, and raised in Louisville, Ms. Sawyer received a B.A. from Wellesley College and completed a semester of law school before embarking on a career in broadcasting. TOM HANKS Actor, director. Born July 9, 1956, in Concord, California. His parents divorced when Hanks was five years old; he was raised, along with his older brother and sister, by their father, Amos, a chef. The family moved frequently, finally settling in Oakland, California, where Hanks attended high school. After graduating in 1974, Hanks attended junior college in Hayward, California. He decided to pursue acting after reading and watching a performance of Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh, and transferred into the theater program at California State University in Sacramento. In 1977, Hanks was recruited to take part in the summer session of the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival in Lakewood Ohio. Over the next three years, Hanks spent his summers acting in various productions of Shakespeare's plays, and his winters working backstage at a community theater company in Sacramento. He won the Cleveland Critics Circle Award for Best Actor in 1978, for his portrayal of Proteus in The Two Gentleman of Verona. By 1980, Hanks had dropped out of college, and after his third season with the Great Lakes festival, he moved to New York City. Many rounds of auditions later, he landed a small part in the 1980 slasher film, He Knows You're Alone. That same year, he was spotted by a talent scout for ABC, and was cast in the television sitcom Bosom Buddies, as one of two advertising executives who dress in drag in order to rent an apartment in an all-female building. The show was cancelled after two seasons, but it gave Hanks some exposure and led to his casting in guest roles on various episodes of popular shows like Happy Days, Taxi, The Love Boat and Family Ties. In 1982, Ron Howard, co-star of Happy Days, remembered Hanks from his guest stint on the show, and had him read for a supporting part in a movie he was directing. That supporting role eventually went to John Candy, and Hanks instead landed the lead role in Howard's Splash, as a man who falls in love with a mermaid, played by Daryl Hannah. The movie, released in 1984, became a surprise hit, and Hanks was suddenly a recognizable face. A string of critically panned movies followed, most notably Bachelor Party (1984), The Man With One Red Shoe (1985), Volunteers (1985), The Money Pit (1986), and Dragnet (1987). Hanks managed to emerge relatively unscathed from these critical failures, as critics often pointed to his performance as the best thing about each movie. In 1988, he was finally cast in a star-making role, in director Penny Marshall's Big, as a 13-year-old boy transplanted overnight into the body of a 35-year-old man. His performance charmed both critics and audiences, and earned him his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. With Big, Hanks established his reputation as a box-office draw as well as a talented actor. Over the next several years, however, his films failed to match the critical or commercial success of that film, although they did display Hanks's wide range, from light-hearted comedies (1989's Turner and Hooch, 1990's Joe Versus the Volcano) to more serious fare (1988’s Punchline, 1990's Bonfire of the Vanities). In 1993, Hanks emerged with two huge hits: Sleepless in Seattle, a romantic comedy written by Nora Ephron that rematched him with his Joe Versus the Volcano co-star, Meg Ryan; and Philadelphia, co-starring Denzel Washington. In the latter film, Hanks played a lawyer fired from his high-paying firm because he has AIDS, delivering a courageous performance that earned him an Oscar for Best Actor. He followed up on that tremendous year with the release of Forrest Gump (1994), the sprawling story of an unlikely hero's path through late twentieth-century American history. The film was a phenomenal box office success, winning Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director (Robert Zemeckis). For his part, Hanks brought home his second straight Best Actor statuette, becoming the first person in 50 years to accomplish that feat. In 1996, Hanks starred in another blockbuster, Apollo 13, a Ron Howard film based on the abortive lunar landing mission of the Apollo 13 spacecraft in 1970. The film was released in the IMAX format in 2002. Like Forrest Gump, the film made over $500 million at the box office. That same year, Hanks made his directorial and screenwriting debut with That Thing You Do!, which enjoyed moderate success. He continued his behind-the-camera duties in the Emmy-winning HBO miniseries, From the Earth to the Moon, for which he produced, directed, wrote, and acted in various episodes. In 1998, he starred in another groundbreaking blockbuster, Saving Private Ryan, a World War II drama directed by Steven Spielberg and filmed with gruesome accuracy. While the film was nominated for Best Director and Best Actor, and was a favorite for Best Picture, only Spielberg took home the Oscar. In late 1998, Hanks also teamed once more with Ryan and Ephron, in the hit romantic comedy You've Got Mail. Hanks soared to the top of the holiday box office in late 1999, as he reprised his role as the voice of Woody, the cowboy at the center of 1995's animated Toy Story. Toy Story 2, also featuring the voice of Tim Allen, surpassed all expectations at the box office, grossing a record- breaking $80.8 million when it opened over Thanksgiving weekend. He also starred in The Green Mile, which shot to No. 2 at the box office, behind Toy Story 2, in its opening weekend. The film was set in a Depression-era prison and adapted from a story by Stephen King. Hanks underwent a striking physical transformation to play a man stranded on a desert island in his next film, the long-awaited Cast Away, directed by Zemeckis and co-starring Helen Hunt. His performance propelled the film to the top of the holiday box office, earning Hanks critical raves and yet another well deserved Oscar nomination for Best Actor. In the 1990s, Hanks compiled an imposing record of box office hits and has emerged as arguably the most powerful and well-respected actor in Hollywood. His accessible good looks and regular-guy charisma has earned him comparisons with screen legends of the past, such as Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant, Henry Fonda, and Gary Cooper. In 2002, Hanks was honored with the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award, the youngest actor ever to receive the award. In 2002, Hanks produced the surprise hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding. His next producing projects include the drama Society Cab and the Imax space documentary Magnificent Desolation. In 2004, the actor starred in the Coen brothers' remake of the classic 1955 comedy Ladykillers. He teamed with Steven Spielberg for the drama Terminal, and starred in the family film The Polar Express. Hanks next starred in the highly anticipated The Da Vinci Code, based on the bestselling novel by Dan Brown. It grossed over $750 million worldwide. For Christmas 2007, Hanks appeared as the lead in Charlie Wilson's War, a drama based on a Texas congressman's efforts to assist Afghan rebels in their war with the Soviets have some unforeseen and long-reaching effects. The performance earned Hanks a Golden Globe nomination for his role. Hanks met his first wife, actress and producer Samantha Lewes (real name: Susan Dillingham), while he was in college. They were married in 1978 and had two children, Colin and Elizabeth, before divorcing in 1987. In 1988, he married actress Rita Wilson, with whom he co-starred in Volunteers. Hanks and Wilson have two children, Chester and Truman. BILL GATES Entrepreneur. Born William Henry Gates, III, on October 28, 1955, in Seattle, Washington. Gates began to show an interest in computer programming at the age of 13 at the Lakeside School. He pursued his passion through college. Striking out on his own with his friend and business partner Paul Allen, Gates found himself at the right place at the right time. Through technological innovation, keen business strategy, and aggressive competitive tactics he built the world's largest software business, Microsoft. In the process he became one of the richest men in the world. Bill Gates grew up in an upper middle-class family with two sisters: Kristianne, who is older, and Libby, who is younger. Their father, William H. Gates, Sr., was a promising, if somewhat shy, law student when he met his future wife, Mary Maxwell. She was an athletic, outgoing student at the University of Washington, actively involved in student affairs and leadership. The Gates family atmosphere was warm and close, and all three children were encouraged to be competitive and strive for excellence. Bill showed early signs of competitiveness when he coordinated family athletic games at their summer house on Puget Sound. He also relished in playing board games (Risk was his favorite) and excelled in Monopoly. Bill had a very close relationship with his mother, Mary, who after a brief career as a teacher devoted her time to helping raise the children and working on civic affairs and with charities. She also served on several corporate boards, among them First Interstate Bank in Seattle (founded by her grandfather), the United Way, and International Business Machines (IBM). She would often take Bill along on her volunteer work in schools and community organizations. Bill was a voracious reader as a child, spending many hours pouring over reference books such as the encyclopedia. Around the age of 11 or 12, Bill's parents began to have concerns about his behavior. He was doing well in school, but he seemed bored and withdrawn at times. His parents worried he might become a loner. Though they were strong believers in public education, when Bill turned 13 they enrolled him in Seattle's Lakeside School, an exclusive preparatory school. He blossomed in nearly all his subjects, excelling in math and science, but also doing very well in drama and English. While at Lakeside School, a Seattle computer company offered to provide computer time for the students. The Mother's Club used proceeds from the school's rummage sale to purchase a teletype terminal for students to use. Bill Gates became entranced with what a computer could do and spent much of his free time working on the terminal. He wrote a tic-tac-toe program in BASIC computer language that allowed users to play against the computer. It was at Lakeside School where Bill met Paul Allen, who was two years his senior. The two became fast friends, bonding on their common enthusiasm over computers, even though they were very different. Allen was more reserved and shy. Bill was feisty and at times combative. They both spent much of their free time together working on programs. Occasionally, they disagreed and would clash over who was right or who should run the computer lab. On one occasion, their argument escalated to the point where Allen banned Gates from the computer lab. On another occasion, Gates and Allen had their school computer privileges revoked for taking advantage of software glitches to obtain free computer time from the company that provided the computers. After their probation, they were allowed back in the computer lab when they offered to debug the program. During this time, Gates developed a payroll program for the computer company the boys hacked into, and a scheduling program for the school. Bill Gates graduated from Lakeside in 1973. He scored 1590 out of 1600 on the college SAT test, a feat of intellectual achievement that for several years he boasted about when introducing himself to new people. He enrolled at Harvard University in the fall, originally thinking of a career in law. But his freshman year saw him spend more of his time in the computer lab than in class. Gates did not really have a study regimen. Instead, he could get by on a few hours of sleep, cram for a test, and pass with a reasonable grade. In February of 1976, Gates wrote an open letter to computer hobbyists saying that continued distribution and use of software without paying for it would "prevent good software from being written." In essence, pirating software would discourage developers from investing time and money into creating quality software. The letter was unpopular with computer enthusiasts, but Gates stuck to his beliefs and would use the threat of innovation as a defense when faced with charges of unfair business practices. Gates had a more acrimonious relationship with MITS president Ed Roberts, often resulting in shouting matches. The combative Gates clashed with Roberts on software development and the direction of the business. Roberts considered Gates spoiled and obnoxious. In 1977, Roberts sold MITS to another computer company, and went back to Georgia to enter medical school and become a country doctor. Gates and Allen were on their own. The pair had to sue the new owner of MITS to retain the software rights they had developed for Altair. Microsoft wrote software in different formats for other computer companies and, at the end of 1978, Gates moved the company's operations to Bellevue Washington, just east of Seattle. Bill Gates was glad to be home again in the Pacific Northwest, and threw himself into his work. All 25 employees of the young company had broad responsibilities for all aspects of the operation, product development, business development, and marketing. With his acumen for software development and a keen business sense, Gates placed himself as the head of Microsoft, which grossed $2.5 million in 1978. Gates was only 23. In November 1985, Bill Gates and Microsoft launched Windows; nearly two years after his announcement. Visually the Windows system looked very similar to the Macintosh system Apple Computer Corporation had introduced nearly two years earlier. Apple had earlier given Microsoft full access to their technology while it was working on making Microsoft products compatible for Apple computers. Gates had advised Apple to license their software but they ignored the advice, being more interested in selling computers. Once again, Gates took full advantage of the situation and created a software format that was strikingly similar to the Macintosh. Apple threatened to sue and Microsoft retaliated, saying it would delay shipment of its Microsoft compatible software for Macintosh users. In the end, Microsoft prevailed in the courts because it could prove that while there were similarities in how the two software systems operated, each individual function was distinctly different. Outside the company, Bill Gates was gaining a reputation as a ruthless competitor. Several tech companies led by IBM began to develop their own operating system called OS/2 to replace MS-DOS. Rather than give into the pressure, Gates pushed ahead with the Windows software, improving its operation and expanding its uses. In 1989, Microsoft introduced Microsoft Office which bundled office productivity applications such as Microsoft Word and Excel into one system that was compatible with all Microsoft products. The applications were not as easily compatible with OS/2. Microsoft's new version of Windows sold 100,000 copies in just two weeks and OS/2 soon faded away. This left Microsoft with a virtual monopoly on operating systems for PCs. Soon the Federal Trade Commission began to investigate Microsoft for unfair marketing practices. Microsoft faced a string of Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department investigations throughout the 1990s. Some related allegations that Microsoft made unfair deals with computer manufactures who installed the Windows operating system on their computers. Other charges involved Microsoft forcing computer manufactures to sell Microsoft's Internet Explorer as a condition for selling the Windows operating system with their computers. At one point, Microsoft faced a possible break up of its two divisions—operating systems and software development. Microsoft defended itself, harking back to Bill Gates' earlier battles with software piracy, and proclaiming that such restrictions were a threat to innovation. Eventually, Microsoft was able to find a settlement with the federal government to avoid a breakup. Through it all, Gates found some inventive ways to deflect the pressure with light-hearted commercials and public appearances at computer trade shows posing as Star Trek's Mr. Spock. Gates continued to run the company and weather the federal investigations through the 1990s. Bill Gates stepped down from the day-to-day operations of Microsoft in 2000, turning over the job of CEO to college friend Steve Ballmer who had been with Microsoft since 1980. He positioned himself as chief software architect so he could concentrate on what was for him the more passionate side of the business. He still remains chairman of the board. Over the next few years, his involvement with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation occupied much of his time and even more of his interest. In 2006, Gates announced he was transitioning himself from full-time work at Microsoft, to devote more quality time to the Foundation. His last full day at Microsoft was June 27, 2008. In addition to all the accolades of being one of the most successful and richest businessmen in the history of the world, Bill Gates has also received numerous awards for philanthropic work. Time magazine named Gates one of the most influential people of the 20th century. The magazine also named Gates, his wife Melinda, and rock band U2's lead singer Bono as the 2005 Persons of the Year. Gates also holds several honorary doctorates from universities throughout the world and an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II. In 2006, Gates and his wife were awarded the Order of the Aztec Eagle by the Mexican government for their philanthropic work throughout the world in the areas of health and education. DREW BARRYMORE Actress. Born Drew Blythe Barrymore, on February 22, 1975, in Los Angeles,California. The daughter of actor John Drew Barrymore Jr. and Ildiko Jaid, Barrymore's great- grandparents were actors Maurice Barrymore and Georgiana Drew, and her grandparents were actors John Barrymore and Dolores Costello. The director Steven Spielberg is her godfather. Barrymore, a talented young actress, has been as well known for her wild antics off-screen as for her acting ability. Ildiko Jaid, estranged from husband John Barrymore Jr., began taking her daughter to auditions as a baby. The youngest Barrymore appeared in her first television commercial for Puppy Choice dog food before she was a year old. She made her big screen debut at the age of four in Ken Russell's Altered States (1980). At the age of seven, Barrymore landed her most famous role as Gertie, the adorable little sister in E.T.: The Extraterrestrial (1982). The role pushed Barrymore into the spotlight. After the movie she appeared on NBC's The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and became the youngest-ever host of Saturday Night Live. Jaid began taking her daughter to night clubs, and it was at Studio 54 and the China Club that Barrymore developed a pre- teenage fondness for drugs and alcohol. At age 13, an enraged Barrymore became violent when she was unable to throw her mother out of the house. She was placed in a rehabilitation center, and later wrote of the experience in her autobiography, Little Girl Lost. Because of her reputation as a wild child in trouble, film projects were slow to materialize. Barrymore made some minor films, including Irreconcilable Differences, Firestarter and Cat's Eye. In the 1990s, she began starring in a series of films that exploited her bad-girl image, including Poison Ivy (1992), Guncrazy (1992), and The Amy Fisher Story (1993), a made-for-TV movie based on the Joey Buttafuoco scandal. Barrymore entered into a short-lived marriage to bar owner Jeremy Thomas at age 19, which lasted from March to May of 1994. She continued her controversial behavior throughout the early 1990s by posing nude for spreads in Andy Warhol's Interview and in Playboy. She also made headlines when she exposed herself on live TV to a shocked David Letterman during his Late Night show birthday celebration. Her luck began to change in 1995, when Barrymore founded her own production company, Flower Films. The same year, she gave a solid performance in the film Boys on the Side co-starring Whoopi Goldberg and Mary-Louise Parker. The next year she made a memorable terror-filled appearance in the blockbuster Scream (1996) and co-starred in Woody Allen's musical Everybody Says I Love You (1996). In 1998, she proved her strength as a romantic leading lady when she co-starred in the popular comedy, The Wedding Singer with Adam Sandler and in Ever After, a version of the Cinderella story co-starring Anjelica Huston. In 1999, she earned her first credit as an executive producer with the likable comedy Never Been Kissed, in which she also starred. The next year, she also produced and starred in the hit film Charlie's Angels, playing alongside Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Bill Murray. The movie became a blockbuster hit, bringing in more than $40 million in its opening weekend. Charlie's Angels signaled the beginning of true financial success for Flower Films. Barrymore's next choice for the company was the dark drama, Donnie Darko, starring Jake Gyllenhaal. The film, in which Barrymore also co-starred, became an instant cult classic and was nominated for more than a dozen independent film awards. In 2002, Barrymore appeared as the love interest of Chuck Barris in the critically acclaimed biopic, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, also starring Sam Rockwell. Through this performance, Barrymore's reputation as a legitimate film actress was finally solidified. Barrymore brought back her successful Charlie's Angels franchise in 2003 with Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. This time, she also brought actress Demi Moore and comedian Bernie Mac onboard. The film was another box-office smash. That same year Flower Films also released the comedy Duplex, in which Barrymore starred with Ben Stiller. The next year, Barrymore starred in another Flower Films movie, 50 First Dates, a romantic comedy co-starring Adam Sandler. She also earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Flower Films—and Barrymore— kept busy the next few years, producing such films as Fever Pitch (2005), Music and Lyrics (2007) and the recent box office hit, He's Just Not That Into You (2009). Barrymore is reportedly in talks to direct the third movie in the Twilight film series, Eclipse. Barrymore's other recent acting projects include Lucky You (2007), Beverly Hills Chihuahua (2008), and the biopic Grey Gardens (2009) co-starring Jessica Lange. In addition to acting, Barrymore has a successful career as a model, becoming the face of CoverGirl Cosmetics and Gucci Jewelry in 2007. That same year, she was listed No. 1 in People magazine's annual 100 Most Beautiful People list. After her marriage with Thomas ended in 1994, Barrymore has had a string of romantic relationships. In 2000, she became engaged to the eccentric Canadian comic Tom Green, of MTV's The Tom Green Show. After many false wedding rumors (some started by Green himself), the pair eloped in March 2001. The couple filed for divorce six months later. Since then, she has been linked to Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti and actor Justin Long. Barrymore and Long split in 2008. DAVID BECKHAM David Beckham is one of Britain's most iconic athletes whose name is also an elite global advertising brand. He was captain of the English national team from 2000 to 2006, scored in three different FIFA World Cups, and played midfield for clubs in Manchester, England and Madrid, Spain, before agreeing to move to Los Angeles, to play for Los Angeles Galaxy team on a five year contract beginning on July 1, 2007 He was born David Robert Joseph Beckham on May 2, 1975, in Leytonstone, East London, England, son of Ted Beckham, a kitchen fitter, and Sandra West, a hairdresser. Beckham's maternal grandfather is Jewish, and he has been mentioning the religion as influence; he wears a tattoo written in Hebrew from the 'Song of Songs' in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), albeit he is not known to practice Judaism or any other faith. Beckham has always played in long sleeve shirts to cover up his tattoos in consideration of others who may feel uncomfortable due to their beliefs. He was brought up by his parents, supporters of Manchester United, attended Bobby Charlton's football school in Manchester, and won a spot in a training session at FC Barcelona as a child. In 1986 he was a Manchester United's mascot for a match against West Ham United. From 1992 - 2003 Beckham made almost 400 appearances for Manchester United and scored 85 goals, although his official record counts only 62 goals in 265 official senior team's matches. In the 1998 FIFA World Cup he played all of England's qualifying matches and scored in several important victories. He received a red card for violent conduct in England's match against Argentina, albeit his opponent later admitted to trying to send Beckham off by over-reacting to their contact during the game and by urging the referee to send Beckham off. After losing the game England was eliminated, Beckham was made a scapegoat and became the target of criticism and abuse in media. He had a good season in 1999 - 2000 and helped Manchester United to win the Premier League. At that time, he married singer Victoria Beckham (nee' Adams) from the popular musical group The Spice Girls, and the couple had their first son, Brooklyn, born in 1999. That same year, Beckham was given a permission to miss training routine, in order to look after his son Brooklyn, who suffered from a stomach infection. Meanwhile, the Manchester United's manager, Alex Ferguson, fined Beckham £50,000 (about $80,000 then) the maximum amount that was permitted, for babysitting with his sick child, while his wife was spotted at a London fashion Week event on the same night. Ferguson's claim that Beckham should be able to train if his wife stayed home that day, caused a serious personal tension between two men. In February 2003, following the defeat to Arsenal, the Manchester United's manager Alex Ferguson entered the changing room and kicked a football boot that struck Beckham over the eye, causing a cut that required stitches. David Beckham has been a good scorer and a major attraction for public. On the field he has been demonstrating his consistent ability to see a big picture even under severe pressure during the most rapidly changing and unpredictable games. His field vision has been remarkable, allowing him to create many assists in a number of important matches. Beckham's forte has been his delivery from the right-hand side as well as his efficient free kicks. His superior performances in the midfield position has required a higher physical endurance through the entire game. "David Beckham's right foot" was mentioned, although humorously, as one of British national treasures in the movie Love Actually (2003). He signed a four-year contract with Real Madrid, beginning on July 1, 2003, and worth a potential 40 million dollars. In Madrid, Beckham was not allowed to wear his favorite number seven, because another player had the right to wear it written into his contract. Beckham decided to wear the number 23 instead, being a big fan of Michael Jordan. He immediately became popular with the Real Madrid fans, but the team did not perform well enough to win either the Spanish League or the Champions League. However, Beckham remained a reliable scorer and his performances attracted more public. His shirts sales and other merchandising deals remained lucrative for the club, which continued to under-perform, regardless of the Real's management's higher expectations. In 2005 Beckham became a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. He was also involved in promoting London's successful bid for the 2012 Olympic Games. His third season in Madrid was unremarkable, and he was criticized a lot, mainly because the team finished second to Barcelona in Spanish "La Liga" and lost to Arsenal in the European Champions League. However, during that season, he expanded his international presence by establishing football academies in Los Angeles and East London. During the FIFA World Cup 2006, he played for England, and became the first ever English player to score in three World Cups. In the quarter final game against Portugal, Beckham was replaced because of his injury in the middle of the game. Without him the English team lost and was knocked out of the World Cup. In June 2007 Beckham played his final game for Real Madrid, winning a medal and celebrating with his friends Tom and Katie Cruse, who attended the game. This was his fourth, and last season there, ending his contract with the club. He announced that he had signed a five-year contract to play for the Los Angeles Galaxy from July 1, 2007 through June 2012. The 5-year deal includes up to $10 million a year in direct salary, and with merchandising endorsements and profit-sharing could earn Beckham up to $50 million a year, and may end up worth about $250 million in five years, making him one of the highest earning athletes of all time. In 2009, in a unique time share agreement David played on loan at AC Milan to maintain his fitness after ending the season with the Galaxy. He ended up staying with Milan for five months, from January to May 2009. In 2010, he also arranged to embark on a second loan spell at AC Milan from the Galaxy, to play for Milan for another five months. He said the he "genuinely enjoyed playing for Milan." The Beckhams, who have become known as "Posh and Becks", have three sons: Brooklyn Joseph Beckham (born 1999), Romeo James Beckham (born 2002), and Cruz David Beckham (born 2005) who was named "Cruz" in honor of their friend Tom Cruise. They are expecting their fourth child in the summer of 2011. SHAUN WHITE Shaun White is many things but most notably he's driven. He holds many of the highest accolades within snowboarding and skateboarding, and at 23, he's only getting started. An X Games double threat with medals in both snowboarding and skateboarding, as well as a gold medal from the 2006 Winter Olympics, Shaun White possesses insane skills and instantly recognizable looks. This amazing combination has made him one of the most recognizable sports figures of his time. Born in San Diego, California in 1986, Shaun Roger White endured two major surgeries to correct a heart defect before he was a year old. Despite these conditions, the growing youngster proved that he was far from frail, charging into sports like surfing, soccer and snowboarding at a young age. Shaun grew up in a family of five: Mom (Cathy), Dad (Roger), Sister (Kari) and Brother (Jesse). One of the family's favorite pastime included skiing. With no close mountain resorts, they would take weekend road trips up to local mountains. At the age of four, Shaun proved to be fearless on his skis as he raced down the slopes with older brother Jesse. At six, in an attempt to slow him down, Cathy decided to put him on a snowboard and instructed him to copy everything Jesse did. Shaun did just that, unfortunately for her, it only encouraged Shaun to go faster. His parents supported Shaun's snowboarding ability and took him to the mountains as often as possible. At seven, Shaun entered his first amateur snowboard contest and won, earning him a wildcard entry into Nationals, where he placed just outside of the top 10. At that time, Cathy sent Burton a homemade video of Shaun just as the company was coincidentally developing a kid-sized snowboard line. Not surprisingly, they were impressed, and offered the seven-year-old a sponsorship deal. With the support of Burton, he turned pro at 13. After winning five national titles as an amateur, Shaun captured his first major win as a pro in 2001 at the Arctic Challenge. He earned his first Winter X Games medal when he was 16, and between Slopestyle and Superpipe hasn't failed to stand on the Winter X podium since. Between skateboarding and snowboarding Shaun now holds 16 X Games medals, and a record 10 of them are gold. While Shaun was being lauded as a snowboard prodigy, he was simultaneously turning heads on the skateboard scene. Professional skateboarder Tony Hawk befriended the nine-year-old at a local skatepark and mentored the up-and-comer, helping Shaun turn pro in skateboarding at the age of 17. In 2003 he became the first athlete ever to compete and medal in both the Summer and Winter X Games in two different sports. In 2007, Shaun set unparalleled standards by winning the overall title and prestigious honor of Action Sports Tour Champion thanks to his impressive skills in skateboarding vert. One of Shaun's rare disappointments had been failing to make the 2002 Winter Olympic lineup; he narrowly missed earning a spot on the U.S. team by three tenths of a point. In the 2006 qualifiers for Torino, however, he took no prisoners. Shaun went undefeated with 12 victories that season, becoming the first athlete ever to sweep the five-event U.S. Grand Prix series, which serves as the Olympic qualifiers. His come-from-behind gold medal win in Halfpipe was compelling enough, but his unscripted wit and casual charisma with the media and fans sealed the deal: Shaun White was now a household name. At 23, Shaun shows no sign of letting up on the competition, taking on the world in contests leading up to the 2010 Winter Olympics to be held in Vancouver, Canada. Shaun wanted to pull out all the stops and introduce new tricks to the snowboard world this year, and with the help of Red Bull, a halfpipe was created with snowboarding's first- ever on-mountain foam pit. The Red Bull foam pit allowed Shaun to attempt tricks he never thought would be possible. The one-month training session, dubbed "Red Bull Project X" allowed Shaun to push the progression of snowboarding, and he emerged from Project X with an arsenal of new tricks, including the first ever back-to-back double cork variations which he then debuted at the Burton New Zealand Open in August '09. In addition to his athletic talents, Shaun has a knack for business. By partnering with companies that he thinks are cool, Shaun has been able to reach out beyond his sport and embraced the position of brand ambassador for companies like Burton, Target, and Ubisoft. Last year he debuted his original clothing line, Shaun White 4 Target. Shaun and his brother Jesse work together to create a stylish and affordable line of T-shirts, woven shirts, shorts and denim jeans for boys and young men. Shaun also spends time at Target House, a residence for families and patients receiving long-term treatment at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. He recently designed and funded the creation of the Shaun White Great Room--a place to hang out, explore and meet new friends. Along with Burton Snowboards, Shaun has collaborated on a signature outerwear line named the White Collection. His signature men's outerwear line debutted in the fall of 2005; expanding into boots, boards, bags, glove, and as of 2008, Womens Outerwear. The 2010 line embodies both a cultural and musical revolution inspired by the underworld that emerged in England's post-punk society. It was in this revolutionary spirit that Shaun set out to recreate the new line. The White Collection hit stores and Burton.com in August 2009. In addition, last October Burton released "The B", a snowboard film featuring the riding of Shaun White and the Burton snowboard team. In 2008, Shaun partnered with Ubisoft on the development of his first video game, Shaun White Snowboarding: Road Trip. The game was a worldwide success, selling over 3 million copies since its launch and establishing a new sports brand for Ubisoft. Building upon the success of last year's game, Shaun and Ubisoft have teamed up again on the holiday 2009 release of Shaun White Snowboarding: World Stage. With creative control from conception to completion, Shaun takes a hands-on approach ensuring everything in his game is just right. Shaun White Snowboarding: World Stage follows Shaun and his crew of friends as they go from chasing the best powder to pursuing the world's top competitions. The new game infuses the snowboarding experience with the most authentic elements of Shaun's riding style, personality, and sense of humor. Shaun has also been a pioneer for eyewear since he joined the Oakley family in 1998. He was the first athlete to ever co-design a sunglass with Oakley, which he named "The Montefrio," while simultaneously releasing the first ever signature series A-Frame goggle. For 2010, Shaun's collection includes a Signature Jupiter sunglass and a new Signature A-Frame goggle. Whether in a halfpipe or on a vert ramp, this five time ESPY award winner is undoubtedly a talented athlete. Along with his athletic accomplishments Shaun still finds time to give back, frequently stopping by Target House as well as supporting other organizations such as Tony Hawk Foundation, Heartgift, Make-A-Wish Foundation and Summit on the Summit. Despite his hectic schedule Shaun makes sure there's always enough time for his friends and family. JERRY SEINFELD Jerome "Jerry" Seinfeld was born on April 29, 1954. He is an American stand-up comedian, actor, writer, television and film producer, best known for playing a semi- fictional version of himself in the situation comedy Seinfeld (1989–1998), which he co- created and co-wrote with Larry David, and, in the show's final two seasons, co- executive-produced. Seinfeld was born in New York, New York. His father, Kalman Seinfeld was of Austrian Jewish background and was a sign maker. His mother, Betty is of Syrian Jewish descent. Seinfeld grew up in Massapequa, New York. In September 1959, his mother enrolled him at Birch Lane Elementary School, from which he continued to Massapequa High School. At the age of 16, he spent a short period of time volunteering in Kibbutz Sa'ar in Israel. He went to SUNY Oswego, and after his sophomore year he transferred to Queens College, City University of New York, graduating with a degree in communications and theater. Seinfeld developed an interest in stand-up comedy after brief stints in college productions. In 1976 after graduation from Queens College, he tried out at an open-mic night at New York City's Catch a Rising Star, which led to an appearance in a Rodney Dangerfield HBO special. In 1979 he had a small recurring role on the Benson sitcom as "Frankie", a mail delivery boy who had comedy routines that no one wanted to hear, but he was abruptly fired from the show due to creative differences. Seinfeld has said that he was not actually told he had been fired until he turned up for the read-through session for an episode, and found that there was no script for him. In May 1981, Seinfeld made a highly successful appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, impressing Carson and the audience and leading to regular appearances on that show and others, including Late Night with David Letterman. Seinfeld created The Seinfeld Chronicles with Larry David in 1989 for NBC. The show was later renamed Seinfeld to avoid confusion with the short-lived teen sitcom The Marshall Chronicles and, by its fourth season, had become the most popular and successful sitcom on American television. The final episode aired in 1998, and the show has been a popular syndicated re-run. The show also starred Saturday Night Live veteran Julia Louis-Dreyfus, as well as experienced actors Michael Richards and Jason Alexander. On the show, Seinfeld played a caricature of himself. He has said that his show was influenced by the 1950s sitcom The Abbott and Costello Show. Citing Jean Shepherd as an influence in his commentary for "The Gymnast" episode on "Seinfeld, Season 6," he said, "He really formed my entire comedic sensibility--I learned how to do comedy from Jean Shepherd." Seinfeld also holds the distinction of being the only actor to appear in every episode of the show. From 2004–2007, the former Seinfeld cast and crew recorded audio commentaries for episodes of the DVD releases of the show. Seinfeld himself provided commentary for numerous episodes. After his sitcom ended, Seinfeld returned to stand-up comedy instead of pursuing a film career. In 1998 Seinfeld went on tour and recorded a comedy special entitled I'm Telling You for the Last Time. The process of developing and performing new material at clubs around the world was chronicled in a 2002 documentary, Comedian, which focused also on fellow comic Orny Adams, directed by Christian Charles. He has written several books, mostly archives of past routines. In the late 1990s Apple Computer came up with an advertising slogan called "Think different" and produced a 60-second commercial to promote the slogan which showed people who were able to "think differently", like Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and many others. This commercial was later cut short to thirty seconds and ended up paying tribute to Jerry Seinfeld. This commercial aired only once, during the series finale of Seinfeld. In 2004 Seinfeld also appeared in two commercial webisodes promoting American Express, entitled The Adventures of Seinfeld & Superman, in which he appeared together with an animated rendering of Superman, who was referenced in numerous episodes of Seinfeld as Seinfeld's hero, voiced by Patrick Warburton, who had portrayed David Puddy on Seinfeld. The webisodes were aired in 2004 and directed by Barry Levinson. Seinfeld and "Superman" were also interviewed by Matt Lauer in a specially-recorded interview for the Today show. On November 18, 2004, Seinfeld appeared at the National Museum of American History to donate the "Puffy Shirt" he wore in the famous Seinfeld episode of the same name. He also gave a speech when presenting the "Puffy Shirt", claiming humorously that, "This is the most embarrassing moment of my life." Seinfeld had a special appearance on May 13, 2006, Saturday Night Live episode as Julia Louis-Dreyfus' assassin. Louis-Dreyfus was the host of that episode and in her opening monologue she mentioned the "Seinfeld Curse". While talking about how ridiculous the "curse" was, a stage light suddenly fell next to her. The camera moved to a catwalk above the stage that Seinfeld was standing on, holding a large pair of bolt cutters. He angrily muttered, "Dammit!", angry that it didn't hit her. Louis-Dreyfus then continued to say that she is indeed not cursed. On February 24, 2008, Seinfeld appeared as the voice of his Bee Movie animated character Barry, at the 80th Academy Awards as the presenter for "Best Animated Short". Before announcing the nominees, he showed a montage of film clips featuring bees, claiming that they were some of his early work (as Barry). Amidst his spring 2008 tour Seinfeld made a stop in his hometown of New York City for a one-night-only performance on June 2, 2008 at the Hammerstein Ballroom to benefit Stand Up for a Cure, a charity aiding lung cancer research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. In August 2008 the Associated Press reported that Jerry Seinfeld would be the pitchman for Windows Vista, as part of a $300 million advertising campaign by Microsoft. The adverts, which were intended to create buzz for Windows in support of the subsequent "I'm a PC" adverts, began airing in mid-September 2008 and were cut from television after just 3 installments, Microsoft opting instead to continue with the "I'm a PC" advertisements, and instead continued running the Seinfeld adverts on the Microsoft website as a series of longer advertisements Seinfeld dated Carol Leifer, a fellow comedian and rumored to be the inspiration for the character of Elaine from his eponymous sitcom Seinfeld, although both parties deny it. When he was in his late thirties, Seinfeld began a romantic relationship with then- seventeen year old high school student Shoshanna Lonstein. A while later, after meeting Jessica Sklar at the Reebok Sports Club, he began dating her. Sklar, a public relations executive for Tommy Hilfiger, had just returned from a three-week honeymoon in Italy with Eric Nederlander, a theatrical producer and scion of a theater-owning family. Sklar divorced Nederlander and married Seinfeld on December 25, 1999. Comedian, George Wallace, was the best man at the wedding. After the nuptials Jerry and Jessica Seinfeld bought Billy Joel's Amagansett, Long Island house for $32 million in March 2000. Seinfeld and his wife have one daughter and two sons: daughter Sascha was born on November 7, 2000 in New York City; son Julian Kal was born on March 1, 2003 in New York City; and Shepherd Kellen was born on August 22, 2005 at New York's Cornell Medical Center. His son Julian's middle name is Kal, which is the first name of Seinfeld's father. Kal is also the first name of Seinfeld's hero Kal-El (Superman). In 2000 Jessica Seinfeld launched Baby Buggy, a charity that provides clothing and gear for underprivileged women and children. She is the author of the best-seller Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food, released by HarperCollins in October 2007. TIM McGRAW When Tim McGraw debuted in the early '90s, few would have predicted that he would eventually take over Garth Brooks' position as the most popular male singer in country music. Yet that's exactly what he did, thanks to a string of multi-platinum albums, a high- profile marriage to fellow superstar Faith Hill, and Brooks' own inevitable decline. His sound epitomized the strain of commercial country that dominated his era: updated honky tonk and Southern-fried country-rock on the uptempo tunes, well-polished, adult contemporary-tinged pop on the ballads. Helped out early in his career by several novelty items, McGraw simply wound up cranking out hookier hits on a more consistent basis than any of his peers. By the late '90s, he was not only a superstar among country fans, but a mainstream celebrity with a large female following. Samuel Timothy McGraw was born in Delhi, LA, on May 1, 1967. Though he didn't know it until years later, his father was baseball player Tug McGraw, a star relief pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets who'd had a brief affair with McGraw's mother. He was raised mostly in the small town of Start, LA, near Monroe, and grew up listening to a variety of music: country, pop, rock, and R&B. He attended Northeast Louisiana University on a baseball scholarship, studying sports medicine, and it was only then that he started playing guitar to accompany his singing. He played the local club circuit and dropped out of school in 1989, heading to Nashville on the same day his hero Keith Whitley passed away. He sang in Nashville clubs for a couple of years and landed a deal with Curb in 1992. His debut single, the minor hit "Welcome to the Club," was released later that year, and his self-titled debut album appeared in 1993 but failed to even make the charts. McGraw's fortunes changed with the lead single from his 1994 sophomore effort, Not a Moment Too Soon. "Indian Outlaw" was embraced as a light-hearted, old-fashioned novelty song by fans but was heavily criticized for what some regarded as patronizing caricatures of Native Americans. Despite some radio stations' refusal to air the song, it reached the country Top Ten and even crossed over to the pop Top 20. All the publicity helped send McGraw's next single, the ballad "Don't Take the Girl," all the way to the top of the country charts; it too made the pop Top 20. The album kept spinning off hits: "Down on the Farm" hit number two, the title track went to number one in 1995, and the novelty tune "Refried Dreams" also reached the Top Five. Not a Moment Too Soon was a genuine blockbuster hit, eventually selling over five million copies and topping both the country and pop album charts; it was also the best-selling country album of the year. McGraw's follow-up, 1995's All I Want, immediately consolidated his stardom with the number one smash "I Like It, I Love It." The album topped the country charts, reached the pop Top Five, and sold over two million copies. Once again, it functioned as a hit factory thanks to the number two "Can't Be Really Gone," the number one "She Never Lets It Go to Her Heart," and the Top Five "All I Want Is a Life" and "Maybe We Should Just Sleep on It." Over 1996, McGraw supported the album with an extensive tour, accompanied by opening act Faith Hill. In October, after the tour was over, McGraw and Hill married, in a union of country star power that drew plenty of attention from mainstream media. It doubtlessly helped McGraw's next album, 1997's Everywhere, become another crossover smash; it topped the country charts, fell one spot short of doing the same on the pop side, and sold four million copies. The lead single was a McGraw- Hill duet called "It's Your Love," which not only hit number one country, but made the pop Top Ten. Three more singles from the album -- "Everywhere," "Where the Green Grass Grows," and "Just to See You Smile" -- hit number one, and two others -- "One of These Days" and "For a Little While" -- reached number two. Meanwhile, "Just to Hear You Say That You Love Me," another husband-and-wife duet from Hill's 1998 album Faith, climbed into the Top Five. With the multi-platinum success of Everywhere, McGraw was poised to take over Brooks' throne as the king of contemporary country, a transition that only accelerated when Brooks confounded his fans with the Chris Gaines project. McGraw, meanwhile, just kept topping the charts. His next album, 1999's triple-platinum A Place in the Sun, hit number one country and pop, and four of its singles also hit number one: "Please Remember Me" (which featured Patty Loveless), "Something Like That," "My Best Friend," and "My Next Thirty Years." 2000 brought McGraw's first Greatest Hits compilation, a best-selling smash, and another Top Ten duet from Hill's Breathe album, "Let's Make Love." The song later won McGraw his first Grammy, for Best Country Vocal Collaboration. Also in 2000, McGraw had a brush with the law when he and tourmate Kenny Chesney got involved in a scuffle with police officers, after Chesney attempted to ride one of the officers' horses; McGraw was later cleared of assault charges and spent the rest of 2000 on a second tour with Hill. Released in 2001, Set This Circus Down (number one country, number two pop) kept McGraw's hit streak going into the new millennium, giving him four more number ones - - "Grown Men Don't Cry," "Angry All the Time," "The Cowboy in Me," and "Unbroken" -- just like that. In 2002, his duet with protégée Jo Dee Messina, "Bring on the Rain," also went to number one. For the follow-up album, McGraw defied country convention by entering the studio not with session musicians, but with his road band, the Dancehall Doctors, a unit that had been together since 1996 (with some members around even before that). Tim McGraw was released in late 2002 and produced Top Ten hits in "Red Rag Top" and "She's My Kind of Rain"; it also featured a startlingly faithful cover of Elton John's "Tiny Dancer." McGraw kept the formula the same on 2004's chart-topping Live Like You Were Dying, utilizing his road band, as well as co-mixing/producing the record himself. Let It Go followed in 2007, with Southern Voice arriving in 2009. Tim McGraw can also add acting to his resume of many talents. His first acting appearance came in a 1995 episode of The Jeff Foxworthy Show, where he played Foxworthy's rival. In 2004, McGraw played a sheriff in Rick Schroder's independent release Black Cloud. Later in the same year, McGraw received critical acclaim as the overbearing father of a running back in the major studio Texas high school football drama Friday Night Lights. The Dallas Observer said the role was "played with unexpected ferocity by country singer Tim McGraw." The movie went on to gross over $60 million dollars worldwide at the box office, and sold millions in the DVD market. Most recently, the movie was named one of the Top 50 High School Movies of All Time by Entertainment Weekly. McGraw's first lead role was in the 2006 film Flicka, which was released in theatres October 20, 2006. In the remake of the classic book "My Friend Flicka", McGraw played the father, Rob, costarring with Alison Lohman and Maria Bello. The family-friendly movie debuted in the top 10 list and has grossed over $25 million at the box office. McGraw again achieved critical acclaim for his acting. Shortly before Flicka opened, McGraw received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His star is located at 6901 Hollywood Blvd. near stars in the sidewalk honoring Julie Andrews, William Shatner, and the late Greta Garbo. One of his Flicka co-stars, Alison Lohman, attended the ceremony that included comments from Billy Bob Thornton, McGraw's co-star in the film Friday Night Lights. McGraw appeared in the 2009 film The Blind Side as Sean Tuohy, husband of Sandra Bullock’s character, Leigh Anne Tuohy. The Blind Side is based on the true story of Michael Oher, a homeless African-American youngster from a broken home, taken in and adopted by the Tuohys, a well-to-do white family who help him fulfill his potential. In addition to his appearance in the film, Tim's hit song "Southern Voice" was played during the closing credits of the film. He is among the stars of Dirty Girl, a film that premiered on September 12, 2010 at the Toronto Film Festival, along with Juno Temple, Milla Jovovich, William H. Macy and Dwight Yoakam. Also in 2010, McGraw starred in Country Strong as James Canter, the husband and manager of the fictional country singer Kelly Canter (portrayed by Gwyneth Paltrow). STEVEN TYLER Steven Tyler was born Stephen Victor Tallarico on March 26, 1948. He is an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and the frontman and lead singer of the Boston- based rock band Aerosmith, in which he also plays the harmonica, and occasional piano and percussion. He is also known as the "Demon of Screamin'" and is equally known for his on-stage acrobatics. During his high-energy performances, he usually dresses in bright, colorful outfits with his trademark scarves hanging from his microphone stand. Steven was the second of two children. He was born in New York City and his family later moved to Yonkers, NY, where he attended Roosevelt High School. He was expelled from Roosevelt for drug use and later graduated from Jose Quintano's School for Young Professionals. Before working as a professional musician, Tyler says he worked several odd jobs, including a stint at a bakery. Music has always played a large role in Tyler's life as he was the son of a classical musician who helmed the Vic Tallarico Orchestra. His father taught music at Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx for many years. Steven Tyler also took a liking to blues and in the 1960s, he was a drummer and singer in a variety of local rock and roll bands including The Strangeurs/Chain Reaction, The Chain, and William Proud. Tyler spent time in the summers of his youth in the NH lakes region where he met his future band mates. He has residences in Marshfield MA and Lake Sunapee NH. In 1969, Steven met a guitarist named Joe Perry in Sunapee, New Hampshire. In 1970, they met again in Boston and formed Aerosmith with bassist Tom Hamilton. Later, they added a second guitarist, Tyler's childhood friend Ray Tabano (who was quickly replaced by Brad Whitford), and drummer Joey Kramer. After spending time on the Boston club circuit, under the tutelage of their first manager, Frank Connelly, the band began working with New York managers Steve Leber and David Krebs. They subsequently signed a record deal in 1972 and released their eponymous debut album in 1973. It was followed by Get Your Wings, Toys in the Attic, Rocks, and Draw the Line. These albums catapulted Aerosmith to international fame and recognition. These albums produced legendary hits like Dream On, Walk This Way, and Sweet Emotion. Aerosmith's first five albums have also all gone multi-platinum, and Toys in the Attic and Rocks are considered to be among the greatest hard rock albums of all time. However, as the decade wore on, the fast-paced life of touring, recording, living together, and using drugs began to take its toll on the band. Tyler and Perry were often called the Toxic Twins, for their legendary intake of stimulants and heroin. Their relationship is well documented in many of Aerosmith's video releases as well as in the Aerosmith Behind the Music. Tyler, apparently much more dedicated to the band, seemed to resent Perry's passive attitude and envied Perry's prioritization of the women in his life. The tense dynamic between Tyler, Perry, and their once-friendly girlfriends was apparently a leading factor in the gradual decay of Aerosmith, circa 1980. Additionally, the constant touring and recording, the major drug abuse, and long-harbored differences between band members helped lead to Aerosmith's near collapse at the end of the 1970s, just after completion of 1979's Night in the Ruts. On February 14th, 1984, Joe Perry and Brad Whitford, who left the band in 1979 and 1981 respectively, showed up to an Aerosmith show. According to the band's Behind the Music special on VH1, Tyler alleges he made the first phone call to Joe Perry encouraging them to meet up again. Backstage, they all met and Perry and Whitford agreed to join the band once again. Aerosmith embarked on a reunion tour called, The Back in the Saddle Tour, and proceeded to record once again. One problem was still remaining, however, and that was the drug addictions of the band members, especially Tyler, who had collapsed onstage during several performances in the early 1980s and had long suffered a heroin addiction. Aerosmith's new manager Tim Collins and the rest of the reunited band knew that they wouldn't get anywhere with their leader Steven Tyler still under the heavy influence of drugs. In 1986, they held a meeting in which they pressured Tyler into entering a strict drug rehabilitation program. After Tyler had completed drug rehab, every other member of Aerosmith eventually went into rehab and all had successfully exited their respective programs at various times in the mid-late 1980s. Since then, all members have refrained from using drugs and alcohol, and even have gone so far as to try and prevent any member of the band's road crew from using drugs or alcohol in their presence. In 1985, Aerosmith released their comeback album Done With Mirrors, which produced generally lackluster results for the band. In 1986, however, Tyler and Perry collaborated with Run-D.M.C. for a remake of Aerosmith's 1976 hit Walk This Way, which hit #4 on the charts and was recently in Rolling Stone Magazine as song #27 for top 100 songs that changed the world. Walk This Way introduced both rap music and Aerosmith to a new generation, as well as helping sow the seeds for a major comeback. Aerosmith came back big in 1987 with Permanent Vacation, which charted three Top 20 singles and sold five million copies. The band followed up in 1989 with Pump and once again in 1993 with Get a Grip, both of which sold seven million copies apiece and launched the band into global superstardom, well eclipsing their success in the 1970s. The three albums won critical acclaim for their innovative musical styles, featured a dozen Top 40 singles, produced theatrical music videos, and won the band dozens of awards. Aerosmith's subsequent touring and appearance on television and in film turned the band into one of the biggest pop culture icons. Steven Tyler, as the frontman for the group, became a symbol for the band, a pop icon, and a household name in his own right. The band took a healthy break in 1995 to spend time with their families, in the wake of their grueling lifestyle of the previous ten years, under the helm of manager Tim Collins, who helped orchestrate much of the band's comeback and sustained success. However, Aerosmith almost came to a screeching halt as Collins pressured the exhausted band members and spread rumors that the band was breaking up and that Steven Tyler was being unfaithful to his wife and using drugs again, all of which were lies. He was subsequently fired. This, along with a producer change, delayed the recording process for Nine Lives, which was finally released in 1997. While not coming close to the sales figures of Get a Grip, it still went double platinum, and the band managed to stay on top and toured for over two years in support of the album. In 1997, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry were featured in a commercial for the GAP, performing a bluesy number with Tyler on harmonica. This was part of an ad campaign by Gap featuring a variety of music artists. In 1998, while on tour in support of the album Nine Lives, Steven Tyler suffered a ligament injury when his mic stand came crashing into his knee. Tyler and the band finished the show, but they had to cancel several dates and Tyler still had trouble walking for the filming of the video for I Don't Want to Miss a Thing, which hit #1 on the charts that year. Surprisingly enough, that has been their only #1 hit to date. The beginning of the 21st century saw Aerosmith spotlight at the Super Bowl XXXV Halftime Show, be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and release another platinum album. Since 2001, Aerosmith has launched a successful tour every year and has maintained an active role in the music industry, recording the albums Just Push Play (2001) and Honkin' on Bobo (2004). In addition to this, Steven Tyler has kept busy with a variety of side projects and guest appearances. On 27 May, 2001, at the 85th Indianapolis 500, Steven Tyler sang the national anthem of the USA. He came under criticism when he replaced 'Home Of The Brave' with 'home of the Indianapolis 500'. He immediately apologized and reaffirmed his patriotism after the incident. After the September 11, 2001 attacks, the band performed at the benefit concert United We Stand in Washington, D.C. Tyler donned a full-length jacket featuring the American flag and the band performed a brief set including the moving numbers Livin on the Edge and I Don't Want to Miss a Thing, which seemed to take on new meaning in wake of the attacks. Amazingly, the band flew back to Indianapolis to perform a show that same night. In December 2002, Steven Tyler played Santa on a holiday episode of the children's television show Lizzie McGuire. He also performed the song Santa Claus Is Coming to Town. This was also the last episode of Lizzie McGuire that was shot. In 2003, Tyler received an honorary degree from Berklee College of Music, and, in 2005, received an honorary doctorate from the University of Massachusetts Boston. In 2003, Tyler also inducted AC/DC into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, after he and his band were inducted two years earlier. Tyler sang with AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson for a performance of You Shook Me All Night Long. In 2004, Tyler appeared in a television commercial for Sony digital cameras. The Grind, from Aerosmith's Honkin' on Bobo, is also featured. The 2004 Christmas movie The Polar Express featured Steven Tyler singing the lyrics to a rocking number entitled Rockin on Top of the World as well as a group of computer-animated elves resembling Aerosmith performing the song. While Joe Perry kept busy in 2005 with his self-titled solo album, Steven Tyler kept busy with a variety of projects. That year, he sang lead vocals on Santana's hit single Just Feel Better. Tyler also cameoed in the film Be Cool which stars John Travolta and Uma Thurman. In the film, Steven Tyler does a duo of Cryin with upcoming singer Linda Moon (played by Christina Milian). In 2006, after healing from throat surgery and the grueling Rockin' the Joint Tour, Steven Tyler came back better than ever. One noteworthy event was when he performed with Joe Perry and the Boston Pops Orchestra for the orchestra's annual Fourth of July spectacular, his first major public appearance since the surgery. During the concert, which was broadcast nationally on CBS, Tyler, Perry, and the orchestra performed a medley of Walk This Way, I Don't Want to Miss a Thing and Dream On. On August 5, 2009, while on the Guitar Hero Aerosmith Tour, Tyler fell off a stage near Sturgis, South Dakota, injuring his head and neck and breaking his shoulder. He was airlifted to Rapid City Regional Hospital. Aerosmith was forced to cancel the rest of their 2009 tour, except for two shows in Hawaii in October. Back in 2007, Aerosmith had to cancel their first concert in Maui, which resulted in a class action lawsuit involving 8,000 plaintiffs. Attendees received tickets and, in some cases, reimbursements for out of pocket expenses. The band also performed in early November at an auto race in Abu Dhabi. On November 9, 2009, it was reported that Steven Tyler had no contact with the other members of Aerosmith and that they were unsure if he was still in the band. On November 10, 2009, Joe Perry confirmed that Steven Tyler had quit Aerosmith to pursue a solo career and was unsure whether the move was indefinite. No replacement was announced. Despite rumors of leaving the band, and notwithstanding Perry's comment as reported earlier the same day, Tyler joined The Joe Perry Project onstage November 10, 2009, at the Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza and performed "Walk This Way." According to sources at the event, Tyler assured the crowd that despite rumors to the contrary, he is "not quitting Aerosmith." On December 22, 2009, Rolling Stone reported that Tyler had checked into rehab for pain management. In late 2010, Fox Television confirmed that Tyler would join American Idol as a member of the judging panel for the program's tenth season, alongside Randy Jackson and Jennifer Lopez. RON HOWARD Actor, director, and producer. Ron Howard was born on March 1, 1954 in Duncan, Oklahoma. He is part of a theatrical family; his mother, Jean, was an actress and father, Rance, was an actor and director. Howard appeared in his first movie, Frontier Woman (1956), when he was just 18 months old, and made his stage debut at the age of two in a production of The Seven Year Itch. The child star began making frequent television appearances, and was subsequently cast opposite Yul Brynner, Deborah Kerr and Jason Robards in 1959's The Journey. His performance earned him regular roles on CBS's Playhouse 90, where he caught the eye of Sheldon Leonard, the producer behind the sitcom, The Andy Griffith Show. On October 3, 1960, Howard first appeared as Andy Griffith's son, Opie, on The Andy Griffith Show, a role that earned him nationwide fame. Throughout this early success, Howard's family provided a grounding influence and asserted that Howard should be able to experience his childhood. They limited Howard's work schedule, and only allowed him to perform in a small number of productions during the show's off-season, such as The Music Man (1962) and The Courtship of Eddie's Father (1963). At his father's request, Howard maintained a public school education at John Burroughs High School and, around this time, began to dabble in amateur filmmaking with a Super-8 camera. On the sets of his various productions, Howard quizzed crews about the technical aspects of directing. When The Andy Griffith Show ended in 1968, Howard followed it with 1971's The Smith Family, where he starred opposite Henry Fonda. Fonda encouraged Howard's ambition, and when he graduated from high school in 1972, he matriculated at the University of Southern California's film school. Howard's time there was short-lived; soon after enrolling, he landed a role in American Grafitti (1973), George Lucas' seminal teen film. The movie spawned a 50s revival craze which, in turn, led to the hit show Happy Days. The 1974 series featured Howard in its leading role, and his turn as Richie Cunningham elevated him to superstardom. During the show's run, Howard wed high school sweetheart Cheryl Alley in 1975. He also appeared in productions on the side, including John Wayne's final film The Shootist (1976). During this time, Howard brokered a deal with producer Roger Corman: Howard would star in Corman's Eat My Dust (1976) and, in return, Corman would help Howard direct his first major film project. The collaboration led to Grand Theft Auto (1977), which not only helped Howard to cut his chops behind the camera, but also spurred him to found his own company, Major H Productions. Three years later he inked a three-year deal with NBC, and produced and directed several programs for the network. Howard's wife gave birth to their son Bryce in 1981, the first of the couple's four children. That same year, Howard met producer Brian Grazer. In 1982, the two teamed up to direct and produce Night Shift, a dark comedy starring Howard's Happy Days co- star Henry Winkler. Howard and Grazer partnered again two years later for Splash, the hit romantic comedy featuring Tom Hanks, Darryl Hannah and John Candy. The film established Howard as a director, and he went on to helm 1985's Academy Award- winning Cocoon. He and Grazer solidified their relationship in 1986, and the duo co- founded Imagine Films Entertainment. The company has been the powerhouse behind hits including the Howard-directed Willow (1988), Parenthood (1989), Backdraft (1991), Apollo 13 (1995) and Ransom (1996). In 1998, Howard began expanding his company's efforts to television productions with the drama, Felicity. The show, about a young girl's foray into college life, became wildly popular with teens. Its success led the company to start more television series, including the 2001 action/adventure drama, 24. The series, which examines 24 hours in the life of government employee Jack Bauer as he handles domestic threats, also became a hit with fans. It ran for seven seasons. Howard produced A Beautiful Mind in 2002, which earned him an Academy Award for Best Director, an Academy Award for Best Picture, and a Golden Globe for Best Film. The next year, he worked as the anonymous narrator and executive producer for another television show the heady comedy, Arrested Development. The show was nominated for multiple awards, and won Howard an Emmy award for Outstanding Comedy Series in 2004. The next year Howard directed the boxing drama Cinderella Man, which was nominated for more than 22 awards. He followed the critical success of the film with his blockbuster hit The Da Vinci Code (2006). The film grossed more than $750 million worldwide, and was nominated for a Golden Globe. Most recently, Howard won the Best Director Oscar for 2008's Frost/Nixon, a film exploring the post-Watergate TV interviews between British talk-show host David Frost and former president Richard Nixon. He is also the director of 2009's Angels & Demons, the sequel to The Da Vinci Code. Howard currently lives in Connecticut with his wife, Cheryl, and their four children. Howard has consistently appeared on popular television shows throughout his life – even if only as a guest star. Howard appeared as himself twice on the popular show The Simpsons. When he hosted Saturday Night Live in the 1980s, Eddie Murphy called him "Opie Cunningham." In the South Park episode, "Ginger Kids", Cartman asks a crowd of fellow gingers to name great Americans with red hair, the only name they can think of is "Ron Howard", and when asked to name a second, one responds "Ron Howard" again. On a VH1 special about the 100 greatest Child Stars, many of the interviewees considered Ron Howard to be the most successful child star of all-time, considering his two major television acting roles and his directing career. In the series finale of the Emmy Award-winning, critically acclaimed series Arrested Development (which he was an executive producer and the narrator of), Howard appears as himself in an epilogue at the end of the episode and refers to himself as "a Hollywood icon." In October 2008, Howard reprised his roles as Opie Taylor and Richie Cunningham for the first time in over 20 years when he appeared in a video on funnyordie.com in which he endorsed Barack Obama and urged people to vote. The video, titled "Ron Howard’s Call to Action," also features Andy Griffith and Henry Winkler. As seen in the video, Howard is seen shaving his beard and wearing wigs to recreate his younger look. Ron Howard recently made a cameo appearance in the 2009 music video for fellow Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx's song "Blame It" along side Academy Award winner Forrest Whittaker, Academy Award nominee, Jake Gyllenhaal and Samuel L. Jackson. In the video he is shown holding a glass of champagne. JENNIFER LOPEZ Born July 24, 1969, in Castle Hill "Bronx", New York, Lopez began her career as a dancer, appearing in stage musicals and various music videos. In 1990, she won a national competition and earned a spot dancing on the popular Fox comedy television series, "In Living Color," as one of the "Fly Girls." A series of small acting jobs followed, including parts in two more series and a TV movie, Nurses on the Line: The Crash of Flight 7, in 1993. Lopez's first feature film was the critically acclaimed Mi Familia, or My Family, in 1995. She also appeared in Money Train (1995), opposite Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson, and in Jack (1996), directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Robin Williams. Lopez's first big break came in 1997, when she was chosen to play the title role in Selena, a biopic of the Tejano pop singer Selena Quintillana Perez, who was killed by a crazed fan in 1995. She earned widespread praise for her performance, including a Golden Globe nomination, and became the highest-paid actress in history with her paycheck of $1 million. That same year, Lopez starred in the forgettable Anaconda and in Blood and Wine, opposite Jack Nicholson. Her role as federal marshal Karen Sisco in Steven Soderbergh's Out of Sight, a film based on the Elmore Leonard novel and co-starring George Clooney, further enhanced her image as a bankable movie star. Lopez's musical career also began to take off, as she released her debut Latin pop album, On the 6 in June 1999. The album, fueled by the success of her hit single, "If You Had My Love," went platinum within two weeks, making Lopez—along with Ricky Martin— one of the most influential examples of the growing Latin cultural influence in pop music. Early in 2000, Lopez was nominated for Best Dance Performance for her second hit single "Waiting for Tonight," but lost the award to veteran diva Cher. In the summer of 2000, she starred in the science fiction-thriller The Cell, in which she plays a child psychologist helping to track a terrifying serial killer. The same year, she starred in Enough, a portrayal of spousal abuse. The popularity of the multi-talented Lopez reached new heights in early 2001, when her album, J. Lo debuted at No. 1 on the pop charts, while her film, the romantic comedy The Wedding Planner, shot to the top spot at the box office in its first week of release. In December 2002, she performed another one-two punch with the release of the record This Is Me ... Then and a starring role in the comedy Maid in Manhattan, which was a box office hit, if not a critical one. In 2003, she co-starred with Ben Affleck in the box office bomb, Gigli. Other projects included Jersey Girl (also with Affleck) and An Unfinished Life, in which she played a single mom taken in by her father-in-law played by Robert Redford. She also starred opposite Richard Gere in Shall We Dance?, a remake of the top-grossing Japanese flick. Lopez was briefly married, in 1997, to Ojani Noa, a model and actor. She then had a lengthy and widely publicized relationship with rapper Sean "Puffy" Combs. In December 1999, Combs and Lopez were allegedly involved in a shooting incident outside a New York City nightclub, in which three people were injured. Combs was later charged with gun possession and bribery, as prosecutors claimed he offered his driver, Wardel Fenderson, $50,000 to say that the loaded gun police found at the scene of the crime was Fenderson's. He was acquitted of all charges, but Combs confirmed in mid- February that he and Lopez had separated. Shortly after her breakup from Combs was made public, Lopez began dating Cris Judd, a dancer who appeared in the video for her hit single "Love Don't Cost a Thing." After much media speculation, the couple announced their engagement in August 2001. They were married in late September. Nine months later, the couple separated. In the fall of 2002, the star began dating actor Ben Affleck; they announced their engagement in November. Following rumors of the relationship's demise, the couple broke up in early 2004. Lopez subsequently married singer Marc Anthony in June 2004 at a private ceremony at her Los Angeles mansion. Returning to the big stage, Lopez has found time to join forces with her husband in 2006. She acted along side him in the film El Cantante. In the film, Anthony played Hector Lavoe, the internationally acclaimed salsa singer. True to life, Lopez played Puchi, Lavoe's wife. In 2007, Lopez released her first Spanish language album, Como Ama una Mujer, which did well on the Latin and pop charts. She found musical success again later that same year with Brave. While the title track has received some attention, Lopez's personal life has generated more media interest. Once known for her revealing fashions, she started wearing loose-fitting tops, creating speculation about whether she was pregnant. Many photos of her seemed to show a "baby bump," but the official announcement didn't come until Nov. 7, 2007. Lopez gave birth to twins February 22, 2008. The baby boy and girl are the first children for Lopez and the fourth and fifth for her husband, salsa star Marc Anthony. In June 2010, following the departure of Ellen DeGeneres from American Idol, it was reported that Lopez was in talks to join season ten's judging panel. However, it was then reported that Lopez was out of the running due to "outrageous demands," something which returning Idol producer, Nigel Lythgoe responded to by saying "[Jennifer] is in no way a diva, I've worked with her on quite a few occasions and I have never yet seen her be a diva." He did not confirm or deny reports of the contract negotiations between Lopez and the other Idol producers. It was then revealed then reported that both Lopez and husband, Marc Anthony, were being considering for a role on the The X Factor for their appeal to 'Latin' and 'International' markets. Lopez's involvement in The X Factor was ruled out when the media reported that she had accepted an offer to become a judge on season ten of Idol, despite being offered roles on both shows. The announcement was made official on September 22, 2010. MTV said "the deal was mutually beneficial to all those involved" whilst CNN reported that Lopez was viewing it as a decision to revive her career while Idol producers believe Lopez and Steven Tyler's appointments will strengthen viewing figures. Alongside this, Brad Falchuk, executive producer of the music-based series Glee, confirmed that Lopez had entered discussions to appear in the next season of Glee as a cafeteria worker. JK ROWLING My mother and father were both Londoners. They met on a train travelling from King's Cross station to Arbroath in Scotland when they were both eighteen; my father was off to join the Royal Navy, my mother to join the WRNS (the women's equivalent). My mother said she was cold, my father offered her a half share in his coat, and they got married just over a year later, when they were nineteen Both left the navy and moved to the outskirts of Bristol, in the West of England. My mother gave birth to me when she was twenty. I was a rotund baby. The description in 'Philosopher's Stone' of the photographs of 'what appeared to be a beach ball wearing different coloured bobble hats' would also apply to the pictures of my early years. My sister Di arrived a year and eleven months after me. The day of her birth is my earliest memory, or my earliest datable memory, anyway. I distinctly remember playing with a bit of plasticine in the kitchen while my father rushed in and out of the room, hurrying backwards and forwards to my mother, who was giving birth in their bedroom. I know I didn't invent this memory because I checked the details later with my mother. I also have a vivid mental picture of walking into their bedroom a little while later, hand in hand with my father, and seeing my mother lying in bed in her nightdress next to my beaming sister, who is stark naked with a full head of hair and looks about five years old. Although I clearly pasted together this bizarre false memory out of bits of hearsay when I was a child, it is so vivid that it still comes to mind if I ever think about Di being born. The small amount of time that we didn't spend fighting, Di and I were best friends. I told her a lot of stories and sometimes didn't even have to sit on her to make her stay and listen. Often the stories became games in which we both played regular characters. I was extremely bossy when I stage-managed these long-running plays but Di put up with it because I usually gave her star parts. There were lots of children around our age living in our new street, among them a brother and sister whose surname was Potter. I always liked their name, whereas I wasn't very fond of my own; 'Rowling' (the first syllable of which is pronounced 'row' as in boat, rather than 'row' as in argument) lent itself to woeful jokes such as 'Rowling stone', 'Rowling pin' and so on. Anyway, the brother has since cropped up in the press claiming to 'be' Harry. His mother has also told reporters that he and I used to dress up as wizards. Neither of these claims is true; in fact, all I remember of the boy in question was that he rode a 'Chopper', which was the bicycle everybody wanted in the seventies, and once threw a stone at Di, for which I hit him hard over the head with a plastic sword (I was the only one allowed to throw things at Di). I enjoyed school in Winterbourne. It was a very relaxed environment; I remember lots of pottery making, drawing and story writing, which suited me perfectly. However, my parents had always harboured a dream of living in the country, and around my ninth birthday we moved for the last time, to Tutshill, a small village just outside Chepstow, in Wales. The move coincided almost exactly with the death of my favourite grandparent, Kathleen, whose name I later took when I needed an extra initial. No doubt the first bereavement of my life influenced my feelings about my new school, which I didn't like at all. We sat all day at roll-top desks facing the blackboard. There were old inkwells set into the desktops. There was a second hole in my desk, which had been gouged out with the point of a compass by the boy who had sat there the year before. He had obviously worked away quietly out of the sight of the teacher. I thought this was a great achievement, and set to work enlarging the hole with my own compass, so that by the time I left that classroom you could comfortably wiggle your thumb through it. I left school in 1983 and went to study at the University of Exeter, on the south coast of England. I studied French, which was a mistake; I had succumbed to parental pressure to study 'useful' modern languages as opposed to 'but-where-will-it-lead?' English and really should have stood my ground. On the plus side, studying French meant that I had a year living in Paris as part of my course. After leaving university I worked in London; my longest job was with Amnesty International, the organisation that campaigns against human rights abuses all over the world. But in 1990, my then boyfriend and I decided to move up to Manchester together. It was after a weekend's flat-hunting, when I was travelling back to London on my own on a crowded train, that the idea for Harry Potter simply fell into my head. I had been writing almost continuously since the age of six but I had never been so excited about an idea before. To my immense frustration, I didn't have a functioning pen with me, and I was too shy to ask anybody if I could borrow one. I think, now, that this was probably a good thing, because I simply sat and thought, for four (delayed train) hours, and all the details bubbled up in my brain, and this scrawny, black-haired, bespectacled boy who didn't know he was a wizard became more and more real to me. I think that perhaps if I had had to slow down the ideas so that I could capture them on paper I might have stifled some of them (although sometimes I do wonder, idly, how much of what I imagined on that journey I had forgotten by the time I actually got my hands on a pen). I began to write 'Philosopher's Stone' that very evening, although those first few pages bear no resemblance at all to anything in the finished book. I moved up to Manchester, taking the swelling manuscript with me, which was now growing in all sorts of strange directions, and including ideas for the rest of Harry's career at Hogwarts, not just his first year. Then, on December 30th 1990, something happened that changed both my world and Harry's forever: my mother died. It was a terrible time. My father, Di and I were devastated; she was only forty five years old and we had never imagined - probably because we could not bear to contemplate the idea - that she could die so young. I remember feeling as though there was a paving slab pressing down upon my chest, a literal pain in my heart. Nine months later, desperate to get away for a while, I left for Portugal, where I had got a job teaching English in a language institute. I took with me the still-growing manuscript of Harry Potter, hopeful that my new working hours (I taught in the afternoon and evening) would lend themselves to pressing on with my novel, which had changed a lot since my mother had died. Now, Harry's feelings about his dead parents had become much deeper, much more real. In my first weeks in Portugal I wrote my favourite chapter in Philosopher's Stone, The Mirror of Erised. I had hoped that when I returned from Portugal I would have a finished book under my arm. In fact, I had something even better: my daughter. I had met and married a Portuguese man, and although the marriage did not work out, it had given me the best thing in my life. Jessica and I arrived in Edinburgh, where my sister Di was living, just in time for Christmas 1993. I intended to start teaching again and knew that unless I finished the book very soon, I might never finish it; I knew that full-time teaching, with all the marking and lesson planning, let alone with a small daughter to care for single-handedly, would leave me with absolutely no spare time at all. And so I set to work in a kind of frenzy, determined to finish the book and at least try and get it published. Whenever Jessica fell asleep in her pushchair I would dash to the nearest cafe and write like mad. I wrote nearly every evening. Then I had to type the whole thing out myself. Sometimes I actually hated the book, even while I loved it. Finally it was done. I covered the first three chapters in a nice plastic folder and set them off to an agent, who returned them so fast they must have been sent back the same day they arrived. But the second agent I tried wrote back and asked to see the rest of the manuscript. It was far and away the best letter I had ever received in my life, and it was only two sentences long. It took a year for my new agent, Christopher, to find a publisher. Lots of them turned it down. Then, finally, in August 1996, Christopher telephoned me and told me that Bloomsbury had 'made an offer.' I could not quite believe my ears. 'You mean it's going to be published?' I asked, rather stupidly. 'It's definitely going to be published?' After I had hung up, I screamed and jumped into the air; Jessica, who was sitting in her high-chair enjoying tea, looked thoroughly scared. And you probably know what happened next. SHAQUILLE O’NEAL Shaquille Rashaun O'Neal is an American professional basketball player for the NBA's Boston Celtics. Standing 7 ft 1 in (2.16 m) tall and weighing 325 pounds (147 kg), he is one of the heaviest players ever to play in the NBA. Throughout his 18-year career, O'Neal has used his size and strength to overpower opponents for points and rebounds. After the retirement of Lindsey Hunter on March 5, 2010, O'Neal became the oldest active player in the NBA. After graduating from high school, O'Neal attended Louisiana State University, where he studied business. He had first met Dale Brown, LSU's men's basketball coach at that time, years before in Europe. With O'Neal's stepfather stationed on a U.S. Army base at Wildflecken, West Germany, and his godfather a First Sergeant at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio,Texas, O'Neal attended Fulda American High School, a DODDS school. While playing for Brown at LSU, O'Neal was a two-time All-American, two-time SEC player of the year, and received the Adolph Rupp Trophy as NCAA men's basketball player of the year in 1991. O'Neal left LSU early to pursue his NBA career, but returned to school in 2000 and received a Bachelor of Arts in General Studies. He was later inducted into the LSU Hall of Fame. The Orlando Magic drafted O'Neal with the 1st overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft. During that summer, prior to moving to Orlando, he spent a significant amount of time in Los Angeles under the tutelage of Hall of Famer Magic Johnson. During his rookie season, O'Neal averaged 23.4 points on 56.2% shooting, 13.9 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks per game for the season. He was named the 1993 NBA Rookie of the Year and became the first rookie to be voted an All-Star starter since Michael Jordan in 1985. The Magic finished 41–41, winning 20 more games than the previous season; however, the team ultimately missed the playoffs by virtue of a tie-breaker with the Indiana Pacers. On more than one occasion during the year, Sports Illustrated writer Jack McCallum overheard O'Neal saying, "We've got to get [head coach] Matty [Guokas] out of here and bring in [assistant] Brian [Hill]." In O'Neal's second season, Hill was the coach and Guokas was reassigned to the front office. O'Neal improved his scoring average to 29.4 points (second in the league to David Robinson) while leading the NBA in field goal percentage at 60%. On November 20, 1993, against the New Jersey Nets, O'Neal registered the first triple-double of his career, recording 24 points to go along with career highs of 28 rebounds and 15 blocks. He was voted into the All-Star game and also made the All-NBA 3rd Team. Teamed with newly- drafted Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway, the Magic finished with a record of 50–32 and made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. In his first playoff series, O'Neal averaged 20.7 points and 13.3 rebounds in a losing effort as the Magic were swept in the first round by the Indiana Pacers. In his third season, O'Neal led the NBA in scoring with an average of 29.3 points per game. He finished second in MVP voting to David Robinson and was voted into his third straight All-Star Game along with teammate Penny Hardaway. O'Neal and Hardaway formed one of the top duos in the league and helped Orlando to a 57–25 record and the Atlantic Division crown. The Magic won their first ever playoff series against the Boston Celtics in the first round of the 1995 NBA Playoffs. They then defeated the Chicago Bulls in the conference semi-finals, dealing Michael Jordan one of his few playoff losses of the decade. After beating Reggie Miller's Indiana Pacers, the Magic reached the NBA Finals, where they would face the defending NBA champion Houston Rockets. O'Neal played well in his first Finals appearance, averaging 28 points on 59.5% shooting, 12.5 rebounds, and 6.3 assists. Despite this, the Rockets, led by future Hall-of-Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, swept the series in four games. O'Neal was injured for a great deal of the 1995–96 season, missing 28 games. He averaged 26.6 points and 11 rebounds per game, made the All-NBA 3rd Team, and played in his 4th All-Star Game. Despite O'Neal's injuries, the Magic finished with a regular season record of 60–22, second in the Eastern conference to the Chicago Bulls, who finished with an NBA record 72 wins. Orlando easily defeated the Detroit Pistons and the Atlanta Hawks in the first two rounds of the 1996 NBA Playoffs; however, they were no match against the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls, who swept them in the Eastern Conference Finals. O'Neal became a free agent after the 95–96 NBA season. In the summer of 1996, O'Neal was named to the United States Olympic basketball team, and was later part of the gold medal-winning team at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. On the team's first full day at the Olympics in Atlanta, it was announced that O'Neal would join the Los Angeles Lakers on a seven-year, $121 million contract. He insisted he did not choose Los Angeles for the money. "I'm tired of hearing about money, money, money, money, money," O'Neal said after the signing. "I just want to play the game, drink Pepsi, wear Reebok," he added, referring to a couple of his product endorsements. The Lakers won 56 games during the 1996–97 season. O'Neal averaged 26.2 points and 12.5 rebounds in his first season with Los Angeles; however, he again missed over 30 games due to injury. The Lakers made the playoffs, but were eliminated by the Utah Jazz in five games. In 1999, the Lakers hired Phil Jackson as their new head coach, and the team's fortunes soon changed. Using Jackson's triangle offense, O'Neal and Bryant went on to enjoy tremendous success on the court, as they led the Los Angeles Lakers to three consecutive NBA titles (2000, 2001, and 2002). O'Neal was named MVP of the NBA Finals all three times and has the highest scoring average for a center in NBA Finals history. O'Neal was also voted the 1999–2000 regular season Most Valuable Player, coming just one vote short of becoming the first unanimous MVP in NBA history. Fred Hickman, then of CNN, was the sole voter who did not cast his first-place vote for O'Neal, instead choosing Allen Iverson, then of the Philadelphia 76ers who would go on to win MVP the next season. O'Neal also won the scoring title that year while finishing second in rebounds and third in blocked shots. Jackson's influence resulted in a newfound commitment by O'Neal to defense, resulting in his first All-Defensive Team selection (second-team) in 2000. On July 14, 2004, O'Neal was traded to the Miami Heat for Caron Butler, Lamar Odom, Brian Grant and a future first-round draft choice. O'Neal reverted from (his Lakers jersey) number 34 to number 32, which he wore while playing for the Orlando Magic. Upon signing with the Heat, O'Neal promised the fans that he would bring a championship to Miami. He claimed that one of the main reasons for wanting to be traded to Miami was because of their up-and-coming star, Dwyane Wade. With O'Neal on board, the new-look Heat surpassed expectations, claiming the best record in the Eastern Conference. He averaged 22.9 ppg and 10.4 rpg, made his 12th consecutive All-Star Team, and made the All-NBA 1st Team. Despite being hobbled by a deep thigh bruise, O'Neal led the Heat to the Eastern Conference Finals and a Game 7 against the defending champion Detroit Pistons, losing by a narrow margin. Afterwards, O'Neal and others criticized Heat head coach Stan Van Gundy for not calling enough plays for O'Neal. O'Neal also narrowly lost the 2004–05 MVP Award to Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash in one of the closest votes in NBA history. In the 2006 NBA Playoffs, the Miami Heat would go on to win their first NBA Championship. Led by both O'Neal and eventual NBA Finals MVP Dwyane Wade, the 2nd seeded Heat defeated the defending Eastern Conference Champion and top- seeded Detroit Pistons in a rematch of the 2005 Conference Finals, and then defeated the Dallas Mavericks in the 2006 NBA Finals. To date, O’Neal has played for three other NBA teams: Phoenix Suns (2008-2009), Cleveland Cavaliers (2009-2010), and the Boston Celtics (2010-present.) This brings his team total to five teams. In addition to his basketball career, O'Neal has released four rap albums, with his first, Shaq Diesel, going platinum. He has also appeared in numerous films and has starred in his own reality shows, Shaq's Big Challenge and Shaq Vs. JON STEWART Jon Stewart was born Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz on November 28, 1962. He is an American political satirist, writer, television host, actor, media critic and stand-up comedian. He is widely known as host of The Daily Show, a satirical news program that airs on Comedy Central. Stewart started as a stand-up comedian, but branched into television as host of Short Attention Span Theater for Comedy Central. He went on to host his own show on MTV, called The Jon Stewart Show, and then hosted another show on MTV called You Wrote It, You Watch It. He has also had several film roles as an actor. Stewart became the host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central in early 1999. He is also a writer and co- executive-producer of the show. After Stewart joined, The Daily Show steadily gained popularity and critical acclaim, which led to his first Emmy Award in 2001. Stewart has gained acclaim as an acerbic, satirical critic of personality-driven media shows, in particular those of the US media networks CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC. Critics say Stewart benefits from a double standard: he critiques other news shows from the safe, removed position of his "fake news" desk. Stewart agrees, saying that neither his show nor his channel purports to be anything other than satire and comedy. In spite of its self-professed entertainment mandate, The Daily Show has been nominated for news and journalism awards. Stewart hosted the 78th and 80th Academy Awards. He is the co-author of America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction, which was one of the best-selling books in the U.S. in 2004 and Earth (The Book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race released in 2010. Stewart was born into a Jewish family in New York City. He and his older brother, Larry Leibowitz (presently Chief Operating Officer of the New York Stock Exchange), grew up in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, where they attended Lawrence High School. Jon's mother, Marian, is an educational consultant and teacher. His father, Donald Leibowitz, was a professor of physics at The College of New Jersey from 2001 through 2008; he now teaches an online course at Thomas Edison University. Jon's parents were divorced when Stewart was eleven years old, and Stewart no longer has any contact with his father. Stewart has said that he was subjected to anti-Semitic bullying as a child. He describes himself in high school as "very into Eugene Debs and a bit of a leftist." Stewart graduated in 1984 from the College of William & Mary in Virginia, where he majored in psychology and played on the soccer team. After college, Stewart held numerous jobs. He was a contingency planner for the New Jersey Department of Human Services, a contract administrator for the City University of New York, a puppeteer for children with disabilities, a caterer, a busboy, a shelf stocker at Woolworth's, and a bartender at the Franklin Corner Tavern, a local blue-collar bar. During part of this time, Stewart roomed with future congressman Anthony Weiner, who still is the only politician to have received campaign donations from Stewart. With a reputation for being a funny man in school, Jon Stewart moved to New York City in 1986 to try his hand at the comedy club circuit, but he could not muster the courage to get on stage until the following year. He made his stand-up debut at The Bitter End, the same place where his comedic idol, Woody Allen, began. He began using the stage name "Jon Stewart" by dropping his last name and changing the spelling of his middle name "Stuart" to "Stewart." He often jokes this is because people had difficulty with the pronunciation of Leibowitz or it "sounded too Hollywood" (a reference to Lenny Bruce's joke on the same theme). He has implied that the name change was actually due to a strained relationship with his father with whom Stewart no longer has any contact. Stewart became a regular at the Comedy Cellar, where he was the last performer every night. For two years, he would perform at 2 a.m. while developing his comedic style. In 1989, he landed his first television job as a writer for Caroline's Comedy Hour. In 1991, he began co-hosting Comedy Central's Short Attention Span Theater along with Patty Rosborough. In 1992, Stewart hosted the short-lived You Wrote It, You Watch It on MTV, which invited viewers to send in their stories to be acted out by the comedy troupe, The State. When David Letterman left NBC in 1993, Stewart was a finalist to replace him, but Conan O'Brien was hired instead. In 1999, Stewart began hosting The Daily Show on Comedy Central when Craig Kilborn left the show to replace Tom Snyder on The Late Late Show. The show, which has been popular and successful in cable television since Stewart became the host, blends humor with the day's top news stories, usually in politics, while simultaneously poking fun at politicians and many newsmakers as well as the news media itself. In an interview on The O'Reilly Factor, Stewart denies the show has any intentional political agenda, saying the goal was "schnicks and giggles." "The same weakness that drove me into comedy also informs my show," meaning that he was uncomfortable talking without hearing the audience laugh. Stewart has since hosted almost all airings of the program, except for a few occasions when correspondents such as Stephen Colbert, Rob Corddry, and Steve Carell subbed for him. Stewart has won a total of thirteen Emmys for The Daily Show as either a writer or producer. In 2005, The Daily Show and Jon Stewart also received a Best Comedy Album Grammy Award for the audio book edition of America (The Book). In 2000 and 2004, the show won two Peabody Awards for its coverage of the presidential elections relevant to those years, called "Indecision 2000" and "Indecision 2004", respectively. One of the show's most serious moments remains the September 20, 2001, show—the first show after the attacks of September 11, 2001. The show began with no introduction. Before this, the introduction included footage of a fly-in towards the World Trade Center and New York City. The first nine minutes of the show included a tearful Stewart discussing his personal view on the event. His remarks ended as follows: ―The view... from my apartment... was the World Trade Center... and now it's gone, and they attacked it. This symbol of American ingenuity, and strength, and labor, and imagination and commerce, and it is gone. But you know what the view is now? The Statue of Liberty. The view from the South of Manhattan is now the Statue of Liberty. You can't beat that.‖ In April 2010, Comedy Central renewed Stewart's contract to host The Daily Show into 2013. Stewart is paid a reported $1.5 million for one season of The Daily Show. According to the Forbes list of Celebrities, he earns $14 million a year. On September 16, 2010, Stewart along with Stephen Colbert announced a rally for October 30, known as the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. It took place on the National Mall in Washington D.C. and attracted an estimated 215,000 particpants. In December 2010 Stewart was credited by the White House and other media and political news outlets for bringing awareness of the Republican filibuster on the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act to the public, leading to the ultimate passing of the bill which provides health benefits to first responders whose health has been adversely affected by their work at Ground Zero. As a result of such high-profile political stands, Stewart is being recognized as a political force rather than merely as a comedian. The New York Times suggested that he is "the modern-day equivalent of Edward R. Murrow" and the UK national newspaper The Independent called him the "satirist-in-chief." In the middle of 2002, amid rumors that David Letterman was going to make a switch from CBS to ABC when his contract ran out, Stewart was rumored to be the person who would take over Letterman's show on CBS. Ultimately, Letterman renewed his contract with CBS. On the March 9, 2002, episode of Saturday Night Live, hosted by Stewart, a "Weekend Update" sketch poked fun at the situation. In the middle of the sketch, "Weekend Update" anchor Jimmy Fallon said that he could not continue doing the broadcast and he brought Stewart in to replace him. Stewart glowed with excitement and chattered to himself about this chance to prove himself on network television. His pep talk went on too long, however, and before Stewart could deliver any headlines, Fallon returned and said he would be able to finish out the broadcast himself. Later that year, ABC offered Stewart his own talk show to air after Nightline. Stewart's contract with The Daily Show was near expiring and he expressed strong interest. ABC, however, decided to give another Comedy Central figure, Jimmy Kimmel, the post-Nightline slot. STEVEN SPIELBERG Undoubtedly one of the most influential film personalities in the history of film, Steven Spielberg is perhaps Hollywood's best known director and one of the wealthiest filmmakers in the world. Spielberg has countless big-grossing, critically acclaimed credits to his name, as producer, director and writer. He was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1946. He went to California State University Long Beach, but dropped out to pursue his entertainment career. He gained notoriety as an uncredited assistant editor on the classic western "Wagon Train" (1957). Among his early directing efforts were Battle Squad (1961), which combined World War II footage with footage of an airplane on the ground that he makes you believe is moving. He also directed Escape to Nowhere (1961), which featured children as World War Two soldiers, including his sister Anne Spielberg, and The Last Gun (1959), a western. All of these were short films. The next couple of years, Spielberg directed a couple of movies that would portend his future career in movies. In 1964, he directed Firelight (1964), a movie about aliens invading a small town. In 1967, he directed Slipstream (1967), which was unfinished. However, in 1968, he directed Amblin' (1968), which featured the desert prominently, and not the first of his movies in which the desert would feature so prominently. Amblin' also became the name of his production company, which turned out such classics as E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982). Spielberg had a unique and classic early directing project, Duel (1971) (TV), with Dennis Weaver. In the early 1970s, Spielberg was working on TV, directing among others such series as Rod Serling's "Night Gallery" (1970), "Marcus Welby, M.D." (1969) and "Columbo: Murder by the Book (#1.1)" (1971). All of his work in television and short films, as well as his directing projects, were just a hint of the wellspring of talent that would dazzle audiences all over the world. Spielberg's first major directorial effort was The Sugarland Express (1974), with Goldie Hawn, a film that marked him as a rising star. It was his next effort, however, that made him an international superstar among directors: Jaws (1975). This classic shark attack tale started the tradition of the summer blockbuster or, at least, he was credited with starting the tradition. His next film was the classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), a unique and original UFO story that remains a classic. In 1978, Spielberg produced his first film, the forgettable I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1978), and followed that effort with Used Cars (1980), a critically acclaimed, but mostly forgotten, Kurt Russell\Jack Warden comedy about devious used-car dealers. Spielberg hit gold yet one more time with Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), with Harrison Ford taking the part of Indiana Jones. Spielberg produced and directed two films in 1982. The first was Poltergeist (1982), but the highest-grossing movie of all time up to that point was the alien story E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982). Spielberg also helped pioneer the practice of product placement. The concept, while not uncommon, was still relatively low-key when Spielberg raised the practice to almost an art form with his famous (or infamous) placement of Reece's Pieces in "E.T." Spielberg was also one of the pioneers of the big-grossing special-effects movies, like "E.T." and "Close Encounters", where a very strong emphasis on special effects was placed for the first time on such a huge scale. In 1984, Spielberg followed up "Raiders" with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), which was a commercial success but did not receive the critical acclaim of its predecessor. As a producer, Spielberg took on many projects in the 1980s, such as The Goonies (1985), and was the brains behind the little monsters in Gremlins (1984). He also produced the cartoon An American Tail (1986), a quaint little animated classic. His biggest effort as producer in 1985, however, was the blockbuster Back to the Future (1985), which made Michael J. Fox an instant superstar. As director, Spielberg took on the book The Color Purple (1985), with Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey, with great success. In the latter half of the 1980s, he also directed Empire of the Sun (1987), a mixed success for the occasionally erratic Spielberg. Success would not escape him for long, though. The late 1980s found Spielberg's projects at the center of pop-culture yet again. In 1988, he produced the landmark animation/live-action film Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988). The next year proved to be another big one for Spielberg, as he produced and directed Always (1989) as well as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), and Back to the Future Part II (1989). All three of the films were box-office and critical successes. Also, in 1989, he produced the little known comedy-drama Dad (1989), with Jack Lemmon and Ted Danson, which got mostly mixed results. Spielberg has also had an affinity for animation and has been a strong voice in animation in the 1990s. Aside from producing the landmark "Who Framed Roger Rabbit", he produced the animated series "Tiny Toon Adventures" (1990), "Animaniacs" (1993), "Pinky and the Brain" (1995), "Freakazoid!" (1995), "Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain" (1998), "Family Dog" (1993) and "Toonsylvania" (1998). Spielberg also produced other cartoons such as The Land Before Time (1988), We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story (1993), Casper (1995) (the live action version) as well as the live-action version of The Flintstones (1994), where he was credited as "Steven Spielrock". Spielberg also produced many Roger Rabbit short cartoons, and many Pinky and the Brain, Animaniacs and Tiny Toons specials. Spielberg was very active in the early 1990s, as he directed Hook (1991) and produced such films as the cute fantasy Joe Versus the Volcano (1990) and An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991). He also produced the unusual comedy thriller Arachnophobia (1990), Back to the Future Part III (1990) and Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990). While these movies were big successes in their own right, they did not quite bring in the kind of box office or critical acclaim as previous efforts. In 1993, Spielberg directed Jurassic Park (1993), which for a short time held the record as the highest grossing movie of all time, but did not have the universal appeal of his previous efforts. Big box-office spectacles were not his only concern, though. He produced and directed Schindler's List (1993), a stirring film about the Holocaust. He won best director at the Oscars, and also got Best Picture. In the mid-90s, he helped found the production company DreamWorks, which was responsible for many box-office successes. As a producer, he was very active in the late 90s, responsible for such films as The Mask of Zorro (1998), Men in Black (1997) and Deep Impact (1998). However, it was on the directing front that Spielberg was in top form. He directed and produced the epic Amistad (1997), a spectacular film that was shorted at the Oscars and in release due to the fact that its release date was moved around so much in late 1997. The next year, however, produced what many believe was one of the best films of his career: Saving Private Ryan (1998), a film about World War Two that is spectacular in almost every respect. It was stiffed at the Oscars, losing best picture to Shakespeare in Love (1998). Spielberg produced a series of films, including Evolution (2001), The Haunting (1999) and Shrek (2001). he also produced two sequels to Jurassic Park (1993), which were financially but not particularly critical successes. In 2001, he produced a mini-series about World War Two that definitely *was* a financial and critical success: "Band of Brothers" (2001), a tale of an infantry company from its parachuting into France during the invasion to the Battle of the Bulge. Also in that year, Spielberg was back in the director's chair for A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001), a movie with a message and a huge budget. It did reasonably at the box office and garnered varied reviews from critics. Spielberg has been extremely active in films there are many other things he has done as well. He produced the short-lived TV series "SeaQuest 2032" (1993), an anthology series entitled "Amazing Stories" (1985), created the video-game series "Medal of Honor" set during World War Two, and was a starting producer of "ER" (1994). Spielberg, if you haven't noticed, has a great interest in World War Two. He and Tom Hanks collaborated on Shooting War (2000) (TV), a documentary about World War II combat photographers, and he produced a documentary about the Holocaust called Eyes of the Holocaust (2000). With all of this to Spielberg's credit, it's no wonder that he's looked at as one of the greatest ever figures in entertainment.
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