The New Power of NY List

A New York State of Mind

By John Doe
Above Image | Michael Strahan with his “Good Morning America” colleagues

There are as many power lists as there are Uber drivers on Broadway. Most celebrate legends like Harvey Weinstein, Barbara Walters, and Michael Bloomberg. But there’s a new league of movers and shakers upending the entertainment business in Manhattan and beyond. These trailblazers tend to be more digitally savvy, entrepreneurial, and unafraid to ruffle feathers.

Rachel Maddow

Anchor, MSNBC

With her sharpel-bowed analysis of political events, she has become the network’s biggest star. Her show’s recipe calls for painstakingly detailed fact-checking and reporting, which has lent her added credibility in a news cycle dominated by sound bites.

Lester Holt

Anchor, NBC News

Holt brought stability back to “NBC Nightly News” after a choppy period in the wake of Brian Williams’ dramatic 2015 exit. He has managed to fend off rivals—including ABC’s David Muir—by doubling down on news and traveling for big scoops to score a first-place finish in the ratings.

Michael Strahan

Anchor, “Good Morning America”

His TV split from Kelly Ripa made headlines, but Strahan’s affable persona made sure it didn’t cost him any fans. In fact, his star continues to rise at ABC, where he shares top billing on “GMA.” The former defensive end is putting that skill to good use, trying to keep rival “Today” from gaining ground in the morning-show race.

Philippe Von Borries & Justin Stefano

Co-CEOs and founders, Refinery29

From its origins in a Brooklyn apartment, female-focused Refinery29 has bloomed into a global digital-media operation with 400-plus employees. Its growth and focus on original video productions have pulled traditional media companies into its orbit: Turner Broadcasting led a $45 million financing round this summer, joining existing investors including WPP, Hearst, and Scripps Networks Interactive.

Samantha Bee

Host, “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee”

The former “Daily Show” correspondent has taken late night by storm with a weekly TBS program that holds nothing back. Bee’s foul-mouthed rants routinely go viral as viewers rely on her caustic humor to vent their built-up frustration over the polarized political landscape.

Ciel Hunter

Head of content, Vice Media

Everyone knows that Vice is the food-fight guest at the big-media dinner table. Founder Shane Smith may get most of the ink, but it’s Hunter who helps the company keep its edge by overseeing Vice’s video and editorial arms.

Stephen Karam


With “The Humans,” a subtle, incisive look at the struggle of a middle-class family, Karam landed his first Tony. He’s now considered one of the pre-eminent playwrights of his generation. His Broadway adaptation of “The Cherry Orchard,” starring Diane Lane, opens next month.

Chris Licht

Executive producer, “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert”

The executive who helped create “Morning Joe” and “CBS This Morning” is now being counted on to rescue CBS’s “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.” He’s trying to close the ratings gap with Jimmy Fallon’s “Tonight Show” by focusing more on headlines of the day. He also put Colbert on the road—sending him to cover both political conventions.

Ben Lerer

CEO, Thrillist Media Group

Lerer was a decade ahead of his time when he launched Thrillist in 2004 as a collection of food and travel sites. The business has finally caught up with him: He just got a $54 million investment from German media company Axel Springer. “It sort of feels like 10 years post-launch, Thrillist is an ‘overnight’ success,” says Lerer.

Chelsea Clinton


I’m glad Chelsea chose to be a New Yorker. It gives Hillary and me more time with her, Marc, and their children, and our grandchildren are growing up in one of the world’s most diverse, exciting, creative communities. New York is perfect for her: People celebrate our diversity and cherish our common humanity, lift each other up and push each other forward.

New York has helped Chelsea find her calling. In Lower Manhattan on 9/11, she was shaken by the lives that were lost and steeled in her determination to stay and make a life here. And she has, through two interesting jobs in the private sector and work at NYU, where she helped to co-found the Of Many Institute, a vibrant interfaith group that provides Muslim and Jewish students the chance to learn from one another and work together for the common good.

After Hillary’s campaign in 2008, she attended Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, earned a master’s degree, and now teaches there.

She has also joined the Clinton Foundation, where she has taken a leading role in modernizing our operations, increasing our impact on the lives of young children through the Too Small to Fail initiative, and developing and sharing the most comprehensive data available on the status of women and girls through No Ceilings, a partnership with Melinda Gates and the Gates Foundation. After Superstorm Sandy, she mobilized 1,000 volunteers for a Day of Action in the Rockaways, and later brought more volunteers to other hard-hit communities in Queens and Staten Island.

You can tell that, like most fathers, I think my daughter is pretty great, and that my grandchildren have a mother who will show by the power of example that New York is a great place to grow up and give back.

I will always be grateful that Chelsea—and my wonderful son-in-law, Marc—have made a life of love and purpose in New York City.

Bill Clinton is the founder of the Clinton Foundation and 42nd President of the United States.

Ben Smith


For a youngish editor, Ben Smith has been around the block and around it again: The Indianapolis Star, The Baltic Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Sun, The Observer, The News, Politico, and a raft of city blogs. I say that not because it is unusual for a journalist of Ben’s generation or even mine, but because for years, it seems, he was circling a runway that was only faintly visible through the fog. The internet, in its2.0 iteration, the age of virality, provided it. Smith landed at BuzzFeed; more to the point, he was instrumental in inventing it—a protean site that is morphing all the time. Ben is BuzzFeed’s editor-in-chief, and he is politically astute and personally intelligent; that is, he is experienced in the world and warm and nimble with people. Along with Jonah Peretti, the tech brain behind the organization, and other editors like the preternaturally gifted Shani O. Hilton and Mark Schoofs, Ben is running an entity that is hard to define and always changing in interesting ways.

One thing is for sure: The BuzzFeed that is read by Person A is radically different from the one favored by Person B. There is the mind-vacation BuzzFeed, the listicles such as “11 Real Life

 Moments That You Wish You Could Press Pause On.” But then along comes an affecting video on the order of “Being Queer in a Fraternity.” And then there is the more ambitious work: Katie Baker’s reporting on sexual assault on campus; a sharp investigative unit run by Schoofs and Ariel Kaminer; and, amid the insanity of the 2016 race, Ruby Cramer and Rosie Gray’s political coverage.

Smith and his colleagues have a young, smart, funny, and diverse staff, and I readily admit that, in a larcenous editorial spirit, I am always looking to see who is coming along. They hire poets, reporters, filmmakers, anyone, it seems, who’s ready to make a mark. The truth is, I have no idea what BuzzFeed is going to be in a couple of years—I hope a large component will be the parts I like best, the ambitious journalistic bits, the best of the personal essays—but it is fascinating to witness Smith & Co. trying to figure it all out. Dull is the last thing it’s going to be.

David Remnick is editor of The New Yorker.

Thomas Kail


His steady hand helped turn “Hamilton” into a cultural juggernaut and made “Grease: Live” a viral sensation for Fox. Now he’s orchestrating the “Hamilton” productions in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and London. Look for his influence to continue to grow via a new deal at 20th Century Fox TV.

Lin-Manuel Miranda

Tour de force

You know why he’s on the list: His out-there impulse to tell the story of Alexander Hamilton with a hip-hop mix resulted in the hottest Broadway ticket of the decade. The success of “Hamilton” has made Miranda among the most in-demand creatives; Disney snagged him for three projects (and counting), including a starring gig in the “Mary Poppins” sequel.

Mark Subias

Agent, UTA

Few agents have a better Great White Way Rolodex. His clients include “A View From the Bridge” director Ivo van Hove, “The Color Purple” star Cynthia Erivo, “Eclipsed” playwright (and “Walking Dead” star) Danai Gurira, and Diane Lane, who will star in a revival of “The Cherry Orchard.”

Benj Pasek & Justin Paul


Raves from the Venice and Toronto film festivals confirm the Oscar frontrunner status of “La La Land.” These songsmiths wrote the lyrics for most of those catchy tunes, after working on a stage adaptation of “A Christmas Story” and TV’s “Smash.” A buzzy “Dear Hansen” comes to Broadway this fall, and they’re going further into Hollywood, composing music for DreamWorks Animations’ “Trolls” and the upcoming Hugh Jackman musical tentpole “The Greatest Showman on Earth.”

John Buzzetti

Partner, WME

The man who brokers Lin-Manuel Miranda’s deals also represents Tony winners Thomas Kail and Stephen Karam. When Disney pulls off its planned “Frozen” stage musical, look for Buzzetti to be at the table, representing Oscar-winning composers Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez.

Frances Berwick

President of lifestyle networks, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment

The stylish Brit manages a portfolio of networks — Bravo, E! Entertainment, Esquire Network, Oxygen, and Sprout — that are equal parts sassy and trashy. Her latest endeavor was to push Bravo into the scripted-series realm with “The Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce” and “Odd Mom Out.”

Tony Hernandez

President and founder, Jax Media

He has turned Jax into the production hub of choice for comedic stars looking to make content on a beer budget, with a client list that includes Amy Schumer, Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson of “Broad City,” Jim Gaffigan, and Billy Eichner.

Sarah Kate Ellis

President/CEO, GLAAD

She helped save the media advocacy organization from financial ruin. Then she was a thorn in Vladimir Putin’s side, drawing attention to Russia’s anti-LGBTQ laws during the Sochi Olympics. Closer to home: Ellis successfully fought to overturn the longtime ban on gay participants in New York’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Keri Russell


The former “Felicity” star is at the top of her game, playing a Soviet agent with multiple identities in the FX drama, “The Americans,” which shoots around Brooklyn. This year, Emmy voters finally and belatedly recognized her performance with a best actress nomination. She also recently welcomed a son, Sam, a co-production with her boyfriend and “Americans” co-star, Matthew Rhys.

John Martin

Chairman/CEO, Turner Broadcasting

It’s been a busy few months for the leader of Time Warner’s biggest division. A resurgent CNN continues to build up its digital arsenal. TBS has moved into competitive gaming with ELeague, and TCM has entered the streaming arena. Martin is keeping his schedule full amid rumors that he’s a contender to succeed Jeff Bewkes as captain of the mothership.

David Rhodes

President, CBS News

The Eye has embraced the Internet Age under Rhodes’ leadership, after the launch last year of CBSN. Rhodes landed ex-“GMA” star Josh Elliott to be the public face of the 24-hour digital network. Even more impressive, after decades of languishing in the ratings, “CBS This Morning” has a pulse. It’s no surprise the exec was on the Murdochs’ wish list to replace Roger Ailes.

Adam Driver


After six seasons as Hannah’s dyfunctional boyfriend on “Girls,” Driver made it to the big time with “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” His work as the villainous Kylo Ren landed him on backpacks and lunchboxes, but it’s his subtle turn as a bus driver with a poetic side in Jim Jarmusch’s “Paterson” that impressed critics at Cannes. He’ll round out the year with Martin Scorsese’s “Silence.”

Leslie Jones


I first met Leslie Jones at “SNL.” She was a new writer, and I was a terrified first-time host being shuttled from office to office to hear pitches. Every conversation was a blur of clever puns and Harvard-dude ingenuity (not knocking that approach, but it was different than mine). When I sat down in Leslie’s office, my entire body breathed a sigh of relief: She was open about her own anxieties but so funny it didn’t matter, and she pitched a sketch in which I played Jesus’ prospective publicist.

While that never made it to air, I had no doubt that Leslie herself soon would. Everything about her presence was witty, wise, and utterly original. It’s telling that in our society, a woman — and a woman of color especially — can be called radical just for daring to exist publicly. But Leslie took to her new job with so much grace, power, and style, that she should be called radical. She knows and embodies the voices and hopes of many.

Now she’s a full-on star: Between scene-stealing moments in “Top Five,” her job as an “SNL” regular, and every comedy nerd’s dream role in “Ghostbusters,” she has become a household name, and she has done it with joy and authenticity. But as she has brought us so much delight as viewers, she has also exposed the darkest underbelly of the internet: the racism and misogyny being stoked by the hatred embedded in current American discourse, even as it tries to hide behind the anonymity of a screen.

She has endured more negativity and verbal violence than any person should ever be subjected to, and she has taken it on with her trademark vulnerability, humor, and wisdom. She’s leading the way for bullied teens, victims of abuse, and anyone who has ever felt silenced by judgment.

She has embraced her power to change the dialogue. She has forced us all to look within at what would be needed, from us and our neighbors, to live in a kinder and more just society — one where we can just let Leslie Jones thrive. Because this woman was born to thrive, and we are so lucky to watch her.

Lena Dunham is the star and executive producer of “Girls.”

Ivanka Trump


In the last week, Ivanka opened a $200 million hotel, unveiled a legislative policy to benefit working families, and managed to do the first day of school drop-offs for our children — all before Wednesday. Whether preparing to deliver a speech to millions of people at the RNC, or teaching our kids to swim, Ivanka defines the phrase “hands on.” A few years ago, at a large family function, Ivanka was carrying a plate of snacks in one hand and our daughter, Arabella, with the other, when she was approached by a guest holding a Sharpie. The woman took off her heels, handed Ivanka the marker, and asked her to sign them — they were Ivanka Trump shoes. The timing was less than ideal, but Ivanka knows that the women who buy her clothes are busy moms trying to balance their work and family lives. Ivanka signed the shoes with a smile.

Ivanka is an amazing wife and devoted mother. She runs her own lifestyle company, is finishing her second book, “Women Who Work,” and is an executive in her family’s real estate business — all while being under the spotlight and scrutiny that comes with your father running for president.

If you know Ivanka, you have not been surprised to see her emerge during this crazy campaign season as a leader advocating for serious policies to support American women and their families — these are issues she has been championing for years. It took real courage for Ivanka to stand before 35 million Americans, including many who had not previously focused on these issues before, to help advance substantive policies. Grace under pressure is what she does best.

Jared Kushner is the publisher of The New York Observer.

Ilana Glazer & Abbi Jacobson

Show creators and actors

The faces behind Comedy Central’s sketch show “Broad City” are more than just funny women. Ilana and Abbi, who play exaggerated versions of themselves on the show, have become the poster girls for liberated, freewheeling feminism in New York City, their hometown.

Alicia Keys


Not only did she write the new anthem for New York, “Empire State of Mind,” but the outspoken singer/songwriter brought attendees of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia to their feet with a medley of her greatest hits. If Hillary Clinton wins, look for Keys to be a headliner at January’s inauguration.

Brian Stelter

Senior Correspondent, CNN

The “Reliable Sources” host has long owned the media beat, but he has now become one of the breakout TV journalists of the 2016 election cycle. He’s held the press accountable in its coverage of both presidential candidates, and led the analysis on Trump’s loose relationship with facts.

Jimmy Fallon

Host, “The Tonight Show”

After a 42-year hiatus in Los Angeles, Fallon was able to successfully bring “The Tonight Show” back to New York. He has kept the NBC franchise at No. 1 in the ratings by challenging celebrities, from Tina Fey to Celine Dion, to games, skits, and sing-alongs.

Jake Gyllenhaal & Riva Marker

Co-founders, Nine Stories Prods.

Gyllenhaal’s acting career has hit a creative peak, with critically acclaimed turns in “Nightcrawler,” “Southpaw,” and “Nocturnal Animals.” Now he’s teaming with Marker to produce projects for Nine Stories, including Denis Villeneuve’s “The Son,” Antoine Fuqua’s “The Man Who Made It Snow,” and a Broadway revival of “Burn This.”

Andrew Karpen

CEO, Bleecker Street

The indie studio chief had one of the year’s biggest art-house hits with “Eye in the Sky,” a drone thriller that racked up nearly $20 million at the domestic box office. He also helped land an Oscar nomination for Bryan Cranston in “Trumbo.” This fall, he’ll try to fuel some awards heat for “Denial,” a courtroom drama that stars Rachel Weisz.

Mark Shapiro

Chief content officer, WME-IMG

The former CEO of Dick Clark Prods. and Six Flags is trying to integrate IMG’s fashion and sports representation into WME, following the 2013 merger of the two agencies. If he pulls it off, the combined company could be king of the talent agencies — a one-stop shop for artists, designers, and athletes. So far, he’s overhauled Fashion Week with art exhibits and retail pop-ups, and is revamping the Miss Universe broadcasts.

Michelle Williams


In 2002, I saw Michelle Williams in a Mike Leigh play called “Smelling a Rat.” She was very young. She hobbled onto the stage in very high heels — platforms, maybe — saying in a really good and extremely strange English accent, “Daddy? Daddy?” I thought she was great. It was a bizarre, hugely bold characterization. You don’t often see a pretty blond ingenue commit that fully to such an odd character turn. You rarely see anyone paint a character in such colorful strokes while remaining emotionally truthful. It seemed as though the character was out of her mind, not the actor.

I’ve never seen her play anything quite that weird again, but in the years to come I watched Michelle embody one wildly different role after another, burrowing into the emotional heart of each with an eye-widening thoroughness that allowed her to be transformed, in her whole person, by what she found there.

Physically, she is small. In person, she gives the impression of being very delicate. But there is nothing small or delicate about the volcano of feeling she has on tap, ready to break loose into whatever channels the specifics of her role suggest.

Despite my long-ingrained opinion that writing and acting are essentially the same process, there are times when I just don’t understand that extra bit of magic by which an actor actually becomes what I can only write down. I’ve wanted to work with her for years. But I was totally unprepared for just how hard she works and how much she has to offer.

Kenneth Lonergan is the director and writer of “Manchester By The Sea.”

Lena Dunham


Lena Dunham texts me every morning the minute she wakes up to make sure I’m alive. That might seem insane to you. I’m not completely sure why she does it. It might be love. It might be a morbid curiosity. It might be her OCD.

Yes. She has OCD. But you already know that, because Lena Dunham has already shared that with you. Just like so many parts of herself, she has boldly given them to you. And you, like me, are so lucky. Because maybe it makes you feel understood. Maybe it makes you laugh. Maybe it makes you feel seen and heard like you never really have. Or maybe it grosses you out (she loves to gross me out, and I’m her best friend).

Maybe it shocks you. But it always has a powerful effect. And that is the gift of Lena. She will offer what you can’t. You might think it, but she will say it. (She says it to me, all day every day, even when all I want to do is nap or read a book.)

Things you may not know that Lena loves: injured dogs, wallpaper, the moment she’s allowed to change into her own clothes after a nude scene, apologizing when she’s done something she knows merits it, pissing off men who remind her of her grandpa, buying tons of tiny things for my kids, justice, babies.

She still has some secrets. She might share them with you one day. Or maybe she’ll keep them to herself. Either way, she still has a hell of a lot left to say. Including the joke above about how she never stops sharing. She wrote that. She just can’t help herself.

Jenni Konner is the showrunner of “Girls.”

Megyn Kelly


Megyn Kelly is one of those rare women who seamlessly combines professional excellence and family. She doesn’t need a catchphrase to define what she instinctively has accomplished. She just “does it.

”I met her for the first time when I appeared as a guest on her new Fox News program. I had heard that she was a fan, and I was impressed with how she had skillfully transitioned into her role on “The Kelly File.”

She was a wonderful interviewer for me. I have a tendency to give you a novel in response to a question. She gave me a wide berth but instinctively knew when to bring me back. As a fine journalist, Megyn meticulously prepares for an interview and has a reservoir of knowledge that allows her to negotiate with anyone.

On a lighter side, I love the new hair. I think that she was so smart to perhaps say to herself, “I’m transitioning from one career to another and I want to look different.”

I think Megyn has the talent to do anything she wants to do. She is a star and she’s still growing. I’m as old as Methuselah. She’s a kid. Her opportunities are only limited by her dreams.

Judith Sheindlin presides over “Judge Judy,” now in its 21st season.

Alex Gibney


The documentary filmmaker tackled Scientology in “Going Clear” and Ol’ Blue Eyes in “Sinatra: All or Nothing at All” for HBO, and he still found time to direct an episode of Showtime’s “Billions.” Now he plans to turn “Zero Days,” an investigation into computer malware that the U.S. used on an Iranian nuclear facility, into a drama series.

Joshua Kushner

Founder, Thrive Capital

Thrive recently closed a new $700 million fund; Kushner previously made bank with stakes in Instagram, Warby Parker, and Slack. A Democrat, he has publicly steered clear of this year’s presidential battle despite his family ties to the GOP nominee. (He’s the brother of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared.)

Hilary Estey McLoughlin

Executive consultant, ABC News

The former Telepictures president has traded Los Angeles for New York, lending her producer chops to ABC News as an executive consultant. She helped steer the ratings turnaround on “The View” by bringing back Joy Behar and landing big political gets like Hillary Clinton. She also serves as an adviser for “Good Morning America.”

Scott Lonker

Agent, CAA

As an agent who specializes in alternative TV programming, Lonker has been instrumental in packaging a smattering of buzzy projects, ranging from National Geographic’s “Mars” to the CNN docu-series “Race to the White House.” He’s also carved out a niche with traditional print brands, working with the likes of Condé Nast and New York magazine to develop TV programming.

Lars Knudsen & Jay Van Hoy

Founders/Producers, Parts & Labor

These cutting-edge producers have backed auteur-driven indies like “Beginners,” “The Witch,” and “Little Men.” Most recently, they tagged along on a seven-week road trip to oversee the unconventional shoot of Andrea Arnold’s “American Honey.”

Julie Menin

New York City Film Commissioner

She’s been in the job for less than a year, but Menin is already earning respect from the filmmaking community for being more accessible than her predecessor, Cynthia Lopez. Menin is tasked with making sure studios see the city as an affordable place to work by talking up its film incentives.

Adam Schweitzer

Partner, ICM

With a client list that includes Christoph Waltz, Cillian Murphy, and Patrick Stewart, Schweitzer navigates the worlds of film, television, and theater. It’s been a banner year for his talent: Cuba Gooding Jr. carried “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” Frank Langella won a Tony for “The Father,” and Rebecca Ferguson snagged star-making roles in “The Girl on the Train” and upcoming “Mission: Impossible 6.”

Don Lemon


Don and I first met years ago — I gave him jazz for once making fun of me on the air, and he teased me for being too sensitive. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. He watches my show and I watch his sometimes, and we’ll text each other during the commercial breaks with thoughts on the news or the guests.

We have a lot in common: I’m an anchor at the Fox News Channel who has come out as an Independent. He’s an anchor at CNN who has come out as a gay former Republican.

We were destined to like each other. I have seen him take risks on the air, and then get pilloried for it — which I respect. At least he’s bold, mixing it up a bit. It’s tough to irritate Don — he’s easygoing and quick to smile, always in on the joke. He’s also introspective.

Not too long ago, Anderson Cooper was on my show discussing the impact of losing his father at a young age. I lost mine when I was a teenager. NBC’s Savannah Guthrie — the same. Don told me later that he lost his dad at age 7.

It changes a person, creates a void — one a person might try to fill, possibly, by getting a job in TV news. Perhaps we need the adoration. (Perhaps we went to the wrong place!)

And yet I think Don deserves our esteem for his honesty, curiosity, the courage he shows, and, despite his professional achievements, for not taking himself too seriously.

Kelly is the anchor of “The Kelly File” on Fox News Channel.

Major Food Group


I love going out to dinner in New York City. It’s something I’ve enjoyed doing since I came into the league. Getting a big group of friends or teammates together for a good meal surrounded by the energy of the city — there’s nothing like it.

And I love what my good friend Jeff Zalaznick and his partners Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone are doing with their restaurants that are about more than just food — it’s about the experience. Good vibe, good food, and good people — that’s what I’m looking for, and his spots get it right every time.

I try to get to Carbone, Dirty French, and ZZ’s Clam Bar anytime I come, because the atmosphere is great and they have some of my favorite meals. The rigatoni and the porterhouse at Carbone are unbelievable, and the chicken at Dirty French is unlike any chicken I’ve ever tasted. And if I’m lucky enough to swing by Sadelle’s for breakfast when I’m in the city, they take pancakes to another level.

These places make you feel like you’re among friends. They’ve created an experience I haven’t found anywhere else. I look forward to visiting every chance I get.

LeBron James is a four-time MVP winning basketball player, currently with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Kate McKinnon


After McKinnon won an Emmy for her work on “Saturday Night Live,” the subject of her best-known impersonation, Hillary Clinton, couldn’t resist tweeting her congratulations. McKinnon has also branched into movies, with a scene-stealing role in last summer’s “Ghostbusters.”

Laura Poitras


After tackling Edward Snow- den in Oscar winner “Citizenfour,” Poitras returns to the world of hackers and state secrets: “Risk,” her latest film, focuses on Wiki- Leaks’ Julian Assange.

Michael Sugar

Producer/Partner, Anonymous Content

Sugar is fresh off an Oscar victory for “Spotlight,” and expectations are high for “Collateral Beauty,” a Will Smith drama. On TV, he’s helping to oversee a third season of “The Knick,” as well as “Maniac,” a Netflix series from Cary Fukunaga.

Seth Meyers

Host, “Late Night With Seth Meyers”

Johnny Carson never revealed his political leanings, but Meyers has found new footing by throwing jabs at Donald Trump. His “A Closer Look” segments are masterpieces of humor and political analysis, and his growing facility with guests has turned “Late Night” into a draw for authors, comedians, and alternative thinkers.

Gayle King & Norah O’Donnell


One of the things we’re most proud of at CBS is how “This Morning” has brought hard news back in the morning, and in a very inviting way. If you watch that show from 7 a.m. to the first local break, you can leave the house feeling up-to date on the most important news you need for the day.

It all starts with a truly amazing team. Gayle and Norah bring different things to the table with Charlie Rose. Norah is a solid, proven journalist. Gayle is an experienced news anchor who represents the Everywoman, and who comes in with the sensibility to ask the questions that everybody at home wants to ask. You never feel like anybody’s trying to hog camera time. They genuinely like each other.

Gayle is a terrific broadcaster who has just now exploded. She has also become a really important person in the New York social scene, and is a great ambassador for CBS. Norah is a world-class journalist who has been given the chance to show that she has a great personality, too. She can do “60 Minutes” pieces with ease, and delivers big interviews.

Norah, Gayle, and Charlie are just a great mix. You can’t ever plan for people to have chemistry, so it’s just great when it happens.

Leslie Moonves is chairman/CEO of CBS Corp.

Savannah Guthrie


She’s not new to my list! From the day I met Savannah, I knew there was something special about her. She was wide-eyed yet whip smart, confident yet klutzy, she had a razor-sharp wit but never used it as a shield to hide her true self and deeper feelings. She was the real deal in every way.

By the time she began doing segments for “Today,” she had a résumé that was jaw-dropping, but she always seemed eager to learn more, and was always willing to embrace areas of uncertainty. It wasn’t long before she slid effortlessly into the role of co-anchor at “Today,” where she was perhaps the most qualified person to ever assume the position.

Now, four years later, she personifies grace, intelligence, charm, and just the right amount of goofiness. She is as comfortable interviewing the president as she is the pop stars, as sure-footed with breaking news from the Supreme Court as she is with the twists and turns of a Taylor Swift relationship. She makes it look way too easy.

How can someone so respected in both political and legal circles also be a master of emojis and selfies? A powerful journalist, broadcaster, mom, wife, and friend. Your list wouldn’t be complete without her.

Matt Lauer is the host of “Today.”

Profiles by Ramin Setoodeh, Brent Lang, Cynthia Littleton, Gordon Cox, Brian Steinberg, Todd Spangler, and Sonia Saraiya.