show that reaches 48 million viewers a week, and popular talk shows Dr. Phil and The Rachael Ray Show. Winfrey also develops programs as co-founder of Oxygen Media, which operates a cable television network for women that currently reaches 69 million U.S. households.
Spike Lee Director-Producer-President Age: 50 Lee is arguably one of the most important filmmakers of his generation. Since revolutionizing cinema with his groundbreaking 1986 film She’s Gotta Have It, Lee has gone on to direct or produce more than 20 films including Do the Right Thing (1989), for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Screenplay, and 4 Little Girls (1997), which earned him another Oscar nomination for Best Documentary.
Last year proved to be the most commercially successful of Lee’s career. He directed the mainstream crime thriller Inside Man, which earned $88.5 million at domestic theaters and $184 million worldwide, giving Lee his most successful box-office performance ever. The American Film Institute named it one of the top 10 films of 2006. Also last year, HBO aired Lee’s critically-acclaimed documentary on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, When the Levees Broke. “I have no complaints about 2006,” says Lee. “It was a great year for me. With the success of Inside Man, I’ve been sent every bank heist script in Hollywood.”
With a wide body of work and varied interests, Lee is not one to be pigeonholed. He’s in talks to team back up with Brian Grazer, who produced Inside Man and The Da Vinci Code, to direct a biopic on the life of James Brown. “This isn’t my first time taking on an icon. We did Malcolm X, so we’re ready if it all works out,” Lee says. Lee and Grazer are also working on an Inside Man sequel and have entered talks for Lee to direct L.A. Riots, a film centered on the 1992 civil unrest in Los Angeles.
Using his production company, 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, Lee has had a major impact on the presence of African Americans in cinema. His productions have served as a launch pad for a number of blacks in front of and behind the camera.
– George Alexander
The Wayans Brothers Writers-Actors-Producers-Directors Ages: Keenen, 49; Damon, 46; Shawn, 36; and Marlon, 34 The Wayans clan is one of the most powerful families in Hollywood. Their films boast combined worldwide box-office sales of more than $1 billion. Over the past 20 years, siblings Keenen, Marlon, Shawn, and Damon have written, directed, produced, and/or starred in more than 45 movies and television shows.
Their upward trajectory started with Keenen’s creation In Living Color, the award-winning 1990s sketch show that launched the careers of superstars such as Jim Carrey and Jamie Foxx. Since then, they have marketed themselves as a package deal, serving as writers, stars, producers, and directors of their vehicles. The formula has proven successful: The 2000 blockbuster Scary Movie grossed a staggering $278 million worldwide, one of the highest-grossing film ever made by an African American. Damon, who has grossed