'Forbes' Ranks Most Potent Celebrities

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Mdia queen Oprah Winfrey tops Forbes magazine's list of rich, powerful celebrities. The rankings are based not just on income, but also bankable "buzz" — measured by magazine covers, Google hits and other factors.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

And if you think political celebrities rake it in, try Hollywood celebrities. Forbes magazine just came out with its annual list of the richest stars.

NPR's Scott Horsley reports it was good to be a pirate.

SCOTT HORSLEY: Captain Jack Sparrow, Johnny Depp, raked in $92 million this past year, putting him at number six on the Celebrity 100 list. Forbes editor Lea Goldman says co-star Keira Knightley also made the list along with two of those behind the camera who shared in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" treasure chest.

Ms. LEA GOLDMAN (Editor, Forbes magazine): If you were the director, if you were the producer, if you were Johnny Depp, the movie star, you got a piece of the back end and you really enjoyed what an incredible year it was to be a pirate.

HORSLEY: Oprah Winfrey stopped the list once again, earning $260 million. The rankings are based not only on income but also bankable buzz as measured by magazine covers, Google hits, and the number of friends one has on MySpace.

Tabloid exposure helped propel Brad Pitt in the top five and Angelina Jolie into the top 15 this year. But Goldman says one recently overexposed celebrity failed to make the list.

Ms. GOLDMAN: In general, that Hollywood adage about there's no such thing as bad publicity is true. But when we talk about someone like Paris Hilton it's a different matter entirely. She may have dominated, practically hijacked the headlines, but she's suffering serious brand erosion. So really we're starting going to see the fall of the bad girl here.

HORSLEY: Goldman notes that Hilton's album hasn't sold well. She lost an endorsement deal and she's been dropped by her talent agency. All of that raises questions about whether the incarcerated heiress brand of celebrity will translate into future financial success.

Scott Horsley, NPR News.

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