GIBSON
Ric Francis  /  AP file
Mel Gibson, director, co-writer and producer of the movie "The Passion of the Christ," ranks as the top celebrity of the year. But how did he get there? And how long will he stay?
updated 6/17/2004 6:52:42 PM ET 2004-06-17T22:52:42

This is the age of the Insta-Celebrity.

Fame has never come so quickly and been prized so highly — yet rarely has it been so expendable and evanescent.

Last year Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck were the Hollywood power couple, gracing most major media outlets and placing fifth and seventh, respectively, on the Forbes Celebrity 100 list.

Since then the two have costarred in two failed films, called off their planned wedding and dropped off our list altogether.

Almost 40 percent of the stars on last year's Celebrity 100, which evaluates the relative pay and profiles of performers in vastly different fields, didn't make the cut this go-round.

Stars like Tiger Woods, Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg consistently place at the top of the pile. But Tom Cruise, ranked number 1 in 2001, dropped off the list entirely the next year, only to return this year at number 4; his ex, Nicole Kidman, was ranked 16th in 2003 but has since vanished. Britney Spears, tops in 2002, hasn't made the list since.

Mel Gibson, propelled to the number 1 spot this year by The Passion of the Christ, is likely to fall a bit next year, though he could still rank high: He stands to reap a whole new round of prophet profits from the DVD.

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