To many in Hollywood, it was a year filled with tension, frustration and picket lines. For one of the town's top-paid actors, Tom Hanks, it was also the year of a lost paycheck.
If all had gone as planned, the 51-year-old star would have reprised his high-profile — and highly lucrative — role as Dr. Robert Langdon in Sony's silver screen adaptation of "Angels & Demons," the prequel to Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code." But the 100-day writers' strike, which ended in February, prompted nervous studio executives to shelve the project to await script revisions. (The movie finally began filming in early June, just after the cutoff for this year's Celebrity 100 list, Forbes' annual ranking of the most powerful celebrities on the planet.)
But Hanks didn't sit idly. He produced a slew of upcoming flicks, including "Mamma Mia!" and "Where the Wild Things Are." In a case of art imitating life, he played the onscreen dad to his real-life son Colin in "The Great Buck Howard," which premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival. And in late 2007, he headlined "Charlie Wilson's War," a star-studded political drama with Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Despite a lackluster box office (the film generated only $117 million globally, according to Box Office Mojo), the film earned him a Golden Globe nomination.
But all of that wasn't enough to secure a spot on Forbes' Celebrity 100, which measures both earnings and buzz. Hanks falls off the list from his No. 11 spot last year.
Hanks is only one of many "A-list" names to drop off this year's list. Also unable to keep up with the Celebrity 100 set: bold-faced beauty Scarlett Johansson and Indy car driver Danica Patrick. Despite a buzz-worthy movie from the former ("The Other Boleyn Girl") and an Indy car race win in Japan for the latter (the first female to do so), both came up short this year.
The reality: It takes more than big earnings to land a star on Forbes' annual power list. If it were up to income alone, Adam Sandler, who banked $30 million in the past year, would surely have scored a spot. Nor is publicity alone enough. Despite the tabloid buzz surrounding Jessica Alba's ever-expanding baby bump and under-the-radar nuptials, the "Fantastic Four" star didn't make this year's cut.
Instead, the Forbes Celebrity 100 factors in both total earnings and an ability to generate buzz, as measured by TV, print and radio mentions; Web hits; and cover appearances in 55 major magazines.
Among this year's castoffs is Jeff Foxworthy, senior statesman of the "Blue Collar Comedy" tour and the best-selling comedy recording artist in history. While still a powerhouse on the stand-up circuit, Foxworthy's reality series, "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?," fell in the ratings during its second season. Only 9 million viewers tuned in, compared with 12.5 million for the prior season, according to Nielsen Media Research. Without the publicity that comes with ratings success, the funnyman — who still managed to earn $13 million — didn't make the list.
Same goes for Jessica Simpson, who has suffered at the box office this year. Her most recent star vehicle, the romantic comedy "Blonde Ambition," earned less than $50 per theater (ouch!) in its opening weekend. The blond bombshell will try again with her upcoming flick "Major Movie Star," where she plays a spoiled actress who accidentally enlists in the army. Offscreen, the Texas-born singer turned actress will return to her roots with a country album, set for a September release.