Femmes have had a banner year in entertainment

The past 12 months will be remembered for many things, not the least of which a contentious presidential election that resulted in the first black chief executive in the White House. The almost 24/7 coverage produced a lot of screaming-head debates and insubstantial news filler, but it also produced at least one genuine star, Rachel Maddow.

The newly minted MSNBC talkshow host (see page A18) stood apart from the pack for her levelheaded analysis and incisive commentary — at times piquant but never shrill. Christiane Amanpour (see page A18), too, has been known for her levelheadedness, especially in her fearless work reporting on war, genocide, famine and natural disasters in such hot zones as Rwanda, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. That she’s debuting her own show on CNN this month might be considered by some as way overdue.

Another woman to benefit from wall-to-wall election coverage was “30 Rock” creator and star Tina Fey (see page A4), who added to her 2008 Emmy haul recently for her dead-on impression of ex-Alaska governor and John McCain’s running mate Sarah Palin, among other kudos.

It’s been a banner year for many other femmes on a number of entertainment and media fronts, with some of the best-reviewed movies — “The Hurt Locker,” “Bright Star,” “Julie and Julia” — helmed by women (see pages A8-A9), and such executives as Paramount marketing mavens Madeline Herdrich and LeeAnne Stables (see pages A14-A17) seizing the upper hand in a marketplace fractured by rapidly evolving technology, short attention spans and countless consumer options.

These are just a few of the professionals we celebrate in the following pages. And they’re just the tip of the iceberg …

– Steve Chagollan,

Assistant Managing Editor, Features

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