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Tom Cruise tops Forbes list

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Los Angeles (Reuters): Despite the jokes and sneers he drew for hopping on couches and slamming psychiatry, actor Tom Cruise yesterday reclaimed his No 1 spot on Forbes magazine's annual list of the world's 100 most powerful stars. Forbes said its top ranking of Cruise hinged as much on the ''media onslaught'' he drew for his pairing with actress Katie Holmes as it did to his ''awesome'' box office clout lending credence to the adage there's no such thing as bad publicity. The business magazine said the stars on its ''Celebrity 100 Power List'' were ranked according to their earning power and celebrity ''sizzle'' for the 12 months beginning last June, and that Cruise has proven he still possesses plenty of both. His big film last summer, War of the Worlds, grossed a whopping 591 million dollars worldwide, while this year's Mission: Impossible III has generated 329 million dollars and counting. ''Love him or hate him, Cruise is Hollywood's most bankable actor,'' the editors wrote, estimating his annual earnings at 67 million dollars.

The new Forbes ranking provides a welcome publicity boost for Cruise, 43, a month after a USA Today/Gallup poll showed that his star wattage had dimmed considerably in the eyes of the public, with his approval rating sinking to 35 per cent. More than half of those polled registered an ''unfavorable'' opinion of the actor. Many cited his off-screen behavior during the past year, including his blunt criticism of psychiatry. Cruise also became the butt of jokes for his manic, couch-hopping appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show last May to declare his love for Holmes, who recently gave birth to Cruise's first biological child, a daughter they named Suri. But Forbes said all the headlines, combined with Cruise's box office success, demonstrate he still commands attention.

Cruise, who ranked No 10 on the Power 100 roster last year, also topped the list in 2001. Forbes' top-rated celebrity in 2005 was Winfrey, who slipped two notches to No. 3 this year even as she expanded her multimedia empire with her Tony-nominated Broadway production of The Color Purple and other projects. Two rock bands, the Rolling Stones and U2, clinched spots on the upper rungs of the list ranking No 2 and 4, respectively and golf champion Tiger Woods hit No 5.

Rounding out the top 10 were Oscar-winning director Steven Spielberg, shock jock and newly minted satellite radio star Howard Stern, rap giant 50 Cent, the cast of HBO's mob drama The Sopranos and The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown. Spielberg, who ranked No 6 overall, had the highest estimated annual earnings on the list, 332 million dollars, followed by Stern with 302 million dollars and ''Star Wars'' filmmaker George Lucas at 235 million dollars. Winfrey was fourth at 225 million dollars.

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