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Most fascinating TV people of 2013? Read on!
Every year at this time Barbara Walters' "Most Fascinating" list arrives, and - on a vastly more modest scale - so does my list, of TVs most fascinating....
It's a modest little list, this list, but what it does offer - in my humble opinion - is a quick shout-out to a few who have done something genuinely interesting and not some who have just mastered the twerk...
We also went to fifteen this year, reasoning that ten is far too self-limiting.
15. David Tennant: Almost absurdly brilliant Scottish actor who arrived center stage long ago ("Doctor Who") but we - OK, I - never paid all that close attention until recently, thanks to "Broadchurch."
14. Michael Strahan: How can one of the greatest linebackers in Giants history replace one of the greatest talk show hosts in history (Regis Philbin) and, in his first full year on "Live with Kelly and Michael," get an even bigger audience than the "King?"
13. Dan Harmon: The wild, tweet-spewing, virulently anti-NBC crazy man of "Community" - AKA creator of one of the funniest, most imaginative series in NBC history - was fired then rehired this year to set his show right.
12. Armando Iannucci: Anyone who pays close attention to "Veep's" credits will see this name - belonging to a one-time Milton expert (!) and now, arguably the funniest writer on all of TV.
11. Valerie Harper: Brings new meaning to "grace under pressure," and who - at 74, suffering from brain cancer - still makes it to week four on "Dancing With the Stars."
10. Keegan-Michael Key; Jordan Peele: And speaking of "funny," these two. Stars of maybe TV's funniest sketch show - they being pretty much the star attraction - have spoofed a broad assortment of targets (President Obama a favorite.) Fascinating why...they still remain non-household names.
9. Tom Mison: 'Nother scarily talented Brit who - as Ichabod Crane - has upstaged the Headless Horseman in Fox hit "Sleepy Hollow."
8. Nicole Beharie: Brings sex appeal and chemistry to a Fox series (“Sleepy Hollow”) where neither was exactly expected (umm, about a headless horse dude, in Westchester County?). She's Lt. Abbie Mills here...
7. John Oliver: Guy takes over for Jon Stewart while latter directs a movie in Iran; does crazy-good job; gets hired by HBO.
6. Jessica Lange: One of the most effortlessly talented, beautiful actresses in the history of the universe becomes a regular on a fairly silly FX series, "American Horror Story," and somehow makes it compelling?! Now THAT'S fascinating.
5. Cote de Pablo: No one leaves TV's most-watched drama for no apparent reason - do they? But she did (Ziva David, from "NCIS"). Her replacement, Emily Wickersham, has fascinating shoes to fill.
4. Cristin Milioti: Real fans of "The Sopranos" may recall her as Catherine Sacrimoni. But fans of "How I Met Your Mother" know her as Mom. The talented actress of stage and screen will be getting much face time over the next few weeks and months, but how will Mother's story end?
3. Michael J. Fox: Sure, disappointing series ("The Michael J. Fox Show"), but Fox - nevertheless - still finds a way to turn Parkinson's into a punchline, and by so doing, making it part of the act, and exerting control over it, and just maybe inspiring other people in the process. He got a Golden Globe for his effort.
2. Dean Norris: Incandescent talent whom you know best as "Breaking Bad's" Hank Schrader. Most lists this season have been adding a few other incandescent talents (like Bryan Cranston). Cerebral versatile Norris made Hank central to "Bad's" success - now that's fascinating.
1. Jimmy Fallon: My pick for Most Fascinating of the year - who just happens to be your next host of "The Tonight Show." Will he succeed where others - OK, one other - have failed? Will viewers embrace him? (Or the Roots?) Will Justin Timberlake become a regular? Will he maintain his well-established late night cool? Faaaascinating...