West Magazine will run "The West 100" of power players in Southern California on Sunday, as chosen by Los Angeles Times staffers drafted by the magazine. It's not a conventional list. Number one is Donald Bren, chairman of the Irvine Company, about who they say "Orange County looks like Orange County because of Bren's influence. Also bearing his imprint is the New Majority, a growing coalition of wealthy, socially moderate Republicans who helped vault Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger into office."
After Bren comes Eli Broad, California Teachers Association president Barbara E. Kerr, Antonio Villaraigosa, Cardinal Roger Mahony and Philip Anschutz. Tops in Hollywood is Jerry Bruckheimer, at #8:
"Nobody in Hollywood has more clout these days than this master of screens big and small. It was Bruckheimer's move into prime-time television in 2000 that helped lift the stigma of working in the genre and signaled the start of L.A.'s shift from Tinseltown to TV town. With that has come a boom in TV shoots - and many thousands of jobs for actors, writers, craftspeople and others."
Perhaps knowing the choices will be questioned — the president of the California Teachers Association is #3? — the Times sent an early release with the top ten picks (after the jump) and an explanation from West editor Rick Wartzman. On Kerr, it appears she ranks higher than all but two Southern Californians mostly because "no issue is more critical to the future of the region than education, and nobody wields more influence in this arena than does Kerr..." Okayyy. Alas, the release mistakenly calls her the president of UTLA. [Add: They corrected it in a subsequent release.] Here's Wartzman:
"We defined the powerful as those having influence over the way we live as Southern Californians," said Rick Wartzman, West magazine editor. "We tried to cast a wide net, considering candidates from the worlds of politics, the arts, media, sports, business, health, the environment and beyond. But we limited our geography to Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties."
"Being rich and philanthropic wasn't enough to snare a spot," he said. "The key, in the case of the affluent, was whether these people are purposefully directing their money to help shape the local landscape. Timeliness was a factor as well; some veteran power brokers have lately been less active than usual. We also nixed those without an established track record."
In explaining the decision between the No. 1 and No. 2 rankings, Wartzman said, "The areas in which Eli Broad has made a mark in L.A. - education, the arts, the revival of downtown - others also wield considerable influence. But Donald Bren's power in Orange County is essentially unrivaled. What's more, much of Broad's central city renaissance has yet to happen; Bren's Orange County is largely realized."
Included in the package are pieces by D.J. Waldie and Andy Meisler and a seating chart to the powerful and merely famous who attend Lakers games.
The top 10:
2. Eli Broad, 73, civic leader, Brentwood - Broad has used his money to insert himself into virtually every major decision affecting Los Angeles' civic life: Disney Hall, Museum of Contemporary Art, Grand Ave. Project - as well as major grants to Caltech, UCLA, Pitzer College and USC. His homebuilding company, Kaufman & Broad, sowed Greater Los Angeles with middle-class ranch houses and gave the region what some would call its signature sprawl.
3. Barbara E. Kerr, 59, president, California Teachers Assn. (CTA), Riverside - No issue is more critical to the future of the region than education, and nobody wields more influence in this arena than does Kerr, president of the 335,000-member United Teachers Los Angeles. In June, Kerr helped engineer a deal with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa that would, among other things, strip power from the Los Angeles Unified School District board and give individual teachers much more sway over classroom instruction. It's no surprise that Kerr has Villaraigosa's ear: Under her direction, the CTA helped defeat Villaraigosa's opponent, incumbent James Hahn.
4. Antonio Villaraigosa, 53, Los Angeles mayor, Windsor Square - With seemingly boundless energy, Villaraigosa is bent on putting his stamp on all of the local hot-button issues of the day - crime, transportation and education - in a way that his predecessors never managed.
5. Roger Mahony, 70, archbishop, Archdiocese of Los Angeles - With five million Roman Catholics in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, Mahony boasts a huge flock, especially in the Latino community. Some say the church's sex abuse scandal has undermined his influence, but there's another way to look at it: Mahony's ability to keep secret the files of priests suspected of misconduct underscores just how powerful he is.
6. Philip Anschutz, 66, industrialist, Denver - Southern California has more than its share of absentee landlords. Few, however, have had as much impact as Anschutz. He owns Staples Center, the Home Depot Center in Carson, the Kings hockey team, the Galaxy soccer franchise and (with Ed Roski) nearly 30% of the Lakers. His entertainment company, AEG, plans to spend more than $1 billion in hotel and commercial development that will inject even more life into downtown Los Angeles.
7. Henry Samueli, 51, cofounder, Broadcom Corp., Corona del Mar - While he isn't your typical Orange County mogul, Samueli is a rising star in regional affairs. He has donated more than $160 million mostly to educational and healthcare institutions. He already owns the Anaheim Ducks hockey franchise and the company that manages the Arrowhead Pond, but he may become an even bigger household name if he brings an NBA franchise to Anaheim.
8. Jerry Bruckheimer, 61, TV and film producer, Los Angeles and Bloomfield, Ky. - Nobody in Hollywood has more clout these days than this master of screens big and small. It was Bruckheimer's move into prime-time television in 2000 that helped lift the stigma of working in the genre and signaled the start of L.A.'s shift from Tinseltown to TV town. With that has come a boom in TV shoots - and many thousands of jobs for actors, writers, craftspeople and others.
9. David Gelbaum, 57, conservationist, Newport Beach - Gelbaum has donated more to conservation causes than anyone in the state - anonymously. This hedge-fund multimillionaire has taken a leading role in safeguarding enough mountain and desert land to create another Yosemite National Park.
10. Haim Saban, 61, media mogul, Beverly Hills - His recent involvement in a deal to buy L.A.-based Univision Communications, by far the nation's largest Spanish-language broadcaster, catapulted him to the fore. With an extensive background in entertainment and media, Saban's vision for the company will be reflected in millions of TV sets throughout Southern California.