Stephen Colbert selected as AP Celebrity of the Year

Thursday, December 27, 2007
Stephen Colbert poses for a photo in New York, in this March 5, 2007, file photo. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow/FILE)

While most TV characters remain boxed inside the frames of our sets, Stephen Colbert has routinely injected his on-screen persona into everything from the presidential race to ice cream.

In 2007, the mock pundit on Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" exceeded the influence of most real pundits, orchestrating an ill-fated (and Doritos-sponsored) run for president and topping the best-seller lists with his book "I Am America (And So Can You!)."

Colbert failed to get onto the primary ballot in his home state of South Carolina, dooming his hopes for the White House. And his show went 0-for-4 at the Emmy Awards, including an especially painful loss to Barry Manilow.

But Colbert did win one honor: He was voted AP Celebrity of the Year by newspaper editors and broadcast producers who said Colbert had the biggest impact on pop culture in 2007.

He finished just a nudge above J.K. Rowling, who authored the final book in her enormously popular "Harry Potter" series. Finishing third was Al Gore, whose year included an Oscar, an Emmy, a Nobel Peace Prize and the global concert Live Earth.

But it was the slight, bespectacled Colbert -- his hair never ruffled, suits forever pressed -- who dominated the year. Even from the relatively small stage of late-night cable TV, his satire spread into all corners of media and society -- and for a few weeks made a mockery of the democratic system.

Colbert has declined interviews during the writers strike that has shuttered his show, but he told The Associated Press by e-mail:

"In receiving this award, I am pleased that I was chosen over two great spinners of fantasy -- J.K. Rowling and Al Gore. It is truly an honor to be named the Associated Press' Celebrity of the Year. Best of all, this makes me the official front-runner for next year's Drug-Fueled Downward Spiral of the year. P.S. Look for my baby bump this spring!"

Julio Diaz, entertainment editor for the Pensacola News Journal, explained his vote for the faux newsman:

"Colbert is more than an entertainer, he's a force of nature," Diaz said. "He's influenced the way we look at the news and even the way we speak. Whenever a major news story breaks, one of my first thoughts is what Colbert's spin on the story will be."

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