For the first time in history an out lesbian, Ellen DeGeneres, has been voted the favourite TV personality in the US.
DeGeneres has vaulted to the top spot in The Harris Poll’s annual favourite television star list after five years in the bottom five.
And, after five years as number one, Oprah Winfrey drops to second place this year. Talk show host Jay Leno is third, a rise for him from last year when he was number six.
Hugh Laurie, star of the medical drama House, remains as number four in his second year on the list, and Jon Stewart drops from number two to number five.
Rounding out the top ten, two late night talk show hosts are tied for number six – David Letterman and Stephen Colbert with Bill O’Reilly at number eight. Tied for number nine are two comedians – one real, Ray Romano, and one a cartoon figure, Homer Simpson.
The results are of a nationwide Harris Poll of 1,171 US adults surveyed online between December 4 and 12, 2007. This is the first time in the poll’s 15 year history that an openly LGBT celebrity has topped the list.
While there are two new additions to the list this year, Stephen Colbert and Homer Simpson, two others have dropped off — Kiefer Sutherland of 24, and Conan O’Brien.
When the ten stars on this list are looked at more closely, a theme emerges. Seven of them have a talk show – either late night (Leno, Stewart, Letterman and Colbert), prime time (O’Reilly) or daytime (DeGeneres and Winfrey).
Just two are from sitcoms, with Homer Simpson probably getting a boost from the recent release of The Simpsons Movie, and the other, Ray Romano, from a show that has been cancelled for a few years now. Only one drama star, House’s Hugh Laurie is on the list.
Different groups do have different favourites. Men, for example, cite Jay Leno as their favourite television star while women say it’s Ellen DeGeneres. Even among women there is a difference of opinion as single women say Ellen is their favourite while married women pick Oprah.
Among age groups there is also a difference: Among Echo Boomers (those aged 18-30) Stephen Colbert is number one and for Generation Xers (those aged 31-42) it’s a tie between Jay Leno and Jon Stewart.
Oprah Winfrey is tops among Baby Boomers (those aged 43-61) and she’s tied with Bill O’Reilly for the top spot among Matures (those aged 62 and older).
And, in this election year in the US, there are also partisan and ideological differences not just for candidates, but also for favourite television star. Republicans say Bill O’Reilly is their favourite while Democrats cite Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah Winfrey.