Who are 2003's most fascinating people?

The average person may find it difficult to identify similarities between twentysomething R&B songstress Beyoncé Knowles and legendary animal trainers Siegfried and Roy.

Barbara Walters is not your average person. She has included them, along with other assorted celebrities, in her list of the "10 Most Fascinating People of 2003."

As usual, this year's list is eclectic and includes U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Fab Five of Bravo's "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," Oscar-winning actress Nicole Kidman, politician and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, domestic business mogul Martha Stewart, NBA newcomer LeBron James, and celebrity couple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez.

"The most fascinating person," says executive producer Bill Getty, "is someone we reveal on the show," which airs at 9 Wednesday on ABC (KOMO). "People will be surprised."

Selecting the top 10 is a three-month process, said Getty. Walters and Getty began compiling their list, which originally included 100 names, in September.

"We boil it down and boil it down and finally end up with the list," he said.

The pair try to select those who have a "huge impact" during the year.

Getty said they try to pick at least one person from the business, entertainment, sports and political worlds.

However, he said it's just a coincidence that the list is so demographically diverse, including individuals born in Europe, African Americans and gay men.

Although Walters did not sit down with all the individuals on the list, Getty said it is she who makes the special the 11-year success it has been and sets it apart from the numerous other year-end countdowns.

"Nobody has Barbara Walters, and that's really the difference. She understands the personality interview more than anyone. How can anyone resist Barbara and the 'Queer Eye' guys? That's the success of the show," said Getty.

He described Walters' interview with the Fab Five as "hysterical."


"Barbara Walters' 10 Most Fascinating People of 2003," 9 p.m. Wednesday on ABC (KOMO).