Most Fascinating People of 2005

ByABC News

Nov. 29, 2005 — -- Eleven-year-old actress Dakota Fanning doesn't want to be treated "like a kid" and Tom Cruise says he's not embarrassed to act like one when he's expressing his love for fiancée Katie Holmes.

In "The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2005," an hour-long special airing tonight at 10, Barbara Walters highlights some of the year's most prominent names in entertainment, politics and sports.

From Fanning to hip-hop superstar Kanye West, the headline-makers on this year's list tell Walters what made their year most extraordinary.

Long known for fiercely guarding his private life, film star Tom Cruise put his love for actress Katie Holmes in the spotlight this year. Cruise says he has no regrets about his much-publicized -- and -ridiculed -- couch-jumping incident on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" when he declared his love for Holmes.

Cruise, 42, has known the 26-year-old Holmes for less than a year, but he tells Walters he "just knew" she was the one for him. "I really just knew. It was an explosion. And she is just magic. And I really think that all men should celebrate their women. ... They should all jump on couches for them. ... When you find that woman, you should absolutely be unabashed about it. That's how I feel about it," he tells Walters.

Cruise also shares his opinions about prescription drugs, psychiatry and Scientology with Walters.

Cruise and Holmes are now expecting a child, and Cruise tells Walters they've even bought their own sonogram machine to learn whether they're having a boy or a girl. Cruise tells Walters that medical technicians are helping the couple operate the sonogram and understand the ultrasound images, and he says they'll donate the machine to a hospital when they're done with it.

Grammy Award winner Kanye West shot to stardom in 2005, winning three Grammys and landing the cover of Time magazine. But West, 28, generated controversy when he deviated from his script during a live telethon broadcast for the victims of Hurricane Katrina and said: "George Bush doesn't care about black people."

West was born and raised in Chicago. His parents are middle class and educated. His mom was an English professor and is now his business manager. His father has two master's degrees and was a member of the militant Black Panthers. He taught his son that racism was everywhere.

And perhaps that underlies his Katrina telethon remark. But West says he has no regrets about the statement. "I spoke from my heart. And I stand by my statement," West tells Walters. He adds: "I wonder why those words are considered to be harsh."

She's worked with some of Hollywood's hottest leading men -- from Tom Cruise to Sean Penn to Denzel Washington and Kurt Russell -- and she's not even in her teens. Over the last four years, her films have made almost $700 million, and the precocious actress commands a salary of $3 million per picture.

Fanning was born in Conyers, Ga., and her parents knew she was special early on. She started reading at age 2. She entertained friends and family. And when she was 4, her parents enrolled her in an acting workshop.

Since then, it's been an uninterrupted climb to the top. Even at this young age, Fanning is discriminating about her roles. "I have to have a feel for the character. ... If it's not the right thing or it's similar to something I've done before, that would be why I would not do something," she tells Walters.

One of the most important and powerful figures in Hollywood is a man who has never starred in a single film or television show. But for five months this year, attorney Tom Mesereau was in the media spotlight, successfully defending Michael Jackson in his child-molestation trial. He also represented Robert Blake, who was found not guilty of murdering his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley. He was, however, later found liable for her death in a civil trial.

Mesereau tells Walters he never had a doubt that Jackson was innocent of the charges. "The fact is, kids went into his room. The parents were there too. The parents were allowed to stay over with the children. The way it was mischaracterized, and misrepresented to try and get a conviction was scandalous, it was wrong," he says.

Mesereau believes racial discrimination continues to compromise American culture. "Despite whatever advances this country makes in the area of civil rights, I still feel that people of color are devalued constantly in our society, and I do what I can to fight against it," he says.

Cyclist Lance Armstrong achieved an unprecedented feat in 2005, winning his seventh Tour de France, a grueling race that lasts over 23 days and covers more than 2,200 miles.

It's not normal for one man to be so strong, so fast, so focused, but that may be because Armstrong isn't normal.

At 34, Armstrong has defied the odds. In addition to his remarkable achievement in cycling, he has survived cancer, raised millions of dollars for research through his foundation and become engaged to rock star Sheryl Crow.

Armstrong shares his feelings about battling cancer and facing death with Walters. "I was given my life back. I wasn't going to throw it away. I was going to do everything I could to be the best athlete, the best person. ... If it was on the bike, if it was off the bike, making a difference in the lives of people," he says.

And it's his successful battle with cancer, Armstrong tells Walters, that he feels is even more satisfying than his Tour de France victories. "I'm proudest of being a cancer survivor," he says. He says he plans to continue to devote himself to helping others with the disease. "I have a tremendous duty within the fight against cancer. I don't need to affect millions and millions of people. If I just affected dozens that would be enough," he tells Walters.

It's every parent's worst nightmare: let your child go away on vacation to a foreign land and they never return. We don't know what happened to Natalee Holloway, the teen who disappeared while vacationing in Aruba. But her bold, tenacious mother -- Beth Holloway Twitty -- will never rest until we do.

Twitty invites Walters into her daughter's bedroom, showing her graduation gifts that remain unopened and telling her she continues to hope that her daughter is alive.

"My biggest hope," she tells Walters, "is that she has only been kidnapped, raped, and drugged, and kept, against her will. I mean, I am hoping that they stopped with that, and didn't go ahead and kill her."

She acknowledges that she "buried" Natalie in her head when FBI officials told her in June that there was a strong possibility that her daughter was dead. Still, she is undaunted in her resolve to find out what happened to her girl. "I am never going to give up. ... I will carry her story for the rest of my life."

Rounding out Walters' "Most Fascinating" list are "Desperate Housewives" star Teri Hatcher, Academy Award-winning actor Jamie Foxx and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

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