Move over, Barbara Walters. Your “Ten Most Fascinating People of 2012” has nothing over my “Ten Most Fascinating Television People of 2012,” who (incidentally) are actually fascinating. (In other words, no Honey Boo Boo here.)
10. Kevin Clash: On this list for all the wrong reasons, the voice of Elmo and creative force of “Sesame Street” resigned after accusations of sex with minors (four and counting) surfaced. A “Street” puppeteer of household-name status, he created a cultural icon that will live on, but without Clash’s voice.
9. Jimmy Kimmel: Easy call! Onetime sidekick on “Win Ben Stein’s Money” will move to 11:30 p.m. on ABC next month. There, he may well become King of Late Night one of these nights or until such time as Jimmy Fallon or Craig Ferguson move to 11:30 (and then, let the new Late Night Wars begin).
8. Michael Strahan: Speaking of kings, he replaces Regis Philbin, prompting millions to write, tweet or just think: “What the WHAT?!” It seems superfluous to observe, but a former New York Giants great has never done this before. Ratings are very good.
7. Peter Dinklage: “Game of Thrones” fans know him as Tyrion Lannister, youngest son of Lord Tywin Lannister, who nearly lost his head in the Battle of Blackwater last season — and such a good head it is. Cunning, devious, cruel and … compassionate, ironic and rakish, Dinklage fronts the show’s most compelling character. And expect some versatile big screen roles next year, from a film on Federico Fellini to another on Herve Villechaize.
6. Kerry Washington: Lead of one of network TV’s few growing hits this fall (“Scandal”), and then there is Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained,” opening Christmas Day, in which she stars opposite Jamie Foxx; this is her breakout year.
5. Idris Elba: Lead of BBC’s “Luther” — a brooding, TV-type cop who takes the law into his own hands — had a 2012 arc in the BBC’s fine “The Hour” and was Janek, spaceship captain in Ridley Scott’s film “Prometheus.” Next year looms large for Elba: “Luther” returns and he plays Nelson Mandela on-screen.
4. Kate McKinnon: The newest “Saturday Night Live” player does a wicked Ellen DeGeneres impersonation. She’s also “SNL’s” first openly gay cast member, has replaced the irreplaceable Kristin Wiig and clearly has a brilliant future here.
3. Clint Eastwood: Steals — oh yes, very much steals — the Republican National Convention by conducting a conversation with a chair. Great director, great actor and great nutty theater. Chair did a good job, too.
2. Lena Dunham: Coming not quite out of nowhere — her indie, “Tiny Furniture,” did indicate a glorious or at least interesting career — but her HBO show, “Girls,” was one of those zeitgeisty phenoms that led to a $3.5-million book deal she could retire on, several times over. Oh, and she’s 26.
1. Robin Roberts: Yes, the Champ of Fascinating circa 2012. She leads “Good Morning America” to the top for the first time in 16 years, then promptly bows out to get a bone-marrow transplant from her sister, as she battles a rare blood disorder that arose from previous treatment for breast cancer. Roberts’ dignity and courage may not be exactly “fascinating,” but they are inspiring, and that’ll do just fine for this list.