The Girl Next Door
Hollywood's Hottest Tots
In a sinking economy, expect to see more of the children of the stars. Here's why.
by Lacey Rose and Lauren Streib
With a growing need to generate magazine sales and Web traffic in a softening economy, media outlets are increasingly turning to stars that are both much-loved and highly reliable.
High on that list is Suri Cruise. The oft-photographed 2-year-old child of A-list couple Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise, better known by their tabloid moniker TomKat, earned the top spot on Forbes' second annual list of the most influential celebrity tots.
In Pictures: The Hottest Celebrity Tots
Video: A-List Kids
To determine which tykes were tops, we looked at both press clippings and Web presence for more than 50 A-list kiddies (5-years-old and younger) over the course of a year. Then, with a whittled down list, we reached out to Los Angeles, Calif.-based polling firm E-Poll Market Research for both awareness data for the kids and consumer appeal rankings for their celebrity parents.
"I think the public will always want to see these kids grow up," says Brad Elterman, co-founder of Buzz Foto. "Its insatiable."
But as the economy heads toward what many predict is a recession, these adorable kids--and the desire to chronicle their upbringings--may become more important than ever. Simply put, fawning over celebrities and their picturesque families may be just the sort of distraction people need.
"People want to sort of turn their brain off and escape to things that make them feel good," opines In Touch Editor in Chief Richard Spencer, who says he's made a conscious effort in recent weeks to include more uplifting stories in his publication for this very reason.
Dina Sansing, entertainment director for Us Weekly agrees:"It's much more fun to look at cute pictures of Suri," she says, "than think about how much your 401(k) has decreased."
Suri's first place ranking on the list comes from strong performances across the board. She earned the top spot for public awareness, received more blog mentions than any other Tinseltown kiddie and was referenced in more than 1,300 news articles.
Not far behind is the first biological offspring of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Shiloh Jolie-Pitt. The pint-sized globe-trotter ranked high in both press and blog mentions and was second only to Suri in awareness.
Of course, when it comes to media hype, the rest of the ever-expanding Jolie-Pitt brood ranks high as well. Three-year-old Zahara is once again third on the list, while 4-year-old Pax places fourth. (Seven-year-old Maddox was too old, and twins Vivienne and Knox were too young--or at least too infrequently seen--to qualify for the list.)
Rounding out the top five is Sam Alexis Woods, the darling daughter of superstar golfer Tiger Woods and his model wife Elin Nordegren. Though she ranked last in awareness, Sam was mentioned in over 1,100 news articles, thanks to her relevance among sports fans and celebrity buffs alike. In the not so distant future, Sam will have to share that spotlight with a sibling.
But why all of this interest in people that can barely talk, much less partake in tabloid-worthy behavior?
Beyond the precious images they provide, these children very often make their ultra-famous parents more relatable--and, in some cases, more likable.
From the teams of stylists to the Hollywood mansions, there is so much in the lives of celebrities to which everyday people cannot relate. But it's much the opposite when it comes to having, raising and adoring children, an experience that doesn't break down by income brackets and tabloid mentions.
Take Tom Cruise, who was beset in a PR crisis before Suri entered the world. But two years and an adorable child later, Tom is gracing magazine covers and blog entries for his relationship with his style-icon daughter. "We're no longer focusing on him jumping on a couch," says Sansing, "We're looking at him as the doting father."
Of course, these A-list children shape more than the public opinion of their parents. They often drive consumer desires as well. Everything from what they eat to what they wear to what they ride around in makes for tabloid fodder--and must-have items.
Los Angeles-based Kitson boutique owner Fraser Ross sees the benefit these children provide retailers, "Kids are becoming the new designer handbag."
The top tots list:
Zahara Jolie Pitt
Pax Jolie Pitt
Sam Alexis Woods (Tiger Wood's daughter)
Matilda Rose Ledger (Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams' daughter)
David Banda (Madonna and Guy Ritchie's son)
Sean Preston Federline (Britney Spears' son)
Sam Sheen (Charlie Sheen and Denise Richard's son)