Breakouts 2003

The Best Of The Rest

Nilo Cruz

If life, as his play declares, is made of ''little moments I could save in a jar,'' then Cruz's jar is overflowing. In April, Anna in the Tropics came out of nowhere -- a.k.a. Coral Gables, Fla. -- to snag the Pulitzer (it's nearly unheard of for a play to win without a New York production). A flurry of regional openings followed, capped off by Anna's November arrival on Broadway, starring Jimmy Smits. ''My life has changed,'' says the Cuban-born, Miami-bred Cruz. ''I don't have much time to write!'' His lusciously poetic tale has sparked comparisons to Chekhov and Tennessee Williams. (For the record, he ''adores'' them.) In January, his Beauty of the Father will debut in Coral Gables, and he's penning a play about a Caribbean hurricane. With 12 plays under his belt, Cruz, 43, is the hot new playwright. ''I feel as if I just started.''

EyeToy

A videogame without a joystick is like...Frodo without hairy feet. But that is precisely what makes EyeToy: Play such an innovation. The TV-top camera connects to the PlayStation 2 and puts players' body motions onto the screen -- and right into the game. The $49.99 gadget is selling fast, but gives just a glimpse of the technology's potential for future Minority Report-esque hands-free interfacing. Up next, EyeToy: Groove will score your moves. It'll be like karaoke for dancing.

Takashi Murakami

Sure, his acclaimed high-art-meets-anime installations have caused a stir from Tokyo to Rockefeller Center, but when that paragon of culture Jessica Simpson refused to leave her Louis Vuitton Murakami purse home while she went camping, his whimsical, this-side-of-tacky design officially became the must-have handbag of 2003.

Friendster

Friendliest man of the year: Jonathan Abrams.

His Friendster.com links more than 3 million members in a virtual six degrees of separation and has inspired tons of parodies and wannabes. So his project's scored -- but has he? ''I've gone on a bunch of dates, but it's been hard to focus.''

ANDY DIGGLE

The CIA double-crosses a Special Forces unit that then vows to stick it to the Man. Sound familiar? ''I never watched The A-Team,'' insists 32-year-old Brit Diggle, author of Vertigo Comics' feverishly paced series The Losers. Instead, its roots can be found in heist flicks like Three Kings and Heat -- and producers are already itching to adapt it. But recalling this year's big comics convention in San Diego, it's clear Diggle is struck by a different kind of star: ''Sitting around, looking at the [legends] -- Eddie Campbell, Dave McKean, Frank Miller...whoa.'' Judging by Losers' crescendoing buzz, this rookie writer may soon join his heroes' ranks.

Originally posted Dec 12, 2003 Published in issue #741 Dec 12, 2003 Order article reprints
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