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Aniston remains our favorite Friend

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Jennifer Aniston is shaping up to be among 2005's most alluring -- and best-selling -- celebrities. At least for magazines.

*GQ named her the magazine's first woman of the year in its annual Man of the Year issue, which hits newsstand nationally Nov. 22. (Meet


's cover-worthy stars, 3D.)

*Vanity Fair's September issue, in which Aniston, 36, talked for the first time about her January breakup with Brad Pitt, is the magazine's best-selling issue of all time, with 700,000 copies on newsstands. Second-best: a September 1999 cover of Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, which sold 640,816 copies on newsstands.

*People magazine's issue with excerpts from the VF interview and cover story on Aniston was its best-selling issue of the year, says deputy managing editor Larry Hackett. Two other Aniston covers on People this year "were also very, very big sellers."

And that doesn't consider tabloid coverage.

This despite the fact that Aniston no longer has a hit TV show and has yet to have a blockbuster film. (Her latest movie, Derailed, opened this past weekend at No. 3. She has two other movies due in the next few months.)

While NBC's Friends was on the air from 1994 to 2004, she was one of the most popular cast members in terms of consumer appeal, according to Marketing Evaluations Inc.: The Q Scores Company, which ranks celebrity popularity.

Aniston's appeal has always been above average for female celebrities, says Henry Schafer, executive vice president of Marketing Evaluations. When Friends went off the air in May 2004, her appeal dropped about 20%, which is normal for a prime-time star, he says.

And interest in her romantic life continues to hold consumer attention, Schafer says. Since she and Pitt announced their split, magazines have been busy trying to link them to other parties. Pitt has been seen with Angelina Jolie, and Aniston has been photographed with Vince Vaughn, but neither relationship has been officially confirmed. "I can't point to anything else," Schafer says.

People's Hackett says that Aniston holds a "deep, deep likability and relate-ability" to which readers respond. "Audiences grew up with her." Part of her allure is the "construct of celebrity," he says, but no editor, producer or TV executive can "make people feel it, and it's difficult for the feeling to go away."

Why haven't Aniston's Friends co-stars attracted anywhere near the attention? That's the "alchemy" that can't be described, says GQ articles editor Mark Healy. "We have to recognize that some of her appeal is unexplainable."

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© Copyright 2004 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

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