2002's Strangest Stories

Rumors have long dogged those two felt legends. They're roommates. They tend to sing a lot of silly songs. One of them has a curious obsession with his rubber ducky. Not that there is anything wrong with any of that.

Lawyers for the Children's Television Workshop threatened to take legal action against Peter Spears, the director of Ernest and Bertram, a documentary spoof of two male puppets who become heated lovers.

Even before this incident, Ernie and Bert have been under constant attack. In 1993, TV Guide received dozens of letters railing against Sesame Street for condoning a homosexual relationship. Shortly after, a North Carolina preacher began a campaign on his radio show to ban them for their immorality.

The situation grew so unpleasant that the Sesame Street had to issue this 1993 press release:

"Bert and Ernie, who've been on Sesame Street for 25 years, do not portray a gay couple, and there are no plans for them to do so in the future. They are puppets, not humans. Like all the Muppets created for Sesame Street, they were designed to help educate preschoolers. Bert and Ernie are characters who help demonstrate to children that despite their differences, they can be good friends."

9. Bridesmaids Anonymous — A support group, Bridesmaids Anonymous emerged for disgruntled bridesmaids. After years of frustration playing the New York singles game, Ronit Ray turned her pathetic dating life into a cabaret show, and then into an ad-hoc support group for perpetual bridesmaids. Can a daytime talk show be far away?

At BA meetings, women put on their most horrible, overpriced bridesmaid getups. It might be a $400 sequined periwinkle gown with creampuff sleeves. It could be a frightful frock in incandescent lavender. Add up the cost of the gown, shoes, alterations, the bachelorette party — and let's not forget the present. BA members say the cost of being in a bridal party is easily $700. And for BA ladies, that's not a one-time cost. "I had three [weddings] within six months," said one BAer. "And I had to travel."

Like Alcoholics Anonymous, the message of BA is straightforward: You are not alone. But the two groups are hardly affiliated. Don't expect formal therapy, just a chance to put on that dress and swap horror stories over sushi. Do forlorn bridesmaids really even needed to be anonymous? "You bet," said a 30-something bride-in-waiting. "If my best friend knew I was passing around pictures of the ugly gowns she picked out for her wedding, and complaining about it to ABCNEWS, she'd just die."

10. Every Man (and Woman) An Elvis — What the world be like without Elvis impersonators?

In October, it seemed like Elvis festivals would no longer be able to feature hip-swiveling competitions between fat white guys who think they can sing, "Hound Dog."

Elvis Presley Enterprises, the business arm of the multi-million- dollar Presley estate, decided in October to no longer associate with festivals using Elvis impersonators. But Graceland was flooded with angry letters, and soon reversed its decision — so put on your white spangled jumpsuit.

Most Elvis impersonators do "heartfelt" tributes to Elvis, said Jack Soden, chief executive officer of EPE. "But we've all seen pictures of people who just should not have gone outdoors in outfits like that."

Earlier in the year, the Wolf Files spoke with some of the King's strangest clones — including the 350 pound "Extreme Elvis," who got threatening calls from Presley traditionalists, when he performed stripteases in his tribute to the King.

"I'm misunderstood," Extreme Elvis said. "If you see the way Elvis was going with his act, you know what I'm doing is true to my hero." Extreme Elvis said he celebrated Presley's birthday by taking a cocktail of Zoloft, Viagra and Geritol.

Buck Wolf is entertainment producer at ABCNEWS.com. The Wolf Files is published Tuesdays. If you want to receive weekly notice when a new column is published, join the e-mail list.

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