As the year ends and we reflect on all that's transpired, it's easy to forget the Hollywood follies. Yet when I consider all that has gone on in La-La Land, it warms the cockles of my TV-shaped heart.
But I will say one thing: Thank goodness this year is almost Oh-Ho-Ho-ver!
This year has been marred by rude behavior, wacky surprises, ridiculous programs and tragic deaths. The few pearls of light were dim compared to years past. That said, I'll give you my Top 10 Entertainment Stories for 2002.
1. The Courtship of J.Lo and Ben Who would have guessed that Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck would hook up? She says this is really it, but I thought she said that with Cris Judd, her second husband, whom she married and ditched within a year's time. She says she and Affleck are meant for each other, although he looks like he's been completely overhauled! (His undies never stuck out of his jeans until J.Lo.) I don't think this is a match made in heaven — or Maid in Manhattan for that matter. Don't be surprised if J.Lo and Julia Roberts end up next to each other in rocking chairs one day wondering where they went wrong.
2. Winona Ryder's Shoplifting Trial
I don't know if I'm more shocked that she finally got caught (rumors are this wasn't her first time "lifting" merchandise) or that her misdeeds seemed like major news. Ryder's now B-list, at best and if she's dropping pills and picking up free sweaters, then she's another good girl gone wrong. So what? No jail time for her, of course, so at best she kicks the habit (habits?) and has a career resurgence in, say, 2005. We'll be waiting.
3. The Rise of Eminem, the Actor
His exorbitant album sales were certainly not a shocker. After all, the kids have to have someone to follow, but who'd have thought the guy could act? Some critics said his stint in 8 Mile wasn't much of a stretch, but others hailed him as the new James Dean. Either way, the movie was a smash hit. The guy's talented, no doubt, but can he write another 12 songs about his mama? I will say this: Anyone who can rhyme a lyric with "Munchausen syndrome" is doing something right!
4. Reality TV Hits New Lows
It's not that I never heard the "f-word" before. It's just that I'd never heard it used as a verb, noun and adjective, all in the same sentence, until The Osbournes came along. The utter crassness of Ozzy's clan might explain the show's initial success, but we've since learned to love them as a realistically fiendish family. Now our greatest concern is not the cursing, but the cancer that has stricken the family matriarch, Sharon.
Then there's Anna Nicole Smith. Until her show came along, I didn't think it was possible for me to care to care less about a human being than, say, a grain of rice — and I know I'm not the only one. Her pathetic excuse for a show about her life, or lack of one, has her babbling on and on about nothing in particular to a couple of stragglers she calls her entourage.
It started as a ratings blaster that seems destined for disaster. The buxom blonde is gearing up for another season, but based on the previous episodes, she's running out of nothing to do.
5. Predictable Breakups What was less surprising: Angelina Jolie filing for divorce from Billy Bob Thornton, or the three-month marriage of Lisa Marie Presley and Nicolas Cage?
From the onset, these two train-wreck relationships seemed doomed. As I mentioned previously, Angelina became a mother and changed her priorities. Billy Bob has been married four times and has not changed at all. The end.
Nicolas Cage was looking to get close to the King, and since no one's been able to locate him, enter Lisa Marie Presley, the next best thing.
6. Americans Idolize American Idol
What's not to love? A bevy of good-looking young adults littered with talent were brought into our living rooms à la a later-day Star Search minus the chubby Ed McMahon. It featured fierce competition, nail-biting cliffhangers — and plenty of sarcasm and evil-speak, thanks to judge Simon Cowell.
At the end, a star was born. Kelly Clarkson became the first American Idol, and we've already swallowed her whole. Surely we're ready for seconds, which will be served up when the new season starts Jan. 21.
7. Jacko Still Wacko
Michael Jackson dangling his baby over the terrace of a hotel in Germany hardly seems like one of the biggest stories of the year. Perhaps the bigger story was Jackson mysteriously fathering a third child. We still don't know what woman bore Prince Michael II, but we are clearly getting bored with Michael Sr.'s behavior.
8. Liza With a ‘Z’ Marries David With a ‘G’
I don't know who was more taken aback by the marriage of Liza Minnelli and David Gest — those who say they know David or David himself — when he actually woke up the morning after his nuptials next to Liza. The couple insists that he's straight, not to mention a "tiger" in bed. It just seems that everyone in New York's theater circles assumed otherwise and can't shake that perception.
The Gest-Minnelli multimillion-dollar extravaganza of a wedding was like no other. Nothing could've prepared the public for the heinous People magazine photo of the couple with the couple's Best Man and Matron of Honor — Michael Jackson and Elizabeth Taylor. The fold-out of the gruesome foursome made even shutterbugs shutter.
9. The Big Fat Deal Over My Big Fat Greek Wedding
You'd think this was the greatest thing since the advent of The Clapper. It's almost made as much money! Cute, yes sireee, but certainly not the be-all, end-all the film community has made it out to be. I think what fascinates people the most is that it doesn't require huge budgets and star power to make a good movie. It requires a good script and good acting. A lesson learned and cash made. Of course it never hurts to have Tom Hanks backing you up!
10. Our Losses We said goodbye to some of our elders: James Coburn, Richard Harris, Rosemary Clooney, Milton Berle, Billy Wilder, Lionel Hampton and Rod Steiger. Sadly, we also bid adieu to some who were not so old: Robert Urich, Dudley Moore, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopez, Jam Master Jay and Ted Demme, to name a few. Great talent is hard to find and we'll miss them all.
And so it goes … I for one am glad it went. But alas, there's always next year.
I wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season.
Heidi Oringer is director of entertainment programming at ABCNEWS Radio.