Dec. 17, 2008 -- It's that time again: when many people -- yes, even celebrities -- admit their missteps, make amends and bury the hatchet.
Tom Cruise is the latest celebrity eating humble pie. On Monday, Cruise returned to the "Today" show set for the first time since his 2004 anti-psychiatry rant, and the fading action star expressed regret for his previous interview with host Matt Lauer.
In their now famous June 2004 confrontation, Cruise dismissed Brooke Shields' use of anti-depressants to treat her post-partum depression and told Lauer he was being glib and did not know anything about psychiatry.
"It's not what I intended," Cruise told Lauer this week. "In looking at myself, I thought, 'Man, that came across as arrogant.' ... That's one of those things you go, 'OK, I could have absolutely handled that better.'"
In hindsight, Cruise said, "I thought I didn't communicate it the way that I wanted to communicate it. And that's also -- that's not who I am. ... That's not the person that I am."
"A lot of stuff was going on," he added. "I learned a really good lesson."
It's a lesson that Us Weekly magazine senior editor Bradley Jacobs believes Cruise learned a while ago.
"He's been kind of apologizing and working on a PR campaign for a year now," Jacobs told ABCNews.com. "A lot of damage had been done with the (first) Matt Lauer interview and the couch jumping incident (on "The Oprah Winfrey Show"). It changed people's views of Tom Cruise, and that greatly affected his bottom line.
"It's really very much about him trying to undo the damage that he did," Jacobs continued. "And I do think it's working."
Jacobs called the Monday "Today" show interview the "pinnacle" of Cruise's apology campaign. "He sort of returned to the scene of the crime, went right to the source, said he was sorry, eye to eye," he said. "I think it worked."
Cruise continued his comeback cruise with an appearance on Letterman Tuesday night in which he poked fun at himself by reading a Top 10 List of the "Craziest Things People Say About Tom Cruise On The Internet."
Number 4, which appeared to be a soft dig at his belief in Scientology, drew the most applause: "I believe all emotional and psychological disorders can be cured with Vicks Vaporub."
They were followed by Number 3, "I'm a power-mad egomaniac who is completely insulated from reality," and Number 2, "After jumping on her couch, Oprah hammer-locked me until I coughed blood."
Celebrity Apologies More Common
If it seems we're seeing more celebrity apologies these days, it's probably because, given the speeded-up technology-filled world we live in today, we're also seeing more celebrity gaffes and missteps.
"People in the public eye are scrutinized tremendously, and every word they say is examined publicly," etiquette expert Harriette Cole told ABCNews.com. "So when someone misspeaks or says something rude or hurtful, it's critical that that person apologize.
"Given the nature of the media, once something is said or written, it exists forever," she added. "So it is very important to correct your record. And the best way to correct your record is to do so when you truly regret whatever it is what you did or said."
Here are some other celebrities who had mea culpa moments in 2008:
David Letterman extended the olive branch to his late night rival Jay Leno when it appeared that Leno was being pushed out of his host chair on "The Tonight Show" to be replaced by Conan O'Brien.
Letterman invited his 15-year, on-air competitor to come on his show his first free night.
"I think he'd be a great guest on [my] show," Letterman told Rolling Stone magazine. "The first night that he is out of a job, I think that would be a great situation."
The rivalry dates back to when Leno was given the nod over Letterman to be Johnny Carson's successor at NBC in 1993, leaving Letterman to set up shop at CBS.
Now that NBC has announced plans to keep Leno on the network in a new 10 p.m. show, it's unclear whether Letterman's offer still stands. If anything, it appears the rivalry continues. Leno joked during his monologue after the announcement of his new primetime show that Letterman would try to one-up him by changing his show to 9:59 p.m.
Letterman's only reference to Leno's new deal was at the beginning of his monologue that same night. "Welcome to the 'Late Show,'" he said. "Still at 11:35."
After Kanye West kept fans at this summer's Bonaroo music festival waiting for two hours, he was greeted with boos and bad press. He later issued a somewhat angry apology on his Web site:
"This is the most offended I've ever been ... This is the maddest I will ever be. It broke my heart that I couldn't give these fans 'Stronger' in its finest form. I'm sorry to everyone that I didn't have the ability to give the performance I wanted to. I'm sorry."
Us Weekly's Jacobs believes West's fans accepted his apology. "He was angry, he was showing a passion," he said. "No doubt about it, he was sincere, and it rings true. He's never quiet. He has an ego. I think that statement is very true to him. I think it works."
Sharon Stone waited until she was dropped as a Christian Dior spokesperson in China before apologizing for her remark to a reporter that China's August earthquake may have been "karma" for the way the Chinese government has treated Tibet.
Issuing an apology through Dior in China, the "Basic Instinct" star said, "In the course of the interview, I made inappropriate remarks, and for any harm created towards the Chinese people, I am extremely sad and apologize."
Jacobs believes Stone's apology missed its mark. "I think when you criticize a group so broadly, as she did, people expect a much more profound apology. A statement wasn't going to necessarily cut it," he said.
Cole says apologies that aren't heartfelt end up appearing gratuitous. "Many people apologize immediately, and you can tell by tone of voice, by body posture or by the means of communicating, whether the apology is authentic," she said. "I would venture to say that an in-authentic apology is worse than saying nothing."
Amanda Peet, a paid proponent of childhood vaccinations, apologized for calling parents who refuse to vaccinate their children "parasites." But she did not back down from her stance on the issue.
"I believe in my heart that my use of the word 'parasites' was mean and divisive," she wrote in a letter of apology. "I completely understand why it offended some parents, and in particular, parents of children with autism who feel that vaccines caused their illness. For this I am truly sorry. However, I still believe that the decision not to vaccinate our children bodes for a dangerous future."
Peet went on to make her case for why children should be vaccinated. No one would accuse her of over-apologizing.
"You have to be careful not to look pathetic," Jacobs said. "As we know from the dating world, you have to say your apology and shut up."
Sometimes an apology is not enough, as tarnished National Hockey League star Sean Avery discovered after he referred to his ex-girlfriend, actress Elisha Cuthbert, as "sloppy seconds" for another NHL player whom she is now dating.
"I should not have made those comments, and I recognize that they were inappropriate," Avery said in a statement the day after he made the off-color quip at a press conference. "It was a bad attempt to build excitement for the game, but I am now acutely aware of how hurtful my actions were."
Apparently, the hurt ran deep. After a six-day suspension, Avery was axed from the Dallas Stars Monday and checked into a 10-day treatment program.
"People in sports used to be allowed to not be so polished," Cole said. "I'm sure they wish those days would come back.
"Part of good manners is you shouldn't talk about people," Cole added. "Even in comedy, it can get you in trouble."
Actress Anne Hathaway's swindling ex-boyfriend Raffaello Follieri offered a courtroom apology just before he was led to jail in October on federal fraud charges.
In an emotional statement made in Italian inside the courtroom, Follieri said, "I have dishonored my family name, and I have embarrassed the church that I love. I will never be able to wash away the stain, and I will have to live with it for the rest of my life."
And, in a reference possibly aimed at Hathaway, he added, "I just hope that someday, those who have been hurt by my action will one day forgive me."
"It happens all the time -- you did something wrong and you want people to forgive you," Cole said. "That is you wanting to be absolved for your error."
In Follieri's case, what's even better than an apology is his promise to pay back $3.6 million that he conned out of others.