2003 Entertainment Year in Review

As the year comes to an end, it's the sound of my own intermittent gasps and whimpers that I find so disturbing. You'd think I'd be used to it already … after all, "That's Entertainment!"

The year in a nutshell ends like this:

Michael Jackson leads the pack with nine counts, followed by Cold Mountain with eight Golden Globe nominations.

The whole Michael Jackson situation is preposterous, although, as any of you that have read my ramblings in the past will know, I am not surprised. It was only a matter of time before The Gloved Loon's tune was up.

The most ridiculous part of it all, however, was the media's treatment of this catastrophe, what would any other time be a delicate subject. From chasing the plane at the airport to following MJ's car in Vegas, it was an all-out circus, and the severity of the circumstances and criminal charges that ensued were lost in the absurdity of the coverage.

The Golden Globe nominations actually were announced the same day as the child molestation charges were filed against Jackson, and Cold Mountain did lead with eight nominations — which would've been fine, except the movie was not being released until Christmas Day, so no one had seen it.

Bottom line … you'd have been better off sitting atop a cold mountain than to have experienced some of the things that happened in the year of entertainment in 2003.

There's the Bennifer, Jennifer, Ben-Lo, J.Lo, Ben Affleck, on-again, off-again, have the world bend over, relationship of the year. We followed this not-so-dynamic duo around for the last 12 months, ready to be the voyeurs to their nuptials without a proper invite. Ever since that oh-so-top-secret shindig at the Four Seasons in Santa Barbara didn't go down, we've had to be content just keeping up with the fighting in Savannah or making up in Vegas. And as we leave double-03, there's still no word on if these two will say "I do" — or if they'll ever stop making the cover of Us Weekly.

And speaking of magazine covers … no one graced more this year than Ms. Britney Spears after she drove her tongue into the mouth of a woman who's been around the block more times than a pace car. Yes, it was the kiss that could be heard 'round the world when Madonna and Britney swapped spit on the MTV Video Music Awards show. The two have since forged a friendship that includes a few musical collaborations, which certainly will benefit both in hanging onto their respective and each other's audiences for a while longer.

Another kiss — make that kiss-off — that received an equal amount of publicity: the end of the David Gest-Liza Minnelli marriage. The biggest surprise, though, is that THEY EVER GOT MARRIED IN THE FIRST PLACE. David filed the divorce suit first, claiming he experienced all types of pains about the head after Liza beat him about the head during the course of their time together. He also asked for $10 million. (For aspirin, I think.) Liza then filed a countersuit the next day, basically saying he acted like a prima donna in public. Shocker!

The Jennifer Garner-Scott Foley divorce is another biggie, but not really because she quickly picked up the pace with Michael Vartan, her Alias co-star. Truth be told … folks love it when co-stars end up together.

And while we're on the hook-up side, let's mention these: Russell Crowe said "I do" to Danielle Spencer (and they just had a son). Kate Winslet married director Sam Mendes (and they just had a son). Megan Mullaly of Will and Grace married Nick Offerman. Adam Sandler married Jackie Titone. Diana Krall married Elvis Costello. And, last, but not least … Bachelorette Trista Rehn married Ryan Sutter in a three-part wedding on television.

Of course, the aforementioned pale in comparison to the new mature woman/nubile man trend, à la Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake. Ah yes, finally it was the year that the older women bedded the younger men and so far it looks like it's going swimmingly for both couples, although the boys, er men, may need floaties while in the waters of these experienced women.

There's the Roy Horn tragedy. He was attacked by one of his own tigers at a performance at the Mirage hotel in Las Vegas. He's been recovering slowly, but his partner, Siegfried Fischbacher, says there has been consistent improvement. It seems unlikely that the two will perform on stage again, but you never know.

Things felt odd at times in 2003, Ruben Studdard winning American Idol while Clay Aiken is the obvious favorite among fans. Aiken's album has outsold Studdard's by more than 100,000 copies and Aiken was also given the Fan's Choice Award at the American Music Awards. Hmmm …

Other times … things seemed queer. And they should, as five guys made the word a household name with Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. This reality show on Bravo has given gay the OK, and men are no longer afraid to show their feminine side … or at least they're not afraid to do a little shaving and color matching. Carson, Kyan, Jai, Ted and Thom will come in, verbally turn a man into mincemeat and then make him the Prince Charming he never dreamed he could be … all while the viewing public sits idly by and yells to male family members, "Oh my God, you should be on this show. You need help, too!"

There was the onslaught of Nick and Jessica the budding career of Beyoncé, the daddying of David Letterman and, oh, the knocking up of Gwynnie (Paltrow, for those not in the know). Ahnold became the Governator and everyone seemed to need more Nemo.

Finally, we lost a lot of great folks this year … Bob Hope, Art Carney, Katharine Hepburn, Johnny and June Carter Cash, Maurice Gibb, Fred Rogers, Gregory Peck, Celia Cruz, John Ritter, Gregory Hines and others.

All I can say is, it was a year and it's over and I'm glad. Let's slam the slate say …

Take "2004!"

And to all of you out there a happy and healthy holiday season … keep reading and keep watching, but don't take it too seriously!

Heidi Oringer is director of entertainment programming at ABCNEWS Radio.