A rundown of a star-crossed year

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Every week of 2005 seemed to bring more turbulence and upheaval in the world of entertainment and in the personal -- but very public -- lives of the people who bring it to us.

First, no one was going to the movies. Then everyone was downloading TV shows onto their iPods. We all wondered what was in the hatch on Lost; we were surprised -- but not that surprised -- to see Michael Jackson show up at court in his pajamas; and Brad and Jen broke our hearts.

The awful practice of combining names of celebrity couples reached new heights of awfulness: TomKat, Bennifer II and Brangelina, the one that sounds like a cereal no one would want to eat.

It was all so much to cram into one year, we'll take it one month at a time.

January

The year began with perhaps the biggest bombshell of all: On Jan. 7, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston announced they were splitting after 4 1/2 years of marriage, amid rumors of Pitt's entanglement with Angelina Jolie.

Battle lines were quickly drawn. Those who cared about all that was good and beautiful in the world lined up behind Aniston. Those who abuse kittens supported Pitt. (We exaggerate a bit.)

When the Pitt-Jolie film Mr. & Mrs. Smith opened, People magazine polled 6,000 moviegoers about the stars' relationship, asking if they had a future together. Forty-two percent said yes, 18 percent said no and 17 percent refused to answer, out of respect for Jennifer.

Also this month, Orlando Bloom and Kate Bosworth broke up after three years of dating (only to have rumors swirl that they were engaged later in the year), and Prince Harry wore a swastika armband to a costume party. "Harry the Nazi" screamed the British tabloids.

February

Another month, another breakup. This one between the dimwitted stars of The Simple Life on Fox, Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie. Some say Richie was jealous that Hilton had become the bigger star. Others say Richie had simply gained emotional maturity and didn't want any part of all that debauchery.

Whatever the case, when Hilton hosted Saturday Night Live on Feb. 5, Richie threw a party, supposedly to celebrate. But instead, Richie showed guests the infamous Paris Hilton sex tape from 2003. Score!

Also, Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles announced their engagement, gonzo journalism father Hunter S. Thompson ended his own life and jury selection began in the Michael Jackson trial.

March

Domestic diva Martha Stewart was released from prison in West Virginia. She left wearing a blue-gray shawl thing knitted for her by another inmate. A million people asked for the pattern.

"Martha Stewart is getting out of prison," said David Letterman on the Late Show, "so today the terror alert was raised from orange to pesto."

It was another big month for breakups: A pregnant Denise Richards filed for divorce from Charlie Sheen (but there were rumors they were also back together later this year), Aniston filed for divorce from Pitt, and Katie Holmes and Chris Klein ended their engagement after a five-year relationship.

You know what comes next for Katie ...

April

TomKat goes public. On April 29, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes announced they're dating. For a second, the nation forgot about Pitt and Aniston. Cruise and Holmes had met earlier in the month when Holmes visited his office.

Both stars had big summer movies to promote (Batman Begins for her, War of the Worlds for him), and the media was skeptical it was true love.

Meanwhile, rumors swirled about a Pitt-Jolie relationship, Prince Charles made an honest woman out of Camilla (though the wedding was delayed by a day for Pope John Paul II's funeral), and Joaquin Phoenix checked himself into rehab for alcohol abuse. (We'll refrain from making Johnny Cash jokes.)

May

A couch-jumping performance on The Oprah Winfrey Show made the public begin to wonder if Cruise had truly lost it. In the course of a one-hour appearance, Cruise dropped to his knees six times, grabbed Oprah 18 times and said Holmes is "freaking out" three times.

For her part, Oprah told Cruise that he was "gone" 19 times. Not to mention what happened to our respect.

With Tom and Katie dominating the news, there was little else happening. But actress Renee Zellweger and country singer Kenny Chesney did find time to get married May 9 in the Virgin Islands.

June

The four-month Michael Jackson trial ended with an acquittal on all 10 charges, including conspiracy and child molestation. As the not guilty verdicts were read, a fan released 10 white doves into the air -- one for each count.

The bizarre case featured celebrity witnesses Macaulay Culkin, Chris Tucker and Jay Leno, and the specter of Jackson dancing on the roof of his SUV after his arraignment and then inviting his fans into his Neverland ranch for a picnic.

In other celebrity legal trouble, Russell Crowe lost his famous temper at a New York hotel. When the Aussie actor couldn't get through to his wife on a phone in his room, he went down to the lobby and threw the phone and a metal plate at a desk clerk. He was arrested and charged with second-degree assault and criminal possession of a weapon (the telephone).

And finally, on June 17, Cruise and Holmes announced their engagement. "I want to marry her as soon as possible," Cruise said. (Six months later, she's still waiting.)

July

The box office blues struck Hollywood. With ticket receipts down 9 percent from the previous year, moviemakers wondered why the crowds were staying away. It could have been the high ticket prices, the rude behavior of theatergoers or the rising popularity of DVDs.

Or maybe it was this: There was nothing really great to see.

Many stars seemed their most interesting off-screen. Jude Law, who starred in four bad-to-mediocre movies in the last half of 2004, admitted to cheating on his fiancee, Sienna Miller, with his children's nanny. He publicly apologized, while his fiancee took off the engagement ring.

August

In an attempt to escape all the turbulence, celebs went on vacation:

Sisters Paris and Nicky Hilton went tubing in Saint-Tropez, where Cindy Crawford and her husband were also spotted. Sean "P. Diddy" Combs was there, too, with his family.

Pitt and Jolie took Jolie's son Maddox to the English countryside. (On Pitt's new blond 'do, Aniston reportedly said, "Billy Idol called -- he wants his look back.") Desperate Housewife Teri Hatcher spent time in South Africa, Portugal, England and the Bahamas.

September

Some spring-to-fall romances flame out before fall even begins. Actors Chad Michael Murray and Sophia Bush separated after a five-month marriage. Renee Zellweger filed for an annulment of her four-month marriage to Kenny Chesney.

The month also marked the end for Paris Squared. Hotel heiress and Simple Life star Paris Hilton -- famous for being famous -- announced she was breaking off her engagement to Greek shipping heir Paris Latsis.

But there was at least a bit of harmony in September: Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher were married after two years of dating.

October

Television was transformed: Apple released the video iPod, and people can watch their favorite shows on the bus, on the subway, at the gym, wherever they want. The new iPod holds 150 hours of video, and TV shows such as Lost can be downloaded the day after they air.

Experts said it would test whether consumers want their TV portable and are comfortable watching a 2.5-inch screen. Apple quickly passed the test. Within two months, consumers downloaded 3 million videos from iTunes.

Speaking of videos, this month super-thin supermodel Kate Moss entered rehab for drug addiction after photos and videos of her snorting cocaine turned up on the Internet.

And TomKat announced they're pregnant. We only wonder in what faith they'll raise the kid: Scientology or reality.

November

Another rocky relationship hit the shoals of, uh, reality. Stars of the MTV show Newlyweds Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey announced they're breaking up. Simpson, of course, famously asked while eating Chicken of the Sea, is it chicken or is it tuna?

She also said (we can't resist one more), in response to a question about whether she wanted buffalo wings, "I don't eat buffalo."

The breakup was announced shortly before the release of the final season of Newlyweds on DVD. It was apparently too late to change the packaging, which said, "This may be the end of the series, but if the last three years are any indicator, these Newlyweds have many more years together ahead of them."

Or not.

December

A year can't go by without the mention of Britney Spears, who was the most searched-for item on Yahoo.com, the site reported. Tabloids spent December on a Spears-Kevin Federline divorce watch, with rumors stoked by public fights like one in L.A. recently.

Spears and Federline reportedly got in a big fight after seeing Memoirs of a Geisha. "Kev spent the whole time on the phone," a source told the New York Post. "Then they had a fight when he tried to leave early."

Things supposedly went bad after the birth of their son Sean in September. Spears was furious with Federline for partying all the time and leaving her with the kid, tabloids reported. The latest word was that the two were heading to the Caribbean after Christmas to try to patch things up.

Look for reports in the new year.

stephen.kiehl@baltsun.com

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