For these 5 stars, it was a very bad year
By Ann Oldenburg, USA TODAY
Stars have their ups and downs, their hits and flops.
Five celebrities, however, went through especially turbulent times in the past 12 months, personally and professionally. What happened, and where do these stars at the crossroads go from here?
Defining moment: “Crack is whack.”
Recap: When Whitney Houston said those words to Diane Sawyer on national television, it became one of the next day’s most repeated phrases. Houston was saying she didn’t use crack, but she admitted that she and her husband, Bobby Brown, did use alcohol, cocaine and marijuana.
The consequences: Web sites, radio deejays, talk show hosts and fans were buzzing about her ó and not in a good way.
The fallout: Unknown. She has proved she can still sell records ó her new album, Just Whitney, sold 205,000 copies in its debut week, a personal best for her. But she’s not instantly topping charts like Shania and the Dixie Chicks. Has her image taken such a blow that she can’t recover?
Defining moment: The dangling baby.
Recap: The pop singer has become synonymous with strange, but this year he seemed to reach a new level. Midyear, Jackson accused Sony Music chairman Tommy Mottola of racism. Then there were the shocking close-ups of his nose taken in court, where he’s fighting a breach-of-contract lawsuit. A few days later, he showed up on crutches, saying he had been bitten by a spider. But the final straw was when he dangled his infant son over a hotel balcony in Germany as he showed him off to fans below.
The consequences: Public outcry and an Internet video game in which players catch babies in a basket as the pop star hurls them from a rooftop.
The fallout: His escapades have made tabloid headlines for years. But with his musical career waning, his talent, sadly, is almost becoming overlooked as people worry about his behavior.
Defining moment: The Queen of Nice became the self-proclaimed “bitch who ain’t so nice and (who’s) just a big-mouthed fat lesbian.”
Recap: She came out of the closet, ended her TV talk show and shut down her magazine.
The consequences: A $100 million lawsuit with Gruner + Jahr USA Publishers over Rosie, and some surprised fans.
The fallout: She remained true to her “vision,” she says, so she doesn’t care what her fans think. And although O’Donnell, 40, seems happier than ever at home in Nyack, N.Y., with her family ó kids Parker, 7; Chelsea, 5; Blake 3; her partner, Kelli Carpenter, and their new baby, Vivi ó the tabloids don’t seem to want to leave her alone. We suspect we’ll still be seeing her in 2003.
Defining moment: A snowballing of events that ended in her walking away from it all for a while.
Recap: The pop princess broke up early in the year with Justin Timberlake. “I cried a lot, and it wasn’t fun,” she told People magazine. Sales of her most recent album, Britney, were less than half of the album before it. She made her film debut in Crossroads, which did OK but didn’t break any box office records. She made headlines by making an obscene gesture to photographers who surrounded her car in Mexico. She opened a restaurant in New York in June, Nyla, and by the end of the year pulled out of it as it struggled financially. Her parents divorced. And most recently, her Pepsi gig ended; the soft-drink company signed BeyoncÈ Knowles.
The consequences: There was much speculation on what her “taking a break” meant, most of it not good.
The fallout: Spears, 21, is writing songs and considering movie scripts. She’s too young and has too much sex appeal to be declared washed up. The question is: Will she be able to reinvent herself, like Madonna, to stay on top in pop?
Defining moment: A guilty verdict for shoplifting at the Beverly Hills Saks Fifth Avenue store.
Recap: She waited through 11 months of delays before going on trial for shoplifting more than $5,000 of merchandise.
The consequences: A fine, probation and community service.
The fallout: As for movie roles and how much this actually hurt her career, some have snickered that she won’t be welcome on sets for fear she’ll walk off with the costumes and anything else that isn’t nailed down. But most casting directors say Hollywood is forgiving ó look at Robert Downey Jr The fashion world is ready to embrace her. After she stole a Marc Jacobs top, Marc Jacobs executives have asked her to model as part of the 2003 spring advertising campaign.
For these 5 stars, it was a very bad year