Kidman and Cruise top gossip in 2001

It was a banner year for celebrity news. Michael Jackson staged an elaborate comeback, Britney Spears professed she was no longer a girl but not yet a woman and pop diva Madonna performed a sellout global tour.

But what everyone really followed this year were the stars’ personal lives rather than their professional careers.

The story that captured headlines in 2001 was undoubtedly the divorce of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, once considered a rock-solid marriage by Hollywood standards.

Ben Todd, showbiz editor for the Daily Star and the Daily Express, told Reuters that the best stories are always the most surprising ones.

Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman dominated the press for most of 2001 and, for many magazine and newspaper show business editors, was by far the top story of the year,” he said. “There hadn’t been any whispers about it.”

Following the split, Kidman became one of the world’s most photographed women in showbiz as watchers looked for some sign of distress in the actress.

Kidman, however, prevailed and went on to win critical acclaim for her roles in the Baz Luhrmann musical Moulin Rouge and the suspense thriller The Others, produced in part by ex-hubby Cruise.

Another breakup that made headlines was Titanic star Kate Winslet‘s divorce from director husband Jim Threapleton soon after the birth of their daughter. Media interest grew when it was reported that Winslet was dating American Beauty director Sam Mendes.

Elizabeth Hurley also sparked media interest when she announced she was “thrilled” to be pregnant with millionaire boyfriend Stephen Bing’s child.

But the public feud that erupted between the lovers following the announcement fueled the media craze. Bing said he was not sure he was the father of Hurley‘s child and in a statement said, “Miss Hurley and I were not in an exclusive relationship when she became pregnant.”

Get ready-if the stars can top themselves next year, gossip hounds will be plenty busy in 2002.