General News

2004 Year in Review: A Look Back at the Headlines of 2004

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Dec 30, 2004 | 10:57am EST

2004 had its fair share of highs and lows. Celebrities like to live life in the fast lane so there's been no shortage of wild entertainment news to report.

Right from the beginning of the year, major stories continually rolled in. Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck ended their turbulent engagement in January, while the following month Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman announced their marriage was over. But, like the silver lining of every cloud, some of Hollywood's finest tied the knot this year: Kevin Costner, Dennis Quaid and Robert Evans all walked down the aisle with their loved ones, while Diane Lane and Josh Brolin married each other. Clearly believing there's no time like the present, J.Lo secretly wed Marc Anthony in June.

2004 also saw the passing of several legends, including Sir Peter Ustinov, Ronald Reagan, Fay Wray, Russ Meyer, Janet Leigh, Rodney Dangerfield and Superfly star Ron O'Neal. But it was Marlon Brando's death in July that garnered the most headlines.

Away from the big screen, three of television's most popular shows all ended within the space of a few weeks of each other. Many fans were left fearing the world would be a lonelier place without the likes of Friends, Frasier and Sex and the City.

But it's difficult to sum up a year in a few sentences, so read on and reminisce on the eventful 12 months that made up 2004.

January

The year began with the heart-warming announcement that Dawson's Creek actress Katie Holmes and American Pie star Chris Klein became engaged over the 2003 Christmas break. At the time, the couple had been dating for four years and decided not to set a date for their nuptials.

Actress Chloe Sevigny had a more pressing start to her year, which she began by rubbishing reports she was dumped by the William Morris Agency after performing a sex act on screen--saying it was she who ended their association. The 29-year-old star shocked critics and audiences alike with her performance in Vincent Gallo's movie Brown Bunny, in which she is seen giving the controversial filmmaker oral sex. But Sevigny insists that, despite the media storm, she made the decision to end her eight-year business relationship with the firm.

Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin escaped a public rebuke from Australia's child welfare officials after dangling his one month-old baby dangerously close to a crocodile in a stunt on New Year's Day. The incident at Australia Zoo prompted a storm of controversy, but Irwin insists his son, Bob, was never in danger. The animal expert-turned-TV star was interviewed by the Office of Workplace Health and Safety, who concluded there wasn't enough evidence to suggest he violated any safety regulations.

Angelina Jolie started 2004 by angrily hitting out at claims her adopted Cambodian son Maddox may have been illegally taken from his birth mother. American police shut down the Seattle international Adoptions Inc agency--which the Tomb Raider star used to adopt--following concerns it paid mothers as little as $119 to give up their children, rather than "rescuing" them from orphanages, as claimed. Jolie said, "I would never rob a mother of her child. I can only imagine how dreadful that would feel. If a parent survived then I would want Maddox to meet them--but I have not seen any evidence."

Love was in town for Stuck on You co-stars Matt Damon and Eva Mendes, who ended months of media speculation over their relationship when they joined pals Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez to see in the New Year in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Orlando Bloom began 2004 in a similar manner--by confirming he was dating actress Kate Bosworth. At the time, The Lord of the Rings hunk had been dating 21-year-old Bosworth for some months, but had refused to discuss their romance. But, Bloom announced, "I'm in love with love. It's heavenly when you're falling for someone and you can't stop thinking about her."

The story of the month had to be the news Affleck and Lopez were ending their high-profile romance. The stars, who cancelled their September 2003 wedding blaming an intrusive press made their privacy impossible, split amid persistent rumours they were growing apart.

Kate Hudson and her rocker husband Chris Robinson were celebrating on Jan. 7 after becoming first-time parents. The actress gave birth to baby boy Ryder Russell in Los Angeles. Elsewhere, Cameron Diaz categorically denied she would wed lover Justin Timberlake in 2004, hoping her comments would end the media circus surrounding the couple's relationship.

Actor and writer Spalding Gray went missing on Jan. 11. The Killing Fields star's body was found washed up on the Brooklyn side of New York's East River on Mar. 7. He had committed suicide by jumping off the city's Staten Island ferry.

An ex-boyfriend of Halle Berry stepped forward to accuse Wesley Snipes of being her abusive ex-lover, who struck the Catwoman star so hard, she lost most of the hearing in her right ear. R&B singer Christopher Williams--who dated Berry in the early 1990s--made the startling accusation against the Blade star after getting upset with the number of people who assumed it was him who dealt the screen beauty the damaging blow.

Nicole Kidman ditched her lover Lenny Kravitz amid reports of his infidelity. The Cold Mountain beauty had been dating the rock wildman for eight months but was horrified to hear he had been spotted romancing Brazilian artist Isis Arruda and actress Michelle Rodriguez behind her back.

Veteran actor Carmine Caridi admitted lending his screener copies of February's Oscar contenders to a friend who put them online. The Godfather: Part III star, 70, later told investigators he sent VHS copies of approximately 60 films per year to pal Russell Sprague who converted them onto the DVD format. Caridi insists he had no idea that Sprague would distribute the films via the internet and had sent them to him because he believed they were for the 51-year-old's personal entertainment. Caridi became the first person to be expelled from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences for his part in the affair. In November he was fined $300,000. The US District Court in Los Angeles imposed two fines of $150,000 each on Caridi, one for The Last Samurai and one for Mystic River, after studio Warner Bros filed a lawsuit.

Animation giants Pixar and Walt Disney ended their record-breaking partnership this month, despite the international success of films including Finding Nemo, Toy Story and Monsters Inc. Pixar chief executive Steve Jobs said the company decided to end its distribution deal with Disney, after its request for a greater percentage of the profits was declined.

January saw the passing of Superfly star Ron O'Neal, who died after a long battle with cancer. The blaxploitation legend was 66. Renowned fashion photographer Helmut Newton also died this month, in a car crash in Los Angeles. He was 83. Newton reportedly lost control of his Cadillac car after leaving Hollywood's Chateau Marmont hotel and crashed into a wall.

February

February began with Jamie Foxx being placed on two years probation after pleading guilty to charges of fighting with security guards at a New Orleans, Louisiana, casino in April 2003. The actor and comedian entered a disturbing the peace plea on and also received a $1,500 fine. It was to be a good year for Foxx, however, with movie hits in Collateral and Ray.

A new biography claimed four-times Oscar winner Katharine Hepburn had affairs with Judy Garland, Greta Garbo and other A-list ladies. Author Darwin Porter wrote in the book Katharine The Great that Hepburn, who died in June 2003, was busy romancing both men and women during her younger years.

Meanwhile, Mel Gibson was slammed as "ignorant" and "insensitive" for defending his dad over his view that the Holocaust has been exaggerated. Gibson stated his unwavering support for Hutton Gibson during a magazine interview, even though his father has previously rubbished the belief six million Jews were exterminated by Nazi Germany during World War II. Gibson acknowledged the Holocaust happened, but said, "I love (my dad). So I'll slug it out, until my heart is black and blue, if anyone ever tries to hurt him." But it was Gibson's The Passion of the Christ which caused the most controversy for the Lethal Weapon star in February. In the weeks leading up to its release, The Passion was criticized by many religious leaders for supposedly blaming Jews for Jesus' crucifixion. However, on its release, the film--about the final 12 hours of Jesus' life--went on to become a surprise box office smash, taking $23.6 million on its opening day alone.

Actor and murder suspect Robert Blake's ongoing legal problems continued this month, when his third attorney, Thomas Mesereau, quit because of "irreconcilable differences". The news was unwelcome for Blake, standing trial for the murder of his actress wife Bonny Lee Bakley, who was fatally shot while sitting in a car outside Studio City, California eatery Vitello's following a meal with her husband in 2001. Mesereau ended 2004 by representing Michael Jackson in another one of the most high-profile legal battles of the year.

It came to light in February that Nicole Kidman had been given the all-clear following a breast cancer scare the previous month. The Oscar-winning beauty, 36, was sent for further tests after doctors spotted a suspicious area during a routine check-up, but fortunately was found to be in perfect health.

Liza Minnelli's and David Gest's divorce became increasingly bitter throughout February. First, Gest asked Minnelli to take a lie detector test, in a bid to prove she beat him up during drunken rages. Then, he appeared on news show Dateline and showed interviewer Stone Phillips 'claw' marks he claimed Minnelli had left on his stomach, and asked, "See those finger marks?"

Hotel heiress Paris Hilton filed a $28.8 million lawsuit against an internet company for showing her explicit sex-tape on the web. The 22-year-old slapped the lawsuit on Kahatani Ltd, claiming a violation of privacy over the film which shows her having sex with former boyfriend Rick Salomon. The tape--which surfaced on the website in November 2003--was made when Hilton was 19.

Kiefer Sutherland was rushed to hospital to receive six stitches after his face was slashed during a bar fight. The 24 star was left disfigured following the brawl in Los Angeles--forcing the show's bosses to delay filming while his face heals. Sutherland's publicist said the star was "defending himself".

Also this month, Ethan Hawke confirmed his marriage to Uma Thurman was over for good and that they'd filed for divorce. The couple split in 2003.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered officials to stop granting gay wedding licences in San Francisco. The Terminator star ordered the clampdown after a judge decided not to impose a restraining order on same-sex marriages. Before he could, though, Rosie O'Donnell married her lesbian lover Kelli Carpenter in the city.

Former boxing champ Mike Tyson agreed to plead guilty to disorderly conduct instead of assault for his part in a New York hotel brawl in 2003. Tyson agreed to 100 hours of community service--lecturing, training and instructing at Gleeson's boxing gym in Brooklyn--and to undergo counselling.

Hit medical drama ER axed a two-second slot featuring an elderly woman's bust following the outrage sparked by Janet Jackson's Super Bowl breast exposure. Jackson caused a nationwide scandal when she revealed one of her bosoms during her performance with Justin Timberlake at American football final on Feb. 1. ER wasn't the only victim of censorship as the result of the 'nipplegate' furore. The Oscars, which took place on Feb. 29, were broadcast with a five-second delay. However, ceremony producer Joe Roth promised nominees the planned delay in the telecast would not be used to cull any controversial political remarks.

March

Blake Edwards kicked off March by slamming Academy Awards bosses for placing a five-second delay on the live TV broadcast. The Breakfast at Tiffany's filmmaker, who picked up an honorary Oscar on Feb. 29 for his long-standing movie career, was irritated America's moral guardians had reacted to Janet Jackson's breast-baring at the previous month's Super Bowl. Edwards said, "It's such hypocrisy. I really don't see how you can run Sex and the City, and then turn around and raise this kind of fuss."

The legal woes of troubled actor Robert Blake continued unabated in March as he appeared with his fourth lawyer, M. Gerald Schwartzbach, at a preliminary hearing to answer charges he murdered his wife, Bonnie Lee Bakley.

Steven Seagal's lawyers wanted to be released from representing him this month. The attorneys defending the Under Siege star from a $60 million civil suit brought by former business partner Julius Nasso filed papers in New York asking to be let loose from the case.

Elsewhere, a judge threw out a claim by Sony Pictures that it be allowed to use remarks by a non-existent critic to promote films including A Knight's Tale. The argument, presented by Sony's lawyers--that adverts with fake quotes are protected by freedom of speech--was dismissed. The controversial case was filed by filmgoers against the Hollywood studio after a 2001 Newsweek article uncovered fake critic David Manning, who'd written favourable 'reviews' for movies including Vertical Limit and Hollow Man.

Oscar winner Charlize Theron broke down in tears after former South African President Nelson Mandela praised her for putting their country on the map. The actress, who picked up the Best Actress Oscar for her role as a serial-killing prostitute in Monster in February, was guest of honour at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg.

Scottish actor Alan Cumming slammed President George W Bush's stance on gay marriage--branding him "out of step" with public opinion. The openly bisexual X2:X-Men United star, who lives in America, was horrified to hear Bush's plans to outlaw the practice and urged liberal-minded Americans to use their vote this year to oust him in November's presidential election.

Pamela Anderson was celebrating after being paid staggering $250,000 advance to pen her first novel, Star.

Newlywed Kate Winslet stunned Inside The Actor's Studio host James Lipton by breaking down in tears while talking about life with husband Sam Mendes and their new son, Joe. In an interview broadcast in March, but recorded weeks after giving birth to the couple's first child together in December 2003, Winslet was clearly overcome by her emotions as she talked about how happy the American Beauty director had made her. She gushed, "I had a baby. His father is Sam Mendes. He is a wonderful... I will start crying in a minute because I'm so emotional because we just had the baby."

The Passion of the Christ star Jim Caviezel had a private meeting with Pope John Paul II on Mar. 15. The religious Caviezel, who plays Jesus Christ in the controversial Mel Gibson-directed epic, was reportedly blessed by the pontiff during a brief meeting at the Vatican in Rome, Italy.

A Canadian man accused of stalking German supermodel Claudia Schiffer was deported from Britain. Louis Alexandre Brisette, 21, was arrested after repeatedly calling at the mansion Schiffer shares with filmmaker husband Matthew Vaughn and their one-year-old son Caspar in Bury St Edmunds, England. Unemployed Brisette appeared in court on Mar. 13 to face harassment charges but returned to Schiffer's house just hours later, police said. On Mar. 14, cops arrested Brisette at the hotel he was staying at in Bury St Edmunds and handed him over to immigration officers.

Catherine Zeta-Jones failed in her bid to prevent a businessman from running his company close to her new home in Swansea, Wales. The Oscar winner was furious when she discovered Steve Gwynn planned to run his telecommunications business near her lavish property, and had gained permission to use a garage which is situated on the same estate as her house.

Actor Paul Reubens agreed to register as a sex offender for three years as part of a plea bargain to remove charges of child pornography from his record. The child porn charges against Pee-Wee Herman's alter-ego were dismissed after the actor confessed to a separate misdemeanour obscenity charge. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Reubens also agreed to pay a $100 fine and to enter a counselling program for a year. He launched an appeal to clear this name in April.

Hollywood beauty Sharon Stone became a single woman again in March when her divorce from newspaper editor Phil Bronstein was finalized. The Basic Instinct actress, 46, and the San Francisco Chronicle editor split in July 2003, with Bronstein citing "irreconcilable differences".

The entertainment world was in shock this month, when Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz announced they'd split up after less than three years together. The glamorous pair met on the set of the 2001 film Vanilla Sky as Cruise's marriage to Nicole Kidman fell apart, and they began dating publicly in July 2001. Cruise's sister and publicist Lee Anne DeVette confirmed the couple "broke up at the end of January and it's amicable".

Hollywood actor Jason Patric was arrested after a drunken encounter with police in Austin, Texas, at the end of the month. Patric was booked on misdemeanour charges of public intoxication and resisting arrest. He was taken to the Travis County Jail and released five hours later. A few days later Patric launched a blistering counterattack on police, claiming he was assaulted without motive. The charge of resisting arrest was dropped in May.

Acting legend Peter Ustinov died in Switzerland on Mar. 28. He was 82. Ustinov's acting career spanned more than 60 years--including Academy Awards for two supporting roles in Spartacus (1961) and Topkapi (1965).

April

Not an April Fool's joke, but the month started with the news California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had enrolled on a training course which teaches attendees how to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. Schwarzenegger, who at the time still faced 16 accusations of sexual harassment from women, had voluntarily attended the two-hour seminar along with many of his senior staff shortly after taking office, his spokesperson said.

Jennifer Lopez mother Guadalupe won a staggering $2.4 million on a Wheel of Fortune gambling machine in an Atlantic City, New Jersey, casino. The elder Lopez scooped the prize from just a $3 stake at the city's Borgato Casino.

Will & Grace star Debra Messing became a mother on 8 April, when she gave birth to a baby boy.

New York radio disc-jockey Howard Stern was dropped by Clear Channel Communications in April, after the American media giant was fined $495,000 fine for indecency following a foul-mouthed interview with Paris Hilton's ex-lover Rick Salomon. Stern had been suspended from broadcasting on the network's six stations following the "vulgar and insulting" February interview, but was removed as a result of the size of the fine. Stern found an ally in comedian Chris Rock, who launched a furious attack on the indecency craze sweeping America this month, labeling the furor "sad". Rock criticized the harsh laws that have took Stern off the air, and believes America overreacted to Janet Jackson's nipple flashing stunt at the Super Bowl in February.

Quentin Tarantino was reprimanded by producers of hit TV talent show American Idol on April 13, when he used a swear word to describe his thoughts about a contestant. Red-faced TV bosses had to reshoot guest judge Tarantino's reaction to singer Latoya London's performance so the show didn't feature his expletive when it aired on April 14. The usually live telecast was cancelled at the last minute when chiefs at Fox TV decided to air a live broadcast by President George W. Bush's instead. Regular judge Paula Abdul says, "He said 'I have three words for you LaToya: F**king power house.'"

Mystery surrounded Kevin Spacey's "mugging" in a south London park at 4.30 a.m. on April 17. The Usual Suspects star told police he had been attacked and had his mobile phone stolen while walking his dog. However, after reporting the crime and receiving hospital attention for a minor head injury, Spacey returned to the police station to withdraw his claim. Spacey explained, "I fell for a con and I was, I think, incredibly embarrassed by it. Some sob story about someone needing to call their mother and could they use my phone. This kid took off and I ran after him and it was 4 a.m. and I tripped up over my dog and I ended up falling onto the street and hitting myself in the head."

And basketball star Dennis Rodman was placed under heavy restriction on the road, after pleading no contest to a drunk driving charge in a Las Vegas court. A judge fined Rodman $1,000, ordered him to serve 30 days of home detention, and required him to use a device in Nevada which will measure his blood-alcohol content before he can start his car for the next year--to prevent him from driving after drinking alcohol.

Cosmetics impresario Estee Lauder died of a heart attack on April 24. She was 97.

May

The actors who voice Homer and Bart on The Simpsons were delighted at the beginning of May, when they were awarded a huge pay rise. Dan Castellaneta and Nancy Cartwright--who voice Homer and Bart respectively--won their battle with TV bosses at 20th Century Fox Television to be paid $8 million each for the 22-episode 2004-05 season.

Anna Nicole Smith was banished from shock jock Howard Stern's New York radio studio on May 4 after turning up with a TV crew and demanding an apology. The busty blonde had hoped to film the DJ's apology after he poked fun at her weight during a 2002 interview. But, not only did Stern refuse to say sorry, he kicked Smith and her reality TV crew out of his studio.

The same day, supermodel Heidi Klum gave birth to a baby girl called Leni. Klum split with the child's father, Formula One boss Flavio Briatore earlier in the year, and later hooked up with her current beau, Seal.

Supermodel Naomi Campbell was celebrating after the British High Court ruled her privacy was invaded when the Daily Mirror newspaper published photographs of her leaving a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. The London-born catwalk queen's lawyers claimed the article breached her confidence and was an invasion of privacy.

Tough guy actor Tom Sizemore's legal problems swarmed around him this month. Firstly, a former assistant sued the actor for allegedly forcing her to hide his drugs and trying to have sex with him. Then, the Saving Private Ryan star was accused of violating his probation terms, imposed for abusing his former fianceé Heidi Fleiss, after reportedly tested "dirty" for methamphetamine in March. His spokesperson immediately dismissed claims he'd tested positive for the drug as "bogus".

Two of America's most beloved sitcoms came to an end in May. For many, both Friends and Frasier left a hole that couldn't be filled. Frasier enjoyed an hour-long finale with a show of stars. The regular cast was joined by Robbie Coltrane, Richard E Grant, Laura Linney, Wendy Mallick, Jennifer Beals and Anthony LaPaglia. But while Frasier drew a total of 25.2 million viewers when it aired on May 13, this couldn't compare to the 52.5 million fans the final Friends drew on May 6.

French film legend Brigitte Bardot faced up to a year in jail when she appeared in court to deny charges of inciting racial hatred in a book. Bardot, 69, has been defending herself in court over her best-seller A Cry in the Silence, in which she opposes the "Islamisation of France". In June, a French court fined her $5,400 for the offence.

British actress Kate Beckinsale wed director Len Wiseman in Los Angeles, in front of guests including Ben Affleck and Christian Slater.

Canadian-born actress Pamela Anderson was officially sworn in as an American citizen this month. The former Baywatch star, who moved to California from her native British Columbia 15 years ago, passed a citizenship test and was sworn in at a private ceremony.

Australian super couple Heath Ledger and Naomi Watts officially ended their turbulent on/off romance, with close friends blaming the 10-year age gap for the split.

Good news for Gwyneth Paltrow and her Coldplay singer husband Chris Martin when their first born, a girl called Apple Blythe Alison Martin, was born in a London hospital on May 14.

The spotlight was on Michael Moore at the Cannes Film Festival in France, when his Fahrenheit 9/11 was given an unprecedented 15-minute standing ovation. The controversial film--which looks at the links between President George W. Bush and the Bin Laden family, as well as the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners of war by American servicemen--took home the Palme D'Or best movie award at the event, which was chaired by Quentin Tarantino. While in France, Tarantino was made an Officer of Arts and Letters by the French government. The Kill Bill filmmaker was presented with the honor by French Culture Minister Renaud Donnedieu De Vabres, leaving Tarantino uncommonly "speechless".

Meanwhile, Bush received further criticism from Superman actor Christopher Reeve, who blasted the president for failing to increase federal spending on embryonic stem cell research. Reeve, who was paralyzed from the neck down following a horse-riding accident in 1995, told 625 graduates at Middlebury University in Vermont that Bush's "inaction is unacceptable".

Halle Berry won a restraining order against a former Navy SEAL stalker who made threats against her life and those of her manager and publicist. In June, Greg Broussard, who insisted he was destined to marry the actress, was ordered to stay at least 100 yards away from her and two of her associates.

Blaxploitation movie legend Lincoln Kirkpatrick died after a long battle with lung cancer in May. The 73-year-old actor appeared in more than 40 movies, including Uptown Saturday Night and Hoodlum. He earned his acting break by understudying for Sidney Poitier in the play A Raisin in the Sun. Emmy-winning actor Tony Randall died on May 17at the age of 84. Randall, most famous for playing photographer Felix Unger in TV spin-off series The Odd Couple, died in New York after developing pneumonia following heart-bypass surgery in December 2003. Soap and sci-fi star Richard Biggs died of a reported stroke at his home in California on May 22. He was 44. The actor was best known for playing Dr. Stephen Franklin in cult hit Babylon 5.

June

June started with the news Julia Roberts was nine weeks pregnant with twins, reportedly a boy and a girl. Roberts had spent the preceding two years trying to conceive with husband Danny Moder.

Lucky Ben Affleck scored a big hit at the California State Poker Championship, scooping up a $360,000 first prize. The actor now plans to join the likes of pop star Robbie Williams at the European Poker Series in March.

The upcoming release of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 was on the mind of former President George Bush at the start of the month, when he blasted Moore over the film which questions his son's presidential actions after the Sept. 11 atrocities in 2001. Bush senior said, "I have total disdain for Moore. His film is a vicious attack on our son. My son served with honor, and to get knocked down by this guy. Why should we hear about body bags, and deaths? Why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that? To have to answer anything about what that slime ball says is just too much."

Comic-book giant Marvel settled its legal dispute with film studio Sony Pictures over Spider-Man merchandise, after accusing the firm of wrongfully using the character for promotional purposes. Marvel sued Sony in February 2003, claiming it had violated an agreement by using the super-hero--played by Tobey Maguire in the hit movie--to advertise other Sony products. Sony countersued, saying Marvel had itself breached their licensing deal. But Marvel announced on June 1 it had reached an agreement that would give it "additional responsibilities".

Jennifer Lopez surprised many when news of her secret wedding to boyfriend Marc Anthony leaked out. The actress-singer married Anthony on June 5, just five months after splitting from fiancé Ben Affleck.

Recovering alcoholic and Baywatch creator David Hasselhoff was arrested on drunk driving charges when he was pulled over by Los Angeles police. When his case was heard in court in late October, Hasselhoff was ordered to attend 50 Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings, fined $200, placed on probation for 36 months and ordered to complete 200 hours of community service after pleading "no contest" to driving with excess alcohol.

DJ Howard Stern's indecency case ended after the biggest American radio chain agreed to pay out in a record settlement. Clear Channel Communications--who dropped Stern earlier in the year after he conducted a sexually explicit interview live on air--will pay $1.75 million in a deal with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the largest ever negotiated by the FCC and a broadcaster.

Good news arrived for Friends star Courteney Cox and husband David Arquette when they became parents for the first time. Baby girl Coco was born in Los Angeles on June 13.

Michael Moore slammed the American censor's decision to give his acclaimed documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 an R rating, making it unsuitable for under-17s to view alone. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) cited the "violent and disturbing images" contained in the film, as well as instances of bad language for their decision--but distributor Lion's Gate blasted the ruling as "totally unjustified". Moore said, "It is sadly very possible that many 15 and 16-year-olds will be asked and recruited to serve in Iraq in the next couple of years. If they are old enough to be recruited and capable of being in combat and risking their lives, they certainly deserve the right to see what is going on in Iraq." Moore and Lion's Gate lost their appeal.

Sharon Stone headed to a Los Angeles court to fight for lost cash she claimed she was owed after producers of a Basic Instinct sequel scrapped the project. Stone said she was owed more than $100 million by Rambo producers Andrew Vajna and Mario Kassar after they promised her a $14 million salary to make the follow-up and a healthy cut of the profits. Stone dropped the lawsuit in July and agreed to appear in the sequel after all.

Legendary actor Ryan O'Neal was hailed a hero when he saved a boy from drowning, after spotting him struggling while swimming in the sea near his home. The brave 63-year-old star of classic movies including Paper Moon and The Driver ran into the waves when he noticed the youngster having difficulties.

Winona Ryder returned to court in Beverly Hills to discuss her shoplifting arrest and it was all good news. A Los Angeles judge reduced criminal theft charges against her to misdemeanors after noting she had served 480 hours of community service at a California hospital after being sentenced for shoplifting in December 2001. Ryder, who was in court for her latest hearing, thanked the judge for his time. She was placed on unsupervised probation.

Former President Bill Clinton's autobiography My Life broke records after fans bought more than 400,000 copies of the book in America on its first day of release. The huge opening sales figures made it the best-selling non-fiction book of all time. Sales doubled that of the previous record holder, Clinton's wife Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's book Living History.

June saw the deaths of movie star and former President Ronald Reagan, who died from pneumonia at his home in Hollywood, aged 93, and screenwriter Robert Lees, whose severed head was discovered in his murdered neighbor's Hollywood home. Lees, 91--whose credits include episodes of the western Rawhide and Alfred Hitchcock Presents--was found murdered with his neighbor Dr. Morley Hal Engleson after an airline agent heard a commotion while Engleson booked a flight by phone. Suspect Keven Lee Graff was arrested near the gates of Paramount Studios--two miles from the victims' homes--after a studio guard recognized his picture from a recently aired TV news conference. He was later charged with the killings.

July

Ewan McGregor was "delighted" after winning damages in a settlement over photos of him and his children. The Moulin Rouge star was furious when British newspapers published snaps of him holidaying with daughters Esther Rose and Clara Mathilde in Mauritius in 2002. Tabloid newspapers the Daily Record and The Sun, photographer Jason Fraser and his company Fraser Woodward Ltd. all contributed to the undisclosed sum. It was a great month overall for McGregor who completed a three-and-a-half month motorbike trek around the world with pal Charley Boorman. Ewan McGregor roared into New York City on July 29 after completing his "very, very long" journey. The stars left London in April and drove 20,000 miles through eastern Europe, Mongolia, Siberia and Alaska.

Independence Day was made extra special for Dennis Quaid, when he married fiancee Kimberley Buffington in Montana. Jack Henry Ryan, Quaid's 12-year-old son with ex-wife Meg Ryan, was best man at the low-key ceremony.

Gossip columns around the globe were filled with the story of Hugh Grant romancing British socialite Jemima Khan this month, just weeks after Jemima's divorce from Pakistani politician and former criketer Imran Khan. The pair vigorously maintained a media blackout on the subject of their relationship, before finally admitting they were a couple later in the year.

Socialite Paris Hilton's $30 million lawsuit against an internet company that distributed her infamous sex tape, was thrown out of court on July 9. A Los Angeles judge dismissed the invasion of privacy suit filed by The Simple Life reality TV star against Panama City, Florida-based Kahatani Ltd. The video, suggestively titled "One Night in Paris," made Hilton, who claimed it was "intended only for personal use", and her ex-boyfriend Rick Salomon household names. The tape was leaked onto the internet in November 2003--over two years after it was filmed in May 2001. Meanwhile, Hilton split from her boyfriend of seven months, boy-band star Nick Carter. A spokeswoman for the hotel heiress blamed her busy schedule for the breakup, but insisted it was amicable.

Hollywood couple Kirsten Dunst and Jake Gyllenhaal split up in July after two years together. The stars blamed "filming commitments" for the separation.

Lifestyle queen Martha Stewart was sentenced to five months in prison and a further five months of home confinement after being convicted of lying to a court about the sale of shares in 2001. The 62-year-old billionairess was also placed on probation and fined $30,000. She began her jail sentence in October.

Hollywood producer Robert Evans was granted a divorce from his sixth wife, Versace model Leslie Ann Woodward. The 74-year-old Rosemary's Baby mogul's marriage to Woodward, 35, lasted just seven months--they tied the knot in August 2003, but the model filed for divorce in March citing "irreconcilable differences". Evans previous wives include Love Story star Ali MacGraw, former Miss America Phyllis George and Dynasty actress Catherine Oxenberg.

On a happier note, Harry Potter author J.K.Rowling announced she was pregnant with her third child this month. The 38-year-old writer will give birth to her second child with second husband Neil Murray in 2005. Rowling also has a daughter, Jessica, with first husband Jorge Arantes.

Teen actress Mary-Kate Olsen was released from a health facility on the July 23 after undergoing six weeks of treatment for an eating disorder. Olsen headed off for her first semester at New York University in August.

Veteran character actor Robert Sorrells was hit with a murder charge after witnesses told police he walked into a California bar and shot two patrons, killing one. The 74-year-old actor, who appeared in popular TV western Gunsmoke, was arrested close to the Simi Valley ba--called The Regency Lounge--shortly after the shooting on the 24th. He was booked for investigation of murder and attempted murder.

Pierce Brosnan announced his retirement from the role of movie spy James Bond, starting an endless bout of speculation as to who would replace him. British actors touted for the dream role have included Clive Owen, Ioan Gruffudd, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Gerard Butler, Jude Law and Ewan McGregor, as well as Australians Hugh Jackman, Heath Ledger and Eric Bana.

Sad news flew around the world on July 2, when it was announced movie legend Marlon Brando had died from lung failure the previous day on his private South Pacific island, Tetiaroa. He was 80. Brando--best known for a series of era-defining film roles including A Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront, The Godfather and Apocalypse Now--was cremated at a family ceremony in Los Angeles on July 3. And the body of Michael Douglas' troubled half-brother Eric was discovered inside a Manhattan, New York, apartment on July 6. New York authorities ruled Eric, who was the youngest son of screen legend Kirk Douglas, was killed accidentally by alcohol and prescription drugs.

August

Snatch star Jason Statham vowed to give actor Billy Zane "a good slap" this month, when he found out he was dating his actress girlfriend, Kelly Brook. Statham was left fuming after seeing photos of Brook in a passionate embrace with Titanic star Zane. Zane and Brook emerged as an inseparable couple later in the year.

Hollywood stars Diane Lane and Josh Brolin married at a secret ceremony on the west coast of America. The Oscar-nominated Unfaithful actress and her Hollow Man beau exchanged marital vows on Aug. 14.

News emerged this month that superstar couple David and Victoria Beckham were expecting their as-yet-unborn third child, amid rumors their marriage was floundering, following allegations the Real Madrid ace had an affair with his personal assistant Rebecca Loos.

Lethal Weapon star Danny Glover was arrested outside the Sudan Embassy in Washington D.C. during a heated protest march on Aug. 25. Glover was charged with disorderly conduct and unlawful assembly after he spoke to a crowd calling for a peace-keeping force to stop violence in western Sudan.

Meanwhile, tough guy actor Russell Crowe confessed he fought with his bodyguard on the Canadian set of Cinderella Man. In a letter to an Australian newspaper, the Oscar-winner confirmed recent reports of a brawl with long-term pal Mark "Spud" Carroll during a party on the set of the film--in which Crowe plays a boxer--in July. He wrote, "Spud and I had a push around after work on a Friday night. The misunderstanding arose when Spud came over to tell me what he thought other people in the room might have been thinking of my conversation. I thought he was accusing me specifically of something and I took offence to it. Spud was passing on other people's 'perceptions' and I shot the messenger."

Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron suffered an injury to her neck while shooting stunts for her upcoming movie Aeon Flux in Germany on Aug. 30. The production was shut down while Theron recovered at home in Los Angeles.

Legendary photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson died at the age of 95 on Aug. 3, after a successful career snapping leading figures of the mid-20th century. Cartier-Bresson--whose work appeared in leading American publications Vogue, Life and Harper's Bazaar--died at his home in the south western Luberon region of France. Other August deaths included film editor Geraldine Peroni who died at her New York home on Aug. 3 after reportedly committing suicide. She was 51. The city's medical examiner's office ruled Peroni--who frequently worked with director Robert Altman, most spectacularly on his 1993 masterpiece Short Cuts--had killed herself, however, her family are disputing that finding. And actress Fay Wray--best known for her role in 1933 movie King Kong--died on Aug. 8. She was 96. In tribute to the famous scene from King Kong that featured Wray hanging in the giant ape's grasp from the top of the Empire State Building, officials at the skyscraper dimmed the building's lights for 15 minutes on Aug. 10.

September

Former President Bill Clinton underwent heart surgery in a New York hospital on Sept. 6, and went on to make a full recovery. After complaining of chest pains and tiredness, medics discovered he had four clogged arteries that needed to be bypassed.

Gorgeous Italian actress Monica Bellucci and her actor husband Vincent Cassel were celebrating on Sept. 12 when their first child, Deva, was born.

Terminator 2 star Edward Furlong was arrested after attempting to free live lobsters from a grocery store while drunk. The 27-year-old, a longtime animal rights supporter, was caught with pals trying to help the creatures escape from a store in Florence, Kentucky, on Sept. 15. Furlong was on location shooting Jimmy & Judy.

Former child star Macaulay Culkin was arrested and charged with two misdemeanor drug counts in Oklahoma City. Culkin and a friend were in a rental car on Sept. 17, when police pulled them over and discovered marijuana and a dangerous controlled substance without a prescription. On Sept. 21, Oklahoma City prosecutors charged the troubled star, who was freed on bail after posting a $4,000 bond.

Kevin Costner wed fianceé Christine Baumgartner on Sept. 25. The Dances With Wolves star, 49, rode in on a horse-drawn carriage while handbag designer Baumgartner, 30, traveled in a pick-up truck to the Aspen, Colorado, wedding.

Cult filmmaker Russ Meyer died in Los Angeles from dementia and complications of pneumonia on Sept. 18. He was 82. Meyer made 23 films in total, but he is most famous for his saucy 1960s and 1970s movies, featuring scantily-clad buxom women--most notably Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and Beyond The Valley of the Dolls.

October

Golf superstar Tiger Woods married Swedish beauty Elin Nordegren on Oct. 5 in an extravagant Barbados ceremony.

Former child star Mark Everett was placed on America's most wanted list in early October, after being accused of beating his girlfriend to death and then kidnapping their son Benjamin. The star of Pee Wee's Big Adventure and Stand & Deliver is accused of murdering Stephanie Spears in her Hawthorne, California, apartment and remains on the run.

Rape charges against Barbershop star Anthony Anderson were dismissed on Oct. 6. A woman seeking a job as an extra on the set of the actor's movie Hustle and Flow in Memphis, Tennessee, had claimed Anderson and director Wayne Witherspoon attacked her in a trailer on the set. The unnamed plaintiff also alleged she had forced sex with both men over a period of several days before the reported rape took place in July. But in court, a Tennessee judge said the accuser's testimony did not produce probable cause to let the charges stand and that the woman's testimony was the most "incredulous" he had ever heard.

American lifestyle guru Martha Stewart began serving her five-month jail sentence in West Virginia, after being found guilty of lying about a suspicious stock sale. Stewart entered Alderson Prison Camp in the early hours of Oct. 8, sneaking by the photographers and reporters who had been posted there for more than a week.

Billy Bob Thornton had further reason to celebrate on Oct. 7, when he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The actor, who has been married five times, and girlfriend Connie Angland had their first child together in September, when daughter Bella was born.

Lisa Bonet was awarded a restraining order against an alleged stalker who the The Cosby Show actress claims regularly performs voodoo rituals outside her Californian home. Bonet, who once dated Lenny Kravitz and has starred in a string of films including Enemy of the State, claims Francesca Jacobs Assandri has also sent her over 100 letters and packages. A Santa Monica, California, judge ordered Jacobs to remain at least 24,100 yards away from Bonet, her home, her place of work and her car.

Teen actress Lindsay Lohan was hospitalized in Los Angeles with a mystery fever. The Mean Girls star, who spent "a relaxing" five nights at Cedars Sinai hospital recovering later claimed she was overworked and exhausted. The actress' family problems didn't help matters--her father Michael claimed he did not approve of his daughter's partying lifestyle and the friends she chose to hang out with. The young Lohan later released a statement blasting her father for his insensitive comments upon her release. The hospital stay topped a troubling year for the actress. Her father was arrested after beating up her uncle at a family party in the summer and her ended the year in police custody again after violating a restraining order filed by his estranged wife Dina--Lindsay's mum. Meanwhile, upon her release from hospital, she ended her six-month romance with fellow pin-up Wilmer Vanderrama.

Former French movie siren Brigitte Bardot was celebrating after a Paris court threw out a defamation lawsuit against her. Radio Courtesy host Marc-Olivier Fogiel infuriated the actress during a May 12, 2003 broadcast, when he insisted she talk about her controversial best-selling book Un Cri Dans Le Silence (A Cry In The Silence). Bardot, 70, was convicted in June of inciting racial hatred in her 2003 book with her comments comparing Muslims to "invaders, cruel and barbaric". The Parisian court ruled Bardot had been provoked into calling Fogiel "a little jerk". Judge Nicolas Bonnal agreed that "the expression little jerk seemed injurious" toward the presenter.

News circulated around Tinseltown that longtime couple Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell had split. Hawn was reported to be romancing Pakistani cricket legend Imran Khan. The couple seemed to have patched up their differences in November when they bought a house together in Pacific Palisades, California.

Actor Rip Torn was cleared of drunk driving charges by a New York court at the end of the month. The Emmy-winning star, real name Elmore Torn, had stood accused of driving under the influence of alcohol after crashing into the back of a taxi in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, in January.

Psycho star Janet Leigh died on Oct. 2 at the age of 77. The actress had been suffering from vasculitis, an inflammation of the blood vessels, for a year and died peacefully at her Beverly Hills, California, home with her husband, Robert Brandt, and her daughters, actresses Kelly and Jamie Lee, at her side. Leigh was best known for her Oscar-nominated part as Norman Bates' first victim in Alfred Hitchcock's notorious shower scene, but also starred in classic movies Little Women, The Manchurian Candidate and Touch of Evil. On Oct. 5 comedian Rodney Dangerfield died in a Los Angeles hospital. He was 82. The funnyman slipped into a coma following a heart-valve operation in August and never recovered. Nearly 400 mourners turned out to pay their respects at the Caddyshack star's funeral, including Adam Sandler, Jim Carrey, Chris Rock, Jay Leno and Tim Allen. And Hollywood mourned the loss of paralyzed Superman actor Christopher Reeve, who died of heart failure on Oct. 10. He was 52. Reeve had been receiving treatment from the hospital for several weeks for a pressure wound--a common complication for people living with paralysis--which had become infected. He fell into a coma after suffering a heart attack in his home.

November

Kiefer Sutherland's troubled year continued when he was sentenced to serve 50 hours of community service after pleading no contest to a drunk driving charge in Los Angeles. The 24 star was arrested by police in late October. As well as the community service, Sutherland was also ordered to pay a $500 fine.

Supermodel Claudia Schiffer gave birth to her second child with husband Matthew Vaughn, a baby girl named Clementine, on Nov. 11. The tot, a sister for the couple's 22-month-old son Caspar, was born at London's exclusive Portland Hospital.

Greek lawyers attempted to force maverick movie maker Oliver Stone to admit his Alexander The Great epic, Alexander, was a pure work of fiction by filing a class lawsuit against him. The proud Greeks were upset that Stone had focused on the historic hero's bisexuality in the film. The Greeks later dropped the lawsuit after seeing the film in its entirety. They were, it seems, among the few who actually liked the epic, which was one of the year's big flops at the when it opened in November.

Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor admitted she was suffering from congestive heart failure to W magazine. The 72-year-old actress was hospitalized with the condition, but told fans she hopes to recover.

Meanwhile, Johnny Depp was so keen to explain himself after Germany's Stern magazine misconstrued a comment he made about America in a 2003 interview, he chose to personally call the patriots who had bombarded him with hate emails. Depp was nationally blasted as being unpatriotic when a reporter quoted him as saying America was "an ignorant puppy dog", but he insists the quote was taken out of context. He told Vanity Fair, "I called them, three or four people, and I said, 'It's very easy for a publication to print whatever they want to print as a representation of me, but it's not me. If you would allow me just a moment to represent myself...if you still feel like I'm a s**thead or a schmuck afterwards, then fine. But at least hear me out.' These were heavy, right wing, military people: one was a cop, one had a nephew who'd been wounded in Iraq. I told them, 'What was printed was ugly, but this is what I meant...' And each one of them said, 'I understand.'"

Movie legend Omar Sharif proved he still had his hell-raising ways intact at 72, after he became involved in a drunken brawl with a fellow actor in India. The Doctor Zhivago star was quarrelling with The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King villain John Noble in a Jodhpur hotel--before reportedly hitting him with a lamp. The two stars, in India filming One Night with the King with Sharif's Lawrence of Arabia co-star Peter O'Toole, stopped fighting as soon as the lamp smashed.

Gossips found the possibility of a romance between Nicole Kidman and Liz Hurley's ex, Steve Bing, mouth watering. The pair were spotted out and about together in New York and Los Angeles as insiders buzzed about the prospect of another high-profile love match.

Two Los Angeles photographers launched legal proceedings against Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake for assault and battery. The snappers claim the pair attacked them as they tried to take pictures of them in the street outside a Los Angeles hotel on Nov. 6. Saul Lazo and Jose Gonzalez allege the couple taunted and threatened them before Diaz took Lazo's camera after beating him. The alleged attack was caught on camera by another snapper, who sold his pictures to Us Weekly. Diaz later handed Lazo's camera over to police, insisting she only took it so she could find out who the snapper was. In a lawsuit filed on Nov. 12, the photographers blasted allegations from Diaz and Timberlake's publicists that they harassed the couple and jumped out of bushes on them in a bid to stir up an angry reaction. The snappers insist they did nothing to harass the couple and stood more than three feet away from them at all times. The photographers claim they suffered emotional distress and physical harm.

In a clampdown, Hollywood film studios began a legal assault on Internet pirates across America, after announcing their quest to sue anyone caught swapping or downloading digital copies of films. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) pledged to take perpetrators to court in an effort to abolish the threat posed to future film production. Officials said the civil suits would seek damages of up to $30,000 per movie, to combat the billions of dollars piracy is costing film studios every year.

Bridget Fonda and her composer husband Danny Elfman were celebrating after discovering the actress was pregnant with her first child. The latest member of the famous Fonda clan is due to arrive next February.

Shelley Long suffered an alleged drug overdose this month, prompting mass media reports the former Cheers actress was struggling with depression. The 55-year-old actress' spokesman Martin Mickelson later denied, an American newspaper reports, the star took an overdose following the break-up of her 22-year marriage. Mickelson said Long merely took one pain pill too many to combat a severe backache.

Dustin Hoffman confessed to Playboy magazine that he had enjoyed sexual threesomes in his youth and once had sex in the DJ booth at New York's famed Studio 54 nightclub.

Actress Julia Roberts gave birth to twins on Nov. 28--more than a month before they were due. The actress is now a proud mother to a boy and a girl, named Phinnaeus Walter and Hazel Patricia. The babies' safe delivery came after Roberts had a pregnancy scare in October, when she was confined to bed after suffering early contractions.

TV star Robert Conrad was sentenced to six moths house arrest for a 2003 car accident that left another driver seriously injured.

A Paris court ruled Jean-Pierre Jeunet's new film A Very Long Engagement is not French enough to qualify for funding from the country's film agency. The Amelie filmmaker was furious about The Centre National De La Cinematographie's (CNC) claims the drama was not Gallic, despite having a French cast speaking their native language, directed by a Frenchman in a Paris setting. The CNC argued the film had partial backing by Warner Bros and therefore was not French. The Paris administrative court ruled it was too American to compete in French film festivals, including Cannes and Deauville.

Drew Barrymore's actor father John D. Barrymore died in Los Angeles at the age of 72 near the end of the month. In a statement issued by her publicist, Drew said, "He was a cool cat. Please smile when you think of him." Meanwhile, Dutch film-maker Theo Van Gogh was shot dead in Amsterdam on Nov. 2 by a radical Islamist. Van Gogh, 47--who was related to legendary artist Vincent Van Gogh-- had received death threats since his controversial film Submission, which depicted violence against women in Islamic societies, was broadcast on Dutch television. After the attack, police arrested a man in a nearby park but, before they restrained him, there was a vicious exchange of gunfire that left a policeman and the suspect with bullet wounds. Both were taken to hospital. A 26-year-old man was arrested by Dutch police investigating the killing.

Other deaths in November included that of French movie maker Phillipe De Broca, who lost his battle with cancer at the age of 71. And Dallas star Howard Keel lost his battle with colon cancer on Nov. 7 He was 85. The Illinois-born actor launched to fame in 1950 as Betty Hutton's love interest in musical film Annie Get Your Gun. Keel went on to play the romantic lead in MGM classics Kiss Me Kate, Show Boat, Calamity Jane and Seven Brides For Seven Brothers. Author and screenwriter Arthur Hailey also lost his life in November. The 84-year-old novelist died in his sleep.

December

An interview Will Smith gave to a German newspaper in which he downplayed the effect Sept. 11, 2001 had on black Americans prompted angry activists to call for a boycott of his films at the start of December. The I, Robot star had unleashed his controversial comments in Frankfurter Allgemeine four months previously, when reporter Johanna Adorjan asked Smith if the events had personally changed him. He'd replied, "No. Absolutely not. When you grow up black in America you have a completely different view of the world than white Americans. We blacks live with a constant feeling of unease. And whether you are wounded in an attack by a racist cop or in a terrorist attack, I'm sorry, it makes no difference."

New mother Julia Roberts was given an extra reason to celebrate when she topped The Hollywood Reporter's annual list of highest-paid actresses yet again. The Oscar-winning star pulled in a salary of $20 million per picture. Others named in the Women In Entertainment issue included Cameron Diaz, who also takes in $20 million, and Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Drew Barrymore, who each earn $15 million.

Natalie Portman wrote a letter to style magazine Allure to explain herself for comments she made in an interview in which she empathized with being a black American. The star insisted the attributed quote, "I'm not black, but I know what it feels like," was "personally offensive" when she read the article in August's Allure. She said, "If I had spoken more articulately, I might have conveyed what I truly feel: I could never know what it is like to be a black American."

Not such good news for Catherine Zeta Jones and her husband Michael Douglas, whose legal woes continued unabated when British showbiz magazine Hello! decided to appeal the damages awarded to its rival OK! after it printed photographs of the couple's wedding. However, Hello! doesn't dispute the $27,740 awarded to Zeta Jones and Douglas for breach of confidence, but insisted the $1,982,197 awarded to OK! was "far too high."

Luscious Liv Tyler and her rocker husband Royston Langdon became first-time parents on Dec. 14, after she gave birth to a boy called Milo.

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