Apparently the guys were listening. The Top 10 men on Season 12 of American Idol stepped up their game in a big way after witnessing the women’s incredible set of performances. Of course, for many of our guys that simply means they gave a better performance than the last time, but that they still fall far below the bar of excellence set by the ladies on Tuesday night. But for a few others, that bar is not only within their reach, but within their grasp.
I would like to preemptively declare that no matter how high my praise is in the remainder of this recap, I still want a woman to be the last one standing in that confetti shower at the end of the season. Still, the second half of the guys’ Top 10 was a set of potential winners, from Burnell Taylor to Devin Velez to (reluctantly) Curtis Finch, Jr. But before we get to the goods, we’ve got to wade through the rest.
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Someone I hope isn’t anywhere near that confetti downpour (sorry, kiddo) is young Elijah Liu, who’s giving us more of the teen sensation schtick. This time around, he chose a better song, “Stay” by Rihanna, and he sounds much more comfortable. Still, there’s nothing about it that doesn’t feel like some lucky, cute kid who wound up with his face on the screen. He’s nothing special among the others. Nicki says she could see his face on cups and blankets, but Randy is bored. Mariah is too, but says producers can spark him up a bit if he makes it through. I’m sorry, that’s what a mall contest is for, not a national talent competition like American Idol.
And trucking right along in that category is Cortez Shaw, the sexy guy who can never seem to hit the right spot. This time he sings Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven,” and it’s a good song choice, but he’s simply hitting the vanilla Bruno Mars nail on the head. His vocals aren’t perfect and he needs to do something to make it feel like he’s an artist and not just a guy who can sing really good covers of a bland pop artist. The best compliment the judges could scare up was that his dancing was “dope.” Take that as you will.
Next is poor little Charlie Askew, who’s truly overstayed his welcome on this show. He tries on “Mama” by Genesis, and it’s pretty terrible. I like him, I really do, but his vocal is strained. He’s not marketable. He’s lost his weird little touch and traded it in for an aggressive, angry, disjointed performance. Nicki is distraught at the loss of her weird little “baby” and while the rest of the judges deliver honest commentary, sweet little Charlie starts to crumble. It takes all Ryan’s cheery strength to keep Charlie in good enough spirits to continue his show for the cameras just a little bit longer. While artists certainly need to be sensitive, there’s an element of endurance in this competition and it’s not possible when the slightest moment of honest cripples you. Sorry, Charlie. Your time is up.
But as inappropriate for this competition as Charlie is, at least he’s not as boring as Nicki Boddington. Nick chooses “I Just Want You To Know Who I Am” by the Goo Goo Dolls, which is apparently one of Nicki’s favorite songs. Yes, it’s a perfect song choice for him and he’s comfortable at the piano. The vocals were a bit spotty, but he connected. The only problem is that there’s no way to sing this Goo Goo Dolls song without feeling dated. It’s something the judges all pick up on: technically he’s good, but can he garner enough attention to get votes? Probably not.
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The reward for getting through this pile of so-so singers is the engrossing Burnell Taylor. He reprises his original song from his first audition and it is fantastic. I’m going to go ahead and say it: I LOVE HIM. He’s so sweet. So perfect. So solid. His song is straightforward, yet emotionally satisfying and truthful. This guy is an artist. He’s got his own sound, his own look, his own style. His whole personality, his whole being is on that stage, it’s something that other talented singers on this show lack. Burnell is the entire package, even up to the part where he comes with that unique special something we never could have anticipated. Burnell is magical.
Paul Jolley also has a special brand of magic, but nothing quite like Burnell’s. Paul’s magical talent is making us love him even when his performances are honestly rather flat. He sings “I’m Just a Fool For You” by Christina Aguilera and it’s simply not that impressive. He’s flat or straining throughout it and it’s clear that he’s pushing his voice unnecessarily. He wants to be the male Taylor Swift, and I don’t think that’s out of his reach, but every time he gets on stage, he’s doing anything but what he says he’s out to accomplish. It’s clear he doesn’t know himself, and the judges are appropriately muddled on the subject. But he’s incredibly handsome and charismatic, and that never seems to hinder Idol finalists.
The charming continues with Lazaro Arbos, whose story has had us smitten since Day One has finally brought his performance up to the right level. He sings “You Know How I Feel” and it’s the most natural he’s ever seemed onstage. He’s having fun, his vocals are strong, and for once I’m not thinking about how I should like it more because he’s disadvantaged. But his stutter was far from anyone’s mind during his best performance ever. I still feel like he’s not able to get over that hump where all of his performances sound old fashioned, but at least he’s finally bridged the gap between almost good and pretty great. Still, he’s not necessarily right for Idol. Now more than ever, it’s important that the acts on Idol actually fit into the music industry instead of just being singers who’ve got significant vocal tools. That’s the edge that the show has: the ability to find stars that fit into the current music scene while its competitors simply focus on the judges. Lazaro is likely not going to help Idol keep that reputation.
Next is Curtis Finch, Jr. who brazenly chooses “I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly. Yes, Curtis’ voice is powerful and malleable and he’s got uncanny control over it, but his choice to sing this song that’s since become such an overused ballad is his personality in a nutshell: he’s a self-absorbed showboat. And if his selfish behavior during Hollywood week hadn’t solidified that notion in my brain, this audacious performance would certainly raise some questions. The judges give him a standing ovation, but the thing is Curtis cannot hold a candle to Joshua Ledet, Idol’s standing O king. Yes, this is technically a good performance, and yes, he’s got a good voice, but his lack of genuine gratitude is lacking. Curtis is wearing the face of someone who’s grateful for what he’s been given, but it feels false. He seems like someone who thinks he belongs there, as if it’s owed to him, and while he preaches forgiveness we’ve already seen that he’ll take down a fellow singer if they get in his way.
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Yes, he’s earned a spot for now with his talent, but we like our artists up close and personal now, can he really get away with his faux-personality for long? I hope not, especially with people like Devin Velez and Vincent Powell in the competition.
Devin defies all odds with his rendition of a Perry Como song, “It’s Impossible.” He freshens up the old standard by singing part of it in Spanish like he did last week, and he’s smoothed out the kinks of his later performance. The judges love him, and not just because he’s got an adorable little bowtie. This guy’s got it. Finally, we have the most confounding performance of the night.
Vincent takes the stage with Boyz II Men’s “The End of the Road” and really connects to the song. He’s got a few hiccups, but his overall performance oozes with authenticity. This song could be death, because like “I Believe I Can Fly” it could be a little too familiar, but Vincent connects so heartily to the song that it feels like it’s completely his own and that these lyrics are coming straight from his heart. He’s got an incredible range, he’s got incredible stage presence, and he’s an incredibly genuine person. It’s the way he holds himself that exudes confidence with a layer of gratitude (unlike Curtis, who exudes confidence with a layer of this thing called gratitude that he read about once and he heard makes people like you). The judges all think his performance is off, though at least Mariah has the ability to point out that a bad performance for Vincent is still heads and tails above everyone else.
If I have my way, Vincent, Devin, Burnell, and Lazaro will stick around. Of course, Curtis will stay, but I’ll have no part of that. Thursday night will reveal out Top 10 (five boys and five girls) and the real competition will begin. Of course the real reveal will be how close the judges’ opinions are reflected by audience votes. Something tells me this set may be the most surprising we’ve ever seen.
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[Photo Credit: Fox]
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He may only be 18-years-old, but when it comes to doting on the woman he loves, Justin Bieber spares no expense. The young pop star decided to take his relationship with Selena Gomez to new heights, literally, by renting a helicopter for a romantic trip ride over Niagara Falls on Sunday night in between rehearsals for the MuchMusic Video Awards, according to People magazine. (Jeez, youths, whatever happened to a trip to the mall, complete with a stop at Orange Julius?)
And while Bieber is becoming pretty well known for his extravagant date nights with Gomez, he's not the only one who likes to go all out for their special someone. Here's a look back at some of the craziest dates in Hollywood history:
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West Rendezvous at Cannes
The freshly divorced reality star jetted off to France for the Cannes Film Festival last month, where her rapper beau was showcasing his new movie, Cruel Summer. Because nothing says "Let's take things slow" better than traveling halfway around the world for a little one-on-one time at a gigantic film festival.
Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth Party at Beacher's Madhouse
The newly engaged couple have gone on several dates to this raunchy show in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Kids today, cuddling up during an erotic stage act, amiright? Please tell me I'm wrong.
Justin Bieber Rents Out Staples Center
Bieber began excessively doting on his 19-year-old girlfriend long before this recent helicopter ride. In fact, the pop star went so far as to rent out the Los Angeles Staples Center for Gomez last year, where the couple dined on steak and pasta while taking in a screening of the film, Titanic. Near far, wherever you are, you can pretty much guarantee your boyfriend won't do this.
Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel's Engaging Ski Trip
The on-again, off-again duo went on a ski date last December in the mountains of Jackson, Wyoming. And while that in itself may sound romantic, this snowy wonderland is reportedly where Timberlake ended up actually proposing to Biel. Heym it's not every day a former *NSYNC star asks you to marry them.
Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart Double Double Date With Katy Perry
The Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, CA played host to some of Hollywood’s hottest couples over the weekend, including Twilight sweethearts Edward and Bella Pattinson and Stewart. The popular duo jammed out at a few concerts and eventually met up with Katy Perry and her then-boyfriend, Robert Ackroyd. Ah, to live in a world where it's actually possible to double date with such Hollywood A-listers. Now that would be a real teenage dream. Or, grown-up. No judgment.
Jennifer Lopez and Casper Smart Go To Vegas
She may have reunited with her ex-hubby, Marc Anthony, on the Las Vegas stage last month, but later that same weekend the American Idol judge took in a show of Cirque du Soleil with her 25-year-old beau, Casper Smart. Talk about having your ex-cake and eating it too. Who knew tight-rope walkers and contortionists could be thought of as romantic. But it's like they say: what happens in Vegas, makes the front page news. Or something like that.
Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon's Barbados Birthday Fun
In celebration of her 40th birthday, Cannon whisked Carey away to Barbados via their very own private jet. Along with some typical beach-side fun, Cannon also planned a private dinner party for his wife at Barbados' ritzy Whispers on the Bay restaurant Friday, filling the place with hundreds of pink and lavender-hued balloons. Sweet, sweet fantasy, baby.
George Clooney and Stacy Keibler Enjoy a Slice of Italy
Though any date with the devilishly handsome Clooney is crazy enough in itself, Keibler was lucky enough to join him on Lake Como in Lombardy, Italy this month along with fellow boat enthusiasts Cindy Crawford and her husband, Rande Gerber. Sometimes life just isn't fair to us regular folk.
Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux Dine at the Eiffel Tower
Aniston and Theroux made the most of their romantic getaway to the City of Lights by grabbing a bite to eat at one of Paris' most prominent landmarks: the Eiffel Tower. C'est magnifque.
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A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
Love was in the air in July as a host of celebrities walked down the aisle - Spanish stars Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem tied the knot in the Bahamas, while Emily Blunt became Mrs. John Krasinski after marrying The Office star in romantic Como, Italy.
A pregnant Alicia Keys said 'I do' to Swizz Beatz, while Orlando Bloom and Australian model Miranda Kerr became husband and wife in a secret ceremony. Wedding bells also rang in Georgia as country sweetheart Carrie Underwood married her hockey hunk, Mike Fisher.
But there was also plenty of heartache in Hollywood - Kelly Osbourne called off her engagement to model Luke Worrall over allegations he had cheated on her, and Frasier star Kelsey Grammer's wife filed for divorce after almost 13 years of marriage. R&B singer Christina Milian picked July to announce she was splitting from her producer husband The-Dream - less than a year after the couple wed in Las Vegas.
Celebrations were in order for Christina Applegate after she revealed she was pregnant with her first child, while Vince Vaughn, Zac Hanson, Ugly Betty star Becki Newton and Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor also announced they were expecting babies with their respective partners.
Director Sam Taylor-Wood and Aaron Johnson became the proud parents of a baby girl - their first child together - while Australian pop star Dannii Minogue welcomed baby boy Ethan with her partner Kris Smith.
But July was not without scandal - Paris Hilton was questioned by authorities at the World Cup soccer tournament in South Africa over allegations she was smoking pot. Just two weeks later, she was held by police in France after she was allegedly caught carrying cannabis in her handbag.
The heiress' former pal Lindsay Lohan also hit headlines for all the wrong reasons - just days after turning 24, she was ordered to spend 90 days in jail for violating the terms of her probation stemming from a 2007 DUI arrest.
Former Wham! star George Michael also had a run-in with the law - he was arrested after driving his car into a shop in London, and Foxy Brown was also taken into custody after allegedly violating a protective order.
Meanwhile, Rosemary's Baby director Roman Polanski was freed from house arrest after officials in Switzerland threw out a request to extradite him to the U.S. for sentencing on a child-sex charge.
Mel Gibson's marital woes continued into July - Los Angeles police launched an official investigation amid claims the Braveheart star punched his ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva during a heated altercation. It came after the leaking of a series of audio recordings in which a man said to be Gibson unleashes a series of foul-mouthed rants at his ex.
There was a health scare for British singer Cheryl Cole as she was diagnosed with malaria after collapsing at a photoshoot, while movie legends Tony Curtis and Zsa Zsa Gabor were also hospitalised. Pink was rushed to the emergency room after a stage stunt went wrong, sending the pop punk flying into a metal barrier during a concert in Germany.
Courtroom battles loomed for bad boy actor David Boreanaz, who was slapped with a sexual harassment lawsuit from a former extra on his hit TV show Bones, and Casey Affleck, who was sued by a producer of his movie I'm Still Here over sexual harassment allegations.
There were festival dramas aplenty in August, with The Libertines and Guns N' Roses dominating headlines at Britain's Reading and Leeds weekenders. Pete Doherty's group reunited earlier this year (10) and played sets at the festivals - but their performances were blighted when overeager fans got crushed and trampled during the frenetic gigs, forcing the rockers off the stage to allow the revellers chance to recover. Axl Rose sparked an ongoing war-of-words with event boss Melvin Benn after he decided to shut the sound off when the band overran its curfew.
Further drama occurred in August when Naomi Campbell took to the stand in The Hague, Netherlands to testify at the war crimes trial of ex-Liberian President Charles Taylor, socialite Paris Hilton was arrested for cocaine possession in Las Vegas, and Charlie Sheen pleaded guilty to a charge of misdemeanour assault relating to a Christmas Day (25Dec09) fight with now-estranged wife Brooke Mueller. The Two And A Half Men actor was sentenced to 30 days in jail, but served time in rehab instead.
Another star seeking help for her personal issues was Lindsay Lohan. The Mean Girls actress walked free from prison before the end of her sentence for violating her probation relating to a 2007 DUI arrest, and immediately entered rehab - only to leave the health centre early as well.
Lohan's woes weren't the only ones in Hollywood - Zsa Zsa Gabor was in and out of hospital due to complications stemming from her summer accident which resulted in several bone fractures, while Aretha Franklin broke her ribs in a freak fall, prompting her to cancel a string of shows.
However, the biggest health shock of the month was the revelation that Michael Douglas had been diagnosed with a throat tumour. The Wall Street legend began radiation and chemotherapy shortly before going public with his battle and helped raise awareness of the disease by appearing on America's Stand Up 2 Cancer TV special to urge fans to raise cash for research.
There was happier health news for many in the public eye in August - Miranda Kerr, Penny Lancaster and Alanis Morissette all announced their pregnancies, while British Prime Minister David Cameron became a father again when his wife Samantha gave birth to their fourth child, Florence, while they were holidaying in Cornwall, south-west England.
Wedding bells were also chiming, with Hilary Duff walking down the aisle to marry ice hockey star Mike Comrie, veteran singer Julio Iglesias exchanging vows with his longtime girlfriend, and James Van Der Beek cementing his union with his then-pregnant girlfriend Kimberly Brook - they've since welcomed baby Olivia.
Lady Gaga was the big winner and talking point at the MTV Video Music Awards this month - she picked up eight accolades and stunned everyone by taking to the stage in a meat dress. Meanwhile, Penelope Cruz confirmed the news she was pregnant with Javier Bardem's baby, and Angelina Jolie - who visited flood-ravaged Pakistan - was named Best Celebrity Role Model in an online poll.
George Michael began his eight-week prison sentence in London after being found guilty of cannabis possession and driving under the influence of drugs, and Guns N' Roses were booed and bottled offstage in Ireland after making fans wait for their performance.
Smashing Pumpkins star Billy Corgan confirmed reports he was dating Aussie pop star Jessica Origliasso, and the Charlatans axed U.S. shows after Jon Brookes collapsed onstage during a concert in Pennsylvania. He was later diagnosed with a brain tumour..
Isla Fisher and Sacha Baron Cohen welcomed their second child, John Lennon's killer Mark Chapman was denied parole for a sixth time, and Sofia Coppola picked up the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival amid a storm of controversy - her ex-boyfriend, Quentin Tarantino, led the jury!
Meanwhile, Take That bandmates Robbie Williams and Gary Barlow performed together for the first time in 15 years at a benefit for injured British soldiers, but Duff McKagan quit Jane's Addiction after five months and just three gigs.
The Troggs star Reg Presley suffered a stroke while holidaying in Spain and country music duo Brooks & Dunn split after an emotional night at a Nashville charity gig.
Elsewhere, T.I. and his wife were arrested in Los Angeles on suspicion of drug possession, UB40 star Ali Campbell was diagnosed with Epstein-Barr Syndrome, and Leonardo DiCaprio won a three-year restraining order against a woman claiming to be his wife.
Johnny Depp was named the highest paid actor by Forbes magazine, Britney Spears' one-time minder, Fernando Flores, filed suit against the pop star, claiming she had sexually harassed him and exposed herself in front of him, and The xx picked up Britain's prestigious Mercury Music Prize.
Eddie Vedder, Johnny Knoxville and David Essex wed - not to each other - and R&B star Lyfe Jennings was jailed for three and a half years over a violent altercation with his former girlfriend.
Meanwhile, James Gandolfini was caught driving on a suspended licence, Paris Hilton was refused entry to Japan; Kings of Leon star Caleb Followill and hot model Lily Aldridge announced their engagement, and actor Randy Quaid and his wife were arrested and charged with burglary amid allegations they had been illegally squatting in the house they once called home.
Actor Shelley Malil was convicted of attempted murder, Wyclef Jean announced he'd be running for presidential office in Haiti again in 2015 after his 2010 bid was dismissed, and comedian Greg Giraldo died in hospital after suffering an accidental drug overdose. Lindsay Lohan returned to rehab, David Beckham's lawyers served a writ to a hooker who claimed she'd slept with the soccer stud, and Heart rocker Nancy Wilson filed for divorce from moviemaker Cameron Crowe.
There was baby news for Mario Lopez, actresses Jodie Sweetin and Danica McKellar, actor James Van Der Beek, Rascal Flatts star Joe Don Rooney and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.
ELO star Mike Edwards was killed in a freak accident, while veteran actors Harold Gould, Gloria Stuart and Kevin McCarthy also passed away along with legendary French director Claude Chabrol and filmmakers Arthur Penn and Clive Donner.
Other deaths included that of former boy band star Rich Cronin, who passed away after a stroke, aged 35, and Hollywood lost true legends in Eddie Fisher and Tony Curtis.
Celebrity break-ups were big news in October with a number of high-profile couples calling time on their relationship. Courteney Cox and David Arquette stunned the world by announcing they were taking a break from their 11-year marriage, and just days later singer Christina Aguilera confirmed her split from husband Jordan Bratman. Ben Harper and Laura Dern also filed for divorce after 10 years together.
But October also saw an influx of celebrity weddings - Katy Perry and Russell Brand sealed their love in a lavish Indian ceremony, and both Paul Weller and David Schwimmer hit the news when it emerged they had married their girlfriends in secret earlier in the year.
There was also plenty of baby news - Mariah Carey confirmed she is expecting her first child with husband Nick Cannon after months of speculation, while Celine Dion put the heartache of fertility treatment behind her to become a mum to twin boys. Hip-hop supercouple Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz welcomed a baby boy named Egypt and Neil Patrick Harris became father to twins born via a surrogate.
Britain was in mourning following the loss of comedy legend Norman Wisdom, who passed away at the age of 95, while the world of music was rocked by the death of legendary soul singer Solomon Burke after he collapsed at an airport in Amsterdam, Holland. The death of soprano Joan Sutherland in Switzerland at the age of 83 prompted an outpouring of grief in her native Australia, and The Slits star Ari Up lost her battle with cancer at the age of 48.
The scandal of the month came courtesy of Charlie Sheen, who hit headlines when cops were called to his trashed suite at a New York City hotel during a night with a young model/actress. The star's reps blamed his meltdown on "an adverse reaction to medication". It was also a bad month for Mel Gibson - his personal problems with ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva cost him a role in The Hangover sequel, while Taylor Swift was hit with a multi-million dollar lawsuit from a former manager. But the country star made up for it by embarking on a new romance with Hollywood hunk Jake Gyllenhaal.
There were also plenty of stars keeping the prison service busy - rapper T.I. was sent back to jail for breaching his probation while Lindsay Lohan escaped her second potential prison sentence of 2010 when a judge ordered her to spend three months in rehab instead. Careless driver George Michael regained his freedom after completing 27 days of his eight-week jail sentence.
The royal news of the year was the talk of the month as Prince William and Kate Middleton announced their engagement and plans to wed in 2011
Teen star Demi Lovato stunned young Hollywood when she quite the Jonas Brothers tour and checked into rehab to address personal and "emotional" issues, and Charlie Sheen and Lil Wayne officially became free men again - the actor's divorce from Brooke Mueller became official, while rapper Wayne was released from prison.
MGM, the studio behind the James Bond film franchise, filed for bankruptcy, actor Justin Long was injured in a car crash, and soul queen Aretha Franklin pulled out of a series of shows to undergo surgery.
Spice Girls star Emma Bunton and Pink announced they were pregnant, Lady Gaga was the big winner at the European Music Awards, and Rachel Weisz and moviemaker Darren Aronofsky split.
The Munsters child star Butch Patrick entered rehab to tackle substance abuse and alcohol issues, Wesley Snipes was ordered to jail after losing his bid for a retrial in his tax case, Audrina Patridge's stalker was jailed for two years when he failed to stay away from the star, and country singer Eddie Montgomery was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Meanwhile, Ryan Reynolds was named Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine, Eva Longoria split from her husband Tony Parker amid reports he had been cheating on her, Kate Winslet split from boyfriend Louis Dowler, and Hollywood was stunned when top publicist Ronni Chasen was shot dead while driving through Beverly Hills .
In music news, Take That's Progress became Britain's fastest selling album of the century so far, Radiohead's Thom Yorke helped mastermind a piece of human art that could be seen from space, Miley Cyrus celebrated her 18th birthday party with pals Demi Moore and Rumer Willis, and Justin Bieber stole the show at the American Music Awards, taking home four prizes.
Malin Akerman replaced Lindsay Lohan as Linda Lovelace in the much-hyped Inferno, Leonardo DiCaprio was caught up in a mid-air drama when a plane he was flying to Russia in was forced to make an emergency landing after an engine stalled, and there was drama backstage at hit U.S. TV show Dancing With The Stars as studio staff came across an envelope containing a mysterious white powder intended for contestant Bristol Palin - it turned out to be talc!
Emmy Rossum and Counting Crows frontman Adam Duritz split, Jennifer Jason Leigh filed for divorce from filmmaker husband Noah Baumbach, and Ugly Betty actor Michael L. Brea was charged with murder after stabbing his mother with a Samurai sword. Willie Nelson was arrested and charged with drug possession, indie movie Winter's Bone became a big Oscars contender after claiming top prizes at the Stockholm and Gotham Film Festivals, and the Spider-Man musical opened on Broadway after a series of delays - the critics largely hated it.
Meanwhile, David Cassidy pleaded not guilty to DUI charges following his arrest in Florida, Uma Thurman's stalker was arrested after violating a restraining order, and AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd was convicted of cannabis possession in New Zealand.
The baby news of the month came from the Travoltas as movie star John and his wife Kelly Preston welcomed Benjamin into the world and the proud new parents list for November also featured Stella McCartney, Ne-Yo, Vera Farmiga, Green Day star Mike Dirnt and actress Emilia Fox, while rocker Chris Daughtry became a dad to twins.
The music world mourned the loss of Australian rocker James Freud who died just days after his band Models were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame.
And it was a sad month for Hollywood as movie mogul Dino De Laurentiis passed away alongside actresses Ingrid Pitt and Jill Clayburgh and Naked Gun star Leslie Nielsen.
The film world also bid farewell to The Empire Strikes Back director Irvin Kershner and revered Italian filmmaker Mario Monicelli.
December saw a series of scandals as the stars brought a touch of sex and drugs to the festive season - and wildchild Miley Cyrus led the way. The former Disney star ended 2010 by reminding us all she's a grown up now after she was caught on camera smoking legal hallucinogenic Salvia from a bong, and hit headlines again days later when she was pictured in a girl-on-girl clinch and exposing her bra while surrounded by hunky men.
Her pal Demi Lovato joined the Hannah Montana star in scandal when provocative photos which appeared to show her partly-exposing her breasts leaked on the internet, and Christina Aguilera's reps vowed to hunt down computer hackers who leaked nearly-nude photos of the Beautiful hitmaker.
Pink Floyd rocker David Gilmour told of his shame after his son was arrested for clambering over a war memorial during student riots in London, and Hulk Hogan's wedding to Jennifer McDaniel descended into chaos when cops were called to break up a clash between a bodyguard and a photographer.
Love was in the air for Reese Witherspoon, who got engaged to Hollywood agent Jim Toth, and also making wedding plans this month were Ginnifer Goodwin, Shania Twain, Kelsey Grammer, Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany, Poison rocker Bret Michaels, and Hugh Hefner. And it was double delight for Natalie Portman – the actress got engaged and announced she's pregnant by choreographer Benjamin Millepied. Meanwhile, Michael Sheen and Rachel McAdams became Hollywood's hottest new couple.
Actor Vince Vaughn became a father for the first time, and there were also new arrivals for Alanis Morissette, Ali Larter, and Elton John, who became a father at 63 after he and boyfriend David Furnish welcomed a son via a surrogate mother.
Nicole Richie had her father Lionel dancing on the ceiling when she wed Joel Madden, but other stars weren't so lucky in love - Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens ended their romance, Elizabeth Hurley confirmed her marriage split from Arun Nayar after she was linked to cricketer Shane Warne, rocker John Mellencamp split from his wife of 18 years, and Ryan Reynolds filed for divorce from Scarlett Johansson.
In the courts, KC and The Sunshine Band co-founder Richard R. Finch was jailed for seven years for sexually abusing young boys, Rip Torn was given a suspended jail term for his drunken bank break-in, and rapper DMX was sent to prison for a year for violating his probation by using drugs. In Florida, officials posthumously pardoned Jim Morrison over his infamous arrest for indecent exposure at a 1969 The Doors concert.
Meanwhile, Heather Locklear was hospitalised for a bacterial infection, Eminem was celebrating after landing 10 Grammy nominations, rap mogul Suge Knight was arrested after missing a court hearing, and exiled moviemaker Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer was the big winner at the European Film Awards.
Lady Gaga was named Artist of the Year by Billboard magazine editors, veteran entertainers Dame Julie Andrews and Dolly Parton were announced as recipients of lifetime achievement Grammy awards at a special upcoming ceremony in 2011, and Natalie Portman's hopes of Oscar glory for her movie Black Swan received a major boost by landing a record 12 nominations for the 2011 Critics' Choice Movie Awards.
The showbiz world mourned the loss of jazz musicians Billy Taylor and James Moody, Pink Panther creator Blake Edwards, rocker Captain Beefheart, singer/songwriter Teena Marie, and Boney M star Bobby Farrell.
And it was a miserable end to 2010 for Taylor Momsen - the Gossip Girl star spent Christmas in Amsterdam, Holland - away from her family and friends in the U.S. - after she became stranded in Europe due to flights chaos following snowstorms across the continent.
Two weeks after his succumbing to cancer, the secrecy surrounding George Harrison's last rites and the actual place of his death suggests a deliberate attempt to protect his dignity and prevent his final resting place from becoming a stop on tour attraction. According to Reuters, a death certificate listing a nonexistent address contradicts reports that Harrison died at the home of friend and security consultant Gavin de Becker. A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department said Wednesday that celebrities often use this ruse to throw off reporters and that giving a different address as the place of death is not a crime. Harrison's ashes were reportedly scattered in the Ganges River following his death on Nov. 29.
Julia Roberts will host the A&E documentary Old Friends, which focuses on three women from a small town outside Chicago who have remained good friends since 1906. The show is scheduled for broadcast next year, The Associated Press reports.
Alanis Morissette will release an album of all new material on February 26, followed by a world tour. According to Rolling Stone, Under Rug Swept will feature 11 songs written and produced entirely by Morissette and include guest spots from Me'shell Ndegéocello, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, Stone Temple Pilots guitarist Dean Deleo and former Jane's Addiction bassist Eric Avery. Songs written and recorded during the Under Rug Swept sessions that were not featured on the final album will be released as a separate album at a later date.
The NFL announced Tuesday that pop star Mariah Carey will sing "The Star Spangled Banner" before Super Bowl XXXVI at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans on Feb. 3. U2 will perform during the halftime show and pre-show performers will be announced next week, SonicNet reports.
Fox announced it will release X-Men 2, the sequel to last year's X-Men, on May 2, 2003. While the original cast will reprise their roles, including Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart and Halle Berry, the sequel will feature several new mutants from the X-Men comics universe, Variety reports. Shooting will begin next May in Canada.
The two surviving members of the influential rock group Nirvana have filed a counterclaim to Courtney Love's lawsuit seeking control of the Nirvana catalogue, Launch.com reports. In conjunction with the suit, Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic released a letter to Nirvana fans stating they had no choice but to respond to her misguided campaign and lawsuits to appropriate the music of Nirvana. "Our music is just a pawn in her endless legal battles and her obsessive need for publicity and attention," the letter states.
Barbra Streisand received the Liberty and Justice Award from the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition civil rights organization on Tuesday night at the Beverly Hilton hotel, AP reports. Jesse Jackson founded the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition 30 years ago. Sugar Ray Leonard, Chris Tucker and Smokey Robinson attended the gala, which was also a celebration of Jackson's 60th birthday on Oct. 8.
Billy Joel will be honored in February as the 2002 MusicCares Person of the Year for his accomplishments as a musician and as a humanitarian, Reuters reports. MusicCares was established in 1989 by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences to provide assistance to musicians. Joel will receive the honor at a special tribute dinner, concert and silent auction held on Feb. 25 in Los Angeles.
Joni Mitchell, Al Green, Perry Como, Rosemary Clooney and Count Basie will receive Lifetime Achievement Awards at the 2002 Grammy Awards on Feb. 27 in Los Angeles, Rolling Stone reports. The Lifetime Achievement Awards recognize artists for lifelong contributions to the recording medium.
French actor Jean Richard died Wednesday at the age of 80 after a battle with cancer, AP reports. Richard appeared in some 80 movies but was most famous for his pipe-smoking detective on the long-running TV show The Investigations of Inspector Maigret. He also created the Jean Richard Circus in 1957 and the La Mer de Sable theme park in 1963, which are still owned by his family.