Alice M. Lee
December 21, 2001 AT 05:00 AM EST

Television, with its double life as happy fun box and information machine, was most directly affected: incessant news breaks, the urgent crawl, telethons, benefits, all three cable news channels seemingly omnipresent 24/7. Movie releases were shuffled, rock concerts and awards shows rescheduled, and little books on bioterrorism hit the best-seller list. All of which means less than nothing compared with the enormity of the Sept. 11 attacks and the stakes of the war. Yet the entertainment world is where we all live — an emotional home — and EW’s first duty in reviewing The Year That Was is to show how that world was affected. We’ve culled the most notable reactions to the concerts for victim relief, the alleged end of ”irony,” and the (shifting?) entertainment tastes of sad, shocked America. In trying to overcome that sadness, it now seems right to revel in what pop-cult, for the bulk of the year, did best: good clean frivolity. So step this way, ladies and gents, to find J. Lo and P. Diddy looking more cartoonish than ever. Test your talent for pitiless derision by taking our year-end quiz. Marvel as a major studio pulls a movie critic out of thin air! Nope, there’s no people like show people. Let’s go on with the show.

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