Final Fantasy: Square Pictures
January 03, 2002 at 05:00 AM EST

We interrupt this annual celebration of the year’s entertainment triumphs to give a tip of the hat to those projects that, how should we put this, really stank up showbiz. Not just any ordinary underperformers, mind you; we’re talking about overhyped debacles that bombed so spectacularly you simply have to applaud their achievements in the sucking arts. Here, then, are the year’s most explosive failures.

HYPE That dreamy boy-bander Lance Bass has his own movie.
SAD TRUTH It ‘N Sank, taking in only $4.4 million.
LESSON LEARNED The same one Rick Springfield learned 17 years earlier when he made ”Hard to Hold”: Stick to your specialty, pretty boy.

HYPE The NFL is a bunch of pansies! We’re not!
SAD TRUTH Folded after one season, losing more than $30 million for both Vince McMahon and NBC.
LESSON LEARNED You can go broke underestimating the taste of the American public.

HYPE Come see Mariah Carey prove she can do more than melt down!
SAD TRUTH Come see Mariah Carey’s acting future melt down on the big screen! The film grosses a piddling $4.3 million; the soundtrack sells only 434,000 copies.
LESSON LEARNED People prefer to watch Carey act loopy rather than act badly.

HYPE Bam! Your favorite TV chef gets a sitcom.
SAD TRUTH Slam! NBC sidelines it before November sweeps.
LESSON LEARNED Knowing your way around a colander is not exactly the best preparation for sitcom stardom.

HYPE The follow-up to Ms. Funk-n-Squeak’s smash debut
SAD TRUTH How ego-crushing: It never cracked the top 10.
LESSON LEARNED Even a fine album can be ignored by fickle CD buyers, no matter how shamelessly you plug it on the MTV Video Music Awards.

HYPE It has the first all-CGI human lead character in a feature-length movie.
SAD TRUTH Firewall error! Recouped $32.1 million of its reported $137 million budget
LESSON LEARNED ”You mean the characters look as real as on my videogame? Great! Now let me get back to my videogame.”

HYPE Werewolves galore, and some are naked!
SAD TRUTH CBS fires the silver bullet after five episodes.
LESSON LEARNED Who knew people wouldn’t get jazzed about feral porn?

HYPE Very little: After spending a reported $90 million and three years in production, everyone involved in this Warren Beatty/Goldie Hawn comedy skedaddled out of both town and country upon its release.
SAD TRUTH It takes a Beatt-ing: $6.7 million gross.
LESSON LEARNED If you celebrate more than one birthday making a film, keep that gift to yourself.

HYPE ”Seinfeld”’s Jason Alexander returns to TV.
SAD TRUTH Can’tstandya! Pulled by ABC after five episodes.
LESSON LEARNED It’s not that audiences like him only when he’s George Costanza, it’s that they like him only when he’s funny.

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