From Harry Potter and Judd Apatow to Stephen Colbert and the Spice Girls, here are 2007's biggest news makers
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Spice Girls World Tour 2007: London - Exclusive Performance
Credit: MJ Kim/Spice Girls LLP via Getty Images

Pop culture went on a white-knuckle ride in 2007. Harry Potter closed a billion-dollar chapter in publishing history, while threequels stormed the box office with record-breaking results (Spider-Man 3, Shrek the Third, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, and more titles we can't remember at the moment). Artists like Madonna and Radiohead turned the music business on its head, and Hollywood writers shut their laptops down because they were sick of being treated like…writers. Young stars, meanwhile, traded headshots for mug shots, much to the delight of the blogarazzi. Join us now for a magical and ridiculous trip through time. First stop, the grand old Oprah.

January

1.02.07 — If Oprah builds it, they will come

Daytime TV's Mother Teresa opened the $40 million Leadership Academy for Girls near Johannesburg, South Africa, with celebrity attendees including Mariah Carey, Spike Lee, and Mary J. Blige. But, nine months later, the school became the center of controversy when several girls accused a dorm matron of abuse. The school suspended the woman, who maintained her innocence, and a devastated Oprah reportedly gave the schoolgirls cell phones with her personal number.

1.09.07 — iPhone debuts

Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the company's first multimedia entertainment device that's equal parts phone, MP3 player, Internet browser, and overpriced status symbol. Frenzied customers lined up early to be the first to get an iPhone upon its June 29 release.

1.15.07 — Washington fans Grey's fire

After Grey's Anatomy's Golden Globe win, Isaiah Washington responded to a question about an on-set dustup by saying, "No, I did not call T.R. [Knight] a f----t." The actor later apologized, saying he can "neither defend, nor explain my behavior." Even so, he was fired from the show in June.

1.31.07 — Aqua Teen marketing gimmick bombs

A guerrilla ad campaign for Cartoon Network's Aqua Teen Hunger Force — blinking electronic signs, hung on bridge overpasses and near transit stations, featured characters including Err — caused multiple bomb scares in Boston. In response, Turner Broadcasting agreed to pay $2 million to state and local agencies for causing the scare, and the head of Cartoon Network resigned nine days later.

February

2.04.07 — Prince refuses to rain it in

Prince Performing at Super Bowl XLI on February 4, 2007
Credit: Theo Wargo/WireImage

The Purple One delivered a two-for-one at the Super Bowl, giving viewers one of the best halftime shows (in the pouring rain, no less) — and some decidedly TV-MA imagery. The ever-provocative performer shocked folks at home with a phallic pose during "Purple Rain."

2.16.07 — Britney begins her yearlong breakdown

In a bizarre weekend that foreshadowed her tumultuous year to come, Spears reportedly checked herself into — and then out of — rehab, and then stopped by a Tarzana, Calif., salon to shave her own head after the stylist refused to do it for her.

March

3.02.07 — Anna Nicole Smith is laid to rest

After nearly a month of fighting over her body and her infant daughter, Smith's family and friends gathered to bury her next to her son, Daniel, in the Bahamas. The former Playboy Playmate died on Feb. 8, after an accidental overdose of prescription drugs.

3.09.07 — 300 is ab-fabulous

The bloody, nearly all-CG Spartan tale surprised with its $70.9 million opening weekend. Gerard Butler's six-pack didn't hurt either.

APRIL

4.15.07 — Gere audacity

At an AIDS awareness rally in India, Richard Gere spontaneously kissed (or some might say mauled) Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty. Since public displays of affection are largely taboo in India, the kiss set off a firestorm of media coverage, and lead a judge to issue Gere an arrest warrant for public obscenity (which can be punished with up to three months in prison, a fine, or both). The actor quickly left the country, but, the following month, he was allowed back to India. However, Shetty's obscenity charges weren't cleared until 15 years later.

4.26.07 — Regis Philbin went Live again

The Live With Regis and Kelly audience gave Philbin an ovation upon his return to the show after a triple bypass and six weeks off the air. David Letterman made a rare talk-show visit as Philbin's first post-surgery guest.

MAY

5.28.07 — The Police hit the beat again

Reuniting for the first time in more than 20 years, Sting, Andy Summers, and Stewart Copeland kicked off their world tour in Vancouver to 20,000 adoring fans. The year was rife with reunions, including Genesis, Led Zeppelin, and Van Halen with David Lee Roth.

5.21.07 — The summer of Apatow begins

South by Southwest Music and Media Conference | Kicking off the Judd Apatow lovefest that SXSW grew into with Bridesmaids (he was a producer) in 2011 and the discovery of his Girls partner…
Credit: Sergio Dionisio/Getty Images

Judd Apatow's sex comedy, Knocked Up, starring Katherine Heigl and Seth Rogen, had its premiere in L.A. The movie opened 11 days later and scored $30.7 million on its first weekend. August saw the Apatow-produced Superbad open even higher ($33.1 million.)

5.23.07 — Sparks flies

In a star-studded finale (Joe Perry! Bette Midler!), American Idol crowned Jordin Sparks its sixth singing sensation as 30.7 million viewers watched. To be fair, beatboxer and runner-up Blake Lewis didn't have a chance with the saccharine finale song, "This Is My Now."

June

6.26.07 — Paris liberated!

Hilton was released from prison, after serving 23 days for violating probation and driving with a suspended license. The jailbird soon dropped by Larry King's studio to describe the "traumatic experience."

July

7.1.07 — Concert for Diana

Princes William and Harry hosted a tribute to their mother, 10 years after her death. The show — held at London's Wembley Stadium — raised $2.4 million for charity, and featured performances by Elton John, Rod Stewart, and Kanye West.

7.11.07 — Quit playin' games with my bank

Former boy-band impresario Lou Pearlman (*NSYNC, Backstreet Boys) headed to a court hearing in Florida after being charged with bank fraud, involving loans worth $20 million.

7.21.07 — There's this book about a boy wizard — have you heard of it?

HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX
Credit: Warner Bros.

Ten days after the film version of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix set an opening-day record with $44.2 million, fans swarmed bookstores, at the stroke of midnight, to buy Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final installment of J.K. Rowling's extraordinary series. The book broke a record of its own, selling 8.3 million copies in the U.S. during its first day on shelves.

7.24.07 — Yes, Lindsay can get arrested

Less than two weeks after finishing her second stint in rehab, Lohan is arrested for cocaine possession and DUI. The actress later goes into self-imposed exile in Utah for two months and caps off the year by serving 84 minutes in jail on Nov. 15.

August

8.24.07 — Amy Winehouse sang the blues

Photos in London's Daily Mail showed Amy Winehouse and her then husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, bloodied, following a reported fight. Three months later, the beleaguered singer halted her European tour, after Fielder-Civil was arrested for alleged witness tampering. On Dec. 18, Winehouse was arrested in connection with the case; she was questioned and released without charges.

September

9.04.07 — The View made Whoopi

Goldberg officially joined The View, filling the chair left vacant when the formidable Rosie O'Donnell departed the show in May.

9.09.07 — Tommy Lee and Kid Rock talked about their feelings

Pamela Anderson's exes, Lee and Kid Rock, got into an offscreen scuffle during Alicia Keys' performance at the VMAs. "I was minding myself, and then he goes and punches me on the cheek," Lee told The Insider. "This is what people do when they have s---ty albums and their careers are going down the drain."

9.14.07 — Not an easy ride for Cruise's Valkyrie

Reversing an earlier decision, German officials allowed the crew of Tom Cruise's WWII drama — which chronicles an assassination attempt against Adolf Hitler — to film at the Bendlerblock, a key historical site in Berlin. Several news sources speculated that the initial ban was a result of the German government's unease with Cruise's Scientologist beliefs, a charge the officials denied.

9.19.07 — Kid power

Hey, let's exploit children! Forty kids, aged 8-15, attempt to form a functioning society on a glorified movie set in Bonanza City, New Mexico. At…
Credit: Monty Brinton

The debut of CBS reality show Kid Nation — in which 40 youngsters, ages 8 to 15, fend for themselves in a New Mexico pioneer town — was marred by criticism that the producers exploited its underage stars and subjected them to dangerous conditions. New Mexico had closed the child labor law loophole that allowed the show to be shot there.

October

10.04.07 — Owen's return

At the L.A. premiere of The Darjeeling Limited, star Owen Wilson made his first major public appearance since his reported suicide attempt in August.

10.15.07 — Right of passage

Drew Carey took over hosting duties of The Price Is Right. The comedian replaced daytime mainstay Bob Barker, who retired at the age of 83 after shooting 6,586 episodes of the show over 35 years.

10.16.07 — Ellen in the doghouse

In what would later be called "Iggygate," a tearful DeGeneres used her talk show to plead with a pet agency after it confiscated a dog she had adopted, and then given to her hairdresser's family. The awkward clip of DeGeneres weeping soon went viral.

10.16.07 — Madonna got Live aid

Madonna and tour promoter Live Nation announce a groundbreaking "360-degree" deal — estimated at $120 million — that split revenue from the singer's albums, tours, and merchandise sales. The agreement, which ended the Material Girl's 25-year partnership with Warner Bros., signaled a shift away from traditional record-label contracts in the ailing music industry.

10.18.07 — Miley Cyrus: One hot ticket

Hannahmontana_l

Miley Cyrus' Best of Both Worlds tour (in which she performed as both herself and her Disney alter ego, Hannah Montana) kicked off in St. Louis. The concerts sold out in minutes across the country, prompting outcries from angry parents and lawsuits against ticket brokers, who resold seats to eager fans for as much as $2,100.

November

11.05.07 — Stephen Colbert ballot-blocked

The Colbert Report host ended his nascent presidential campaign after officials in his home state of South Carolina voted to keep him off their primary ballot. Colbert conceded in a statement: "I have chosen not to put the country through another agonizing Supreme Court battle."

11.05.07 — Writers put their pencils down

The Writers Guild of America went on strike, after reaching a stalemate in negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers over issues like compensation for DVDs and downloads. (Less than a week later, Broadway stagehands went on strike over proposed staffing cuts; the work stoppage was resolved after 19 days.) The strike had caused thousands of layoffs and halted production of all network scripted series. (Execs then feared that the fall '08 season would be in jeopardy.) The strike ended in 2008, with the Writers Guild legally gaining authority over new media (streaming, Internet downloads, etc.), reality TV, and animations.

11.20.07 — Small victory

Sixty-eight years after greeting Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, seven of the actors who played Munchkins were on hand to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

11.25.07 — Malibu swept by wildfires

California Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger made an emergency trip to Malibu, where fires destroyed 53 residences over one weekend. The area was home to celebs like Minnie Driver and Matthew McConaughey, who were forced to evacuate during the blaze. It was the second rash of devastating fires in a month: In late October, over 100,000 acres of land in northern L.A. county burned.

December

12.02.07 — Ten years later, the Girls are back in town

Emma Bunton, Spice Girls, ... | Italian designer Roberto Cavalli created the stage costumes for the Spice Girls reunion tour, which kicked off on Dec. 2, 2007, in Vancouver. ''I have…
Credit: Carl de Souza/Getty Images

Victoria Beckham, Emma Bunton, Geri Halliwell, Melanie Brown, and Melanie Chisholm — better known as the Spice Girls — launched their reunion tour in Vancouver, Canada. The heavily-sequined nostalgia extravaganza came three weeks after the Girls released a greatest-hits album.


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