Zooey Deschanel's engagement and Harold Pinter's death made news the week of December 29, 2008

By Kate Ward
Updated January 02, 2009 at 05:00 AM EST

Actress Zooey Deschanel, 28, will marry Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard, 32.

Actress Chyler Leigh (Grey’s Anatomy), 26, is having her third child with actor/musician husband Nathan West.

Naomi Watts, 40, and Liev Schreiber, 41, are now parents to a second kid, Samuel Kai, born Dec. 13…. On Dec. 10, Tameka Raymond gave birth to her second child — a son, Naviyd Ely — with Usher, 30.

Country singer Mindy McCready, 33, was checked into a Nashville hospital Dec. 17 after an apparent suicide attempt. She has reportedly stabilized but remains under her doctor’s care.

Oscar-winning Pulp Fiction screenwriter Roger Avary, 43, was charged with gross vehicular manslaughter Dec. 12, stemming from a January 2008 car accident in Ojai, Calif. Prosecutors allege Avary was drunk when he crashed his car, killing passenger Andrea Zini. (Avary has pleaded not guilty.)… On Dec. 24, Gilmore Girls‘ executive producer Gavin Polone sued Warner Bros. TV and The CW, claiming the companies lied about the show’s profits. A rep for The CW could not be reached for comment…. A man injured in a 2006 car accident involving pop star Brandy, 29, filed a lawsuit Dec. 8 in L.A. against the singer for personal injury and negligence. A year ago, prosecutors decided not to charge Brandy in connection with the accident, which killed another driver…. A Bronx jury cleared Sopranos actor Lillo Brancato, 32, of murder Dec. 22. (He was accused of breaking into an apartment with a friend, who killed an off-duty police officer.) The actor was instead convicted of attempted burglary and faces 3 to 15 years in prison.

Trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, 70, who won a Grammy in 1972 for First Light, passed away Dec. 29 in L.A. a month after reportedly suffering a heart attack…. Actor Van Johnson, 92 — who starred in The Caine Mutiny — passed away Dec. 12 in Nyack, N.Y., from natural causes…. Actor John Costelloe, 47, who played Jim ”Johnny Cakes” Witowski on The Sopranos, was found dead Dec. 18 in his Brooklyn home, an apparent suicide…. Actor Sam Bottoms, 53, whose films included Apocalypse Now, died Dec. 16 in L.A. of a brain tumor….Guitarist Delaney Bramlett, 69, of the duo Delaney & Bonnie, passed away in L.A. Dec. 27 following gallbladder surgery…. To Kill a Mockingbird director Robert Mulligan, 83, died of heart disease Dec. 20 in Connecticut. — With additional reporting by Stewart Allen

Harold Pinter (1930 – 2008)
The Nobel prize-winning playwright and screenwriter — who penned more than 30 plays — died of cancer on Dec. 24 in London. ”Pinter was absolutely one of a kind in terms of the way he used language,” says Raúl Esparza, who starred in the 2007 Broadway revival of Pinter’s The Homecoming. ”I think he invented the sound of modern writing.” — Jesse North