2011: The Year that Was
Ricky Roasts Hollywood at the Golden Globes (Jan. 16)
In his opening remarks at the Golden Globes, host Ricky Gervais crossed the line between friendly teasing and full-on mockery — much to viewers' delight. ''I was sure the Golden Globe for special effects would go to the team that airbrushed the [Sex and the City 2] poster,'' jabbed the host after sinking his teeth into Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association itself — which then went and hired him again for next year.
How Low Can Lohan Go? (Feb. 9)
On Feb. 9, Lindsay Lohan was charged with stealing a $2,500 necklace — and that was only the beginning of a year that was rocky even by Lohan's scandalous standards. She spent time under house arrest, sued Pitbull (who then countersued), posed for Playboy, and ended up serving four hours in jail for violating probation.
The 2011 Grammys Are for the Birds (Feb. 13)
Who would've thought that a rainbow-feathered turkey (a.k.a. Cee Lo Green) and ?a catsuited Gwyneth Paltrow would make for one of the most inspired musical moments? Their candy-colored ''Forget You'' was just one highlight of the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards, where Arcade Fire took home Album of the Year. But the real prize went to viewers, who saw pop's A-list exhaust themselves for our entertainment. Bieber danced with ninjas, Gaga hatched out of an egg, and even the Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin, made a pretaped video appearance after a decibel-packed serenade from the likes of Christina Aguilera and Jennifer Hudson.
Adele Rocks Our World (Feb. 22)
''We could've had it all,'' Adele sings on her megahit single ''Rolling in the Deep''. But in 2011, it seemed like she actually did: Her sophomore album, 21 (released on Feb. 22), hit the top of the charts, where it spent a dazzling 13 weeks, becoming the year's best-selling album and garnering six Grammy nominations.
And the Award for Worst Hosts Goes to... (Feb. 27)
Viewers didn't care for Oscar hosts Anne Hathaway (too peppy!) and James Franco (not peppy enough!). But the night still provided plenty of watercooler moments, like Best Supporting Actress winner Melissa Leo's F-bomb, The King's Speech's Best Picture win, and Kirk Douglas' crowd-pleasing appearance to present an award. ''Where were you when I was making pictures?'' the legend catcalled at Hathaway.
iPad 2 Is 2 Cool (March 11)
No, those aren't Twihards lining up for a premiere — they're techies waiting to bring home an iPad 2 after its March 11 debut. With a faster processor and features like video calling, the new iPad became the year's must-have gizmo.
Rebecca Black: Why? (March 11)
Quick: What day comes after Thursday? Thanks to 14-year-old Rebecca Black, we'll never fail that pop quiz again. The Orange County, Calif., teenager's relentlessly singsongy TGIF anthem ''Friday'' was made possible by a $4,000 gift from her mom. When it went viral on March 11, she became the poster child for What's Wrong With Music These Days: the never-ending reign of grating teen pop, Auto-Tuned vocals, and skull-poundingly dumb dance music all combined in one make it stop! meme that your niece's BFF's babysitter forwarded to you at work. By year's end, after ''Friday'' had racked up over 10 million views on YouTube, popped up on Glee and Dancing With the Stars, and landed Black a cameo in a Katy Perry video, it also pretty much summed up What's Wrong With Kids These Days — namely, that they can launch a social-media empire but can't manage ? to string together a grammatical sentence. Forgive them: As Black explains, it's just that we we we so excited. Besides, it's fun, fun, fun, fun!
Charlie Sheen fired (March 27)
When Charlie Sheen was fired from Two and a Half Men, it followed months of headline-grabbing behavior that included the show shutting down production and the police removing his kids from his house after his ex got a restraining order against him. Sheen would go on to gather 1 million Twitter followers faster than anyone else in the service's history, get booed on opening night of his nationwide tour in Detroit and then again at N.Y.'s Radio City Music Hall, and see both of his highly lauded goddesses move out of his house. And, of course, Ashton Kutcher would take his place on the show.
On Sept. 26, Charlie Sheen finally settled his lawsuit with Men for $25 million. Combine that with an olive branch to the industry at the Emmys, and a brutal but highly rated Comedy Central Roast, and one could say the year ended better than it began for Sheen.
Will and Kate Plus Fete (April 29)
Just think: Without the hyperventilating media blitz that accompanied the nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton (which drew an estimated 2 billion viewers), there might still be people in ?the civilized world who didn't know that a ''fascinator'' is a fashionable British headpiece. Or that a ''Pippa'' is a curvy, show-stealing sister.
Thor Kicks Off a Marvel-ous Summer (May 6)
The heroic $65.7 million debut of Thor on May 6 started a superpowered summer for the comics-based Marvel Studios, which would also score with Captain America: The First Avenger ($176.7 million total) and Fox's X-Men: First Class ($146.4 million). If you think those numbers are big, wait for the studio's star-packed Avengers, slated for 2012.
True Lies: Part 2? (May 17)
One week after announcing his separation from wife Maria Shriver, Arnold Schwarzenegger admitted to fathering a son with his housekeeper 14 years ago — a secret he kept during his entire tenure as Governator of California.
Oprah Ends Her Daytime Show (May 25)
An astonishing 16.4 million viewers watched Oprah Winfrey say goodbye to daytime TV on May 25, when the final episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show capped a 25-year dynasty unique in TV history. Unlike the Anderson Coopers and Rachael Rays of today, Winfrey launched her show at a time when there was little competition from cable or other outlets. More important, no daytime host has ever, or probably ever will, come close to matching Winfrey's influence with her audience; she changed the way we read books, perceive celebrities, and even how we elect our president. She was, quite simply, the most influential woman (and one of the richest) in the country — a feat all the more breathtaking given her roots in rural poverty. She marked her final broadcast not by hosting a famous guest but by simply addressing her fans. Her larger-than-life persona is hardly out of commission: The 57-year-old mogul serves as CEO of her eponymous cable network, OWN, and will host a new prime-time show called Oprah's Next Chapter in January 2012 — but her days of handing out cars or admonishing deceitful authors in daytime are over.
Tracy Morgan Goes on the Offensive (June 3)
Stop me if you've heard this one before: A comedian ?known for a wacky sitcom character makes tremendously insensitive jokes during a stand-up routine that lands him? in a PR nightmare. Tracy Morgan, who plays an unfiltered crazy person on TV, brought back unwelcome memories of Kramergate with an angry, homophobic onstage rant. And like Michael Richards before him, he followed it up ?with a tour of contrition.
The Book of Mormon (June 12)
Converts America? Broadway musicals aren't typically known for envelope-pushing, and taboos — unlike the various bones of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark performers — are rarely broken. That is what made the critical success and nine Tony awards won (on June 12) by South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker's raunchy-on-the-outside, sweet-on-the-inside contribution to the genre all the more impressive.
Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark (June 14)
After serious injuries, numerous delays, and a record 183 preview performances, the musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark finally opened on Broadway.
News of the World Closes. World Starts Using Cell Phones Again. (July 8)
The once venerable, and subsequently venereal, British newspaper shuttered its doors following a massive scandal in which it was revealed that the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid had hacked the phones of hundreds of people — including actor Hugh Grant.
Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake Begin Dating the Military (July 9)
Awwww... When Justin Timberlake persuaded his Friends With Benefits costar Mila Kunis to accept a YouTube video invitation from Sgt. Scott Moore to a Marine Corps Ball, little did JT know he'd get an invite as well (from Cpl. Kelsey De Santis). The two stars attended their respective events in November.
Netflix Customers Start Seeing Red (July 12)
Taking a leaf out of the public-relations handbook titled ?How Exactly Not to Do Things, the movies-by-mail company confidently sashayed into a minefield when it suddenly and dramatically raised its prices. Customers' rage was matched only by their confusion months later when the company announced it would be splitting the direct mail and streaming services into two different companies, before abandoning that plan altogether.
Harry Potter Casts the Superpowerful Moneymaking Spell (July 20)
Just six days into the theatrical run of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2, the wizarding series became the highest-grossing franchise in domestic box office history. The finale conjured a record-breaking $169.2 million its opening weekend and earned $381 million total — the highest gross of the year. All told, the eight Harry Potter films earned a cumulative $2.4 billion in America and a truly remarkable $7.7 billion worldwide. We?ll miss you, Harry!
The Walking Dead Kills Off Frank Darabont (July 23)
AMC's The Walking Dead can be a gruesome viewing experience. After all, this is a show that once had its characters wrap intestines around their necks to avoid detection. (Smart!) But the show's biggest shocker — even bigger than poor zombie Sophia stumbling out of Hershel?s barn — occurred when the network parted ways with acclaimed showrunner Frank Darabont, and this after he had led the drama to record ratings. Darabont (who just days earlier had appeared alongside the cast at Comic-Con) was replaced by his No. 2, Glen Mazzara, who became the new braaaaaaaains of the operation.
Katy Perry Has Really Big...Hit Records?(Aug. 17)
When Perry's ''Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)'' hit No. 1, it became the fifth track from her album Teenage Dream to do so, matching Michael Jackson?s record for Bad.
Jim Carrey Gets Stoned (Aug. 24)
Carrey tapped into his inner Andy Kaufman to deliver an earnest/prankish and creepy/adorable romantic encomium to Crazy, Stupid, Love actress Emma Stone, which he posted to his website. It was a bit like watching your wacky uncle hit on your much-younger cousin at the family reunion. Exactly like that.
Beyoncé Does the Bump (Baby, That Is) (Aug. 28)
Power couple Beyoncé and Jay-Z have been notoriously tight-lipped about their personal lives ever since he put a ring on it in 2008. However, at the lavish, slightly epilepsy-inducing MTV Video Music Awards, the singer revealed her pregnancy to the whole world during her performance.
Ben & Jerry's Encourages Customers to Eat Frozen Schweddy Balls (Sept. 7)
What's not to love about Schweddy Balls? We imagine that's what the pintsters at Ben & Jerry's were thinking when they announced the arrival of their latest flavor, inspired by a double-entendre-laden Saturday Night Live sketch featuring Alec Baldwin. Its unappetizing name led some groups to protest its presence in grocery freezers — where young children might see it and have their minds corrupted by puns and frozen treats — convincing some stores not to carry the flavor. Things don?t look good for the company's next product, Sexual Mintercourse.
Chaz Bono Causes a Rumba on Dancing With the Stars (Sept. 19)
The ABC staple might benefit from air quotes around the words dancing and stars, but the drama was real. With the inclusion of transgender contestant Chaz Bono, the show was forced to contend with criticism from some conservative viewers — including the perennially outraged Parents Television Council — who exclaimed ''Think of the children!'' before fainting en masse.
Get Your Bluth On! (Oct. 2)
Fans of the canceled-too-soon sitcom Arrested Development finally got some good news ?when creator Mitchell Hurwitz revealed at a New Yorker-sponsored festival his intentions to make a movie and new episodes to lead up to it. A few weeks later, Netflix announced that it would be distributing the revived show in early 2013. In other words, frozen bananas for all!
Hilary Swank Attends the Absolute Worst Birthday Party Ever (Oct. 15)
Whoops! Swank attracted controversy when she joined lesser celebrities Jean-Claude Van Damme and Seal at a gala celebrating the 35th birthday of Chechen president, and alleged human rights abuser, Ramzan Kadyrov. She has since apologized and promised to donate her paycheck to charity, which is more than what she did for The Core.
Cartoon Metalheads Have All the Fun (Oct. 27)
The MTV show that brilliantly satirized (and probably helped contribute to) the brain-deadening of America in the 1990s returned as Beavis and Butt-head came back for another round of hilariously crass innuendos and obnoxious laughing. For fans of the Great Cornholio, it was hard not to be excited. Heh-heh, ''hard.''
Justin Bieber Plays a Game of Who's Your Daddy? (Nov. 2)
The prospect of Bieber being a father of an actual baby, baby, baby is a bit disconcerting considering he still looks about 13, but the singer vehemently denied baby-daddy claims by Mariah Yeater and later consented to a paternity test. Whether the results will be announced on Maury is yet to be determined.
Bad, Dangerous, and Guilty (Nov. 7)
Two and a half years after the death of Michael Jackson, his physician, Conrad Murray, was found responsible for the overdose of propofol that killed him. Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, and he would eventually be sentenced to four years in prison. (He plans to appeal.)
The Time Suck to End All Time Sucks (Nov. 8)
The number of productive waking hours lost to the Call of Duty videogame franchise is mind-boggling. And the number of sleep hours lost is even greater. The latest addictive installment, Modern Warfare 3, dropped on Nov. 8, grossing over $775 million in five days while causing half of the male race to immediately sequester themselves in cocoons of nerddom.
Billy Crystal to the Rescue (Nov. 10)
When it was announced in September that Eddie Murphy would be hosting the 84th Academy Awards, many were excited to see if the man who once unleashed some of the best and most blistering stand-up comedy could still perform with a mic in hand. But sadly, like a sequel to The Adventures of Pluto Nash, it was not to be. While promoting his and Murphy's action comedy Tower Heist, director Brett Ratner — who had been slated to produce the awards ceremony — made a series of ill-advised remarks, including one using an antigay slur during a Q&A, and explicitly discussed his sex life on Howard Stern's radio show. Succumbing to public pressure, Ratner pulled out of his role as producer, and Murphy quickly followed suit, announcing that he was relinquishing his hosting duties. So with the Oscars less than four months away — and with the dull thud of last year's attempt to attract younger viewers with cohosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway still reverberating — the Academy decided to throw in its chips with a known (and proven) quantity. Perennial favorite Billy Crystal swooped in on Nov. 10 after Murphy's departure, agreeing to host his ninth Academy Awards ceremony, with megaproducer Brian Grazer filling Ratner's shoes. A safe choice? Maybe. A good choice? Quite possibly. We'll all see come Feb. 26 when Crystal takes the stage to do his (now pretty much expected) song-and-dance opener. Until then, he's probably locked in a room somewhere trying to come up with words that rhyme with ''dragon tattoo.''
May and December Finally Split Up (Nov. 17)
The little couple that could, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, called it quits after being married for six years. That means no more eyebrow raising over their 16-year age difference or vacations with Bruce Willis. But we'll always have the memories. And the tweets.
Breaking Dawn Opens With Plenty of Bite (and Leg) (Nov. 18)
Like a sudsy, sparkly hydra, the Twilight series continues to be struck down by critics and detractors, only to rise again more powerful than ever, and this time with two films instead of one. Breaking Dawn — Part 1 saw a bank-busting opening-weekend pull of $138.1 million. That buys a lot of wedding cake.
And Yet We Still Don't Know What Kind of Animal Gonzo Is Supposed to Be (Nov. 23)
Actor-writer Jason Segel revived Jim Henson's beloved creations in The Muppets, bringing the joys of karate-chopping pigs and joke-telling bears to a whole new audience.
Alec Baldwin Gets Grounded (Dec. 6)
The 30 Rock star really loves his mobile games. Baldwin was kicked off an American Airlines flight after he refused to shut off his electronic device while playing what one can only imagine was a very engrossing session of Words With Friends. The actor later got a laugh mocking himself on the Dec. 10 SNL. (''Altercation'' is worth 16 points, by the way.)