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Posted at 10:46 AM ET, 12/21/2006

Top 10 Celebrity Stories of 2006

By Liz Kelly

I like to do things scientifically around here, so you'll no doubt appreciate my super-duper end-of-the-year cornucopia of top stories. Based entirely on anecdotal evidence, comments from you and gut feeling, below please find the top 10 celebrity-centered stories of 2006. I know what you're saying: "Why now, Liz? It's only Dec. 21st." An astute observation. Yes, it's a wee early, but I won't be here next week and I bet many of you won't either. So we are in full hindsight mode.

Without further preamble, let's dig in. Drumroll, please, for the top celebrity stories of 2006:

10. Vaugniston
I grudgingly include the now-over "relationship" between Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn at the very outer limits of significance in 2006. Why? Well, if for no other reason, than as a lesson in how to not admit you are in a relationship, hardly ever been seen together and then issue press releases breaking it gently to the public that things are over. If this wasn't tailor-made publicity for the theatrical and DVD release cycle of "The Break-Up," I'll eat my hat. Kudos to Vaughn for at least throwing us a little something racy -- a supposed tryst with a blog-happy college student.

9. Paris and Nicole
No list is complete without Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie. Only be glad they're not at the top of the list. In July, Hilton won the inaugural Lizzie as the most-overhyped celeb but how could we resist paying attention when she released her debut album, made up with Nicole and made Britney her new best friend? Ever the competitive friends, Both Hilton and Richie logged DUIs in 2006. That's hot.

LiLo. (Reuters)

8. Lindsay Lohan
The starlet did a little work this year -- she co-starred in Robert Altman's final film ("Prairie Home Companion") and Emilio Estevez's ("Bobby") -- but her off-screen antics were by far more entertaining: a war of words with nemesis Paris Hilton, a summer spent almost entirely in a succession of bikinis, a few bizarre e-mails, her almost-eviction from L.A.'s Chateau Marmont hotel and a highly-publicized debate about her sobriety. In October, guest blogger Lisa Todorovich and I came up with a 12-step plan for Lohan's future.

7. Madonna's Malawi Adoption
Who knew that a one little boy could cause such an uproar? Madonna's heart was in the right place, but her decision to adopt a 13-month-old Malawian boy in Octoboer smacked of privilege -- and a little heartbreak -- when we found out that little David Banda's father is still very much alive and gave up his son because he was no longer able to feed him. Madonna did her time on Oprah's couch, but the adoption is still pending and faces a court challenge from a coalition of concerned human rights groups.

6. Celebrity Divorces
Yes, every year seems to be THE year of celebrity breakups, but 2006's list reads like the docket from the "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" courthouse. Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe, Britney Spears and K-Fed, Pam Anderson and Kid Rock, Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, Paul McCartney and Heather Mills, Carmen Electra and Dave Navarro, Kate Hudson and Chris Robinson. In a November poll, you named Witherspoon and Phillipe as the couple you'd most like to see reconcile.

Anna Nicole Smith, Howard K. Stern and baby Dannielynn. (Getty Images)

5. Anna Nicole Smith
Reader Petal sums this year's chapter in the sad saga of Anna Nicole Smith -- who lost her 21-year-old son just three days after the birth of her daughter in the Bahamas -- nicely: "It's harder to get her out of the Bahamas rental than getting red wine out of a carpet. While I feel for her that her son died the sympathy is waning with reports that she sold photos of him to the tabloids and the international paternity suit." Questions about the paternity of daughter Dannielynn, the death of her son and her right to late husband's fortune remain very much unresolved.

4. Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt
It seems like ages since the birth of the most genetically gifted child ever to walk the earth: Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt. Brangelina scored big points for playing hard to get with the paparazzi. In fact, their coy game took them all the way to Namibia where baby Shiloh was born in the privacy of an entire resort rented exclusively by her parents and the Namibian government, who played bouncer to hopeful photogs. Brangelina also made headlines for their sale of the first baby photos for an estimated $4.1 million with the bulk of the money going to charity.

3. Mad Mel Gibson
Turns out we hardly knew Mel Gibson. Sure, we were all aware that he was a box office smash as both an actor and director, but in July, Gibson welcomed a [expletive]storm of massive proportions when -- during the course of an arrest for driving intoxicated -- he hurled anti-Semitic slurs and sexist comments at the arresting officers. Outrage ensued, then an apology, then an interview with Diane Sawyer. Gibson's Mayan language epic "Apocalypto" seems to have come through the incident unscathed, no doubt to the delight of Disney execs.

Footnote: In November, former "Seinfeld" star Michael Richards was caught on tape coming unglued on stage at a comedy club. In response to some heckling, Richards launched into a racist tirade, repeatedly calling the hecklers the n-word. Gibson, it should be mentioned, later expressed his pity for Richards.

Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. (Cliff Sobel/Splash News)

2. Britney Gone Wild
No matter what, Britney Spears would have made this list. But we spent most of the year thinking she'd make it for the birth of second son Sutton Pierce Jayden James. Little did we know that Spears would mount a Q4 offensive to storm the tabloids, but she roared back into the spotlight in early November when she filed for divorce from husband Kevin Federline (relationship timeline), debuted a newly-svelte figure and partied (often pantyless) with Paris Hilton. With a new album on the way and the party still in full swing, expect headlines from Spears in 2007.

Footnote -- K-Fed's "Career": In what has to be the biggest slam of an aspiring performer ever, Spears's soon-to-be-Fedex went from cheesy back-up dancer to worse than Vanilla Ice with the release of his rap CD, "Playing with Fire" and his cringeworthy performance at the August Teen Choice Awards.

Tom and Katie sign autographs. (AP)

1. TomKat
It's no surprise that the whirlwind courtship of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, the chatter surrounding the birth of their daughter Suri and their over-the-top Italian wedding tops this year's list. The never-ending wealth of material -- Tom's bizarre behavior, the Scientology connection, Katie's seeming retirement from the spotlight -- is a Celebritologist's dream. To quote reader BB: "Is Tom an alien? Is Suri an alien? Is Kate drugged? Is she brainwashed? Does she have a cat, comb, and a pan? It goes on and on and on..." And thank Zenu for that.

Are you totally obsessed with year-end lists? An appendix of more lists follows after the jump...

- Top 10 Most Annoying Celebrities of 2006
- Top 20 Celebrity Scandals of 2006
- Bad Behavior Rules Pop Culture in 2006
- Celebrities We Lost in 2006
- Quotes from the Year in Entertainment

By Liz Kelly  | December 21, 2006; 10:46 AM ET
Categories:  Celebrities  
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