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Posted at 10:42 AM ET, 12/31/2008

2008's Most Shocking Celebrity Story?

By Liz Kelly

Heath Ledger's January 2008 death took everyone by surprise. But was it the year's biggest? (AP)

My first few years in a newsroom, I was tasked with assembling year end packages -- the kind of thing that made up yesterday's amalgam of 2008 lists. So, when confronted with eulogizing a fading year, some primal instinct to call in sick takes over. Which is all to say that you can thank me now for not getting all emotional, pithy, poetic or needlessly verbose in the commission of banging out a farewell 2008 story.

But what kind of celebritologist would I be if I didn't try to make some kind of sense -- no matter how tangential or obtuse -- out of the year that was? The kind that passes the buck on to you. I'm ashamed, but a leopard can't change its stripes any more than Tara Reid can do anything about that unfortunate lipo accident.

And so I ask you to weigh in on the year's most shocking celebrity news item. There's a lot of stuff to choose from, so I've probably missed one or two that meant something to you. If so, please add them in via comments.

By Liz Kelly  | December 31, 2008; 10:42 AM ET
Categories:  Celebrities  
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Comments

Not sure about shocking, but the most exciting Celebritology story was the creation of Lizard Island. A place to go and get virtually anytime you want. Well protected from paparrazi invasions.

Posted by: epjd | December 31, 2008 11:02 AM | Report abuse

So, there's less than 30 votes so far, but it's an interesting insight into how we think.

No seems surprised about the Madonna/Ritchie split. Don't know if this is a comment on marriage in general or that fact that Madonna is scary.

No one was really surprised about Clay Aiken becoming a dad, but this could be because we really don't care.

It's funny that no one was surprised by the Miley Cyrus pics. What does that say about how we view young starlets.

I voted for Heath Ledger's death. More than anything I think it was because he didn't lead a wild life, rather he was ill and couldn't sleep well and many of us have been in situations like that ourselves. It makes you realize how frail we can be sometimes.

Posted by: DorkusMaximus1 | December 31, 2008 11:09 AM | Report abuse

When I think "shocking", I think of an event that stops me in my tracks, and sets off a deep primal urge to TELL SOMEONE NOW. The Anna Nicole stuff fit the bill. And the only thing on your 2008 list that made me leave my office, and wander down the hall looking for someone to TELL, was of course Heath Ledger.

The other stuff might be titillating, suprising, even tragic... but not shocking.

(If I, or any of my friends, had ever watched American Idol, I admit that the Jennifer Hudson news would qualify. But I have only the vaguest idea who she is.)

Posted by: WDC2 | December 31, 2008 11:13 AM | Report abuse

I'm gonna go with the Heath Ledger story.

I was doing some improvement work on my home office around the time he died, and was without Internet for 3 or 4 days, and just too tired at the end of the day to watch TV.

So when I hooked back up after finishing the projects, I was actually shocked to hear he had died.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | December 31, 2008 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Okay, yesterday I commented and was relegated to the land of "your comment is being reviewed" and I never saw it again, but I'm up no problem today.

What gives WaPo?

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | December 31, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Looks like we're mostly in agreement here. Sad that it takes a death to shock us, so jaded we are.

Posted by: hodie | December 31, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Yeah but hodie think about how jaded we would be if a death didn't shock us.

Posted by: DorkusMaximus1 | December 31, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

I can't believe David Duchovny's alleged sex addiction even made the list. Hmm, just like the character on his new show that no one's watching, what a coincidence. And then the publicist asked that the media give his family privacy at this difficult time, and they did, which was probably pretty shocking for Duchovny, inc.

Posted by: crunchyfrog | December 31, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

It has to be Heath Ledger's death. That story went on for days, too, and remember the odd twists...Mary Kate's (or Ashley's--I can't keep them straight) security guard securing the crime scene...OD/not OD...the ex-girlfriend has a movie coming out...he had a movie coming out...
It was the celebrity story of the year.

Posted by: pras40 | December 31, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

This is not bad considering the other option was calling in sick. One thing that surprised, rather than shocked, me is that John McCain was actually funny on SNL. OK, he was handed the line, "I'm that rare person, a Republican with no money," but his delivery was perfect (I almost typed "spot on", but Uncle John Kelly has nixed that for Americans). He was also pretty good with the "McCain Fine Gold" spiel. We've all come to expect Barack to be funny when the occasion calls for it, because the press has told us he is perfect, but McCain was a surprise. And Tina Fey rocks, regardless of what the other lizards say.

1.The attention given to Madge is only surpassed in vacuity to the attention given to the photoshopped Jen.

2.I guess we knew Clay had it in him, but the question was whether he would use it.

3. Brit-brit falls in with the other two in #1, now that she has effective handling.

4. Poor Swayz.

5.

6. Obvious. Very sad, but still obvious.

7. Mickey Rourke. Ew. At least he used to have some bad-boy appeal. Now Clint has him beat every which way but loose for codger appeal.

8.Jennifer Hudson should also be known for Dreamgirls. Maybe not enough people know about Dreamgirls. Also very sad, and tragic.

9.Billy Ray Cyrus. Understudy to Mickey Rourke. Or maybe Woody Allen. Unfortunately for Miley, only Christina Agulera keeps Disney from being known as a breeding ground for trainwrecks. Did Amy Winehouse ever record for them? Walt must be spinning.

10. Good writers help anyone look good. See opening comment on McCain, aka wrinkly old guy.

11. Gwynnie. See Madge.

12.Guess the truth is now "out there" for Duchovny. Tea Leoni has inspired a lot of feelings in me, but pity was not one I anticipated.

13. Why do I think LiLo may have an Anne Heche epiphany? (Except for copywright issues, "Anne Heche Epiphany" would be a good name for a rock band.)

Posted by: reddragon1 | December 31, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Heath Ledger was very shocking...up there with Mama Cass (sp?) when I was
growing up.
But today I am very shocked that anyone would vote the Palin family as most-desired neighbors. Look, some of us have teenaged sons...there are still two Palin girls at home. Enough said!

Posted by: possum_pouch | December 31, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Lilo will have that epiphany when everyone stops talking about her.

The Olsen taint on the Ledger story was a bit suprising to me. The death was certainly shocking, but I was also suprised and puzzled that the Olsen twins mingle with Hollywood elite. So why are they still famous?? I don't get it.

Posted by: hodie | December 31, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse

I think Heath Ledger's death and members of Jennifer Hudson's family being murdered were shocking because the news came out of nowhere. One minute everything's fine and the next minute, the news cycle is in a frenzy. The rest of the items are much the same as any year: some are revelations (writers can make Paris funny?), some are par for the course (the Madonna/Guy Ritchie divorce), some are sad (Patrick Swayze's news), and some are just meh (and the rest).

Posted by: CentrevilleMom | December 31, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

pras40 raises a good point. Who among us can dodge a Federal investigation by saying they don't want to comment like MKO did? Maybe the latest candidate for the Governor Felons club?

possum, why this hatin on the Palin? I think they come across as "good neighbors" because they are so cloyingly folksy. Just because her daughter got a little too chummy with a bad boy is no reason to be hatin. They are not so different from some of my Prince William County neighbors. Oh.
Never mind. I see your point.

Posted by: reddragon1 | December 31, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Oooh, I'm already a fan of "Anne Heche Epiphany"! Imagine the merchandising possibilities...

For shocking, I say it would be this theoretical headline: "Scientists discover human DNA in Donatella Versace creature".

Posted by: jaybbub | December 31, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

hodie
Lilo will have that epiphany when everyone stops talking about her.

hodie, Lizard Island philosopher. I'd just extrapolate the observation to all celebs who are famous chiefly for being famous.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | December 31, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

For shocking, I say it would be this theoretical headline: "Scientists discover human DNA in Donatella Versace creature".

****************************

Interestingly enough, recent studies have tried to explain the extinction of Neanderthals. My hypothesis is that the males couldn't bear to mate with Donatella Versace.

Posted by: MStreet1 | December 31, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

For shocking, I say it would be this theoretical headline: "Scientists discover human DNA in Donatella Versace creature".

Posted by: jaybbub | December 31, 2008 12:53 PM

probably because she ate one...

Posted by: hodie | December 31, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

For shocking, I say it would be this theoretical headline: "Scientists discover human DNA in Donatella Versace creature".

Posted by: jaybbub | December 31, 2008 12:53 PM

probably because she ate one...

Posted by: hodie | December 31, 2008 1:03 PM

*****************************************

But that would require her to actually eat something.

Posted by: DorkusMaximus1 | December 31, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Until this a.m., I would have said the most shocking thing to happen in 2008 was Heath Ledger's death.

Then I saw the Donatella Versace photos....

Posted by: memphis1 | December 31, 2008 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Dorcus, birds and in this case, sea monsters, are known to have extremely fast metabolisms and can eat many times their own body weight in one-day. Would explain the skeletal physique and human dna.

Posted by: hodie | December 31, 2008 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Donatella?

Eeeeeeeewwwwww!

Your auld acquaintence,

Curmudgeon

Posted by: bmschumacher | December 31, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Heath Ledger's death was in part shocking to me because I had just gotten off a plan and was walking through the airport when I saw the headline, kind of surreal.


I also want to second the fact that Jennifer Hudson should be known for her Oscar winning performace in Dreamgirls.

Posted by: mgc7830 | December 31, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Interestingly enough, recent studies have tried to explain the extinction of Neanderthals. My hypothesis is that the males couldn't bear to mate with Donatella Versace.

Posted by: MStreet1 | December 31, 2008 1:00 PM
------------------------------------------

Neither will cryptids.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | December 31, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Sas, shouldn't you be saying, "When cryptids fly"?

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | December 31, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Sas, shouldn't you be saying, "When cryptids fly"?

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | December 31, 2008 4:04 PM

--------------------------------------------
Yes, but only metaphorically.

I have several hundred thousand air miles to burn, Donatella or Notatella.

No self-respecting male cryptid would knock Ferragamos with Donatella Versace if she was the last female hominid on earth.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | December 31, 2008 4:29 PM | Report abuse

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