The stars were dazzling, often for the wrong reasons, says Andrea Smith in a review of the highs and lows of 2011
'IAM on a drug, it's called Charlie Sheen. It's not available because if you try it you will die. Your face will melt off and your children will weep over your exploded body."
As we begin a shiny new year in which the celebrity drama slate has been wiped completely clean, we should take a look back at 2011, which was a truly bumper year for celebrity scandals and dramas. The competition was stiff, but for sheer jaw-dropping histrionics, the story of the year award has to go to American actor Charlie Sheen. From becoming embroiled in a scandal where he allegedly attacked prostitute Capri Anderson during a drug-fuelled rage in a New York hotel room, brightening up our dull days with bizarre rants such as the one above, and being fired from the TV show Two and a Half Men, Sheen was never far from controversy in 2011. How about the slurred ramblings on American TV, where the derogatory comments he made about the series' creator Chuck Lorre led to him being sacked? Or his claim that he was "underpaid," despite being the highest-paid actor on television, earning $1.25m per episode of the hit series?
With his bizarre and repeated declarations that he was "winning", a word that soon became his catchphrase and ours, Sheen opened a Twitter account and set a Guinness World Record when he achieved a million followers in the fastest amount of time. Then there was the controversial nationwide American theatre tour, My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat is Not An Option, which sold out in 18 minutes -- a record for Ticketmaster. However, when it opened in Detroit, there were reports that many audience members left the show in disgust. Mind you, he wasn't that impressed with the rest of us either. "Look what I'm dealing with, man," he declared, in exasperation. "I'm dealing with fools and trolls."
On a happier note, several months after his very public implosion, Sheen has been pictured looking sober and healthy, and seems to be turning things around. However, in a year in which there was tough competition on the dramatic front, he is definitely the "winning" celeb in our eyes.
The other big showbiz story of the year was the marriage of the reality princess of the American celebrity circuit, Kim Kardashian, to her handsome prince charming, NBA star Kris Humphries. The lavish event was attended by 450 guests, including Ryan Seacrest, Lindsay Lohan, Eva Longoria, Venus and Serena Williams and Mel B. A mere 10.5 million American viewers tuned in to E! to watch Kim glide down the aisle in a Vera Wang dress and $2.5m headpiece, flanked by her mother Kris, and sisters Kourtney, Khloe, Kendall and Kylie. Her awe-struck groom said that the sight of her took his breath away, although we imagine that the sight of the divorce papers his bride filed a mere 72 days later, citing irreconcilable differences, had a similar effect. A media furore ensued, with accusations being levied that the lavish wedding was a giant hoax and was merely a ruse to win ratings and net the Kardashian brand a small fortune -- Kim is estimated to have earned $18m from the big day. Kim and Kris, who dated for six months prior to the wedding, are said to be devastated.
However, our shock at K and K's short-lived union paled into insignificance besides that of our very own Sinead O'Connor, who wed for the fourth time -- and announced that the marriage was over after 16 days. Always one to do it in style, the singer married addiction counsellor Barry Herridge on December 8 in the back of a pink Cadillac at the A Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas. Prior to the wedding the nation had been following her well-documented search for a man. She wrote amusingly in this paper on several occasions about her quest for love. And indeed sex -- she was pretty upfront about her desire for intimacy in the bedroom, and her frankness caused shock and admiration in equal measure throughout the country. She met Barry in August after he sent her a "wonderful email, which just took my heart away", and said that while she had no intention of getting married again, Barry was extremely persuasive and won her over with his proposals. With her head shorn, Sinead looked lovely on the big day in a pretty pink dress that showed off her many tattoos. She later declared that the wedding was "too glorious for words".
Sadly, after 16 days, she placed a statement on her website announcing that the marriage was over. "Within three hours of the ceremony being over the marriage was kyboshed by the behaviour of certain people in my husband's life," she said.
While we are shocked -- most of us enjoyed relationships with boxes of biscuits over Christmas that lasted longer than this marriage -- we wish both Sinead and Barry peace and happiness, and hope that our favourite singer finds the love she desires this year.
Back in June, our favourite X Factor judge Louis Walsh's world was turned upside down when he was falsely accused of sexual assault. In what was an act of kindness on his behalf, the previous April he had helped a 24-year-old father of two called Leonard Watters to gain entry to the VIP area of Krystle nightclub on Harcourt Street -- the star and Westlife were celebrating there after the band's last date at the O2.
Watters subsequently made an allegation of sexual assault against Walsh, but when told that CCTV footage from the nightclub did not support his allegation, he admitted that it was false. Watters is due to be sentenced on January 25, and in the aftermath of the story, the genial Louis described how the stress had made him physically ill. "I've lost so much weight that my suits don't even fit me any more," he told RSVP magazine. "I can't even get a proper night's sleep so I'm exhausted. When I drift off, I suddenly wake up in a blind panic. The panic attacks are awful. I'm never going to be the same. I have to calm myself down and say, 'It's over, I'm going to be okay'."
Happily, Louis recovered sufficiently from his ordeal to add his usual bit of fun and joviality to The X Factor, although naturally enough, he has become much more guarded and less accessible to fans. However, we knew we had our old favourite back again when we heard him tell act after act that they were either going to be "the next big thing" or were "the ones to beat" in the competition! Louis seems to have regained his mojo, as evidenced by that rather dazzling jacket he wore to the final last month. He even demonstrated that his irrepressible sense of fun had returned by dressing up as his former fellow judge, Cheryl Cole, for a Heat magazine shoot, complete with giant beehive -- and surprisingly good legs!
Speaking of the Geordie princess, Cheryl suffered an ignominious fall from grace in 2011. This time last year, she was the darling of the entertainment industry and was adored by fans and media alike -- to the point that even her change of hair colour made front-page news. Having divorced womanising footballer Ashley Cole in September 2010, the cheated-on beauty was being romanced by dancer Derek Hough, and wooed professionally by Simon Cowell, who chose her to be a judge on the American version of The X Factor. It was to be the beginning of Brand Cheryl going global, and there were huge expectations that she was going to become a megastar. However, from the moment the normally impeccably dressed singer rocked up to the first auditions wearing purple trousers that were so long they completely covered her feet, an orange top and startlingly massive hair, Chezza was in a precarious position. Rumours then surfaced about her lack of chemistry with fellow judge Paula Abdul, while it was also alleged that audiences were finding it hard to understand her Newcastle accent.
Within two weeks, and after all that fuss, drama and hyperbole, we were more surprised than when we heard that Hugh Grant had become a father to learn that Cheryl had been despatched as ruthlessly as one of the delusional, tone-deaf auditionees who migrate towards these talent shows. She was callously dropped from the panel and was replaced by former Pussycat Doll, Nicole Scherzinger, which was shocking news given the heightened expectations that had accompanied her much-anticipated American debut. Since then she has been lying pretty low, and to add insult to injury, there was also a general belief that while she was off wooing the Yanks, she lost her nation's sweetheart crown to Kate Middleton. Cheryl, it seems, just wasn't "worth it" after all.
On the royal front, William and Kate behaved impeccably, and the commoner-turned-princess never put a nude-court-shoe-adorned foot out of place all year. The same, alas, couldn't be said for other royal newlyweds. A mere 48 days after Will's cousin Zara Phillips married the then England rugby captain Mike Tindall in a star-studded ceremony, the squashed-nose groom was captured on CCTV with his ex Jessica Palmer at Altitude bar in Queenstown. While Zara has stood by him, he was subsequently fined £25,000 by the Rugby Football Union and was removed from its elite player squad following his behaviour that evening.
While this must have been troubling for Zara and Mike, the situation between the stunning South African former Olympic swimmer Charlene Wittstock and her new husband, Prince Albert II of Monaco, could only be described as bizarre. Days before the wedding in July, there were many damaging rumours circulating that the Prince had fathered a third illegitimate child. The palace was forced to deny reports in the French weekly L'Express that Charlene had tried to flee Monaco to return to South Africa, but was intercepted by Monaco police who confiscated her passport. The couple later rubbished these rumours and are suing the magazine.
Our favourite royal wedding this year had to be that of the Spanish Duchess of Alba, or to give the 85-year-old her dazzling full name, Maria del Rosario Cayetana Alfonsa Victoria Eugenia Francisca Fitz-James Stuart y de Silva. When the thrice-wed duchess married a wee slip of a lad of 60, Alfonzo Diez Carabantes, two of her children refused to attend the wedding. The union was met with much scepticism, due to the belief that the civil servant toyboy was only with Maria because of her vast wealth -- although the aristocrat split up her fortune between her six children ahead of the wedding, which
was attended by a mere 38 guests. Not that the filler-faced royal cougar gave a fig, as she danced joyously for the media following the ceremony.
However, on the subject of older women and younger men, we were saddened by the end of 49-year-old Demi Moore and 33-year-old Ashton Kutcher's six-year marriage in November, amid allegations of his infidelity and emotional turbulence. We so wanted to believe in this one, given the level of negative commentary that surrounded them getting together in the first place, but alas they broke our hearts -- and each other's too, apparently.
Another marriage that bit the dust was that of wild boy Russell Brand and singer Katy Perry. He announced right at the end of last year that he and Katy would divorce, citing irreconcilable differences. The marriage lasted 14 months, which is not quite in the Sinead O'Connor league (16 days), or the Britney Spears one (55 hours). Perhaps Russell kissed the girl and didn't like it.
Continuing a trend that began in 2009 with Tiger Woods and Ashley Cole, 2011 was another year in which many sports stars became more famous for their antics off the pitch/green. Footballer Ryan Giggs was named by Lib Dem MP John Hemming under parliamentary privilege as the sports star who obtained a "super-injunction" against a newspaper group in relation to an alleged extra-marital affair with former Miss Wales and Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas. Giggs also took legal action against Twitter after his name was mentioned by a user in a list of those who had taken out such gagging orders. Sadly for the Premier League footballer, at least 75,000 people subsequently repeated the information, which will mean some court case if it ever comes to trial.
Meanwhile, Golfer Rory McIlroy hit the headlines when he dumped his long-term girlfriend Holly Sweeney for tennis babe Caroline Wozniacki, and if you tune into Celebrity Come Dine With Me on TV3 this month, you will catch Sweeney dressing up as a tennis player, in what she said is a gag poking fun at herself.
Last year saw us losing stars such as Elizabeth Taylor, Leslie Nielsen and Betty Ford, not to mention those made famous for different reasons, such as Muammar Gaddafi, Osama bin Laden, and Kim Jong-il.
However, nothing matched the shock we felt when singer Amy Winehouse was found dead at her London home on June 16, aged 27. While many had been saying for years that her addiction problems would ultimately kill her, when it actually happened there was a palpable sense of shock that the talented singer had died. Post mortem results later revealed that the cause of death was alcohol poisoning. Her death earned her a place in the 27 Club, along with musicians Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain and Jim Morrison, who all died at the same age.
Now that 2011 has drawn to a close, we can look forward to being entertained, horrified and stunned by a new batch of celebrity dramas. Will any Irish person beat Sinead's record for the shortest-lived marriage? Will Louis Walsh invent a brand new catchphrase? Or will we continue to get high on the drug known as Charlie Sheen? Tune in to Celebsville this year folks to find out ...