Monday 19 March 2018

Celebrity News: An 'amazeyballs' year of twerks and tweets

With Miley-gate, Nigella's woes and tragic deaths, 2013 was a mixed bag for celeb watchers, writes Joe O'Shea

The infamous Saatchi-Lawson photo from Scott’s restaurant in London
The infamous Saatchi-Lawson photo from Scott’s restaurant in London
I’m a Celebrity winner Kian Egan with wife Jodi Albert. Photo: Rex

Joe O'Shea

It was the year of the tweet and the twerk -- when a jaw-dropping performance by Miley Cyrus briefly became the world's biggest news story and celebs and social media combined to create even more blurred lines.

As the austerity and general economic gloom ground on, our celebrities, God bless 'em, rose magnificently to the challenge of entertaining and distracting an anxious world.

There was no stunt too OTT, no break-up too messy, no tweet too dumb. One-woman outrage tornado Cyrus created enough bewildering distraction on her own to suggest that she's secretly working for Wall Street and the International Monetary Fund.

In grown-up celebrity news, David Beckham finally retired from football -- prompting many to say, "Wow, I had no idea he was still playing" -- and moved the wife and kids back to London after six years in Los Angeles. The smart money is that Posh 'n' Becks will be back in the US soon, as David seems determined to own his own soccer club franchise.

Here at home, those who despair at celebrity culture and fear for the dumbing down of our social discourse were treated to Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh rising in our national parliament to attack a new Social Welfare and Pensions Bill as "not amazeyballs".

The ghosts of Garret FitzGerald and Dev may have been all, like, "OMFG!" But we all knew where Aengus was coming from. Our politicians, unlike our celebrities, did not indeed have an amazeyballs year.

On this side of the Atlantic, the biggest showbiz story of 2013 was surely the incandescent public row, break-up and then court case involving Charles Saatchi and Nigella Lawson.

The photographs and gossip were shocking enough. But when the couple and two former staff members (found not guilty of theft from their celebrity employers) appeared in court, the accusations, denials and hyper-emotional testimony heard were sensational.

Saatchi and Lawson featured in the paparazzi picture of the year, taken outside Scott's Restaurant in Mayfair, London, in June. The picture that immediately went around the world was of Saatchi holding his then wife by the throat.

Saatchi was given a police caution and the couple separated soon after. However, when he appeared in court last month, the 70-year-old ad man said: "I was not gripping, strangling or throttling her. I was holding her head by the neck to make her focus, can we be clear?"

The real bombshell came in an email read out in court, in which Saatchi basically accused his ex of being a habitual Class-A drug user, claims that were immediately and vehemently denied by a spokesperson for the Domestic Goddess and then rebuffed by Nigella herself, during a dramatic seven hours of testimony in court.

Nigella arrived looking like the goddess she is said to be and delivered some very powerful lines, saying of her marriage, "I felt subjected to intimate terrorism by Mr Saatchi".

There may be more to come from the former power couple. But it seems, for the moment at least, the enthralled public is very much on Team Nigella's side.

Across the pond, the toxic mix of fame and substance abuse was highlighted by the shocking death of Glee star Cory Monteith in July.

Monteith died of a drugs and alcohol overdose in Vancouver. He was just 31. It was perhaps the first brush with a tragic, senseless celebrity death for a generation of young people across the world.

In June, we had the shocking and sudden death of Sopranos star James Gandolfini, from a heart attack.

And the year drew to a close, Fast And Furious actor Paul Walker was killed in a high-speed car crash.

Former child star Amanda Bynes had a very public meltdown, using Twitter to unknowingly highlight her mental health problems and her run-ins with the police, until, belatedly, a judged stepped in to order she get help. The troubled actress recently left rehab after six months and is currently living with her parents in California.

US singer Beyoncé had started the year as if she was going to conquer all, wowing at the Superbowl Half-Time Show in February with a full Destiny's Child reunion.

However, even the Bootylicious One was powerless in the face of Miley Cyrus's almost superhero-like ability to grab and hold the spotlight.

Future cultural historians will talk of two periods of modern celebrity, BT (Before Twerking) and AT, with the dividing point occurring at the MTV Video Music Awards on August 25, 2013.

The former Hannah Montana star virtually blew up the internet when she danced in a nude, PVC two-piece alongside (in front of and under) 'Blurred Lines' singer Robin Thicke.

It was a show-stopping, bizarre performance, instantly propelling the word "twerk" into every-day language. And the video for her song 'Wrecking Ball' then got her into an equally bizarre war of open letters/tweets with our own Sinéad O'Connor.

The fallout from that saw Sinéad get more publicity in the US than she has had in the entire period since her infamous 'Let's Rip Up A Picture of The Pope' stunt in the early 1990s.

Our own homegrown celebs could hardly compete with the likes of Cyrus on the international stage. But at least Kian Egan did his bit to fly the green flag, getting crowned as the I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here winner as the year dragged to a close. The Westlife man was delighted. And should enjoy the adulation for as long as it lasts. Even the most dedicated reality show fan might struggle to remember who won IACGMOH last year (it was EastEnders actress Charlie Brooks).

An amazeyballs year for Kian, then. But a bit of a mixed bag for celebrity watchers and all of us who crave the distraction of Famous People Behaving Badly.

But we should take heart. If Madonna's career is anything to go by, Miley Cyrus is only getting warmed up.


Lest We Forget -- Celebrity Couples Who Didn't Make It through the year

  • Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart -- Finally called it quits in May. Stew-Patz were simply too good looking to last.
  • Taylor Swift and Harry Styles -- Their 'relationship' lasted less than a month and may have only existed in front of the paparazzi lenses. But at least it helped One Direction get plenty of publicity as they campaigned to crack the States.
  • Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth -- Sad but inevitable. Miley wanted to spend more time with her sledgehammer.
  • Charles Saatchi and Nigella Lawson -- A reconciliation seems unlikely.
  • Miranda Kerr and Orlando Bloom.
  • Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones -- The Hollywood power couple announced that they were spending time apart -- Michael's bizarre theories about contracting throat cancer from oral sex cannot have helped.
  • Nicole Scherzinger and Lewis Hamilton -- "Busy work schedules", apparently.

Irish Independent

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