We re-elected a president, bought 48 million iPads, weathered a couple of hurricanes, obsessed over Tom and Katie's breakup, and cheered Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner who, on October 14, broke the sound barrier in a record-smashing jump from 24 miles up. (He landed fine, btw).
What a year it's been!
Most newspapers, magazines and cable news channels release their year-end wrap-ups around this time, and I never miss them. After all, January was a long time ago; and there's something about a December deja-vu that puts it all together for me. So this year, I decided to join the gang and do my own flashback. And being in entertainment biz, I thought I'd do what show biz folks do best: hand out awards to those click-worthy individuals or events that stood out above the rest.
So with a nod to that famous Jerry Seinfeld quote -- "It's amazing that the amount of news that happens in the world every day always just exactly fits the newspaper" -- here are my first annual "Clicky" awards, presented to those stories that made an impact, made a difference and, on a few occasions, made me laugh.
Happy New Year, America!
…to randy royal Prince Harry (aka, Prince Henry of Wales), who raised eyebrows in August when TMZ posted nude photos of him playing a game of “strip-billiards” in a Las Vegas hotel suite, along with his mates and “a bunch of hot chicks” they’d met in the casino. The photos -- which were reportedly taken by one of the women present and promptly zapped to TMZ -- instantly appeared around the world, prompting one Twitter wiseguy to comment, “Poor Prince Harry. I don't know what the world's coming to when you can't trust some random girl you met in Las Vegas.”
…to E.L. James’ bodice-ripping, heavy-panting Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, which has done for bondage, domination and sexual role play what Herman Melville did for a great big whale. The three heat-seeking books, the last of which was released in January, not only dominated the bestseller lists throughout 2012, but also sparked conversations everywhere -- at the workplace, in the beauty parlor, in bedrooms and, thankfully, in all manner of hilarious spoofs. Best send-up of the lot: Saturday Night Live’s, of course.
…to the empty chair that actor Clint Eastwood spoke to throughout much of his bizarre speech at the Republican National Convention in August. The premise for the shtick was that Eastwood was addressing President Obama, who was presumably sitting in the chair, but the strange routine drew more head-scratching than laughter. On Twitter, actor Zach Braff cracked, “Now all my chairs want to be interviewed, too!” -- and even the President joined the fun, Tweeting the simple comment, “This seat’s taken.”
…to 17-year-old U.S. gymnast McKayla Maroney, whose sulky expression on the podium of the London Olympics -- after winning the silver medal in the individual vault competition when she’d hoped for the gold -- immediately went viral, inspiring countless Photoshoppers to insert the “not impressed” McKayla in all manner of settings. But the good humored gymnast got the last laugh -- with a little help from President Obama. When McKayla visited the White House last month, the chief executive pulled her aside and warmly said, “I want to talk to you one second about the face -- I pretty much do that face at least once a day.” He then proposed that they pose for the first-ever duet version of the infamous glower -- which, of course, went viral, too.
…to John Edwards and Roger Clemens, who escaped conviction in two landmark trials this year. On June 13, the Justice Department announced it would drop charges against Edwards for violating federal campaign contribution laws in an effort to cover up an extramarital affair. Five days later, Clemens was found not guilty of lying to Congress when he testified that he’d never taken performance-enhancing drugs. Who knew lighting could actually strike twice?
…to Time magazine’s May 21 “Are You Mom Enough?” cover story, which featured a photo of Los Angeles mother Jamie Lynne Grumet breast-feeding her nearly four-year-old son, Aram, as he stands on a chair next to her. The boldly blatant photo set off a fierce online debate between those who claimed Time was going for shock value, and others who insisted the image was a perfectly natural expression of the mother-child bond. But one Yahoo news reader cut to the chase: “How do I erase this from my computer?" he asked. “Because if the Feds raid my place, I'm looking at five to ten."
…to champion cyclist Lance Armstrong, who on October 22 was stripped of his cycling titles and given a lifetime ban from the sport after a messy summer of dodging charges by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that he’d used illicit performance-enhancing drugs to fuel his superhuman biking victories. Oh, well -- the tire had to blow sometime…
…to Jeremy Lin, the overlooked, undervalued NBA journeyman whose court career was on the fast track to nowhere -- that is, until February, when his electrifying assists and deft bucket-sinking propelled his hapless New York Knicks to a winning streak, and himself to the status of global sensation. The media quickly dubbed the fan hysteria “Linsanity,” and by summer, the 6’3” Taiwanese-America had signed a new three-year contract -- with the Houston Rockets.
…to the one-trick, five-stud English-Irish boys bad One Direction, whose 2012 skyrocket to superstardom not only had love-struck tweens squirming in their seats around the globe, but also landed the guys Billboard’s Top New Artist designation and MTV's coveted Best Artists of the year award. According to Sony Music Entertainment chairman Nick Gatfield, by next year the fab fivesome will represent a $100 million business empire. That’s a lot of teeny-bopping.
…to the Encyclopedia Britannica, which on March 13 -- 244 years after it debuted in Scotland as a three-volume set -- announced that it would no longer publish a print edition and focus instead on its digital distribution. While the kids may be perfectly happy with the digital version, it's a sad day for adults worldwide who sentimentally remember paging through the giant tomes to help them with that last-minute, overdue report on Christopher Columbus. But nostalgia aside, there is an upside to the story: think of all the shelf-space you'll be able to clear.
…to a pastel version of Norwegian painter Edvard Munch’s iconic “The Scream” -- that eternally anguished figured that has come to symbolize unchecked suffering across cultures and generations -- which sold at auction in New York to financier Leon Black for $120 million, setting a new world record. No word yet on how much you can get for that refrigerator magnet that features basically the same picture.
…to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whose harsh election year criticism of Barack Obama did a 180-degree-turn in October when the president paid a personal visit to the state to assess the damage from Hurricane Sandy. Christie’s sudden praise of the Obama, coupled with photographs of the budding bromance, enraged fellow Republicans, but Christie remained unbowed -- especially after Obama offered him a lift in the presidential helicopter. “When I got on Marine One?” gushed the star-struck Gov, “I’m pinching myself, believe me. You know, Sandy and Bill Christie’s son on Marine One was not exactly what I thought would happen with my life…”
...to the Mayan Calendar, which on December 21 ended one cycle (call a b'ak'tun -- or 144,000 days) and began a new one. The event was celebrated throughout southern Mexico and Central America; however, many around the world (mostly those who wear tin foil hats) had misinterpreted the changeover as the date on which a cataclysmic event would swallow up the earth. Looks like we’re stuck with 2013 -- maybe we should have bought that extra carton of milk after all.
...to the unprecedented number of musical icons who passed away in 2012, including: Whitney Houston, Dave Brubeck, Donna Summer, Ravi Shankar, Etta James, Earl Scruggs, Kitty Wells, Robin Gibb, Davy Jones, Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys -- and that perpetual music-loving teen himself, Dick Clark. Although we’ll miss them forever, we take solace in the notion that they’re undoubtedly putting together one hell of a concert in heaven. We also keep in our thoughts and prayers those who were met with tragedy this year, whether from storms or gunfire here at home, or on a battlefield on foreign soil. May 2013 be safer, healthier and happier for all of us.
Follow Marlo Thomas on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MarloThomas