If you happened to be a Hollywood divorce lawyer, this was your year. Otherwise, if you happened to be a celebrity in love, 2005 was probably better left forgotten.
Jen and Jessica began the year in wedded bliss, but will ring in the new year ringless. Brad left Jen for the comforts of Angelina, which was a bummer for Jen but didn't necessarily make Brad seem like such a horrid guy. In the piecemeal Jolie family, Brad Pitt is about as normal a father as you'd expect. As for Nick, we mostly just would have loved to be a fly on the wall for the last coversation between him and Papa Joe.
Britney, who felt the irresistible need to document her and K-Fed's love story on video for the entire UPN viewing audience to see, wound up feeling pretty uncharitable of late about her baby's daddy. (One set of rumors has her kicking Kev out of the house, though her rep denies that.) Granted, it was UPN that scored rights to this whole love story, so Spears shouldn't worry about too many people having witnessed the that was "Chaotic."
Paris got engaged, then got disengaged. But no one really figured that one would make it to the wedding chapel.
Michael Jackson, whose love life none of us dare to contemplate, spent the first half of the year living out the unfortunate endgame of his fondness for down-and-out, slightly grafty families — or at least their sons — and then last month, his ex-wife claimed that MJ's kids were actually the result of some creative .
As counterpoint to all this heartbreak, we were given Tom and Katie, no doubt the pairing of the year — and one that struck all of America as either utterly charming or utterly ridiculous.
A new year is always a good time to forgive and forget. So here's hoping all our favorite A-listers find new and fulfilling ways to pass 2006. In case they're out of ideas, we've thought up a few suggestions of our own. —Jon Bonné
Name: Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes
Resolved: To fulfill their dreams of being the perfect, most well-adjusted family in Hollywood. One that no one could possibly suspect of being a complete sham perpetrated by a 40-something Scientologist who worries that his days of being the go-to stud are numbered and a former WB refugee who sees only horror movie sequels in her future.
After announcing her retirement from acting to fulfill the glorious role of motherhood, Holmes will promptly knock out two more kids before taking a role in an Anthony Minghella-directed period drama. She’ll be panned by critics, but will lay the groundwork for her post-Cruise career by proving that she has more than one facial expression.
While making sure to re-seed the more thinning portions of his hairline, Cruise will continue to insist on doing his own stunts and talk incessantly about it in the press. Reigned in by his new set of handlers, he will keep couch leaping and prescription drug bashing to a minimum, but will forever hold a grudge against Matt Lauer.
The two will part amicably after starring together in an action-packed remake of “The Way We Were.” After which, Holmes’ career will blossom and Cruise will be romantically linked in the press to Dakota Fanning. —Paige Newman
Paige Newman is MSNBC.com's movies editor.
Name: Britney Spears
Resolved: To re-launch her stalled career. Britney Spears understands how showbiz works; she's been famous in one way or another since she was a little kid (remember the second coming of the Mickey Mouse Club circa the late '80s?).
She knows the only way to have Madonna-style longevity in this business is to diversify. So, since she can't play the part of the sexy little pop tart forever — being super-sexy is awfully hard when you're pregnant, fat and stuck with a jobless husband (and would-be rapper) who you have to support — Brit will get back in the game in 2006.
How? She'll finally pack her bags and her baby and start pounding the boards on Broadway. She was rumored to replace Christina Applegate in the musical “Sweet Charity,” but Mr. Spears — aka Kevin Federline — didn't want the missus to be away from home for so long. But that was so last year. Since Britney will probably divorce K-Fed anyway (who has the grand aspiration of becoming Vanilla Ice II) she won't have anyone holding her back.
Then Britney will hit the stage — and the critics will tear her apart. Literally. But the money will come rolling in and by the end of the year she'll have her own Celine Dion-styled show in Las Vegas.
After all, isn't Sin City where Britney belongs anyway? —Joe Tirella
Joe Tirella is a senior editor at Star Magazine.
Name: Paris Hilton
Resolved: To release more sex videos on the Internet because honestly, getting engaged to a wacked-out pretty boy only works for Katie Holmes’ PR department these days.
It’s been a hard-working year for America’s celebutante, but who said being famous solely for, well, being famous was easy? With "Love Boat" and "Fantasy Island" off the air for decades now, no-talent stars are forced to either slum their way through the reality-TV casting hot tub or come up with an endless stream of scandal.
Poor Paris Hilton spent much of this year pining for the good old days of celebrity life, when a grainy video of you doing your best impersonation of Alex de Large in "Clockwork Orange" while mugging shamelessly for the camera provided a lifetime of notoriety. No more. If you want to keep up with the tabloids nowadays, you need more than a bad night-vision march to notoriety with your own embedded journalist.
Her life being far from simple, Paris the Heiress suffered mightily through 2005, enduring some spirit-crushing tribulations. First she suffered the embarrassment of having her phone address book published online along with a number of photos, including some topless shots. Then her longtime friendship with Nicole Richie fizzled. Proving that her life is just one long, drawn-out double-entendre, Paris recovered her dignity by lathering up a car and herself in ads for Carl’s Jr.
Finally, demonstrating narcissism as the ultimate form of self-flattery, Paris was engaged to a rich little mirror image of herself conveniently named ... Paris. (Don’t need new towels!) To everyone’s surprise, the engagement was called off a few months later no doubt because poor Paris (our Paris) could not stand the misery of hauling that 24-carat diamond ring around.
For 2006, Paris faces the daunting task of upstaging her past antics in a world consumed with knowing whether John O’Hurley can really dance. But if someone in Hollywood can stoop to the occasion with a little shock and awe of her own, smart money is on Paris.
Give her a camcorder and an Internet connection. Then stand back. The problems of the world may not amount to a hill of beans, but we’ll always have Paris. And that’s hot. —Ian Ferrell
Writer Ian Ferrell writes from a state of bitterness that he’ll never guest star with Charo on “The Love Boat.”
Name: Michael Jackson
Resolved: To finally buy his own private jet to live on, so he'll never have to establish residence anywhere again. It's been a tough year for MJ — the first half spent in perhaps the most embarassing spectacle of his life, which is saying something, given that we're talking about Michael.
His trial on charges of sexually assaulting a boy gave prosecutors a chance to comb through every last detail of the King of Pop's thoroughly bizarre life: his cadre of parasitic hangers-on, his stealthy stash of girlie mags, his non-relationship with former wife Debbie Rowe. His acquittal may have marked the end of his legal troubles (for now) but his reputation was shattered.
So Mike bolted — reportedly to hunt for a site for Neverland II in such remote venues as Bahrain.
Clearly, returning to these shores doesn't hold much appeal, and it won't be long before Michael's original funhouse is boarded up and sold to any bidder with a cool $10-plus million and a weird "Alice in Wonderland" fetish. (His spokeswoman denies this.)
Why be tied down to just one place? MJ should follow the lead of S.R. Hadden, John Hurt's eccentric billionaire in 1997's "Contact." Hadden escaped his many enemies by setting up house on his own luxurious converted jet, and merely hopped from one abandoned landing strip to the next. Not only could Jackson create flying digs with his own personal panache (he could even install the inflatable copilot from "Airplane") but Tom Sneddon will never be able to catch him.
In "Contact," Hadden finally abandoned his airborne digs for a spot on the space station. It's not hard to imagine Michael finding that scenario quite appealing indeed. —Jon Bonné
MSNBC.com lifestyle editor Jon Bonné followed every painful detail of the Michael Jackson trial.
Name: Jennifer Aniston
Resolved: To win an Oscar. Jennifer Aniston had a rough 2005: dumped by husband Brad Pitt and publicly humiliated by his romance with Angelina Jolie (let's face it: she's prettier, younger, and already has an Oscar), who wouldn't want to crawl under a rock? But Jennifer is a tough New York-bred girl who loves a challenge.
She already spent much of 2005 redefining herself as a Big Screen actress with films like "Derailed," "Rumor Has It" and "The Break-Up" (where she met her new loverboy, Vince Vaughn).
But she's no fool: She knows she's going to be thought of as Rachel Green for a long time to come, which is why the ambitious actress is going to go all out for that Oscar gold in 2006 and finally get the Hollywood street cred she so badly craves.
First, since her dramatic turn in "Derailed" (with its very-hyped rape scene) sort of, well ... flopped, she's going to do an even more violent and explicit rape scene (think Jennifer Jason Leigh at the end of "Last Exit to Brooklyn") that those Academy voters won't soon forget. Then, with the backing of the right studio chief (hello, Harvey Weinstein!) she'll remake "The Diary of Anne Frank," playing the part of Anne Frank, of course; true, she'll need the help of computer-generated special effects to make her look like a young girl, but she can always thank the F/X guys in her Oscar speech.
At last, she'll show Brad — and the world — who's the best actress in Hollywood. —J.T.
Name: Jessica Simpson and Nick LacheyResolved: Well, the Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz clone idea didn’t work, so for 2006, we’re moving on to Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
Is it possible to be divorced before you marry? Proving that love is not only blind, but deaf, dumb and incapable of telling tuna from chicken, America’s favorite couple called it quits in 2006, catching everyone by surprise except for Nick, who spent most of the marriage impersonating Jim Stockdale’s 1992 vice-presidential debate performance.
One can forgive Mr. Lachey if he feels shortchanged, given his virginal love’s famous pledge of “Give me abstinence or give me death!” Vowing to keep the apples on the tree was good enough to get her a blue-ribbon trip to the 2001 Presidential inauguration ball, but for poor Nick it was mostly just a lengthy period of feeling blue.
Hollywood is not the first place marriage counselors send their difficult clients, so Nick and Jessica were asking for it when they signed up to flaunt their love to America each week.
The wacky-wife-and-nonplussed-slow-burning-hubby schtick worked for Lucy and Desi, but everyone knew where the brains hid in that family. On “Newlyweds,” the brains were hidden better than Saddam’s nuclear weapons, which essentially left the audience with a 45-minute prayer for Bob Eubanks to show up with wacky places to make whoopee. One imagines Nick had ample time to compile a list.
Does America now have “Divorcees” to look forward to? With Jessica riding off into the movie-star sunset with some good ol’ boys and shorts suitable for a Brazilian beach, we think not — even if we all want to see Jessica ponder why Nick’s lawyer keeps talking about “pre-nup” when she knows for a fact that those artistic nudes she took back in the late 1990s have nothing to do with marriage.
Our advice to Nick: Avoid the tuna. You’ll have much better luck if you stick with the chicken. —I.F.
Name: Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt
Resolved: To become the 21st-century John & Yoko, and bring love and happiness to the world. How else could they follow up their successful 2005 film, "Mr. & Mrs. Smith"? That cinematic tour de force not only brought them together as a couple, it gave us the new, benevolent A-list entity better known as "Brangelina."
But this should come as no surprise to celeb-watchers. We first got a taste of Brangelina's philanthropic intentions when they spent Thanksgiving in Pakistan. There, the newly partnered couple helped earthquake victims in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Showing the world's media that they are indeed geo-political players to be reckoned with, the couple met with Pakistani president General Pervez Musharraf, himself a noted lover of human rights.
But that was last year. In 2006 their goals will be much higher.
For starters, the world's most beautiful couple will bring an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which will culminate in Angelina converting to Judaism — the real thing, too, not that watered-down Kabbalah stuff Madonna and Demi Moore go for — and Brad switching over to Islam. Then Angelina, on a U.N.-sponsored trip to the Holy Land, will lead a vigil at the Western Wall while Brad prays at the nearby Blue Mosque.
After that, Muslim and Jew, celebrity and non-celebrity, will come together (just as John Lennon would have wanted) as one and love — yes love! — will rule. —J.T.