Tuesday, January 4, 2011

10 FAVORITES (18) - 2010: A Year In Review

Happy 2011 everyone! The end of the year and the beginning of the new year is always an exciting time for us media critics because we get to look at the year that was. 2010 was a very interesting year in the world of Entertainment and Pop Culture. We saw an independent film triumph over a box office juggernaut at the Academy Awards, Critically acclaimed TV shows came to the forefront for audiences on both the awards front and in the ratings numbers, and even Broadway was emboldened by the star power of the likes of Oscar winners Catherine Zeta-Jones and Denzel Washington. That's not to mention the shifts that were going on around the country politically speaking. But what were the most memorable moments of the past year. In honor of this first full week of the new year, I want to take us all back through last year just for a little bit (which, I know was something many journalists covered last week, but I prefer to wait until the previous year has come to a complete close!). This week's 10 FAVORITES (in semi-chronological order) is:


Though this moment really started in 2009, with NBC's frustration over low ratings for their beloved late night staple (which was caused by many factors, least of all the new host) the network maneuvered (sloppily) for Jay Leno to return and bought out (at a hefty sum) the rest of Conan O'Brien's contract. While the battle lines were drawn at the end of 2009, the spoils and scars were clearly visible in January 2010. As "Coco" licked his wounds, Leno returned and NBC's late night ratings picked up to what they once were. But don't feel too bad for O'Brien, as his new TBS late night show is wowing his fans and the critics.

The most devastating moment happened at the beginning of the year as the Caribbean nation of Haiti was struck by a massive earthquake that destroyed most of the country and caused thousands of casualties and deaths. As the world was reeling, the Hollywood community (led by A-lister George Clooney and Haitian native musician Wyclef Jean) came together to ask the public to step up and give assistance. The Celebrity-filled Telethon (like the 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina predecessors) was broadcast on almost all the networks in Primetime (and in EVERY Time Zone). It showed the world that the Entertainment community can really be who we want them to be when it really matters.

The actress had a great 2009 with two box-office hits (The Proposal and The Blind Side) and went into 2010 with awards buzz for the latter. As she gracefully accepted every award handed to her, from the Golden Globe to the SAG Award to even the Oscar (yes people, Sandra Bullock IS an Oscar winner!), she tearfully thanked her husband, reality star Jesse James, for all his love and support. Little did we know what those tears were really about as reports surfaced (from multiple women) that James had been unfaithful to his A-list wife (It was Tiger Woods all over again!). But Bullock braved the storm with great poise, divorced James and adopted her son, showing us that she is a true class act!

Though Lady Gaga is really a person (I think!) and not so much a moment, her presence on this list is really because of all her little moments over the course of 2010. There was her AMA and Grammy performances (which of course shocked anyone who did not know who or what she was), her notorious behavior at a Yankees game, the tribute given to her by the beloved show Glee and who could forget the Meat dress! Throughout all this, she had a sincere dedication to her craft (whatever she douses it in!) and to her fans (the Little Monsters), who helped make her the most followed celebrity on Twitter.

The final season of J. J. Abrams' enigmatic hit drama LOST was one of the most anticipated seasons of a television series in recent years. The finale, which aired in May, answered questions (and created many more!) and felt like a fitting end to a series that had earned its place in TV history. As LOST said goodbye, so did several other shows (that were once hits) in the Spring of 2010, some which had a proper farewell (24 and Ugly Betty) and some which didn't (Law & Order and Heroes). In the fall season, newer shows took their places in the schedule but, alas, a lot of them did not catch on with audiences. And it didn't matter whether they were critically acclaimed (Lone Star and The Whole Truth) or critically savaged (Undercovers and My Generation).

The NBA off-season (summertime) was almost completely devoted to answering one question: Would Lebron stay or would he go? Lebron James, the superstar player of the Cleveland Cavaliers, became a free agent as his contract with Cleveland came to a close in June and several teams wanted (and pleaded for) him! The Akron native dragged out his decision until the eleventh hour and announced (in a grand "hoop"-la) that he would indeed leave Cleveland for the Miami Heat (and a perceived better chance to win championships). His actions drew a line in the sand (certainly for Cleveland) and changed the way we look at free agents in the sports world.

It is one of the most popular shows on television and fans of it cannot get enough. So, of course, the popular men's magazine GQ wanted to get an interview with some of Glee's dynamic cast members. GQ (being GQ) had its subjects in a photo shoot that was a little bit more adult than the parents of many a Glee fan would have wanted. As the firestorm lit up talk TV and the blogosphere, stars Lea Michele, Dianna Agron and Cory Monteith were taken aback by the controversy and each issued separate "Mea Culpas," hoping not to have offended anyone within the Gleek kingdom.

The political rhetoric of 2010 seemed to be sliding to the vicious side (for whatever reason!) and Jon Stewart, the dynamic and hilarious host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show, had had enough. He decided that with his star power (and finances), that he could organize a massive Washington, D.C. rally to help tone down the venomous rhetoric in the air. His rally was mostly in jest but partly serious (especially when Oprah got involved!). His Comedy Central cohort, Stephen Colbert, decided to join in, but not to "Restore Sanity." His insistence was to "Keep Fear Alive" (also pretty much, in jest). Both rallies joined together on October 30 and were extremely successful, at least in the media's eyes, but we shall see if Stewart's message really hit home.

ABC's juggernaut reality series was stepping up its game in the Fall of 2010 as far as "star power." Not only did they retain Carol Brady, Dirty Dancing's Baby and the "Hoff" himself, but they got Bristol Palin, 2008 Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin's infamous daughter. Bristol, who is no stranger to controversy (see Levi Johnson), started a whole new controversy by her season on the dance competition show. While she was not the worst celebrity ever to dance on the program (see Kate Gosselin), she certainly was not the best, despite improving from week to week. The thing that polarized a lot of DWTS' fans was that she was allowed to improve from week to week, whereas other (not as notable) celebrities would have been eliminated sooner. It was discovered that a strong (possibly conservative) base of fans were constantly voting to keep Bristol in, succeeding all the way to the finale (where she lost the Mirrorball trophy to Jennifer Grey). But though she lost, her presence on the show became something to talk about.

He is the Man who will be King and she is his longtime girlfriend. Their love story does feel a little like déjà vu as Prince William (eldest son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana) finally popped the question to Kate Middleton. Their engagement was immediately the subject of scrutinizing Internet searches and their images were immediately branded upon wedding memorabilia as the two set the date (April 2011). Going into 2011, this happy news will become one of the most watched weddings in history rivaling another famous Royal Wedding. Seriously, has anyone heard of déjà vu?!?!

So, there you have it: THE 10 POP CULTURE MOMENTS FROM 2010. We shall see if 2011 makes a splash in the way 2010 did. We know there is a Royal Wedding coming. Oprah Winfrey will he ending her seminal talk show (she's already unveiled her new cable network!). And the Harry Potter franchise will come to a close as the eighth and final film is released this summer. That's what we know about! Who knows what the new year will bring?

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