A more personal reason for stopping mid-stream was that May 2004 marked the passing of two Irish Echo colleagues who were very dear to me: senior editor Jack Holland, who died on May 14, and former editor-in-chief John Thornton, who died on May 16. I miss Jack’s wry wit and his encyclopedic knowledge of astronomy and poetry; I still can’t bring myself to delete his number from my cell phone directory. As for John T., or “The Chief,” as everyone called him, I’ll always be grateful to him for giving me my first writing assignment in 1989. Which, as some of you have pointed out, might not have been a good thing . . .
Anyway, it’s time to relive the rest of the entertainment highlights — and lowlights — of the last year. Because you know what they say: those who ignore history are destined to repeat it. And really, nobody needs more Oasis fisticuffs, more Mariah mischief, or more Westlife hysteria, now do they? So in the interest of world peace and suchlike, let’s drink a cup of kindness yet for Auld Lang Syne — whatever that is — as we tiptoe through the topics that kept us entertained in 2004.
Remember when you were little and pretended to be a character on your favorite TV show? Well, the good people at MTV decided to tap into this universal — if half-forgotten — urge by looking for people who could pretend to be members of the fictional Partridge Family. Combining the ickiest aspects of “American Idol,” “Say What Karaoke” and “The Gong Show,” the show invited contestants to dress like members of the original cast and lip-synch their way through a scene from the TV show. The most entertaining part was debating the merits of the original, dark-haired Chris and his tow-headed mid-series replacement. Oh, and making fun of David Cassidy’s teen idol haircut.
Mariah Carey proved that even divas can get lonely sometimes. Being a busy girl, the multi-octave singer decided to use the direct approach to landing a date. While partying at a New York City nightclub, Mariah flashed her fishnet-clad assets at a likely target. Unfortunately for Mariah, the hunky guy disappeared. Unfortunately for the rest of us, it probably gave her the inspiration for another treacly ballad about lost love.
News roundup: Matt Damon found himself the cast in the metaphysical role of chew toy between two big dawgs during the making of “The Brothers Grimm.” Director Terry Gilliam, a Monty Python alum, wanted Damon to wear an ugly prosthetic nose, since the real-life brothers were Grimm in more than name. Miramax producer Harvey Weinstein took one look at his hunky star hidden behind a pile of putty and barked, No way, Jose.
Kerry Katona revealed that she’d love to pose nude for a lads’ magazine — as long as she was covered in chicken curry. There’s some logic behind her request: it’s a favorite snack in the Katona-McFadden household. And it would be warmer than, say, Rocky Road ice cream.
Posh — or make that, Gangsta — Spice, still reeling from hubby David Beckham’s text scandal, got more bad news. Her fledgling rap career, engineered by American hip-hop impresario Damon Dash, was over before it even started, with the producer replacing Victoria’s dulcet tones with something a bit more urban. Hey, at least she could take comfort in the giant pink “I’m sorry” diamond she got from David.
Liam Gallagher rubbished rumors that he would leave Oasis to form a “supergroup” with Beatles progeny Dhani Harrison and Stone Roses alum John Squire. “Liam’s already IN a supergroup,” sniffed a band spokesperson. Which was more than could be said for Irish Eurovision contestant Chris Doran, who performed the puerile composition “If My World Stopped Turning,” penned by former Westlifer Bryan McFadden. Ireland would have finished dead last, except for the efforts of Norway’s Knut Anders Sorum, whose performance of “High” was, apparently, a low point in the show.
It was P.S.: I Dumped You for best-selling author Cecelia Ahern and her longtime boyfriend, hurdler Dave Keoghan. The taoiseach’s daughter and the aspiring Olympian just couldn’t maintain their relationship, what with their crazy schedules and all. “She’s writing her books and I am trying to qualify for the Olympics in Athens,” he said. “We just grew apart like people do when they have busy lives.” (P.S.: He didn’t make the team.)
Sex came to Dublin’s fair city in the curvy form of Sarah Jessica Parker. The star of HBO’s wildly popular sitcom was in town with her husband, actor Matthew Broderick, for some rest and relaxation. The two smiled for photographers while quaffing pints in a Merrion Square pub, then headed off — baby and nanny in tow — for their holiday home in County Donegal, where the only other celebrity to rival SJP’s sex appeal would be Daniel O’Donnell.
A between-weddings Britney Spears shimmied into Ireland with her “Onyx Hotel” tour, but still found some time to go shopping on Grafton Street. The pop princess gave her credit cards a workout in Brown Thomas as she scooped up Agent Provocateur undies and expensive designer handbags. Lackeys wielding umbrellas followed her around shielding her from the view of photographers and fans alike.
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was a bright spot — literally — at this year’s G8 Summit. And it wasn’t just his sunny disposition that set him apart from the other world leaders. The Irish head of state stood out from the crowd of conservatively attired politicians by putting together an ensemble guaranteed to attract attention: a canary-hued linen jacket, blue and white checked shirt, and banana-colored trousers. All that was missing was a rainbow-colored wig and exploding shoes.
A representative for Irish designer and style guru Louis Copeland admitted that Bertie had gotten the pieces from them. “But not necessarily in that order,” he added dryly. “Some people really shouldn’t be let dress themselves.”
News roundup: Alex Best was named “Rear of the Year” by a British shopping chain, which no doubt peeved her cranky ex-husband, former soccer great George Best. Alex’s prime rear view was the latest to be honored in a long and proud tradition that stretches back to past title holders like “EastEnders” star Barbara Windsor and Welsh opera star Charlotte Church.
After a four-year layoff, superstar siblings The Corrs released their hotly anticipated new album, “Borrowed Heaven.” Filled with their trademark sunny harmonies and upbeat lyrics, it’s tailor-made for playing in the summer sunshine. Which also happened to be the name of the leadoff single. They grow ’em smart in Dundalk.
Slinky actress Lara Flynn Boyle announced that even though she’s Irish Catholic, and thus, “a Democrat by blood,” she would be throwing her weight behind President Bush in his campaign for reelection. “I want my president to be like my agent,” she told Us magazine. “Not afraid of people, but wants my best interest.” Presumably, she’d want her president to be even better than her agent, since the latter wasn’t much help when she was axed from the cast of “The Practice.”
Bono might be a millionaire, an hotelier and the front man for the World’s Greatest Band, but the bespectacled bon vivant is not above the Irish smoking ban. While chilling with members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers in the bar at the Clarence Hotel (which he owns), Bono lit up a cigarette. Hotel staffers nervously informed their boss that he was breaking the law, and Bono sheepishly put out his unforgettable fire.
“It was the wee small hours,” he explained later. “I apologized then, and I apologize now.”
Summer is traditionally the silly season in the entertainment business — though one could argue that it’s never anything but silly. The month kicked off with the earth-shattering news that the director of “A Home at the End of the World” had made some sensitive — make that, extremely sensitive — cuts to the final version of the movie. Reportedly, producers freaked out when preview audiences started cheering during Colin’s pivotal nude scene — apparently, he was a bigger star than they had anticipated. They cut him down to size, so to speak, for the theatrical release, but assured fans that everything would be restored for the DVD release.
Irish chat show host Graham Norton has interviewed some of the biggest names in show business, but admitted that his dream “get” — Madonna — has remained maddeningly elusive. But maybe that’s not such a bad thing. “The Madonna I want is the Madonna from six years ago,” he said. “Now she’s a working mother of two, [and] everything’s about Kabalah,” he sighed. “I’m not sensing fun with a capital ‘F’.”
There IS life after politics — just ask former secretary of state for Northern Ireland, Mo Mowlam. Instead of trying to convince politicians to get into bed together, Mowlam started offering advice, via a British lads’ magazine to readers who were contemplating similar arrangements. The monthly’s editor was well-pleased with the quality of Mo’s advice, noting, “If Bill Clinton had consulted Mo . . . then the whole set-up of western politics could have been very different.”
U2 were red-faced when someone swiped the master CD of their forthcoming album, “How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb,” from under their noses during a photo shoot in France. This wasn’t the first time that one of their albums has gone missing just before release, which leaves two possible explanations: chronic carelessness or publicity stunt.
News roundup: Middle-aged heartthrob Alec Baldwin found himself the subject of a kiss-and-tell memoir, written by a woman whom, he insisted, he’d never even met. The breathy tome boasted chapter titles like “Stumbling Into His Chest Hairs,” which, no matter how you look at it, is not a good image.
Robbie Williams has seemingly dated every other hottie on the planet, so it was no surprise to hear that he’d hooked up with Irish pop star Samantha Mumba. Though they stopped short of making the ultimate commitment — matching tattoos — the couple spent plenty of time together at their respective Los Angeles pads.
Colin Farrell found himself in search of a new wingman after “pulling pal” Calum Best decided that he was tired of playing second fiddle to his more famous mate. The two hunks cut quite a swath through the talent at London nightclubs during the summer, but it was clear that the ladies favored the Hollywood star to the lesser-known model. “Colin was always the favorite as far as the girls were concerned,” an insider tattled. “That didn’t go down well at all with Calum.”
Not many people would turn down a gift from Bono, but then, not many people are the prime minister of Great Britain. Tony Blair was forced to say thanks, but no thanks, when the U2 singer presented him with a vintage guitar that exceeded the
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