By Stacy Jenel Smith
It's been a banner year for celebrity romance watchers, with pretty pairings that make us smile, and partings that got especially ugly.In some couples' cases, it was both.
Consider America's sweetheart Jennifer Aniston and multi-platinum Grammy winner John Mayer. Fans of Aniston's were ticked off when he violated what should have been a gentleman's code of silence last summer and yacked it up with TMZ, saying he ended their relationship 'cuz he just wanted to be alone and not "waste someone's time." And that as far as cheating on her, well, those were "cheap lies," although seeing other people after a relationship has run its course is "the most normal thing in the world." Then, mystifyingly, she took him back. Her own declaration to Vogue - "Love just shows up" - may be the closest thing to an explanation of why. As '08 winds to a close, the on-again, off-again romance is on.
Being beautiful, smart and classy wasn't enough to spare Anne Hathaway from heartbreak and humiliation as her handsome Italian boyfriend Raffello Follieri proved to be a swindler - while pretending to be representing the Vatican, no less! He wound up pleading guilty to federal charges including money laundering and conspiracy, and has been sentenced to nearly five years in prison.
While they're not guilty of any crime that we know of, many people would like to see Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag
taken away. The overexposed, bickering, on and off-again "The Hills" duo eloped in November despite all kinds of disapproval from friends and family and fans - and were advised by Tom Cruise
on "The Hills: Live After Show" earlier this month, to go ahead and "dude...have the big wedding." Spencer said that if Tom would be best man, he'd go for it! Yep, a big plastic superstar to go with the plastic bride and groom on the top of their fake TV wedding cake. Wonder how they'll do when the cameras go away.
Speaking of wondering how they'll do, in 2008, 38-year-old Mariah Carey and 28-year-old Nick Cannon tied the knot at her estate in the Bahamas after a whirlwind romance of a few weeks. Friends and family admitted they were stunned, but the Cannons proclaimed themselves soul mates and had themselves tattooed to prove it. She has "Mrs. Cannon" inscribed in a butterfly on the base of her spine, while he has "Mariah" scripted all across the top of his back.
A planetary alignment of music megastars took place with the wedding of Beyonce and rap mogul Jay-Z in April, after a six-year romance they never even confirmed.
After months of denials, Rihanna, 20, and Chris Brown, 19, have quit hiding their couple-ness, and the ultra-hot performers -- he is Billboard's top pop artist of the year, she has five Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hits -- are now collaborating on her next album.
Two celeb marriages that would appear solid if it weren't for politics are those of Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi, and George Takei and Brad Altman. Takei and Altman, together for 21 years, received their marriage license back in June, shortly after the California State Supreme court announced its same-sex marriage ruling, and wed in September, two months before voters passed Proposition 8 to write a ban of the practice into the state's constitution. "I'm the luckiest girl in the world," an exuberant Degeneres told People magazine after her August nuptials. How much luck she and Portia will have remains to be seen, as theirs is among some 18,000 California same sex unions whose validity is now being fought over in court.
It's hard to keep up with the hookups and breakups of the teen crowd, or even just Joe Jonas.
In 2008, 19-year-olds Joe Jonas and Taylor Swift were boyfriend and girlfriend amid their respective explosions of fame and success - and then he notoriously split up with her in a short phone call. And then he felt compelled to answer complaints about that from annoyed Swift fans on MySpace, implying that the call would have lasted longer if some people hadn't wanted to hang up, if you get the drift. Then he got together with his "Lovebug" video's leading lady, Camilla Belle of "When a Stranger Calls" - they both have cool dark eyebrows and they were photographed vacationing in Mexico with Jonas' siblings Nick and Kevin - but then Camilla was seen out with "Twilight's" Robert Pattinson! It's being called a triangle, but is it really more about media getting overheated about young people casually going out together? One wonders. In any case, one is glad one didn't have paparazzi trailing one at that age. There were also reports of Joe hand-holding with Brenda Song.
Meawhile, Taylor's No 1 album debut for "Fearless" had to have eased the pain.
Speaking of easing the pain through hit records, there's pop star Pink's "Funhouse" album, which brushes off of motocross racer Carey Hart, her former husband as of February. The album has lyrics in it like: "I guess I just lost my husband. I don't know where he went?not gonna pay his rent?So what! I'm still a rock star, I've got my rock moves, and I don't need you..."
Miley Cyrus and "Nashville Star's" Justin Gaston are more than pals, as confirmed by the 16-year-old "Hannah Montana" star. Gaston is 19. Their dates have included church with her family. Aww.
Miley's ex, Nick Jonas, 16, and her rival, Selena Gomez, also 16, are supposedly a couple, though nobody's confirming anything and you just can't trust those internet pictures. She's also been linked to her so-cute "Wizards of Waverly Place" brother, David Henrie.
Not only do Blake Lively and Penn Badgley have a hot show - "Gossip Girl" - they have a hot romance that they revealed in '08. The couple actually met back when they were in the same home-schooling group.
Reality star Lauren Conrad and "My Boys" actor Kyle Howard have reportedly become an item.
Are they a romance or a rift? Under the heading of couples who can't seem to make up their minds, how about Lindsay Lohan and English singer-songwriter-DJ Samantha Ronson? By now - with their screaming fights, aboard a train, in a club and elsewhere, not sparing innocent bystanders - they've established themselves as an obnoxious pair, gay, straight or in-between.
When it comes to celebrity breakups, the splatter left by Madonna and Guy Ritchie would be enough to interest Dexter. The couple, married in 2000, have hurled brickbats at one another publicly, like his comment that she was like cuddling up to a piece of gristle - and her alluding to him as an emotional retard. There was also all the gossip about their lack of a sex life, about her purportedly taking up with Yankees star Alex Rodriguez -- whose own marriage subsequently broke up - and about Guy having had his dalliance(s) as well. Madonna is reportedly settling her divorce with director Ritchie for at least $76 million. That is, the New York Times noted, about four times the amount brought in by his most recent movie, "Rocknrolla." Gee, New York Times, that's cold.
Splattered all over the tabs and celeb sites, too, were "Brothers & Sisters" star Balthazar Getty and Sienna Miller. Miller was snapped by paparazzi topless on a hotel balcony and on the beach with Getty, a married father of four -- then she successfully sued for invasion of privacy in U.K. court. Meanwhile, Getty's marriage hit the skids. Before long, so did the Miller-Getty affair.
Ivana Trump had a fairytale wedding with hunky, much-younger Rossano Rubicondi in April - at The Donald's Mar-A-Lago Palm Beach club, no less. But by year's end, the Rubicondis were in Splitsville.
Morgan Freeman's 24-year marriage to Myrna Colley-Lee ended on the heels of the August car accident that left him in serious condition. He recovered and it came out that he was in the car with another woman.
Simon Cowell and girlfriend Terri Seymour ended their long-time relationship, and he reportedly gave her $9 million - proving he's not always so mean.
Liv Tyler and musician Royston Langdon split after five years.
Paris Hilton and Benji Madden's good thing came to an end.
Drew Barrymore's romance with sweetie Justin Long ended in July.
Nicolette Sheridan and Michael Bolton ended their engagement.
And despite their many wedding freebies, Star Jones and Al Reynolds couldn't make their marriage last. They split in March after three-and-a-half years.