By Stacy Jenel Smith
In the celebrity world, 2003 will definitely go down as a year of infamy.This was the year the world witnessed the unforgettable sight of Michael Jackson
being perp-walked, handcuffed, into the Santa Barbara County Jail prior to being charged with child molestation.
It was the year that saw Frances Bean Cobain removed from mother Courtney Love's custody after a long, strange night of Love's wound up in a hospital emergency room for treatment of an overdose -- and ended with felony drug charges.
Then Rush Limbaugh wound up the year under investigation for illegally obtaining the prescription painkiller Oxycontin, to which he admitted an addiction, for which he went into rehab.
Jack Osbourne went into rehab for treatment of an addiction to the same drug.
Jack's ordeal was one of many Osbourne attention-getters this year. Indeed, whenever public interest in the family threatened to wane, it seemed another Osbourne scandal or crisis emerged. Colon cancer survivor and freshly-minted talk show hostess Sharon admitted to having grabbed Camilla Parker Bowles' breasts. She admitted having been unfaithful to Ozzy before their marriage. Ozzy went public with his addiction to drugs over-prescribed by a Dr. Feelgood-type physician. Ozzy got into an accident on his ATV. Sharon announced that it would be six months before he'd be back to normal. Whatever that is.
The year that was, 2003, was also definitely a year of transformation in celebrity land.
We witnessed Arnold Schwarzenegger's makeover from aging action star to governor of the state with sixth largest economy in the world.
We witnessed Russell Crowe's makeover from brawling womanizer to family man.
We witnessed Jessica Simpson's makeover from pop princess also-ran to MTV "Newlyweds" Dutchess of Ditziness -- with clothing, makeup, movie and series deals all suggesting she's smart enough to get lotsa tunas into the bank.
We witnessed Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez shop, kiss, talk about their engagement, call off the wedding, put out the stinker "Gigli" -- and go from glamor couple sizzle to "them again?" fizzle.
In 2003, we watched agog as Demi Moore swooped into the "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle" premiere with ex-husband Bruce Willis on one arm, beefcake younger man beau Ashton Kutcher on the other. It was her best performance in years.
We were horrified by Roy Horn's onstage mauling by one of his and Siegfried's big cats -- and we cheered his survival.
The year that was, 2003, when Madonna and Britney -- oh, and Christina Aguilera, too -- shared The Kiss, got lots of attention, and emitted a tell-tale whiff of desperation. Hey, nobody stays on top forever.
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Hilary Duff and Raven all came on strong in 2003, all still maintaining upward trajectory.
Beyonce came into her own as our current most brilliant, glamorous pop diva. Nicole Kidman was anointed by Oscar as our current most brilliant, glamorous film actress.
Cameron Diaz tallied boxoffice receipts that put her in the No. 1 money-making femme star slot over long-time top gal Julia Roberts -- for awhile. Cameron also wound up the year still with young boyfriend Justin Timberlake, who's been proving his talent goes beyond 'N Sync.
Johnny Depp redefined the big screen buccaneer with his immortal Jack Sparrow in "Pirates of the Caribbean" and was anointed this year's Sexiest Man Alive by People.
The year that was, 2003, was a year of scary polarization -- in the country in general, and certainly in the celebrity realm.
January dawned with many still fuming over Sean Penn's personal fact finding trek to Baghdad and his statements "in the hopes that any of us present may contribute in any way to a peaceful resolution to the conflict at hand." The Dixie Chicks, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, George Clooney and Jessica Lange were also among the well-known entertainers who made bitter pronouncements against the war and/or the President.
The year 2003 will also be remembered as the year such pronouncements were met with angry responses that ranged from record burnings and being bounced off the air (in the case of the Dixie Chicks) to being canceled as star attractions at a Baseball Hall of Fame event (in the case of Sarandon and Robbins).
And in the anti anti-war corner, we had Angry American Toby Keith, conservative convert comic Dennis Miller, and KISS' Gene Simmons, who put a note on his website declaring that the world has to "stand up to injustice, where ever it exists" and that "everyone who is marching today in a war protest can line up to my left to s--k my b---s."
An angry year, 2003.
This was the year many predicted reality TV just had to lose its steam -- and we steamed right along to everything from Trista and Ryan's wedding to the Paris Hilton-Nicole Ritchie "The Simple Life."
After her sex play videos humiliatingly made it onto the Internet, one might've thought Paris would be ready for The Wimple Life, as in entering a nunnery, but as the year ended, word had it she was getting offers to further her TV career -- without Nicole.
The year that was, 2003, will go down as a year when we had to say goodbye to too many beloved stars -- Bob Hope, John Ritter, Gregory Peck, Katharine Hepburn, Gregory Hines and many others.
But the news was certainly not all grim. We were delighted by the artistic fruits of the 2003 big screen vintage, from the epic tragedy of "Mystic River" and Sean Penn's sure-to-be-nominated performance, to the exceptional "Cold Mountain" and winning "Seabiscuit," to what is being hailed as the crowning achievement of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, "Return of the King" -- going back to the splendid summer fun of "Finding Nemo," complete with Ellen DeGeneres' endearing performance as Dory.
The year 2003 -- a tough year, a year of highs and lows, the year that was.<