A look at stars who triumphed …
Taylor Swift needs to stop looking so shocked every time she wins another award. With heaps of industry trophies, plus that increasingly elusive form of artist recognition-record sales — the 20-year-old is perhaps the country’s most popular entertainer. (And she’s got some pretty good arm candy in Jake Gyllenhaal.) Which makes it even more impressive that Kanye West managed to put last year’s post-VMAs backlash behind him with equal parts unrepentant arrogance and sympathetic humility (we expected a less contrite response to George W. Bush’s declaration that Kanye’s Katrina outburst was the worst moment of his presidency). Most importantly, he reminded us of his creative genius with a new album — not to mention a can’t-make-this-stuff-up Twitter feed.
Another rapper who redeemed his image with a new disc this year — in this case, after a lackluster last offering — was Eminem. The hip-hop superstar earned our props for freely admitting some of his past work was subpar. We respect Marshall’s ability to document his demon-fighting openly — and turn it into good music.
Chris who? While Rihanna’s disgraced ex-beau slid further down the ranks of pop culture’s personae non grata, RiRi refused to let last year’s domestic-violence drama define her. With her music and her risk-taking hair and fashion, she’s become hip-hop pop’s preeminent diva, even vying for YouTube dominance with Justin Bieber, whose very presence incites riots at malls nationwide. You know you’ve made it big when the mere suggestion of a haircut causes widespread consternation. (Fans breathed a huge sigh of relief when it turned out he had just brushed his bangs back. Seriously, this happened.)
Not only was Bret Michaels a literal winner on “Celebrity Apprentice,” he had to triumph over serious odds to get there — we’re talking a brain hemorrhage, a stroke and a hole in his heart. Perhaps due to compassion over his ailments, the press even gave him a relative pass on rumors he had a marriage-ending affair with Miley Cyrus’ mom, Tish.
… and tanked this year.
Lindsay Lohan lost her role in “Inferno” — and with it, perhaps her last shot at making a film comeback. It’s hard to imagine that anyone will insure an actress who has bounced back and forth between jail and rehab so many times. We’re still rooting for her to pull off a triumphant reinvention … but we’re not optimistic.
Jennifer Aniston isn’t a has-been by any stretch of the imagination, but when it comes to her career, she’s been-there-done-that. We’re tired of seeing her in the same romantic comedies and the same little black dresses on the red carpet. And we’re tired of seeing the same tabloid headlines about how she still pines for Brad Pitt — although, of course, we can’t really blame her for those.
Tiger Woods lost a sizable percentage of his fortune in his divorce settlement with Elin Nordegren — and if the rumors are true, he also forfeited a substantial chunk of change to keep (alleged) mistress Rachel Uchitel from talking publicly about their affair. And oh yeah, his golf game? Not so hot anymore.
Kate Gosselin was promptly kicked off “Dancing With the Stars,” saw two of her kids kicked out of school, and cemented her high-maintenance rep when she couldn’t hack roughing it and cut short a camping trip with Sarah Palin’s family. With her reality show’s ratings dipping, maybe it’s time for Kate to say goodbye to TV and focus on giving her eight children a (relatively) normal life.
Jesse James cheated on America’s sweetheart Sandra Bullock with a tattoo model who has posed in Nazi gear. Need we say any more about why his name is now mud? Didn’t think so.
Kitty Raymond is an entertainment writer and astrologer. She welcomes feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.