- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sometimes life gets so crazy that you just want to shave your head, stop wearing underwear in public and go to rehab.

Wait … you didn’t have those urges this year? Then you obviously didn’t reside in Hollywood, where such shenanigans aren’t considered antics, but a regular way of life.

Here are just a few reasons to thank the heavens above you’re not famous:

Britney Spears — the fat Elvis years: Actually, that’s an unfair comparison … to Elvis. All the king ever did was get fat and drugged up.

Miss Spears‘ exploits were so wild and distasteful, even Michael Jackson would disapprove. A quick recap in the year of Britney: She shaved her head (then went out drinking and partying), went to rehab (then went out drinking and partying), got divorced from Kevin Federline (then went out drinking and partying), prepared for a comeback performance on the MTV Video Music Awards (by drinking and partying) — and bombed in epic fashion (then went out drinking and partying).

Finally, she lost custody of her children — and then went out drinking and partying. Despite all this, she managed to put out an album that actually got critical acclaim.

Now that Whitney Houston’s sober: Well, someone had to take over that jittery, substance-abusing pop-star role. And despite all Brit’s hard work to get the coveted spot, it was a natural for Amy Winehouse. The British retro-soul singer — who made Hollywood’s 2007 theme song, “Rehab”— was photographed with a suspicious white powder lining her nostrils, walked the streets barefoot wearing only a bra and jeans and got into an altercation with someone (maybe her husband, maybe not) that left her makeup smudged and her shoes bloody. She canceled tours because of “health concerns,” and when she did perform in recent months, she made Britney look like Beyonce.

How Lo can she go? Let’s just put it this way: Her flashing last year can now be considered part of the demure Lindsay Lohan era. She was arrested twice, got into two car accidents, went to rehab — again, twice — and did an 84-minute stint in jail. Among her most embarrassing episodes was getting caught with a packet of cocaine in her pants while going after the mother of her former personal assistant in a wild car chase.

Miss Lohan claimed the drugs weren’t hers and just belonged to a friend. Who knew she and Amy Winehouse were buddies?

This kind of makes up for O.J.: In the state that let Robert Blake, O.J. Simpson and Michael Jackson walk free, authorities finally got tough on a true menace to society — Paris Hilton. The bimbo heiress was sentenced to 45 days for a probation violation involving an alcohol-related driving offense — but that was cut to 23 days before she even entered the clink. Her hysterics and a “medical condition” got her released after just four days, but public outcry led a judge to haul the distraught socialite back to jail to finish the remainder of her sentence. After she was released, a chastened Hilton promised to do more charity work and promised to help Rwanda.

Feud of the year: Rosie O’Donnell versus Donald Trump. And Elisabeth Hasselbeck. And Barbara Walters. OK, let’s just put Rosie vs. just about everybody. She had more beefs going than 50 Cent.

Unlike 50, though, Miss O’Donnell actually faded from the limelight after defeat: She quit “The View” earlier than scheduled when Miss Hasselbeck took her down a notch during one of their regular catfights. Of course, losing a battle of wits with a lightweight like Miss Hasselbeck would be enough to send anyone into exile.

The Michael Richards Diversity Award: So much competition for this one. Isaiah Washington seemed to have it locked up for uttering the homophobic f-bomb, setting the stage for his dismissal from “Grey’s Anatomy.” Not to be outdone, the always politically incorrect Don Imus did him one better when he insulted the Rutgers University women’s basketball team — and subsequently lost both his radio and TV gigs (though he was back on the radio by the end of the year). Still, the white hood goes to Duane “Dog” Chapman, the reality-show bounty hunter whose own son taped him delivering the n-word with gusto during a phone conversation.

The baby is already on a diet: Nicole Richie, Hollywood’s poster child for eating disorders, announced that she was pregnant with the spawn of Good Charlotte’s Joel Madden. In preparation for motherhood, Miss Richie actually gained a few pounds, curtailed her partying — and did an 82-minute stint in jail for driving under the influence of drugs.

R.I.P. — We think not: Last year’s “Trainwreck of the Year,” Anna Nicole Smith, showed us we were a little too accurate by dying of a drug overdose in 2007. After her untimely death, it seemed as if the Smith sideshow was over, but it had only just begun. There was the Larry Birkhead-Howard Stern paternity battle over her infant daughter, Dannielynn; Miss Smith’s mom, Virgie Arthur’s attempt to get custody of her grandaughter; and the weeks-long battle over where Miss Smith would be buried as her body decomposed.

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