From Charlie Sheen's cavalcade of cuckoo to Kim Kardashian's blink-and-you'll-miss-it marriage, the entertainment industry's biggest puzzlers of the year
Every year, the entertainment industry gifts us with its share of moments so shocking that you just have to ask yourself, "WTF?!"
This year has provided its bumper crop of head-scratchers, thanks to the combination of hubris and cluelessness that seems to infect so many in this business of show.
It was tough to narrow it down, but here are the five biggest goof-ups of 2011.
1. BRETT RATNER'S OSCARS MELTDOWN
If there were an Academy Award for Best Squandering of a Golden Opportunity, Brett Ratner would definitely walk away with the statuette. Instead, he'll have to settle for a prestigious slot on this list.
With his Oscars co-production gig, Ratner had the opportunity to bring a fresh, energetic sheen to the Oscars telecast. Instead, he went full frat boy — and a homophobic one at that, opining, "Rehearsal's for fags" during a screening for his film "Tower Heist" and giving a gross-out interview to Howard Stern during which he discussed, among other topics, his cunnilingus prowess. (If only Ratner's tongue was as exacting when it comes to choosing words.)
"Being asked to help put on the Oscar show was the proudest moment of my career," Ratner said while announcing that he was tendering his resignation in November. Which is no doubt true, but in Ratner's case one gets the impression that "proud moments" isn't exactly a competitive field.
Not only did Ratner's blunder put an end to his own Oscar dreams, but it led to the departure of his "Tower Heist" star Eddie Murphy from the hosting gig, meaning Oscars audiences will get … Billy Crystal. Yet again.
It's like he created a black hole of WTF that sucks in everything around it.
2. HERMAN CAIN'S IMPROBABLE RISE (AND INCREDIBLE FLAME-OUT)
In the ongoing reality TV series that is the GOP presidential debates, Herman Cain was like Snooki — outrageous and entertaining, but more than a little wobbly.
Cain's antics — the "Imagine There's No Pizza" John Lennon re-work, the campaign ads featuring people puffing cigarettes and tossing back margaritas while extolling Cain's virtues — were so entertaining that they almost made us forget how scary it was that he was not only running for president, but leading the GOP pack.
And then it all dissipated, in a hazy burst of sexual harassment allegations, like a delirious dream that subsides along with the fever. But before climbing into the dustbin of history, Cain left us with one more little nugget — in the form of a Pokemon-inspired speech announcing that he was suspending — but not ending — his campaign. *Sniff*'; goodnight, funnyman.
3. KIM KARDASHIAN'S WHIRLWIND DIVORCE
Who needs the homosexual community to diminish the sanctity of marriage, when headline-humping reality TV sensation Kim Kardashian is on the case? The "Keeping Up" queen enraptured America through her whirlwind romance with NBA player Kris Humphries — and then enraged the nation after filing for divorce from Humphries just 72 days after their August nuptials.
Given the tidy haul that Kardashian and Humphries pulled in for tying the knot — an estimated $250,000 for each day of marriage — plus Kardashian's penchant for, well, being a Kardashian, many came to the conclusion that the marriage was a big publicity stunt. Others sharply disagreed, maintaining that it was a hoax. Can't we all just get along, and agree that it was a sham?
4. CHARLIE'S BOUT OF IN-SHEEN-ITY
Charlie Sheen entered 2011 with what could charitably be called a checkered past. His legendary cocaine habit. A self-professed affinity for hookers. And that whole alleged Christmas Day domestic-violence incident. (Hopefully, that doesn't become a tradition.)
Then the new year came along, and Sheen dove into the crazy like it was a big ol' pile of Colombian marching powder. Endlessly taunting Chuck Lorre, the creator of his hit series, "Two and a Half Men." Astronomical salary-increase demands. Yet another rehab stint. The "goddesses." "Tiger blood." A "20/20" appearance that made Geraldo Rivera's interview with Charlie Manson seem like an installment of "Inside the Actors Studio."
The actor's shenanigans put "Two and a Half Men" on hiatus, and eventually got him sacked from the series. But the craziest part of it all? Sheen came out smelling pretty good, for a guy who'd been rolling around in his own nutty slop for the majority of the year.
His Comedy Central roast — running on the same night as the premiere of the revamped, Sheen-less "Men" — drew 6.4 million total viewers, a record for the network. He reportedly reached a $25 million settlement in his lawsuit against Warner Bros. TV — which, sure, was mostly back-pay for "Men," but it would have kept a younger, more-reckless Charlie nostril-deep in party favors for a while.
And he landed a new series — an adaptation of the 2003 Jack Nicholson film "Anger Management" (which will air on FX — arguably a better venue for Sheen than CBS). Was he crazy like a fox all along?
5. ALEC BALDWIN FLIES OFF THE HANDLE (BUT NOT ON AMERICAN AIRLINES, EVER AGAIN)
When Alec Baldwin does something, he doesn't do it halfway — including joining the Celebrity No-Fly List. While other famous folks have been removed from aircraft for the relatively benign transgressions of being too portly (see: Kevin Smith) or wearing saggy pants (we're looking at you, Billie Joe Armstrong — just as soon as you pull those things up), the "30 Rock" star was booted from the flight for continuing to play "Words With Friends" while the plane was at the gate, despite an attendant's repeated request to turn the phone off.
Oh, and according to a flight-crew member on Baldwin's plane and American Airlines itself, he threw a five-star hissy-fit, slamming the plane's lavatory door with such force that the flight's captain was compelled to intervene.
What might be written off as a typical bout of celebrity self-entitlement was amplified by Baldwin's actions in the ensuing days. First the actor taunted the airline with a series of tweets, then he penned a snotty, non-apology apology for the Huffington Post that managed to deride the entire airline industry, a bilious missive that managed to piss off the Greyhound bus company too.
Then he appeared on "Saturday Night Live" in a skit which saw Baldwin, in character as the plane's pilot, apologizing to himself.
The latest word on the saga is that some flight attendants have inquired about having "30 Rock" yanked from American's in-flight entertainment. Jack Donaghy would not be amused, Alec Baldwin.