Houston: Oscar Davis/Retna
Ken Tucker
December 20, 2000 AT 05:00 AM EST

The celebrity police blotter was full in 2000

If ever there was a year that proved that Celebrities Are People Too, 2000 was — as Leann Rimes might just now be getting around to learning to say — da bomb. Both the young country singer and the year’s most visible hip-hop performer, Eminem, found themselves at odds with their kinfolk. Rimes initiated a lawsuit against her manager father for allegedly mangling her finances (Advice to Leann: Don’t hire Willie Nelson’s accountant in his place), while the erstwhile Marshall Mathers woke up one day to find that his moms wasn’t going to let him get up in her face anymore. Suggesting that creativity runs in the family, she not only sued him for libel, but cut her own rap record demanding respect.

The problem with a pop culture that insists we should consider stars as role models (rather than just talented people to be simply enjoyed or ignored) is that, whenever a celeb goofs up, his or her sins tend to become exaggerated with hype. Thus a minor, no victim car accident involving, say, ”Friends”’ Matthew Perry causes him weeks of media coverage headache. On another vehicular note, Halle Berry’s auto accident made her the butt of a mild joke by Howie Mandel when he cohosted ”Live With Regis”; unfortunately for a quickly apologetic Howie, Halle was that day’s special guest, and she proved to be pretty forthrightly prickly when it came to joshing about one’s driving habits.

Some bad celebrity news was serious and sad. There was nothing entertaining about the alleged drug related problems of differing degrees suffered by Robert Downey Jr., or Whitney Houston, for example. In the first case, Downey’s glowing performance on Fox’s ”Ally McBeal” took on a distractingly poignant air; in the second, a once soaring musical career has hit some heavy turbulence; in both cases, talent is being burned off at an alarming rate.

Celebrity police blotter news doesn’t do anyone much good. Don’t you think early 2000’s biggest such occurrence — the ”Puffy and Jennifer in a Limo With a Gun” incident, an action adventure that played out like a music video Puffy might have made to illustrate one of his own album cuts — contributed to the current perception that Combs’ pop culture stock is falling faster than your average dotcom business?

The only worthwhile lesson to be learned from any of the year’s real life episodes of ”Cops” is that you should never rely on famous people — actors, politicians, athletes — to provide you with a path to wisdom, knowledge, and inspiration. That’s one reason our initials EW don’t stand for ”Enlightenment Weekly” — we know we’re dealing with entertainment. The coming year promises to bring forth further examples of stars determined to show us the way, but unless the first issue of Rosie O’Donnell’s McCalls really blows my mind, I’ll continue to believe that spiritual inspiration and a moral code should be, ought to, and is your own business, not something to be extracted from the behavior or the musings of a star.

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