Josh Wolk
December 22, 2006 AT 05:00 AM EST

‘Crash’ Wins Oscar
Crash takes Best Picture at the Academy Awards, and presumed favorite Brokeback Mountain earns director Ang Lee a statue. The prostitution anthem ”It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” from Hustle & Flow wins for Best Original Song, and during the performance by Three 6 Mafia, you can actually feel Debbie Allen become obsolete.

Cruise vs. ‘South Park’
Tom Cruise may not have leaped on anyone’s furniture in 2006, but he made sure his name was still leaping onto headlines. It’s widely rumored that the scheduled March 15 rerun of South Park‘s Scientology-and-sexuality-mocking ”Trapped in the Closet” episode was abruptly pulled because Cruise threatened not to do press for May’s Mission: Impossible III if it aired. (Paramount and Comedy Central are both owned by Viacom.) Cruise denies this, but things get fishier when that night’s Mind of Mencia is preempted for something called Xenu’s Bleeps, Bloops, Blunders, and Glibness.

Chicks Stand Strong
The Dixie Chicks release their single ”Not Ready to Make Nice,” a defiant stand against the country stations and fans who turned against them after Natalie Maines’ 2003 comment that they were ”ashamed” President Bush hailed from their home state. Even without the stations’ support, the May release of the Chicks’ CD Taking the Long Way sells 1.8 million copies and scores five Grammy nominations. The band goes on to release an October documentary, Shut Up & Sing, about the Bush imbroglio, implying that Barbra Streisand will shut up before they do.

Naomi Campbell Phones it in
Supermodel Naomi Campbell is accused of throwing a cell phone at her maid, and is sued in July by an ex-assistant who claims that the catwalker hit her with a BlackBerry. (Campbell denies both.) In October she’s arrested for allegedly attacking her drug counselor, a charge later dropped. Nevertheless, Russell Crowe begins training for the inevitable ”World’s Most Dangerous Celebrity” title match by throwing fax machines at a valet.

Host Hopping: 2006 saw multiple daytime television divas on the move

Katie Couric
On April 5, CBS announces it has wooed the perky Katie Couric from NBC’s Today to become anchor of CBS Evening News on Sept. 5, giving the serious broadcast a new vibe: perkitas! Her move starts a game of musical chairs.

Meredith Vieira
The next day, NBC announces that it’s poached Meredith Vieira from her post as The View‘s head yenta to replace Couric on Today. But who will be selected as the soothing yin to View cohost Star Jones Reynolds’ crazy-talking yang?

Rosie O’Donnell
Rosie O’Donnell! (As announced live on April 28’s Daytime Emmy Awards.) She’ll make her talk-show return on Sept. 5, but how will Star Jones Reynolds react to forced banter with a woman who publicly mocked her weight loss?

Star Jones Reynolds
She won’t. On June 27, Jones Reynolds tells the audience — two days before she was supposed to — that she is leaving The View. Barbara Walters subsequently banishes Star before her contract is up, giving America two bonus weeks of silence.

‘Code’ Remains Unbroken
The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown is found not guilty of plagiarizing his best-selling novel from the 1982 book Holy Blood, Holy Grail. Still pending: whether Tom Hanks shamelessly plagiarized Judd Nelson’s Breakfast Club hairdo for the movie adaptation.

Two Stars and a little lady
On April 18, Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise welcome their daughter Suri to the world, after Holmes’ well-documented pregnancy, which is rumored to have involved a home ultrasound kit and a Scientology ”silent birth.” In contrast with their look at us! romance, the suddenly coy couple keep Tot-Kat out of the paparazzi’s view for five months. Finally, she appears on the October cover of Vanity Fair — Cruise’s second choice for an unveiling after the infant couldn’t master driving a mini chopper onto the Extra set. But Daddy teaches baby Suri how to do a launch right with his unignorable PR blitz for the release of Mission: Impossible III. On May 3 alone, he hits TRL, Good Morning America, and Live With Regis and Kelly, and shuttles between three different premieres in New York City via sports car, speedboat, subway, helicopter, taxicab, and fire truck. So to those doubters who thought he might not learn anything from his fervent, off-putting campaigning for last year’s War of the Worlds, we say…uh, good call.

Keith Richards Tests Gravity
In Fiji, Keith Richards falls out of what tabloids report to be a coconut tree, leading to brain surgery. (The rocker claims it was merely a ”gnarled shrub.”) After years of hard living, Richards getting hospitalized for a tree-related mishap is kinda like Al Capone getting jailed for tax evasion.

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