The Year That Was

January 2004

Jan 2

GATOR AID Steve ''the Crocodile Hunter'' Irwin shocks fans during a show at his Australian zoo by feeding a crocodile while holding his 1-month-old son, Bob. Child welfare declines to press charges, perhaps impressed by Irwin's restraint in not clothing the infant in chicken-flavored Huggies.

Jan 16

LOON WALKER A judge chastises Michael Jackson after he arrives about 20 minutes late to plead not guilty to child-molestation charges. Unhumbled after leaving court, Jacko dances on an SUV to the delight of fans — throwing the first dance party in conjuction with an unspeakable crime since the Nuremberg Swing Marathon of '45. The rest of his year is similarly creepy: A Vanity Fair story claims he gave kids wine, calling it ''Jesus juice''; the singer reportedly nears insolvency; police pull him over after he shops at Wal-Mart wearing a ski mask; he's indicted in April, the same month another accuser comes forward with a golden-oldie claim of an '80s molestation; and in December, cops raid Neverland Ranch, and it's reported that investi-gators have previously found his and his original accuser's fingerprints on a stash of porn mags. But hey, no baby dangling — so that's something!

Jan 17

THE YEAR IN ARRESTS

THAT'S JUST BONG! Folkster Art Garfunkel finds himself in troubled waters after a pot-possession arrest. He pleads guilty and pays a $100 fine. Also suffering from reefer madness: clean-cut 7th Heaven pastor Jeremy London, April 6, for pot possession, driving without a license, and disturbing the peace. He gets three years' probation.... And Baby Phat designer and wife of Russell, Kimora Lee Simmons, charged with pot possession and erratic driving on July 26. Simmons is also a noted Louis Vuitton purse enthusiast, but we'll refrain from any dime-bag jokes.

CAR TROUBLE Ruff ryders DMX and friend are arrested for crashing through a parking-lot gate at JFK Airport on June 24. DMX pleads guilty to DUI and reckless endangerment. He is fined $1,000, ordered to forfeit his SUV, and put on probation.... Growing Pains star Tracey Gold Marshall is charged with three felony counts of DUI and child endangerment on Sept. 22, after a Sept. 3 accident in which her SUV, with spouse and three kids in tow, rolled over.... 24's Kiefer Sutherland, arrested the next day for DUI. He pleads no contest on Nov. 2 and is fined $150, is sentenced to 60 months' probation and 50 hours of community service — and must thwart a terrorist threat in 24 hours. SpongeBob cohort/Teutonic superstar David Hasselhoff pleads no contest to DUI on Oct. 28 and is ordered to attend AA, do 200 hours of community service, and pay a $390 fine....

NO KIN DO The Godfather of Soul, James Brown, is arrested Jan. 28 after allegedly pushing his wife. He pleads no contest to a domestic-violence charge and is given a $1,087 fine. The couple remain together.... Michael Lohan rivaled actress daughter Lindsay in tabloid coverage by getting arrested four times: on May 23, for assaulting a relative (at a First Communion party, God bless him); on June 29, for failing to pay a hotel bill of roughly $4,000; and then twice this fall for violating an order of protection taken out by his estranged wife. He's been ordered to spend 28 days in rehab and faces five years' probation — plus he ended up having to pay that hotel bill.

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