The Year That Was

May 2004

May 6

SHOW STOPPER More than 52 million people watch the last Friends episode, the biggest finale audience in a year when Sex and the City and Frasier also say goodbye. Meanwhile, the cast of Still Standing says, ''Don't worry, America, we're still here to make you laugh!'' But somehow that just makes things worse.

May 14

THE YEAR IN BIRTHS

EGO AND KID Gwyneth Paltrow gives birth to a daughter. And as if 70 hours of labor weren't painful enough: She names her kid Apple; Oprah cajoles her to rap hubby Chris Martin'spregnancy ditty on national TV (sample lyric: ''The cup's gone up from an A to D/It's bad for you, but it's fun for me''); and Daily Show host Jon Stewart indecently proposes that his July 3 addition, son Nathan, ''bang'' Apple in the future.

In other baby news, Kate Hudson delivers rocker husband Chris Robinson's son on Jan. 7. However, while she's promoting her spring movie Raising Helen, the press seem more interested in how she shed 60 pounds of baby weight.... Matt LeBlanc loses some Friends, but he welcomes a healthy baby girl on Feb. 8. His other baby, NBC's Joey: not doing as well.... Denise Richards has a daughter on March 9 and waits a whole eight months before introducing the little one to the family biz — a Mommy-and-me guest spot on husband Charlie Sheen's CBS sitcom, Two and a Half Men. Sadly, the tyke's not eligible for a SAG card.... All that talk of hormone shots and miscarriages with Barbara Walters (in an ''intimate'' 20/20 interview) pays off on June 13, when LeBlanc's ex-castmate Courteney Cox Arquette welcomes a daughter/playmate for young-at-heart spouse David Arquette.... On Nov. 28, Julia Roberts greets America's next sweethearts: her twins with husband Danny Moder. This comes a month after a much-publicized bed rest. Ironically, the actress ends up eluding publicity (for films Ocean's Twelve and Closer) when her babies arrive a month early.

More special deliveries: Mary-Louise Parkerand ex Billy Crudup, son, Jan. 7.... Helen Fielding, son,Feb. 11.... Will Ferrell, son, March 7.... Jon Bon Jovi, son, March 29.... Debra Messing, son, April 7.... Cate Blanchett, son, April 23.... Erykah Badu, daughter, July 5.... Kelsey Grammer and wife Camille, son (via surrogate), Aug. 28.... Billy Bob Thornton, daughter, Sept. 22.... Thornton's ex Laura Dern and beau Ben Harper, daughter, Nov. 28.... And Liv Tyler and husband Royston Langdon, son, Dec. 14.

May 15

LADIES' NIGHT Jimmy Fallon announces his departure on Saturday Night Live's season finale. In the fall, Amy Poehler takes Fallon's ''Weekend Update'' spot, making her and Tina Fey SNL's first two-woman anchor team. So now when whore is used in a punchline, it's twice as empowering!

May 23

CLOTHES ENCOUNTERS Adriana (Drea de Matteo) is the latest casualty on The Sopranos. Fortunately, the Family doesn't bury her with her wardrobe, which de Matteo resurrects about four months later on Joey.

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