Emmitt Tackles Mario
A whopping 27.5 million viewers watch underdog Emmitt Smith out-samba Mario Lopez on ABC's Dancing With the Stars finale. The NFL great's victory goes a long way toward making ballroom dancing seem manly, while the earlier presence of competitors Joey Lawrence and Shanna Moakler went a long way toward expanding the definition of the word stars.
Celeb Splits: It was a bad year for Hollywood couples
Denise Richards and Charlie Sheen finalize their divorce on Nov. 17. It's a rare moment of agreement, judging from the accusations Richards made in court papers on April 21: that Sheen entertained such habits as gambling, prostitutes, and watching gay and underage porn. The ugly split registers a 10 on the nasty scale. Here's how some other 2006 celeb divorces stack up.
Kate Hudson & Chris Robinson
MARRIED FOR 6 years
PR VICTOR Robinson; Hudson was rumored to be cheating with Owen Wilson.
LEVEL OF NASTINESS 4
Reese Witherspoon & Ryan Phillippe
MARRIED FOR 7 years
PR VICTOR The duo played it cool, but Hollywood gives a tie to the Oscar winner.
LEVEL OF NASTINESS 1
Whitney Houston & Bobby Brown
MARRIED FOR 14 years
PR VICTOR Both were surprisingly calm, but for cleaning herself up, Houston.
LEVEL OF NASTINESS 3
Hilary Swank & Chad Lowe
MARRIED FOR 8 years
PR VICTOR Lowe, for seeming more broken up about the breakup.
LEVEL OF NASTINESS 6
Paul McCartney & Heather Mills McCartney
MARRIED FOR 4 years
PR VICTOR Paul. He wrote ''Let It Be,'' dammit!
LEVEL OF NASTINESS 9
Kid Rock & Pam Anderson
MARRIED FOR 4 months (with four ceremonies)
PR VICTOR Tommy Lee maybe he was the sane one.
LEVEL OF NASTINESS 7
The Cruises Make it Official
Tom and Katie finally become Mr. & Mrs. TomKat in a wedding ceremony held in a 15th-century castle in Bracciano, Italy. Will Smith, Jim Carrey, Jennifer Lopez, Victoria Beckham, and the forgiving Brooke Shields are among the 150 guests attending the festivities, during which the couple proves that love has the power to do anything... including making Cruise appear taller than his wife in their wedding portrait.
Train-Wreck TV: Michael Richards headlined a month full of talk-show meltdowns
Most celebrities go on talk shows to plug their projects, but in November, the stars decided to publicize something new: their own awkwardness. On the 17th, Live With Regis and Kelly guest host Clay Aiken put his hand over chatty Kelly Ripa's mouth, leading the visibly annoyed Ripa to snap, ''I don't know where that hand's been, honey.'' On the following Tuesday's View, Rosie O'Donnell called Ripa's quote ''homophobic'' (though Aiken won't discuss his sexuality publicly); Kelly phoned in to call that accusation ''outrageous,'' and perky fought brassy for control of the viewer's soul.
Over in late night, Michael Richards appeared on Nov. 20's Late Show With David Letterman via satellite to apologize for his racist rant at L.A.'s Laugh Factory comedy club three days earlier. The scandal broke the morning of the Letterman taping, so when the distressed Richards struggled to explain what happened, the confused audience tittered. Fellow guest Jerry Seinfeld admonished them, ''Stop laughing, it's not funny,'' which is just what audiences like to hear out of a comedian.
Not to be outdone, The View featured another supremely painful segment on Nov. 29: Guest Danny DeVito, wobbly after a night of drinking with George Clooney, clumsily mocked President Bush while also giving far too many details of the sex he and wife Rhea Perlman had in the White House's Lincoln Bedroom. That audiences could stomach it got really grim, however, when he went on to describe the entire plot of Deck the Halls.
Project O.J. Killed
Rupert Murdoch pulls the plug on the O.J. Simpson book If I Did It which was to be released by his News Corp.-owned ReganBooks as well as a corresponding Fox special. In it, O.J. was to explain to publisher Judith Regan (who was later fired on Dec. 15) how he would have killed his wife Nicole, which, mind you, he didn't do! The withdrawal comes after a huge backlash from the press, victims'-rights groups, Nicole's sister Denise, and even Murdoch employee Bill O'Reilly, who called the stunt ''a low point in American culture.'' Robert Blake is elated, though, as the market is now wide open for his book proposal, My Wife Hypothetically Had It Coming.
Nicole & Lindsay Hit the Town...Hard
An '06 Party Girl roundup: On Dec. 11, Nicole Richie goes for a drive to clear her head; soon after, L.A. cops respond to two 911 calls about a car going the wrong way on the freeway, and they find Richie parked in a carpool lane. She fails the sobriety tests and confesses to smoking pot and taking Vicodin. In an unrelated (but equally puzzling) incident that night, Lindsay Lohan proudly tells PEOPLE that she's been in Alcoholics Anonymous for a year...and hasn't had a drink in seven days. To be fair, 12 is an awful lot of steps to keep track of.