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Down Time

See which prominent players took a fall in 2003. Madonna, Xtina, and others spent the past 12 months taking power trips down some rocky roads

MADONNA
Image credit: Madonna: Rune Hellestad/Corbis
MADONNA

MADONNA In addition to producing an album that virtually flopped (''American Life'' sold a shockingly low 592,000 copies), she recorded the lamest Bond theme since Rita Coolidge's title tune for ''Octopussy,'' delivered a hammy fencing-coach cameo in the same movie, and launched a new career as a children's author to mediocre reviews. True, her lip-lock with Britney certainly grabbed headlines, but all in all this has been Madge's worst year since…last year, when ''Swept Away'' came and went.

CHRISTINA AGUILERA Speaking of said lip-lock: Declining record sales are one thing (Aguilera's last album, ''Stripped,'' sold fewer than half as many copies as her blockbuster debut), but when you go on MTV and make out with Madonna and nobody even notices (yep, she's the other one who got kissed that night) something is seriously amiss with your career.

NIA VARDALOS ''My Big Fat Greek Wedding'''s Oscar-nominated writer and star went from being America's sweetheart to jilted bride in just seven episodes of her quickly canceled CBS sitcom. (Vardalos apparently no longer wanted to do the show, and the situation only got worse with rampant creative differences and diva rumors.) As for another big fat hit, she'll get to try again with the completed drag-queen comedy ''Connie and Carla,'' due -- well, due sometime in the future (Universal hasn't picked a release date, which can't be good).

THE OSBOURNES A strong turnout for Sharon's new talk show was the only bright spot in a tough 12 months for Ozzy, last year's Power Issue cover boy: MTV ratings dropped big-time, Jack landed in detox, Kelly dropped out of her role in ''Freaky Friday'' (which ended up grossing $108 million), and the whole clan was upstaged by Donny and Marie in that doofy Pepsi commercial. Might be time for Ozzy to start biting the heads off bats again.

BEN AFFLECK AND JENNIFER LOPEZ The supermarket tabloids owe the couple a bundle for the exploitation of their on-again, off-again, on-again nuptials, but the ''Ben and Jen Show'' only alienated everyone else. Certainly it did nothing for either's movie career. No, ''Gigli'' would never have been anything but a dud, but would it have been the biggest joke of the year? Probably not. Their respective upcoming projects (Affleck's ''Paycheck,'' due Dec. 25, and Lopez's ''Shall We Dance?,'' due summer '04) will tell how lasting the damage is.

Originally posted Oct 15, 2003 Published in issue #734 Oct 24, 2003 Order article reprints