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2005: A Hollywood love story

Movies may have been uneven, but affairs were in full throttle

By Todd Leopold

Tom Cruise raved about his love for Katie Holmes on "Oprah" ...



Tom Cruise

(CNN) -- The most-talked about movie-star scene this year wasn't Harry Potter getting chosen by the Goblet of Fire. It wasn't "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" getting his chest hair ripped off. It wasn't Sarah Silverman telling a filthy joke, or Darth Vader getting burned, or George Clooney being tortured.

It was Tom Cruise jumping on a couch.

Cruise's action on Oprah Winfrey's talk show, a demonstration of the fervency of his love for girlfriend (now fiancée) Katie Holmes, caught even Winfrey off guard. The clip was so endlessly replayed -- and Cruise's behavior so endlessly mocked, given that it was followed by a "Today" show appearance featuring an outspoken put-down of psychiatry ("Matt, Matt," he chided host Matt Lauer, "you're glib") -- that it even gave rise to a phrase: "jumping the couch," "a defining moment when you know someone has gone off the deep end," according to

But if Cruise's relationship with Holmes -- "TomKat," it was quickly labeled -- dominated the entertainment world for a time, it was far from the only romance to do so. Indeed, there were so many of them, and they sucked up so much oxygen, the year felt like one long read of the 1950s gossip magazine Confidential.

The year began with news of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston's separation, news that quickly degenerated into gossip about the role played by Pitt's "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" co-star, Angelina Jolie (the pair were soon dubbed "Brangelina"), and then the relationship between Aniston and her "Break-Up" co-star Vince Vaughn (a duo as yet not dubbed "Vaughniston," to my knowledge). ( Watch Aniston's comments on the whole thing -- 1:25)

Soap opera-like passion also followed Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey, who announced the breakup of their TV-chronicled marriage around Thanksgiving; Britney Spears and Kevin Federline, who produced a child, Sean Preston; Renee Zellweger and Kenny Chesney, whose whirlwind romance was followed by an equally whirlwind annulment; Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck, who wed in July and had a child in December; and, of course, the ubiquitous Paris Hilton, who got engaged to a Greek shipping scion (also named Paris) and was un-engaged within six months.

These celebrity relationships also contain a paradox: readers regularly send e-mail complaining about the coverage given celebrity love lives. And yet those stories regularly top the site's most-read story list.

Indeed, love it or loathe it, celebrity romance has always been catnip for glossy magazines and pulpy gossip columns, whether it was Gable and Lombard in the '30s or Liz-and-Dick in the '60s or, well, Tom and Nicole in the '90s.

Perhaps the increased exposure says more about the endless list of media outlets -- all hungry for attention-getting news -- than it does about the relationships themselves. After all, for better or worse, it's a celebrity-driven world nowadays.

Box office blues?

"March of the Penguins" was one of 2005's surprise hits -- and few crowd-pleasers.

Regardless of the source of its fascination, all the attention paid to celebrity relationships may have drawn attention away from the usual church of celebrity worship: the movie theater.

Box office receipts for the year are down from 2004, a statistic that received a lot of coverage. The decline has been linked to everything from poor movies to a mediocre moviegoing experience to the success of the video market.

But the focus on 2005's box office has obscured two bigger stories: that the year hasn't been that bad in relative terms -- "It's a down year, but Hollywood is coming off three boom years,"'s Brandon Gray told CNN, adding that the surprise 2004 smash "The Passion of the Christ" skewed the charts to make 2005 look worse than it has been -- and that all the focus on movies' performance at the theatrical box office matters less to studios than it did even 15 years ago.

"Nothing says there has to be [theatrical] movies," columnist and "The Big Picture" author Edward Jay Epstein told CNN. He foresees movie distribution continuing its rapid change toward various forms of home video in 2006.

Losses and surprises

"Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith" became the year's top box-office film.

The entertainment world lost some well-loved figures in 2005. Johnny Carson passed away in January. Richard Pryor died in December. Playwrights Arthur Miller and August Wilson, Nobel Prize-winning author Saul Bellow, ABC newsman Peter Jennings and Oscar-winning actress Anne Bancroft also left this mortal coil.

Michael Jackson, faced with sexual molestation charges, won his court case, but his reputation remains in tatters. "Star Wars" concluded with "Revenge of the Sith" -- the year's top-grossing film -- and J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series continued with its penultimate book, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." (The fourth film in the Potter movie series, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," had great success in theaters.)

"Lost" lost none of its attraction, further entangling viewers in its complicated world, and "Everybody Loves Raymond" left the air with the same understated class that marked its nine seasons. Both shows were rewarded with Emmys in September.

And there were, as usual, a number of surprises: Some black-and-white birds ended up in the second-best grossing documentary of all time, "March of the Penguins" (just behind "Fahrenheit 9/11"); George Clooney earned kudos for both his directing ("Good Night, and Good Luck") and his acting ("Syriana") in two well-reviewed films; "Brokeback Mountain," the so-called "gay cowboy movie," grabbed a host of year-end awards; and the Internet took the lead in coverage of the huge concert fund-raiser "Live 8," outdoing MTV.

All of which will provide plenty to talk about well into 2006. But the loudest chatter will likely be about the next coupling of Hollywood's prettiest.

As long as they stay away from the theater.

Read the list of's top 10 entertainment stories of 2005.

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