Sadly, many of this year’s entertainment stories dealt with loss. From the very beginning of the year, death would set the tone for 2012. In this year we lost some legends. There was one definite high note for the year, though, in President Obama’s reelection. Here were some of the most talked about entertainment stories of 2012.
She was the most googled person of 2012 and her untimely death the night before the Grammys on February was a shocker. The 48-year-old seemed to be getting it together – she had just wrapped “Sparkle,” she was cordial with her ex-husband Bobby Brown, her 18-year-old daughter Bobbi Kristina was planning an entertainment career of her own and Houston was reportedly working on a new CD. None of it was to be. On February 11, Houston succumbed to a longtime cocaine addiction. RIP, Whitney.
BLUE IVY CARTER
As it turns out, the baby’s too cute for the name, but if the Carters had let their bud Gwyneth Paltrow do the naming, we might be calling her Peaches. In any case, the world’s most anticipated baby made her debut on January 7th. Not five minutes after she got here, her daddy, Jay-Z, made her the youngest ever artist to hit the Billboard charts with his “Glory” song dedicated to (and guest-starring) baby Blue. Awwww. Though mom Beyonce is still shaking off those surrogate mother rumors, we figure Blue has a pretty charmed life ahead of her.
Sadly, despite all the careers he helped build and his significant contributions to black music, Don Cornelius committed suicide at the age of 75. Recently divorced and in ill health, the man who brought the world to the “Soul Train” died by his own hand on February 1st. His legacy remains impressive – “Soul Train” was the longest running first-run syndicated show in TV history, airing for 35 years.
STARS FOR OBAMA
Black people united around President Barack Obama’s reelection as they had united around nothing else before. Black celebrities were no exception. Jada Pinkett Smith threw a million-dollar luncheon fundraiser in honor of First Lady Michelle Obama. Michael Jordan, who once denied any political affiliation, threw a $3 million dollar fundraiser for Obama. Jay-Z and Beyonce also held a million-dollar fundraiser at the 40/40 Club in New York and Jay-Z performed a revised version of “99 Problems” for Obama at a campaign stop in Ohio the day before the election. Did you ever think a former admitted crack dealer would help a sitting President get re-elected? Nah, we didn’t either.
Critics sneered at Oprah’s lackluster ratings for OWN after she departed her daytime talk show after 25 years. The Oprah Winfrey Network sputtered at first. Thirty employees were laid off and the network’s first president, Christina Norman, a black woman who’d run MTV and VH1 was let go. But it just goes to show you, never count Oprah out. The network has rebounded with shows like “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s” “Lifeclass,” “Iyanla, Fix My Life” and “Oprah’s Next Chapter.” According to Forbes, Oprah is still the highest earning celebrity of 2012 and just finished filming “The Butler” with Forest Whitaker.
Despite a lengthy list of credits, Octavia Spencer was virtually an unknown before “The Help,” the 2011 movie based on the best-selling book about maids in 60’s Mississippi. Spencer snagged a Best Actress in a Supporting Role Oscar, joining Whoopi Goldberg, Hattie McDaniel, Jennifer Hudson and Mo’Nique in a rare club. Spencer has been pretty quiet since, with little publicity or information about any new roles though she has several films in post-production.
THE DOMINANCE OF REALITY TV
Tamar Braxton. The Mowry sisters. Nicole Murphy. Evelyn Lozada.Tameka “Tiny” Cottle. Keyshia Cole. Stevie J. Joseline Hernandez. Nene Leakes. These are the stars that reality TV hath wrought. Before reality TV, these unlikely celebrities were working various hustles trying to make ends meet or had somewhat viable careers already. Now they enjoy fame or infamy as the breakout stars of various reality TV shows. Their dominance and cheapness to produce has made reality shows a viable part of TV history and these “characters” fodder for the web and various gossip magazines. How long will it last? As long as the ratings hold up.
WHITE BACKUP/BLACK MOVIE
2012 was the year white filmmakers got films made about Black people that Black people could have never gotten made. George Lucas produced “Red Tails,” his long-awaited movie about the Tuskegee Airmen. Quentin Tarantino, apparently inspired by a conversation with Black filmmaker Reginald Hudlin, got “Django Unchained” made, a slavery revenge fantasy with a side of spaghetti western thrown in. It’s an interesting trend, given the controversial topics these films cover. Were white filmmakers able to cover the topics accurately? Well, the audiences will be the ultimate judges.
Once a target of Internet bullies who hated her marriage to Usher, Raymond now has some measure of sympathy as she endured what had to be the worst year of her life. Her third youngest son, Kile Glover, died in a jet-skiing accident while with his father, Raymond’s ex-husband Kyle Glover, an Atlanta businessman. Raymond then lost primary custody of her two sons with Usher, Usher V and Naviyd. The decision was made despite an Atlanta judge presiding over the case who had financial dealings with Usher’s lawyer. Raymond took to TV and Twitter in her defense, but Usher’s appearance on “Oprah’s Next Chapter” to explain his side of the story helped him win public sympathy as well.
RIHANNA AND SOCIAL MEDIA
She should probably keep her day job, but Rihanna is a prime example of the importance of social media and how to use it to further a career. Sure, Beyonce’s always going to be Beyonce, but Rihanna has sold more records overall. The 24-year-old Bajan beauty has almost 775,000 Instagram followers and is the top Black celebrity on the site. On Twitter, Rihanna is also the top Black celeb with 27 million followers right in front of President Obama, but behind Lady Gaga, the most followed celeb on Twitter.