Whatever happened to last year's breakout stars?
In appointing state Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa to fill the seat vacated by deceased Sen. Frank Lautenberg, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has come as close to appointing himself — without actually doing so — as possible. Chiesa is a longtime loyalist and friend of the governor — with little public profile or known ideological agenda — following Christie from private practice, to the U.S. attorney’s office, to the governor’s mansion, making one wonder if his Senate office will effectively function as an extension of the governor’s office in Washington.
The two first met in the late 1980s at the law firm of Dughi, Hewit & Palatucci (Bill Palatucci being a big GOP fundraiser and Christie booster), where Christie had started a few years earlier. When Christie was nominated to be U.S. attorney for New Jersey in 2001, a newspaper cartoon showed him sitting across a table from President Bush, who was holding a copy of the future-governor’s résumé that showed no experience as a criminal prosecutor. Chiesa framed the drawing and gave it to his friend, saying, “You and I both know how wrong this is. We’ll laugh about this cartoon.”
Once confirmed, Christie immediatly hired Chiesa at the U.S. attorney’s office, where the deputy made a name for himself prosecuting public officials. Eventually, he became the executive assistant to the U.S. attorney, making him one of Christie’s closest aides.
When Christie won his 2009 gubernatorial campaign, he made Chiesa the executive director of his transition team. “These are people who know me best,” Christie said when he announced the team. They’re “people who know me well and are able to tell me the truth and aren’t worried about the blowback.”
Once in office, the governor made Chiesa his top legal adviser as chief counsel. When Christie decided to end the practice of letting state officials score free seats at public concert venues, it was Chiesa whom he dispatched to do the delicate deed. In letters to judges and lawmakers and state employees, Chiesa warned that accepting the perk violated the state’s ethics code and told them to knock it off.
Unlike many other states, the governor appoints the attorney general in New Jersey, and in late 2011, Christie appointed his longtime friend Chiesa.
Chiesa owes his career for at least the past decade to Chris Christie, and especially his biggest promotion yet, to the U.S. Senate, so it’s reasonable to assume he’ll remain loyal to his friend once in Washington. As Christie gears up for an expected 2016 presidential bid, Chiesa could be a huge asset as the governor’s man in Washington, voting, moving legislation and issuing public statements favorable to his old boss. Appointing himself would be unseemly, so Christie did the next best thing.
The star of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” charmed practically everyone at the Oscars, where she was the youngest best actress nominee ever; she went on to film a remake of “Annie” opposite Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz.
Carly Rae Jepsen
Jepsen, who had 2012’s song of the summer with “Call Me Maybe,” released the fifth and final single from her debut album in January 2013. She toured the U.S. in mid-2013 -- just as Daft Punk and Robin Thicke battled to succeed her as icons of the summer.
Honey Boo Boo
2012’s biggest reality star, the young pageant contestant Alana Thompson, had a quieter time this year, with a second season whose ratings were strong but whose buzz was a bit muted. America was, by now, accustomed to young Thompson, and outraged or scandalized reactions were reserved for other TLC programming, like “The Man With the 132-Pound Scrotum.”
Ocean missed out on the top Grammys for which he was nominated in early 2013; he bounced back quickly with featured appearances on albums by Kanye West, Jay Z and Beyoncé, and is at work on a new album. Things are looking up!
The “21 Jump Street” and “Magic Mike” star had a marginally less charmed 2013, with “White House Down” failing to connect with moviegoers and “Foxcatcher” delayed until next year. It may get worse before it gets better: His big 2014 sci-fi flick, “Jupiter Ascending,” looks … well, a little weird!
With their third album in 21 months hitting No. 1 immediately upon its fall 2013 release, the boy band that broke into America in 2012 would seem to be here to stay for a while. Still, they looked a bit nervous in their reaction shots during the Video Music Awards’ ‘N Sync reunion; maybe not this year, maybe not next, but eventually, the Justin of One Direction is going to break out. For now, though, things look good!
Lana Del Rey
The famously uncomfortable “Saturday Night Live” musical guest overcame endless mockery from 2012 to land her first top-10 hit in the summer of 2013 -- a remix of a year-old song, “Summertime Sadness.” As the co-writer of “Young and Beautiful,” the love theme from “The Great Gatsby,” Del Rey is such a front-runner for the best original song Oscar (last won by Adele) that there has been a direct-mail campaign to academy voters against her. The song was also played at the most romantic event of the year: Kanye West’s stadium marriage proposal to Kim Kardashian.
Wilson, who charmed fans of 2012’s “Pitch Perfect,” had a rockier 2013, with her sitcom “Super Fun Night” struggling creatively and in the ratings. Her next planned movies are both sequels, to “Kung Fu Panda” and -- hoping lightning will strike twice -- to “Pitch Perfect.”
Another 2012 music icon, Gotye won the record of the year trophy at the 2013 Grammys for “Somebody That I Used to Know.” He released no new singles in 2013, and has told the press he has been struggling to complete new material. Good luck, Gotye!
The golden boy of the 2012 Olympics, without feats of aquatic derring-do to distract the public this year, saw his always-tenuous persona completely shift from “amiable jock” into “utter dolt” with his E! reality series. Worst of all, the series was canceled.
In 2012, the young actress -- best known for her role in the indie “Winter’s Bone” and a supporting part in the “X-Men” franchise -- had marquee roles in the first “Hunger Games” film and in David O. Russell’s comedy “Silver Linings Playbook.” In 2013, she played to her strengths: After winning an Oscar, she starred in the second “Hunger Games” movie, on whose publicity tour she managed to charm everyone in America, and had another role in a David O. Russell comedy, “American Hustle,” for which she might just win ANOTHER Oscar. By 2014, she may end up running a major studio, or serving as president.
The breakout bikini model of 2012 made a repeat appearance on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue -- and got to do high-fashion spreads in Elle, Vogue and Vanity Fair. She was cast in a Cameron Diaz comedy, too. Some types of appeal are eternal!
E. L. James
The “50 Shades” novelist now gets to help share some input into a movie adaptation set for release in 2015. She probably never needs to work again! Isn’t that great? Isn’t that … just … great?
The “Gangnam Style” phenom performed at New Year’s 2013, but will spend New Year’s 2014 flipping channels to find his pistachio ad, his goofy antics having been outdone in the past year by “The Fox” singers Ylvis. Nothing meme can stay.