The Third Annual Nothing Personal Readers' Choice Awards ... I can hardly believe I'm typing the words. But there you have them -- proof that for three years now, we've had occasion to pause together and look back on the year that was.
Certainly, there are many reasons not to want to look back at 2001, but none of them have to do with gossip. On the contrary, what more soothing way to process this past year than through the carbonated pink filter of celebrity dish?
We've weathered the rough spots together and proven those old clichis true by emerging stronger, our commitment to amused snickering and star-studded snark affirmed. And never is your collective flare for the casual aside and straight-on slam clearer than in the Nothing Personal Readers' Choice Awards, in which you hand out the dubious honors to a vast array of hapless Hollywoodians, with just a little help from yours truly. (Check out last year's awards.)
Here, for those of you whose memories don't reach all the way back to last December, is how it works: I pose a series of questions in this column. You think about them long and hard, or not at all, and answer as many as you like by e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org by Wednesday, Dec. 19. (Please use the subject line "READERS CHOICE 2001.")
Then I'll pore over your responses, pluck the ones I find most interesting from the pile, print them in a column on Thursday, Dec. 27, and -- voilà -- the Third Annual Nothing Personal Readers' Choice Awards.
So limber up your typing fingers, and let's get to it:
1) In 2001, Eminem was rumored to be getting it on with Kim Basinger, who plays his mother in the upcoming movie loosely based on his life. (Her people and the film's director have denied it.) Which Hollywood mother type would you be most horrified to find getting it on with the slim, shady rapper?
2) In 2001, Mariah Carey suffered "an emotional and physical breakdown," which she attributed to sleep deprivation. Which celebrity do you think is most likely to suffer a similarly severe meltdown in the coming year, and what do you think will send him/her over the brink?
3) In 2001, Elizabeth Hurley got knocked up and immediately found herself in a wild mud-slinging battle with the man she says is the father of her child. Which celebrity is most likely to find him/herself embroiled in a messy paternity battle in the year ahead, and who do you think will be his/her knockee?
4) In 2001, longtime Hollywood couple Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise headed for splitsville. Which longtime celebrity couple do you think will be the next one to join them there -- and who will be responsible for breaking them up?
5) In 2001, Ben Affleck, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Will Smith all hinted they might one day run for president. Which celebrity would you be most likely to vote into the White House and why?
6) In 2001, ex-Spice Girl Geri Halliwell (who first found fame as a topless model) declared that she's "proud to be a virgin." Which celebrity do you predict will make such an incredible claim in the coming year, and what will that claim be?
7) In 2001, the geniuses behind the '70s sitcom "Happy Days" announced that they were turning the sitcom into a Broadway musical. Which TV show would you most like to see singing and dancing its way onto the Great White Way next year?
8) In 2001, Brad Pitt said Jennifer Aniston could sleep with Steven Tyler and Aniston said Pitt could sleep with Michelle Pfeiffer. Which celebrity would you be cool with your spouse sleeping with ... and why?
9) In 2001, Iggy Pop came back from wherever the hell he's been to debunk the rumor that he ever bonked either David Bowie or Mick Jagger. Which ancient celebrity rumor would you be sorriest to see go?
10) In 2001, Billy Bob Thornton and Angelina Jolie insisted that, even though they wear each other's blood and stuff, they're really very normal and act weird just for the P.R. of it. Which celebrity do you secretly suspect is way more normal than he/she would have you believe?
Special bonus question: Which celebrity do you think should receive the "Never met a charity I didn't like" award?