From Halle To 'Hairspray'

South Korean Army soldiers approach to a canon during the military exercise near the border village of Panmunjom that separates the two Koreas since the Korean War, in Paju, north of Seoul, South Korea, May 28, 2009. AP Photo/Lee Jin-man

It was a year of huge Hollywood box office, from the slow-build sensation of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" to the steamroller success of "Spider-Man."

A year of fresh-faced novelists and a foul-mouthed rapper from Detroit.

A year in which TV viewers rediscovered old "Friends" and gobbled up new reality fare, such as "The Osbournes" and "American Idol."

The sour economy hit museums, opera companies and symphony orchestras hard, although the art market and Broadway showed resilience.

2002 in entertainment and the arts offered plenty of escapist fare, as well as new efforts to directly address the fears and tensions of the post-Sept. 11 world.

ART

Optimistic art buyers bucked a shaky economy. But fallouts from the Wall Street slump forced cutbacks at many museums when endowments and donations declined.

The Whitney Museum of American Art was an exception. Board members donated a $200 million collection of 87 works by 23 artists, the largest gift of postwar art to any museum.

Propelled by growing interest in American artists, the two-week fall sales at New York's big three auction houses — Sotheby's, Christie's and Phillips — were stronger than expected.

Postwar and contemporary art sales topped $203 million, surpassing by $10 million the sales of Impressionist and early modern works. The major sales were Claude Monet's 1906 "Nympheas" water lilies for $18.7 million, and Willem de Kooning's 1947 "Orestes," which fetched $13.2 million. Sotheby's in London recorded the year's top price — $76 million, third highest on record — for Peter Paul Reubens' 17th-century oil "Massacre of the Innocents."

Outstanding exhibitions appeared nationwide, including an Andy Warhol retrospective in Los Angeles, Dutch 17th-century masterpieces in Denver, ancient Greek treasures in Cleveland and Parisian Impressionists in Atlanta.

A display of Nazi imagery in recent art — including death camp models using Lego and Prada products — drew accusations that the Holocaust was being trivialized at the Jewish Museum in New York. And public outrage forced Rockefeller Center to remove "Falling Woman," a sculpture depicting a Sept. 11 victim tumbling from the World Trade Center. -- By David Minthorn, AP Writer

BOOKS

This was the year of the "thunderclap debut" in fiction, or so announced National Book Awards judge Bob Shacochis at November's ceremony. All five finalists, including winner Julia Glass ("The Three Junes") were first- or second-time novelists, and the list of worthy non-nominees is just as long.

Alice Sebold's million-selling "The Lovely Bones" received some of the best reviews of 2002. Jonathan Safran Foer, author of "Everything Is Illuminated," established himself as a major new literary talent. Jeffrey Eugenides' "Middlesex" confirmed the promise of his first novel, "The Virgin Suicides."

Acclaimed new fiction came from Daniel Mason, who wrote "The Piano Tuner," and Ann Packer, author of "The Dive From Clausen's Pier." Stephen Carter's "The Emperor of Ocean Park," and Emma McClaughlin's and Nicola Kraus' "The Nanny Diaries" were major commercial successes.

Many commentators agreed with longtime editor Gary Fisketjon of Alfred A. Knopf that the "thunderclap" was more coincidence than renaissance. But the emergence of writers such as Foer and Mason, both in their mid-20s, means that television and computers haven't stopped at least some youngsters from dreaming the dreams of young people a century ago: to use the written word to tell their stories to the world. -- By Hillel Italie, AP Writer

MOVIES

Halle Berry ("Monster's Ball") and Denzel Washington ("Training Day") made movie history at the Academy Awards, where black actors won both lead-role honors for the first time.

Others won critical respect that had long eluded them: With "A Beautiful Mind," Ron Howard and producing partner Brian Grazer took home the best-picture Oscar and best director for Howard; Randy Newman, who had tied an Academy Award record with 15 nominations but no wins, finally took home an Oscar for "If I Didn't Have You," his tune from "Monsters, Inc."

At the box office, Hollywood had another year of record revenues. Studios piled on blockbusters one after another, with the eagerly awaited comic-book adaptation "Spider-Man" scoring an all-time best debut of $114.8 million domestically in its opening weekend.

"Spider-Man" went on to top $400 million, nearly $100 million more than "Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones," the latest installment of George Lucas' sci-fi franchise.

Other mega-hits included "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," "Signs," "Austin Powers in Goldmember," "Men in Black II" and "Ice Age."

The year's surprise success story was the low-budgeted "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," an old-fashioned romance that rode terrific word-of-mouth to a $200-million-plus haul.

By Thanksgiving weekend, six of the year's movies had topped $200 million, with a record-breaking seventh expected in "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers." -- By David Germain, AP Movie Writer

MUSIC

On his third album, "The Eminem Show," Eminem relished his role as America's most reviled entertainer: "I could be one of your kids!" he taunted in the song "White America."

And it seemed as if America adopted the rapper as its own. Not only was "The Eminem Show" the top-selling disc of the year, but Eminem's movie debut in the semi-autobiographical "8 Mile" grossed more than $100 million in a little more than three weeks. Its soundtrack debuted at the top of the charts.

"He's becoming an empire," said MTV personality Carson Daly. "What he did in the last year was transcend music and conquer entertainment, and that's a phenomenon that doesn't happen that often."

Meanwhile, the teen pop craze continued to wane. "Tweens" who used to mimic Barbie-like warblers such as Britney Spears discovered fully clothed singer-songwriters such as Avril Lavigne, Michelle Branch and Vanessa Carlton. 'N Sync's Justin Timberlake's solo debut fell short of the expected blockbuster; Backstreet Boy Nick Carter's foray into solo stardom bombed; and Christina Aguilera's in-your-face sexuality may have turned off more fans than it turned on.

Among the biggest surprises was the success of Ashanti, the R&B songstress who sold nearly 3 million copies of her debut album. And Pink abandoned her R&B sound for rock, and went quadruple platinum.

Unlikely sensations were Norah Jones and Josh Groban. The torch-singing piano singer and the classically inspired baritone got little radio airplay, yet managed to sell 2 million copies each of their debut albums.

The surge of patriotic discs and the demand for soothing music after the Sept. 11 attacks lessened this year, but the tragedy still affected music, most notably in Bruce Springsteen's "The Rising." The disc spoke not only to the tragedy of that day, but to the importance of love and hope.

Country music veered back toward its roots, led by the soundtrack for "O Brother, Where Art Thou?", which dominated at the Grammy Awards. The Dixie Chicks' rootsy return quickly went double platinum.

And classical music continued its commercial decline. The weakened economy left opera companies and orchestras in a precarious state, with some canceling or postponing programs and others laying off staff. -- By Nekesa Mumbi Moody, AP Music Writer

TELEVISION

MTV's "The Osbournes" became the year's loudest argument that reality television is here to stay, with Fox's "American Idol" and ABC's "The Bachelor" also part of that deafening hit parade.

Viewers didn't spurn fiction. NBC's "Friends" was the No. 1-rated program for the first time in its eight-year run. CBS' "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" was the No. 2 show, became a franchise with "CSI: Miami" and gained the top drama spot that NBC's "ER" had held each season since its 1994 debut.

"Friends" received the Emmy Award for best comedy series while "The West Wing," also on NBC, was honored for the third consecutive year as best drama. HBO's "Band of Brothers" was named best miniseries.

NBC reigned as the most-watched network, with CBS a solid second. ABC began rebuilding after a serious ratings swoon, and Fox struggled to cope with the end of trademark shows "The X-Files" and "Ally McBeal."

Fox News Channel took the audience lead over CNN. Female journalists at each news channel received awkward attention: Fox's Greta Van Susteren for her cosmetic eye surgery and CNN's Paula Zahn as the unwilling subject of a short-lived promotional spot touting her sexiness.

The programming impact of Sept. 11 was felt in the memorial specials that saturated TV one year later, and in the terrorism storylines that emerged in dramas including "Law & Order," "The West Wing" and "24."

Finally, the urge to merge continued. CNN and ABC talked about joining their news operations, while leading Spanish-language TV broadcaster Univision Communications Inc. bought the nation's largest Spanish-language radio broadcaster, Hispanic Broadcasting Corp.

The Federal Communications Commission approved the purchase of AT&T Broadband by Comcast, creating a cable behemoth, but cited monopoly concerns in resisting the union of satellite TV providers EchoStar Communications (Dish Network) and Hughes Electronics' DirecTV. -- By Lynn Elber, AP Television Writer

THEATER

"You Can't Stop the Beat," the last 15 minutes of "Hairspray," erupt in a joyous celebration of song, dance and brotherhood. Young and old, black and white, on stage and in the audience, everyone begins moving to Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman's hypnotic pop score and Jerry Mitchell's exhilarating choreography. The pandemonium crystalizes why this musical version of John Waters' film about a pudgy teen's triumph has become the biggest hit — and toughest ticket — on Broadway.

"It is one of those magical moments, and one can only felt blessed that the idea, the chemistry, the team and the tenor of the times just converged," says the show's lead producer, Margo Lion. "It's really sort of an evangelical experience. A kind of adrenaline races through the house."

That kind of energy has helped propel Broadway through one of its toughest years, weathering a steep drop in business following the terrorist attacks 15 months ago on the World Trade Center. The musical, along with other new hits, such as "Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune" and "Movin' Out," have contributed to the rebound.

"`Hairspray' affords an opportunity for people to have some joy in their life," Lion says. "There are a lot of things going on in the world right now that are very frightening and this is a place where you can go and be relieved of those concerns." -- By Michael Kuchwara, AP Drama Writer

VIDEO GAMES

2002 in video games could be rated M for Mature.

After the runaway success of last year's hyper-brutal adventure "Grand Theft Auto III," gamemakers developed a string of adult-themed titles showcasing murder, mayhem and sex.

With no new consoles, attention turned to game software and online playability.

The sequel crime-saga "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City," the assassination shooter "Hitman 2" and the nude bicycle-stunt game "BMX XXX" were among the big hits for grown-up players.

Kid-friendly titles generated less buzz, as Nintendo's "Super Mario Sunshine" and PlayStation 2's "Sly Cooper and the Thievious Racoonus" took a back seat to the increased interest in adult players.

The personal-computer people simulator "The Sims" shifted players into an Internet community, while Microsoft's Xbox Live created a network for the shootout "Unreal Championship" and Sega developed the sci-fi world of "Phantasy Star Online" for Nintendo's GameCube.

The online connection for Sony's PlayStation2 showcased its multiplayer shooter "SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs" and the football titles "Madden NFL 2003" and "NFL GameDay 2003." -- By Anthony Breznican, AP Entertainment Writer
  • Ellen Crean

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