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"Fameballs" of 2009

Ever heard of a "fameball"?

Chances are you probably haven't -- but apparently, they were everywhere in 2009.

Year in U.S. News
People Late and Great in 2009

Brian Balthazar, editor of explained on "The Early Show" a fameball is someone whose fame snowballs -- sometimes for legitimate reasons and sometimes because the media coverage causes it to explode.

Balthazar said 2009 seemed to be the year of "the wannabe."

Balthazar said the White House party crashers are an example of this type of "fameball."

"Who knew that it was easier to get to White House, inside there, than Lady Gaga?" he said. "I mean, it's crazy that you can actually get inside the White House just by dressing the part and just kind of showing up."

Another "fameball" of 2009 was the balloon boy hoax.

"Balloon boy was one of those examples where they say turkeys are attracted to shiny objects," Balthazar said. "The American public saw this balloon flying through the air. And you couldn't resist. It was the modern day take on the boy that cried wolf. It involves 911 calls, satellite trucks and a kid throwing up on national TV."

The story of Levi Johnston's rise to so-called fame has taken on Kato Kaelin proportions with his appearance in Playgirl, according to Balthazar. Kaelin also appeared in Playgirl.

"I know he's not the smartest guy," Balthazar said, "but he lost his mullet, he found his dream, and now he's pursuing celebrity. "

As for Jon Gosselin and his very public divorce to his wife Kate Gosselin, who starred with him in the reality series, "Jon & Kate Plus 8," Balthazar said Jon's now like a disease in the public eye.

"He just kind of went to Kanye West school of PR," Balthazar said. "He has mismanaged his public image and now to Americans he's like a cold sore. When you think he's going to go away, he shows up just when you think you're rid of the cold sore. He's back."

There are another category of positive "fameballs" that Balthazar calls "Hotshots of the Year."

• Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, the "Miracle on the Hudson" pilot at the helm of the US Airways plane that made an emergency landing in the Hudson River in January.
• "Britain's Got Talent" finalist singer Susan Boyle
• Former vice-presidential candidate and author Sarah Palin

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