Scripps Howard News Service
December 27, 2004
2. Domestic diva Martha Stewart began decorating the pokey, serving a five-month sentence in a federal prison for obstructing an investigation into possible insider trading. But Stewart has already found a television halfway home pending her release, with plans for a new syndicated show produced by "Survivor" and "Apprentice" guru Mark Burnett.
3. It's anchors away, as both NBC's Tom Brokaw and CBS' Dan Rather announced their retirements after more than 20 years each on the nightly news.
4. Three influential and long-running sitcoms -"Friends," "Frasier," and "Sex in the City" - came to an end, prompting retrospectives, viewing parties and speculation about the end of the genre.
5. Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" and Morgan Spurlock's "Super Size Me" proved that documentaries can find success at the box office while also helping to shape the national debate.
6. Mel Gibson had trouble finding a studio for "The Passion of the Christ," a film completely in Aramaic that featured grueling torture scenes detailing the last hours of Jesus. But he had the last laugh as the film became an unlikely phenomenon, tapping into an unexpectedly mainstream market for a fundamentally Christian film.
7. Crunk, the form of hip-hop made by Georgia-based rappers, dominated the music charts. Usher's "Confessions" was the year's top-selling album at 7.1 million copies, almost double the runner up, driven by the success of the ubiquitous "Yeah." That ode to dance floor lust, featuring Ludicrous and Lil Jon, was inescapable on the radio, in clubs, on music video stations and even from cell phone ring tones.
8. The success of Dreamwork's "Shrek 2" and Pixar's "The Incredibles" continued a string of computer-animated hits aimed at both children and adults.
9. Ken Jennings became a household name, winning a record 74 consecutive games of "Jeopardy," earning $2.5 million, also a record.
10. "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" won 11 Oscars, including best picture. Currently, there are no plans for "Lord of the Rings 2: Return of the Return of the King."