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The top 10 entertainment stories of 2006

By Todd Leopold
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(CNN) --'s top 10 entertainment stories of the year:

1. The ubiquitous YouTube, MySpace, etc. Time magazine may have overstated the case with its Person of the Yearexternal link, but certainly these Web sites are redefining who makes entertainment, when it's available (whenever you want) -- and what it is, for that matter. Not bad for that series of tubes called the Internets.

2. Britney Spears. Didn't she used to sing?

3. Major deaths: James Brown, Ahmet Ertegun, Robert Altman. All incredibly influential, all deserving of more due. The world is a lesser place with their losses.

4. Mel Gibson. His drunken, racist tirade made him the center of attention in July. "Apocalypto" put him on top of the box office in December.

4a. Race and rants. Gibson's outburst (and others, notably Michael Richards') started talk about race, ethnicity and prejudice, but whether the discussion was enlightening or simply a frenzy of yelling is an open question. (CNN's Paula Zahn has tried to do some exploration.)

5. Lost love. The breakups were particularly high-profile this year: Paul McCartney split from Heather Mills, Hilary Swank called it quits with Chad Lowe, Reese Witherspoon said goodbye to Ryan Phillippe, Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn apparently ended a relationship they never admitted to ... and then there was Britney and K-Fed, too.

6. James Frey. First he admitted to embellishing his life story, then to changing it, finally to ... well, who knows? Oprah was taken in; so was a certain reporter.

7. Steve Irwin. The "Crocodile Hunter's" death in September shocked the world.

8. Borat. Sacha Baron Cohen's clever Kazakh character topped the box office and started discussions on the value of satire. High-five!

9. Celebrities and Africa. Some attracted cameras (George Clooney in Darfur, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in Namibia), some appeared to invite them (Madonna). Regardless of the reasons, perhaps the exposure will do some good.

10. The old folks still have it. In an entertainment world, where youth is deified, Bob Dylan (65) topped the album charts; Clint Eastwood (76) made two of the best movies of the year; Judi Dench (72) earned raves for "Casino Royale" and "Notes on a Scandal"; and that's not to forget Peter O'Toole (74), Helen Mirren (61) and that whippersnapper Meryl Streep (57).


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