Popdose teams up with world-renowned CAP News for a look at the most important pop culture stories of the past year.

February: Stern Gets Ellen, Kara DioGuardi to Kiss at Idol Audition

HOLLYWOOD (CAP) — Howard Stern got off to a good start during his audition to replace Simon Cowell on American Idol, convincing fellow judges Ellen DeGeneres and Kara DioGuardi to make out on camera.

”C’mon, just one kiss. I won’t be able to concentrate on the contestants unless we get this out of the way,” Stern can be seen saying on the audition tape, which was acquired by TMZ.com. ”Make out for 30 seconds and we can all get on with our day.”

”OK, now with tongues,” he added when they finally acquiesced, prompting a three-minute kissing and fondling session.

”Wow, that was really the last thing I expected to happen,” said Ellen afterward, adding it wasn’t the type of thing she’d usually do. DioGuardi, however, admitted that it’s the type of thing she does ”all the time.”

”I mean, just look at me,” she said.

The incident is likely to fuel critics already concerned about Stern’s involvement with Idol — a show watched by millions of families and children. Darlene Fortenski of the watchdog group Mothers Against Everything (MAE) was actually reduced to an almost catatonic state by the Stern audition clip, shaking and muttering ”The children … the children …”

”Darlene Fortenski … I’m pretty sure I got her to take her top off once,” responded Stern. ”Hey Ellen, how about taking your top off? C’mon, take it off. Your top. Off.”

”I’ll take my top off, Howard!” interjected DioGuardi, and then she and Ellen started kissing again.

”This is almost too easy,” said Stern. [full story]

March: Lady Gaga Video Leads Everybody to Apologize to Madonna

The new music video for the song “Telephone,” featuring Lady Gaga and Beyonce as scantily dressed, highly sexualized lesbian mass murderers, had watchdog groups and religious organizations apologizing for their criticisms of Madonna during the 1980s and 90s.

”I sort of can’t believe now that I got all over Madonna’s case for ‘Dress You Up’ (in 1985),” said Tipper Gore, co-founder of the Parents Music Resource Center, after watching the “Telephone” video in slack-jawed amazement. ”Say what you want about Madonna, she never crawled up the bars of a prison cell to show off her barely pixilated lady parts.”

”The way this Ga-Ga’ person and Beyonce ate that sticky bun made me feel, frankly, dirty,” added husband Al Gore, interviewed with Tipper prior to the couple’s split later in the year.

The video also shows Gaga kissing a fellow inmate in the women’s prison yard, gyrating down jailhouse corridors with other prisoners in bras and thong underwear, and poisoning an entire diner full of people for no apparent reason.

”And don’t forget the parts where her lithe, pale body is covered by nothing but a few strands of police tape,” noted Al Gore, causing Tipper to glare at him icily.

Even the Vatican, which slammed Madonna’s 1989 “Like a Prayer” video and banned her from Vatican City after she released Erotica in 1992, is backtracking.

”Madonna is welcome back here any time,” insisted Pope Benedict XVI, who watched the “Telephone’ video on Saturday and immediately issued an order to have Lady Gaga burned at the stake, before aides reminded him the church doesn’t do that anymore.

Madonna responded to the apologies at a press conference where she announced that she’s as ”controversial as ever.” She then climbed on top of the podium and ”vogued” wearing only Kabala beads over her private areas and studded metal bracelets around her impossibly toned biceps.

”Most of us just averted our eyes,” said Spin magazine reporter Marc Hightower. ”You know, out of respect. I mean, she’s like my grandma’s age.” [full story]

April: Woman Conan Followed on Twitter Offered Sitcom

HOLLYWOOD (CAP) — Sarah Killen, the woman Conan O’Brien chose at random to follow on Twitter, will write and produce an NBC sitcom based on her Twitter feed starting this fall.

The show, tentatively titled Lovely Button after Killen’s Twitter username (@LovelyButton), will feature Danica McKellar (pictured), best known as Winnie Cooper from The Wonder Years, as a woman who tweets about peanut butter and planning her wedding.

”We think Sarah’s 33 tweets will make a fascinating basis for a sitcom,” said NBC CEO Jeff Zucker at the time of the announcement. ”She’s clearly got what 18- to 49-year-old men are looking for, whatever that is.”

The sitcom was originally planned to revolve around the changes in the main character’s life after Conan O’Brien follows her on Twitter, but NBC had to scrap that angle after being threatened by O’Brien’s attorneys.

”Apparently there’s still some resentment there,” admitted Zucker, who removed O’Brien from The Tonight Show after seven months to replace him with former host Jay Leno. ”We sent (NBC executive) Dick Ebersol to his house to try to talk to him, but Max Weinberg came out and hit him with a timpani.”

Unlike the watered-down CBS sitcom S#*! My Dad Says, based on the salty Twitter feed ”Shit My Dad Says,” Lovely Button will be just like the tweets Killen’s online followers have become accustomed to since they started following her just because Conan did, says Zucker.

”When the character in the show says yummmmmmhmmmm’ in reference to peanut butter, viewers will know that we’re being true to the source material,” Zucker added.

”It’s really been, like, a whirlwind couple of days,” said Killen, speaking to CAP News from in front of Mac’s Convenience Store near her home in Ypsilanti, Mich., shortly after the deal became public. ”I still can’t believe Mr. Zucker said I could take over The Tonight Show in five years.” [full story]

June: Umpire Who Blew Perfect Game Runs Over Pitcher

DETROIT (CAP) — Disgraced MLB umpire Jim Joyce made his second major faux pas in a week’s time, apparently hitting the gas instead of the brake in his 2002 Chevy Blazer and running over Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga as he left Comerica Park.

”I don’t know how it happened,” said a teary-eyed Joyce afterward. ”I had a really good angle on the pedals, and I would have swore it was the brake.”

”I say many times: Nobody’s perfect,” Galarraga said from his bed at Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital, where he was being treated for multiple contusions. ”Everybody makes a mistake. Unfortunately this one leave me out for the rest of the season, but I’m sure he no want to run me over, probably.”

Galarraga and Joyce of course made headlines when Joyce blew a crucial call at first base, robbing Galarraga of a perfect game with just one out to go in the ninth inning. The Detroit community has since rallied around Galarraga, with GM even presenting him with a brand new 2001 convertible.

”Unfortunately Jim [Joyce] backed into it at full speed after he run me over,” noted Galarraga, who said the car is now totaled. ”But again, he just make a mistake. Like I make a mistake when I got out of bed that day, apparently.”

”I had a really good angle on [Galarraga’s car] in my rear view mirror, and I would have swore it wasn’t there,” said Joyce, dabbing his eyes and large, fu-manchu style moustache.

Meanwhile, calls to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig to reverse the call and award Galarraga his perfect game have yet to abate. Congressman John D. Dingell, D-Michigan, even introduced a Congressional Resolution urging Selig to do so.

”I figure if I can pull that off, maybe all the voters in Detroit will forget they don’t have jobs,” said Dingell. [full story]

October: Parents Charged After Boy, 7, Sleeps in Pumpkin Patch

MINNEAPOLIS (CAP) — Authorities charged a local couple with child endangerment after neighbors reported they let their 7-year-old son sleep in a pumpkin patch alone on Halloween night.

Fred and Nancy van Pelt of Roseville, a suburb of Minneapolis, were arrested at their home after their son, Linus van Pelt, turned up at the James Street Elementary School still suffering from the effects of hypothermia and muttering under his breath about being forsaken by a ”Great Pumpkin.”

”The poor kid — he was clearly delirious,” said Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fincher, who referred the case to the county’s Child Protective Services department. ”He had an old ratty blanket that he had wrapped around himself, and he was just shaking and mumbling.”

Residents said they spotted the boy several times in a neighborhood pumpkin patch the night before, sitting among the pumpkins as his friends were enjoying tricks-or-treats. He was primarily alone, but was seen for a time accompanied by a neighbor, Sally Brown, 5, who is now being questioned by police psychiatrists.

Ownership of the pumpkin patch has not been determined, but several local residents have noted that it has always seemed ”extremely sincere.”

The van Pelt parents were released Monday afternoon on their own recognizance, according to authorities. When reached by CAP News, they declined to comment in comprehensible English, instead making a series of ”MWA MWA MWA” noises, not unlike a muffled trombone. [full story]

November: Palin Says Alaska’ Dog-Clubbing Footage Taken Out of Context

Former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is saying leaked outtake footage from her TLC reality show Sarah Palin’s Alaska has been taken ”out of context,” particularly the scene where she clubs and skins a miniature schnauzer, mistaking it for a baby seal.

”Ya know, out in the tundra things happen pretty quick,” said Palin. ”When that snow’s comin’ down, a schnauzer and a seal are basically indristinguishable.”

Critics have pointed out that the ”tundra” where Palin skinned the dog was actually the Bluff Park Farm in Knik-Fairview, and that before clubbing it she shot it from a helicopter using high-powered rifle with an infrared scope.

”Plus an old lady was walking it,” pointed out People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals spokesman Dan Sharon.

”Well, maybe beatin’ a seal to death sounds unearthadox to those high falutin’ big-city PETA elites, but out here in the wilderness, that’s how we roll,” said Palin while signing books at the Walmart Superstore on South Seward Meridian Parkway in Wasilla.

There’s also footage that appears to have been shot from another room where she’s seen advising her daughter Bristol to whack her fellow ”Dancing With the Stars” contestant Brandy in the knee with a crowbar.

Confronted with the accusations, Palin insisted any plan to assault Brandy was ”all Levi,” then directed further questions to her attorney. Contacted at his GED class in Chickaloon, Alaska, Bristol Palin’s former fiancÁ© Levi Johnston declined to comment, other than to say he’s had no contact with the Palin family since recovering from injuries sustained when he was shot from a helicopter earlier this year. [full story]

December: Dylan, Waits and Cohen Record Christmas Album

MALIBU, Calif. (CAP) — Following the surprise success of his 2009 holiday album Christmas in the Heart, Bob Dylan has teamed up with two fellow gravelly-voiced troubadours, Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits, for a new release, Hallelujah! Christmas in the Heart of a Hooker in Minneapolis.

Dylan approached Cohen and Waits about doing the album, and the pair was apparently more than happy to oblige.

”One thing I learned during the years I spent living among Buddhist monks is that enlightenment comes in all forms, and speaks in many voices,” said Cohen, sitting with Dylan and Waits outside Coogie’s Beach CafÁ© in Malibu. ”And one thing I learned when my manager stole my retirement fund was that you don’t turn down an offer to make an album with Bob Dylan.”

”This album will be colder than a ticket taker’s smile at the Ivar Theater on a Saturday night,” added Waits in a guttural mumble, prompting both Dylan and Cohen to stare at him blankly for several seconds before changing the subject.

Hallelujah! Christmas in the Heart of a Hooker in Minneapolis offers an eclectic mix from the trio; for instance, Cohen contributes a version of ”Ding Dong Merrily on High” which he says is actually a reference to a liaison he had with Janis Joplin in the late 1960s. ”She was, alas, often merrily on high,” said Cohen, wistfully with a touch of literary mischievousness.

Meanwhile, a version of ”Away In A Manger” sung together by the trio has prompted a lawsuit from Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels, who claims it’s a direct infringement upon his show’s ”Tarzan, Tonto and Frankenstein” sketches from the late 1980s. [full story]

Images: Wikimedia Commons

About the Author

Pete Chianca

Pete Chianca is a humor and music writer and author of Glory Days: Springsteen's Greatest Albums. He lives north of Boston with his wife, two kids and an indeterminate number of dogs and cats. Read more Pete at Pete's Pop Culture, Parenting & Pets Blog.

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