Top 10 Stories of 2012: Disney's Extreme Makeover to PSY's Record-Breaking 'Gangnam Style'

Sophie A. Schillaci
The Hollywood Reporter
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From shakeups to scandals and with a few sensations in-between, 2012 marked a big year in the world of entertainment.

Here, The Hollywood Reporter takes a look back at the year's top 10 stories  and what they meant for the biz. From big changes at Disney to PSY's record-breaking "Gangnam Style," these are the moments that left the industry shocked, satisfied and sometimes saddened.

1. Disney's Extreme Makeover: It was the flop heard round the world — and all the way to Mars. John Carter, the studio's $300 million adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' classic sci-fi adventure novel, was the live action debut of Pixar's Oscar-winner, Andrew Stanton. But the film's meager $73 million domestic box office - and $200 million write-down -- led to the ouster of studio head Rich Ross. Walt Disney Studios brought in Alan Horn to replace him. Then, in October, Disney announced a $4 billion deal to buy Lucasfilm — and announced that it would be producing many more films in that franchise.

On the plus side: A film from Disney's Marvel became the second highest-grossing of all time: The Avengers.

The film that joined Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and Hulk — each of whom had their own movie before Avengers — with Black Widow and Hawkeye earned $623 million domestically and $1.5 billion worldwide. It also made director Joss Whedon a household name after two decades of cult fame; he'll return for the sequel and help set up a S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show at ABC. Up next in the Marvel universe: Guardians of the Galaxy.

2. Whitney Houston Dies: The 2012 Grammys turned from celebratory to somber with the February 11 death of music icon Whitney Houston, who died of accidental drowning in her bathtub at the Beverly Hilton just hours before she was scheduled to appear at Clive Davis' annual pre-Grammy gala at the same hotel. With news of her death less than 24 hours before the big show, producers scrambled to pull together a tribute to the star. When all was said and done, the 48-year-old left her entire estate to daughter Bobbi Kristina, who went on to appear in Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse, give Oprah's Next Chapter record ratings with an interview, and land a reality show alongside her family.

3. GMA Overtakes Today: Following a 16-year winning streak in morning television, NBC's Today fell to ABC's Good Morning America for the first time in April, kicking off what would become a closely-watched ratings race between the two A.M. giants for the remainder of the year. In August, GMA celebrated another milestone when it beat Today in the key 18-to-49 demo, and one month later (following a brief Olympics boost for NBC), it continued to top its competition even during Robin Roberts' medial leave.

4. NBC Goes From Worst to First: With the days of Must See TV just a distant memory, NBC was mired in last place among the major networks in primetime programming. Using the ratings-hit London Olympics as a springboard — they time-delayed events to show them during prime evening hours — the network introduced several new shows, including the JJ Abrams-produced Revolution. While not everything was a success — Animal Practice has already been canceled — the continued huge numbers for singing competition The Voice has helped put NBC back on top.

5. Dark Knight Rises Shooting: Tragedy -- and a sad foreshadowing of later mass shootings -- struck a theater in Aurora, Colo., when a disturbed college student allegedly opened fire on the audience of a midnight opening showing of the new Batman film on July 20. In all, 12 moviegoers were killed, and 59 more were injured by bullets police say were fired by James Holmes, who allegedly entered the theater clad armor and sporting hair dyed to reflect his obsession with The Joker, a past Batman villain. Police also said Holmes boobytrapped his apartment with explosives, though authorities were able to detonate them without harm done. Holmes is currently awaiting trial. Ultimately, The Dark Knight Rises earned nearly $1.1 billion worldwide.

6. Elmo Resigns: Not even Sesame Street is exempt from earth-shattering sex scandals. Amid allegations of engaging in inappropriate sexual relationships with minors, Elmo actor Kevin Clash resigned from his longtime job at the PBS program in November. The puppeteer said in a statement, "I have loved every day of my 28 years working for this exception organization. Personal matters have diverted attention away from the important work Sesame Street is doing and I cannot allow it to go on any longer."  So far, four alleged victims have come forward and filed suit against Clash, though one had recanted prior to his resignation.

7. Hollywood Helps Re-Elect Obama: After some initial trepidation, Hollywood once again went all-in to help Barack Obama win a second term in the White House. Stars such as George Clooney and Scarlett Johansson raised millions at fundraiser dinners, while many others, from Rashida Jones and Adam Scott to Samuel L. Jackson cut videos for his re-election. Some stars even participated in the ground game — Kate Walsh and Zachary Quinto canvassed for Obama. Huge sums were donated by bigwigs like Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg, Ryan Murphy hosted a fund-raiser, and with big financial firms and business leaders donating heavily to Republican Mitt Romney, tinseltown's gold was more important than ever.

8. Channing Tatum's A-List Evolution: Channing Tatum, 32, came full circle this year, bringing his real-life stripper background to bear in the hit film Magic Mike. But the Steven Soderbergh-directed drama wasn't his only success this year, as Tatum pulled off a trifecta of romance (The Vow), comedy (21 Jump Street) and drama (Magic Mike). When he wasn't promoting those, Tatum was filming G.I. Joe: Retaliation and White House Down, both due out next year. In November, he was named People's Sexiest Man Alive. But for Tatum, 2012 marked something far more important than a career explosion: He and wife Jenna Dewan Tatum announced in December that they are expecting their first child.

9. Homeland's Emmy Sweep: Showtimes freshman hit Homeland was the belle of the ball at this year's Emmys, upsetting Mad Men's four-year winning streak in the outstanding drama category, while Claire Danes and Damian Lewis each nabbed lead actor trophies. THR's chief TV critic Tim Goodman dubbed the series among his 15 best of the year, but still had harsh words for its sophomore season. "In the latter half of season two, Homeland got incredibly preposterous and lost its way. It was implausible. That implausibility undercut all the hard-earned praise from season one," he wrote.

10. PSY's record-setting phenomenon: South Korean sensation PSY galloped his way into superstardom with "Gangnam Style," the unsuspecting viral sensation that closed out the year with 1 billion YouTube views some six months after posting -- an unprecedented record for the video sharing site. (In November, "Gangnam Style" surpassed Justin Bieber's "Baby" as the most watched YouTube clip of all time with 815 million views.) In an interview with THR for its Rule Breakers issue, the K-pop star acknowledged that even he doesn't know what caused the video to catch fire. "It's something I think about, too -- so that I can repeat it for the next single," he cracked. "I'm analyzing that right now and it's really hard to tell. You could say it was all about the video, right? But I'm thinking people are already done with the video -- they already saw it. But seeing the way people are acting, I think it's the dance move."

Honorable Mentions:

Tom Rothman Exits Fox: After 18 years with 20th Century Fox, Tom Rothman left the studio as power shifts and structural changes re-shaped the News Corp.-owned unit. While his contract was set to expire in 2014, Fox gave the studio co-chair/CEO the option to leave earlier once it was announced that 20th's TV unit was being broken off and taken from his and co-chair Jim Gianopulos' purview. Tensions were already said to be high at the studio, as summer flops (The Watch, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) and missed opportunities (Ted) contributed to a light bottom line. Gianopulous will now run the studio himself for the time being.

Here Came Honey Boo Boo: A spinoff of Toddlers & Tiaras, the show about the child pageant contestant Alana Thompson and her typically redneck family became a pop culture lightning rod. Whether laughing with them or at them, the nation was talking about the family, with nearly three million people tuning in to the show's first run's midseason finale; TLC renewed it for a second go-round -- which starts with a special on January 6. In addition, Thompson was named one of Barbara Walters' Most Fascinating People (which earned the journalist some criticism), and made the rounds on the top late night talk shows.

Kristen Stewart cheats on Robert Pattinson: After years of fiercely guarding their relationship, Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson were launched into the blinding spotlight for all the wrong reasons: infidelity.  The actress faced a whirlwind of Twihards' wrath after photos surfaced in July of she and her 41-year-old Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders (who is married with young children) in compromising positions. Stewart acknowledged reports of an affair in an extremely personal and emotional statement: "I'm deeply sorry for the hurt and embarrassment I've caused to those close to me and everyone this has affected," she said. "This momentary indiscretion has jeopardized the most important thing in my life, the person I love and respect the most, Rob. I love him, I love him, I'm so sorry." For Pattinson, the revelation came during a critical moment in his career, as he was due out on a publicity tour for his role in David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis. But the duo put the past behind them as they came together to promote the final installment in Summit's Twilight Saga in November. As for the current status of their relationship, that's anyone's guess.