Winners & Losers Of 2007 (Part Three)

Winner:  The Dixie Chicks
Four years after being unfairly pillioried for a public comment made during a concert in the UK, the most successful trio in country music history had a terrific 2007.  In February, the group won a handful of Grammy Awards.  Their Rick Rubin-produced CD, Taking The Long Road, won Best Country Album and Album Of The Year.  The breakout single, Not Ready To Make Nice (a Top 5 crossover hit last year), won the trophy for Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal (the fifth time they’ve won this category) as well as golden phonographs for Song Of The Year and Record Of The Year.  In Canada, Taking The Long Road took home the Juno for International Album Of The Year.
In June, their critically acclaimed 2006 documentary, Shut Up And Sing, won the Audience Award at The Sydney Film Festival in Australia.  Add lead singer Natalie Maines’ appearance in Pete Seeger: The Power Of Song, another well-reviewed non-fiction film, her recent public plea for contributions to a legal defense fund for three convicted teenagers profiled in the Paradise Lost documentaries and the fact that most Americans now agree with her views on The Iraq War, and it was a pretty damn good year to be a Dixie Chick.
Loser:  Dog The Bounty Hunter
Last year, it was Michael Richards and Mel Gibson.  This year, it’s Duane Chapman’s turn to live in the redneck doghouse.
In March, the mullet-haired ex-convict made the most regrettable phone call of his life.  During a conversation with his son, Tucker, he urged him in no uncertain terms to end his relationship with Monique Shinnery, a black woman he’d been seeing for several months.  Why?  Because he wanted to have the freedom to say “nigger” with his racist friends.  Don’t believe me?  Listen to this.  By the way, that’s the short version.
Mysteriously, a recording of the conversation found its way into the clutches of The National Enquirer who, unsurprisingly, turned it into a world exclusive.  It was soon picked up by the mainstream media.  (The prescient bounty hunter correctly worried that the leaking of his conversation to that particular tabloid would ruin him.  More on that in a moment.)  As he began his inevitable Apology Tour, first releasing a written statement of regret after meeting privately with his pastor (talk about a tired cliche) and then appearing on Larry King Live, The Enquirer followed up with more devastating news.
It turns out he doesn’t just hate African Americans.  He also loathes Mexicans, homosexuals and Asians.  The fact that he’s behaved this way for decades immediately nullifies all past and future acts of contrition.  Furthermore, his son’s girlfriend is planning to sue for defamation.  Take him to the cleaners, honey.
Not only is Chapman’s career as a bail bondsman in trouble, so is the fate of his A&E reality series, Dog The Bounty Hunter.  The channel announced it was pulling the show off the air and not producing any new episodes.  While it hasn’t been officially cancelled, it would be a huge surprise if it returned.  A number of advertisers have pulled their ads because of the scandal which means A&E will have an easier decision to make in the near future.  What an awful position for them to be in, too.  Maybe it wasn’t such a hot idea to do business with this hateful asshole.
Definitely not a Hallmark moment, eh, Dog?
Winner:  Casey Affleck
For a little over a decade, Ben Affleck’s younger brother found steady gigs playing supporting roles in films like Drowning Mona, Hamlet (2000) and the first two American Pies.  Then, in 2001, he became one of Ocean’s Eleven.  It wasn’t a terribly significant part but the remake of the 1960 Rat Pack original was enormously popular.  A hit sequel followed in 2004.  In between the two blockbusters was Gerry, a controversial Gus Van Sant independent feature that gave Casey a chance to play a lead for once.  (He co-wrote the script with Matt Damon, his co-star.)
But in 2007, the 32-year-old actor became a breakout performer.  After reprising his role as Virgil Malloy, the mustachioed thief who frequently bickers with Scott Caan, in Ocean’s Thirteen (which was another commercial hit for the franchise), he co-starred with Brad Pitt in The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford.  Playing Pitt’s nemesis, he garnered strong reviews for his work.
Finally, he had the lead in Gone Baby Gone, his brother Ben’s first directorial effort.   Based on the novel by Dennis Lehane (Mystic River), the autumn release earned a 93% fresh rating from the critics assembled on Rotten Tomatoes.
All of this begs an important question:  Will Casey receive an Oscar nomination playing Robert Ford or Patrick Kenzie?  Regardless, he had a great year and his future looks bright.
Loser:  OJ Simpson
How dumb can this man be?   He gets away with murdering two people, one of whom was his terrified ex-wife who he abused for years.  For over a decade, he was able to play golf any time he wanted, date any beautiful women who desired him and basically, live the high life without ever having to worry about money ever again, thanks to his generous NFL pension.  People still requested his autograph without any hesitation.  His conscience, such as it is, has never been a burden.  Ultimately, it’s hard to imagine him losing any sleep in this idyllic life he has disgustingly enjoyed for so long.
And yet, he can’t stay out of trouble.  In September, Simpson recruited a small group of friends to help him retrieve sports memorabilia he claims was stolen from him.  A meeting was arranged with a couple of dealers which the FBI knew about weeks in advance.  One of them, Bruce Fromong, a former Simpson pal, very cleverly, audiotaped the entire incident which was later bought by TMZ and posted on their website.  Some of the would-be robbers, we learned, were armed.  OJ is heard accusing Fromong of theft and urging his partners in crime to not let anyone escape.
Soon after, Simpson and all of his equally dopey cohorts were arrested in Las Vegas.  The former Buffalo Bill has to beat twelve charges this time around:  conspiracy to commit a crime, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, conspiracy to commit robbery, first degree kidnapping with use of a deadly weapon (two counts), burglary while in possession of a deadly weapon, robbery with use of a deadly weapon (two counts), assault with a deadly weapon (two counts), and coercion with use of a deadly weapon (two counts).   He’s pleaded not guilty to all of them.  So have two of his buddies.  The remaining three criminal masterminds have accepted deals and will testify against Simpson.  The trial begins in April.  If convicted, he could spend the rest of his sorry days in prison.  
All of this for $80,000 worth of crap.  As William Shatner once rapped, “No tears.”.
Meanwhile, Simpson’s ill-fated literary “faux-confessional”, which was scrapped late last year, along with an exclusive Fox TV interview with Judith Regan, after much public condemnation, ended up being published this summer after The Goldman Family won the legal rights to the original manuscript in court.  Retitled “If I Did It: Confessions Of The Killer” (Why is “If” still in the title?), despite being very upset about the project, The Goldmans, understandably, wanted to remind OJ that they’ll always be after him until he faces real justice, hence the book’s surprise release.  Denise Brown, Nicole’s sister, however, is angry at The Goldmans for doing this.  (She refused to share a stage with them on The Oprah Winfrey Show.  She ended up doing a pre-taped segment instead.)
Nevertheless, it’s the second consecutive Loser Of The Year honour for OJ.  Will there be a 3-peat in ’08?  Here’s hoping.
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
11:54 p.m.
Published in: on December 4, 2007 at 11:55 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. […] Hunter (AKA Duane Chapman).  During the 4th season of his own hit reality show on A&E, he left a voicemail message for his son which revealed he didn’t approve of interracial romanc….  A&E temporarily pulled his show off the air.  Then, much to my surprise, it came back for […]

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