Celebrities dominated the headlines this year. Some fell in love, others fell out. There were engagements and a divorce. Reality TV stars stopped in for a visit and we even tried to create our own. Paul Henry crossed the ditch, then he was ditched. A-listers were here making movies, others were sighted but were never here - 2012 had it all.
A romance with super athlete Sonny Bill Williams made Jaime Ridge the envy of women across New Zealand and made her the "it" girl of the Auckland celebrity set. But in a little over two months the hottest young couple in the country were all over. Shortly after winning the New Zealand heavyweight title in February, SBW delivered their romance a knock-out blow. But Ridge didn’t stay on the ropes long, signing up to fight Rosanna Arkle - star of TV show The GC - in the Godfather of All Fight Nights in July. The 18-year-old won the fight convincingly, and soon after starred in a six-part reality TV series, The Ridges, along with mum Sally. The show depicted the mother and daughter’s socialite lives and revealed the gruelling training, dieting and dramas Ridge endured in the lead-up to the fight. Despite enduring a tsunami of negative press before airing, The Ridges pulled in more than 325,000 viewers on debut and almost 300,000 for the finale in October.
It was a theatrical year for Oscar nominee Keisha Castle-Hughes - a rollercoaster ride that ended with a fairytale engagement. In February her former boyfriend Michael Graves was accused of assaulting her after an Oscar night party, but by April the charge was thrown out. Graves’ lawyer told the court his client had restrained the Whale Rider actress "for good reason, and it wasn’t excessive". Three months later Castle-Hughes was back in court, this time over a Mt Eden property she had shared with Graves. Their former landlord had sought $5000 in damages. The matter was eventually resolved when Castle-Hughes agreed to forgo her $2550 bond. In August, Castle-Hughes swapped the dramatic for the romantic, announcing on Twitter her engagement to DJ Jonothan Morrison following a six-week romance: "He liked it. Then he put a ring on it,’’ she tweeted.
Reece Mastin proved he really did have the X-factor when a CD signing at an Auckland shopping centre in February was cancelled because of his over-excited fans. Security at Sylvia Park gave fans three warnings to stop surging forward and when the final command was ignored, promoters pulled the plug on the event. Earlier that week the Australian reality TV winner caused traffic jams and had been chased down the street by screaming teenage girls.
In March Fair Go present Alison Mau popped the question to her dance teacher girlfriend Karleen Edmonds, after finalising her divorce to One News anchorman Simon Dallow. "We’re excited to be taking this next step in our lives together, and want to thank all our family and friends for their unanimously positive reaction to our plans, and for all their unwavering support," the couple said in a statement. Mau met Edmonds at her hip-hop dancing studio, where her and Dallow’s children went for lessons. Mau and Dallow split in June 2009 after 19 years together and have two children, aged 11 and 14.
The twittersphere went ballistic in March with reports Hollywood heart-throb Ryan Gosling was cruising around Auckland’s streets. First The Notebook star was spotted on Ponsonby Rd, then World clothing tweeted that he’d just popped into their Britomart store. There were also reports he’d had a spot of breakfast at the Hilton Hotel and had been at Didas on Jervois Rd around midday. Auckland tweeters started the hashtag #NZGoslingHunt and it quickly trended across the country. Sadly, there was no proof the A-lister was here at all, but at the time fellow American actors Mathew Fox and Tommy Lee Jones were here filming Emperor.
In June the biggest star on the planet was seeing stars herself during her Auckland concert when she was struck on the head with a pole by one of her dancers. Lady Gaga reportedly suffered concussion, after being hit while performing her song Judas at Vector Area. The incident was caught on camera and showed Gaga stagger, before leaving the stage. According to the website TMZ.com she told the audience: "I want to apologise. I did hit my head and I think I may have a concussion. But don’t you worry, I will finish this show." And that she did, Gaga went on to perform another 16 songs a few days later at the last of her three Auckland concerts.
In December rapper Nicki Minaj’s Auckland concert took an ugly turn when an audience member hurled a glass at her during her Vector Arena gig. The Trinidad-born beauty looked visibly shocked and stopped performing for a few seconds after dodging the plastic Martini glass, which was bedazzled with LED lights. A fellow performer hurled the glass back into the crowd and the show then went on.
JUSTIN BIEBER/ONE DIRECTION
Bieber fever hit Auckland in July when the pint-sized popstar performed a private showcase at The Cloud and lent his star power to support sick children. Hundreds of teenage girls crowded outside The Langham hotel at daybreak to catch a glimpse of Bieber, and some were even overheard calling their schools pretending to be sick. They followed him to Starship Children’s Hospital where he was filming for a commercial promoting the hospital’s Christmas CD. A pledge by Bieber last Christmas raised almost $10,000 for the hospital. He called on his fans to donate to New Zealand’s Starship Foundation and contributed funds from the sale of his Christmas album. Similar mayhem and hysteria ensued when UK boyband One Direction - comprising Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson - visited in April. The group are due here again next year.
Nothing says shopping spree like a bored, cashed-up housewife. So it was fitting SKY Television flew Desperate Housewives star Evan Longoria to the City of Sails in October to launch the Shopping Channel. In a visit shrouded in secrecy, journalists were loaded on to a bus at one end of the city then driven less than 2km to another location where the starlet made a short 20-minute appearance. Questions were vetted by Longoria’s team but despite the restrictions the actress, who played Gabrielle Solis, didn’t fail to impress. With a perky "kia ora", she floated into the room; all glossy hair, silver space-aged nails and killer heels.
Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson’s visit to New Zealand was on-and-off the ropes for several weeks in October. After being named as the headline speaker at a motivational event called The Day of Champions, it seemed the path had been cleared for the convicted rapist to cross the border. Tyson’s visa was later revoked when children’s charity Life Education Trust removed a letter of support a volunteer had initially offered. The Manukau Urban Maori Authority then invited Tyson here on the condition he visit a South Auckland marae and speak to troubled youth. But Associate Immigration Minister Kate Wilkinson said the new offer of support was "not enough to get the application over the line". However, Tyson, who won 50 of his 58 fights, was granted access to Australia.
Controversial broadcaster Paul Henry has been across the Tasman and back again this year as he tried unsuccessfully to carve out a TV career in Sydney after been given the heave-ho from TVNZ. Lured by a three-year contract worth more than $1 million a year, Henry tried to help kickstart the Ten network’s attempts at securing a slice of the brekkie TV market, but the show never gathered speed, averaging just 40,000 viewers a day. Competitors Sunrise and Today got around 400,000. After nine months of rubbish ratings, both Breakfast and Henry were sent packing. Rumours circulated that he would return to host a new version of TVNZ’s Close Up, destined to go live early next year, but he has since confirmed he will resume his contract at Mediaworks. The company has said it is still confirming what to do with the "talented broadcaster". Stay tuned.
- Auckland Now
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