Best and worst celebrity technology moments of 2011
Scarlett Johansson, Justin Bieber, Charlie Sheen, Lady Gaga and Alec Baldwin all make tech news, voluntarily or not
You might think Charlie Sheen is the most dangerous celebrity around, but no, McAfee says it's actually a supermodel turned TV show star (based on the amount of malware that pops up when you search her name). But plenty of other celebrities also proved to be dangerous when technology was put at their disposal. Others, meanwhile, integrated technology with their creative sides to deliver new products and funny bits. Here's a look back at the Best & Worst from 2011 (look even further back at 2010's slideshow.)
A 35-year-old man was arrested in October in connection with allegedly hacking the email accounts of actress Scarlett Johansson, Christina Aguilera, Mila Kunis and others, according to the FBI. The accused allegedly dug up personal information about the celebrities on the Internet and used it to break into their Yahoo, Apple and Google email accounts, snagging compromising photos of some of the celebs that quickly went viral on the Internet.
Charlie Sheen wins, at Twitter
Actor-turned-trainwreck Charlie Sheen talked nearly non-stop about "winning" during 2011, and in fact he did win at least one thing: the Guinness World Record for being fastest to hit 1 million Twitter followers. He did it on March 1-2 with @CharlieSheen in 25 hours and 17 minutes, and as of early December, had about 5.5 million followers. And why not, with tweets like: "Fight Night..! Pajama party at my house... Caterers just arrived... Ready... Set... Go..!! Stay tuned... Pics later..."
Going Gaga at CES
Lady Gaga glitzed up the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas in January by showing up to introduce some of her imaging creations on behalf of Polaroid. They included sunglasses with an embedded camera and a mobile photo printer. Gaga was named Polaroid's creative director about a year before.
Cowboys cheerleader turns off the tweets
Dallas Cowboys cheerleader Melissa Kellerman gained immediate fame on Thanksgiving Day when she got tackled, by accident, by Cowboys receiver Jason Witten. The collision attracted hundreds of new fans to her Twitter account, where she posted a couple of related tweets, such as "Not hurtin' today, like some of y'all thought I would be! Our TE isn't as tough as he looks... That or I'm WAY tougher than I look. ;)" But then the Twitter account suddenly went dark, fueling speculation the Cowboys had cut her off. But she and the Cowboys said that simply wasn't the case.
Robin Williams vs. Siri
The actor/comedian riffs on Apple's iPhone Siri voice command app, which he says failed to find him a restaurant while in France. He says he wishes Siri had a French accent, so could just tell him: "What do you care, I don't know! You're in France, walk down the block, look around you idiot!"
Searching for MC Hammer
Rapper MC Hammer used the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco in October to pose this question: "If you want to swing the bat, why not swing for the fences?" Then he introduced Wiredoo, a new search engine focused on deep search and still in beta as of early December. If you're searching your memory for why MC Hammer is a celebrity, he hit the bigtime in 1990 with the song "U Can't Touch This," which fueled sales of 10 million album copies of "Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em."
Ageless actress sues Amazon, IMDB
An actress of Asian descent going by the name "Jane Doe" in court documents filed in October is suing Internet movie database IMDB and parent company Amazon.com for $1 million over revealing her real age -- a liability for some actors in Hollywood. According to an ABC story on the lawsuit, the suit reads in part: "if one is perceived to be over-the-hill i.e. approaching 40, it is nearly impossible for an up and coming actress, such as the Plaintiff, to get work…"
Celebs & trade shows
Who says trade shows are boring? Not when real and has-been celebrities are on the scene. One hotbed for celebrity appearances this year was the 3D Entertainment Summit held in Hollywood in September. The all-star cast included director James Cameron, KISS singer Gene Simmons, listed as "Rock God, Media Mogul, Multi-Hyphenate."
And now, a dramatic reading of Apple's EULA
CNET scored something of a coup by twisting Academy Award-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss to take part in a dramatic reading of Apple's End User License Agreement (EULA). And yup, it's still convoluted and boring.
Alec Baldwin gets booted for playing iPhone game
30 Rock star Alec Baldwin got the boot in December from American Airlines for refusing to comply with a flight attendant's request that he turn off his iPhone, on which he was playing a game called Words with Friends. The plane was headed from Los Angeles to New York, and was still at the LAX gate when the incident took place. Baldwin went on to tweet about the event, swearing off American and giving a shout out to United.
Jennifer Aniston forces video to go viral
Jennifer Aniston pokes fun at Internet memes and the need for ads to go viral in a video ad for Smart Water, that did in fact go pretty darn viral. She employs "lovely Internet boys," animals, dirty dancing toddlers and a double rainbow guy all in the name of trying to convince us that some water tastes better than other water.
No, I wanna be Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs had barely passed in October when UK publications Now and The Sun heated up the rumor mill over who will play the late Apple co-founder in a Hollywood biopic on which filming is expected to start next year. At the top of the list? Heart throb George Clooney and fellow "ER" TV doctor Noah Wyle. Depending on how you look at it, both actors have things for and against them. Clooney is a proven leading man material, though is recovering from an injury sustained in filming another movie and looks less like Jobs than does Wylie. At age 50, Clooney would be a stretch to play Jobs in his 20s, when Apple started up. Wylie, 40, played Jobs once before, in the 1999 TV movie about Jobs and Bill Gates called "Pirates of Silicon Valley," and even made a cameo during a MacWorld conference. But will producers really want to go to that well again?
Who's the vampire?
Pete Townshend, guitarist for the classic rock band The Who, branded Apple and its music business a "digital vampire" for allegedly reaping huge profits without sharing enough with musical artists. The former bad boy asked during a speech in England: "Is there really any good reason why, just because iTunes exists in the wild west Internet land of Facebook and Twitter, it can't provide some aspect of these services to the artists whose work it bleeds like a digital vampire... for its enormous commission?"
Stars come out for Steve Jobs
A private memorial for Steve Jobs held at Stanford Memorial Church shortly after his death in early October drew a slew of A-listers. Among those in attendance, according to Apple Insider: Former President Bill Clinton as well as actor Tim Allen, and singers Joan Baez and Bono (of U2), each of whom performed a song at the service.
Conan helps Apple find its lost iPhone 5
Every time an Apple employee loses an iPhone prototype Silicon Valley grinds to a halt. Late night talk show host Conan O'Brien did his part to help save the day by running "an Apple ad" about the dire situation of a lost iPhone 5. The parody goes on to include "Apple employees" describing the tortures -- including strapping the person to a tree and letting fire ants run wild as well as injecting the Ebola virus -- that will be set upon whoever has the prized phone.
Zuckerberg meets Zuckerberg meets Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg, the ubiquitous CEO of Facebook, made a cameo appearance on Saturday Night Live in January alongside two actors who portray him. Jessie Eisenberg, the actor who plays Zuckerberg in "The Social Network" and was nominated for an Oscar as Best Actor, hosted the show and was joined onstage during his monologue by SNL regular Andy Samberg, who was playing Zuckerberg and uttered "All hail the Zuck!"", and then by Zuckerberg himself. Supposedly, Eisenberg and Zuckerberg had never met until then. Samberg yucked it up again with Zuckerberg in September, impersonating the social network leader at the company's F8 conference.
Even "Glee" star can't save HP TouchPad
HP recruited young celebrities, including comedian Russell Brand, Glee's Lea Michele and iCarly's Miranda Cosgrove to hawk its ill-fated and short-lived HP TouchPad tablet computer along with other webOS devices such as the Veer smartphone.
Beware Heidi Klum
Fabulous model and Project Runway star Heidi Klum topped McAfee's list of Most Dangerous Celebrities in Cyberspace. McAfee research found that searching for the latest Heidi Klum pictures and downloads yields more than a 9% chance of landing on a website that has tested positive for online threats, such as spyware, adware, spam, phishing, viruses and other malware. Klum knocked off Cameron Diaz from the top of the list, as Diaz slipped to #2, followed by Piers Morgan at #3 (really???).
Justin Timberlake: MySpace's last hope?
Pop star Justin Timberlake, who played Facebook backer Sean Parker in the movie The Social Network, took an ownership stake in beleaguered MySpace in real life. Timberlake is part of a group looking to save MySpace in a $35 million deal by adding cool to the one-time social network market leader. "There's a need for a place where fans can go to interact with their favorite entertainers, listen to music, watch videos, share and discover cool stuff and just connect. MySpace has the potential to be that place," Timberlake said in a statement.
Long national iPhone nightmare ends
The Daily Show led off a January episode with a segment during which host Jon Stewart celebrated the "Freedom!!!" now being offered Apple iPhone users who want to switch from AT&T's network to Verizon's. "For the past three or four years, those of us in the iPhone community have sacrificed one thing for the ability to carry around every photograph we've ever taken… or song we've ever listened to, or home video, or compass," Stewart said. "We have sacrificed the ability to make phone calls. For years! Struggling with the world's most popular, almost phone… Well, our long national nightmare may soon be over," Stewart said, then flipped to a clip of Verizon President Lowell McAdam announcing that the iPhone 4 would be available on Verizon's network on Feb. 10.
Serena rethinks that Twitter avatar
Tennis star Serena Williams, known along with sister Venus for pushing the limits of fashion on and off the court, wound up switching her Twitter avatar after coming under fire for revealing a little too much of herself in the photo.
Tupac lives! Biggie too!
Tupac Shakur, the rapper killed 15 years ago, was brought back to life briefly this summer courtesy of a hacking stunt. PBS ticked off LulzSec by airing a program on WikiLeaks that the hacking group didn't like, and LulzSec responded by hacking the PBS website and posting a bogus story about how Tupac had been found alive these many years later and was living with Biggie Smalls, another slain rapper, in New Zealand.
Well, at least someone loves the RIM PlayBook
RIM could use a lot more people like talk show host Ellen Degeneres in the world. In April, she revealed her love for the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet and gave out the devices to all 400 people in her studio audience ("The cool device has the ability to run multiple apps at the same time without missing a thing, and is ultra portable and powerful -- it also runs Adobe Flash!" She then went on to offer visitors to her website a chance to win PlayBooks as well. RIM isn't quite giving away the PlayBooks itself yet, but has been discounting heavily.
Calling Justin Bieber
A Syracuse, N.Y., family went through hell for about five days after a website posted their phone number as being heartthrob singer Justin Bieber's. The McGriff family reported getting hundreds and hundreds of calls, many from young females who simply shrieked into the phone. Eventually, the family talked Time Warner Cable into switching their phone number. (Said one of the teen boys living in the house: "My mom called [Time Warner] and said, 'Look, we need to change our number, we can't get anything done.'"
No more drunk texting for McGraw
Country singer Tim McGraw says one reason he decided to get clean and sober was to put an end to his drunk texting to wife Faith Hill. He told "On the Red Carpet" that "I only learned how to text because back when I was drinking, I would get in trouble when I would call my wife and she would find out I was drinking. And then I started slurring my texts and I figured hell, I gotta quit drinking. Thank God nobody knew anything about Skype back then -- I would've never stayed out of trouble!"
Amazing, disappearing Kyocera Echo
Sprint made a big deal in February of having magician David Blaine help it introduce a dual-screen, Android phone called the Kyocera Echo in New York City. Sprint billed the device as "yet another industry first." However, by fall word had spread that Sprint was making the phone disappear, without Blaine's assistance or any fanfare.
No Joke: Chuck Norris pitches for World of Warcraft
Tough guy actor Chuck Norris, in all his knuckle-cracking glory, pitches in new ads for Blizzard's massively multiplayer online game World of Warcraft. He follows in the footsteps of other WoW pitchmen, from Mr. T to William Shatner. Not that Chuck Norris really follows in anyone's footsteps, as the Internet Meme might go.
Steve Martin tweets a book
Comedian Steve Martin announced in October, on Twitter, that he would be creating a book based on his tweets and replies to those 140 words-or-less bon mots. The book, weighing in at just more than 100 pages, will be called The Ten, Make That Nine, Habits of Very Organized People. Make That Ten and is slated to debut in June of 2012, according to a PC World article.
Simon Cowell's U.S. X Factor got off to a rough start when the Fox TV show's database got hacked early this year and details of some 250,000 would-be contestants were swiped. Names, addresses, phone numbers and birth dates were taken, though not credit card info. The LulzSec hacking group claimed responsibility for the break-in, and a suspect in the case was arrested in June.
Katy Perry thought she wanted what all the cool kids have — an Apple iPhone 4S with Siri voice activation — but tweeted in December that she missed her buttons and was returning to her BlackBerry.