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SANDRA & JESSE SPLIT
Eight days after winning her first Oscar, Sandra Bullock was left blindsided when her husband of five years, Jesse James, admitted he had been unfaithful. After laying low for several weeks, Bullock returned to the spotlight with a surprise of her own – her 3½-month-old adopted son Louis – and filed for divorce.
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JORAN VAN DER SLOOT CAUGHT
A prime suspect in the 2005 disappearance of Natalee Holloway, Joran van der Sloot was arrested in Chile on June 3 for the murder of Peruvian student Stephany Flores Ramirez. The Dutch national also faces wire fraud and extortion charges in the U.S., after allegedly soliciting $250,000 from Holloway's family. "For everything that happened since 2005, all the things said in the media, everything, I feel guilty for it," he said in a September interview from jail.
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THE HAITI EARTHQUAKE
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STEVEN SLATER %#$@ QUITS!
He lost his job with JetBlue and may be facing criminal charges, but 20-year, veteran flight attendant Steven Slater became an overnight folk hero when he cursed out a passenger over the plane's PA system, grabbed a few beers, then abandoned the aircraft using its emergency chute at New York's JFK International Airport in August.
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BRET MICHAELS'S HEALTH SCARE
After suffering a life-threatening brain hemorrhage on April 21, Bret Michaels spent nine days in intensive care before making a difficult recovery. He went on to win Celebrity Apprentice and launch a comeback tour. "I don't want my legacy to be that I had a brain hemorrhage," Michaels said in June. "I want it to be that I rocked."
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JEREMY LONDON'S BIZARRE KIDNAPPING
Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction in Hollywood. The Party of Five star – and recovering addict – claimed he was held at gunpoint and forced to do drugs after being kidnapped on June 10. "I was acting my way through the whole thing, telling myself, 'Just play like you are one of them,'" London told PEOPLE. But the actor's family publicly questioned whether his story was actually the result of his prescription pill addiction.
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HEIDI MONTAG'S NEW LOOK
While Heidi Montag faced several personal setbacks – filing for divorce from husband Spencer Pratt in July and losing her plastic surgeon to a fatal car crash in August – 2010 will go down as the year the reality star underwent a shocking 10 plastic surgery procedures in one day. The newly enhanced Montag then debuted "the best me" in January on the cover of PEOPLE, saying, "For the past three years I've thought about what to have done. I am absolutely beyond obsessed."
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BRITTANY MURPHY'S SAD LEGACY
Five months after the sudden and premature death of actress Brittany Murphy, 32, her husband Simon Monjack, 40, was found dead in the couple's Hollywood home in May. It turns out the British screenwriter died from the same causes – pneumonia and severe anemia – that claimed the life of his late wife, deepening the air of tragedy and mystery that surrounded the couple.
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KEVIN SMITH TOO FAT TO FLY
Director Kevin Smith didn't take humiliation sitting down when he was removed from a February Southwest Airlines flight for being too large to fit in a single seat. "You [messed] with the wrong sedentary processed-foods eater!" Smith Tweeted, before launching a campaign against the airline on behalf of all passengers who had been similarly harassed. "I just want them to change their policy. And stop insulting people," he said.
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FANTASIA'S SUICIDE ATTEMPT
Six years after winning American Idol Fantasia Barrino hit an all-time low, overdosing on aspirin and sleeping pills in August, on the eve of her third album release. Beset by depression and the fallout over her affair with Antwaun Cook, a married man whose wife has threatened to sue her, the singer said, "I didn't have any fight in me. I didn't care about anything. I just wanted out."
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MEL GIBSON'S MELTDOWN
The public had a front-row seat to an upturned life after Mel Gibson split from girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva in April, igniting a heated custody battle over baby daughter Lucia. Grigorieva's claims that the actor had assaulted her led to a domestic violence investigation, and soon multiple tapes allegedly featuring Gibson's hate-filled rants hit the web.