There was a number on everyone's lips last year, and that number was 2004. Who could blame them? It was a year big on surprises: thrills, love, laughter, and of course, entertainment. So let's take a trip down recent-memory lane to check out the big stories of last year!

Politics are usually pretty boring, but they made for big, big, big entertainment in 2004. Michael More, who found fame trying to interview General Motors CEO Roger Lodge a few years ago, turned up the heat on Washington with Fahrenheit 9-1-1. Call the cops, because 9-1-1 "stole" the box office! It raked in more than $100 million, and it didn't even have Julia Roberts. Congratulations on the big money-maker, Mike! Even though you may have gone a little too far picking on the president, no one can deny that you put together a wild ride!

Know what else was big? The man himself! I am talking about Jesus. Hunk-tor Mel Gibsen performed a miracle of his own, directing The Last Passion of Christ, which made more than $100 million without Julia Roberts or English. Who says that there are no surprises left in Hollywood?

People stuck on an island? Seen it! Twelve women vying for one unattached guy? Snore! A bunch of people stuck in a house while cameras follow their every move? Come on! With all this re-hashing of old ideas, it seemed like reality shows had run their course in '04, making reality junkies like me start to get the shakes. (Did anyone else have that dream where Sharon Osbourne is a baby with fangs, and she is climbing above your bed?) Thank goodness for a trio of shows that pumped some juice into the genre: The Simple Life, The Apprentice, and The Swan. These groundbreaking shows taught us some valuable lessons. For one, money can't buy happiness. And no matter how ambitious you are, you can always be fired, especially if you're black. And finally, if you're ugly, you should do something about it, even if you have to undergo plastic surgery on national television. But the biggest lesson? If you want a successful reality show, add the word "the" to the beginning of the title.

Just when you think you've seen the lowest people will go, something else comes along and surprises you. Of course, I am talking about the British and their recent remake of Band Aid's classic hit "We Are The World." Now, I know it's for charity and all, but a classic like "We Are The World" shouldn't be touched. How could anyone possibly recapture the magic of Michael Jackson and Huey Lewis singing to raise money to feed Africans? Hey UK, here's an idea: Why not write a new song for charity instead of stealing someone else's?

Christopher Reeves died. So did former Plantera guitarist Dimestore Daryl. Martha Stewart went to jail. Cat Stephens was deported. Courtney Love got drunk and hit a fan with a mic stand. And a basketball player was suspended for fighting. What has happened of the nation's heroes?

Tongues were wagging after "Did It Again" girl Brittany Spears got married not once, but twice! The first one didn't count because it was in Vegas, but not too long afterwards, she took a second walk down the aisle with You Got Served dancer Eddie Fendergrass. Why the rush to get married? Could it be that Brittany's biological clock is ticking? Let's keep our fingers crossed!

Speaking of babies, congratulations to Julia Roberts and her husband; the couple brought home a set of twins. Glenneth Paltrow also had a bundle of joy this year and named her after her computer. Australian singer Phil Collins had a son. Actually, it was his wife who had the son, of course! Phil is male!

In two of the year's sadder events, JenLo and Ben Afflex and Barbie and Ken split. We never did find out who to blame for the breakups.

This year, there weren't any movies about animals. I guess 2004 will be remembered as the year that people mattered most.

Music? Tones of it! I barely know where to begin. Kanye West took home 10 Grammy nominations, and I still have no idea who he is. But I found out his name is pronounced like "Tanya." You heard it here first, readers. Rapper Jay Zee retired and released two albums. And Ashlie Simpson emerged from the shadows of older sister Jessica, who released a Christmas album and is still happily married to Nick Cage. Way to go, Jessica and Nick!

Shreck II was a smash hit, proving that you can go home again, especially if you're Mike Meyers. Do I smell a sequel?

That reminds me: Where was Billy Crystal this year? I always liked him.

With Sex In The City over for good, where can viewers turn for top-notch puns and innuendoes from self-satisfied singles looking for love? Strangely, salvation has a name and its name is The OC. Snappy outfits, snappier banter, and the ladies? Trés lovely! Still, I'm going to miss Sarah Jessica Perker and her Big Apple pals. Now who's going to keep me in the know about the shoes I can't afford? Or wear!

And now, friends, with this, my last column of 2004, I officially retire the phrase "turn the dial." When I was a kid, I had a television with a dial that you would "turn" to change the channel. Well, anyone born after 1985 probably doesn't know what I'm talking about when I say that now, so I need to come up with another phrase that means the same thing. "Push the button" doesn't have that zing.

Had I had the space, I would've talked about a lot more entertainment. Unfortunately, I don't have that luxury in a newspaper column, which is why I'm working on a book about 2004. The working title is 2004: The Year That Laughed. I'm only up to mid-February so far, but I'm going to keep at it. That is, unless the 2005 television series keep me as busy as the 2004 shows did! In the meantime, save a seat for me...on The Outside!