Second life

Newsmaker Combacks
Second life
Jennifer Grey, Fidel Castro, Betty White | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Sven Creutzmann/Mambo Photo/Getty Images

Spitzer’s political career collapsed in 2008 when he resigned the governorship of New York after a prostitution scandal. But even bad publicity was good publicity for the struggling CNN, which seized on his name value and hired him to co-host a show with columnist Kathleen Parker. Parker Spitzer debuted to terrible ratings, but that’s CNN’s disgrace, not Spitzer’s.

When a media outlet reported that singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot had died, there was an outpouring of grief on blogs and Twitter. It turned out that the report was based on a hoax; when reached for comment, Lightfoot said that he was “quite surprised to hear it” and that his death had caused his music to be played much more often on the radio.

In 1789, George Washington took out the book The Law of Nations from the New York Society Library and never returned it. In 2010, after the library confirmed the book was still missing, the caretakers of Washington’s home sent over “a copy of the same edition” to replace it. But they said nothing about paying 221 years’ worth of overdue fees.

Ever since Castro turned Cuba over to his brother, there have been reports the dictator was dying. He re-emerged for an interview in which he said the reports were true: he was so sick that he “no longer aspired to live.” But now he’s feeling better and wants to live to prevent nuclear war. Every retiree needs a hobby.

After Steven Page got busted for drug possession and then departed the Barenaked Ladies, the group had to post a message to make it clear that they weren’t disbanding. This year, the Globe and Mail proclaimed them “revitalized” when they released All in Good Time, their first album without Page. He’s still there in spirit, since co-founder Ed Robertson titled one of the songs You Run Away, which Page denounced as “a low blow.”

For Grey (Dirty Dancing), Dancing With the Stars was a literal lifesaver. To prepare for the dance show, she underwent a rigorous physical; doctors found a tumour that was removed in time. The inspiring story helped her beat out Bristol Palin for the win—despite grumbling that, as a trained dancer, she was a ringer.

Last August, hardly any salmon returned to British Columbia’s Fraser River. This year, just as mysteriously, fish fell in love with the Fraser again; 25 million slithered in, the most since 1913. This made it hard to pay attention to a commission’s warnings that “no one is confident that the declines are a thing of the past.”

Just like in the ’70s, miniskirts are going out of style. Celebrities from Gwyneth Paltrow to Michelle Obama have been wearing skirts that literally go down to the floor, and fashion designers unveiled one “maxi” after another at their fall/winter shows. In Style praised them for being “long enough to keep your legs warm.” Another reason to be nostalgic for the era of Mad Men.

The rock group has been performing since 1968, but the 2010 documentary Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage (in which Gene Simmons calls them “crazy Canadians” for their clean-living style) introduced them to a broader audience. The film was a success on the festival circuit, inspiring the band’s Time Machine Tour, where they mostly played hits from their long career.

It looked as if U.S. auto companies had been decimated by the recession, but two years and a few government bailouts later, they’re making money again. Ford and General Motors both announced third-quarter profits described as their best in years, and Chrysler, trailing behind, still reported a small profit. Never write off Detroit.

The sitcom star, who was starring in TV shows before Elizabeth was Queen, suddenly found herself a cult figure among young people who barely remembered The Golden Girls. Fans of the 87-year-old White launched a successful Facebook campaign for her to host Saturday Night Live. Her episode was the highest-rated of the season and won her an Emmy. Though she already had six.