Open letter to South Africa’s students‚ universities and government‚ represented by Minister in the .
LOS ANGELES - A crop of girls gone wild dominated the celebrity headlines this year, but the death of former Playmate Anna-Nicole Smith loomed over them all like a platinum-blonde cautionary tale.
Pop music stars, Hollywood actresses, the talented and the talent-less all found themselves in the news for the wrong reasons in 2007, when the theory that there is no such thing as bad publicity was severely tested.
Smith's death from an accidental drug overdose in a Florida hotel room in February at the age of 39 sparked a worldwide media frenzy, even if no one could explain precisely why.
Famed for her marriage to an octogenarian oil tycoon in 1994, Smith once appeared to be on the road to supermodel status after replacing Claudia Schiffer as a Guess Jeans model in the 1990s.
But the public persona unravelled over the course of the following decade, the sudden death in the Bahamas in 2006 of her son Daniel, just months before her own demise.
Smith's struggle to find happiness was mirrored by the tortured 12 months endured by former pop princess Britney Spears and actress Lindsay Lohan.
Spears and Lohan were two of the biggest names struggling to get their lives and careers back on track after they seemed to lurch from one lurid tabloid headline to the next.
Both checked in and out of rehabilitation centres more than once, with Spears' erratic behaviour seeing her being stripped of custody of her two children.
Lohan, 21, found herself in the news after being found passed out in a hotel corridor in January, a warning that was followed by the now customary stint in rehab.
Yet it got worse when Lohan was caught for drunk driving and drug possession in May, only to be nabbed for the same offences in July.
Lohan escaped a lengthy prison sentence, spending only 84 minutes behind bars.
Lohan has kept a low profile since completing a spell in an austere Utah rehab clinic in October, but the impact that her wayward behaviour has had on her career remains to be seen.
"Right now she'd have to pay a studio to get herself into a movie," a film executive was quoted as saying of Lohan.
The executive blamed Lohan and other celebrities' travails on "Hollywood's compulsion to turn child actors into products, plus a frenzied 21st century culture that has made Lohan and other celebs into exotic prey in flashbulb cages".
While Lohan escaped with less than two hours behind bars, hotel heiress Paris Hilton was not so fortunate.
The reality television star and professional "celebutante" was shell-shocked after a Los Angeles judge sentenced her to 45 days in jail in an alcohol-related reckless driving case in May.
However, the real drama was still to come. Released into home detention after three days in jail, she was swiftly hauled sobbing back to court where a judge ordered her returned to prison.
She emerged from incarceration to a blizzard of flashbulbs in late June.
Ironically, Hilton's co-star and friend Nicole Richie also spent time behind bars in 2007, albeit a less-than-harrowing 82 minutes, after being caught driving under the influence down the wrong way of a Los Angeles freeway.
Richie, the 25-year-old daughter of Lionel Richie, was fined and placed on probation.
But the roll-call of troubled celebrities extended beyond the Los Angeles bubble, most notably with British soul singer Amy Winehouse.
Though Winehouse enjoyed phenomenal success with her album Back to Black, the 24-year-old's life has appeared to be hurtling off the rails.
A reported drug overdose in August was followed by a stint in rehab, which led to the cancellation of concerts in the US. Winehouse was also arrested for drug possession in Norway in October. - Sapa-AP