Reality Television 2008 Top Ten in Entertainment

1. Celtics winning 2008 NBA Finals

The Celtics pulled it together after a disastrous 2007 by winning their 17th NBA Title!  Most key in this is that their last title was in 1986, 22 long years ago!  The disaster of the prior season also sweetened the victory after the Celtics had an 18 game losing streak and posted a horrific record of 24 wins and 58 losses in their prior season.

phelps2. Michael Phelps and the 2008 Beijing Olympics

Michael Phelps won 8 Gold Medals in the Olympics and now has to world record for most Gold Medals.  Usain Bolt destroyed all comers!  And despite obvious cheating by the Chinese women’s gymnastics team, the American Team including Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin took the most medals.  A disastrous pair of miscues by Alicia Sacramone led to a loss in the overall, but this team was possibly the best in US history.

3. Tina Fey!

We hope Tina sent Sarah Palin a huge Thank You card for providing her the perfect role to play on Saturday Night Live.  Tina didn’t even have to write the script, she pretty much used Sarah’s dialogue verbatim and had people in hysterics.


4. Batman, The Dark Knight


There have been many attempts to market the Batman story, but this latest series has the world captivated.  The difference a realistic feel to the characters and an actual fear of the villains.  Heath Ledger death accentuated his role as the Joker, which demonstrated that even in a comic book role, Heath was a blockbuster star.

5. Iron Man

While we did not want to have two movies in the top 10, we could not find any way to eliminate this gargantuan effort by Marvel.  Robert Downey Junior emerged in this movie to remind us of his diversity and wit despite a somewhat questionable past.  In fact, Robert’s bad boy antics enhanced his appeal in this leading role.

6. Barack Obama Victory Speech (Yes We Can!)

Obama won in grand style and gave an inspiring speech to America.  Almost every American heard this speech and even those that did not vote for Obama were moved.

7. David Cook Wins American Idol

Despite the judges insinuations to the contrary the week before, David Cook won American Idol easily with his unique approach to Rock.  This performance demonstrates an amazing ability to resurrect a performance of old and make it new and fresh.

8. Leona Lewis Bleeding Love Top Selling Hit of 2008

Leona was selected Billboard’s top new artist of 2008. She topped off 2008 with the number one selling single, Bleeding Love.

9. Mercy (Katee and Twitch)

We had to include this performance because it is the most striking dance performance we have seen.  The hypnotic music of Duffy, singing the classic “Mercy”  with a dance choreographed by Emmy Award Winner Mia Michaels places this solidly in the top 10 entertainment moments of 2008 and put Twitch on the map.

wii10. Wii

The Wii was available in 2007, but it took hold in 2008 to become the leading gaming system.  As people slowly forgot about the XBOX and Sony Playstation, they were getting in line to pay retail for this gaming wonder that demonstrated Nintendo is no pushover.

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Shawn Johnson Gold Olympics Balance Beam… Finally! Retires From Women’s Gymnastics? Nastia Liukin Silver.

Cheng Fei, one of the few legal contestants from the Chinese team, went first.  She stumbled on the beam and nearly fell, but managed to maintain her balance.  Her dismount had a step, but overall, her performance was strong and had a high difficulty at 6.800.  Her total score after the beam was 15.950.

Li Shanshan of China, another of the coincidental 16 year olds on the Chinese team, is considered one of the best in the world.  But on a back-flip, she completely missed the beam and tumbled off looking anything but graceful, barely catching the beam with her hands.  She recovered like a champion, but she was not going to be in the medals in this competition, but her consolation is she can come back when she is actually of age.  Her score was an absurd 15.3.  Her fall should have placed her below 15, but it would not matter.

Shawn Johnson came up and was perfection.  There is no way to describe it in words.  A slight step back on the dismount was her only flaw.  Every move was perfect.  Her smile was glowing after the performance.  Nastia was next, but Shawn was obviously anxious after other poor judging in these Olympics prior to her performance.  Then, the smile.  The relief.  The score. 16.225.  No one was beating Shawn this time, except maybe Nastia?  That was the highest score on beam in China.

Nastia was similar in perfection.  Smoother, but a slight stumble cost her the Gold.  There was a hop on the dismount for another deduction, but this performance is similar in greatness.  This time, no one would take the Americans’ thunder.  This was 1-2 all the way!!  Shawn and Nastia embraced and awaited the score.  Both smiling, but both nervous.  Nastia…16.025.  No one would come close to either girl’s score.  It was over.

Shawn Johnson GOLD!!!  Nastia Liukin SILVER!!!  US 1-2 and Legitimate Too!!

Liang Chow, the US Coach was gleaming.  Shawn trained under coach Liang Chow for ten years for this moment.

Watching Shawn take the top of the podium for Gold was a tearful event for us.  But Shawn was all smiles.  During the National Anthem, Shawn was dead serious, and you could see a twitch in her face; the shock of it all was coming home.    And just as you thought she would shed a tear, she turned forward and smiled.  No tears are inside this girl.

After the event, Shawn said, possibly revealing her desire to quit at the top, “To finally get the gold on my final routine in my Olympic career…, uh, experience, it’s the perfect ending. It means more to me than any medal ever could.”

Indeed, Shawn had a fairy tale ending that brings tears to our eyes. And it was all that much sweeter with Nastia taking Silver at her side.

Please check our other Olympic stories on Shawn and Nastia by clicking here.


The Awarding Ceremony

Chinese Disgrace, Shows Clearly They Cheat, Listing Yang Yilin as 15. Nastia Liukin Loses Gold in a Farce! You HAVE TO SEE THIS VIDEO!!

People cannot seem to understand how critical age is in women’s gymnastics. They seem to think that an older performer is better or more experienced, when in gymnastics it is dramatically far from the truth. Nastia Liukin had been injured last year and was fortunately healthy for these Olympics, but as the NBC announcer said, “Many said she was too old and too beat up”. At 18, she was too old!!!??? Such is the world of gymnastics where Nadia Comaneci won her first gold at the age of 14 and most are out of the sport before age 20.

Anna Liukin, Nastia’s mother, couldn’t even attend when her daughter Nastia competed for and won the All Around Gold Medal in Women’s Gymnastics. She had to find out via a text message on her cell.

Today, she would be in the audience, but she didn’t look comfortable.

The14-year old He Kexin, claimed by China to be 16, walked to the front of the uneven parallel bars. As NBC put it, “Does she look 16 to you?” No, because she isn’t, but she certainly looks older than Deng LinLin who we believe could be as young as 11. Kexin is great, but she could not have fairly qualified until she was 18, four years from now. While she is a great performer, it is a disgrace she is in the competition.

Kexin had fallen before, but she did not this time and was looking strong until she did the transition from the low bar to high bar and fell to an arms length downwards not able to quite make the transition smoothly. He’s dismount was ugly along with a step to the side. She got a much-undeserved 16.725, and one began to wonder if money was greasing the palms of the judges.

Nastia Liukin was next. She should not let cheating get to her, but it was obvious this was another Chinese setup. Nastia wasn’t as crisp as she could have been. Her high bar moves and dismount were fantastic, but her low bar moves looked a tad off. A tie at 16.725!! Oh my.

You cannot tie at the Olympic Games, which leaves it up to the computer to rank the gymnast. The NBC announcer once again caught China cheating. “I think they dropped the ball on this one. He Kexin had more visible errors”, he exclaimed, “That was not right!” Nastia showed the frustration plainly as the Chinese scoreboard showed He in the lead despite Kexin’s weaker performance and an unearned tie score.

It was time for Yanh Yilin to perform. The contestants must be Age 16 to compete. The screen clearly showed Yilin to be Age 15 (SEE OUR VIDEO). This should be an immediate disqualification. She nailed all points of her performance, outperforming Nastia and He, but she was clearly listed as under age. Could the Chinese finally be admitting they were cheating? And yet, she only got a 16.650 and looked totally dismayed. Maybe she lost a 10th of a point for being underage?

Photos were taken of the two Chinese underage girls posing with their lying coaches. It was a pretty sight, a 15 year old and 14 year old illegally in the Olympics.

Nastia was robbed in China.  A Gold medal had been awarded by 1/1000 of a point to the illegal Chinese contestant despite numerous visible flaws in her performance.

It is sad, that with all the talent that the Chinese possess, they have to resort to cheating to win in events for which they should not have even qualified.

The Olympics Women’s Gymnastics were a sham. Had the Americans just plain not been spectacular, the Chinese would have assured their underage girls would have won it all!

Yet another judging error in this Gymnastic competition!

Yang Yilin’s Performance with an intro showing her age as 15 yo.
The “uneven” results with commentary.


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US Nastia Liukin Wins Gymnastic Gold While Her Mother Goes Sight Seeing

Nastia Liukin won Gold Thursday night in the Women’s Gymnastics all-around Final.  She was spectacular and clearly the undisputed Gold medalist of the entire world.

But as she performed, her mother, Anna Liukin, went sight seeing.

“Actually, I wasn’t in the building at the time”, said Anna, “I decided to go and do sightseeing around the Beijing Area”.  Nastia had to text her mother saying, “I won, love you Mom”.

As Nastia hugged her father and teammates, Nastia’s mother was touring Beijing.

Her mother said she was too nervous to attend, “It would be too many butterflies in my stomach”.

At 8 AM, she texted her daughter to say “Stay focused and have fun!! Text me when you done.  Love you”.

Nastia later said, “I saw her a few hours after I won and it was the first time I had seen her since I left for the Olympics.”

Nastia’s Father, Valeri Liukin, was by her side every step of the way.

Photo Credits: Lluis Gene / Getty Images / NBC

USA Nastia Liukin Takes GOLD in Women’s Gymnastics All-Around Final; Shawn Johnson Gets Silver!!

Nastia Liukin was preparing for her first event, checking her gloves and focusing on the vault. Nastia was born in Moscow and brings Russian excellence to the US Gymnastics squad. Suddenly, she broke into the run towards the vault and burst off the board into a perfect jump sticking the landing with perfection. No step, no movement, just her hands reaching to the sky in victory.

Nastia’s father kissed her and she calmly returned to her backpack. Last year, Nastia missed nearly an entire year due to an ankle injury and could not have completed this vault all that time. Luck plays a huge part in the Olympics. It is once every four years, and you can be healthy and strong 3 out of 4 and if the fourth is the year of the Olympic games, you may never see a chance to participate again.

First score. 15.025.

Shawn’s turn on the vault. Shawn is stalkier and shorter than Nastia and has similar features to Mary Lou Rhetton. Strong legs, staunch body, and surprising strength. The vault was great, but a strong step forward on the landing may impact her score. Her left shoulder on the vault was not facing completely forward and her balance was off on the landing.

In the day of computers, all the judges have notebooks and examine every move repeatedly. There are cell phone conversations, consultations and considerable planning that goes into delivering the score, unlike so many years ago when the judges had to make their call based on purely what they saw during the actual exercise.

Shawn’s First Score: 15.875. Shawn looked angry at herself after the vault and was not happy with the score, but she was still .850 points ahead of Nastia on the way to the Uneven Parallel Bars.

Nothing could be “Nastia” for her opponents than Liukin on the uneven parallel bars. This is her event. The routine was difficult and sharp. She stepped big on the landing, but it shouldn’t hurt the score much given the incredible difficulty of the exercise. 16.650 on a difficulty of 7.700.

This is not Shawn’s strength, which is not to say she is not superb. She had some weaknesses on the hand stands but the dismount and landing stuck solid. No steps. The difficulty, however, was not comparable to Nastia’s. Score: 15.275 primarily because of a much lower difficulty rating of 6.3.

Nastia was now solidly in the lead after two events.

Shawn was first on the balance beam. Her flips across the beam were perfect. But a slight slip on a difficult reverse flip with a twist. The rest of the routine was beautiful and she had a nice dismount, but lost 1/10 on a step as she hit the mat. Score: 16.050.

Nastia raised the bar! She lifted herself up and performed several flips all landing without fault. Nastia needed a 15.975 to take the lead. Not a slip, not a bobble. And a dismount nailed, feet side by side, no step, no movement at all. Score: 16.125. Nastia still leads and beats Shawn on the beam!

The floor exercise would be the key, but with Nastia in the lead it would be hers to lose.

Nastia was in an ugly pink leotard, Shawn in the red of the team. We are not sure about the choice of color, but we are sure of the performance. Nastia was leading and the girl to beat for Gold.

Shawn was trailing Nastia by .600 at the floor exercise. Not impossible to overcome and Nastia had stepped out of bounds in her prior performance. So, perhaps, it could be that Shawn could come back. But with that lead, it was looking like the pink Nastia was the flower to bloom.

Nastia only needed a 14.75 to take the lead. She started perched to the side and made some of her signature ballet style moves. On her first set of flips and twists she nailed the landing just inside the line, not stepping out like in her prior performance. She then killed her next sequence and nailed the landing again. The entire audience was cheering, it sounded as though she had even won over the home crowd. More ballerina perfection and then a final move into a perfect hit and pose for the crowd. This was as perfect as we have seen in this Olympics on floor. Score: 15.525 and a solid lead!

This would be nearly impossible for Shawn. She put on her beautiful smile, but needed a 16.125 to take Gold. This was not possible, and Shawn knew it. Nastia already had the Gold, it was just a waiting game. Shawn’s start was incredible and one started to think about 16.125 not being all that impossible after all. She does not do the ballerina moves like Nastia and this artistic touch seems preferred by the judges. Shawn gets down to it, executing strong moves with little fluff. Another fantastic move, could this be happening, could she possibly deliver that Golden score? Her moves were powerful and clean. There were ooohs and ahhs from the audience and another incredible performance.

Could it be? Could the impossible Shawn overcome the Pink Nastia? She performed with all her heart and soul, but it would not be enough. Score: 15.525, an unexpectedly low score from a set of judges that have been particularly hard on Shawn in this competition. It would get her the Silver.

Nastia Liukin beat out Shawn Johnson of the US for the Gold, and Shawn gets another Silver!  Shawn only lost by .600 of a point.  Yan Yilin of China only lost by .675 and took the Bronze.

Nastia hugged her father, took her bow in Pink and Shawn and Nastia hugged. They posed for pics and Nastia went back and hugged her dad again. And then, as with most 16 year olds, sought out her cell phone.

US 1-2, and legitimate too!! Thank you for that wonderful performance.

Photo credits: Kazuhiro Nogi / Julian Finney / Getty images /NBC

China “Cheats” Their Way To Olympic Gold In Women’s Gymnastics. USA Silvers.

America was about to compete against the Chinese “Women’s” Gymnastics Team.  After a brilliant vault, Deng Linlin of China returned to the sidelines to be greeted and congratulated by her teammates.

The American team was nearby, and what was absolutely apparent was that the American team all looked 16.  Most of the Chinese team barely came up to the American Girls’ shoulders, and looked to be between 13 and 14 with the exception of Deng Linlin who looked all of 11 years old.

The minimum age requirement for women to be considered eligible for Olympics competition in gymnastics is 16, and somehow almost all the Chinese girls have passports that confirm they are exactly 16.  These, of course, were printed by the Chinese Government.   The International Olympic Committee has chosen to trust China to be honest in this competition despite how obvious the violation is.

The USA Team Competes

First Vault by an American was Bridget Sloan.  She jumped a perfect vault, and although a little off center on the landing, stuck it well within the line.  Her total score 15.200.

Shawn Johnson vaulted next, leaping and tumbling perfectly in the air.  The difficulty on Shawn’s vault was greater, and as she landed, her legs crossed.  Despite the slip, her score for this incredible jump was 16.0.

Alicia Sacramone was next.  Her vault was nearly perfect except for a small hop at the end.  That would cost her 1/10 of a point.  But the difficulty was high and she totaled 15.675, placing the team ahead of China, but both China and the US were trailing Russia.

Chelsie Memmel, a world champion on the uneven parallel bars took the floor.  Because of an injury, Chelsie would only compete in this event.  Therefore, the bars would be everything for her and her only contribution to the team.  This would be her last Olympic exercise, and she was near perfection.  Her landing motionless.  Her score, 15.725!

Shawn Johnson was quick and smooth in her performance and did a dismount that is among the hardest in the competition.  She nailed it without so much as a ripple.  Her score, 15.350.  This was disappointing after that great dismount.  It was difficult to explain this low score.

Nastia Liuken is stellar on the bars, and she executed a routine that is incredibly difficult.  Every move was perfect.  She fell on her last dismount in the qualifying round.  Not this time.  Score, 16.900, as close to 17 as we have seen.  As she stood awaiting her score, Nastia stood behind Deng Linlin.  Deng barely reaches the bottom of Nastia’s neck.

The next challenge for the Americans was the balance beam.  Alicia Sacramone fell off the beam.  And her look was total disgust.  She fell just jumping on the beam and lost 8/10 of a point to start.  Her dismount was amazing, but it would be negated by the poor beginning.  Score 15.100.

Liukin had to save the day and started well, but lost her balance half way through.  Despite the slight slip, her dismount was perfect, and it needed to be.  15.975.

Shawn Johnson finished up on the beam, beginning with three backflips executed perfectly.  She hit every move and then landed with only a slight step on an incredibly difficult dismount.  Score, 16.175.

After the beam, the separation between China in first and the US in second was only one point despite the “Sacramone”ous fall.  If Alicia had not slipped on the beam, the US would likely be ahead.

The Americans’ Sacramone began the floor event and could not shake the nerves.  She fell backwards, landing on her behind, after a double forward flip, losing 8/10 of a point.  The upset from her prior fall was probably just too much for her to handle, and you know she was devastated.  That fall likely gave China the gold, barring disaster.  She was brilliant in the rest of the exercise, until she stepped out to lose another 1/10 of a point.  Everything that could go wrong did.  She knew she had just lost the gold for her teammates even after all the years of practice, and at 20 this is likely her last Olympics.  She was afraid to look as the score posted at 14.125, a score the rest of the team could not hope to make up.

Nastia Liukin was next and stepped out on her first move, losing 1/10 of a point.  The exercise was beautiful, so hopefully, she could score well, but it likely wouldn’t matter after the disaster in the first exercise.

Shawn Johnson is the World Champion.  But even perfection could not win this for the Americans if it were not accompanied by disaster for the Chinese (such as their true age being revealed maybe)?  Even Shawn stepped out on the first pass.  1/10 point gone.  The entire team was rattled by Sacramone’s heartbreaking performance.  Alicia was holding tears inside, and the other girls felt it.  Shawn did well, but NBC decided a commercial was more important than displaying her score.

Why This Competition Was Unfair Before the Olympics Even Started

Bela Karolyi, the former coach of Olympic gold  medalists Nadia Comaneci and Mary Lou Retton, was interviewed before the Chinese performed, and said, “This young Chinese team (is) using 14-15 year olds, all kids, they have no pressure…”.  When asked if he believed the Chinese team was cheating, he said “that is obviously documented.  Half the Chinese team is underage.”

Karolyi followed the event with the statement, “I have to comment the Chinese Team, (are) good kids; nothing to say about that.  Too bad they are underage and should not be legally accepted…”

In other words, it is too bad that we allow the Chinese to cheat right under our nose and do nothing about it.  The Chinese Girl’s Olympic Team Gets the Gold.

And so we leave you.  The US did not execute their best game, but they also could not choose from the same range of talent the Chinese could.  The age limit should either not exist or be universally enforced.  Anything else is clearly unfair to our athletes.

We have a related follow up story on this one over at: Communism Does Not Upset us, Chinese Cheats Do! How NASDAQ Assists China As They Cheat the US in Olympics and In Business

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Please take time to read our related post: Chinese Women’s Olympic Gymnastics Team, Are They Way Under Age?
and answer our poll.

Photo Credits: Lluis Gene / Al Bello / Getty Images

Calamity Strikes USA Women’s Gymnastics Team, Manages Second in Qualification Round

A huge surprise and disappointment for the US women’s gymnastics team, Samantha Peszek from McCordsville, Indiana had to sit out the qualification round of the floor exercise due to an ankle injury. This placed the US team at a huge disadvantage. Only four would be able to perform, meaning every performance would count. Normally, they would be able to exclude the low score.

Bridget Sloan started the floor exercise. Bridget had to be the hero here, and the pressure was clearly on. She was spectacular, nailing landing after landing. Bridget had to go first and made it all look easy, but slipped at the end and slid out of bounds. Sigh, she had done so well up to the finish!!

Next up was Alicia Sacramone from Winchester, Massachusetts. Alicia is 20 years old and is the captain of this team. She too went well out of bounds, costing her ½ point. She nailed her final move, but the former world champion could not take the pressure and it means she will not advance to the individual event finals on the floor as a result of that slip.

Could any more befall the American squad? Nastia Liukin, 18, from Parker, Texas stepped up next, with a huge amount of pressure on her. Liukin was the first of the American team to perform on par with the Chinese, scoring 15.350.

Shawn Johnson, 16, from West Des Moines, Iowa had the world on her shoulders. Shawn is the current world champion in floor. She made a slight error, but nailed the rest of the routine. Shawn was superb, scoring a total 15.425, bringing the US within shooting range of the Chinese. China averaged 15.187. Despite the hurdles they had to overcome, the US averaged 15.012.

They Survive, Stumble Into Second Place In Qualification Round

The US team was in the qualification round without Samantha Peszek due to an ankle injury. Now, they had to face the vault. China averaged 15.456 in this event. That is phenomenal.

Liukin started and nailed her vault and scored 15.100.

Bridget Sloan executed a beautiful vault next and scored 15.275.

Shawn Johnson followed and executed a very difficult vault. She had a slight slip at the end, but scored 16.000 due to her superb execution.

Alicia Sacramone was last and had to do two vaults. She nailed the first one 15.850. On the second she made a slight step to the side. Her score, 15.625. The US beat China in the qualification, scoring an average 15.556 to China’s 15.456.

Awesome Ladies, Awesome.

Samantha returned for the uneven parallel bars. Her ankle was wrapped, but only the dismount could hurt the ankle. She nailed the dismount, showing her ankle was OK for this competition. She had a great routine and scored 14.800.

Bridget Sloan was selected for the team as a result of her performance on the Parallel Bars, but unfortunately she nearly missed the bar and had to settle for a score of 14.800.

Shawn Johnson had a killer session landing an incredibly difficult dismount perfectly scoring 15.325.

Chelsie Memmel totally fell off the bar. The mistake was extremely rare and at a time the US was clearly depending on her score. She has an ankle injury that only allows her to perform this event. And now, due to her slip, she will not advance to the individual event finals. Score 15.050.

Nastia Liukin has a chance at the Gold in this event, but this was not her day. The performance was great up until the end, and she blew the dismount, falling backwards onto the mat. Score 15.950. Even with the fall, she is so good, that she will still qualify for the individual event finals.

The team did not have a good session here, and China scored much higher on average, 15.662 to 15.281.

In the final event, the balance beam, Alicia Sacramone was wonderful in her exercise, and started the Americans with a score of 15.950.

Nastia Liukin next. Phenomenal peformance for a score of 15.975. We had hoped for better, but this was still awesome.

Shawn Johnson was next and had a routine that shined. Her smile as she nailed the dismount said it all, it was ear to ear. Her score? 15.975!

The US out averaged the Chinese in this event 15.850 to 15.762. They will need to be better to win the Gold.

The Chinese qualified first and the US Second. This will allow the Chinese to go last in the finals, which is a significant advantage. These ladies have a major challenge ahead.