"Highlights" Continued...

Issue: "News of the year," Dec. 31, 2005

Victor Conte, founder of Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative and central figure in the steroid scandal, was convicted of distributing steroids and money laundering in July and began his four-month prison sentence in December. Mr. Conte was producing supplements and illegal but nearly impossible-to-detect steroids for a who's-who list of athletes: Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield, Jason Giambi, Bill Romanowski, Marion Jones, Tim Montgomery, Kelli White, and others. But under terms of a plea agreement, his secrets have followed him to prison.

David Dingman-Grover

Early in 2005 David Dingman-Grover, now 10, of Richmond, Va., learned that he needed costly surgery on a large brain tumor he had named "Frank." His parents found a unique way to raise money for the operation: They auctioned bumper stickers on eBay that said "Frank Must Die." Dr. Hrayr Shahinian of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center heard of the family's plight and agreed to perform for free the specialized neurosurgery (Quick Takes, Jan. 29).

One month later, Dr. Shahinian successfully removed "Frank" in its entirety, and pathology reports declared David cancer-free. At the end of 2005, his mother reported on a family website that though David's immune system is still weak, he is doing well, recently earning Blue Senior Belt in Enshin Karate. The Dingman-Grovers are now selling new bumper stickers on their website. They say: "Frank is Dead."

Epic ends

For hundreds of Star Wars enthusiasts, May 19 meant an end to camping out in front of a Los Angeles movie theater waiting for Episode III. It was the end of an era that started in 1977. Now the Force lives on in Jedi imaginations-and the internet. Fans bid up an eight-foot Legos replica of a "Rebel Attack Cruiser" to over $10,000 on eBay with eight days of auction remaining.

Bird blockbuster

The penguins marched. And marched. And marched. They marched for so long, in fact, that March of the Penguins became the second-highest-grossing documentary of all time (behind Fahrenheit 9/11).

The New York Times was the first to notice that it wasn't just cultured elites flocking to see a film chronicling the penguins' remarkable arctic journey, but also inscrutable "red state" Americans. A September article noted that fans of the documentary included National Review's Rich Lowry, conservative film critic Michael Medved, and even this magazine. It was, according to the Times, "an unexpected battle anthem in the culture wars." Some conservatives identified the penguins as a positive example of monogamous relationships; others related the complex mating ritual to Intelligent Design; film producers declared themselves avowed Darwinists; and the penguins marched on.

Rob Oates & Darrin Curtis

After Hurricane Katrina, the 200 members of Faith Presbyterian Church (FPC) in Brookhaven, Miss., opened their gym and took in more than 200 people ("Mississippi misery," Sept. 24). Pastor Rob Oates said the shelter would remain open until the last person had a place to go. The FPC shelter closed on Oct. 8. "We were able to help relocate everyone into their own homes or the homes of their families or friends," Mr. Oates told WORLD. "None of our people had to go to a hotel."

Five shelter families ended up remaining in Brookhaven. Darrin Curtis and his family, who stumbled onto the FPC shelter after their car overheated while fleeing Katrina, found an apartment near the church. The church helped the family with transportation, furniture, and moving costs. Mr. Curtis works as a carpenter for a church member's company. "Life is certainly much better for them than it was two months ago," says Mr. Oates. "The church, broadly speaking, has been in this thing since the beginning, and the church is still in it now."

Moviegoers, not

Last year, the big story at the box office was Christians out in force to support The Passion of the Christ. This year's big story is who is not going to the movies: most Americans. The first half of 2005 saw Hollywood in its longest-running box-office slump ever, as it struggled through 19 weeks of weekly box-office totals lower than 2004.

Harry Potter helped, with Goblet of Fire opening in November to a best-ever for the series at $102.3 million. The film has so far grossed more than $660 million worldwide. Strong box-office receipts continued with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which enjoyed the third-largest opening of the year, at $67 million.

The film that broke Hollywood's agonizing 19-week losing streak was The Fantastic Four, a PG-rated film produced by outspoken Hollywood Christian Ralph Winter. Also helping push the movie industry out of its slump: The Exorcism of Emily Rose, which shocked analysts when it achieved the third-biggest September opening of all time. The film deals explicitly with Christian themes and hails from director Scott Derrickson, who openly professes his own faith in Christ.


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