2012 Pop-Culture Predictions

Howard Sterns wins over America's heartland, and other things to come in 2012.

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NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12: Recording artists Jay-Z and Beyonce watch Rafael Nadal of Spain and Novak Djokovic of Serbia play during the Men's Final on Day Fifteen of the 2011 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 12, 2011 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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Howard Stern wins over the heartland.
The shock jock will replace Piers Morgan as a celebrity judge on "America's Got Talent" — the most-watched summer show, averaging nearly 14 million viewers each episode. The self-proclaimed King of All Media was an edgy (and expensive) choice, and the network is banking on him capturing heartland hearts.
Jeremy Renner will be the biggest box-office star of the year.
Renner stars opposite Noomi Rapace (the original “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”) in “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters,” then joins “The Avengers” before taking over as the star of “The Bourne Legacy.” Christian Bale in “The Dark Knight Rises” is really his only competition.
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Andrew Garfield will make everyone forget about Tobey Maguire as the star of "The Amazing Spider-Man."
Maguire was OK as Peter/your friendly neighborhood webslinger in the first three “Spider-Man” movies, but Garfield is a truly gifted actor whose range far surpasses Maguire’s. His gangly physicality fits the role perfectly.
Kim who?
The famous-for-being-famous sisters (and mother, brother, husbands, children and step-family) will fall off the map in 2012, and cheers to that. Their Q ratings are abysmal, Kim's 72-day (sham?) marriage rubbed fans the wrong way and then there are those pesky sweatshop allegations. They're doomed for pop culture irrelevance in 2012.
Brides will say yes to the black dress.
If the fascinator was the ultimate wedding trend of 2011, 2012 will mark the debut of the black wedding dress. Edgy for sure, but iconic designer Vera Wang (who designed all three of Kim Kardashian's wedding dresses) debuted a bridal collection with black gowns. Black diamond wedding rings are on the rise, too.
Hipsters everywhere will take up beekeeping.
After a fascination with knitting, organic gardening and raising backyard chickens, urban homesteaders' latest pet pursuit is beehives, as places as diverse as Cleveland, Houston and Marin County report increases in backyard beekeeping. Expect lengthy conversations on queen bee dynamics, and jars of homemade honey to replace pickles as the apartment-warming gift du jour.
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Tom Delay will be the next teen heartthrob.
Watch out, Biebs! Ripped, babyfaced English diver Tom Daley, who will be 18 by the time the 2012 Olympics roll around, will capture tween and adult hearts across the country and across the pond. The 2009 world champion diver competed in Beijing when he was only 14, finishing seventh in the 10m platform and 8th in the synchronized 10m platform. But it's been a rough year for Delay, who watched his father lose a five-year battle with cancer in May, and we'll all be rooting for a big win.
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Whatever Jay-Z and Beyonce name their baby will become the most popular baby name of 2012.
We expect nothing less from the man who "made the Yankee hat more famous than a Yankee can."
Ben Affleck and Alfonso Cuaron will both get their first Best Director nomination.
Both of these guys have been doing excellent work for a while but have fallen short of an Oscar nod. That should end with Affleck’s real-life Iran hostage drama “Argo,” and Cuaron’s ambitious sci-fi epic, “Gravity,” starring Sandra Bullock as a woman stranded in space trying to get back to her daughter.
Snooki will be the next celeb bad-girl to do Playboy spread.
With her brand-new, toned-up and trimmed-down bod, America's favorite guidette will be the next celeb bad-girl to grace the pages of Playboy, we think. You didn't think all those hours at the gym were for Jionni, did you?
R. Kelly will write 32 more chapters of "Trapped In the Closet."
Nevermind, he already did.
Americans become keen on handball (the Olympic sport, not the one played against the side of a building).
Olympic games spark fads. In '98 it was curling, and in 2012, Americans, weary from a year of NBA and NFL labor disputes, sex scandals and ugly fan behavior, are ready to open their hearts to handball — a high-speed sport involving dribbling, passing and firing a melon-sized ball into an opponent's net.
The European vacation makes a comeback.
Europe's imploding financial foundation makes for some great vacation deals. The euro-dollar exchange rate, which made the once-standard getaway prohibitively expensive, is now turning in the greenback's favor. Greece, and Portugal, both slammed with debt dilemmas, made Travel + Leisure's list of top getaways in 2012.
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The Yankees won't make the playoffs.
Everyone outside of New York likes to say this every year, but this year it will come true, as both Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are coming off their worst seasons, with virtually no hope of improving. Their entire bullpen — except Rivera — overperformed in 2011, and C.C. Sabbathia remains their only reliable starter.
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Kate Middleton will become pregnant and spawn Facebook pages, wagers and a generation of British-named American babies.
The woman has made Zara dresses sell out in a day, she's rejuvenated a stale millinery industry, and had brides-to-be falling over themselves for a copy of her McQueen gown. Imagine the hullabaloo a baby will rouse. And if she doesn't give birth in 2012, or if the royal couple adopts, we're still betting on royal baby mania whenever and however the blessed event happens.
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