1. Something "mysterious" will happen to Mikhail Prokhorov just days before the Russian election, ensuring Putin the victory.
2. Peyton Manning will make a complete recovery and throw for over 4,000 yards.
3. Barack Obama will win the 2012 presidential election without winning the popular vote.
4. A seemingly untouchable artist within the classic rock canon will experience a stunning fall from grace.
5. Near the very end of 2012, China will initiate a new space race.
6. For the first time since the '90s, heroin reemerges as the "hot" drug in artistic circles, particularly in hip-hop and the visual arts.
7. A popular trend story in the mainstream media becomes coverage of "Gen Y Luddites" — teenagers who consciously disdain social networking and technology.
8. The Smiths reunite and perform before 100,000 fans in a Mexico City soccer stadium.
9. The year's biggest movie is P.T. Anderson's THE MASTER.
10. Unconfirmed tabloid rumors suggest a fleeting summer romance between Drake and Taylor Swift.
11. Prolonged, unseasonably cold weather drives produce prices through the roof.
12. Usain Bolt is shockingly upset at the 2012 Olympics.
1. Manny Pacquiao beats Floyd Mayweather in a controversial split decision after which Floyd launches into an epithet-laden tirade, which, of course, is followed up with a dis track titled, "Fuck Bob Arum." Things that rhyme with Arum: "Chair 'em," "Dare' em," "Share 'em."
2. Jimmer puts up 14 a game for the Kings. John Hollinger adjusts the bottom end of PER as a result.
In his first season at Ohio State, Urban Meyer will go 11-1, win the Big Ten championship, and defeat Michigan. Meanwhile, after Tim Tebow breaks his femur diving for a first down, the Denver Broncos will lose their final five games of the 2012 season, leading to the firing of John Fox. Meyer will insist repeatedly that he is not interested in the job, and then after the Buckeyes' Rose Bowl victory over Oregon, he will take the job. In his second season in Denver, he will coach Tebow to a Super Bowl victory over the Chicago Bears, and then retire from coaching the following year after suffering a massive anxiety attack on the sideline of a preseason game.
Six months later, he will replace Mack Brown as the head coach at the University of Texas.
— Michael Weinreb
An active player in one of the four major American sports will come out of the closet. The odds are 50/50. Maybe better.
— Bill Barnwell
2012 will be the beginning of a new era of advertising (she wrote hopefully). Besides the Orkin and Dos Equis "Most Interesting" men, the past few years in commercials has been a mostly plain-yogurt flavored bowl of offerings peppered with occasionally offensive gender stereotyping and the same five white guys who live in an apartment and keep getting intruded on by spokespeople summoned by sound effects. No longer! We should prepare to be offended and excited, and then further excited by how offended we are, and then even more offended by how excited we were to be offended in the first place (this will be a completely modern emotion; side effects will include an immediate sensation of sinus decongestion). The advertising arena will become more competitive (so I won't have to spend an hour trying to find a screen-grab of the L'Oréal makeup advertisement misstep, "Now up to ten years disappear in a single stroke" — no thanks, I'll keep the ten years and spend them in South Beach — other advertisers will have preserved it forever to degrade whatever agency was responsible), more artful, more interesting. Somewhere, a young Don Draper is out-Drapering the master. His time is nigh.
— Tess Lynch
Pretend, for a moment, that you're a greed-maddened Florida shopping-mall magnate with a penchant for acquiring sports teams you can't afford. Through some ingenious accounting tricks, you've managed to "buy" the most successful club in the history of English soccer. (What you've actually done is borrow several hundred million dollars to pay for the club, then foist the debt back onto the club, a practice known in business as a "leveraged buyout" and in everyday English as "bullshit.") You devise a business model that depends on the club pulling down massive revenues in order to stay ahead of the very large interest payments it owes just for having you as an owner. To make enough money to stave off the creditors, your club has to maintain a ferociously high standard of success — kids in Hong Kong aren't shelling out for a fifth-place jersey. Fortunately, you have a brilliant coach (who just happens to be 70 years old), and your first few years, you absolutely nail it.1
Here's the question, though. Are you in this for the long haul? Or are you just trying to stay ahead of the crash and make a buck on the way out? The despised Glazer family2 has, since taking over Manchester United in 2005, turned the club's 300-million-odd worldwide fans into a gold-plated revenue machine — $160 million in commercial income last year, and that doesn't include match-day intake or TV rights. The club is as shiny an investment target as it's likely to be for a long time, something the Glazers, who have been plotting to sell a minority stake through an IPO in Singapore, obviously recognize. At the same time, though, the team has started to lag on the pitch. United did an early pratfall out of the Champions League, have dropped behind their rivals Manchester City in the Premier League table, and haven't turned up viable replacements for some of the great players of their recent past.
And then there's Alex Ferguson, who's not getting any younger. If he were to look at the cards and decide to retire, if the club couldn't find a way to compete with Man City, and if the money dried up, things could get really bad for the owners. The Glazers have supposedly turned down a one-and-a-half-billion-pound offer from the royal family of Qatar, but that was before the Champions League collapse. If I'm them, and another oil lord offers me a string of zeroes, I might think twice before I turn him down.
— Brian Phillips
1. Rooney Mara
2. Jessica Chastain
3. A Bottle of Self-Tanner
4. A Homemade Egg-White Omelet
5. Chris Pine
6. His Own Mouth
7. The Hangover Monkey But As a Joke
8. The Business Section of Le Monde
9. One of His Old Wigs
10. Olivia Munn's Emmy
— Max Silvestri
The Knicks remain one-dimensional with their loaded frontcourt and inexperienced backcourt. They limp to a sixth seed in the Eastern Conference's playoffs. The Boston Celtics again end their season, paving the way for Mike D'Antoni's exit. Phil Jackson, fresh from a year's sojourn, graciously accepts the Knicks' coaching gig. He calls it his dream job. The Triangle falls apart when Carmelo and Amar'e refuse to pass the ball to anyone else. Jackson is gone in less than a year and performs roadside interviews while doing mescaline.
— Jonathan Abrams
4/1 - Sasha Knowles-Carter
7/1 - Carmen Knowles-Carter
10/1 - Houston Knowles-Carter
25/1 - Dereón Knowles-Carter
50/1 - House of Dereón
100/1 - Beyoncé II
— Rembert Browne
The Black Eyed Peas will release an eleven-song acoustic album featuring a different guest artist on each track. Fergie will sing tasteful harmony for most of the album. Mike D of the Beastie Boys will take on primary percussion responsibilities and Bob Power and Rick Rubin will be recruited to produce.
GUEST: DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE
This song will be boring and undeniably earnest, with an impossibly drawn-out opening, rendering it the precise opposite of most Peas offerings. Will.I.Am will pitch in with a whistling solo. When played in public, people will appear pleased to hear this song, humming and holding significant looks on their faces, but no one will ever play it while alone. Ever.
This track will contribute a sense of thoughtful whimsy to the album, as it muses on the following question: Why do all parties seem unique as they're happening, but when one looks back, sober, they all seem the same, and is this something to be sad about or only a comment on the flaws of human memory? Cake front man John McCrea again proves he can bring sneaky gravitas to any premise.
GUEST: BILLY JOEL
A forgettable ballad. The noteworthy upshot here is that during recording, which will take place at Jermaine Dupri's aviary on the Outer Banks, Billy Joel and the members of the Black Eyes Peas will suffer simultaneous epiphanies, both realizing all they ever wanted to do was make the music the other made. Tears will be shed. Everyone in the room will reach the beautiful realization that underneath it all they have the same motivation and duty: to help white people have fun.
This track will never be released, as during the session — about fifteen minutes in — Everlast will beat up each Black Eyed Pea and also unlucky members of their entourage. The audio of the beatdown will be leaked and will draw one trillion listens within the first 30 days.
Beck will harness the exuberant energy of his hosts and add a touch of retro absurdity and some new-millennium Southwestern swerve. Beck and the Peas will manage to honor the genres the Peas normally parody. This song will win a Grammy.
GUEST: MARC MARON
Mike D provides a strong but unobtrusive beat (no rim shots here) over which Maron, the only voice on the track, will unleash a blistering four minutes of mockery aimed directly at the Peas.
Who knew apl.de.ap could play harmonica like that?
GUEST: LIL' KIM
In the only song that includes rapping, the Queen Bee will challenge Fergie to find her inner gangster, the counterpart to what Fergie had already found in spades, her outer Walmart poster sexpot. Fergie will hold her own, surprising even herself, trading her usual thin metaphors and wordplay in for anatomically specific direct orders, and insuring in the process a PARENTAL ADVISORY sticker for the album.
GUEST: ROBERT SMITH
On this dark, soul-searching track, Taboo will explore his Native American heritage. Equal parts exploration, lament, and, yes, celebration, this track comes alive halfway through with Smith and Taboo crooning their guts out over Smith's stripped-down but still brooding guitar.
GUEST: RANDY TRAVIS
The title is enough: Everything I Ever Done Was Right (Until I Was Wrong for You) (a.k.a.: Booty Blitz Ballin')
— John Brandon
2012 may be the year of a U.S. presidential election, but I prefer to get my fill of sinister marketing ploys for and by corrupt institutions via girls in leotards and men in Speedos. Which is why I'm beside myself with excitement for the 2012 Olympics. No one will be immune to the "we need this" forced smiles; the aggressive "official _____ of London 2012" sponsored-bys; the articles about condom shortages in the Olympic villages and the subsequent takedowns of such thinly sourced trope; and the women's gymnastics team. This is all great news for Evan Morganstein, the super-agent who is sure to be one of the Games' biggest winners, no matter which sport you choose to develop a brief but authoritative interest in next summer.
For some basics on Morganstein, check out this piece on him in the New York Times Magazine from the weeks leading up to the Olympics (and then add the epilogue that his prize client, Nastia Liukin, ended up with the all-around gold). In addition to gymnasts, Morganstein manages many swimmers — including Amanda Beard, whose racy and druggy memoir, a "three-year project" with Morganstein, will be published to coincide with Beard's attempted comeback in the pool. Most excitingly, Morganstein (whosays that he "owes almost everything" to ... Charles Smith; I'll wait for that to sink in) has taken on as a client USA Synchro, the governing body of synchronized swimming. Expect nose plugs in your Wheaties sometime next year.
— Katie Baker
Someone on a reality competition show will be arrested for attempted murder committed during the competition itself, and you will have to read dozens of boring think pieces about whether the episode should air. Which it will.
— Mark Harris
We will all get sick of Tim Tebow by February. We will learn that Fidel Castro is totally dead. A gymnast and/or a swimmer will capture America's hearts in the London games. We will forget his or her name by October. A Kardashian will get divorced. Or engaged. Or have a vow-renewal ceremony . Things will get pretty weird with Kobe Bryant . Things will get even weirder for the Republican presidential nominee.
Honestly, the only one of these I feel good about is Castro. And, really, he's probably been dead for years, right?
— Sarah Larimer
World War Z
Starring: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale, Lucy Aharish
Director: Marc Forster (Monster's Ball; Finding Neverland)
Release Date: December 21, 2012
The 411: Brooding, postapocalyptic zombie tale with philosophical bent and $125 million budget.
Best Picture Nomination Odds: 4-to-1
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson, Kerry Washington
Director: Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs; Inglourious Basterds)
Release Date: December 25, 2012
The 411: An escaped slave (Foxx) fights to free his wife from a sadistic plantation owner (DiCaprio) in what Tarantino is describing as a Spaghetti Western set in the South.
Best Picture Nomination Odds: 3-to-1
The Dark Knight Rises
Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gary Oldman
Director: Christopher Nolan (The Prestige; Inception)
Release Date: July 20, 2012
The 411: Eight years after The Dark Knight, Hathaway, as Catwoman, helps Bale's Batman repel a terrorist threat.
Best Picture Nomination Odds: 2-to-1
The Great Gatsby
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher
Director: Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge; Australia)
Release Date: December 25, 2012
The 411: DiCaprio updates Jay Gatsby in this promising remake.
Best Picture Nomination Odds: 3-to-2
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tommy Lee Jones
Director: Steven Spielberg (E.T.; The Color Purple)
Release Date: December, 2012
The 411: Day-Lewis plays Honest Abe in Spielberg's adaptation of Doris Kearns Goodwin's biography Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.
Best Picture Nomination Odds: 8-to-5
— Davy Rothbart
Here's the Dream Team roster, which consisted of 11 Hall of Famers:
PGs — John Stockton, Magic Johnson (who was retired from the NBA)
SGs — Michael Jordan, Clyde Drexler, Chris Mullin
SFs — Scottie Pippen, Larry Bird (retired from NBA right before Olympics)
PFs — Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Christian Laettner
Cs — Patrick Ewing, David Robinson
And here's an idea of what the 2012 team's roster might look like:
PGs — Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Deron Williams
SGs — Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade
SFs — LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant
PFs — Amar'e Stoudemire, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love
C — Dwight Howard
Because the rest of the world is much better at basketball than it was in 1992, the 2012 team isn't going to touch the Dream Team's record of a 44-point average margin of victory in the Olympics. I'm not denying that. All I'm saying is that when NBA 2k29 comes out and it has the option of playing with some of the game's greatest all-time teams, all the cool kids are going to want to play with the 2012 team over the Dream Team because the 2012 team will be considered the best basketball team ever assembled.
— Mark Titus
In response to pressure from Internet commenters demanding that new The Dark Knight Rises villain Bane be rerecorded so that he can be understood more easily, a defiant Christopher Nolan overdubs him with audio of Colin Farrell brushing his teeth.
— Mark Lisanti
Floyd Mayweather Jr. will finally agree to fight Manny Pacquiao, but only after Manny agrees to drain all the blood in his body for HGH testing. The fight will take place next November in a jail cell at the Clark County Detention Center, as that will be Floyd's permanent place of residence after being convicted of breaking into the display case at the Mirage and drunkenly beating a white tiger to death with his fists. Pacquiao will win the fight by unanimous decision. A humiliated Mayweather will then suffocate himself by stuffing hundred-dollar bills down his own throat. I'll be happy if only the last part of this bizarre scenario comes to fruition.
— Cousin Sal
The Hunger Games Will Surpass Twilight
Hello, my name is Alisha and I'm a 27-year-old Twi-hard. I own all the books and all the movies and have pictures of dreamy bloodsuckers on my cubicle wall. (I know, I'm really boosting my chances at finding a suitable boyfriend in 2012 right now.) But something else is competing for my affection The Hunger Games.
Like Twilight, The Hunger Games is a tween/teen fantasy/drama series that has caught on with an older audience. But there is one major difference: Guys actually like The Hunger Games. A lot. In the past month, I've had one guy tell me he was really excited for the March 2012 movie and had two others ask to borrow my books. (David Bier, who works for office co-habitant ESPN Deportes L.A., is currently begging me to finish the third book so he can borrow it. Don't tell him I told you that.) The other factor here is that The Hunger Games is super-violent and gory, as kids fight each other literally to the death, which are far more useful characteristics in movie adaptation terms than blueish vampires looking sad all the time. Even though the book sales weren't as insane as Twilight's, I don't know any dudes who were jumping to see Edward and Bella on the big screen after watching a Twilight trailer, but I know plenty on the edge of their seats for March 23 to roll around. And so, I predict The Hunger Games will outgross the first Twilight film in box-office sales. Now excuse me while I start working on my Team Gale/Team Peeta T-shirt designs.
— Alisha Ricardi
Yes, the FedExpress appears ready to roll back to the top of men's tennis, and Rafael Nadal has vowed to get back his groove. But to both gentlemen, I say: "Look out for Robin Haase!" Do I know what I'm talking about? I honestly don't. Haase is the 45th-ranked player in the world, but his refurbished and remixed McEnroe-era attire is no. 1 with me. He has Gustavo Kuerten's ropy carriage and bouncing curls and a rich boyfriend's way with a polo shirt. He's playing tennis, sure. Yet couldn't he be steering the family yacht, too? Maybe he'll win nothing in 2012, but as long as he keeps his shorts short and shirts crisply tailored, he'll look as if he's already won everything.
— Wesley Morris
Andre 3000 will return for real. No "occasional guest verse" return: the actual, full-on, solo album and/or Outkast album ON WHICH HE IS RAPPING return. Why? Well, it has to happen eventually, right? Being a hermit has to get boring at some point? His relationship with Big Boi might suffer? Also, I checked his IMDb page and the only thing lined up is a voice role in Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted.
— Amos Barshad
Michael Phelps will flop. I love America, domination and a chiseled torso as much as the next girl, but methinks this great country's favorite merman will fail to capture our attention and gold medals in London like he did in China. Counrtyman Ryan Lochte has quietly made their rivalry less one-sided since Phelps won eight gold medals in China, and the intensity of the media spotlight on Phelps will allow Lochte to come out from the shadows and emerge as America's favorite bespeedo'ed athlete. Some of Lochte's quotes hint that he sees a new landscape in American swimming after London — "I'm worrying about myself and what I've got to do in order to become great. They can say all they want, but people won't talk until after the Olympics, when it's all said and done." When it is all said and done, and if in fact Lochte does become great, I hope he upholds the great American swimming tradition of capping off his gold medal haul with a couple bong rips.
— David Jacoby
Manchester United has won four Premier League titles and a European Cup in the six years since the Glazers took over. Last year, depending on how you run the numbers, the club spent two-thirds of its after-tax profits — $67 million — paying interest.
And this is the ultimate criterion for being a terrible sports owner: You have won four titles in six years and your fans still utterly loathe you.