Celebrity gossip. Some of us love it, some of us hate it. Most of us, though, sort of love to pretend to hate it but secretly love it. Though, admit it, lately it's been a bit staid. Everything now just seems a bit tired (or, you know, British). So is celebrity gossip really dead? For our sake, we hope not. And, really, we don't think it is. We're just in a time of change, the old guard is leaving and a new, squeaky foaming-at-the-mouth group of celebutantes is entering. People are so very tired of Britney, she does nothing but ride tiny cars these days, and Lindsay Lohan seems actually (shriek!) sorta cleaned-up and is working. So let's get on with the new ones. But who will they be? Well, as is (sigh) clearly evident, young starlets will get the brunt of gossip's harsh glare, but there will be some men, too. Find our picks for 16 of America's next top freak idols after the jump.
1. Miley Cyrus
Why She Will Be: Remember when Cyrus (perhaps better known as Disney Channel phenom Hannah Montana) posed! practically naked! for Vanity Fair? She was just fifteen years old. If that's not an auspicious beginning to a decade spent in the celebrity trenches, I just don't know what is. Also, throw in Billy Ray, her just slightly creepy overbearing papa and that's a strong soup.
Why She Won't: This new generation of Kids 2.0 might be so inured to the popwrecks of Lohan and Spears that they know what pitfalls to avoid. Perhaps Cyrus will deftly navigate her years spent not a girl and not yet a woman and will emerge — hoarse voice, rosy complexion, sunny disposition intact — just fine. Consider that a hopeful prayer, Miley.
2. Dakota Fanning
Why She Will Be: Because everyone, strange perversions or not, likes to see a child star awkwardly stumble into adulthood. Fanning, star of such films as I Am Sam and War of the Worlds, has been on our national radar since she was a wee one. And now, as she enters teendom, our prurient ears and eyes will perk up, waiting salaciously for the first sexual bumble, that first tentative alcohol-fueled evening made just a bit too public. And we will eat it up. Plus, expect some "look at me!" grownup movies. It may have already started with last year's Hounddog, for which a then-12-year-old Fanning filmed a graphic rape scene.
Why She Won't: So far Fanning has seemed to possess almost otherworldly intelligence and maturity. Maybe she'll go the Jodie Foster route, disappearing for a bit to experience regular life, then reemerging as a serious, adult actress to be reckoned with. And maybe also a lesbian.
3. Jamie Lynn Spears
Why She Will Be: Oh hell, she's already there. Preggers at sixteen, photographed repeatedly driving around in a strange gocart with her dopey boyfriend, spotted outside silly chain restaurants in Mississippi. She's already a Britney redux and she's still so young. Once she pops out her first bastard child, expect either another pregnancy, a glorious flameout effort to get her career back on track, or both.
Why She Won't: An early death could slow her down. But, more likely, general Spears fatigue will carry over to the littlest dumpling, and Jamie Lynn will just fade into bayou obscurity, Spanish moss shrouding the Spears clan forever. Well, until her mama Lynn storms the gates of LSU and begins hurling wine coolers from the clocktower in a last ditch bid for attention.
4. Zac Efron
Why He Will Be: Because everyone loves a good heartthrob, especially one who acts, sings, and dances. Don't believe me? Just look at ol' Justin Timberlake. The High School Musical star is lined up to star in some major features in the next couple years, meaning he's only a couple nights of too-hard partying, several gorgeous celebrity girlfriends, and a few harmless gay rumors away from being a Justin-sized Us magazine cover cash cow.
Why He Won't: For every JT out there, there are a thousand Ashley Parker Angels, Nick Carters, and Lance Basses. Yeah, they've all had some exposure, but nothing legendary. If he's lucky, Efron will work until his mid twenties, then retire to Northern California with his roommate Barry, where he'll sculpt and direct the musicals at the high school.
5. Miranda Cosgrove
Why She Will Be: Starring on both Drake & Josh and iCarly, the Nickelodeon workhorse is being groomed for big things. Though popular with tweens, we don't know much about her personal life, just that she seems to be truly focused on making it in the biz. Meaning she's a simmering party girl just waiting to bust out. She'll tromp down red carpets, swill champagne, and bed hop with the best of them.
Why She Won't: Who the hell is Miranda Cosgrove? What the hell is an iCarly?
6. The Gossip Girl Kids
Why They Will Be: They're young, pretty, buzzed-about, and on a hip (if little-watched) teen soap. Sure that only carried the OC moppets a short distance, but the GG kids could outlast them, we think. They seem a little more dangerous, a little more edgy and exposed. Maybe it's the New York factor, maybe it's that some of them are already popping up in tabs because they're dating, or maybe it's that we're pathetically obsessed with some of their sexualities. Whatever the reason, they just seem to have a certain something that makes us think at least one of them will be big.
Why They Won't: They'll need to do more than be on a low-rated CW show. The 90210 kids of old never really parlayed their crazy buzz into anything substantial, tabloid or otherwise. Once the show is canceled (mid-season next year, we predict), they'll probably just wander down Lexington, make a left somewhere, and disappear forever.
7. Shia LaBeouf
Why He Will Be: Yes he's irritating and over-hyped, but that hasn't necessarily stopped anyone in the past. The young actor has the same rakishness and noble devotion to his craft that makes George Clooney such an irresistible public figure. He probably won't be smeared across tabloid headlines for threatening cops or burying himself in mountains of blow, but his dating life will soon be on constant public display, we suspect.
Why He Won't: He's irritating and over-hyped. People will grow tired of his shtick. He won't settle comfortably into his looks as he ages. An early cocaine problem will derail him before he can first become hugely famous and then develop a coke problem, when it won't matter. Any or all of the above could prove to be true.
8. Emma Stone
Why She Will Be: Maybe it's the Lohan-esque red hair. The Superbad actress, who's going to be in a comedy called The House Bunny this summer, just seems a bit roguish. A bit dangerous. This is just a weird hunch.
Why She Won't: With only one movie under her belt, she's pretty untested as a person of interest. Plus she seems smart, which could mean that she'll avoid all the youthful Hollywood nonsense. But then again, that red hair...
9. The Jonas Brothers
Why They Will Be: The tight pants. The floppy hair. The foppish hats. The virginity-promising rings. The gooey lyrics. The legion of girly fans. This tweeny bop band (and stars of the upcoming Disney Channel movie Camp Rock, with Miranda Cosgrove! Excited??!) are just too good a set-up. This precarious house of cards must fall, and it must fall in a big (and hopefully gay) way.
Why They Won't: Tight pants. Floppy hair. Virginity. Gooey lyrics. Legion of girly fans. Sounds just like 90's teen boy rock band Hanson, right? And where the hell are those Christian-nut brothers these days? All are living happily-married peaceful lives, with adorable babies biting at their ankles while they record well-reviewed albums together. The Jonas Brothers, who started off as a Christian rock band, could meet the same pleasant fate. Plus, if they were to fall, it would probably be in one glorious catastrophe. Their denouement probably wouldn't last long enough to endure a massive tabloid barnstorm.
10. Shenae Grimes
Why She Will Be: Already big with the young ones because of her "work" on popular Canadian teen melodrama Degrassi: The Next Generation, Grimes is poised to get even bigger when the new 90210 reboot premieres this fall. Grimes is attractive, not too Candian-style "aboot"-y, and has shown a willingness to bare more than her emotions on Degrassi.
Why She Won't: The new 90210 could be a terrific failure. Plus her name is Shenae Grimes.
11. Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Tisdale
Why They Will Be: The third High School Musical movie, in which they both star, is going to play in actual fucking movie theaters. Hudgens already had a nude photo scandal involving boyfriend Zac Efron, and Tisdale seems to thoroughly enjoy paparazzi-baiting and flitting down red carpets. Again we have a set of mostly-virginal actresses poised to sully their reputations, over and over and over again.
Why They Won't: The HSM craze could fade. Their popularity might not be as big as Disney would like you to believe. They'll both need to do a couple of saucier, more risque projects before they can expect to be mercilessly hounded by crazed photographers.
12. Katherine Heigl
Why She Will Be: Well, she may already be there. She's photographed constantly, but it's usually tame shots of her having dinner with her husband or at some event. With her newly acquired bitch status, could we be on the verge of some sort of Joan Crawfordian meltdown? Imagine the paparazzi photos of Heigl, bedraggled with curlers in her hair and a cigarette dangling from her lip, chasing people down the street in her housecoat.
Why She Won't: She could get her bad attitude in check and right herself on the course to major movie stardom. Sure she'll still be in the tabloids, but it'll be for more pleasant things like "Who Wore it Best" and photos of charity events.
13. Michael Jackson
Why He Will Be: While there may be no second acts for most American lives, the ridiculously troubled singer/dancer/child romancer Jackson has had fourth, fifth and sixth acts in the past dizzying two decades. He's been laying low for a while, which could possibly be setting the stage for the (gulp) final act.
Why He Won't: Isn't he broke and living in Dubai somewhere? What could he possibly do to get back in the public eye? Oh, actually get convicted on a molestation charge and be sent prison? Oh, OK.
14. Samantha Ronson
Why She Will Be: The lesbian DJ and probable lover of Lindsay Lohan, could launch her own sort of spin-off. Could Us Weekly and co. be ready to give her her own sort of spin-off, once she inevitably parts ways with Lohan? A druggy, be-hatted lesbian trots around Hollywood, outing starlets. Sounds like a good story to us.
Why She Won't: The Lohan factor is probably all she's got going for her in the famous department. Once that does end, it's more likely that she'll just retreat back to being a small celebrity on the club circuit.
15. Elle Fanning
Why She Will Be: The 12-year-old sister of our no. 2 Dakota, Elle could follow in the footsteps of addled siblings like Jamie Lynn or Paris's brother, Barron Hilton. It could also be interesting to watch her rocket past her sister in fame and success, only to lose it all when all the attendant problems of sibling rivalry and problematic family dynamics come racing to catch up with her.
Why She Won't: Perhaps Dakota will, in fact, supernova and Elle will run screaming in the other direction. Or maybe the successfully Jodie Foster-like version of Dakota will shield her little sis from all the slings and arrows. (Plus it's awful to predict a miserable fate for a 12-year-old. You should be ashamed of yourself, Richard.)
16. The Vengeful Ghost of Anna Nicole Smith
Why It Will Be: Hey, it could happen!
Why It Won't: No, no it could not.