Caught on camera
On Feb. 2, country singer Morgan Wallen was caught on camera using the N-word in a leaked video. The fallout was swift: Big Loud Records suspended him "indefinitely"; his agency dropped him; the Academy of Country Music awards said he wasn't eligible for trophies this year; and nearly every radio station in the country took his music out of rotation. One week after the clip surfaced, Morgan apologized in a five-minute video on Instagram. Morgan said he was "long overdue to make a statement" and "wanted to collect my thoughts, seek some real guidance" and come before fans "with a complete thought" before doing so. The chart-topping singer said that at the time of the video, he was "on hour 72 of 72 of a bender, and that's not something I'm proud of either." He added, "I let so many people down." Since then, Morgan's met with Black organizations to discuss his words. At the end of his video, Morgan asked his fans not to defend him. "I was wrong. It's on me to take ownership for this and I fully accept any penalties I'm facing," he said. "The time of my return is solely upon me and the work I put in." Still, his music didn't seem to suffer — his 2021 LP, "Dangerous: The Double Album," sat atop the all-genre Billboard 200 chart for weeks. He ended his hiatus with a surprise appearance on stage in May that was embraced by fans. In November, he announced a tour and sold a massive amount of tickets.
Tom Cruise got some MLB playoffs face time, and the Internet responded in kind. During a Dodger vs. Giants game on Oct. 9, TV cameras showed Tom in the stands next to his son, Connor. Social media seemed to think he didn't quite look like himself. Some wondered if Tom, 59, was having an allergic reaction while others suspected he had plastic surgery. Others actually firmly believed that it was an impersonator (it wasn't). Tom did have some people in his corner, arguing that he's simply aging, but the critics outweighed the defenders.
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Vaccine comments controversy
Nicki Minaj trended in mid-September because of her position on the COVID-19 vaccine, and it had to do with her cousin's friend's testicles and a canceled wedding. Say what? Nicki first caused a stir after indicating that she would not be attending the 2021 Met Gala because it required vaccination. "They want you to get vaccinated for the Met. if I get vaccinated it won't for the Met. It'll be once I feel I've done enough research. I'm working on that now," she tweeted. She then added a tweet that soon became the subject of memes. "My cousin in Trinidad won't get the vaccine cuz his friend got it & became impotent," she wrote. "His testicles became swollen. His friend was weeks away from getting married, now the girl called off the wedding. So just pray on it & make sure you're comfortable with ur decision, not bullied." The inexplicable claim got so much attention that health officials in the United States and Trinidad had to publicly debunk them. Nicki later said she was invited to the White House to discuss her stance, but government officials pushed back and said the rapper was only offered a phone call with a White House doctor.
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Chris Noth vehemently denied sexually assault allegations levied in December. One woman told the Hollywood Reporter the "Sex and the City" actor raped her back in 2004 when she was in his apartment. Another woman said she was assaulted in his apartment in 2015. A third woman alleged she was forcibly groped by the actor in 2010. As this was happening, actress Zoe Lister-Jones, who guest starred alongside Chris on "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," accused him of "sexually inappropriate" behavior and called him a "predator." On Dec. 16, Chris, who famously played Mr. Big on "SATC" and its 2021 reboot, "And Just Like That…," said, "The accusations against me made by individuals I met years, even decades, ago are categorically false. These stories could've been from 30 years ago or 30 days ago — no always means no — that is a line I did not cross. The encounters were consensual. It's difficult not to question the timing of these stories coming out. I don't know for certain why they are surfacing now, but I do know this: I did not assault these women." After the report, fitness company Peloton removed a recent viral ad it did with Chris. He was also dropped from his talent agency and let go from CBS's "The Equalizer." A company set to buy Chris' tequila brand for $12 million nixed the deal in the wake of the claims. On Dec. 20, co-stars Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon issued a joint statement that read, "We are deeply saddened to hear the allegations against Chris Noth. We support the women who have come forward and shared their painful experiences. We know it must be a very difficult thing to do and we commend them for it."
Verdict is in
Jussie Smollett was found guilty of lying to Chicago cops about a racist and homophobic attack. On Dec. 9, a jury found the "Empire" alum guilty on five of six felony counts of disorderly conduct for making false reports to police. During the trial, two men — Abel and Bola Osundairo, both of whom were Jussie's personal trainers — claimed the actor paid them to stage the early morning attack on Jan. 29, 2019. The actor maintained his innocence and insisted it wasn't a hoax. The jury deliberated for more than nine hours before rendering its verdict. Jussie faces a up to three years in prison, but it's possible that he won't serve time behind bars. With the criminal case against the actor over, the city of Chicago will now go forward with its civil lawsuit. The city is suing Jussie for lost resources in investigating his false claims.
In one of the more shocking and disturbing stories of the year, Lady Gaga's dog were stolen and her dog walker, Ryan Fischer, was shot during the brazen dog-napping. On Feb. 24, Ryan was walking the actress-singer's three French bulldogs — a valuable breed — in Hollywood when a car pulled up alongside him. Two men got out and demand that Ryan "give it up," and a brief skirmish ensued during which Ryan was shot. As he begged for help while bleeding on the sidewalk, the thieves got away with two of the dogs, Koji and Gustav. The third pup ran away but was later recovered. A few days later, the dogs were "found" by a woman, but police were suspicious about her potential involvement. In late April, three men were arrested for the dog robbery as well as attempted murder, and in May, a criminal complaint detailed how prosecutors believe the crime went down. Two other defendants — including the woman who claimed to have found the dogs — were charged with one count each of accessory after the fact. Ryan, thankfully, recovered after a long hospital stay.
Former "19 Kids and Counting" star Josh Duggar will be spending the foreseeable future in prison. The much-maligned reality TV star was arrested by federal agents on April 29 — just a few days after his wife announced they were expecting their seventh child, who was born in October — for receiving and possessing child sex abuse images. On Dec. 9, after a six-day trial, an Arkansas jury found Josh guilty of two charges of receiving and possessing child sexual abuse material. The eldest of the Duggar kids will learn his fate at a 2022 sentencing, but he faces up to 20 years in prison for each count. Court documents and trial witnesses alleged that Josh used the Internet to download the material, some of which depicted the sexual abuse of children under 12. Authorities said there were more than 200 images. In court testimony, a Homeland Security agent said the amount of child pornography allegedly recovered from Josh's property is "in the top five of the worst of the worst that I've ever had to examine." His behavior has had repercussions for the rest of his relatives: In June, TLC pulled the plug on the Duggar family series "Counting On." The "19 Kids and Counting" spinoff was launched after the original show was canceled in the wake of news revealing Josh had molested five girls, including some of his own sisters, when he was a teen. A few months after that, he confessed he had an adult film addiction and had been unfaithful to his wife after he was named in an AshleyMadison.com cheating website data breach. After his conviction, some of Josh's family members applauded the jury's decision. Josh's lawyers said he plans to appeal.
At the start of 2021, Ben Affleck was still dating actress Ana de Armas and Jennifer Lopez was planning a wedding with Alex Rodriguez. What a difference a few months makes! Ben and Ana broke up in January. J.Lo and A-Rod split in April. And just a few weeks later, Bennifer was back on 17 years after they called it quits. In late April, reports revealed Ben had been spending time at J.Lo's Los Angeles home, and photos of them in Miami and Montana confirmed that they were giving things another go. The romance, it seems, can be attributed to the power of the pen (electronically speaking): TMZ reported on May 11 that Ben began emailing Jennifer in the spring while she was in the Dominican Republic filming "Shotgun Wedding." The actor was "loving and longing for Jen" in the messages, TMZ claimed. The couple made their red carpet debut (again) at the Venice Film Festival in Italy on Sept 10.
Armie Hammer checked into a Florida in-patient rehab facility to seek treatment for "drug, alcohol and sex issues," Vanity Fair reported on June 8. In January, the actor was accused by multiple women of sexual violence and emotional abuse, which he's denied. Meanwhile, he exited multiple projects in the wake of those allegations and the emergence of screen grabs allegedly written by him in which he discussed cannibalism and sexual fantasies involving rape. According to Vanity Fair, Armie checked into rehab on May 31 with the full support of estranged wife Elizabeth Chambers, from whom he split in 2020, and planned to stay for "as long as it takes to get healthy." A friend added, "This is a clear sign that he is taking back control [of] his life and knows that this [is] a step towards his overall well being."
Duchess Meghan made some shocking claims about the British royal family in a bombshell-filled interview with Oprah Winfrey that aired on March 7. The former Meghan Markle, who's of mixed race, alleged that there's racism in the royal family, indicating that at least one high-ranking royal was openly concerned about how dark son Archie's skin would be. (Although she and Prince Harry both refused to identify the family member who made the comment, Harry told Oprah it was not Queen Elizabeth II or Prince Philip.) Further, Meghan and Harry both said the family didn't protect them from falsehoods in the press. "They were willing to lie to protect other members, but not willing to tell the truth about me," Meghan said. The interview was explosive and touched on a slew of things including Meghan's suicidal thoughts during her first pregnancy and allegations the palace refused to help; claims that son Archie wouldn't get palace protection; Harry's strained relationship with his brother and dad, who Harry said stopped taking his calls as they were contemplating new roles in early 2020, and more. Harry also said the royal family lives in a "toxic environment." Two days after the interview, the palace released a brief statement that said the issues raised, "particularly that of race," were "concerning." The statement further claimed that the royal family was unaware of the challenges faced by Harry and Meghan. On March 10, Prince William told a journalist, "We are very much not a racist family." In June, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were in the news for happier reasons: They welcomed their second child, daughter Lilibet "Lili" Diana Mountbatten-Windsor, in Santa Barbara, California — though their name choice soon sparked fresh drama that was covered in the British tabloid press.
The writing was on the wall for a long time, but Kimye is now officially done — at least as far as Kim Kardashian West is concerned. After months of speculation, Kim pulled the plug on her nearly seven-year marriage to Kanye West in early 2021. On Feb. 19, TMZ reported that she'd filed for divorce. A few months after the split, the exes agreed to joint custody of their four kids. Kanye, meanwhile, moved on with model Irina Shayk: They were photographed together in France on a trip celebrating his 44th birthday in June. Then he was linked to model Vinetria. But as the year wound down, he started publicly sharing that he wanted his wife back: In November, Kanye declared that God wants them to reconcile, and he pleaded for her to "run back to [him]" during a concert. Kim, however, has moved on: She was linked to "SNL" star Pete Davidson in October and not long later, the dating rumors were confirmed. She also asked the court to declare her legally single and said there is no hope for a reconciliation. In other huge Kardashian news, "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" came to an end in May after 20 seasons and nearly 14 years on the air. The family has a new show debuting on Hulu in 2022.
It's the end of an era for Bachelor Nation. On June 8, Chris Harrison confirmed that he was leaving the "The Bachelor" franchises after 19 years at the helm. "I've had a truly incredible run as host of The Bachelor franchise and now I'm excited to start a new chapter," he wrote on Instagram. "I'm so grateful to Bachelor Nation for all of the memories we've made together. While my two-decade journey is wrapping up, the friendships I've made will last a lifetime." Page Six reported that Chris demanded a $25 million buyout; Variety later reported that he scored a $9 million exit deal. Chris had taken a leave of absence from the franchises a few months earlier after defending contestant Rachel Kirkconnell for her controversial racist past actions. Later in the year, he made headlines for a far happier reason: He and "Entertainment Tonight" correspondent Lauren Zima, whom he started dating in 2018, got engaged.
Sharon Osbourne found herself to be a casualty of the Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan's interview with Oprah WInfrey. On March 14, "The Talk" announced that the show would go on a brief hiatus while CBS reviewed a heated exchange between Sharon and fellow co-host Sheryl Underwood. The women got into a dustup on March 10 as Sharon defended Piers Morgan's controversial comments about Meghan in which he questioned the validity of her mental health struggles and her allegations of royal family racism. Sharon demanded that Sheryl "educate" her on racism and later said she herself had been accused of being racist for backing Piers. After the exchange, Sharon apologized on Twitter. Piers later alleged that "The Talk" producers pressured her into an apology. He then demanded an apology from "The Talk." According to reports, Sharon received death threats after the spat and hired a high-powered attorney to discuss a buyout. She was officially let go by "The Talk" in late March.
Gone, not forgotten
Dustin Diamond, the actor who famously played the lovable Screech on "Saved by the Bell," passed away on Feb. 1 of stage 4 cell carcinoma, which is more commonly known as lung cancer. Dustin had been hospitalized in Florida for several weeks before his death. His longtime girlfriend was by his side. After his death, many of his "Bell" co-stars honored him on social media. Mark-Paul Gosselaar called Dustin "a true comedic genius." Tori Spelling, who played Dustin's love interest on the sitcom, said, "He's an icon to me professionally and personally." Mario Lopez added, "He was iconic. … His little looks and facial expressions and voice and the way it cracked, it was just the quintessential goofy, lovable fun nerd [character on 'Bell'] and it really resonated with the kids. And that was all him; he was kind of like Screech in real life. … He was an integral part of the chemistry and the comedy, and I don't know if it would have worked without him."
She said yes! Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker took a major step in their fast-moving romance on Oct. 17: They got engaged. The blink-182 rocker got down on one knee and proposed on the beach in front of the Rosewood Miramar hotel in Montecito, California, surrounded by thousands of red roses arranged on the sand in the shape of a giant heart, courtesy of Kardashian family florist Jeff Leatham. The bride-to-be posted photos from the proposal on Instagram, captioning them simply, "forever." A few days later, Kourt shared images from the moment Travis popped the question after nearly a year of dating. "I woke up all night thinking it was a dream," she captioned a series of Instagram photos. Travis commented, "Forever with you is a dream come true."
In a shocking turn of events, Bill Cosby was released from prison on June 30 after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned his 2018 sexual assault conviction. The high court ruled that the disgraced comedian's rights were violated because years earlier, a previous district attorney agreed not to charge the man once known as America's Dad after if he spoke freely in a deposition in a civil lawsuit that accuser Andrea Constand brought in 2005 in which he gave potentially incriminating testimony — but a newer D.A. decided the agreement was invalid and charged Cosby years later; a jury convicted him on three felony counts. The court also disagreed with the trial judge's decision to let five other alleged Cosby victims testify to prove a pattern of abuse. After his release, Cosby tweeted, "I have never changed my stance nor my story. I have always maintained my innocence. Thank you to all my fans, supporters and friends who stood by me through this ordeal. Special thanks to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for upholding the rule of law." The D.A. who prosecuted, meanwhile, pointed out that Cosby got off on a technicality and was not exonerated. "He was found guilty by a jury and now goes free on a procedural issue that is irrelevant to the facts of the crime," Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said in a statement.
More than two years after being cast as the lead on season 23 of "The Bachelor," Colton Underwood came out as a gay man. The former NFL player and reality star addressed his sexuality in an interview with "Good Morning America" anchor Robin Roberts on April 14, explaining that the coronavirus pandemic made him realize who he was. "I've ran from myself for a long time. I've hated myself for a long time … and I'm gay. And I came to terms with that earlier this year and have been processing it. And the next step in all of this was sort of letting people know," he said. A month after his announcement, Colton said that he was "blackmailed" into coming out and admitted to having a secret Grindr profile.
A reigning king of comedy has left us. Norm Macdonald, one of the most beloved cast members of "Saturday Night Live" in the '90s, passed away on Sept. 14 after a secret battle with cancer. Deadline reported that Norm privately fought the disease for nine years. The comic, who thrilled fans with his dry wit and deadpan delivery, kept his health issues hidden from even those closest to him. Following his death, many in the comedy world mourned and paid tribute to Norm. Several late night hosts even wept on the air. Adam Sandler tweeted, "Every one of us loved Norm. Some of the hardest laughs of my life with this man. Most fearless funny original guy we knew. An incredible dad. A great friend. A legend. Love u pal." Dave Letterman called Norm the "lifetime Cy Young winner in comedy." At the Emmys on Sept. 19, several stars paid tribute to the late great comic.
Huge romantic news
Kal Penn made a huge reveal about his personal life on Oct. 31: He's gay and engaged to his boyfriend of 11 years. In fact, the two have been engaged for two years. While promoting his book "You Can't Be Serious," the "Harold and Kumar" star said he's never been ashamed of his sexuality, nor has he lied about it. His family and his fiancé, Josh, are private people and he wanted to respect that. The actor revealed that he met Josh in Washington, D.C., during the period in which he took a break from Hollywood to work for then-President Barack Obama's administration. "I discovered my own sexuality relatively late in life compared to many other people," Kal told People magazine. "There's no timeline on this stuff. People figure their s*** out at different times in their lives, so I'm glad I did when I did."
2021 just wasn't Chrissy Teigen's year, and she only has herself and some vile decade-old tweets she sent to reality TV star Courtney Stodden to blame. In March, Courtney, who identifies as non-binary, recalled how the model would send mean-spirited direct messages to them in 2011 and 2012. On May 12, Chrissy owned up to her past behavior and publicly apologized. "Not a lot of people are lucky enough to be held accountable for all their past bulls*** in front of the entire world. I'm mortified and sad at who I used to be I was an insecure, attention seeking troll," she tweeted. "I am ashamed and completely embarrassed at my behavior but that is nothing compared to how I made Courtney feel." She also told her fans, "And I am so sorry I let you guys down. I will forever work on being better than I was 10 years ago, 1 year ago, 6 months ago." In the following days, it was reported that her Cravings by Chrissy Teigen cookware line was pulled from Macys. She also apparently lost a deal with Bloomingdale's due to the scandal.; Chrissy also stepped away from her Safely non-toxic household cleaners brand. Chrissy issued an even lengthier apology in mid-June. "I was a troll, full stop. And I am so sorry," she said in part in an essay she wrote for Medium. "We are all more than our worst moments. I won't ask for your forgiveness, only your patience and tolerance. I ask that you allow me, as I promise to allow you, to own past mistakes and be given the opportunity to seek self improvement and change."
Dean Winters, the man who many know as "Mayhem" from the Allstate Insurance commercials, has lived in pain every day for a dozen years — this after three amputations. Back in the summer of 2009, the "Oz" alum went to the doctor with a bad fever. While in the physician's office, he collapsed and was rushed via ambulance to a hospital. While en route, Dean technically died, as his heart stopped beating for more than two minutes. After medics revived him, Dean spent three weeks in the ICU. Then, while recovering at home, the "Rescue Me" and "30 Rock" star contracted a bacterial infection, which led to multiple operations and gangrene — and the amputation of two toes and half of a thumb. "I haven't taken a step since 2009 without being in pain," he told Page Six. "I've got neuropathy on, you know, on a whole different level where I can't feel my hands and my feet. But if I stepped on a pebble, it's like I go through the roof." Further discussing the pain, he said, "It's a very weird dichotomy. It's like, it's very hard to figure out. Nothing you can do about it. I've been sucking it up because, you know, the alternative is not a place where I want to be."
It was the year of Britney Spears. In February, the pop star got a huge boost of public support following the release of a new documentary by The New York Times and FX, "Framing Britney Spears," which took a closer look at the intense media scrutiny the pop star faced in her 20s as well as her fraught relationship with her father and conservator of 13 years, Jamie Spears. But an even larger swell of support came in June after Britney, during a public conservatorship hearing, unloaded on her father, her family, others involved in the conservatorships over her person and her finances, a former doctor, her management team and more. She dropped bombshell after bombshell about her alleged treatment, especially in recent years, and indicated to a judge that she was desperate to end the arrangement. "I just want me life back," she said during an emotional, powerful 23-minute address to the court. After being allowed to hire her own lawyer, Mathew Rosengart, things changed, and Jamie was quickly removed from the conservatorship. Then, on Nov. 12, the conservatorship was finally terminated. The pop star's lawyer still plans to further investigate Jamie for his handling of the singer's nearly $60 million estate. Oh yeah: Britney also got engaged to Sam Asghari in September, and she's hinted that she wants to have another child.
Tony Bennett has been secretly living with Alzheimer's disease, his family revealed on Feb. 1 in an AARP profile. The then-94-year-old singer was diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease in 2016, his wife, Susan Benedetto, shared. Tony was still capable of recognizing his family and friends and didn't have some of the worst symptoms associated with Alzheimer's at the time. Still, Tony is "incapable of understanding the disease," Susan said, explaining that her husband is "not always sure where he is or what is happening around him" and that "mundane objects as familiar as a fork or a set of house keys can be utterly mysterious to him." Tony is still in good spirits. "But that's because he already didn't understand," she said. "He would ask me, 'What is Alzheimer's?' I would explain, but he wouldn't get it. He'd tell me, 'Susan, I feel fine.' That's all he could process — that physically he felt great. So nothing changed in his life. Anything that did change, he wasn't aware of." Tony closed the year on a high note: He and collaborator Lady Gaga received nine Grammy nominations for their Cole Porter tribute album, "Love for Sale," including album of the year.
Bikini photo issue
The Kardashian family reportedly threatened legal action after an unedited bikini photo of Khloe Kardashian was posted to social media this spring. Soon, the photo, which showed Khloe in an animal-print bikini, began disappearing from the web and social media. There are differing reports as to the origins of the image — some say it was briefly posted to her grandma's Instagram while the Kardashian team said "an assistant" mistakenly posted it. The authentic image showed Khloe without makeup and it was not photoshopped, unlike many photos publicly shared by the reality TV sisters. However, a family rep told Page Six that the family wanted the image off of the Internet because it was unauthorized, not because Khloe was au naturel. Then, on April 7, Khloe addressed the situation and insinuated that the picture was unflattering, hence why she wanted it to disappear. "When someone takes a photo of you that isn't flattering in bad lighting or doesn't capture your body the way it is after working so hard to get it to this point … you should have every right to ask for it to not be shared – regardless of who you are," she said on Instagram while addressing body acceptance. "My body, my image and how I choose to look and what I want to share is my choice. It's not for anyone to decide or judge what is acceptable anymore."
Gina Carano was fired by Disney on Feb. 10 following "abhorrent" social media activity. The star of "The Mandalorian" had shared a post in which she compared Republicans in the current political climate to being Jewish in Nazi Germany during WWII. Soon after her post went up, #FireGinaCarano started trending on Twitter; the actress was eventually shown the door. In a statement, LucasFilm said, "Gina Carano is not currently employed by Lucasfilm and there are no plans for her to be in the future. Nevertheless, her social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable." In the past, Gina has faced backlash for openly discussing her views against wearing masks amid the COVID-19 pandemic. After her firing, many conservatives were outraged and claimed they would cancel their Disney+ accounts in protest. #CancelDisneyPlus soon trended. In the wake of the drama, Gina signed a new movie deal with Daily Wire.
Billy Porter, the star of the FX series "Pose," revealed that he's been secretly living with HIV for nearly a decade and a half. In chatting with The Hollywood Reporter, the actor said he was diagnosed in 2007. "The shame of that time compounded with the shame that had already (accumulated) in my life silenced me, and I have lived with that shame in silence for 14 years," he said in the piece published on May 19. "HIV-positive, where I come from, growing up in the Pentecostal church with a very religious family, is God's punishment." Due to medical advancements, Billy said he suffers few effects from HIV. "This is what HIV-positive looks like now," he said. "I survived so that I could tell the story. That's what I'm here for. I'm the vessel, and emotionally that was sufficient — until it wasn't. It's time to grow up and move on because shame is destructive — and if not dealt with, it can destroy everything in its path."
Drumming in heaven
The backbeat of the The Rolling Stones is gone. Charlie Watts, the beloved drummer of the band, died in London on Aug. 24 at 80. Charlie's health had been in question following the early August announcement that he would not be joining the band on its "No Filter" tour through North America. Following his death, Mick Jagger posted a poignant photo on social media of Charlie smiling while playing the drums without any commentary. Keith Richards shared an image of a drum kit with a "Closed" sign hung on it. Ronnie Wood posted a photo of himself with Charlie and the message, "I love you my fellow Gemini, I will dearly miss you. You are the best." Sir Paul McCartney said, "Charlie was a rock, a fantastic dummer, steady as a rock. Love you Charlie, have always loved you, you beautiful man."
On Sept. 27, R. Kelly was found guilty of racketeering and sex trafficking crimes. The disgraced R&B singer was facing nine federal charges, and he was convicted on all counts. After a trial that lasted a little over a month, the jury deliberated for about a full day before rendering the verdict. CNN's Sonia Moghe was in the courtroom when it was read and tweeted that the singer "did not move or look at anyone" as he learned his fate. The verdict came 13 years after he was acquitted on child pornography charges in an Illinois state trial. Sentencing is set for May 4, 2022: He could get 10 years to life in prison. In addition, he's still awaiting a second federal trial in Chicago, plus state trials in Illinois and Minnesota.
Cheating allegations (again)
Khloe Kardashian and Tristan Thompson split up. Again. And, "oh baby," is this one a doozy. In June, reports revealed the two had quietly broken up, with one report saying it happened a few weeks earlier — and multiple outlets reported that it ended on the heels of cheating accusations. Again. (Khloe dumped him the first time amid a 2019 cheating scandal, which followed previous infidelity drama in 2018; they reconciled in 2020.) Instagram model Sydney Chase claimed in April on the "No Jumper" podcast that she and the NBA player had a sexual encounter in January. "He told me he was not in a relationship anymore, so I said OK," she claimed. "We talked, we hung out multiple times, we went out together, everything." Knowing who Tristan was, Sydney maintained that she asked him directly if he was single before their tryst, and he responded, "Yes." She said, "It happened, and then I found out he was not single, and I cut him off." On April 26, she doubled down on her claims. "Yes the Tristan rumors are true," she wrote on TikTok. "The last time we had contact — besides when he messaged me after finding out about the interview, it was the day after his daughter's [April 12] birthday party." As the story festered, Tristan, via his attorney, threatened legal action in the form of a cease and desist letter against Sydney. In a separate case, Tristan also sued a woman who claimed that he fathered her baby. The Boston Celtics player said he's already proven through DNA that he's not the father. As the year went on, Khloe and Tristan were often seen together with their daughter, though it remained unclear if they'd reconciled romantically (again). Then, in December, another woman — Maralee Nichols — alleged that Tristan was the father of her newborn child, and she filed a paternity lawsuit. The hoopster admitted in court papers that he had sex with her on his 30th birthday (which is when he and Khloe were still exclusively together). He maintained the hookup was a one-time thing, but she said the relationship lasted months, which he later seemed to admit in a response to the lawsuit. He's already said he will not be involved in his third child's life if the boy is his.
Mark Hoppus — bassist and co-vocalist for blink-182 — announced on social media on June 23 that he had cancer. "For the past three months I've been undergoing chemotherapy for cancer. I have cancer," he shared. "It sucks and I'm scared, and at the same time I'm blessed with incredible doctors and family and friends to get me through this. I still have months of treatment ahead of me but I'm trying to remain hopeful and positive," he added. "Can't wait to be cancer free and see you all at a concert in the hopefully near future. Love to you all." In September, after months of chemo, Mark told fans he'd received the news that it worked — and that he's now cancer free.
Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis trended over the summer after acknowledging that they rarely bathed their children, Wyatt, 7, and Dimitri, 5. They also mail it in when it comes to washing their own bodies. The admission kicked off an odd discussion in which several celebrities claimed they, too, don't shower often. Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell seemed to agree with the Kutchers. Jake Gyllenhaal said he's not sold on showering either. On the heels of these top-line celebrities openly discussing their aversion to regular bathing, many of their Hollywood counterparts weighed in. Dwayne Johnson trended after he said he showers three times a day! Jason Momoa told "Access Hollywood" on Aug. 9, "I shower, trust me. I'm Aquaman. I'm in the f****** water. Don't worry about it. I'm Hawaiian. We got saltwater on me. We good." Cardi B added her two cents on Aug. 10, tweeting, "Wassup with people saying they don't shower? It's giving itchy." Terry Crews said he showers multiple times a day. Did we have nothing better to debate this summer?
Mike Richards' time as "Jeopardy!" host lasted about as long as Final Jeopardy. Just nine days after he was named the late Alex Trebek's successor on the quiz show, Mike stepped down from the gig following public pressure that was sparked after offensive comments from his past resurfaced. "I was deeply honored to be asked to host the syndicated show and was thrilled by the opportunity to expand my role," he said in an Aug. 20 statement. "However, over the last several days it has become clear that moving forward as host would be too much of a distraction for our fans and not the right move for the show."
"The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City" star Jen Shah was arraigned on April 2 following her arrest on federal wire fraud and money laundering charges in connection with a telemarketing scheme. Jen's assistant, Stuart Smith, was also arrested. (He pleaded guilty to three counts in November.) An indictment out of the Southern District of New York claimed that Jen and Stuart ripped off hundreds of victims across the country, mainly elderly people, by encouraging them to invest in online projects and selling them phony business services for years. They are alleged to have compiled lists of "leads" made of of people who were previously exploited. They then allegedly shared those names with co-conspirators who could exploit the "leads" again. Jen and Stuart would then supposedly take a cut. The Homeland Security Investigations Agency said in a statement that the Jen and Stuart "built their opulent lifestyle at the expense of vulnerable, often elderly, working-class people." If convicted, Jen faces 30 years in prison. On April 5, the reality TV star broke her silence on her Instagram Story. "Thank you for being loyal, believing in me and not believing the hype. This journey has showed me who my true friends are. All my love. #ShahSquad."
Kathy Griffin was diagnosed with lung cancer and had half of her left lung removed. The comedian made the reveal on Twitter on Aug. 2, adding that she's never smoked. "The doctors are very optimistic as it is stage one and contained to my left lung. Hopefully no chemo or radiation after this and I should have normal function with my breathing. I should be up and running around as usual in a month or less," Kathy wrote. "Of course I am fully vaccinated for COVID. The consequences for being unvaccinated would have been even more serious. Please stay up to date on your medical check ups. It'll save your life." In a separate interview on ABC the same day, the "Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List" star also spoke candidly about having suicidal thoughts last year and of her previous addiction to opioids.
Kaley Cuoco's second marriage is over. On Sept. 3, People magazine published a joint statement from Kaley and equestrian Karl Cook in which they announced that they've gone their separate ways after three years of marriage. "Despite a deep love and respect for one another, we have realized that our current paths have taken us in opposite directions," they said. "We have both shared so much of our journey publicly so while we would prefer to keep this aspect of our personal life private, we wanted to be forthcoming in our truth together. There is no anger or animosity, quite the contrary. We have made this decision together through an immense amount of respect and consideration for one another and request that you do the same in understanding that we will not be sharing any additional details or commenting further." The couple's romance often confused fans, as the couple tied the knot in 2018 but didn't live with each other full-time during the first two years of their marriage.
Allison Mack is going by a new name: California inmate No. 90838-053. On Sept. 13, the former "Smallville" actress reported to the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, California, to begin serving a three-year prison sentence for her role in recruiting people to NXIVM — which had a faction that's been described as a sex cult masquerading as a self-help group — and manipulating women into becoming sex slaves for its leader, Keith Raniere, who's serving a 120-year sentence. Allison, who pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering and one count of racketeering conspiracy, will be on supervised release for three years after she gets out of prison in 2024.
"The Bachelor" controversy
Matt James, the first Black lead of "The Bachelor," picked Rachael Kirkconnell at the end of season 25, but he didn't propose. Still, Matt said he was committed to the beauty and envisioned her as his wife. However, not long after the finale was filmed (but before it aired), three-year-old social media images surfaced that showed Rachael at an Antebellum South-themed party. She also "liked" other images that contained a Confederate flag, and she posted QAnon conspiracy theories online. On the "After The Final Rose" special, Matt said he and Rachael were no longer together and acknowledged that her past racist acts were the reason. Rachael acknowledged that she was still in love with Matt, but he essentially squashed any hopes of a reconciliation and said she needed to confront her racist past and work on herself. "When I questioned our relationship, it was in the context of you not fully understanding my Blackness and what it means to be a Black man in America," he told her. Their split didn't last long, as they rekindled their romance just a few weeks after the finale aired.
Life and death, life and death
In what was one of the more bizarre stories of the year, on Jan. 3, it was reported that former Bond girl Tanya Roberts had died. That news came via her publicist, who got the information directly from Tanya's partner, Lance O'Brien. However, later that day, it was reported that the "That '70s Show" actress actually hadn't died and was still in the hospital clinging to life. She ended up passing away on Jan. 4. Doctors said she died from a urinary tract infection that developed into sepsis. Still, her death was somewhat overshadowed by the bizarre mix-up the day before. How did the confusion happen? According to Tanya's domestic partner, Lance, he was with the actress when her eyes rolled into the the back of her head and she passed out. He believed she died. He then called Tanya's publicist, telling him, "I said goodbye." According to the rep, Lance also said, "She died in my arms."
It finally happened! On July 3, Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton said "I do" on his Oklahoma ranch in front of a small group of friends and family. "Dreams do come true!!!" Gwen captioned a series of stunning wedding images on Instagram. The No Doubt frontwoman donned a Vera Wang gown for the nuptials and a wedding veil embroidered with her own name plus the names of her groom and her three sons from her first marriage. Blake wore his trademark blue jeans. Rather than say his vows, Blake performed them: He sang a song he wrote for his bride, "We Can Reach the Stars," which he later released.
Travis Scott was performing during his Astroworld Festival concert in Houston on Nov. 5 when the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd surged toward the stage, crushing fans against each other and leaving others trampled and gasping for air. In all, 10 people passed away from injuries sustained that evening, and 300 more suffered injuries. Travis was accused of negligence for continuing the show despite what was happening, but his team maintained that the rapper was unaware of the gravity of the situation for many hours, and Travis said the same thing in a December interview. A few days after the concert, Houston Police alleged they told production officials to "shut down the performance" as emergency personnel began CPR on multiple victims in the audience. Even after the concert was deemed a "mass casualty incident," Travis continued to perform for nearly 40 more minutes, according to reports. "The ultimate authority to end a show is with production…and the entertainer," Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said in a press conference. Travis, concert promoter Live Nation and rapper Drake, who joined Travis on stage, are all at the center of a cascade of different but similar lawsuits. One lawsuit is seeking $2 billion. "I have a responsibility to figure out the solution," Travis told Charlamagne Tha God on Dec. 9. "At the end of day, like, these fans are your family, so you just feel like you lost — lost something."
William Shatner hasn't gone to infinity, but he has gone beyond! On Oct. 13, the erstwhile Captain Kirk of "Star Trek" fame hopped on Blue Origin's New Shepard capsule and launched into space. He and the crew experienced four minutes of weightlessness before the capsule headed back to Earth, landing in the West Texas desert. At 90, he's now the oldest person to ever go to space. After landing, the actor got emotional while discussing he experience with Jeff Bezos, who owns the space tourism company. "What you have given me is the most profound experience I could imagine," he said. "I'm so filled with emotion about what just happened. It's extraordinary. I hope I never recover from this. I hope I maintain what I feel now. I don't want to lose it. It's so much larger than me, and life." In December, "Good Morning America" host Michael Strahan also flew to space aboard Blue Origin's New Shepard.
Acclaimed actor Michael K. Williams was found dead in his New York City home on Sept. 6 from an accidental drug overdose. He was 54. A toxicology report revealed that the star of "The Wire" and "Boardwalk Empire" had fentanyl, parafluorofentanyl, heroin and cocaine in his system. Police reportedly launched a criminal investigation in an effort to determine who supplied the Emmy-nominated actor with the drugs.
In a tragic accident, Alec Baldwin shot and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchinson, a married mother of one, on the set of their film "Rust" in New Mexico on Oct. 21. Prior to the incident, Alec was told by the film's assistant director, Dave Halls, that the .45-caliber Colt pistol he was holding was "cold." However, authorities soon confirmed there was a "live round" in the chamber of the prop gun that struck Halyna as well as director Joel Souza, who was hospitalized but survived. Criminal charges have not been ruled out in the shooting death in the early days of the investigation. "All options are on the table," District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies told reporters at a press conference in the wake of the tragedy. How live ammunition found its way to the film set, and into the gun, is at the heart of the investigation. "We don't know how those live rounds got there," the DA told CNN. "And I think that that will probably end up being kind of the linchpin for whether a decision is made about charges." More than 600 pieces of evidence were recovered from the set of the film, including 500 rounds of ammo (some of which were live bullets) and three guns. In an affidavit, the assistant director admitted that he didn't thoroughly check the gun before handing it to Alec, who's also a producer on the film. An attorney for head armorer Hannah Gutierrez, meanwhile, claimed the appearance of live rounds was "sabotage" and insisted she's being "framed." Meanwhile, civil suits are being mounted, and in November, Alec hired a high-powered attorney to represent him, Rust Movie Productions and other production companies involved in the movie. In late December, officials obtained a warrant to search Alec's cell phone.
Dad of seven loses youngest child
On July 4th, model Alyssa Scott confirmed that she'd given birth to a baby — Nick Cannon's seventh child. Sadly, their son, Zen, passed away from a brain tumor in December at just 5 months old. Four of Nick's kids were born within six months of each other to three different mothers in late 2020 and the first half of 2021. On his Power 106 Los Angeles radio show on July 7, the "Masked Singer" host said it was intentional, explaining that he's "having these kids on purpose." He added, "I don't have no accident. Trust me there's a lot of people that I could've gotten pregnant that I didn't. The ones that got pregnant are the ones that were supposed to get pregnant." Earlier in the show, Nick joked, "I'm like a seahorse out here. That's just the way I'm procreating." Later in the year, Nick vowed to be celibate for a while.
So long, Scientology. Laura Prepon made headlines in August when she revealed that she's no longer a part of the controversial religion — in fact, she quietly said goodbye years ago. In a chat with People magazine, the "Orange Is the New Black" actress said she left Scientology five years ago, shortly before welcoming her first child. "I'm no longer practicing Scientology. I've always been very open-minded, even since I was a child," she said. "I was raised Catholic and Jewish. I've prayed in churches, meditated in temples. I've studied Chinese meridian theory. I haven't practiced Scientology in close to five years and it's no longer part of my life." Laura now meditates daily with her husband, actor Ben Foster. "I'm really liking it, because it's something that helps me to hear my own voice and it's something we can do together," she said.
Up, up and away! Thirteen years after the plane he was in crashed during takeoff — the two pilots and two friends were killed and he was burned on 65% of his body — Travis Barker returned to flying the friendly skies. On Aug. 15, the blink-182 drummer jetted off to Los Cabos, Mexico, with Kourtney Kardashian. Two days later, he celebrated his return to the air by praising the reality TV star, implying that she was the driving force behind his flight. "With you anything is possible," he captioned an image of himself kissing Kourtney on the tarmac, which was taken after they flew from Los Angeles to Cabo. Less than a week later, Travis and Kourtney flew to Italy. In November, they jetted off to Mexico again.
A few weeks after coming out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, singer, social media star and "Dance Moms" alum JoJo Siwa introduced her girlfriend to her social media followers on Feb. 8. "After being my best friend for over a year, January 8th 2021 I got to start calling this exceptional human my Girlfriend… and Since then I've been the happiest I have ever been!" JoJo wrote on Instagram of her love, Kylie Prew. "She seriously is the most loving, supportive, happiest, protective, and just the most beautiful perfect person in the world. And I get to call her mine!" They split in October while JoJo was in the midst of competing on season 30 of "Dancing With The Stars," where she and pro Jenna Johnson made history as the show's first same-sex duo. The ladies came in second place on the November finale.
Dr. Dre was rushed by ambulance to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on Jan. 4 after suffering a brain aneurysm. The cause of the bleeding still hasn't been publicly disclosed. After news of his hospitalization broke, the hip-hop mogul posted an encouraging message on Instagram. "Thanks to my family, friends and fans for their interest and well wishes. I'm doing great and getting excellent care from my medical team," he wrote. "I will be out of the hospital and back home soon. Shout out to all the great medical professionals at Cedars. One Love!!" While this was going on, several individuals attempted to break into his home, knowing he was in the ICU. Police later arrested four people. On Jan. 15, Dre was released from the hospital. Ever the working man, he was back in the studio the next day. In 2021, he was also declared officially single as he and his now-ex-wife continued to battle over their prenuptial agreement, which she claims he ripped up (he says otherwise). In July, judge ordered the hip-hop mogul to pay her $3.5 million in yearly support and continue to cover expenses for two of her homes.
Messy split settlement
Geena Davis has settled her divorce from a man she never actually married. Confused? Back in 2017, Geena and surgeon Reza Jarrahy split after what the public thought was 17 years of marriage. In court papers, she revealed the pair "knowingly and voluntarily chose to have a marriage-like ceremony, fully aware that it was not legally binding" and said they both checked "single" on their tax returns, didn't own property as a couple and "never had a joint checking or savings account" or "a joint retirement account," People magazine reported. Reza asked for their property to be split equally and for spousal support, which Geena fought against. While terms of the deal the ultimately struck remain confidential, a source sympathetic to Reza said the actress got the lion's share of the property. "They were very unfavorable to Reza, who agreed to settle just to put this behind him and be free of the nightmare Geena has caused for him," a source told Page Six. The road to a settlement supposedly cost $1.5 million in legal fees. "Reza has had enough of her narcissism, so he was willing to take a bad deal just to make her go away and refocus on the kids," the source said, referencing the couple's daughter, 19, and twin sons, 17. "This has been devastating for Reza. Geena's priorities since day one have been to preserve her lifestyle and wealth above anything else."
For the first time ever, a U.S. president was impeached twice. The process was swift. On Jan. 13, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Donald J. Trump for "incitement of insurrection," something that was widely expected following the Capitol riots a week before. On Jan. 6, a mob overtook the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. Like the vast majority of Americans, Hollywood reacted in horror at the sight, which occurred immediately after a pro-President Trump rally nearby. The rioters — many of them wearing MAGA paraphernalia — broke windows, stole and destroyed property and trashed offices. Many people, celebrities included, slammed police reaction on social media, claiming things would have been different if the mob was supporting Black Lives Matter. "Just think of the carnage had they not been white. … So many people enabled this," Chris Evans tweeted. Meghan McCain tweeted, "Lock. Them. Up." She later added, "This is domestic terrorism. Stop calling it protesting." Ashton Kutcher said, "Support the peaceful transition of power!!!!!!!! That's being a patriot!" One week later, Joe Biden was sworn in as president of the United States.
Matt Damon found himself in the middle of controversy because of a homophobic slur that no one has heard him say (outside of the context of an acting role). In a chat with Britain's Sunday Times, the actor spoke of his daughter recently writing him a "long, beautiful treatise" about the "f-slur" and "how that word is dangerous." Matt said he "retired" the slur afterward. Soon, he was trending on Twitter — and he got shredded as cancel culture reared its ugly head. In early August, he tried to clean up the mess, explaining that he doesn't use the word in his "personal life" and doesn't "use slurs of any kind." The Times interview, he added, "led many to assume the worst." The Oscar winner explained, "During a recent interview, I recalled a discussion I had with my daughter where I attempted to contextualize for her the progress that has been made — though by no means completed — since I was growing up in Boston and, as a child, heard the word 'f**' used on the street before I knew what it even referred to," His statement continued, "I explained that that word was used constantly and casually and was even a line of dialogue in a movie of mine as recently as 2003; she in turn expressed incredulity that there could ever have been a time where that word was used unthinkingly. To my admiration and pride, she was extremely articulate about the extent to which that word would have been painful to someone in the LGBTQ+ community regardless of how culturally normalized it was. I not only agreed with her but thrilled at her passion, values and desire for social justice." He added, "To be as clear as I can be, I stand with the LGBTQ+ community."