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.
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The writing had been on the wall for a long time, but Kimye is now officially done. After months of speculation, Kim Kardashian 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. Kim had to relive their split as the final season "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" aired in the spring. In May, the E! series came to an end after 20 seasons and nearly 14 years on the air.
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.
Former "19 Kids and Counting" star Josh Duggar was arrested by federal agents on April 29 (just a few days after his wife announced they were expecting their seventh child) for receiving and possessing child sex abuse images. Court documents allege that he used the Internet to download the material, some of which depicted the sexual abuse of children under 12, KNWA reported. Authorities said there were more than 200 images. Josh, who pleaded not guilty, was later released from jail but was required to stay with a third-party custodian — who turned out to be a couple his father, Jim Bob Duggar, knows. Josh was also told he can't be near any children other than his own, and that's only with his wife present. Reports indicate that Anna Duggar thinks her husband is innocent. Some of his other family members aren't as convinced. 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 trial is set to begin in late 2021. His latest alleged bad behavior had repercussions for the rest of his family: In late 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 a porn addiction and had been unfaithful to his wife after he was named in an AshleyMadison.com cheating website data breach.
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 half Black, alleged 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 early last year. Harry also said the royal family lives in a "toxic environment." Two days after the interview, the palace released a brief statement, which 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." Just prior to the interview, a British newspaper published details about claims made back in 2018 alleging that Meghan bullied palace staffer, which she's strongly denied. In early June, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were in the news again, this time 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.
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."
Challenging her conservatorship
In February, Britney Spears got a huge boost of public support following the release of a new documentary by The New York Times and FX, "Framing Britney Spears," 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 for the last 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's desperate to end the arrangement. "I just want me life back," she said during an emotional, powerful 23-minute address to the court.
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.
Tony Bennett has been secretly living with Alzheimer's disease, his family revealed on Feb. 1 in an AARP profile. The 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."
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.
2021 just isn'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."
Cheating allegations (again)
Khloe Kardashian and Tristan Thompson split up. Again. In June, reports revealed the two had quietly broken up, with one report say 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 that she and the NBA player hooked up. During a chat on the "No Jumper" podcast, Sydney said she had a sexual encounter with the Boston Celtics player 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 says he's already proven through DNA that he's not the father.
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.
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."
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.
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 said.
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 plans 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."
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.
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 girlfriend, 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! Happy one month to my girl! I love you more and more everyday!"
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 while he and his now-ex-wife continue to battle over their prenuptial agreement, which she claims he ripped up (he says otherwise).
Mark Hoppus — bassist and co-vocalist for blink-182 — announced on social media on June 23 that he has 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."
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."
"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. 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, they face 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."
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."
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 with 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.