"Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek diagnosed with pancreatic cancer
TV news made major headlines in 2019. Join Wonderwall.com as we take a look back at some of the biggest news stories in television this year, starting with a game show hosting legend's health crisis… In March, "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek revealed that he'd been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. The legendary game show star promised to "fight" and "keep working," joking that under the terms of his contract, he's committed to hosting "Jeopardy!" for three more years. He gave fans a health update in May, telling People magazine that he was responding well to treatment for the disease, which has a 9 percent survival rate. "It's kind of mind-boggling," he said. "The doctors said they hadn't seen this kind of positive result in their memory… some of the tumors have already shrunk by more than 50 percent." But in September, he revealed that his health had taken a turn and he was set to begin more chemo. Keep reading for more big 2019 TV news…
RELATED: The most famous game show hosts
Matt Lauer accused of sexual assault, rape
In Ronan Farrow's October book "Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators," former NBC News staffer Brooke Nevils — the woman whose complaint led to Matt Lauer's firing from the "Today" show in November 2017 — publicly identified herself and accused the disgraced newsman of sexually assaulting and raping her while they were on assignment in Sochi, Russia, during the 2014 Winter Olympics. Matt hit back, claiming in a lengthy response that their sexual history was consensual. On Oct. 9, his former "Today" colleagues addressed the bombshell allegations. "This is shocking and appalling, and I honestly don't even know what to say about it," said Savannah Guthrie. "I want to say that I know it wasn't easy for our colleague Brooke to come forward then. It's not easy now. And we support her and any women who have come forward with claims. It's just very painful for all of us at NBC and who are at the 'Today' show, and, you know, it's very, very, very difficult." Added Hoda Kotb, "It's like you feel like you've known someone for 12 years … and then all of a sudden, like, a door opens up and it's a part of them you didn't know. We don't know all the facts in all of this, but they're not allegations of an affair — they're allegations of a crime, and I think that's shocking to all of us here who have sat with Matt for many, many years. … our thoughts are with Brooke. It's not easy what she did to come forward. It's not easy at all." Matt's former co-host Anne Curry chimed in on Twitter, adding, "Brooke Nevils is a credible young woman of good character. She came to NBC News an eager and guileless 20-something, brimming with talent. I believe she is telling the truth. And that breaks my heart."
RELATED: Celebrity splits of 2019
Ellen DeGeneres talks sitting next to George W. Bush at game
At the Oct. 6 Dallas Cowboys game, talk show host Ellen DeGeneres made headlines after she was seen sitting, chatting and joking around with Republican former President George W. Bush. On the Oct. 8 episode of her talk show, the Democrat comedian addressed the blowback to her seemingly chummy hangout with the conservative politician. After explaining that she attended the game as of guest of Charlotte Jones –Cowboys owner Jerry Jones's daughter — Ellen went on to defend herself: "During the game, they showed a shot of George and me laughing together, and so people were upset. They thought, 'Why is a gay Hollywood liberal sitting next to a conservative Republican president?' … A lot of people were mad. Here's the thing: I'm friends with George Bush. In fact, I'm friends with a lot of people who don't share the same beliefs that I have. We're all different, and I think we've forgotten that that's OK that we're all different. … But just because I don't agree with someone on everything doesn't mean that I'm not going to be friends with them. When I say, 'Be kind to one another,' I don't mean only the people that think the same way that you do. I mean be kind to everyone. Doesn't matter." While many celebs and fans alike applauded Ellen's explanation, some remained unhappy, citing the commander in chief's actions while in office. Mark Ruffalo tweeted, "Sorry, until George W. Bush is brought to justice for the crimes of the Iraq War, (including American-lead torture, Iraqi deaths & displacement, and the deep scars — emotional & otherwise — inflicted on our military that served his folly), we can't even begin to talk about kindness."
"Friends" celebrates 25th anniversary
In honor of the 25th anniversary of what is considered one of the most iconic shows of all time, Warner Bros. launched a new "Friends" app to celebrate the beloved sitcom on Sept. 5. Though the "Friends" cast has so far declined to reunite for a traditional reboot, they did get back together for a very special photo: When Jennifer Aniston finally joined Instagram in October, her first post was a selfie featuring every single one of her castmates: "And now we're Instagram FRIENDS too. HI INSTAGRAM," she captioned the playful snap. Then weeks later in November, reports emerged claiming the cast was in talks to do an unscripted reunion special on the upcoming streaming platform HBO Max.
"Game of Thrones" scores a record 32 Emmy nominations but gets snubbed by Golden Globes
"Game of Thrones" broke a record in its final season by garnering a whopping 32 Emmy nominations, breaking the previous record for most nominations earned by a single show in one year, according the the TV Academy. It won in 12 of those categories. But when the 2020 Golden Globes nominations were announced in December, "GoT" was snubbed, despite previously earning five best drama series nods in previous years. The only Globes nomination is scored this year? Best actor in a drama for Kit Harington.
2019 Primetime Emmys highlights
The 2019 Emmy Awards took place on Sept. 22 and this year delivered some notable wins. Phoebe Waller-Bridge — the writer, star and producer of "Fleabag," who's also the showrunner for Season 1 of "Killing Eve" — was the star of the evening after taking home three awards in comedy categories (best actress, best writing and best comedy), breaking "Veep" actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus's winning streak. Several stars including Michelle Williams, Jodie Comer and Jason Bateman were first-time winners and history was made by Billy Porter, who became the first openly gay black man to win the prize for best lead actor in a drama (for "Pose"). The show with the most nominations — "Game of Thrones" — took home 12 of the 32 Emmys its was up for, including best drama series. Unfortunately for Emmys producers, this year's telecast hit an all-time audience low of 6.98 million viewers.
"The Big Bang Theory" says goodbye
It's the end of an era! In May, the cast of "The Big Bang Theory" said goodbye after 12 seasons on CBS. The farewell tour began in January when the cast opened up about the final season while appearing on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show." We've been getting super-emotional," said Kaley Cuoco. "[Johnny Galecki and I] were doing a scene before the holiday. We were just blocking, and we're the only two in it, just kind of rehearsing the scene, and out of nowhere, I just started bawling. And the crew, all the camera guys and everyone come out and they're like, 'We're so glad you cried because we've been waiting to cry,' and they all gave us this huge group hug, and we just all cried for like, 10 minutes." The show came to an end on May 16 with a sweet final episode and a Johnny Galecki-hosted half-hour retrospective special, "Unraveling the Mystery: A Big Bang Farewell," which aired directly afterward. The cast then appeared on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" where they revealed their favorite "Big Bang" guest stars and shared that Johnny is the only member of the cast who ever hooked up in his dressing room.
Valerie Harper dies at 80
Four-time Emmy winner Valerie Harper died at 80 on Aug. 30. The actress, who starred as Rhoda Morgenstern on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "Rhoda," had been battling several illnesses in recent years. In 2003, she was diagnosed with lung cancer and in 2013 doctors discovered that she had developed a rare brain cancer. In July, the TV legend's husband announced via Facebook that her doctors had officially recommended that Valerie enter hospice care, but the family decided against it at the time.
A college admissions cheating scandal haunts two big TV stars
The show(s) must go on. "When Calls the Heart" producers announced in March that the Hallmark Channel series would continue without Lori Loughlin after its disgraced star was charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud for her alleged participation in a college admissions cheating scam (prosecutors say she and her husband paid a $500K bribe to get their daughters into the University of Southern California, falsely designating them as crew team recruits). The series went on "a creative hiatus to do some retooling" for Season 6, which debuted in May, and was renewed for a seventh season in April. Lori also did not return for the fifth and final season of the Netflix spinoff "Fuller House," which premieres in December. In the fall, Lori and husband Mossimo Giannulli were indicted by a grand jury in Boston on yet another charge — conspiring to commit federal program bribery –which carries a five-year prison sentence. Another TV star, "Desperate Housewives" alum Felicity Huffman, was also implicated in the college admissions cheating scandal for paying a middleman $15,000 to help boost her daughter's SAT scores. But unlike Lori, who's fighting the case, Felicity immediately pleaded guilty and publicly apologized for her behavior, a decision that pleased the judge. On Oct. 25, Felicity was released early from a California prison after serving 11 days of a two-week sentence.
"The Mandalorian" character dubbed "Baby Yoda" becomes a pop culture obsession
The Disney+ streaming service gave "Star Wars" fans a new obsession with the debut of its series "The Mandalorian" in November: an incredibly adorable alien creature that Disney calls "the Child" and everyone else calls "Baby Yoda." Fans have had a field day speculating about the cute character, but because the show is set after the events of the original "Star Wars" trilogy, it's understood that this unexpected pop culture phenomenon can't be a version of Yoda, the beloved character from the movies.
"Game of Thrones" comes to an end, Kit Harington seeks help
2019 marked the end of one of the greatest TV shows in history, "Game of Thrones." The eighth and final season of the HBO drama premiered in April with 17.4 million viewers across all platforms tuning in, breaking records for the most watched telecast in HBO history and the most watched scripted entertainment program of the year. The season was polarizing for fans, however. Many "GoT" viewers took to social media to slam the season and series finale, calling the final episode "the worst episode of the entire series." A few "Thrones" actors also shared their thoughts about the way the show ended. Lena Headey told The Guardian in June that she wanted a "better death" for her character, Cersei Lannister, and Kit Harington said that he was "maybe not happy, but very satisfied" with the ending while appearing on "The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show" in January. Kit also made headlines in May as reports claimed the Jon Snow actor was spending time at a Connecticut rehab facility being treated for stress and alcohol issues. His rep confirmed he was seeking help, explaining in a statement, "Kit has decided to utilize this break in his schedule as an opportunity to spend some time at a wellness retreat to work on some personal issues."
Shane Gillis fired from "Saturday Night Live"
In what is surely the shortest stint for any comedian on "Saturday Night Live," the sketch-comedy show announced on Sept. 13 that it was cutting ties with newly hired comedian Shane Gillis after a litany of racist jokes he'd told in the past came to light. "We want 'SNL' to have a variety of voices and points of view within the show, and we hired Shane on the strength of his talent as comedian and his impressive audition for 'SNL.' We were not aware of his prior remarks that have surfaced over the past few days," a spokesperson explained, on behalf of creator Lorne Michaels. "The language he used is offensive, hurtful and unacceptable. We are sorry that we did not see these clips earlier, and that our vetting process was not up to our standard." Shane, who had yet to appear on the NBC show, responded with a statement of his own: "It feels ridiculous for comedians to be making serious public statements but here we are. I'm a comedian who was funny enough to get 'SNL.' That can't be taken away. Of course I wanted an opportunity to prove myself at 'SNL,' but I understand it would be too much of a distraction. I respect the decision they made. I'm honestly grateful for the opportunity. I was always a 'Mad TV' guy anyway."
Luke Perry dies at 52 following stroke
Luke Perry, star of the '90s drama "Beverly Hills, 90210" and the CW series "Riverdale," died on March 4 after suffering a massive stroke in late February. The 52-year-old actor was surrounded by his two adult children, his fiancée, his ex-wife, his mother and stepfather, his brother, sister and other loved ones when he passed, according to his rep. "Riverdale" honored and mourned Luke and his character, Fred Andrews, in its October season premiere — an episode the series' showrunner called "a tribute to our fallen friend." Luke's final movie, "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood," came out in July.
"The Rookie" star Afton Williamson alleges racial discrimination, sexual assault at work
In an Aug. 4 Instagram post, "The Rookie" actress Afton Williamson alleged that she was subjected to "racial discrimination" on set and "racially charged inappropriate comments" from the head of the hair department, Sally Nicole Ciganovich. Afton further alleged that she was bullied by executive producers as well as sexually harassed by recurring guest star Demetrius Greene, which "escalated into sexual assault" at a wrap party, and said her complaints to higher-ups, like the series' showrunner, Alexi Hawley, went "undocumented" and were not reported to human resources or investigated. The actress said, "I was asked to return this season, and promised that 'everything was handled.' The investigation hadn't even begun and Season 2 had already started filming. I turned it down and I walked," she wrote. In September, the show's production company issued a statement insisting that an independent investigation had found no wrongdoing or "behavior inappropriate for the workplace." Afton responded, telling fans in part, "What saddens me the most is that the lengths that were taken to Deceive, Lie, and Cover Up the Truth, were far greater than those made to Protect and Maintain a Safe Working Environment for Employees."
"Bachelor in Paradise" features first same sex couple
The Aug. 20 episode of "Bachelor in Paradise" dropped a surprise bombshell that was a long time coming for Bachelor Nation. Contestant Demi Burnett, who identifies as sexually fluid, had been dating fellow contestant Derek Peth on the show but host Chris Harrison decided to throw a curveball — by bringing in Demi's recent ex from her off-screen life, Kristian Haggert. Kristian, who'd never appeared on a Bachelor Nation show before, and Demi decided to give their relationship another go and stayed on "Paradise" in an effort to pursue love — and they ended up getting engaged (though they split in October). Chris Harrison wanted to use the news as a way to progress the format of the show, telling The Hollywood Reporter, "We could have easily said that because Demi is in somewhat of a relationship back home that she won't find love here and we should send her home and go on our way. Instead, we all made the decision to break or bend the rules a little bit… I'm not exactly sure how we would have embraced Demi's situation in years past. But with the way we do the show now, we let it come to us. … When this situation presented itself to us with somebody we really love and care about in Demi, I think our initial instinct was the right one: 'Let's lean into it. Let's go there. Let's explore this.'" Talk about progress!
Sean Spicer competes on "Dancing With the Stars" amid backlash
On Aug. 21, ABC announced the cast of 28th season of "Dancing With the Stars," which included Sean Spicer — and the backlash was swift! The New York Times critic James Poniewozik released a scathing piece railing against the inclusion of President Donald Trump's former White House press secretary and White House communications director, and Sean hit back: "First of all I don't really care what [the critic] wants or what The New York Times wants. I'm going out and having some fun. I'm going to enjoy myself, and if more people like me, then that's great. I'm very happy with who I am." Surprisingly, host Tom Bergeron had also made it clear he had an issue with Sean joining the show, saying that he'd hoped this season would have been a "a joyful respite from our exhausting political climate." Sean responded to Tom to saying that his "hope is that the he sees how bringing diverse group of people can help instill a greater degree of stability and respect among people in this country." Sean was booted from the show on Nov. 11 a few weeks before "The Bachelorette" star Hannah Brown and pro partner Alan Bersten took home the Mirrorball Trophy.
Gayle King shines during explosive R. Kelly interview
In March, Gayle King earned universal praise for her composure and hard-hitting questions during an emotionally charged interview with embattled R&B singer R. Kelly. During the "CBS This Morning" interview, the music star cried, yelled and gestured wildly while Gayle kept her cool. The sit-down came a month after Chicago prosecutors announced several new sexual abuse and rape charges against the singer — and since then, he's been jailed and more charges have been added. In May, after more than a month of prolonged negotiations, Gayle inked a deal to stay at CBS that reports revealed was worth at least $11 million a year.
This year's Victoria's Secret Fashion Show is canceled
In July, the Daily Telegraph broke the news that the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show was off in 2019. Model Shanina Shaik confirmed the news in an interview with the outlet, saying that the show "won't be happening this year." The annual event, which launched in 1995 and usually takes place in the fall, was reportedly on the chopping block as far back as May, which is when reports surfaced claiming that the lingerie show would no longer air on network television — as it has since 2001. The news comes during a time when the fashion industry is evolving and finding ways to be diverse and size inclusive, a problem Victoria's Secret has long battled.
Cameron Boyce dies at 20
On July 6, the Disney Channel's "The Descendants" star Cameron Boyce died after suffering a seizure in his sleep. According to a statement released by his heartbroken parents shortly after the news broke, the actor had suffered from epilepsy for most of his life.
Joe and Teresa Giudice discuss troubled marriage in big Bravo interview
Months after completing a three-year prison sentence, "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" star Joe Giudice flew to his native Italy on Oct. 11 upon release from Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention to await news of his appeal as he fights to remain in America. On Oct. 27, Joe and wife Teresa Giudice both appeared on "The Real Housewives of New Jersey Special Event: Joe and Teresa Unlocked" where Bravo's Andy Cohen questioned them extensively about their feelings about their incarcerations as well as the state of their marriage, and it was clear that it's in trouble. Both accused the other of being unfaithful and neither seemed to believe their marriage would survive. "We're both two different people now," Teresa said. "I'm not the same Teresa I was and he's not the same Joe. I do love him as a person. I don't know how I'm going to feel when I see him." According to Joe, "If we stay together, we stay together. If we don't, we don't." Teresa and their girls visited Joe in Italy in November but the couple did not make a decision about their marriage.
Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan TV documentary delivers huge bombshells
Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan got incredibly personal in a TV documentary that aired in October in both Britain and America. "Harry & Meghan: An African Journey" was full of bombshells that both elicited sympathy from viewers (the hashtag #WeLoveYouMeghan started trending on social media) and anger from courtiers and some members of the U.K. media who declared its content unprecedented and, according to some, a betrayal of royal protocol. Among the biggest stories to come out of it? Prince Harry refused to deny long-standing reports of a rift with brother Prince William. Meghan opened up about how she's been struggling with intense and, she says, unfair criticism and scrutiny since joining the royal family, which has been incredibly hard to cope with especially since she became a mother in May. And Meghan confessed that British friends warned her not to marry Harry because the U.K. tabloid press would destroy her life. "I never thought this would be easy," she said, "but I thought it would be fair."
"America's Got Talent" debuts a whole new cast
"America's Got Talent" made some major changes in 2019. Julianne Hough and Gabrielle Union took over for former judges Heidi Klum and Mel B for Season 14. And Terry Crews, who was hosting "America's Got Talent: The Champions," replaced "AGT" host Tyra Banks. Howie Mandel and Simon Cowell stayed on as judges. The cast shake-up was announced in February and the new line-up debuted in May. But the cast would make headlines again in November…
"America's Got Talent" faces investigation, claims of toxic work environment after Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough exit judging panel
On Nov. 22, news broke revealing that Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough were leaving "America's Got Talent" ahead of season 15 after both served just one season on the judges' panel. The same report claimed that the show's male judges, Simon Cowell (who's also an executive producer on the show) and Howie Mandel — as well as host Terry Crews — would remain. In the days that followed, reports alleged that there's a "toxic culture" behind the scenes on the Fremantle-produced NBC show. Gabrielle was reportedly branded difficult after she voiced concerns over racially incentive jokes and comments. Variety also reported that she received network notes that were critical of some of her hairstyles — which allegedly were branded "too black" for the show's audience. In early December, the powerful SAG-AFTRA union confirmed that it had launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Gabrielle's exit from the show. And on Dec. 4, NBC announced that, following a "candid and productive" meeting with the "Bring It On" star, it too was launching "a further investigation to get a deeper understanding of the facts" and "working with Gabrielle to come to a positive resolution." In the wake of the claims, former "AGT" judges Howard Stern and Sharon Osbourne both called the show a boys' club. Howard further blamed Simon for making it that way.
Wendy Williams gets sober and divorced
Veteran talk show host Wendy Williams was on quite a roller coaster early in the year. She began 2019 by extending her late-2018 break after initially saying she'd return to the airwaves in January. Wendy claimed she was healing from a shoulder injury and dealing with Graves disease complications. However, when she finally returned in March, she revealed that she was living in a sober house and once again battling addiction issues. The host's story got even more complicated as reports surfaced claiming her husband, Kevin Hunter Sr., had welcomed a baby with his alleged longtime mistress. After initially denying her marriage was in crisis, Wendy filed for divorce in April after more than 20 years of marriage. Kevin was subsequently fired as an executive producer of her show and as her manager and Wendy — who confirmed that her husband was unfaithful and had a new baby with another woman — has been flourishing ever since.
"Today" chooses third hour hosts after Megyn Kelly departure
"Today" veteran Al Roker, meteorologist Dylan Dreyer and journalists Craig Melvin and Sheinelle Jones officially took over the third hour of the morning show in January. "Hope you don't mind these faces! You'll be seeing a lot of them at 9am. Please join us! #3rdhourtoday #youvegotafriendinus #letthegoodtimesroll," Dylan captioned a selfie with her new co-hosts on Twitter. Craig, Al and "Today" anchor Hoda Kotb temporarily co-hosted the 9 a.m. hour — with regular appearances by Dylan and Sheinelle — after NBC fired Megyn Kelly in October 2018 amid poor ratings and a racism controversy.
NBC announces removal of "The Office" from Netflix
Netflix users learned they would soon be saying goodbye to "The Office" in 2019. The acclaimed comedy series will be leaving the streaming platform in 2021 and added to NBC's new ad-supported streaming service, which will debut in 2020, NBC executives announced in June 2019. The show was the most watched Netflix show in 2018.
Kristoff St. John's final "The Young and the Restless" scene airs after tragic death
February was a sad month for "The Young and the Restless" fans. Kristoff St. John's final appearance on the long-running soap opera aired on Feb. 6, just three days after he was found dead at his Los Angeles-area home. The late actor had starred as Neil Winters on the soap opera since 1991.
"Modern Family" begins 11th and final season
All good things must come to an end. In February, ABC announced that the highly successful sitcom "Modern Family" would air its 11th and final season starting in the fall and that it will wrap in May 2020. "In its final season, there will be more milestone events that anyone who has been a fan of the series won't want to miss," ABC Entertainment President Karey Burke said during the network's Television Critics Association panel.
Snooki announces "Jersey Shore" franchise retirement
It's the end of an era: Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi is done with the "Jersey Shore" franchise. On the Dec. 6 episode of her "It's Happening with Snooki & Joey" podcast, Snooki revealed that she won't be returning for any future seasons of "Jersey Shore: Family Vacation." She explained, "I am retiring from 'Jersey Shore.' I am not coming back to 'Jersey Shore' for season 4 if there is one," adding, "I quit every time we film because I just hate being away from [my three] kids. I don't like partying three days in a row. It's just not my life anymore. I want to be home with the kids. I don't mind here and there going to a dinner or whatever, but it's just really hard for me to leave the kids and film the show."
Jay Leno addresses David Letterman and Conan O'Brien drama
While appearing on a January episode of "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen," Jay Leno finally opened up about his long-rumored rivalry with fellow late night hosts David Letterman and Conan O'Brien. "We don't hate each other," he said of David. "The media makes a big thing about it. I am a huge fan. When I started, Letterman was a great wordsmith. He could put things together, but he's kind of a hesitant performer. I was a very loud, boisterous performer, but I wasn't that good a writer. So I'd watch him and go, 'Oh, man, how do you put those sentences together?' And he'd watch me and go, 'How can you be so confident on stage?' So I think we sort of took from each other a little bit." Jay also said that he has no regrets about Conan's abrupt 2009 "Tonight Show" departure after NBC attempted to switch their time slots. "Look, they're rating-based shows," Jay said. "It's not your decision. People act like it's your decision. 'Well, you know, I think I'll go back!' The network makes these decisions. They decide you're going to leave and then they decide when you're gonna come back. So there is not a lot different I would have done." And finally, Jay told Andy why he has never responded to Howard Stern's longtime criticism, saying, "You're not going to win a feud with Howard."
"Empire" comes to an end after Jussie Smollett controversy
The wild ride known as "Empire" is coming to an end following a year of controversy surrounding its former star, Jussie Smollett. In May, FOX announced that the drama series would come to an end after its sixth and final season — which concludes in 2020 — following Jussie's widely disputed hate crime scandal. The actor claimed that he was violently attacked by two unknown assailants while walking home in Chicago in late January. The men poured bleach on Jussie, tied a noose around his neck and called him homophobic and racial slurs, according to the actor, who detailed the experience during an interview with "Good Morning America." "And I see the attacker, masked and he said, 'This MAGA country, [racial slur],' and punches me right in the face. So I punched his a– back. And then we started tussling. It was very icy. We ended up tussling by the stairs, fighting, fighting, fighting. There was a second person involved who was kicking me in my back, and then it just stopped. And they ran off… Then I looked down and I see that there's a rope around my neck, which I hadn't [noticed before] because it was so fast," he explained. However, Chicago police later concluded that Jussie staged the attack and paid two brothers he knew to assault him because he was "dissatisfied with his salary" and wanted to raise his profile, a claim Jussie denied. He was arrested for filing a false police report but the charges against him were controversially dropped in March. But the damage was already done. In June — after Jussie was sued by the city of Chicago to recoup its investigation costs and as authorities maintained that he staged his attack — "Empire" creator Lee Daniels confirmed that the scandalized star would not be returning to the musical drama. In November, Jussie sued Chicago claiming he's the victim of a malicious prosecution that caused him humiliation and extreme distress.
"The Talk" makes major changes in host line-up
"The Talk" unveiled a whole new host line-up in 2019. "Dancing With the Stars" judge Carrie Ann Inaba was announced as the official replacement for Julie Chen in January after filling in since September 2018. "It's been such an honor the last year kind of coming in and guest co-hosting and learning so much from all of you," Inaba told fellow panelists Sharon Osbourne, Sara Gilbert, Sheryl Underwood and Eve. Sara would not be a fellow panelist for long, however. The "Roseanne" alum announced her departure in April, citing her busy work schedule — which includes starring on and executive producing "The Conners" and filming Season 3 of Netflix's "Atypical" — and family life. "Last season… if I'm being honest about it, I think my life was slightly out of balance and I wasn't able to spend as much time with my three kids as I'd like or time for myself," she said, calling the decision "extremely difficult." In May, "The Talk" announced that Marie Osmond would replace Sara when the show returned for its 10th season in September.
James Holzhauer wins $2.4 million during 33-game "Jeopardy!" winning streak
James Holzhauer made "Jeopardy!" history this year. The professional gambler won more than $2.4 million during a 33-game winning streak from April to June — becoming the second-highest winner in "Jeopardy!" regular-play history. Just a few weeks after losing to University of Chicago librarian Emma Boettcher, James donated $1,109.14 to a Naperville, Illinois, charity walk that's raising funds for pancreatic cancer research ("Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek was diagnosed with the disease earlier this year).
"Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "Everybody Loves Raymond" actress Georgia Engel dies at 70
Georgia Engel — who earned two Emmy nominations for her work as Georgette Baxter on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and three Emmy nominations for her work as Pat MacDougall on "Everybody Loves Raymond" — died on April 12 in Princeton, New Jersey. She was 70. Her friend and the executor of her will, John Quilty, told The New York Times that her cause of death is unknown because the actress was a Christian Scientist and did not consult doctors after her health began to suffer.
Hoda Kotb announces engagement live on "Today"
On the Nov. 25 episode of the "Today" show, anchor Hoda Kotb announced some very big and very happy news. "I have to tell you something. A friend of mine, a friend of ours, asked me to let you guys in on a secret," she teased. "Her [name is] Hoda Kotb and she's engaged!" As the morning show star held up her hand, revealing a beautiful ring she received from her love of six years, Joel Schiffman, her co-stars erupted in shouts and squeals. Hoda went on to share that Joel proposed while they were on vacation and popped the question at the end of a dinner on the beach.
"Jessica Jones," "The Punisher" canceled as Netflix completes Marvel purge
Netflix is officially Marvel TV-free. In February, the streaming service announced the cancellation of hit shows "Jessica Jones" featuring Krysten Ritter and "The Punisher" featuring Jon Bernthal. Netflix previously canceled its other Marvel series, "Daredevil," "Iron Fist," "Luke Cage" and "The Defenders," as Disney launches its own streaming platform, Disney+.
Jenna Bush Hager replaces Kathie Lee Gifford on "Today," announces third pregnancy
Jenna Bush Hager officially replaced Kathie Lee Gifford on the fourth hour of NBC's "Today" show in April. The former first daughter, who was announced as Hoda Kotb's co-host in February, was congratulated on the air by her parents, former President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush, in a special video message. The good news continued for Jenna a few weeks later as she announced that she was pregnant with her third child — and first son — with husband Henry Hager. Little Henry Harold "Hal" Hager was born in August.
All three "Chicago" shows renewed as "Chicago P.D." and "Chicago Med" switch up casts
The "Chicago" franchise will continue! In February, NBC announced that all three Dick Wolf-created "Chicago" shows — "Chicago Med," "Chicago Fire" and "Chicago P.D." — had been renewed. Two months later, Deadline reported that "Chicago P.D." star John Seda — who debuted in the role of Antonio Dawson on "Chicago Fire" in 2012 — was leaving the franchise. "Chicago Med" stars Colin Donnell (Dr. Connor Rhodes) and Norma Kuhling (Dr. Ava Bekker) were also reported to be departing "Chicago Med" due to "creative reasons related to the characters' story evolution." All three actors could potentially return to the franchise as guest stars, according to Deadline.
"Last Call with Carson Daly" comes to an end after 17-year run
Another late night talk show has come to an end. "Last Call with Carson Daly" aired its final episode in May after 17 years on the air. NBC announced the show's cancellation in February so Carson could focus on his other hosting gigs (on the "Today" show and "The Voice") and on his family (he and wife Siri Pinter share three children). "If you had told me in 2002 I would be a part of the historic NBC late night family for 17 years, I would have said you were crazy!" Carson said in a statement. "Hard to believe it's been so long — 2,000 episodes. It's time to move on to something new and let someone else have access to this incredible platform. My 20s were about finding a good job. My 30s were about taking on as many of them as I could. Now, in my 40s, I'm focused on quality over quantity. I want to do more with my 'Today' family and continue hosting and producing 'The Voice' and explore new opportunities." He concluded by saying, "I could have all the jobs in the world, but none of them are more important to me than that of Dad. My family will always remain my top priority and greatest gig." YouTube star Lilly Singh took over Carson's old time slot in September with the debut of "A Little Late With Lilly Singh," becoming the first woman of color and the first openly bisexual woman to host a major network talk show.
Adam Levine leaves "The Voice"
Adam Levine said goodbye to "The Voice" in 2019 after 16 seasons. Host Carson Daly announced in May that the Maroon 5 frontman, one of the series' original coaches, had decided to leave. His replacement? Former coach Gwen Stefani, who's in a four-year relationship with fellow coach Blake Shelton. Gwen will leave again in 2020, when Nick Jonas will take her place.
Third "Walking Dead" series greenlit at AMC
More "Walking Dead"? Yes, please! In April, AMC announced that a third "Walking Dead" series was scheduled to debut in 2020. The 10-episode first season, set in a new location, will center around two young women and the first generation of young people to come of age during the apocalypse. "Some will become heroes. Some will become villains. In the end, all of them will be changed forever. Grown up and cemented in their identities, both good and bad," is how the network described the show.
"Days of Our Lives" gets a 56th season after a cast contract cancelation scare
On Nov. 12, news broke revealing that every single contract for the cast of "Days of our Lives" had been canceled and that the show would go into production hiatus at the end of November. Fans feared the worst — that the soap opera, which has been on the air since 1965, had reached its end, like so many daytime dramas before it. But on Nov. 21, Entertainment Weekly reported that a production executive had confirmed to the cast that a renewal was happening and that season 56 would start production in January 2020.
Peggy Lipton dies at 72
Peggy Lipton, star of the 1960s show "Mod Squad," died on May 11 after battling cancer, daughters Rashida Jones and Kidada Jones told the Los Angeles Times. She was 72. "She made her journey peacefully with her daughters and nieces by her side," they said. "We feel so lucky for every moment we spent with her. … We can't put all of our feelings into words right now, but we will say: Peggy was and will always be our beacon of light, both in this world and beyond. She will always be a part of us." The singer-actress, who was previously married to Quincy Jones, revealed in 2005 that she'd been diagnosed with colon cancer the previous year.
Whoopi Goldberg takes sick leave from "The View," Meghan McCain and Joy Behar butt heads
The ladies of "The View" had an emotional 2019. In February, Whoopi Goldberg was forced to take a leave of absence after contracting pneumonia in both lungs. The illness led to sepsis, a potentially fatal infection of the bloodstream, that caused Whoopi to miss another month. She returned to the show in March. "This is my first foray out," she said at the time. "I'm not there yet, I know that. But the only way it's going to get better is if I begin, so this is my beginning." Meanwhile, political opposites Meghan McCain and Joy Behar sparred over numerous topics throughout the year, including democratic socialism and the 2020 presidential race. During one heated conversation in February, Joy accused Meghan of having a "hissy fit" and Meghan battled Joy over her intellect in April.
Russi Taylor, voice of Minnie Mouse for three decades, dies at 75
On July 26, iconic voice actress Russi Taylor died in Glendale, California, at 75. The actress was best known for her work as the voice of Minnie Mouse.
Ellen Pompeo reveals she might stay on "Grey's Anatomy" past 2020, talks "toxic" set experience
Ellen Pompeo revealed quite a bit about "Grey's Anatomy" in 2019. In January, the series lead shared that she is no longer certain she will leave "Grey's" when her contract expires at the end of Season 16 in May 2020. "I keep saying, 'I'm ready to move on and I want to stop the show before the ratings go down,' but the ratings never go down! … They go down a little bit, but the fact that we are able to hold our [title as ABC's No. 1 series] is kind of [incredible]," she told TVLine. "It's very cool to have these kind of ratings and be on a hit network show in this [peak TV] landscape." Continued the actress, "It's a pretty nice place to work. … I like my situation here. As much as the idea of something new appeals to me … the truth is I have three kids. I don't really want to travel and leave [them]… And the network and studio continue to incentivize me and just make me offers that I can't refuse." In a June interview for Variety's Actors on Actors series, Ellen further revealed that the "Grey's" set wasn't always a nice place to work. "The first 10 years we had serious culture issues, very bad behavior, really toxic work environment… But after Season 10, we had some big shifts in front of the camera, behind the camera," Ellen explained. "It became my goal to have an experience there that I could be happy and proud about, because we had so much turmoil for 10 years."
Anderson Cooper delivers heartfelt on-air tribute to mom Gloria Vanderbilt after her death
In June, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper commemorated his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, on the air shortly after she died at 95 from stomach cancer. "The last few weeks, every time I kissed her goodbye, I would say, 'I love you, Mom,'" Anderson said of the famed heiress, author and fashion designer. "She would look at me and say, 'I love you too. You know that.' And she was right. I did know that. I knew it from the moment I was born, and I'll know it for the rest of my life. And in the end, what greater gift can a mother give to her son?"
"The Chi" star Jason Mitchell fired after co-star accuses him of sexual harassment
In May, "The Chi" star Jason Mitchell was fired from the Showtime series, as well as the Netflix film "Desperados," after being accused of misconduct by multiple women including co-star Tiffany Boone, who said she felt "unsafe" around him. Jason's talent agency, UTA, and management company also severed ties with him after the reports emerged. "The Chi" creator Lena Waithe also came under fire when it was revealed that Tiffany previously complained about Jason and he was allowed to stay on the show. "I'm hearing that the set is completely different … and then I get a call from [showrunner] Ayanna [Floyd Davis] saying that things are persisting, not a lot has changed in that area, but you can't reach out, you've gotta sit tight, HR has to handle it," Lena explained on "The Breakfast Club." "And my biggest regret is that I should have just said, 'Forget that,' and not trusted anybody to do my job and just reached out to Tiffany on my own, like, 'Yo, what's going on? What can I do? What can Lena do?' And instead, I trusted someone else to do my job." Jason finally spoke out about his firing months later in a Nov. 4 interview with "The Breakfast Club." "I'm all for the #MeToo movement, but I think in this situation Ayanna tried to use it as a really, really ugly weapon," he said. Jason claimed that he was actually fired because "I was asking for money" and new owner Disney "decided not to pick up my option."
Nicollette Sheridan leaves "Dynasty" reboot to be with her terminally ill mom
Nicollette Sheridan announced her departure from the "Dynasty" TV reboot in February to "focus on some personal family responsibilities" after joining the drama midway through the first season. "Working on the 'Dynasty' reboot and reprising the iconic role of Alexis [Carrington] has been thoroughly enjoyable, but the chance to spend precious time with my terminally ill mother is more important to me right now," she tweeted. "I am profoundly grateful to Mark Pedowitz (The CW) and David Stapf (CBS) for graciously allowing me to return to Los Angeles to be with her, and I wish them and everyone associated with the show nothing but continued success. I am hopeful that my fans will embrace my successor with as much passion as they embraced me." The role of Alexis was recast and the reveal was ridiculously and brilliantly soapy: After being injured in a fire, Alexis undergoes facial reconstruction surgery. When the bandages came off, viewers saw Elizabeth Gillies — the same actress who played Alexis's daughter, Fallon, on the show.