As we wind down the last few days of the year and get ready to ring in 2020, we’re looking back at some of the more scandalous entertainment stories of the year. From celebrity bribes to a poor choice of words, to more serious allegations of abuse or fraud, here are the celeb no-nos that blew up our social media feeds and dominated the conversation in 2019.
1. R. Kelly’s behaviour comes to light
Rumours of the singer’s awful behaviour had been swirling for years (remember his alleged marriage to a 15-year-old Aaliyah?) from general predatory proclivities towards young girls to more nefarious allegations that the singer has denied. But it wasn’t until a TV series giving voice to his alleged victims was released that R. Kelly became headline news across the globe and his explosive interview with Gayle King shocked everyone who watched. Now, the 52-year-old will face the legal system at two separate trials next spring, facing counts of sex trafficking and child pornography. ICYMI, Lifetime is also piecing together a sequel to the series that started it all, Surviving R. Kelly.
2. Jussie Smollett’s alleged attacks
The rage was real when this Empire star was allegedly targeted and attacked in Chicago last January. But that rage transformed into utter shock when officials claimed Smollett had actually paid two brothers US$3,500 to stage the entire thing. As a result, the actor was let go from the series and faced 16 felony counts, charges which were later dropped. Now Chicago is trying to reclaim some of the cash it spent investigating the crime, while Smollett has maintained his innocence throughout.
RELATED: Jussie Smollett nearly signed a plea deal before his charges were dropped
3. The college admissions scandal
In which more than 50 “well-meaning” wealthy parents, including Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman and Aunt Becky herself, Lori Loughlin, bribed and lied to ensure their kids were admitted into some of best colleges in the U.S., and the world was shook. Huffman pleaded guilty and served 11 days of her 14-day jail sentence but Loughlin took a different approach and is going to trial, and sources say she’s facing significantly more jailtime as a result. Meanwhile, her daughter Olivia Jade, 20, an active YouTuber and one of the students whose acceptance into USC was a prominent part of the scandal, dipped her toe back into the world of social media after an extended absence.
RELATED: Olivia Jade moved out of Lori Loughlin’s house and went straight to Ikea
4. T.I. and his interest in his daughter’s hymen
We still don’t fully understand how T.I. thought revealing to the world that he’s present during his 18-year-old daughter’s gynecological appointments to ensure her hymen, and virginity, is intact would make him seem like a hands-on father as opposed to an oppressive force in his teenager’s sex life. Following the revelation that happened during a podcast called Ladies Like Us, we’re not shocked that the Internet basically broke and, as happened frequently in 2019, the person in the media cross-hairs sat down with Jada Pinkett Smith for a candid episode of Red Table Talk. During the chat, Jada and her co-host mother, Adrienne Banfield-Jones, frankly tried to explain to T.I. the difference between education and control and gave him pointers about how to be an active parent without reinforcing tired gender stereotypes.
5. Tristan and Khloe’s various ups and downs
Tristan Thompson and Khloe Kardashian’s relationship status has always been something to dish about, but this year it went into overdrive when we heard that Thompson had cheated on his wife with a “close friend of the family,” a.k.a. Kylie Jenner’s BFF Jordyn Woods. Woods later went on Jada Pinkett Smith’s Red Table Talk (see, told you) to share her truth and clear the air; she also passed a lie-detector test confirming she and Tristan never actually slept together. At the time Khloe seemed over it, but now new gossip, and a recent KUWTK episode, hinted that she and Tristan may be rekindling things. Something tells us this story will continue well into 2020.
6. Jed Wyatt was not there for the right reasons
We’re completely used to controversy when it comes to the Bachelor and Bachelorette franchise—that’s why we watch—but Jed Wyatt took it to a whole new level this year when he agreed to do the show despite having a girlfriend at home. Wyatt supposedly only agreed to appear on Hannah Brown’s season to promote his music career, but when she picked him at the very end, he wound up proposing. Brown had no idea at the time about the manipulation and apparent betrayal and promptly broke up with him after the final rose. Now, Wyatt will go down as the guy who famously won and then lost the show. True love at its finest, on-camera style.
7. Scarlett Johansson, Woody and the tree
There’s no denying the power of ScarJo, but she definitely raised plenty of eyebrows in 2019 with her unpopular comments. After rescinding the role of a transgender character in Rub & Tug last year following public backlash, she made comments this summer in an interview about how she should be allowed to play any role, even a tree. Following the backlash to that insensive comparison, she went on to publicly defend Woody Allen, inserting herself in that situation by saying she believes him while other actors have refused to work with him again and some have even donated their salaries to worthy causes. Given her track record with hot headlines during the last 12 months, the fact that she will be on a worldwide press tour for Black Widow and has a wedding to SNL‘s Colin Jost to plan, we don’t expect 2020 will be a quiet year for Johansson.
8. Liam Neeson’s controversial comments
Most everyone can understand feelings of extreme anger and rage; it’s a symptom of the human condition. But talking about targeted thoughts of racially-charged rage and revenge—even if you never actually went through with them—is more than most can relate to. Liam Neeson learned that the hard way in February when he admitted that after someone close to him had been raped by a person of colour, he found himself hoping for a black man to “come out of a pub” and come at him so that he could “kill him,” thus taking out his anger on an innocent person who fit the racial profile of his friend’s abuser. Neeson said he was trying to address his own bigotry by revealing the story, but that was definitely not how it was received.
RELATED: Liam Neeson receives major backlash over racist remarks
9. Woody Allen was out of touch
The director has long been a divisive filmmaker, but when he tried to inject himself into the middle of #MeToo by saying he was a champion of women, it was highly problematic. A year later, and Allen is apparently still tone deaf, because despite his own adoptive daughter maintaining claims that he molested her when she was seven years old, he’s still speaking out in interviews, like the September talk he had with the Hollywood Reporter, about how he doesn’t understand why he’s not being celebrated for his longstanding commitment to pay parity on his films and claiming that he’s never had “a single complaint” from the hundreds of actresses he’s worked with.
10. Todd Chrisley’s tax problem
If you’ve ever tuned into an episode of reality show Chrisley Knows Best, you already know that Chrisley, a real estate guru, is a strict dad whose rules come with intense consequences when broken. So when Chrisley and his wife Julie were hit with a federal tax evasion case it was kind of ironic that he blamed his daughter Lindsie for the whole thing, claiming her affair with a Georgia Department of Revenue official was the catalyst. Regardless of who started the fire, the Chrisleys are still under investigation on a federal level, despite being cleared of state tax evasion charges in October. Oh, and they’re also suing the guy who investigated them in the first place. Drama, drama, drama.