It’s safe to say, 2021 can’t come soon enough. Between the global COVID-19 pandemic, the wild presidential election, the fight against racial injustice and ongoing lockdown, there has never been a year quite like 2020.
It’s also been an explosive year for celebrities. From crazy political campaigns to shocking prison sentences, revisit the biggest celebrity scandals and upsets of 2020 below.
This year certainly started out with a royal sized help of drama. In January, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced they were stepping back from their role as senior members of the royal family and would balance their time between the U.K. and North America. A statement released by the Palace confirmed that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were to become financially independent and cease to represent the Queen.
Dubbed “Megxit,” the unprecedented move led to a meeting of the royal family dubbed the “Sandringham Summit” and the Queen went in to full crisis managemenr mode, issued a rare first-person statement on her family, and was praised for her rapid handling of the crisis. An agreement was announced whereby the couple would “no longer be working members of Britain’s royal family,” and would not use their “Royal Highness” styles.
As to what motivated this break in royal protocol, ITV News at Ten’s Tom Bradby, who had interviewed the couple a number of times, was quoted in several sources as saying that the Sussexes were told during their six-week Christmas break that they would not be part of a “slimmed down monarchy” and that they were in effect being “driven out.” The ongoing hostile treatment of the couple by the British tabloid press and issues of racism toward Markle were also said to play a part in their decision.
The couple, along with their young son, Archie, fled to the U.S. and settled down in the celeb-filled Montecito community in Santa Barbara, Calif. As to what’s next, in September 2020, the Sussexes signed a private commercial deal with Netflix “to develop scripted and unscripted series, film, documentaries, and children’s programming for the streaming service.”
Lori Loughlin And Mossimo Giannulli Sent TO Prison
Last year, Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli were among 50 individuals charged by the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office for fraud and bribery-related offenses in a nationwide college entrance exam cheating scandal. The indictment against the couple alleged that, disguised as a donation, they had paid $500,000 to the Key Worldwide Foundation so that the admissions committee of University of Southern California would believe their two daughters, Isabella and Olivia Jade Giannulli, would join the women’s rowing team although neither had trained in the sport nor had plans on doing so.
The actress and her husband originally pleaded not guilty when the scandal made headlines, but in May, they flipped. Loughlin pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and Giannulli pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and honest services wire and mail fraud. In August, Loughlin was sentenced to two months in jail following her involvement in the scandal while her husband was handed five months behind bars. Per their plea agreement, the Full House alum also agreed to pay a $150,000 fine and perform 100 hours of community service and two years of supervised release, while the fashion designer agreed to pay a $250,000 fine with 250 hours of community service and two years of supervised release.
The former sitcom star was sentenced to two months in jail following her involvement with the 2019 college admissions scandal and began serving her two-month prison sentence at FCI Dublin in Northern California on October 30, 2020. Due to health concerns related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, she also had her visitation rights suspended. Giannulli, who will serve five months, reported to prison on November 19.
Kanye West’s 2020 Presidential Run
After publicly supporting President Donald Trump, Kayne West made the nation do a collective eyeroll when he announced via Twitter on July 4 he was jumping into the 2020 presidential race. Various political pundits quickly speculated that the rapper’s 2020 presidential run was a publicity stunt to promote his upcoming music while others saw him as working in collusion with Trump to hurt Joe Biden’s campaign. West ran as an Independent under the “Birthday Party,” because, as the 43-year-old explained to Forbes, “when we win, it’s everybody’s birthday. His platform included restoring school prayer and banning abortion, although he admitted to the publication that he was ignorant on issues such as taxes and foreign policy.
During his bizarre first rally on July 19 in South Carolina, the Yeezy designer cried on stage, accused wife Kim Kardashian of having considered aborting daughter North ,and claimed Harriet Tubman “never actually freed the slaves.” His comments sparked marital problems with Kardashian who spoke out on social media revealing he was in the grips of a bipolar episode.
Outside of tweeting erratically, releasing a Bible-inspired campaign video, and launching a line of #Ye2020 merchandise including $60 baseball hats and $160 hoodies, the Grammy winner couldn’t get his candidacy much serious attention. He failed to meet the deadlines needed to get on ballots in all 50 states. Illinois ruled that West didn’t have enough valid signatures by the state’s deadline as he collected just 1,200 of the 2,500 needed. In Wisconsin, he missed the filing deadline by 14 seconds and, in Ohio, failed to qualify after officials ruled he filed a petition with fake signatures.
The “Jesus Walks” rapper did make it on the ballot as an official presidential candidate in 12 U.S. states including Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Iowa, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, West Virginia and Vermont as well as write-in candidate in five states including Alabama, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. He was also listed as a vice presidential candidate alongside American Independent party presidential nominee Rocky De La Fuente in California.
On Election Day, West cast his vote in person in the state of Wyoming, writing in himself and his running mate with Wyoming preacher Michelle Tidball. The following day, he conceded in a tweet that read “WELP KANYE 2024.”
Megan Thee Stallion’s ShooTing
During a party in the Hollywood Hills on July 12, Megan Thee Stallion was shot in the foot, suffering gunshot wounds that required surgery to remove the bullets. The “W.A.P.” rapper took to Instagram Live shortly after the shocking incident, claiming hip-hop star Tory Lanez was the one behind her injuries. Lanez had already been arrested on gun charges following a vehicle search the night of the party.
The Canadian rapper denied he shot the Grammy nominee and was then accused of launching a “smear campaign” against Megan to discredit her allegations. But on October 8, Lanez was officially charged with the shooting by Los Angeles Country Prosecutors, while also facing two felony charges, one count of assault with a semiautomatic firearm and carrying an unregistered firearm in his vehicle. He pleaded not guilty to assault with a semiautomatic handgun in late November 2020. If convicted, Lanez, who is out on bond after posting $35K bail, could face up to 23 years behind bars. His next court hearing is currently set for Jan. 20.
Kelly Clarkson’s Bitter Divorce
In June 2020, Kelly Clarkson filed for divorce from her husband of seven years, Brandon Blackstock, citing “irreconcilable differences.” Rumors of Blackstock’s wandering eye started to swirl and the split soon turned nasty. On top of the divorce drama, Starstruck Management Group, the company Blackstock, runs with his dad Narve Blackstock sued longtime client Clarkson for more than $1.4 million in unpaid commissions. The American Idol alum countersued, deeming the request unlawful and demanding $1.9 million in prior commissions be returned.
Clarkson was recently granted primary custody of six-year-old daughter River Rose and son Remington Alexander. A Los Angeles court ruled “that under the circumstances present in this case, the interest in providing stability and continuity for the minor children weighs in favor of [Clarkson] having primary custody,” the court document read, citing that “the level of conflict between the parents has increased. The parties have a difficult time co-parenting due to issues of trust between them.”
According to PEOPLE, Blackstock is also asking for $436K a month, which allegedly covers both child and spousal support. A source told the outlet that he has been “unreasonable” in his demands and “seems to think he is entitled to and needs $301K in spousal support and $135K in child support per month.”
“Let’s just get this out of the way. 2020 has been a dumpster fire,” Clarkson admitted on her talk show. “Yep, just all the word[s] I can’t say on this show, just piled together, and it’s on fire. That’s really what it feels like.’
Britney Spears’ Conservatorship Battle
With her ongoing legal battles, this year has been somewhat toxic for Britney Spears. In 2008, she entered into a conservatorship with her father, Jamie Spears, after suffering a very public breakdown. Under the conservatorship, he reportedly had full control over his daughter’s financial and medical affairs until 2019, when he stepped down after being accused of physically abusing the singer’s 14-year-old son, Sean. Spears’ longtime “care-manager,” Jodi Montgomery, temporarily took over conservatorship duties. In the superstar’s case, the terms of the conservatorship haven’t been made public, but she is fighting to change that. There’s even currently a petition to the White House from fans to help end the conservatorship and a #FreeBritney movement that is calling for legal intervention to help Britney regain control over her finances and life.
The legal drama ramped up again this summer when the singer filed a request to permanently replace her father with Jodi Montgomery as conservator. In an unprecedented interview with The New York Post, Jamie Spears condemned the #FreeBritney movement as a “joke.” He adds, “All these conspiracy theorists don’t know anything. The world don’t have a clue. It’s up to the court of California to decide what’s best for my daughter. It’s no one else’s business.”
In August, the Los Angeles judge ruled that Spears’ conservatorship would be extended until February 2021. The singer’s legal team also filed new court documents, this time requesting that Bessemer Trust Company be appointed conservator of her estate. E! News confirmed through court documents that her mom also nominated the company. Meanwhile, her dad filed a petition to appoint Andrew Wallet co-conservator of Spears’ estate. Wallet previously served as co-conservator of the estate from January 2009 to March 2019.
In September, the pop star’s lawyers filed to oppose sealing parts of the conservatorship and request a hearing to be public because there are no medical or sensitive issues with her children to warrant secrecy. “Britney herself is vehemently opposed to this effort by her father to keep her legal struggle hidden away in the closet as a family secret,” her lawyer revealed to TMZ. “Far from being a conspiracy theory or a ‘joke’ as James [Jamie] reportedly told the media, in large part this scrutiny is a reasonable and even predictable result of James’ aggressive use of the sealing procedure over the years to minimize the amount of meaningful information made available to the public.”
Last month, the “Lucky” singer lost her bid to remove her father from her conservatorship, at least for now. In a hearing that was closed to the public, a judge declined to remove her dad as co-conservator of her life and estate. In legal filings, Jamie Spears argued that his daughter is not ready to take back control of her life and finances, according to USA Today. As a consequence, Spears, who has not performed since early 2019, said she would refuse to perform again and will continue her work hiatus if her father stays on as her conservator.
The singer did have one small win in court, however. Though the judge denied to remove her dad from her conservatorship, the judge did approve adding a co-conservator to her estate, the Bessemer Trust, which was what her team requested. The next hearing for the case is scheduled for December 16.
Spears is mom to two sons Preston, 15, and Jayden, 14, who currently live with her ex, Kevin Federline, 70% of the time. (Her custody was reduced to 30% in September 2019).
Ellen DeGeneres’ Toxic Work ENVIRONMENT
If you think you had a rough 2020, we guarantee Ellen DeGeneres probably had it worse. Once known as the “Be Kind,” celeb, the Emmy winner was hit with multiple reports claiming a “toxic” work environment on her daytime talk show. Accusations of misconduct ranging from bullying to underpayment to abuse plagued the 62-year-old, tarnishing her happy go lucky reputation.
In July, more former staffers from The Ellen DeGeneres Show came forward and claimed there were also incidents of racism and sexual misconduct going on behind the scenes. As a result, Ed Galvin, Kevin Leman and Jonathan Norman — who were all top producers — were ousted after WarnerMedia launched an internal investigation.
As the horrific allegations mounted, DeGeneres was forced to personally address her staff. “On day one of our show, I told everyone in our first meeting that The Ellen DeGeneres Show would be a place of happiness – no one would ever raise their voice, and everyone would be treated with respect,” she said in a statement. “As someone who was judged and nearly lost everything for just being who I am, I truly understand and have deep compassion for those being looked at differently, or treated unfairly, not equal, or – worse – disregarded. To think that any one of you felt that way is awful to me.”
When the show returned for season 18 in September, DeGeneres did her best damage control, addressing the “toxic” work place rumors to her audience.
“If you’re watching because you love me, thank you. If you’re watching because you don’t love me, welcome!” she quipped in her opening monologue. “How was everybody’s summer? Good? Mine was great. Super terrific!” She admitted she was “happy” to be back in the studio and wanted to get down to business, despite not having an in-person audience.
“As you may have heard, this summer there were allegations of a toxic work environment at our show, and then there was an investigation,” she stated. “I learned that things happened here that never should have happened. I take that very seriously, and I want to say I am so sorry to the people who are affected. I know that I am in a position of privilege and power, and I realize with that comes responsibility, and I take responsibility for what happens at my show.
“This is The Ellen DeGeneres Show, I am Ellen DeGeneres,” she continued. “My name is there, my name is there, my name is on underwear. We’ve had a lot of conversations over the last few weeks about the show, our workplace and what we want for the future. We have made the necessary changes and today, we’re starting a new chapter.”
But the damage may be done. According to Nielsen, September ratings for the show fell 38% compared to the same period last year.
Partying During A Pandemic
Just like the rest of us, celebrities have become restless during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. But while most of us have been taking extra safety precautions and canceling gatherings, some famous faces have been out partying like nothing has changed.
With accusations of being privileged, tone-deaf, hypocritical and self-centered, a number of celebs have found themselves in hot water for their reckless behavior. Rita Ora was busted celebrating her 30th birthday with over 30 people while the U.K. was in lockdown. The singer and her guests, including Cara and Poppy Delevingne, reality star Vas Morgan and Ora’s sister, Elena, spent the evening partying at the Casa Cruz restaurant in Notting Hill, West London. Before the bash, a government spokesperson made it clear that “Everyone must continue to follow the rules, or we risk losing control of this virus again.” Defying the orders, Ora was determined not to let COVID-19 ruin her birthday.
A source told The Sun that “Rita and her sister came to the restaurant first, all dolled up and clearly looking forward to a good night. There were a number of guests, all dressed up very glamorously, and everyone entered the building through the back, with security watching the front to make sure no one else went in. It went on until the early hours.”
The police were called, word quickly got out and Ora found herself dragged on social for her irresponsible behavior. The backlash was so swift that it forced her to issue a formal apology and she offered to pay a $13,399 (£10,000) fine after she and her famous friends were caught breaking the rules.
Cardi B came under fire recently when she hosted a 37-person Thanksgiving and bragged about it on social media. The rapper later issued an apology writing, “Sorry my bad wasn’t trying to make nobody feel bad. I just had my family in my home for the first time and it felt so good & uplifted me. I spent soo much money getting every1 tested but it felt worth it. I wasn’t trying to offend no1.”
Fans slammed Kim Kardashian after she flew her family and a bunch of friends to a private island to celebrate her 40th birthday amid the pandemic. The KKW beauty founder posted several photos from the exotic party which included Kris Jenner, Kendall Jenner, Khloé Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian, Rob Kardashian, Scott Disick, Tristan Thompson, Corey Gamble, Fai Khadra, Simon Huck and LaLa Anthony, none of whom were wearing masks or social distancing.
Following the reality star’s slew of snaps, many took to Twitter and Instagram to call out the KUWTK reality star for her ignorant post. “I haven’t seen ma family in 4 months because I work a public-facing job and I’m absolutely terrified of the possibility of passing Covid on to my vulnerable parents. I hope you had fun pretending things were normal, but spare a thought for those of us staying in the real world,” one person tweeted to the makeup mogul. “Nobody in this family could read a room if their life depended on it,” another user added.
Kendall Jenner was also criticized for throwing a costume party in Los Angeles on Halloween that was jam-packed with celebs not wearing face masks or socially distancing.
Pastor Carl Lentz’s Moral Failures
Talk about a fall from grace. Celeb Pastor Carl Lentz, who is known for his high-profile followers and friends such as Justin Bieber, Hailey Baldwin, and Kendall and Kylie Jenner, was fired from Hillsong Church in November due to past “moral failures.” Lentz later admitted he cheated on his wife, Laura and his alleged mistress came forward and spilled the tea on their five-month affair. The Pastor was also seen behaving like a “womanizing manwhore” at a Super Bowl party earlier this year, despite the fact that his wife was reportedly at the same bash. Lentz is now reportedly in “intense” therapy.