All the while, celebrities around the globe reacted to the current events as they unfolded. However, if there’s one constant that remained true to years past, it’s that celebrities not only reacted to the news, they contributed to it.
“Ellen DeGeneres Show” toxic workplace scandal
Early this year, DeGeneres, 62, remained mum as past guests and employees spoke out against the host for her alleged cold behavior both on and off the set.
DeGeneres’ not-so-nice behavior to staffers was confirmed by a former bodyguard, Thomas Majercak, who revealed to Fox News that she acted “cold” and “sly” during her hosting gig at the 2014 Oscars.
The bodyguard’s claims were far from the tip of the iceberg, however. Shortly after, Buzzfeed News published a lengthy expose featuring interviews from one current and 10 former employees at “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” who spoke about their experiences, alleging that top producers of the show were guilty of racism, a toxic workplace environment and sexual misconduct.
Thus, an internal investigation by WarnerMedia, which produces and syndicates the show, ensued, and in August, executive producers Ed Glavin and Kevin Leman and co-executive producer Jonathan Norman “parted ways” with the show.
In September, DeGeneres returned to the limelight after a tumultuous summer for the show’s Season 18 premiere. The embattled TV star began her first episode with an on-air apology to her staff and viewers where she vowed to “start a new chapter.”
“Being known as the ‘be kind’ lady is a tricky position to be in. So let me give you some advice out there if anybody’s thinking of changing their title or giving yourself a nickname, do not go with the ‘be kind’ lady. Don’t do it,” DeGeneres jokingly added.
She took on a more serious tone as she said, “The truth is I am that person that you see on TV. I am that person that you see on TV. I am also a lot of other things. Sometimes I get sad, I get mad, I get anxious, I get frustrated, I get impatient. I am working on all of that. I am a work in progress. I’m especially working on the impatience thing, and it’s not going well because it’s not happening fast enough, I’ll tell you that.”
Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli sent to prison
It was also a dramatic year for actress Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli, who were each sentenced to prison in August for their involvement in the nationwide college admissions scandal.
The “Fuller House” alum was handed a two-month term behind bars in August after she and Giannulli, pleaded guilty to charges stemming from $500,000 payments to scam mastermind William “Rick” Singer to get their daughters, Olivia Jade and Isabella Giannulli, recruited onto the University of Southern California’s crew team. The two had never participated in the sport.
Loughlin, 56, began her two-month prison sentence on Oct. 30 at the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, Calif., a low-security federal prison where “Desperate Housewives” actress Felicity Huffman served 11 days of a planned two-week sentence for similar crimes.
Meanwhile, Giannulli reported to prison weeks later in Lompoc, Calif., where he most recently was placed in protective custody, according to reports, due to the novel coronavirus.
Loughlin is expected to be released on Dec. 28, while Giannulli’s expected to return home sometime in April. However, the prison sentences won’t be the last of their punishment. In addition to serving time, Loughlin agreed to pay a $150,000 fine along with two years of supervised release and 100 hours of community service. Giannulli, meanwhile, would serve five months in prison, pay a $250,000 fine with two years of supervised release and 250 hours of community service.
Loughlin and Giannulli initially pleaded not guilty to expanded charges of bribery brought against them in October along with 11 other parents swept up in the scandal. In May, the duo shocked many when they changed course and agreed to plead guilty as Huffman did in 2019.
Earlier this month, Loughlin’s eldest daughter, Olivia, stunned fans by giving her first-ever interview about the scandal. Speaking to Jada Pinkett Smith on the “Red Table Talk” Facebook show, Olivia declared the scandal left her “embarrassed” and “ashamed,” and claimed that her family had “messed up.”
Olivia has since vowed to learn from her parents’ alleged crimes and chalked it up as a big learning experience in terms of recognizing her privilege.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s big “Megxit”
Prince Harry and actress Meghan Markle kicked off 2020 with one of the biggest announcements to rattle Hollywood and beyond: their decision to depart as senior members of the British royal family.
The married couple announced in early January their plan to “step back” as senior members of the royal family and instead work independently, splitting their time between the United Kingdom and North America.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex said their decision came “after many months of reflection and internal discussions.”
“We have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution,” the couple shared on Instagram Wednesday. “We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen. It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment.
“We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honor our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages,” they continued. “This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity.”
Shortly after the announcement, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex relocated to Vancouver, Canada, before moving into Tyler Perry’s multi-million dollar Beverly Hills Mansion. They eventually settled down in Santa Barbara, Calif., however, after reportedly purchasing a house.
This week, Harry and Meghan gave a peek at their more relaxed lifestyle away from Harry’s native England with the reveal of their 2020 Christmas card. It shows Meghan, 39, Harry, 36, their 1-year-old son Archie and their two pups sitting in front of a white and blue playhouse outdoors.
Coronavirus hits Hollywood
The coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across the globe, killing hundreds of thousands, as we head into 2021.
Since it first surged in March, celebrities in film, television, and music, came forward to announce that they’ve tested positive for coronavirus and entered self-isolation.
Tom Hanks, 64, one of America’s most iconic actors, revealed that he tested positive for coronavirus along with his wife Rita Wilson. The couple caught the virus in Australia while Hanks was filming an untitled Elvis Presley biopic directed by Baz Luhrmann.
Since then, the couple has offered fans several updates about their condition and recovery.
The COVID-19 pandemic also sadly resulted in a number of celebrity deaths, including Broadway star Nick Cordero, Adam Schlesinger, Alan Merrill, Julie Bennett, country musician John Prine, among others.
Britney Spears’ conservatorship battle
For over a decade, the “Toxic” singer has been under a conservatorship — meaning that her daily life and finances are overseen by a guardian of sorts — which has been her father Jamie for a majority of the time since its establishment.
This summer, it was reported that Spears is “strongly opposed” to her father resuming duties as her sole conservator, while it was later reported that she has requested that a trust company take over such duties.
As the family drama played out in court, fans were rallying behind Spears on the outside, calling attention louder than ever before to the #FreeBritney movement. The movement surged online as rumors spread that Jamie is not only suppressing his daughter via the conservatorship, but the public has also questioned whether he’s skimming money from Spears’ fortune for himself.
Jamie, who has denied all rumors about himself, fought earlier this year to have the details about the case sealed. The famous father even spoke out about the movement, calling it a “joke.”
Spears’ brother Bryan revealed in July that his sister has wanted out of her conservatorship “for quite some time.”
In August, the conservatorship was extended until at least Feb. 2021. Spears’ temporary conservator is Jodi Montgomery.
“Tiger King” stars Carole Baskin and Joe Exotic’s feud goes viral
If you haven’t heard of Netflix’s “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness,” chances are you slept through all of 2020. The docuseries quickly went viral after its March release on the streamer, and fans couldn’t get enough of the eccentric big cat enthusiasts presented in the series.
Two of the most memorable stars of the series are Joe Exotic ( name Joseph Maldonado-Passage) and Carole Baskin, who were painted as the biggest rivals TV viewers have seen for their opposing positions on the caring of “big cats” (the tigers in the series), as well as the horrific claims made by Exotic that Baskin was responsible for her first husband Don Lewis’ death.
Exotic is serving a 22-year prison term after being found guilty of participating in a murder-for-hire plot against Baskin. Meanwhile, Baskin’s star rose so much following the Netflix show’s release that she danced her way back on television on Season 29 of “Dancing with the Stars.”
While Baskin became a household name thanks to the Netflix series, she recently admitted in an interview on Fox Business’ “Varney & Co.” that she’s not so fond of the way she was portrayed in the series. She even went as far to claim that her feud with Exotic was “fabricated” by producers.
“Joe and I had never, in fact, actually even had a conversation with each other prior to all of this. So the whole idea that was painted as this big feud between us was just fabricated for the purpose of this show,” Baskin claimed.
She continued: “I did go after him because he’s one of the people that I felt was abusing and exploiting big cats. I go after all the big guys and he was just one out of the dozen or so that are on the top of my list for places that need to stop abusing animals.”
While Baskin said she has no interest in working with Netflix again, she still often makes headlines related to her work at the Big Cat Rescue organization in Tampa, Fla. Police in the state have also reopened the investigation into Lewis’ mysterious disappearance and death.