It has been a big year for celebrity scandals – from racist rants and crime hoaxes to trainwreck interviews and reality stars going rogue.
It has been a big year for celebrity scandals – from racist rants and crime hoaxes to trainwreck interviews and reality stars going rogue.

Here are the most shocking celebrity scandals of 2019

Racist rants, bizarre crime hoaxes, trainwreck interviews and reality stars gone rogue - 2019 was chock full of celebrity scandals, some of them truly bizarre.

Folks, it's been a long year …

PRINCE ANDREW'S ROYAL SHAME

Prince Andrew’s interview was a PR nightmare. Picture: BBC
Prince Andrew’s interview was a PR nightmare. Picture: BBC

A reminder that sometimes silence is the best option - at least when it comes to saving your own skin.

As public speculation grew about Prince Andrew's close friendship to late billionaire and sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein, the Duke of York sat down for a tell-all interview with the BBC.

The results were disastrous with the Prince making bizarre, easily disprovable claims and leading to this memorable retort from interviewer Emily Maitlis:

Prince Andrew: "Do I regret the fact that he has quite obviously conducted himself in a manner unbecoming? Yes."

"Unbecoming? He was a sex offender," Maitlis replied.

Within a week, he officially stood down from royal duties - Queen Elizabeth's youngest child is now a royal in title only.

 

JUSSIE'S HATE CRIME 'HOAX'

Jussie Smollett breaks down discussing his ‘attack’ on TV.
Jussie Smollett breaks down discussing his ‘attack’ on TV.

On January 29, a truly shocking celebrity story emerged: Empire actor Jussie Smollett had been attacked by two masked men in the early hours of the morning while alone on the streets of Chicago.

According to Smollett, the two men doused him in an unknown chemical, roughed him up, shouted racial and homophobic slurs at him and, most shockingly of all, tied a noose around his neck.

And then, just as quickly as it broke, the story started to unravel: The men were identified as two brothers who'd worked as extras on Empire. Chicago police told the press they'd uncovered evidence showing Smollett had paid the brothers $3500 to stage the attack, allegedly because he was dissatisfied with his pay on Empire.

Smollett denied all charges, and he never faced a day in court: in March, all charges were dropped, leaving this as one of the year's biggest mysteries - for now.

 

R. KELLY FLIPS HIS LID

What a photo: R. Kelly's explosive interview with Gayle King.
What a photo: R. Kelly's explosive interview with Gayle King.

Early in the year, documentary series S urviving R. Kelly aired multiple disturbing sexual abuse allegations against the R&B crooner. In a bid to clear his name, he sat down with journalist Gayle King for a tell-all interview.

It makes for jarring viewing: King, calm and collected, while an increasingly erratic and upset Kelly paces the interview room, screaming expletives.

"Quit playing, I didn't do this stuff," he screamed. "This is not me! I'm fighting for my f***ing life."

Two months later, he was arrested on sex trafficking charges as the allegations against him continued to mount. In December, it was announced that so many further allegations had surfaced against him that there would be a sequel documentary series, Surviving R. Kelly 2.

 

JACKSON ACCUSERS SPEAK UP

Michael Jackson with a young Wade Robson.
Michael Jackson with a young Wade Robson.

Sure, many had their suspicions about Michael Jackson's unusually close relationships with young boys during his life. But two-part documentary Leaving Neverlandlaid the allegations out in unflinching detail, letting accusers Wade Robson and James Safechuck tell their stories over the course of four hours.

Their close relationships to Jackson when they were young children is not in dispute: They both became constant companions of the most famous man in the world, photographed touring the globe with him and going for countless sleepovers at his Neverland Ranch.

But both men allege that behind closed doors, and after exhaustive grooming of them and their starstruck families, Jackson sexually abused them both.

Many Jackson fans were outraged by the accusations - but many more listened to, and believed, Robson and Safechuck's haunting testimony of how the alleged abuse had affected them.

COLLEGE ADMISSIONS SCANDAL

 

OK, who had "Felicity Huffman arrested" on the 2019 celeb bingo sheet? The Desperate Housewives star and Full House actress Lori Loughlin were two very famous heads to roll in the college admissions scandal, accused of bribing their children's way to a better education.

Huffman admitted to paying $15,000 to cheat on her daughter's SAT exam, and served 11 days in jail - to add insult to injury, former celeb jailbird Martha Stewart even accused her of looking "frumpy" in the photos that surfaced from her time in prison. Loughlin and her husband are yet to go to trial.

TAYLOR VS. SCOOTER

 

Taylor Swift this year waged a very public war with the founder of her old record label Big Machine, Scott Borchetta and Justin Bieber's manager Scooter Braun, after Borchetta sold the label and all of its rights - including Swift's entire past six-album catalogue - to the talent manager.

Swift took the unusual step of pleading for her fans to help her regain control of her back catalogue; Braun hit back, insisting Swift had every opportunity to do so and was instead setting her fans against him for an aboveboard business decision.

By the time she took the stage at the Billboard Music Awards in December, Swift was ready to return fire: "Let me just say that the definition of toxic male privilege in our industry is people saying, 'But he's always been nice to me' when I'm raising valid concerns about artists and their right to own their music," she said.

"And of course he's nice to you - if you're in this room, you have something he needs."

HART DUMPED AS OSCARS HOST

 

Actor and comedian Kevin Hart was announced in December 2018 as the host of 91st Academy Awards, but soon after, homophobic tweets and comments he made in the past resurfaced online.

Hart initially refused to apologise for the material, telling his followers to "stop searching for reasons to be angry". But by January, amid mounting public pressure, he'd stepped down from his Oscars gig, leaving the ceremony to go ahead host-less for the first time in decades.

BRITNEY BATTLES HER FATHER

Since her career hiatus, Britney’s been communicating with fans via Instagram.
Since her career hiatus, Britney’s been communicating with fans via Instagram.

Is Britney OK? It's the question every fan wanted answered during what was - at times - a worrying year for the star. The year started with a shock: the star pulled the pin on her planned latest big budget Las Vegas residency, just days before it was due to open.

She cited a need to look after her ill father Jamie Spears - but as the year wore on, fans were asking questions about Jamie and the control he continues to wield over his daughter.

In May, she told a judge he'd committed her to a mental health facility against her will, and claimed his actions as her conservator - a position he'd held since her 2008 breakdown - were illegal.

By September, Britney's ex Kevin Federline had waded into the messy family drama, accusing Jamie of abusing he and Britney's two sons. Perhaps oddest of all, amid all this turmoil, Britney's Instagram account - where she still posts perky workout vids and home fashion shoots on a regular basis - remained perpetually chipper.

LIAM'S BIZARRE OUTBURST

 

Hoo boy. Neeson sparked outrage after admitting during a February press junket for his latest film that he went hunting for a "black b**tard" to kill after finding out a family member had been raped.

"She handled the situation of the rape in the most extraordinary way," Neeson said. "But my immediate reaction was I asked, did she know who it was? No.

"What colour were they? She said it was a black person.

"I went up and down areas with a cosh, hoping I'd be … approached by somebody.

"I'm ashamed to say that, and I did it for maybe a week - hoping some (Neeson gestures air quotes with his fingers) 'black b**tard' would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could kill him.

"It was horrible, horrible, when I think back, that I did that," he said. "And I've never admitted that, and I'm saying it to a journalist. God forbid.

"It's awful. But I did learn a lesson from it, when I eventually thought, 'What the f**k are you doing', you know?"

This may come as a surprise, but all further press commitments for his film were cancelled.

REALITY WINNERS GO ROGUE

After a tough season, Tess and Luke won big on The Block.
After a tough season, Tess and Luke won big on The Block.

Just weeks before they went on to win The Block, Cairns couple Tess and Luke gave an explosive interview to news.com.au in which they sensationally slammed the show.

The pair levelled shocking claims against the hit renovation series, accusing producers of "bullying", insisting everything viewers saw of them was "a lie" and saying they wish they never appeared on the show.

Just a few weeks after that emotional interview, the pair found themselves $730,000 richer as they took out the season win. They declared they had "no regrets" about appearing on the show after their big win at auction.

This was The Block's most controversial season ever, with a cashflow crisis threatening the teams' ability to finish - and even accusations of homophobia levelled at host Scott Cam by couple Mitch and Mark.


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