celebrity

Stories that dominated celebrity news in 2019

TV stars implicated in college admissions cheating scam

In March, actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were charged in a complex admissions bribery scam that involved getting their children into prestigious colleges and universities with the help of a middleman. According to authorities, the “Desperate Housewives” alum and the “Fuller House” star and her husband, designer Mossimo Giannulli, were among a group of 35 parents who paid college prep professional William Singer up to $6 million, which he would then funnel to an SAT or ACT administrator or college athletic coach. Lori and her husband were accused of paying $500,000 to have their two daughters designated as USC crew team recruits even though they’d never rowed before. Keep reading for more…

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TV stars implicated in college admissions cheating scam

Felicity Huffman pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud on May 13, admitting that she was in on a scheme to boost her daughter’s SAT scores in an effort to help her get into a prestigious college. Felicity, who’s married to William H. Macy, contended that her daughter, Sofia, didn’t know the actress paid $15,000 to have a procter correct Sofia’s SAT answers. While addressing Judge Indira Talwani during a court hearing, the “Desperate Housewives” actress broke down in tears while explaining that her daughter has a learning disability. Prosecutors recommended that she pay a $20,000 fine and be sentenced to four months in jail. A month before the plea, the actress said in a statement, “I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues and the educational community.”

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TV stars implicated in college admissions cheating scam

Lori Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, decided to take their chances and pleaded not guilty to two conspiracy charges in the college admissions cheating scandal, which did a number on Lori’s career. She was dropped by the Hallmark Channel and other business partners in the wake of the charges, and Sephora also ended a makeup partnership with her social media influencer daughter, Olivia Jade, who left USC. “You read the complaint and they look like criminal masterminds,” a source told People magazine. “But they really didn’t know the legalities of what was going on. They’re not lawyers and they’re not experts. They were parents who simply wanted to make sure that their daughters got into a good school.”

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TV stars implicated in college admissions cheating scam

Felicity Huffman finally learned her fate on Sept. 13 when a judge sentenced her to 14 days in prison, a $30,000 fine and community service. Prosecutors argued for a much harsher sentence, while Felicity’s team wanted her to get only probation or house arrest. The sentencing hearing was incredibly tense, as both sides tried to use her celebrity to validate their case (prosecutors said she shouldn’t get a slap on the wrist because she’s a celebrity; her side said she shouldn’t be treated differently than any other person who’s escaped jail time for a similar crime). “I have inflicted more damage than I could’ve ever imagined,” Felicity told the judge before the sentence. “I take full responsibility for my actions… I am prepared to accept whatever sentence you deem fit.” She began her prison sentence at FCI Dublin, a minimum security female prison near Oakland, California, on Oct. 14. She was released (early) on Oct. 25. The same month, Lori Loughlin and her husband were hit with additional charges — conspiracy to commit federal program bribery (on top of the fraud and money laundering charges they were already facing) — to which they pleaded not guilty in November.

A roller coaster year plagued by illness, mental health problems and legal woes

In February, Britney Spears was supposed to open her second Las Vegas residency show — this one was called “Domination” — at Park MGM. But just after the New Year, she announced that she was postponing the show to support her father, Jamie Spears, as he recovered from health issues — reportedly a life-threatening colon rupture. “It’s important to always put your family first… and that’s the decision I had to make,” she wrote on social media. But this was just the first dip in a roller coaster year for the pop star…

A roller coaster year plagued by illness, mental health problems and legal woes

In early April, multiple media outlets reported that Britney Spears had checked herself into a mental health facility after becoming emotionally distraught over her father’s health crisis and was expected to stay for 30 days. But fans started questioning if Britney went to the facility on her own accord, and the #FreeBritney social media movement was born. Britney later posted a video telling fans, “all is well.” However, in May, she reportedly reversed course and told a judge that her father, Jamie Spears, had sent her to the facility against her will and forced her to take drugs. (An attorney for Britney’s mother, Lynne Spears, allegedly made the same allegation.) TMZ reported that in a closed-court session, Britney asked the judge to end the conservatorship led by Jamie that’s controlled and guided her life since 2008, but her request for that — or at least more freedoms — was ultimately denied. Instead, a judge decided that an independent expert would evaluate the star.

A roller coaster year plagued by illness, mental health problems and legal woes

Tensions between Britney Spears and her dad reached a fever pitch late in the summer when Jamie Spears was accused of physically abusing her 13-year-old son with ex-husband Kevin Federline. On Aug. 25, K-Fed and his attorney, Mark Vincent Kaplan, filed a police report at the Ventura County Sheriff’s station against Jamie detailing the alleged incident. The Blast reported that Jamie allegedly “violently shook” grandson Preston after breaking down a bedroom door to reach him. Kevin’s team praised Britney for how she handled the situation. Still, a source told E!, “Britney is extremely anxious and paranoid about losing custody and she feels Jamie put her in jeopardy.” Jamie was eventually investigated and cleared of child abuse charges, but Britney’s relationship with her dad remained strained.

A roller coaster year plagued by illness, mental health problems and legal woes

Just days after Jamie Spears was accused of abusing britney Spears’ oldest son, Jamie asked a judge to temporarily replace him as his daughter’s conservator. In court paperwork, Jamie said he would like “to temporarily relinquish the powers of conservatorship … due to personal health reasons.” He suggested that Britney’s care manager for the last year, Jodi Montgomery, take over the responsibilities until he was ready to grab the reins again in January 2020. A court approved the change. The rest of the year was free of public drama as Britney headed to Miami in December to celebrate her 38th birthday with boyfriend Sam Asghari.

Another cheating scandal erupts

Khloe Kardashian didn’t see this coming… In fact, no one did — at least not with the woman in question. In February, Khloe and Tristan Thompson — the father of her daughter, True — split up after reports surfaced that he cheated on her with Jordyn Woods, Khloe’s sister Kylie Jenner’s then-BFF. The NBA star, according to a report, flew to Los Angeles to be with Khloe and their little girl on Valentine’s Day. Three days later, he met up with Jordyn at a party at his rented home. There, witnesses claim the two were making out. The basketball star tweeted and later deleted, “FAKE NEWS.” Khloe famously forgave Tristan in 2018 when she learned just days before giving birth that he’d been unfaithful, but this time, there was no turning back.

Another cheating scandal erupts

Model Jordyn Woods — who lived in Kylie Jenner’s guest house before she was accused of cheating with Khloe Kardashian’s boyfriend, Tristan Thompson — instantly became persona non grata with the Kardashian-Jenner clan, and Kylie reportedly kicked her out of the house and (gasp!) unfollowed her on social media. Soon, though, Jordyn tried to clear the air in an interview with Jada Pinkett-Smith on her “Red Table Talk” Facebook Watch show. Jordyn acknowledged that she shouldn’t have been at the party in the first place, but maintained the she and Tristan didn’t have sex. She said he kissed her as she left in the early morning hours, but insisted there was “no passion.” She later admitted that she wasn’t totally honest with Khloe or Kylie. “I told them I was there,” Jordyn told Jada. “I had talked to Khloe and she asked me what was going on, is everything fine. And in my head of trying to forget that part of the story, I was just like, ‘You know, no, he was chilling, everything was OK. Like, there were girls there but he wasn’t all over the girls.’ I was honest about being there, but I wasn’t honest about the actions that had taken place.”

Another cheating scandal erupts

Khloe Kardashian and her family were disgusted by Jordyn Woods’ interview, particularly when she said she wasn’t the reason the reality TV star and Tristan Thompson had split. “I know I’m not the reason that Tristan and Khloe are not together,” Jordyn said. Afterward, Khloe lashed out. “Why are you lying??” she tweeted. “If you’re going to try and save yourself by going public, INSTEAD OF CALLING ME PRIVATELY TO APOLOGIZE FIRST, at least be HONEST about your story. BTW, You ARE the reason my family broke up!” She later added, “Tristan is equally to blame but Tristan is the father of my child. Regardless of what he does to me I won’t do that to my daughter. He has been addressing this situation PRIVATELY. If Tristan were to lie publicly about what conspired, then yes I would address him publicly as well.” After some of the dust settled, Khloe softened on Jordyn and blamed Tristan. “This has been an awful week & I know everyone is sick of hearing about it all (as am I). I’m a rollercoaster of emotions & have said things I shouldn’t have. Honestly, Tristan cheating on me & humiliating me, wasn’t such a shock as the first time,” she wrote. “What’s been harder & more painful is being hurt by someone so close to me. Someone whom I love & treat like a little sister. But Jordyn is not to be blamed for the breakup of my family. This was Tristan’s fault.” Regardless, she also said she doesn’t “hate” her ex for his actions though as the year went on, Khloe resisted Tristan’s attempts to reconcile.

Homophobic and racist hate crime — or desperate ruse?

The initial headlines were awful. In January, “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett claimed he was attacked by two men late at night on a Chicago street near his apartment that it was being investigated as a hate crime. He said that two men wearing ski masks beat him around 2 a.m., placed a noose around his neck and poured bleach on him during the attack, which reports revealed came eight days after the actor received a disturbing racist and homophobic letter in the mail. However, police weren’t totally buying his story.

Homophobic and racist hate crime — or desperate ruse?

On Feb. 21, Jussie Smollett was arrested after turning himself into police, who claimed he’d staged the attack against himself with the help of two brothers he paid. The purpose, authorities claimed, was to further his career. The alleged attackers were cleared and Jussie, too, caught a heck of a break: On March 26, the criminal case against Jussie — for allegedly lying to police about a racial and homophobic attack — was dropped. He’d been facing 16 felonies and had pleaded not guilty. The decision was highly controversial, with Chicago’s mayor and police superintendent (and many others) slamming it. The mayor hinted at corruption in the State’s Attorney’s Office, calling the decision to drop the charges a “whitewash of justice.” The Chicago city government decided that Jussie owed the city six figures for the cost of its police work concerning his alleged attack and in April filed a lawsuit against him seeking to be reimbursed. The fallout took a toll on Jussie career: “Empire” creator Lee Daniels announced on June 4 that Jussie would not be returning for the FOX show’s sixth and final season. Jussie maintained his innocence.

Homophobic and racist hate crime — or desperate ruse?

In August, a Chicago judge announced the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate how local prosecutors handled Jussie Smollett’s case. If the special prosecutor deems it appropriate, he has the authority to file new charges. In other words, Jussie is still not out of the woods. The prosecutor, former U.S. Attorney Dan K. Webb, said his work would be pro bono and that he would charge the county only for out-of-pocket expenses.

Homophobic and racist hate crime — or desperate ruse?

Jussie Smollett went on the offensive on Nov. 19, filing a malicious prosecution counterclaim in federal court, insisting that the city of Chicago created a false narrative when it branded his alleged attack a hoax. That suggestion, he said, has had an enormous financial impact on him. Listed in the lawsuit, in addition to Chicago, are multiple Chicago Police Department officers and brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, two of Jussie’s former friends who previously told police that the attack was faked. “As a proximate result of the wrongful conduct engaged in by Counterclaim-Defendants, Mr. Smollett has suffered and continues to suffer substantial economic damages as well as reputational harm, humiliation, mental anguish and extreme emotional distress in an amount according to proof at trial,” the lawsuit said.

Artist vs. execs: A feud over ownership and control

Taylor Swift called it her “worst case scenario.” In late June, her Big Machine Label Group catalog was sold to a company owned by Scooter Braun, Justin Bieber’s longtime manager, thus giving Scooter control of Taylor’s master recordings from her 2006 self-titled debut through 2017’s “Reputation.” Taylor was livid. “For years I asked, pleaded for a chance to own my work. Instead I was given an opportunity to sign back up to Big Machine Records and ‘earn’ one album back at a time, one for every new one I turned in,” Taylor, who is now signed to Republic Records and Universal Music Group, wrote on Tumblr. “I walked away because I knew once I signed that contract, [Big Machine CEO] Scott Borchetta would sell the label, thereby selling me and my future. I had to make the excruciating choice to leave behind my past. Music I wrote on my bedroom floor and videos I dreamed up and paid for from the money I earned playing in bars, then clubs, then arenas, then stadiums.” Of Scooter, she said, “I learned about Scooter Braun’s purchase of my masters as it was announced to the world. All I could think about was the incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at his hands for years.” She added, “Now Scooter has stripped me of my life’s work, that I wasn’t given an opportunity to buy. Essentially, my musical legacy is about to lie in the hands of someone who tried to dismantle it.”

Artist vs. execs: A feud over ownership and control

Big Machine Label Group CEO Scott Borchetta responded with his own letter, disputing Taylor Swift’s points and claiming she was informed of the sale prior to it going public. “Taylor had every chance in the world to own not just her master recordings, but every video, photograph, everything associated to her career. She chose to leave,” he said. Taylor’s rep shot back, explaining that the pop star found out about the sale from news articles. Scooter Braun finally responded to the drama on the “Wide Open” podcast. “It’s hard when you get attacked and it’s not based on any truth, but for that other person it may be based in truth but they don’t have all the information,” he said. “And that’s why I am always open to communication and having a conversation with someone and saying, ‘Maybe this was a misunderstanding and I am happy to have the conversation with you.’ But not everybody is willing to do that and you can’t go through life thinking you’re going to be friends and everyone is going to like you.”

Artist vs. execs: A feud over ownership and control

While Taylor Swift’s feud with music execs Scooter Braun and Scott Borchetta was in full swing, she released her seventh studio album, “Lover.” It was widely praised by critics and debuted at No. 1 in six countries. While promoting the album, she said she was going to rerecord her masters so she can own them. “It’s something that I’m very excited about doing because my contract says that starting November 2020, so next year, I can record albums one [to] five all over again. I’m very excited about it because I think that artists deserve to own their work. I just feel very passionately about that,” she said on “Good Morning America” in August. The move is rare, but not unheard of.

Artist vs. execs: A feud over ownership and control

Taylor Swift’s beef with Scooter Braun and Scott Borchetta flared up again in November when she accused the men of blocking her from performing her own songs at the American Music Awards, where she was being honored as the artist of the decade. According to what Taylor posted on social media, the men “said that I’m not allowed to perform my old songs on television because they claim that would be re-recording my music before I’m allowed to next year.” She added that they were also blocking her from using her own songs in an upcoming Netflix documentary. “Right now my performance at the AMA’s, the Netflix documentary and any other recorded events I am planning to play until November of 2020 are a question mark,” she said. However, Big Machine insisted that was “false information.” In a statement, the label said, “At no point did we say Taylor could not perform on the AMAs or block her Netflix special. In fact, we do not have the right to keep her from performing live anywhere… Since Taylor’s decision to leave Big Machine last fall, we have continued to honor all of her requests to license her catalog to third parties as she promotes her current record in which we do not financially participate.” Yet Big Machine also later released another statement explaining they’d reached an agreement with the AMAs production company concerning streaming and re-broadcasts of clients’ songs.

An arrest and trial in Sweden

Rapper A$AP Rocky was arrested in Stockholm, Sweden, on July 3 after allegedly assaulting a man on a street a few days earlier. According to reports, two men claimed Rocky broke a pair of their headphones, so they followed the rapper and his entourage. Rocky and friends actually recorded the incident and in videos can be heard repeatedly telling the men to stop following them. Somewhere along the way, the man claimed, Rocky and his crew punched and kicked one of the Swedes. Swedish authorities charged Rocky with assault and said he’d be detained for at least two weeks.

An arrest and trial in Sweden

A$AP Rocky’s case started gaining international attention, especially after reports revealed he was in solitary confinement and was forced to cancel concerts. In late July, Swedish prosecutors formally charged Rocky with assault, saying “the events in question constitute a crime…. despite claims of self-defense and provocation.” The prosecutor added, “It is worth noting that I have had access to a greater amount of material than that which has previously been available on the internet. In addition to video material, the injured party’s statements have been supported by witness statements.” On July 30, Rocky pleaded not guilty to assault but remained in jail.

An arrest and trial in Sweden

On July 30, A$AP Rocky’s trial began and prosecutors asked for a six-month sentence. However, on Aug. 2, the judge in the case ordered Rocky and two men from his entourage freed while awaiting the final verdict. All three men were allowed to leave the country, and Rocky headed straight to the United States. Many saw this as a sign that Rocky would be found not guilty. But on Aug. 14, Rocky was found guilty of assault. (Two members of his entourage were found guilty of the same charge.) However, he was not required to serve any more jail time, as the judge suspended his sentence, claiming he’d already served enough after spending a month behind bars. He was also ordered to pay the victim about $1,300 in compensation.

A long romance ends in a short marriage, new relationships blossom

Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth started 2019 as a happily married couple after tying the knot just before Christmas 2018 following nearly a decade of on-and-off romance. But it didn’t last. In August, the pair announced that they had separated after less than eight months of marriage. “This split isn’t shocking to people who are actually with them every day,” an insider told People magazine. “After they reunited, everyone thought they were this ‘perfect’ couple, but they still had a lot of issues. They’re not on the same page when it comes to a lot of fundamental things that make a relationship work.”

A long romance ends in a short marriage, new relationships blossom

It soon emerged that the day before Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth announced their split, the pop singer was photographed kissing “The Hills: New Beginnings” star Kaitlynn Carter — who had just days earlier announced her own split from Brody Jenner — while vacationing in Italy. Less than two weeks later on Aug. 21, Liam filed for divorce, listing their date of separation as “TBD.” Miley and Kaitlynn dated into September…

A long romance ends in a short marriage, new relationships blossom

Miley Cyrus wasn’t single long after splitting with Kaitlynn Carter in September: She quickly moved on with Australian singer Cody Simpson. On Oct. 5, photos showed the new couple kissing. Just days later, Miley ended up in the hospital with tonsillitis, and Cody showed up to serenade her with a song he wrote for her. He’s since released it. Miley soon called him her “bf.” He also gushed to reporters about their romance, saying in October, “I’m very happy. We are very, very happy.” He added, “Any girlfriend that I’ve had in the past has always been immediate romance, and so it’s kind of like a different experience having been friends with somebody before and developing that into something more. It’s just like a very natural, healthy feeling.” Cody was by her side for her 27th birthday celebrations in November and the pair even got tattoos together.

A long romance ends in a short marriage, new relationships blossom

The same month Miley Cyrus moved on with Cody Simpson, Liam Hemsworth stepped out with a fellow Australian. He and actress Maddison Brown — who portrays Kirby Anders on the “Dynasty” reboot — packed on the PDA during a series of outings in New York City on Oct. 11. A source told Us Weekly that the actor has been “trying to move on from Miley with the encouragement of his family.”

A family’s sex, taxes and videotape scandal blows up

On Aug. 12, 2019, “Chrisley Knows Best” star Todd Chrisley took to Instagram to let fans knows that it wasn’t going to be a typical week: The reality TV star shared a family photo and a lengthy caption indicating that he and his wife, Julie, were going to be named in a federal indictment. He said the family was being “blackmailed” by a former employee. He wouldn’t “go into details” about the case, he wrote, but it “involved all kinds of really bad stuff like creating phony documents, forging our signatures, and threatening other employees with violence if they said anything.” He said that his family has “nothing to hide and have done nothing to be ashamed of. Not only do we know we’ve done nothing wrong,” he explained, but the Chrisleys have “tons of hard evidence” to prove it, he insisted. Todd was right. The next day, he and Julie were indicted on 12 counts of conspiracy, bank fraud, wire fraud and tax evasion charges in Georgia, as federal authorities alleged they didn’t pay income taxes from 2013 to 2016 and used false documents to secure millions in loans. They pleaded not guilty.

A family’s sex, taxes and videotape scandal blows up

The Chrisley family drama was only beginning. Lindsie Chrisley, Todd Chrisley’s estranged daughter from his first marriage, was alleged to be the government’s tipster. She denied it. Then, on Aug. 15, Lindsie entered the picture in another bizarre way. It emerged that earlier in the summer of 2019, she’d gone to police and claimed that her dad and half-brother Chase Chrisley were “threatening and harassing her” and wanted her to lie about an incident believed to involve Todd’s taxes. If she refused to do so, she claimed, her dad and brother had threatened to release a sex tape in which she was involved with a Bachelor Nation star. Lindsie — who believed her brother was in possession of the tape — filed a police report in Georgia, but the case there was later dismissed because the alleged threats and harassment happened in Tennessee. Todd denied it but claimed Lindsie had been involved in extramarital affairs.

A family’s sex, taxes and videotape scandal blows up

Todd Chrisley and wife Julie settled a tax evasion case in Georgia in October (this was separate from their federal case). They were accused of evading nearly $2 million in state taxes between 2008 and 2016, but it turns out they actually overpaid in some years. According to the settlement, the Chrisleys agreed to pay a little under $150,000 to resolve the claims. A few weeks later, they sued a Georgia tax official, claiming the tax man began a relationship with Todd’s estranged daughter, Lindsie Chrisley, to get dirt on the reality TV family. In the lawsuit, Todd said the man was part of an effort to “aggressively pursue and prosecute bogus tax evasion claims against the Chrisleys.” Todd and Julie say he abused his power to violate federal and state law.

A music star faces multiple sex crime charges and sits in jail

In January, Lifetime aired a docu-series titled “Surviving R. Kelly” that looked into claims that the music star has held women as sex slaves. The series caught the eye of authorities in Georgia who began investigating the R&B singer for alleged sexual misconduct with young girls, something else that was explored in the scathing six-part documentary. Several women gave accounts that appeared to back up the claims. The fallout was swift: Sony dropped the singer, other artists essentially condemned him and both Celine Dion and Lady Gaga pulled their collaborations with R. Kelly from streaming services.

A music star faces multiple sex crime charges and sits in jail

In February, R. Kelly was charged with 10 counts of felony aggravated sexual abuse. The charges, prosecutors said, involved four women, three of whom were underage at the time of the alleged events, which dated back as far as 1998. After being arrested, he was released from jail. A few weeks later, the singer sat down with CBS’s Gayle King to discuss the charges. “I’m very tired of all of the lies,” he said during the 80-minute sit-down. “I have been assassinated. I have been buried alive. But I’m alive.” Gayle pulled no punches, asking the R&B star if he was holding women against their will, to which he replied, “I don’t need to.” He then got out of his chair and shouted about the accusations against him. During the course of the interview, he was asked about Jocelyn Savage and Azriel Clary, two women who were in a relationship with him at the time. Their parents claimed the women were being held captive. R. Kelly denied it and accused their parents of “selling” their daughters to him. The same day that the first part of the interview came out, the singer was jailed in Chicago for failing to pay more than $161,000 in child support to his ex-wife.

A music star faces multiple sex crime charges and sits in jail

In May, R. Kelly was charged with 11 new counts of sexual assault and sex abuse in Illinois. NBC News reported that four of the charges were for aggravated criminal sexual assault, two for criminal sexual assault by force, three for aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a victim between 13 and 16 years old and two for aggravated criminal sexual abuse. The aggravated criminal sexual assault charges are Class X felonies, which carry a mandatory minimum prison sentence of six to 30 years. The singer pleaded not guilty.

A music star faces multiple sex crime charges and sits in jail

It only got worse: R. Kelly was arrested on July 11 in Chicago for multiple federal sex crimes in two different states. The federal indictments accused him and members of his team of recruiting women and girls to engage in illegal sexual activity with the singer and claimed he paid victims and witnesses to cover up his crimes. In the the 13-count indictment from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Illinois, charges detailed included child porn, enticement of a minor and obstruction of justice. In a separate five-count federal indictment out of the Eastern District of New York filed on July 12, the singer was charged with racketeering and several violations of the Mann Act as well as allegations of forced labor. R. Kelly has maintained his innocence but has remained in jail. Then, in August, Minnesota prosecutors charged him with two sex crimes: engaging in prostitution with someone under 18, and hiring/offering/agreeing to hire someone for sexual contact. They claimed he met an underage woman at a meet and greet in 2001 and convinced her to get naked and have sexual contact with him in his hotel room.

A music star faces multiple sex crime charges and sits in jail

R. Kelly made headlines again for yet another charge as the year came to a close: On Dec. 4, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn indicted him for bribing or attempting to bribe an official in 1994 to secure a fake ID for an underage female in Illinois. NBC News reported that the bogus document was for 15-year-old singer-actress Aaliyah. R. Kelly was 27 at the time. They married later that year NBC reported, and the marriage was annulled months later.

A divorce and new sexual assault allegations

On July 9, Annette Roque officially filed paperwork in a New York court to divorce Matt Lauer after more than two decades of marriage. The disgraced newsman didn’t contest it. The New York Post reported that the Dutch former model would get their horse training facility, Bright Side Farm, which is in Water Mill, New York, as well as up to $20 million in assets. The divorce was finalized in September nearly two years after the couple separated following his termination by NBC for sexual misconduct.

A divorce and new sexual assault allegations

More allegations of sexual misconduct were levied against Matt Lauer in October, but this time, the accusations were far more serious: rape. In the new book “Catch and Kill” by journalist Ronan Farrow, former NBC staffer Brooke Nevils came forward to claim the disgraced newsman raped her in his hotel room while they were in Russia covering the 2014 Winter Olympics. Brooke eventually went to NBC human resources after confiding in former “Today” host Meredith Vieira. In an open letter, Matt claimed the sexual relationship was consensual. She “seemed to know exactly what she wanted to do,” he wrote. A few days after the book was released, Page Six claimed that Matt had an affair with a “famed and well-respected broadcaster.” The woman signed a nondisclosure agreement when she left NBC.

A beloved director dies, sparking a battle for his estate

Legendary director John Singleton passed away on April 29 at 51. The director had been in the hospital since suffering a stroke on April 17. A family rep said he died “peacefully, surrounded by his family and friends.” Afterward, many of Hollywood’s biggest names took to social media to honor the “Boyz in the Hood” and “Poetic Justice” director. Regina King said he was “one of the greatest to ever do it.” Samuel L. Jackson called him a “true friend.” Angela Bassett said, “He gave a voice and an opportunity to many. Count me in that grateful number.” His family soon geared up for a battle over his $35 million estate.

A TV heartthrob with a heart of gold unexpectedly passes away

Luke Perry passed away on March 4 after suffering a massive stroke a few days earlier. The actor — who rose to fame on the original “Beverly Hills, 90210” and had been starring on the CW’s “Riverdale” — was 52. News of Luke’s death stunned the entertainment world, and many celebs took to social media to share their thoughts. Former “90210” co-star Shannen Doherty said she was “struggling with this loss and am having a hard time with my thoughts.” Tori Spelling was in “utter shock.” The tributes poured in. On March 11, Luke was buried in Tennessee, where he owned a farm. Luke was honored on the “Riverdale” season premiere in October, in which his character was tragically killed in a car accident. Shannen even made a tear-jerking cameo.

A fan favorite soap star dies unexpectedly

“The Young and the Restless” star Kristoff St. John was found dead on Feb. 3 of heart failure. He was 52. His death was ruled accidental, but alcohol consumption was also a factor. The actor’s fiancé, Kseniya Mikhaleva, took to Instagram to mourn. “How did it happen ??? How ??? Why did you leave so early ???? and left me alone ….. I can’t believe,” the heartbroken model captioned a since-deleted photo of herself and Kristoff. “You were everything to me …. you were a loving father, a loving man,…..how love??we should doing a lot of things in future……” The actor was buried in Westlake Village, California, next to his son Julian, who died by suicide in 2014. About a week after Kristoff’s death, the daytime drama put together a special tribute to the actor and aired an episode dedicated to him in April.

A Grammy-nominated rapper is slain in broad daylight

Rapper Nipsey Hussle was murdered in broad daylight outside his Marathon Clothing store in the Hyde Park section of Los Angeles on March 31. On April 2, police arrested Eric Holder for the alleged shooting. He has since pleaded not guilty to murder. Police said the suspect and Nipsey had a personal dispute. In the wake of Nipsey’s death, candlelight vigils popped up around the world and many celebrities and athletes paid tribute to the Grammy-nominated artist. More than a week after his death, thousands of people gathered at the Staples Center in L.A. to honor him. The emotional service featured a video tribute by Snoop Dogg and a performance by Stevie Wonder. Former President Obama sent in a letter honoring the rapper. In October, Nipsy’s girlfriend, Lauren London, was granted guardianship of the son they shared. The rapper’s immediate family members were granted guardianship of his 10-year-old daughter from another relationship, Emani. The family had called the girl’s birth mother, Tanisha, unfit.

An acting legend says farewell

So long, Easy Rider. On Aug. 16, Hollywood legend Peter Fonda passed away at 79. After his death, his sister, Jane Fonda, said, “I am very sad. He was my sweet-hearted baby brother. The talker of the family. I have had beautiful alone time with him these last days. He went out laughing.” Many in Hollywood took to social media to honor the two-time Oscar nominee. “I had the honor of working with #PeterFonda on the first movie I ever made (as an angsty teenager with a nose ring),” Jessica Biel said. “Ulee’s Gold was a huge opportunity and he believed in me. I’m forever grateful for him and the impact he had on me and my career. I’m sure countless others can say the same. Rest in paradise.”











































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