×

Biggest Scandals, Feuds and Apologies of 2019

Variety looks back on some of the biggest scandals, feuds and apologies of 2019:

College Admissions Scandal

Wealthy parents including Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were charged with bribing school officials to get their unqualified kids into prestigious universities.

Shane Gillis

Executives at “SNL” hired, then fired, Gillis in September, before the new season started, after the emergence of videos in which he made politically incorrect jokes about Chinese Americans, women and those in the LGBTQ community. 

Kevin Hart

Chosen to host the Oscars, Hart stepped down after homophobic tweets that he made between 2009-11 surfaced. Ellen DeGeneres tried to defuse the situation, but after releasing a formal apology, Hart ultimately declined the job.

Gina Rodriguez 

In October, Rodriguez streamed a live video of herself rapping to the Fugees’ “Ready or Not,” including a verse with the N-word. Her initial apology: “I’m sorry if I offended anyone,” angered some. In a later plea for forgiveness, she said, “I have some serious learning and growing to do.”

Gayle King Interview With R. Kelly

Charged on multiple counts of sexual abuse, the singer-songwriter blew up at King during a March interview on “CBS This Morning,” crying and screaming, “Thirty years of my career and you’re all trying to kill me!”

Jussie Smollett

In January, the “Empire” actor reported he was the victim of a violent hate crime, but his alleged attackers accused him of paying them to stage it. Smollett was eventually charged with filing a false police report, charges that were later dropped — as was Smollett from the final season of “Empire.” 

NXIVM Sex Trafficking Scandal

In April, “Smallville” star Allison Mack pleaded guilty to two charges of racketeering for her involvement in “self-help group” NXIVM, described by female accusers as a cult that recruited sex slaves.

Friends Get A$AP Rocky Out of Swedish Jail

Support from Kim Kardashian West, Rod Stewart and Donald Trump helped spring rapper A$AP Rocky from jail in Sweden after he served two months for a July assault.

Warner Bros. Ousts Kevin Tsujihara

The Warner Bros. chairman and chief executive was forced to step down in March after an extramarital affair with actor Charlotte Kirk became public.

Taylor Swift/Scooter Braun Feud

When Braun bought Swift’s former label, Big Machine Records, in June for $300 million, he acquired her catalog. Swift’s outrage set the stage for an ongoing battle waged on social media that has seen her threaten to record new versions of her Big Machine-era songs to devalue Braun’s investment. 

More Biz

  • Neil Portnow Grammys

    Ex-Grammy Chief Neil Portnow Responds to Rape Allegations

    The most explosive of many allegations in ousted Recording Academy Deborah Dugan’s complaint against the organization Tuesday was a claim that her predecessor, Neil Portnow, had been accused of rape a “foreign” singer who was a member of the Academy, and that Academy executives were aware of it at the time of Dugan’s hiring. On [...]

  • Why the Oscars, Emmys Shouldn't Try

    Grammy Awards Nominating Is Marred by Insider Deals, Ousted CEO’s Complaint Alleges

    Amid the multiple claims in former Recording Academy boss Deborah Dugan’s blockbuster complaint against the organization is a section that is deeply critical of the Grammy Awards nominating processes and essentially accuses it of insider dealing and corruption. Its allegations, if true, suggest worst-case scenarios, many involving the Board of Trustees that ultimately controls the [...]

  • The Irishman

    Netflix Adds 8.8 Million Subscribers in Q4, Cites Competition for Lower U.S. Gains

    Netflix beat its forecast for overall subscriber additions for the fourth quarter of 2019, while it brought in fewer than expected U.S. streaming customers. The company added a net 420,000 streaming customers in the U.S. and 8.33 million overseas in the year-end 2019 quarter, for a total of 8.76 million net adds. Netflix had previously [...]

  • Chris McCarthy Sets ViacomCBS Team for

    Chris McCarthy Sets ViacomCBS Leadership Team for Entertainment & Youth Division

    ViacomCBS’ senior leadership ranks are coming into sharper focus as Chris McCarthy, head of the sprawling Entertainment and Youth wing has solidified his senior leadership team. A number of executives closely associated with McCarthy are gaining additional responsibilities, including programming maven Nina Diaz, MTV chief marketing officer Jacqueline Parkes and PR chief Liza Burnett Fefferman. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content