×

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

  • Recording Academy President/CEO Deborah Dugan participates

    Executive Assistant Preparing Lawsuit Against Ousted Grammy Chief

    In the latest twist in the increasingly bitter exit of Deborah Dugan from the Recording Academy after just five months, the ousted president/CEO is about to face a lawsuit from her former assistant, Claudine Little, who has retained former Harvey Weinstein/ Charlie Walk attorney Patty Glaser to represent her, two sources tell Variety. The news was [...]

  • Two Rivers Media Buys Out Parent

    Two Rivers Media Buys Out Parent Kew Media Group's Stake In Business

    Two Rivers Media has bought out parent group Kew Media Group’s minority stake in the business. Formed by former STV Productions head Alan Clements in January 2019, the production outfit behind Channel 5’s recent “Susan Hill’s Ghost Story” launched with the backing of Kew, Noble Grossart Investments and Channel 4’s Indie Growth Fund. Noble Grossart [...]

  • Grammy Awards 60th Annual Grammy Awards,

    Recording Academy Paid Millions Annually to Outside Law Firms

    Among the concerns listed in a memo sent to the Recording Academy’s head of HR by president/CEO Deborah Dugan before she was placed on administrative leave Thursday was an item about the organization’s “exorbitant and unnecessary” legal fees to outside law firms, according to sources familiar with the document. According to the most recent 990 [...]

  • Chuck D of Public EnemyGods of

    Public Enemy’s Chuck D Slams Grammys Over Deborah Dugan Ouster

    Chuck D, frontman of Public Enemy — who are receiving the Lifetime Achievement Awards at the Grammys next week — posted a long statement on Instagram criticizing the Recording Academy over its sudden ousting of new president/CEO Deborah Dugan yesterday. Dugan, who had been in the job only five months, was placed on administrative leave after [...]

  • Any Given Wednesday With Bill Simmons

    Spotify in Talks to Acquire Bill Simmons' The Ringer: Report

    Spotify is in early talks to acquire The Ringer, the digital content and podcast network launched by ESPN alum Bill Simmons in 2016, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. A representative for Spotify declined to comment on the report. Reps for Ringer did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Spotify’s [...]

  • Deborah Dugan arrives for the 20th

    Deborah Dugan's Recording Academy Ouster Follows Multiple Tussles With Board

    “Change is afoot,” Deborah Dugan said more than once during interviews with Variety in the weeks before her shocking removal from her post as president/CEO of the Recording Academy after just five months on the job. During those conversations, Dugan spoke of changes she planned to make in the Academy’s staffing organization, its Board of [...]

  • Weinstein Trial

    Does Harvey Weinstein's Jury Selection Strategy Make Any Sense?

    Harvey Weinstein’s defense team appeared to have a strategy for jury selection: keep white women off the panel. They didn’t put it that way, because picking jurors based on race or gender is illegal. But on Thursday and again on Friday, prosecutor Joan Illuzzi accused the defense of using its peremptory challenges to systematically exclude [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content