Year in review: The showbiz stories that made headlines in 2020

Year in review: The showbiz stories that made headlines in 2020
It seemed like not a whole lot happened in the celebrity news cycle this year thanks to productions being shut down, concerts being cancelled and awards shows postponed.

But now that we look back, we see that there were a number of notable moments!

Here’s what happened in 2020 in Hollywood and beyond:

Harry and Meghan step down as senior royals

Prince Harry said on January 8 that he and his American wife Meghan plan to step back from their roles as senior members of Britain’s royal family and work to become financially independent.

A day later, the couple announced new rules of engaging with the media to “ensure diverse and open access to their work”, according to their website It included withdrawing from the Royal Rota system, a pool of British media outlets who have traditionally obtained exclusive rights to cover royal events.

Harvey Weinstein sentenced

A corrections bus left the Manhattan courthouse under heavy guard on March 11 after film producer Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison for his sexual assault and rape convictions in February.

The sentence was handed down in Manhattan criminal court by Justice James Burke. A jury on Feb. 24 found Weinstein – once one of Hollywood’s most powerful figures – guilty of sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi and raping former aspiring actress Jessica Mann.

Weinstein delivered a rambling statement to the court expressing sympathy for men accused in the #MeToo movement while saying he is trying to be “a better person”.

More than 100 women, including famous actresses, have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct stretching back decades, fuelling the #MeToo movement against sexual abuse and harassment.

Weinstein, who addressed the court while sitting in a wheelchair, said he was worried about “thousands of men” being denied due process in the #MeToo era. In his statement, he said he was “confused” and that he believed he had great times with “these people,” referring to the women. Weinstein has denied the allegations and said that any sex was consensual.

Later in March, Weinstein, 68, tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the head of the state corrections officers union, and was placed in isolation at New York’s Wende Correctional Facility.

Celebrities take to social media during lockdown

Celebrities took to social media to reach those stuck at home during lockdown, doing everything from putting on live shows to raffling special opportunities, all to raise awareness and funds for the global fight against the spread of the coronavirus.

Coldplay’s Chris Martin, musicians John Legend and Keith Urban, Take That’s Gary Barlow and ex-Boyzone member Ronan Keating were among some of the artists that entertained with live online shows from home.

On March 29, Mariah Carey, Billie Eilish and Tim McGraw headlined a benefit concert to raise money to help fight the spread of the coronavirus, playing from their homes. The one-hour special was hosted by Elton John.

Eilish later took part in another fundraising event on April 18 to support healthcare workers responding to the global coronavirus outbreak. Curated by pop star Lady Gaga, One World: Together at Home was announced by the singer at the World Health Organization’s coronavirus briefing on April 6. The telecast, a joint effort with advocacy group Global Citizen, also featured Paul McCartney and Lizzo.

Celebrities catch COVID

Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks and his wife, actress Rita Wilson, both tested positive in Australia, the actor said on Twitter on March 11. Hanks, 63, said that he and Wilson, also 63, were tested in Australia, where he was working on a film, after they felt tired with slight fevers.

Later in an interview with Reuters, the actor said he did not have “much respect” for anyone who could not follow simple health rules to prevent the spread, including wearing a mask, washing hands and keeping a distance.

Other notable names that tested positive for COVID-19 from March included actors Idris Elba, Daniel Dae Kim and Bond girl Olga Kurylenko, Spanish opera singer Placido Domingo and a member of Britain’s royal family, Prince Charles.

In November, Kensington Palace sources said his son, Prince William had also contracted the coronavirus in April. William, grandson of Queen Elizabeth and second-in-line to the British throne, kept his diagnosis a secret because he did not want to alarm the country, according to British newspaper The Sun.

Even Bollywood acting royalty was affected. The Bachchans battled COVID-19 in July. Amitabh Bachchan, 77, and his son, Abhishek, remained in hospital in Mumbai while daughter-in-law and former Miss World Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and his eight-year-old granddaughter, who also tested positive were at home, quarantined.

Spanish actor Antonio Banderas, star of The Mask of Zorro and Pain and Glory, announced on August 10, his 60th birthday, that he had tested positive for COVID-19 and was in quarantine.

Talkshow host Ellen DeGeneres ended a difficult year by announcing in December she had contracted the virus.

Dolly Parton funds vaccine research

Celebrities also donated their own cash to COVID-19 relief. Dolly Parton said she was “very honoured and proud” to have donated money to the research for one of the successful coronavirus vaccine candidates.

Speaking on BBC’s The One Show on November 17, the American country singer said she was “so excited” when she heard her money had gone towards the Moderna vaccine. Acknowledging that she was one of many donors, she said: “I just felt so proud to have been part of that little seed money that will hopefully grow into something great and help to heal this world.”

In April, Parton announced on Instagram she was giving $1 million to Nashville’s Vanderbilt University Medical Center, one of the early trial sites for the Moderna vaccine. She said at the time she hoped her donation would encourage others who can afford it to do the same. Reacting to the news on Twitter, the 74 year-old said she “just wanted [the money] to do good” and she hopes a cure will be found “real soon”.

Primarily through her Dollywood Foundation, Parton has worked to raise money and donated to several causes since the 1980s, including children’s literacy and HIV/AIDs charities.

J.K Rowling sparks transgender row

The launch of J.K. Rowling’s new fairy-tale chapters about ‘the Ickabog’ in May became eclipsed by the Harry Potter author facing growing accusations of transphobia, which she rejects, because of some of her tweets. Rowling criticised the use of the phrase “people who menstruate” on social media.

Daniel Radcliffe, who played the young wizarding hero in the Harry Potter films, said “transgender women are women” after the outcry over tweets.

In an essay in June, Rowling defended her right to speak about trans and gender issues without fear of abuse, revealing that she was a survivor of domestic abuse and of sexual assault, and detailed her concerns about the impact of some trans activism on women’s rights.

One of the characters in her new crime novel, Troubled Blood, a male killer who on one occasion disguises himself as a woman to abduct a victim, was loosely based on two real life murderers.

In a vitriolic online debate, pro and anti-Rowling hashtags trended on Twitter after the novel’s publication on September 15, because an early review in Britain’s Telegraph newspaper said the moral of the book seemed to be “never trust a man in a dress”.

Critics of the Harry Potter author accused her of revealing prejudice through a transphobic trope, while supporters defended her right to write fiction without people jumping to conclusions about her beliefs or abusing her.

The 900-page book Troubled Blood is the fifth in the Cormoran Strike series Rowling has published under the name Robert Galbraith.

Black Lives Matter movement supported by Hollywood

Social media turned the colour black on June 2, as the music industry and stars including Rihanna, Drake, Katy Perry and others showed their support for “Blackout Tuesday”.

Leading record labels and others pledged to suspend business and work with communities to fight racial inequality after protests erupted in the United States following the death of a black man, George Floyd, in police custody on May 25.

More than 300 Black actors and filmmakers, including Idris Elba, Queen Latifah and Billy Porter, on June 23 asked Hollywood to divest in the police and invest in anti-racist content. An open letter addressed to “Our Allies in Hollywood” attacked what it called the industry’s “legacy of white supremacy” and said Hollywood “encourages the epidemic of police violence and culture of anti-Blackness.”

The letter, organised by the group Hollywood 4 Black Lives, was written in the midst of a cultural and political reckoning in the United States about systemic racism and mass protests about the killing of black people by police.

Early in June, Oscar-winning civil war film Gone with the Wind was pulled from the HBO Max streaming service as America’s reckoning with systemic racism extended to its popular culture. Less than 24 hours later, the DVD for Gone with the Wind jumped to the top of Inc’s list of best-selling TV shows and movies.

The 1939 film will return to HBO Max with “a discussion of its historical context” and a denouncement of racist depictions, the spokesperson added.

Kanye West runs for president

American rapper Kanye West, a vocal supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump, announced on July 4 that he would run for president in 2020 in an apparent challenge to Trump and his then presumptive Democratic rival, former vice president Joe Biden.

“We must now realise the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future. I am running for president of the United States,” West wrote in a Twitter post, adding an American flag emoji.

In his first rally for his last-minute presidential campaign, West, on July 19 ranted against social media, pornography and abortion, argued policy with attendees, and at one point broke down in tears.

The rapper posted a series of tweets late on July 20 claiming his wife, reality TV star Kim Kardashian was trying to have him locked up on medical grounds, comparing himself to Nelson Mandela and suggesting the movie Get Out was based on his own life.

The late night flurry of activity on West’s official Twitter account – the bulk of which was deleted a few hours later – came a day after he launched his U.S. presidential campaign with a rambling rally in Charleston, South Carolina.

West has cast his first vote ever in a presidential election – for himself. The Chicago native tweeted on November 3: “God is so good Today I am voting for the first time in my life for the President of the United States, and it’s for someone I truly trust…me.”

Lori Loughlin pleads guilty in college admissions scandal

Full House actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli were sentenced on August 21 to respective prison terms of two months and five months for participating in a vast U.S. college admissions scam.

Loughlin, 56, choked up as she apologised to U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton in Boston for the “awful decision” she made to try to help her daughters gain an “unfair advantage” in the college admissions process.

She and her husband were sentenced after they pleaded guilty in May to engaging in a fraud scheme aimed at securing spots for their daughters at the University of Southern California as fake athletic recruits.

Loughlin and Giannulli are among 55 people charged in a scheme masterminded by consultant William “Rick” Singer, who has admitted to facilitating cheating on college entrance exams and using bribery to secure the admission of children to schools under the guise of being sought-after athletes. The parents include actress Felicity Huffman, who received a 14-day prison sentence.

On October 30, Loughlin reported to a federal prison in northern California to start her two-month sentence. The Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, California, about 40 miles east of San Francisco, is the same institution that Huffman served her 11 days in October last year.

End of the Kardashian era

The television reality show that shot Kim Kardashian and her family to fame is ending in 2021 after 14 years, Kardashian said on September 8 on social media.

Keeping Up with the Kardashians, which helped make Kim Kardashian and her siblings Kylie, Kendall, Khloe and Kourtney household names and launched their careers in the fashion and beauty business, will air its last season early next year.

In October, Kim Kardashian posted photographs of her 40th birthday celebrations on social media, saying she was “feeling so humbled and blessed” to be able to spend her birthday with “some of the people who have helped shaped me into the woman I am today”.

The star treated her “inner circle” to a private island getaway after “two weeks of multiple health screens and asking everyone to quarantine”. In times of COVID-19 restrictions, this was received with mixed reaction by some fans.


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The Ellen DeGeneres show faces accusations of toxic culture

Chatshow host Ellen DeGeneres on September 21 opened the new season of her popular television talk show by apologising to staff after reports of a toxic work environment on her set and saying changes had been made to start “a new chapter.”

Three top producers on the The Ellen DeGeneres Show exited the show, producer Warner Bros. said in August after an internal investigation into complaints of bullying, racism and sexual misconduct against them.

Over the summer, weeks of backstage turmoil undermined the show’s public message of spreading kindness and happiness. Reports of a hostile workplace have included criticism that DeGeneres is mean-spirited. These prompted a social media campaign calling for her replacement and public statements of support for the comedian from the likes of Katy Perry, Kevin Hart, Alec Baldwin and Ashton Kutcher.

Sir David Attenborough joins Instagram

Sir David Attenborough said “hello” to Instagram on September 24, joining the social media platform to highlight urgent environmental issues.

The world-renowned British naturalist and broadcaster, now 94, reached one million followers in just over four hours, beating Friends star Jennifer Aniston after she made her debut by posting a selfie of her with some of her co-stars in October last year.

Attenborough’s account was part managed by crew members who worked with him on new Netflix documentary David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet. The aim was to highlight environmental issues using recorded messages by Attenborough solely for the platform as “saving our planet is now a communications challenge”.

Two months after signing up to the platform, the account was listed as “no longer active”. A spokesperson said, “Sir David and the filmmakers of A Life On Our Planet had always intended for the account to be a series of special messages over a limited period of time.”

Johnny Depp loses libel case

Hollywood star Johnny Depp on November 2 lost his libel battle with British tabloid The Sun that labelled him a “wife beater”, after a London High Court judge ruled he had repeatedly assaulted his former partner and put her in fear for her life.

In a ruling that could severely damage Depp’s reputation and career, Judge Andrew Nicol said he accepted claims from the actor’s ex-wife, actress Amber Heard, that he had violently assaulted her during their tempestuous five-year relationship.

Depp, 57, star of films including Pirates of the Caribbean and Edward Scissorhands had sued News Group Newspapers, publishers of the Sun, and one of its journalists, Dan Wootton, over a 2018 article which stated he had been violent towards Heard.

Over the course of three weeks beginning July 7 at London’s High Court, the judge heard evidence from both Depp and Heard about their fiery marriage, alleged affairs, his hedonistic lifestyle and battle with drink and drugs, and their furious rows. Depp reportedly plans to appeal against the UK court ruling.

Prince William welcomes Princess Diana BBC interview inquiry

Britain’s Prince William has welcomed a new investigation into how the BBC secured a famous 1995 interview with his mother Princess Diana after accusations that she had been tricked into taking part.

The new inquiry led by a former Supreme Court justice will focus on how the broadcaster obtained the interview and whether executives covered up any wrongdoing.

“The independent investigation is a step in the right direction,” William said in a statement. “It should help establish the truth behind the actions that led to the Panorama interview and subsequent decisions taken by those in the BBC at the time.”

During Diana’s interview with journalist Martin Bashir, watched by more than 20 million viewers in Britain, she shocked the nation by admitting to an affair and giving intimate details of her failed marriage to heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles.

In November, her brother Charles Spencer said the BBC had failed to apologise for what he said were forged documents and “other deceit” which led him to introduce Diana to Bashir.

The BBC’s Director General Tim Davie said the broadcaster was determined to get to the truth about Spencer’s claims.


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