Entertainment Weekly Presents: The Biggest Celeb Scandals Since 1985, nos. 50 - 26

  1. The Biggest Celeb Scandals Since 1985: Nos. 50-26

    Only on EW.com: The continuation of our list of showbiz shockers, including Winona Ryder, Eddie Murphy and Drew Barrymore








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    50. PAT O'BRIEN BECOMES THE STORY
    As host of The Insider, Pat O'Brien was used to reporting on celebrity scandals. But in March 2005, he found himself at the center of a tabloid-ready mess after a series of drunken, sexually explicit voicemails he had left an unidentified woman made their way onto the Internet. When friends and Insider colleagues staged an intervention, O'Brien didn't remember making the calls (in which he described the many ways he wanted to get ''crazy'') — but on March 20 he acknowledged in a statement that he had a problem with alcohol and was checking himself into rehab.


    CAREER IMPACT Minor. (To what does a host of The Insider aspire to be, after all?) O'Brien returned to the show in May 2005 — after a tell-all interview with Dr. Phil.
     
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    49. RICHARD HATCH JAILED FOR TAX EVASION
    He was dubbed ''the fat naked guy'' after prancing around in the buff during the first season of Survivor, then a fellow contestant in Survivor: All-Stars accused a naked Richard Hatch of brushing up against her. (The two have since resolved their differences.) But we haven't even gotten to the major scandal yet. In January 2006, Hatch, who took home the $1 million prize from the original Survivor, was found guilty of three counts of tax evasion for failing to pay taxes on his reality show winnings, as well as on other income. The 46-year-old, who has maintained his innocence, is currently serving a 51-month sentence in the Federal Correctional Institution in Morgantown, W. Va.


    CAREER IMPACT Minor. Hollywood is an equal-opportunity ignorer of ex-reality show contestants — a little prison time won't make a difference.
     
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    48. MARGOT KIDDER FOUND WANDERING IN MANIC-DEPRESSIVE STATE If life were a game of Clue, you could describe a certain strange mid-'90s scandal as follows: Margot Kidder, behind the woodpile, with the missing dental plate. When police led Kidder from the backyard of a stranger's Glendale, Calif., home on April 24, 1996, it ended a four-day manic-depressive episode that found her wandering L.A., swapping clothes with a homeless person, and ranting that her ex-husband was trying to have her killed.


    CAREER IMPACT Minor. The actress, who shot to fame as Lois Lane in 1978's Superman, handled the aftermath with candor and humor, telling Barbara Walters the real tragedy was knowing ''there's somebody downtown with my best Armani suit.'' That zany charm continues to serve Kidder well; she continued to work steadily after the incident, and currently appears as Sally Field's delightfully corruptive pal on ABC's Brothers & Sisters.
     
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    47. BILLY CRUDUP'S RELATIONSHIP WITH CLAIRE DANES RAISES EYEBROWS
    It's the indie-movie version of the Brad-Jen-Angelina love triangle. In fall 2003, Billy Crudup reportedly left his girlfriend of eight years, fellow actress Mary-Louise Parker, to be with Claire Danes after a romance sparked on set of their drama Stage Beauty. Oh yes, and Parker was seven-and-a-half months pregnant when it happened. While Danes and Crudup were frequently photographed together, the couple continued to refute their so-called affair. During their three-year relationship, they never publicly confirmed they were dating.


    CAREER IMPACT Minimal. The negative publicity didn't affect Danes' résumé; she received rave reviews for 2005's Shopgirl. The tabloid buzz helped boost Crudup's low-key profile; he's currently co-starring with Mandy Moore in the dramedy Dedication. Meanwhile, Danes and Crudup split last December.
     
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    46. LISA BONET DOES ANGEL HEART
    Nineteen-year-old Cosby Show star Lisa Bonet was about to headline her own spinoff, A Different World, when she made her film debut as voodoo priestess Epiphany Proudfoot in Angel Heart, an erotic thriller in which she fogged up the lens with costar Mickey Rourke while (fake) chicken blood poured down on their naked bodies. Heart initially earned an X rating, and Bonet only made things worse when she posed topless for Interview and nude in Rolling Stone in the months following its release.


    CAREER IMPACT Major. Heart flopped, and Bonet's film career stalled. At the end of World's first season, the newly pregnant actress was effectively dumped from her own series. In September 1988, she returned to The Cosby Show; three years later, she was fired amid rumors of missed rehearsals and on-set tantrums, which she denied. She has made only sporadic film appearances since.
     
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    45. VANESSA WILLIAMS GIVES UP CROWN IN CENTERFOLD SCANDAL When 21-year-old Syracuse University student Vanessa Williams became the first African-American to be crowned Miss America, all she wanted was to give world peace a chance. Instead, she found herself at the center(fold) of controversy during her reign when naked photos of her surfaced in the pages of Penthouse. The magazine spread triggered so much controversy, Williams was pressured into giving up her title in July 1984.


    CAREER IMPACT Positive. The hubba-hubba hubbub seemed to pave Williams' way to Hollywood: She later found success as a Grammy-nominated R&B/pop singer and built a legitimate career in film and TV. Nominated last month for an Emmy, she co-stars on ABC's hit dramedy Ugly Betty with her clothes on (most of the time).
     
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    44. ARMED MARTIN LAWRENCE STOPS TRAFFIC After Martin Lawrence stormed into a busy Sherman Oaks intersection in May 1996, ranting and raving with a loaded gun in his pocket, his doctor downplayed the incident using classic Hollywood euphemisms: He blamed the comedian's behavior on ''exhaustion and dehydration.'' Just two months later, the Bad Boys star was busted for attempting to board a plane from Burbank to Phoenix with a loaded 9 mm semi-automatic pistol in his suitcase. He was sentenced to two years probation for the airport incident.


    CAREER IMPACT Minor. Remember: The guy titled his first comedy special You So Crazy — so stopping traffic just added to his lit-fuse mystique. He continues to make a comfortable living starring in goofy, outrageous comedies like Big Momma's House.
     
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    43. RICK JAMES ACCUSED OF SUPER-FREAKY CRIMES Rick James shot to fame with risqué funk songs like 1978's ''Mary Jane'' and 1981's ''Super Freak.'' But those odes to excess didn't prepare fans for the headlines James made in 1991, when a woman accused him of tying her up, torturing her with a hot cocaine pipe, and forcing her into sex acts with his girlfriend (whom he married in 1997, then divorced in 2002). More scandal came the next year, when another woman said he imprisoned and brutally beat her. Charges from both incidents were combined in one trial; in 1993 James was convicted on felony counts of assault and possessing cocaine and served three years.


    CAREER IMPACT Major. His 1997 comeback attempt, Urban Rapsody, was a flop, though the R&B legend briefly returned to pop culture's forefront in 2004 thanks to Dave Chappelle's memorable impersonation on his Comedy Central show (''I'm Rick James, b----!''), before dying of heart failure at age 56 later that year.
     
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    42. PAULA ABDUL FACES IDOL CONTESTANT'S ALLEGATIONS It was the bombshell allegation that threatened to tarnish the fourth season of American Idol. Following rumors that former contestant Corey Clark — who'd been booted by producers midway through season 2 for failing to disclose a prior arrest — was shopping a memoir, on May 4, 2005, the wannabe star appeared on an ABC News special to present his claims that judge Paula Abdul had been giving him secret lessons in song selection...and carnal knowledge. While Clark produced phone bills detailing lengthy chats with Abdul, ABC's telecast — which included snippets of Clark's song ''Paula-tics'' — proved more salacious than damning.


    CAREER IMPACT Minor. Abdul said the story was false and laughed off the incident during a Saturday Night Live skit, and Fox executives ordered an internal investigation that lasted more than three months. They found no ''corroborating evidence'' to back up Clark's claims. Still, Idol producers promised to beef up the show's ''non-fraternization policy.''
     
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    41. ALEC BALDWIN'S ''LITTLE PIG'' VOICEMAIL HITS THE INTERNET
    Despite a banner professional year with twin tour-de-forces in The Departed and 30 Rock, Alec Baldwin gave one regrettable — and involuntarily public — performance in April of this year. TMZ.com posted a leaked voicemail tirade he'd unleashed against his 11-year-old daughter, Ireland, in which he calls her a ''thoughtless little pig'' for missing his court-approved phone time with her. In subsequent public apologies, the actor said he was simply frustrated by his long-running custody battle with ex Kim Basinger. Baldwin even said — during a View interview — that he'd asked NBC to let him out of his 30 Rock contract so he could focus on his daughter and the issue of paternal rights. (He later opted to honor his contract with the network.)


    CAREER IMPACT Minor. Baldwin is up for an Emmy this September for 30 Rock.
     
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    40. TED DANSON PERFORMS IN BLACKFACE
    Travel back in time, if you will, to 1993, when Ted Danson is the biggest, most beloved sitcom star on the planet, Whoopi Goldberg is a bankable film actress, and the relationship between the two is keeping the supermarket tabloids in business. At a Friars' Club roast for Goldberg, Danson appeared on stage in blackface and delivered a mock minstral routine that reportedly contained the N-word and ''jokes'' about Goldberg's privates. Depending on who you believe, Goldberg either blessed the routine or wrote it herself.


    CAREER IMPACT Minor. Perhaps because the event occurred in an era long, long before scientists discovered YouTube. Danson has maintained a thriving TV career, most recently appearing in the FX drama Damages. Goldberg will succeed Rosie O'Donnell as co-host of The View in September — where she promises to ''be respectful and listen.''
     
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    39. ASHLEE SIMPSON EMBARRASSED ON SNL
    One of music's dirty little secrets was revealed on Oct. 23, 2004, when Ashlee Simpson tried to perform her new single, ''Autobiography,'' on Saturday Night Live. A vocal back-up recording played the lyrics for a different song, exposing that Simpson — like many pop singers — used a ''backing track'' in live performances. Flummoxed, Simpson danced an awkward jig and slinked off stage while the show cut to a commercial. ''My band started playing the wrong song,'' said Simpson at the end of the show. ''I didn't know what to do, so I thought I'd do a hoedown.'' (The singer's camp later blamed acid reflux as the need for voice enhancement.)


    CAREER IMPACT Minor. Simpson documented the embarrassing episode on her MTV reality show, and was invited back to SNL in 2005. The second appearance didn't help her 2005 follow-up, I Am Me, however, which didn't crack the million mark.
     
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    38. DAVE CHAPPELLE DUMPS COMEDY CENTRAL
    After years working as a bit player in Hollywood, standup comedian Dave Chappelle shot to mega-stardom with his shocking and hilarious Comedy Central sketch series Chappelle's Show. Huge on both TV and DVD (the first season is the biggest-selling TV DVD of all time), it wasn't a surprise when the network signed the comedian to a $50 million contract. But on April 28, 2005, shortly after filming began on his third season, Chappelle walked out — with no explanation. Rumors of a nervous breakdown followed, but three weeks later the comic revealed that he had retreated to South Africa for some R&R.


    CAREER IMPACT Major. The comedian walked away from his Comedy Central contract, and severed ties with his long-time writing partner Neal Brennan. Chappelle now only works sporadically, including 2006's Dave Chappelle's Block Party and the occasional six-hour standup session.
     
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    37. CHARLIE SHEEN ADMITS TO SEX WITH PROSTITUTES By age 22, Charlie Sheen had played Bud Fox in Wall Street and starred in Oliver Stone's Oscar-winning Platoon. But that impressive career trajectory hit a snag after he admitted to sleeping with hookers. (Oops, we mean escorts, and when we say ''sleeping with,'' we mean having sex). In 1995, the Hot Shots star cooperated with prosecutors and testified that he spent more than $53,000 on Heidi Fleiss' call girls, including one festive rendezvous on Christmas Day 1992. (Fleiss was found guilty of tax evasion, money laundering, and attempted pandering, and served three years in jail.)


    CAREER IMPACT Minor. Sheen's Wild Thing persona was already well known, but it would take five years of gigs like 1999's Postmortem before Spin City reinvigorated his career as a reliable comic actor. He recently nabbed a second Emmy nomination for his role on CBS' sitcom Two and a Half Men.
     
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    36. MARRIED MEG RYAN GETS INVOLVED WITH RUSSELL CROWE
    On-set romances are pretty much expected in Hollywood. That is, unless you're married, like Meg Ryan was when she began a relationship with bachelor Russell Crowe on the set of hostage drama Proof of Life in 2000. After their romance became public, Ryan and her husband of nine years, actor Dennis Quaid, announced their separation and subsequently divorce. Crowe and Ryan subsequently broke up, and the Gladiator star returned to Australia.


    CAREER IMPACT Major. Six months of rampant gossip about Crowe and Ryan's dalliance overshadowed the movie's premiere, and it opened to a scant $10.2 million. Ryan — once America's romantic comedy sweetheart — hasn't had a hit film since. As often is the case with Hollywood affairs, the man wasn't as adversely affected: Crowe went on to win an Oscar for Gladiator, and even his 2005 phone-throwing scandal didn't stall his career's momentum.