Entertainment Weekly Presents: Top 25 Biggest Celeb Scandals Since 1982

  1. The 25 Biggest Celeb Scandals Since 1982

    From Madonna to Pee-wee, Lindsay Lohan to Britney Spears (and no, none of them made it to No. 1), we count down the most shocking celebrity moments of the past 20+ years


    Her Madgesty's hyphenate could easily read ''singer/actress/pisser-offer of the powers that be.'' And on the massively successful Blond Ambition tour in 1990, Madonna's antic — including simulated masturbation on stage — angered Pope John Paul II and the Vatican, who publicly condemned the singer's unholy performance. On the Canadian leg of the tour, Toronto police even threatened to arrest the Material Girl for indecency. In response, she cheerfully included ''the fascist state of Toronto'' in her preshow prayers (as captured in the 1991 tour doc Truth or Dare) — and refused to alter a thing.

    CAREER IMPACT: POSITIVE The papal disapprobation only enhanced her taboo-taunting persona. The same year, she released a greatest-hits collection, as well as a little single called ''Vogue.''
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    On Sept. 7, 2001, one month after signing a $100 million record deal with Arista, Houston shocked audiences at the Michael Jackson 30th Anniversary Celebration concert with her alarmingly gaunt appearance. Speculation was rampant: Was Houston — whose prior studio album had sold a disappointing 2.8 million — anorexic? On drugs? In 2002, the singer sat down with Diane Sawyer and admitted to past drug use, but declared: ''Crack is wack.''

    CAREER IMPACT: MINOR This episode was one among Houston's many career setbacks, including being fired from an Oscar performance in 2000, and a weird 2005 reality show with husband Bobby Brown. Today the singer — who arrived looking glam and healthy at a pre-Grammy party in February, and who filed for divorce from Brown last year — is recording a new album with Clive Davis.
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    In September 2005, in what some might call a career ''high,'' the waify supermodel was featured on the front page of Britain's Daily Mirror allegedly snorting cocaine. Moss' extremely lucrative fashion contracts (including H&M, Chanel, and Burberry) quickly disappeared as sponsors reacted with shock — shock! — at the spectre of drug use invading the fashion industry. (Due to lack of evidence, Moss was not charged.)

    CAREER IMPACT: MINOR Following a public apology and a rehab stint, Moss reestablished a few of her old deals, and inked a number of new ones. She has also recently debuted a well-received clothing line for London's trendy Topshop.
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    On Nov. 14, 2006, Fox announced a two-part interview with O.J. Simpson, tied to the release of If I Did It, a fictional tell-all that HarperCollins exec Judith Regan gave Simpson a hefty fee to write — about the hypothetical details of how the ex-football great might have killed Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. Within the week, a wave of protests from Fox affiliates, the victims' families, and a disgusted public drove News Corp. (parent company of Fox and HarperCollins) to cancel the bizarre endeavor.

    CAREER IMPACT: MAJOR Regan was fired on Dec. 15. Meanwhile, a judge awarded the book rights to Goldman's family to help satisfy their $33.5 million civil-suit decision against Simpson, and on Aug. 14, Beaufort Books announced a deal with the family to publish the totally made-up tale: It's due out Oct. 3.
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    During the 1988 Democratic convention in Atlanta, Rob Lowe picked up two gals (ages 22 and 16) at a club, invited them back to his hotel, and videotaped the romp. Naturally, the home movie leaked out — and grainy footage of the Brat Packer in action made the tabloid-TV rounds. The underage girl's mom sued Lowe, but it was settled out of court, and no charges were filed. (He agreed to perform 20 hours of community service.)

    CAREER IMPACT: MINOR After a brief rehab stint for alcohol addiction in 1990, the star went on to wink at the incident in his work, including the 1999 West Wing pilot — in which his character, a presidential aide, unwittingly sleeps with a hooker. As Lowe noted in 2000, ''At the height of my downfall, I was still making a million bucks a picture.''
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    Choosing a favorite Courtney Love scandal moment is kind of like picking your favorite Beatles record: So...many... choices! Must...stay...focused! But there is one moment Love-ologists find universally shocking. After a 1992 Vanity Fair article suggested she was knowingly using heroin while pregnant, Love denied it, insisting that she sought medical help and quit as soon as she found out. Three years later, she told Barbara Walters she only used in the first month of pregnancy.

    CAREER IMPACT: MINOR On April 12, 1994 — four days after her husband, Kurt Cobain, was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound — Love's band Hole released their most successful album to date, Live Through This. Today, Frances Bean is a healthy 15-year-old, but her mom (who hasn't released a new album since 2004) gets more attention for her yo-yo-ing weight than her music career.
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    O'Donnell's reign over The View ended exactly the way it should have: in a split-screen shout-off with conservative cohost Elisabeth Hasselbeck. The impassioned, uncomfortable, please-go-to-commercial-now tiff embodied everything that made O'Donnell's stay on the chatfest so riveting. For nine ratings-boosting months, the former Queen of Nice unveiled a new TV persona — now with 50 percent more liberal outrage! She feuded with The Donald, criticized national institutions from the White House to American Idol, openly discussed her gay marriage, and even held a hungover Danny DeVito on her lap.

    CAREER IMPACT: POSITIVE After the blowup, O'Donnell — who had already given notice — quit three weeks early. The ongoing and intense speculation over her next move demonstrates that even an angry Rosie is an in-demand Rosie.
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    When Roseanne Barr took the mound at San Diego's Jack Murphy Stadium to sing the national anthem on July 25, 1990, nobody expected an aria. But they weren't prepared for the 55-second caterwaul she unleashed, either. And they definitely didn't anticipate her final flourish, in which she grabbed her crotch and spit. The mockery left the audience in jeers, and even President Bush (the elder) called the performance ''disgraceful.'' Barr apologized, but remained defiant. ''The whole thing is a huge statement on America. The reaction more than the act,'' she later said.

    CAREER IMPACT: POSITIVE That fall, Barr's landmark ABC sitcom returned for a third Emmy-nominated season, bolder and better than ever.
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    Sometimes even a kids'-show host needs to sit back, relax, loosen his bow tie...and take in a triple feature of porn. On July 26, 1991, Pee-wee's Playhouse host Paul Reubens had such a night out in Sarasota, Fla., leading to his arrest for indecent exposure. (He pled no contest and paid a fine.) Save a self-mocking MTV appearance two months later (''Heard any good jokes lately?''), Reubens laid low for the next decade.

    CAREER IMPACT: MAJOR Reubens' comeback with 2001's Blow was overshadowed by a second arrest in '02, after photos of nude teens were found in his L.A. home. (He pled guilty to possession of obscenity, but maintained the photos were ''vintage erotica.'') This fall, Reubens has a recurring role on ABC's Pushing Daisies, and he's also written scripts for two more Pee-wee movies.
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    Racist, misogynist, and homophobic slurs were not uncommon on Don Imus' nationally syndicated radio show. But when the shock jock called the Rutgers women's basketball team ''nappy-headed hos'' on April 4, the vulgarity of his words — aimed at a group of accomplished college athletes, no less — enraged the public, and made many advertisers jump ship.

    CAREER IMPACT: MAJOR After MSNBC pulled its simulcast of Imus in the Morning, CBS Radio canceled the show outright. The impact may be short-lived, however: On Aug. 14, Imus reached an undisclosed settlement with CBS, and is reportedly plotting a return to radio.
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    Most of Hollywood saw this tipping point coming a mile away: Early in the morning on July 24, Lindsay Lohan was arrested for alleged DUI (her second in as many months), driving with a suspended license, and cocaine possession. All this came only 11 days after a 45-day stint in rehab. The 21-year-old was charged with a total of seven misdemeanors in both cases. Through a lawyer, she arranged a plea bargain on Aug. 23. She pled guilty to two counts of being under the influence of cocaine and no contest to two counts of driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher and one count of reckless driving; two DUI charges were dropped. Lohan will serve one day in jail and 10 doing community service, in addition to completing a drug treatment program. ''It is clear to me that my life has become completely unmanageable because I am addicted to alcohol and drugs,'' the actress said in a statement.

    CAREER IMPACT: MAJOR Lohan — reportedly in rehab again — saw her latest flick, I Know Who Killed Me (released three days after the arrest), open with only $3.5 million.
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    When Seinfeld's Michael Richards took the stage at L.A.'s Laugh Factory on Nov. 17, 2006, the audience was probably hoping for Kramer-ish pratfalls and copious arm-flailing. What they got instead was a racist diatribe directed at a group of African-American hecklers. Thanks to a cell-phone camera, the tirade immediately hit the Web, earning the actor nationwide condemnation. Three days later, Richards appeared via satellite on David Letterman's show, apologizing and pledging to seek help.

    CAREER IMPACT: MINOR Richards hadn't acted on screen since his eponymous sitcom was canceled in 2000. While on a spiritual journey in Cambodia last month, he told the L.A. Times that he has quit stand-up comedy.
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    The supposed curse of the Best New Artist Grammy reached its apex in 1990, when Rob Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan — a.k.a. Milli Vanilli — were stripped of the award after producer Frank Farian revealed that the two men were professional lip-synchers who hadn't sung one note on their chart-topping debut album. Apparently, 11 million fans can be wrong.

    CAREER IMPACT: MAJOR The duo became a worldwide punchline — not to mention an indictment of the music industry's increasing interest in image over content. Repeated attempts to launch legitimate careers failed; Pilatus overdosed in an apparent suicide in 1998.
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    Just when you thought the drama on ABC's Grey's Anatomy couldn't get more overwrought, it did — behind the scenes. It began with an October 2006 dustup between Isaiah Washington and Patrick Dempsey in which the former allegedly referred to gay costar T.R. Knight as a ''faggot.'' The incident was close to fading from public memory until Washington dropped the f-bomb again (as part of a denial) in front of reporters at the Golden Globes in January.

    CAREER IMPACT: MAJOR Even after he attended anger-management training and shot an anti-hate-speech PSA, the network told Washington in June that his services at Seattle Grace were no longer needed. In July, however, NBC gave him a five-episode gig on this fall's Bionic Woman.
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    Bouncing on Oprah's couch was a little odd, but it was Tom Cruise's leap into a heated debate over the mental-health profession that really puzzled fans. In May 2005, while promoting Paramount's War of the Worlds, Cruise criticized Brooke Shields for taking antidepressants during her postpartum depression. He then tore into the Today show's Matt Lauer, calling him ''glib'' for suggesting that the ADD drug Ritalin has helped people.

    CAREER IMPACT: MAJOR In August 2006, Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone ended Paramount's relationship with Cruise's production company, citing the actor's ''recent conduct.'' Cruise, now co-head of United Artists studio, will next be seen with Meryl Streep in November's Lions for Lambs.