First came “The Slap.” At a show that happens every year, where surprises and scandals are scripted ahead of time, an A-list actor slapping a top comedian in a fit of rage may be one of the few raw moments seen at the Oscars.
Or what about the saga that surrounded “Don’t Worry Darling” and its director and actors? There is no shortage of headlines there: the unexpected end of a Hollywood power couple; the unexpected rise of Olivia Wilde and Harry Styles from the ashes of that; multiple, simultaneous feuds among Wilde and her actors – the drama off the set was more intense than the drama on the screen.
It was also a year where romance came to die – Wilde and Styles; Shakira and Gerard Piqué; Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson; Gisele and Tom Brady.
Here are some of the biggest entertainment stories of the year.
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Is it a proper year-end look back without a mention of the Oscars?
Small flubs and controversies have always kept award shows interesting to the general audience, but this year’s Academy Awards had a surprise they didn’t script for. Moments after Chris Rock made an off-script joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s alopecia, Will Smith stormed up to the stage.
The headlines, think pieces and online analysis of the drama probably weren’t what he had in mind when he made an Instagram post earlier that night. “Me ‘n @jadapinkettsmith got all dressed up to choose chaos,” the Oscar-winner for King Richard posted. Chaos, indeed.
Speaking of chaos, “Don’t Worry Darling” director Olivia Wilde could probably use a little less of that heading into the new year. The “Booksmart” director, hot off of a bidding war for her next film starring Harry Styles and Florence Pugh, could just not keep the drama contained to the big screen.
First, it was her being served custody papers by ex-fiancé Jason Sudeikis at work. An embarrassing moment for anyone, but particularly so when work meant being on-stage at CinemaCon to promote the next big movie.
Then, a he-said-she-said between Wilde and Shia LaBeouf, the movie’s first choice for the leading man. Early reports claimed that LaBeouf was fired, with E!’s sources citing “poor behavior” and professional clashes following a lawsuit from ex FKA twigs alleging sexual abuse and assault.
LaBeouf said that never happened. “You and I both know the reasons for my exit,” the actor allegedly told Wilde in an email. “I quit your film because your actors & I couldn’t find time to rehearse.”
There’s the tension with Florence Pugh, Wilde’s other leading actor, who allegedly disagreed with Wilde’s personal relationship with Harry Styles. Pugh, for her part, refrained from commenting, while Wilde had nothing but praise for her leading lady.
It is unclear if the attention surrounding #SpitGate was a natural response to a film so swamped with interpersonal drama, but it is clear to the parties involved that it’s one of the more ridiculous. It was a story that even had reporters scrubbing back and forth across footage to try to get a sense of things: did Harry Styles spit on his co-star, Chris Pine, at the world premiere of the movie they were both responsible for promoting?
“Ridiculous story,” was the reaction from Pine’s camp.
Drama aside, it seemed that these darlings had nothing to worry about: the film opened with $19.2 million in ticket sales, proving that in Hollywood, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
Not so for the YouTube set, where bad publicity can sink a channel. So-called “wife guys” had a public lashing this year, thanks to male celebrities – many of whom build their public persona on being faithful husbands and fathers – who were found cheating.
Ned Fulmer in particular is no longer a “Try Guy” after the YouTube star was axed from The Try Guys channel in light of an affair with one of the channel’s employees. He said he had “lost focus and had a consensual workplace relationship.”
Fulmer’s wife, Ariel Fulmer, was a frequent collaborator with her husband and the channel.
Fulmer’s announcement came on the heels of an alleged affair involving Maroon 5’s Adam Levine, whom 23-year-old Sumner Stroh said she had a year-long affair with. Levine was married to and expecting his third child with Behati Prinsloo at the time of the allegations, which he denied.
“I did not have an affair, nevertheless, I crossed the line during a regrettable period of my life,” Levine said.
Bad news for John Mulaney who might have hoped to spend 2022 in peace after his sudden split from Anna Marie Tendler and even more sudden pregnancy announcement with Olivia Munn. It didn’t help that Tendler started her 2022 with her own year’s end look-back at what the artist called her “harsh and punishing year.”
Other celebrity love stories that have ended:
It’s a different kind of breakup, but Taylor Swift and her fans would very much like to be excluded from any narrative that includes Ticketmaster.
Botched ticket presales had caused some bad blood between fans eager to attend Swift’s new Eras Tour, and a company who found themselves on the wrong side of “technical difficulties.”
Now, what started as a sale gone wrong has ended with a lawsuit from Swifties and an anti-trust probe into Ticketmaster from Tennessee’s attorney general.
Swift’s fans were not the only ones disappointed by Ticketmaster – a fake ticket scandal left many of Bad Bunny’s fans out in the cold during a December concert in Mexico City.
Saddened fans could take solace with one undeniable fact: both Swift and Bad Bunny were named Spotify’s 2022 most-streamed artists, topping the list for the billions of streams that played throughout the year.
Maria Chamberlain curated and contributed to this report.