ByCassie Daigle/May 21, 2023 9:15 pm EST
They say that the further you rise, the harder you fall. The statement could not be more true for the lives of the rich and famous, who might believe that they are untouchable. Taxes, consequences, and the court system seem irrelevant to certain celebrities. As if they were in their own game of Monopoly, some A-listers act as if their soldered reputations can be fixed with a proverbial "Get out of jail free card," while the rest of middle-class America must keep rolling the dice. Time and time again, the public has seen many celebrities pay some serious consequences for behavior they may have believed their status could explain away. However, at the same time, famous faces may risk being subjected to harsher judgment due to their elevated statuses, whether it be the law of the land or the court of public opinion.
Nothing follows celebrities around more than their own reputation. Whether their secret rendezvous get exposed, or they're siphoning millions of their dollars away in tax fraud, the truth always comes out ... and 2023 has already seen plenty of high-profile scandals cast a shadow on the bright lights of Hollywood. The following controversies have consumed pop culture and have even been somewhat celebrated at times: The "Scandoval" bombshell on "Vanderpump Rules," for example, garnered a mentionat the White House Correspondents' Dinner in April — literally taking the drama to a presidential level.
It's only right, then, that we take a look atthe stars whose alleged bad behavior came back to haunt them in 2023.
Don Lemon was accused of misogynistic behavior
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Don Lemon was once the highly coveted CNN journalist who not only hosted his own primetime segment each night for nearly a decade, but also began working for the network back in 2006. His fall from grace officially came in April 2023, when CNNannounced they were cutting ties with the former "Don Lemon Tonight" host. The shocking decision came the same month Lemon was accused of volatile and misogynistic behavior by inside sources within the network. Among other things, perVariety, Lemon allegedly body-shamed a producer and once sent threatening texts to fellow correspondent Kyra Phillips over her getting an assignment over him.
The Louisiana native denied these allegations but was previously under fire in February for claiming on "CNN This Morning,"[Presidential candidate] Nikki Haley isn't in her prime, sorry." Lemon later backtracked his statement, which many had deemed sexist, tweeting, "The reference I made to a woman's 'prime' this morning was inartful and irrelevant, as colleagues and loved ones have pointed out, and I regret it."
Lemon also publicly responded to his firing on Twitter:"I am stunned. After 17 years at CNN I would have thought that someone in management would have had the decency to tell me directly. At no time was I ever given any indication that I would not be able to continue to do the work I have loved at the network." CNN pushed back on that claim, deeming it "inaccurate" and furthertweeting, "He was offered an opportunity to meet with management but instead released a statement on Twitter."
Tucker Carlson was fired from Fox News
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In a shocking announcementoddly released the same day as CNN's firing of Don Lemon, Fox News revealed that its highest-rated host, Tucker Carlson, would be leaving the network. Speculation started about what could have led to the abrupt departure of the famous right-wing correspondent, but a statement from Fox News offered no explanation, only claiming it was a mutual decision, "We thank him for his service to the network as a host and prior to that as a contributor."
According to court documents obtained by The New York Times, Fox News producer Abby Grossberg called out Carlson in one of the two lawsuits she filed against Fox in 2023 (one in New York and one in Delaware). Grossberg previously sued Fox for coercing the testimony she gave in a separate case the network was involved in against Dominion Voting Systems. She also alleged thatthe "Tucker Carlson Tonight" workplace perpetuated misogyny.
Carlson was deposed, and major focus was put on his lies about voting fraud in the 2020 election. Eventually, that led to the discovery ofhis personal racist texts. Carlson texted a producer about three Trump supporters fighting an Antifa individual, as per The New York Times. "It's not how white men fight. Yet suddenly I found myself rooting for the mob against the man, hoping they'd hit him harder, kill him," the texts read. The defamation suit was settled for $787.5 million shortly before Carlson's firing. In May 2023, Grossberg dropped the coercion suit — but without prejudice, so she may refile in the future.
The Chrisleys' tax fraud scandal led to prison
The Chrisleys were once the epitome of a wealthy southern family — complete with their own reality television program that aired for nearly a decade. The fame and fortune that came from their entertaining docuseries "Chrisley Knows Best" couldn't save the family's matriarch and patriarch from their prison sentences, however. In June 2022, Todd and Julie Chrisley were both convictedof federal tax evasion and bank fraud, with Todd given a 12-year sentence and Julie a seven-year sentence.
The prosecution built its case on the grounds that the Chrisley over-exaggerated their income and forged documents to obtain exorbitant loans from smaller community banks."Over the course of a decade, the defendants defrauded banks out of tens of millions of dollars while evading payment of their federal income taxes," U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan stated in a press release.The Chrisleys pleaded not guilty to the charges in a jury trial that lasted almost three week. Todd previously denied any wrongdoing on Instagramaround the time of their 2019 indictment, alleging that a former family friend and employee took revenge by faking financial documents behind his back and exposing them to the U.S. Attorney's office.
Ultimately, the jury didn't buy the idea that a former employee was responsible for the financial crimes. Todd and Julie began serving their respective sentences in Pensacola, Florida and Lexington, Kentucky in January 2023. At the time of this writing, the "Chrisley Knows Best" starsmaintain their innocence, and their lawyer is appealing their case.
Jen Shah went from Housewife to inmate
Jen Shah traded her Housewife title for that of an inmate when she was shipped off to a federal prison in Texas in February 2023, per TMZ. "The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City" star was charged with wire fraud for her nearly-decade-long scheme in which she and her former assistant, Stuart Smith, scammed individuals with a fraudulent telemarketing operation. Targeting elderly victims, Shah and Smith drained people of their savings while promising to secure their financial goals.
According to a press release by theUnited States Attorney's Office, the reality star kept a list of contact information of susceptible victims which she sold to other operators within the scheme: "At SHAH's direction, victims were defrauded over and over again until they had nothing left. She and her co-conspirators persisted in their conduct until the victims' bank accounts were empty, their credit cards were at their limits, and there was nothing more to take." Shah was sentenced to six-and-a-half years behind bars, but her time was reduced by a year in March 2023.
Shah's manager admitted that the reality star had plans to pay back the victims she stole from when she began the fraud scheme back in 2012. "She has initiated her payments towards restitution, and we hope to have her home as soon as possible so that she may resume life with her family and work, putting this chapter of her life behind her," said Chris Giovanni, per NBC News.
Donald Trump became the first former president to face criminal charges
There aren't many individuals more controversial than former President Donald Trump. Most people either love or hate the polarizing character that he is, without much room for a moderate stance. However, the multitude of legal battles he's faced over the years came to a head in March 2023, when the ex-POTUS was indicted in New York City.He now holds the title of being the only U.S. president in history to face criminal charges.
Following his arrest and arraignment that April, Trump faces 34 felony counts that involve forging documents ahead of his 2016 presidential campaign in order to shield fraudulent activity and incriminating information about himself. According to court documents, the case being largely based on hush money sent by Trump's team to individuals for their cooperation in keeping damning information confidential — this includes former adult film actor Stormy Daniels, who previously alleged she had been intimate with Trump. The prosecution's arguing that reimbursement checks made out to Michael Cohen — who facilitated the hush-money payments — were disguised to conceal the true reason behind them.
Trump denied any wrongdoing, alleging during a speech at Mar-a-Lago (viaNBC Miami), "This fake case was brought only to interfere with the upcoming 2024 election, and it should be dropped immediately." Around this time, Trump was stillleading the polls as the conservative presidential pick. However, adding to his legal trouble, Trump was found liable for sexually abusing and defaming E. Jean Carroll and ordered to pay her $5 million for damages in May 2023.
Tom Sandoval and his 'Scandoval'
While there's been a decade of scandals that have dominated "Vanderpump Rules" since its premiere in 2013, nothing quite matches the bombshell that is "Scandoval." The controversy surrounds Tom Sandoval and his former affair with cast member Raquel Leviss, who was a close friend to him and his longtime partner, Ariana Madix. The six-month-long affair came to light during a concert for Sandoval's band Tom Sandoval & The Most Extras in March 2023. Madix found an intimate video featuring her then-boyfriend and Leviss on Sandoval's phone, thus ending their nine-year relationship.
Mayhem ensued, with production resuming filming following the incident. Cast members rallied around Madix, flocking to Madix's Los Angeles home (that she co-owns with Sandoval) to offer condolences. Sandoval later issued an apology following the fallout via Instagram, but the public backlash continued.He went on to claim on the "Howard Mandel Does Stuff" podcast that Madix threatened to leave the show if Sandoval ended things with her.
Sandoval reaped the consequences of his action when fans began boycottinghis business. Sandoval co-owns Tom Tom, the West Hollywood restaurant and bar he shares alongside his cast member, Tom Schwartz. Social media users took to the comments section to express their distaste for Sandoval, encouraging customers to stop frequenting the hot spot. "There was a moment where people were like vandalizing our spot. And it's way out of line. I get it but vandalism is too far," Schwartz admitted on "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen."
Raquel Leviss dodged backlash over 'Scandoval'
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When it comes to affairs, it takes two to tango. In the midst of the bombshell that is "Scandoval," no one knows it better than Raquel Leviss. The former pageant queen was the other woman in Ariana Madix and Tom Sandoval's nearly-decade-long relationship. Allegedly, Sandoval began having an affair when his friendship with Leviss relationshipturned romantic in the summer of 2022. Leviss was a close friend of Madix's at the time of the affair, even giving the mixologist advice on her sex life with the Tom Tom co-owner.
After Madix's discovery of an illicit video between Sandoval and Leviss, the beauty queen was in New York City taping "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen" alongside her castmate Scheana Shay. When the news broke, a physical altercation ensued between Shay and Leviss. According to court documents filed in a restraining order against Shay, Leviss claims Scheana "pushed me against [a] brick wall causing injury to back of [my] head and punched me in the face causing injury to my left eye." Shay denies punching her castmate, however, admitting to Andy Cohen on "WWHL,""There's a shove and there's a punch, and I did not punch her."
Amidst intense public backlash, Leviss checked into a mental health facility in April 2023. She issued a public apology about the affair via Instagram, referencing her need to work on her "patterns of codependency and addiction to being and feeling loved."
Jonathan Majors was cut from major film roles
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Jonathan Majors' profile had been steadily rising, and with his standout role in "Creed III" as well as being the face of Marvel's "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" as Kang the Conquerer, he was enjoying major success. In March 2023, however, the actor was making headlines for a far different reason — when he was arrestedon domestic violence charges in New York City. The alleged victim claimed at the time that the Marvel star strangled her, leading her to seek treatment for her injuries at a hospital. Majors' lawyer Priya Chaudhry denies the actor ever abused any woman. In a statement to Variety,she claimed, "Jonathan Majors is innocent and has not abused anyone. We have provided irrefutable evidence to the District Attorney that the charges are false. We are confident that he will be fully exonerated."
Since the charges in March, several other alleged victims have come forward claiming the "Creed III" star abused them. Amidst the allegations, the actor has been dropped from several film projects. Majors has been let go for roles in"The Man in My Basement", advertisements for the Texas Rangers MLB team, as well as consideration for a yet-to-be-released film involving the life of Otis Redding. Majors was also pulled from an ad campaign he participated in for the U.S. Army. "We recently released two ads in which Mr. Majors appears. While Mr. Majors is innocent until proven guilty, prudence dictates that we pull our ads until the investigation into these allegations is complete," Army Enterprise Marketing Office public affairs chief Laura DeFrancisco told Variety.
TJ Holmes and Amy Robach's affair
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TJ Holmes and Amy Robach had quite the on-screen chemistry as co-hosts on their "GMA3" segment that aired on ABC's "Good Morning America." That chemistry translated off-screen as well, as the two television personalities (who met while they were both still married to other people) made headlines when their affair was exposed at the end of 2022. Media outlets reported at the time that there was something more to their working relationship. It was questioned even more when Holmes filed for divorce later in January 2023. Robach split with her former husband Andrew Shue in 2022 andfinalized the divorce in 2023 just months after the affair became public.
ABC Network cut ties with the hosts the same month after the two were unable to reach an agreement about their future on-air. "After several productive conversations with Amy Robach and T.J. Holmes, about different options, we all agreed it's best for everyone that they move on from ABC News," the network revealed in a statement (viaThe Hollywood Reporter). Robach and Holmes have come under fire by insiders who claimthat the duo waited to come forward about the nature of their relationship.
While the former anchors continue to see each other as of the time of writing, their future job prospects look less than promising. Their pitches for a joint talk show together to major networks have reportedly fallen flat. Reputation management specialistEric Schiffer told The U.S. Sun, "It's been crickets."