Celebrity Highs, Lows and WTF Moments of 2023: Nepo Babies, More


    Angela Bassett “did the thing” in 2023, but she’s not the only star who had Us raising our eyebrows all year long.

    The year kicked off with a handful of wild moments — from the release of Prince Harry’s Spare to Cocaine Bear’s premiere — but nothing could prepare Hollywood for the rise of Vanderpump Rules star Ariana Madix. Once a Bravolebrity, Madix became a household name in March after her boyfriend of nine years, Tom Sandoval, cheated on her with friend and fellow Pump Rules star Raquel Leviss. The affair heard around the world — now known as “Scandoval” — launched Madix’s success to new heights. Following her impressive run on season 32 of Dancing With the Stars, she will be starring as Roxie Hart in Chicago on Broadway in 2024.

    While Madix became an even more notable name, Raven-Symoné made a major comeback when launching her “The Best Podcast Ever” show in June alongside her wife, Miranda Pearman-Maday. New episodes dropped each week, but one installment with Whoopi Goldberg made major headlines in August.

    Raven told Goldberg that she gave off “lesbian vibes” and “just wanted to be up underneath the titty the whole time” they hosted The View together from June 2015 to October 2016.

    From Dolly Parton to Olivia Rodrigo to Travis Scott

    Related: The Best Albums of 2023: Dolly Parton, Olivia Rodrigo and More

    Getty Images (3) While 2023 has been the year of the monster tour — with Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, Drake and others hitting the road for colossal shows after sitting on the sidelines due to COVID — there have been some incredible releases within the last 12 months. Olivia Rodrigo defied the sophomore slump with Guts, […]

    Goldberg was unbothered by the colorful comment — and had some bigger blunders of her own throughout 2023.

    Keep scrolling to look back at the highs, lows and biggest WTF moments from this year:

    Whoopi Goldberg Puts Her Foot in Her Mouth

    The View cohost made headlines several times throughout the year for her unfiltered remarks on the ABC daytime show.

    In June, Goldberg changed the meaning of one news item completely. “A poll of 2,000 adults in the U.K. found that when people travel, cuisine is more important to them than landmarks or bitches,” she declared. She quickly recovered, correcting herself to say, “Beaches!”

    Goldberg joked that her mistake was somehow the crew’s fault, saying, “I can’t even tell you why it’s their fault.”

    Months later, Goldberg proved that she had no filter when asking, “Are you pregnant?” to The View cohost Alyssa Farah Griffin. “No — oh, my God,” Griffin replied, seemingly horrified. Goldberg apologized, explaining that she simply “got a vibe” from Griffin.

    Perhaps her most controversial statement all year, however, was when Goldberg told The View cohosts that she has comfortably worked out in jeans.

    “Listen, sometimes you don’t have time to stop when everyone else is in their shorts and everything and you go, and you get some exercise in when you can!” Goldberg doubled down during a November broadcast.

    Ozempic Takes Over Hollywood — But Only Real Housewives Admit It

    While several celebrities were accused of taking the type 2 diabetes medication Ozempic to accelerate weight loss, only a few Real Housewives franchise stars were brave enough to reveal that they’ve used the drug.

    Real Housewives of New Jersey star Dolores Catania admitted to taking Mounjaro, which she said was “another part” of the Ozempic umbrella, during an April appearance on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen. “I wasn’t going to come to the reunion looking any bigger than anyone else, so I got on the bandwagon,” she added.

    Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star Heather Gay said she was “on the Ozempic train” in November. “I’ve been on it for a long time, but hadn’t really seen much results,” she told People. “And I haven’t had massive results, but enough for people to notice, which is great.”

    Kyle Richards, meanwhile, repeatedly made it known that she wasn’t cutting corners with her weight loss.

    ‘The Last of Us’ Turns 2023 Into the Year of Pedro Pascal

    Wildest moments of the year

    Pedro Pascal
    Liane Hentscher/HBO

    Pedro Pascal was dubbed the internet’s “daddy” after The Last of Us premiered on HBO in January and happily embraced the nickname after playing father figure Joel Miller in the show.

    “I am having fun with it,” Pascal shared during The Hollywood Reporter Drama Actors Roundtable in May. “It seems a little role-related. There was a period where the Mandalorian is very daddy to baby Grogu, and Joel is very daddy to Ellie. These are daddy parts. That’s what it is. … I’m not a daddy. And I’m not gonna be a daddy!”

    Prince Harry Shares TMI Details in ‘Spare’

    Prince Harry’s highly anticipated memoir, Spare, was released in January. Along with plenty of royal family secrets, Harry unleashed some major jaw-dropping TMI moments — even referring to his “todger” in depth.

    Harry confirmed in his book that he and his older brother, Prince William, are circumcised. “I was snipped as a baby,” he wrote. Further discussing the topic of his genitals, Harry recalled a 2011 trip to the North Pole in which his “nether regions were frost nipped.”

    No memoir would be complete without a story about losing his virginity — and Harry delivered. He revealed that his first time having sex was an “inglorious episode with an older woman,” calling it a “quick ride” that took place “in a grassy field behind a busy pub.”

    Harry also admitted to (and regretted) watching his now-wife, Meghan Markle’s sex scenes from Suits. He noted that it “would take electric-shock therapy to get those images out of my head.”

    ‘Cocaine Bear’

    When Cocaine Bear was released in February, it seemed like it would be one of the biggest WTF moments of the year. However, the star-studded cast — Keri Russell, Alden Ehrenreich, Ray Liotta, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Margo Martindale — quickly made it a fan favorite.

    Directed by Elizabeth Banks, the film is loosely based on the real story of a bear in 1985 that ingested a bag of cocaine. While the production budget for the movie was between $30 and $35 million, per various reports, the movie made nearly $90 million at the box office.

    Cole Sprouse Chain-Smokes His Way Through ‘Call Her Daddy’

    Wildest moments of the year

    Cole Sprouse
    Courtesy of The Pod Project/YouTube

    Cole Sprouse appeared on the “Call Her Daddy” podcast in March — and took himself way too seriously when discussing the highs and lows of his growth from child star to adult actor. Sprouse chain-smoked cigarettes during the interview, which quickly turned into an internet meme.

    As clips of Sprouse holding a lit cigarette went viral, some fans noted that seeing him smoking inside gave them “the ick.” For others, the interview was simply “cringe” overall.

    Gwyneth Paltrow’s Ski Trial Captivates the Nation

    A 2016 incident involving Gwyneth Paltrow and retired doctor Terry Sanderson came to a head seven years later in March. Sanderson initially filed a lawsuit against Paltrow in 2019, claiming that the actress had crashed into him on the ski slopes in Deer Valley, Utah, which caused him multiple injuries. He alleged that Paltrow fled the scene, but she claimed in a countersuit that Sanderson was the one who into her.

    When the highly publicized trial began on March 21, both Paltrow and Sanderson took the stand. Paltrow’s facial expressions in the courtroom were meme-worthy, as she smiled and looked stoic during various parts of the testimony. Sanderson’s attorney, Kristin VanOrman, asked Paltrow some eyebrow raising questions, at one point prying about the actress’ friendship with Taylor Swift after Paltrow requested the same amount in damages ($1) as the singer did in a 2017 trial.

    After eight days in court, a jury found Sanderson “100 percent” at fault. Paltrow was awarded $1 and the cost of her legal fees. “I wish you well,” she told Sanderson when exiting the courtroom. However, in May, the Associated Press revealed that she and Sanderson have put the matter of trial cost on hold.

    Paltrow’s trial returned to the cultural conversation months later when the U.K.’s Pleasance London Main House Cabaret announced Gwyneth Goes Skiing, a musical parody, would premiere in December.

    Celebrities Who Got the Meme Treatment in 2023 From Pedro Pascal to Barbie 192

    Related: The Biggest Celebrity Memes in 2023 That Still Have Us Rolling

    2023 was filled with wild celebrity moments and the memes that followed suit did not disappoint. Pedro Pascal went viral on more than one occasion this year, cementing himself as the king of memes. A scene from Pascal and Nicolas Cage’s 2022 film, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, got a second wind in March […]

    King Charles III Can’t Get the Cool Kids to Come to His Coronation

    The royal family invited various A-listers to perform at King Charles III’s coronation in May, but many of them reportedly turned down the offer.

    According to Rolling Stone, Adele, Harry Styles, Robbie Williams, the Spice Girls and Elton John all said no to singing for the king. While most of their reps declined to comment on the matter, John’s team confirmed that he turned down the performance because of scheduling issues.

    Royal author Omid Scobie later revealed in his book Endgame, published in November, that Taylor Swift was reportedly among the musicians who turned down the coronation offer.

    Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s 2-Hour NYC ‘Car Chase’

    In mid-May, Harry and Meghan were involved in a “near catastrophic car chase” while leaving the 2023 Women of Vision Awards in New York City with Meghan’s mom, Doria Ragland.

    The couple claimed in a statement that they were followed by “a ring of highly aggressive” photographers in a “relentless pursuit” that lasted over “two hours.” The NYPD later clarified that there “were no reported collisions, summonses, injuries or arrests in regard.”

    While Meghan and Harry’s version of events were called into question by some, a source told Us Weekly at the time that the couple “insist their account of the car chase was absolutely not exaggerated,” adding, “For people to say otherwise is so hurtful and out of line.”

    Ethan Slater’s Terrifying Flexibility Goes Viral

    After news broke in July of Ariana Grande’s relationship with Wicked costar Ethan Slater, videos of his performance in SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical went viral. Slater played the title role from 2017 to 2018, showing off his moves on stage by doing the literal splits for a song titled “No Control.” Resurfaced videos of his flexibility left fans flummoxed.

    ‘Barbenheimer’ Takes Over

    Wildest moments of the year

    Cillian Murphy, Margot Robbie
    JULIEN DE ROSA and Jung Yeon-je / AFP) / XGTY (Photo by JULIEN DE ROSA,JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images

    Barbie and Oppenheimer were both released on July 21, inspiring the “Barbenheimer” cultural phenomenon. With Barbie’s pink aesthetic and Oppenheimer’s black-and-white vibe, the two movies couldn’t be more different visually. Social media users created movie posters juxtaposing a smiling Margot Robbie as Barbie with Cillian Murphy smoking cigarettes J. Robert Oppenheimer, inventor of the atomic bomb.

    “I think it happened because both movies were good,” Murphy told Margot in conversation for Variety’s “Actors on Actors” in December. “In fact, that summer, there was a huge diversity of stuff in the cinema, and I think it just connected in a way that you or I or the studios or anybody could never have predicted.”

    Nepo Baby Discourse Peaks With Ben Platt

    New York Magazine declared 2022 as “The Year of The Nepo Baby,” but the conversation continued in 2023. However, Ben Platt made it clear that wanted to be removed from the Hollywood nepotism narrative in July.

    “We’re going to skip right over that if we can,” Platt told Rolling Stone when asked about the New York Magazine issue, which featured a caricature of him on the cover. When pushed further, his rep stepped in to add, “If we could just focus on [the movie] Theater Camp, that would be great. Thank you.”

    That was the first time a nepo baby refused to discuss their title, but some famous parents have gotten involved.

    What Happened With Scooter Braun?

    Scooter Braun’s reign over the music industry took a confusing turn in August when a series of his A-list clients — including Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato, Ariana Grande, Idina Menzel and J Balvin — decided to part ways with the manager.

    While questions arose about the mass exodus, a source told Us that Braun’s business venture as the CEO of Hybe America was the real reason.

    “All of Scooter Braun’s clients are under contract and negotiations have been going on for several months as Scooter steps into his larger role as HYBE America CEO,” the source explained in August. “People are spreading rumors based on what they know, but they are off. Scooter’s team at SB Projects are still handling both Justin and Ariana as they work through what this new structure looks like.”

    ‘The Blind Side’ Lawsuit

    The surprise legal drama between former NFL star Michael Oher — the inspiration for the 2009 movie The Blind Side — and the Tuohy family kicked off in August when Oher filed a lawsuit alleging that Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy never legally adopted him. Instead, he claimed they forced him into a conservatorship in 2004 that gave them legal control over his finances. Per court documents obtained by Us, Oher consented to the conservatorship under the guise that it “would make him a member of the Tuohy family.”

    Oher sought to end the conservatorship and receive a share of any money the Tuohy family made following the success of The Blind Side movie. (In September, a Tennessee judge ruled to end the conservatorship.)

    The Touhy family filed their own court documents in November responding to Oher’s initial filing, claiming that he was paid more than $138,000 for The Blind Side. Sean and Leigh Anne have since alleged in a December lawsuit that Oher attempted to extort more than $15 million from the family over the Oscar-winning film.

    Those Pictures of Kylie Jenner and Timothée Chalamet

    Wildest moments of the year

    Kylie Jenner and Timothee Chalamet
    Gotham/GC Images/Getty Images

    Kylie Jenner and Timothée Chalamet’s romance kicked off in April, but some fans didn’t believe it until they finally saw it. Come September, there was no shortage of PDA between Jenner and Chalamet, which quickly silenced skeptics.

    The couple were first seen locking lips while attending Beyoncé’s concert in Los Angeles. They continued to share some smooches during Haider Ackermann’s NYFW dinner and were later spotted getting cozy at the U.S. Open, kissing and holding hands in front of photographers.

    Taylor Swift Becomes the Face of the NFL

    Taylor Swift made her first appearance at a Kansas City Chiefs game in September, cheering for Travis Kelce in one of the stadium’s VIP suites. (Kelce publicly expressed romantic interest in Swift in July, and Swift later confirmed to TIME magazine that the pair “started hanging out right after that.”)

    Not only did Swift’s appearance at the game send her fans into a frenzy, but it made the NFL constantly be on Swift-Watch. Various television networks — and the league itself — faced backlash from football fans who were unhappy about the focus on Swift rather than the sport. The NFL even referenced Swift in its social media bios.

    “We frequently change our bios and profile imagery based on what’s happening in and around our games, as well as culturally,” read a statement from the organization in October after Kelce hinted on his “New Heights” podcast that the NFL was “overdoing it” with coverage of his love life . “The Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce news has been a pop cultural moment we’ve leaned into in real time, as it’s an intersection of sport and entertainment, and we’ve seen an incredible amount of positivity around the sport.”

    Taylor Swift Ruled the World in 2023

    Related: 10 Reasons Taylor Swift Was the Queen of Our Hearts in 2023

    Buda Mendes/TAS23/Getty Images Taylor Swift doesn’t celebrate her birthday until December 13, but she spent all year dominating the pop culture landscape. Already a 12-time Grammy winner, Swift’s career skyrocketed even further with the debut of her highly anticipated Eras Tour and its subsequent concert film, both of which broke records across the board. She […]

    The Name in Everybody’s Mouth Is … Jada Pinkett Smith

    Will Smith infamously asked Chris Rock to “keep my wife’s name out your f—king mouth” after slapping the comedian across the face at the 2022 Oscars, but Jada Pinkett Smith brought her name back into the conversation with the release of her 2023 memoir, Worthy. Leading up to its October publication, Jada discussed the book in depth during what felt like a nonstop press tour.

    One of the biggest bombshells from Jada was an update on her and Will’s marriage. She revealed to People that the couple had been separated for six years before the slap incident. In a separate interview with Hoda Kotb, Jada noted that the most shocking part of the ordeal was that Will referred to her as “my wife,” something he hadn’t done in a “long time.”

    Jada later raised eyebrows while referring to late rapper Tupac Shakur as her “soulmate” during an interview with RollingOut that same month. “If there is such a thing as past lives, I definitely think that Pac and I have traveled a few together,” she added.

    Victoria Beckham’s Rolls-Royce Becomes a Phenomenon

    David Beckham playfully called out his wife, Victoria Beckham, in their Beckham docuseries, which premiered in November.

    In a now-viral confessional from the first episode, Victoria referred to her family as “working class” — but David was quick to correct her, telling the former Spice Girl to “be honest” about her past.

    “I am being honest,” Victoria declared. David repeatedly asked, “What car did your dad drive you to school in?” from outside the room where Victoria was filming.

    Victoria attempted to beat around the bush, claiming it was “not a simple answer.” She eventually gave in, revealing, “OK. In the ‘80s, my dad had a Rolls-Royce.”

    Harry Styles Shaves His Head

    When Harry Styles was spotted in the crowd at a U2 concert at the Sphere in Las Vegas with rumored girlfriend Taylor Russell in November, there was only one question racing through every fan’s mind: Did he shave his head?

    Later that month, Styles’ Pleasing beauty line officially debuted his buzz cut via social media — and it didn’t go over well. Some fans joked online that they were “crying” and others hoped that the hairstyle was “a joke.” (While he’s had many hair transformations throughout his career, Styles’ curls were considered his trademark look.)

    Jon Hamm Debuts Pierced Nipples — Sort Of

    Wildest moments of the year

    Jon Hamm 
    Courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes/YouTube

    Jon Hamm’s role as Roy Tillman on Fargo season 5 showed off his impressive range … and two pierced nipples.

    “They were real nipple rings pierced through a fake nipple,” shared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! in November. “There is a prosthetic department. Magic doesn’t happen by itself. That guy’s whole job was making nipples.”

    That same month, Hamm praised the “dedicated nippleologist” who created his fake look. “I had to have some very blue latex put on my nipples, and then they cast a resoundingly lifelike pair of nipples, which they then pierced and placed over my own nipples, and we shot said nipples. … The crew doesn’t get enough credit,” he said.

    Travis Kelce’s Old Twitter Posts Resurface

    As Kelce’s relationship with Swift continued to blossom in the latter half of 2023, some fans took on the challenge of digging into the NFL player’s digital footprint — and they were delighted by what they found.

    “I just gave a squirle a peice of bread and it straight smashed all of it!!!! I had no idea they ate bread like that!! Haha #crazy,” read one resurfaced tweet from April 2011. (His brother, Jason Kelce, teased on a November episode of “New Heights” he would only be “spelling squirrel like that from now on” after Travis’ tweets went viral.)

    More typos were found in a separate post from 2010. “Def appreciate everyones birthday wishes from yesterday! Had a kind of rough day, but everything all good! Think Imma head to #Chipolte tho,” he wrote at the time.

    Travis confessed on his podcast that he was “trying to get all those tweets deleted” long before the Swifties found them. “I was just using Twitter as, like, a diary,” he explained. “I’m just out here saying nonsense.”

    The Longest Actors’ Strike in Hollywood Ends

    After nearly four months, the longest SAG-AFTRA strike in Hollywood history came to an end in November.

    The union reached a settlement with the AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers) — which includes major studios Disney, Netflix, Amazon, Warner Bros-Discovery, Apple, Universal, Sony, Paramount, ABC, NBC, FOX and CBS — and agreed on a historic pay increase and to protect actors against artificial intelligence.

    SAG-AFTRA’s strike began in July, two months after the WGA halted work over a separate labor dispute with the AMPTP. It was the first time both actors and writers walked out on work simultaneously since 1960.

    iHeartRadio Is Giving Out Redemption Era Podcasts

    Several once-shunned celebrities seemed to have iHeartRadio to thank for their redemption arcs during 2023.

    Chris Harrison, for one, launched “The Most Dramatic Podcast Ever” in January. The title is a play on his days as host of The Bachelor franchise, when Harrison would call each season “the most dramatic” ever. (Harrison left the ABC reality dating shows in February 2021 after a controversial interview with Rachel Lindsay where he defended Bachelor season 25 contestant Rachael Kirkconnell, whose resurfaced photos from an Old South-themed party sparked a conversation about the franchise’s relationship to race. Kirkconnell apologized at the time and is still dating Matt James, the first Black Bachelor.)

    Amy Robach and T.J. Holmes’ podcast — aptly titled “Amy & T.J.” — debuted on the iHeartRadio network in December. The former GMA3 anchors released the first episode of their podcast exactly one year after ABC pulled them off the air when their affair was uncovered. (Robach and Holmes were seen cozying up outside of the workplace in November 2022. The duo have since claimed they were already separated from their respective spouses, Andrew Shue and Marilee Fiebig, before their relationship turned romantic.)

    Andrew Shue and Marilee Fiebig Take a Cue From Shania Twain

    News broke in December — the same day the “Amy & T.J.” podcast was released, to be exact — that Shue and Fiebig sparked a romance of their own in the wake of their exes’ cheating scandal. (Robach and Shue were declared legally single in early 2023, while Holmes and Fiebig reached a divorce settlement in October.)

    Some fans have drawn comparisons between Shue and Fiebig’s relationship and Shania Twain’s relationship with husband Frédéric Thiébaud. Twain and Thiébaud wed in 2011, three years after their former spouses, Robert “Mutt” Lange and Marie-Anne Thiébaud, had an affair.

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