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The Year in Entertainment 2021: ‘Rust,’ Armie Hammer, and more of the biggest scandals


2021 was a wild ride for many for obvious reasons, but what were the biggest entertainment controversies that made headlines over the past year?

The most recent was the deadly shooting on the set of Alec Baldwin‘s Western film, Rust. Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed and director Joel Souza was injured in the October 21 incident, in which Baldwin fired his Colt revolver in the direction of both during a rehearsal.  Investigators said a live round was loaded in the pistol that Baldwin claimed he was assured was “cold,” or safe.  The investigation into the fatal shooting continues.

Dave Chappelle‘s reputation took a hit after critics claimed his new Netflix special, The Closer, contained “transphobic” content. Netflix employees staged a virtual walkout on October 20 after Netflix head Ted Sarandos defended the special and Chappelle as freedom of speech.  Sarandos later apologized.  Some film festivals disinvited Chappelle from screening his Untitled documentary because of the controversy.  The comedian never apologized but later said he was willing to meet members of the trans community who “watched my special from beginning to end.”

Jeopardy! found itself in hot water when it tapped executive producer Mike Richards to succeed the late Alex Trebek on August 11. Shortly after, controversial remarks he made on The Randumb Show, a podcast he hosted from 2013 to 2014, resurfaced, among other concerning allegations. Richards stepped down on August 20 following the intense public backlash.

Armie Hammer was dropped by his agent and was booted from numerous TV and movie projects after sexual abuse and misconduct allegations surfaced against him earlier this year. Hammer denied the accusations and checked into a Florida treatment facility for drug, alcohol, and sex issues on May 31. He left the facility in December.

And, lastly, the Golden Globes.  A February Los Angeles Times exposé ignited a racial controversy after finding the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the organization that presents the award show, hadn’t included a single Black member in its voting body for some 20 years. Although  the HFPA announced reforms, the damage was done.  Hollywood shunned the organization, Tom Cruise returned his three trophies in protest, and the HFPA’s  longtime broadcast partner, NBC, cut all ties, leaving it without a broadcast outlet for the upcoming January 9 ceremony.

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