As this year comes to a close, ET is looking back on the biggest stories that not just spurred Hollywood into action, but captured the world's attention.
No one could escape the coronavirus pandemic this year, which forced countries into lockdowns and quarantine for months. Aside from the devastating death toll, the economy was hit hard, and the entertainment industry wasn't immune. Production on big budget television shows and films were shut down and blockbusters like Black Widow and Wonder Woman 1984 were among the films that saw their original release dates come and go. All major festivals were canceled, and major amusement parks like Disneyland were also shut down.
But no story displayed just how heartbreaking the effects of the pandemic has been than the death of Broadway star Nick Cordero. His now widow, Amanda Kloots, shared in April that he was unconscious in the ICU after being diagnosed with pneumonia the week prior, and that they were waiting on the results of a coronavirus test. Several days later, she revealed that the test had returned positive.
Kloots continued to emotionally share the ups and downs of Cordero's coronavirus battle with her Instagram followers and received support from millions of people around the world. But on July 5, she announced that Cordero had died after numerous health complications at just 41 years old. Aside from Kloots, Cordero is also survived by their 1-year-old son, Elvis.
"God has another angel in heaven now," Kloots wrote. "My darling husband passed away this morning. He was surrounded in love by his family, singing and praying as he gently left this earth. I am in disbelief and hurting everywhere. My heart is broken as I cannot imagine our lives without him. Nick was such a bright light. He was everyone's friend, loved to listen, help and especially talk. He was an incredible actor and musician. He loved his family and loved being a father and husband. Elvis and I will miss him in everything we do, everyday."
"You know, I still can't get my head around it," Rodriguez said. "It's such a cruel thing. Timing never been worse, I mean, 41. Here's a guy that was entering the prime of his life, Gianna, who I knew well, Vanessa and his whole family, you know, but also to mention the other victims on the helicopter."
"But he's in a better place and he's looking over us and he'd want us to go on and have that mamba mentality," he continued.
Vanessa broke down in tears when she talked about Kobe and Gianna dying together. Kobe is also survived by his daughters, 17-year-old Natalia, 4-year-old Bianka and 1-year-old Capri.
"God knew they couldn't be on this earth without each other," Vanessa said of the special bond Gianna and Kobe shared. "He had to bring them home to heaven together. Babe, you take care of our Gigi. I got Natalia, Bianka and Capri. We're still the best team. We love and miss you boo-boo and Gigi. May you both rest in peace and have fun in heaven until we meet again. We love and miss you forever and always."
"Well, you know, I'm a real friend, that's what friends do," she said about her support. "You know, you don't dip out on your friends when it gets really hard. And she's going through something that is unimaginable, that, you know, I can't even fathom what that feels like. So, just to be a friend and be there to make her laugh when she needs to, cry when she needs to, is a beautiful thing."
"She's the strongest woman I know, I tell her all the time," she continued.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry exit the royal family:
"After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution," their statement on Instagram read. "We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen. It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment. We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages."
"You can't point fingers when it comes to unconscious bias, but once you realize or you feel a little bit uncomfortable, then the onus is on you to go out and educate yourself because ignorance is no longer an excuse," he said. "Having the upbringing and education I had, I had no idea what it was, I had no idea it existed. It took me many, many years to realize it, especially then living a day or a week in my wife's shoes."
Meanwhile, amid momentous change, it's definitely been a trying year for both Meghan and Harry. In November, Meghan revealed in an op-ed for The New York Times that she suffered a miscarriage in July. She shared that amid her and Harry's own loss, they learned how common miscarriages are, which prompted her to speak out in an effort to encourage others to do the same.
"Losing a child means carrying an almost unbearable grief, experienced by many but talked about by few," she wrote. "... Yet despite the staggering commonality of this pain, the conversation remains taboo, riddled with (unwarranted) shame, and perpetuating a cycle of solitary mourning. ... We have learned that when people ask how any of us are doing, and when they really listen to the answer, with an open heart and mind, the load of grief often becomes lighter -- for all of us. In being invited to share our pain, together we take the first steps toward healing."
The death of George Floyd:
America was rocked by the tragic death of Floyd, a 46-year-old Minneapolis man who lost his life on Memorial Day after former police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for over eight minutes when he was arrested for suspicion of forgery outside a deli. Following his disturbing death, which was videotaped by a bystander and went viral, protests erupted nationwide as well as in numerous countries around the world to stop police brutality and systemic racism.
"I've been pushing forward as a leader for the past 20 years helping out my community and doing things that I have to do, but I can also be honest and tell you part of the reason that I was at George Floyd's memorial is because I want to learn," he said. "I want to hear other perspectives. I want to talk to different people and, you know, not only was I paying my respects, but even having conversations with the family and them helping us stay strong and us helping them stay strong, and I think that's what this is, what this is all about -- everyone coming together to continue to fight this fight of racial injustice. And what's crazy is that we have everyone's ear right now and there are very slow changes happening right now, and we gotta continue to keep the pressure on everybody right now so that, you know, we continue to make changes."
Stars also rallied after the death of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor, who was killed by Louisville Metro Police on March 13. She and boyfriend Kenneth Walker were in their own home when police made a late-night raid on the wrong address, looking for someone who had been taken into police custody hours earlier. Taylor was shot eight times.
Former Louisville Metro Police Department Detective Brett Hankison, who was fired after Taylor's death, was charged in September with three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment by the grand jury. The charges related to Hankison shooting into neighboring apartments during the incident -- not Taylor's death itself -- and no other officers were charged. The decision sparked yet another wave of protests, and clearly, issues of social justice are still very much in the forefront as we head in 2021.
Beyonce drops her stunning Black Is King:
Beyonce definitely didn't disappoint when she released her visual album, Black Is King, on Disney+ in July. The film, which beautifully celebrates African cultures and roots, featured cameos by Naomi Campbell, Lupita Nyong'o, JAY-Z, Kelly Rowland, Pharrell Williams and more. Never one to overlook details, Beyonce worked with her longtime stylist, Zerina Akers, to create a number of jaw-dropping looks that perfectly encapsulated the visual album's theme of afrofuturism, from glistening bodysuits to intricate accessories.
"After stoking the fires of white supremacy and racism your entire presidency, you have the nerve to feign moral superiority before threatening violence?" she wrote. "'When the looting starts the shooting starts'??? We will vote you out in November. @realdonaldtrump."
"We have won with the most votes ever cast for a presidential ticket in the history of this nation -- 74 million," he said in a speech. "I am humbled by the trust and confidence you have placed in me. I pledge to be a President who seeks not to divide, but to unify. Who doesn't see Red and Blue states, but a United States. And who will work with all my heart to win the confidence of the whole people. For that is what America is about: The people. And that is what our administration will be about."
Of course, the election drama isn't over. Trump has refused to concede the 2020 presidential election and claimed that Biden and the Democrats were "trying to steal an election" as well as "trying to rig an election." In November, Stephen Colbert got emotional as he spoke about Trump's claims on The Late Show.
"We all knew he would do this. What I didn't know is that it would hurt so much," Colbert said of the president's reaction. "I didn't expect this to break my heart. For him to cast a dark shadow on our most sacred right from the briefing room in the White House, our house, not his. That is devastating."
"This is heartbreaking for the same reason that I didn't want him to get COVID, certainly why I want him to survive because he is the President of the United States," he continued. "That office means something and that office should have some shred of decency."
Naya Rivera dead at 33:
Another shocking death this year was the death of Rivera at just 33 years old. The Ventura County Sheriff's Office confirmed on July 13 that they recovered the actress' body from Lake Piru in the Los Padres National Forest in Ventura County, California, after she went missing on the afternoon of July 8 after renting a boat with her 4-year-old son, Josey. Josey was found in the boat by himself, and told authorities that he and Rivera were swimming, but she never got back into the boat.
During a news conference, Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said Rivera mustered enough energy to save her son, but couldn't save herself. Police believe Rivera disappeared in "mid-afternoon" when "there are a lot of currents on the lake."
"We know from speaking with her son, that he and Naya swam in the lake together at some point during their journey," Ayub said. "It was during that time that her son described being helped into the boat by Naya, who boosted him onto the deck from behind. He told investigators that he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water."
"The idea perhaps being that the boat started drifting, it was unanchored, and that she mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat, but not enough to save herself," he continued.
In November, Rivera's ex-husband and father of Josey, Ryan Dorsey, filed a lawsuit on behalf of their son. In documents obtained by ET, Josey is suing Ventura County, California, United Water Conservation District and Ventura County's Parks and Recreation Management for "wrongful death and negligent infliction of emotional distress." The complaint alleges that Rivera's death was preventable and that the boat that Naya and Josey were in at Lake Piru did not comply with Coast Guard safety standards.
"It is with immeasurable grief that we confirm the passing of Chadwick Boseman," the statement posted on his Instagram read. "Chadwick was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, and battled with it these last four years as it progressed to stage IV."
"A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much," the statement continued. "From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson's Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and several more, all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy. It was the honor of his career to bring King T'Challa to life in Black Panther. He died in his home, with his wife and family by his side."
"I remember his smile and his gentle way," she said. "I remember his unending curiosity and his love of study, studying many things all of the time. When I look back on his body of film work, and I have been able to see quite a bit of it in these last few weeks, it never ceases to amaze me how very different he is in each and every role. And the differences are subtle. They are not sweet rolled, they are not manipulated, they are not contrived. He presents a real person and persona in every character he plays."
She later recalled how happy he was about helping others.
"When he came to New York, after graduating from Howard University, one day he called me all excited, 'Oh, Ms. Rashad, you will never guess what I am doing,'" she recalled, noting that she initially thought he'd landed a big Broadway gig. "You know what he was doing? He was working with young people at the library and he was excited about it. That's who Chadwick was."
"I said, 'I'll do it if I'm compensated in the right way.' And Chadwick ended up donating some of his salary to get me to the number that I had asked for," she revealed. "He said that that was what I deserved to be paid."
Miller called the gesture the "most astounding thing" she'd ever encountered.
"That kind of thing just doesn't happen. He said, 'You're getting paid what you deserve, and what you're worth.' It's just unfathomable to imagine another man in that town behaving that graciously or respectfully," the actress said. "In the aftermath of this I've told other male actor friends of mine that story and they all go very, very quiet and go home and probably have to sit and think about things for a while. But there was no showiness, it was, 'Of course I'll get you to that number, because that's what you should be paid.'"
"Normally the prognosis for this is not very encouraging, but I'm going to fight this, and I'm going to keep working," Trebek said at the time in a video. "And with the love and support from my family and friends, and with the help of your prayers also, I plan to beat the low survival rates statistics for this disease."
In a Thanksgiving message recorded prior to his death, Trebek encouraged kindness, and told people to "keep the faith" amid tough times. Jeopardy! released the 23-second clip nearly four weeks after Trebek's death on Nov. 8.
"Happy Thanksgiving, ladies and gentlemen. You know, in spite of what America and the rest of the world is experiencing right now, there are many reasons to be thankful," the beloved host said in the video. "There are more and more people extending helpful hands to do a kindness to their neighbors, and that's a good thing."
"Keep the faith," he added. "We're gonna get through all of this and we will be a better society because of it."
Lori Loughlin goes to jail:
Loughlin's highly publicized college admissions scandal drama came to a conclusion this year after she was sentenced to two months in prison, two years of supervised release, a fine of $150,000 and 100 hours of community service in August. Loughlin's sentencing came just a few hours after her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, was sentenced to five months in prison, two years of supervised release, a fine of $250,000 and 250 hours of community service for his involvement in the scandal.
Loughlin and Giannulli paid $500,000 in bribes to get their daughters, 22-year-old Isabella and 21-year-old Olivia Jade, admitted to the University of Southern California as recruits for the crew team, though neither of them had ever participated in the sport. They initially pleaded not guilty to all charges leveled against them, claiming their payments were donations to the school and not bribes.
Some weren't happy with Loughlin's sentencing, including LeBron James. The NBA superstar Instagrammed a screenshot of an article with the headline, "Lori Loughlin Will Get to Serve Her Two-Month Prison Sentence at the Prison of Her Choice," and expressed his disbelief.
"Of her what!!??? I'm laughing cause sometimes you have to just to stop from crying! Don't make no damn sense to me," he wrote. "We just want the same treatment if committed of [the] same crime that's all. Is that asking for too much??? Let me guess, it is huh. Yeah I know!!"
"We'll just keep pushing forward and not expecting the handouts!" he added. "STRONG, BLACK & POWERFUL!"
Olivia Jade appeared on Red Table Talk on Dec. 8 and made no excuses for her and her parents' actions.
"I think that what hasn't been super public is that there is no justifying or excusing what happened," she said bluntly. "Because what happened was wrong and I think every single person in my family can be like, 'That was messed up, that was a big mistake.' But I think what is so important to me is to learn from the mistake, not to now be shamed and punished and never given a second chance, because I am 21. I feel like I deserve a second chance to redeem myself, to show I have grown."
"That's why it's hard because I'm not trying to come off like ... I am not trying to victimize myself," she continued. "I don't want pity, I don't deserve pity. We messed up. I just want a second chance to be like, I recognize I messed up and for so long I wasn't able to talk about this because of the legalities behind it. I never got to say I am really sorry that this happened or I really own that this was a big mess up on everybody's part. But I think everybody feels that way in my family right now."
.'The Ellen DeGeneres Show' faces allegations of having a toxic work environment:
In July, Warner Bros. Television sent an internal memo informing staffers that WarnerMedia would be seeking the services of an independent third-party firm that would interview current and former employees about their experiences behind the scenes on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. The internal inquest came after one current and 10 former employees anonymously spoke with BuzzFeed News about their experience working on the show in an article published July 16. Among the claims were mentions of being fired after taking medical leave or bereavement days, with others claiming they were told not to speak to DeGeneres if she was in the office.
Later that month, Everybody Loves Raymond star Brad Garrett tweeted, "Sorry but it comes from the top @TheEllenShow. Know more than one who were treated horribly by her. Common knowledge."
"Ellen is obviously, like, you know, she promotes kindness but she is quite literally kind," he said. "Incredibly generous, but also like, still down -- and I'm not saying down-to-earth like the cliché, 'Oh, she's so, like, grounded.' No, but as in a real person, like, when the cameras go off and things like that."
"She's up in a high place and people love to take cracks when they got time, but it's just like, I don't say nothin' to them," he also said about those questioning her character. "I know my experiences. I have personally seen all the love she puts in the world, so, it's just like, people just got time, you know? People got time."
During the season 18 premiere of The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Sept. 21, DeGeneres addressed her "horrible summer" and took responsibility for everything that went on at her talk show. A spokesperson for Warner Bros. also confirmed to ET that three top producers at the show -- executive producers Ed Glavin and Kevin Leman and co-executive producer Jonathan Norman -- parted ways with the program amid their investigation.
"As you may have heard, this summer there were allegations of a toxic work environment at our show, and then there was an investigation," she said. "I learned that things happened here that never should have happened. I take that very seriously and I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected. I know that I'm in a position of privilege and power, and I realize that with that comes responsibility and I take responsibility for what happens at my show. This is The Ellen DeGeneres Show, I am Ellen DeGeneres."
DeGeneres said that she and her staff "had a lot of conversations over the last few weeks about our show, our workplace, and what we want for the future," adding that "necessary changes" had been made and that "a new chapter" has begun. The host also addressed allegations that she isn't who she appears to be on television.
"The truth is, I am that person that you see on TV. I am also a lot of other things. Sometimes I get sad, I get mad, I get anxious, I get frustrated, I get impatient, and I am working on all of that," she said. "I am a work in progress. I am especially working on the impatience thing. It's not going well because it's not happening fast enough. I will tell you that. I've played a straight woman in movies, so I'm a pretty good actress. But I don't think I'm that good that I could come out here every day for 17 years and fool you."
DeGenreres said she was learning from the scandal.
"This is me. And my intention is to always be the best person I can be," she said. "And if I've ever let someone down, if I ever hurt their feelings, I am so sorry for that. If that's ever the case I have let myself down and I have hurt myself as well, because I always try to grow as a person. I look at everything that comes into my life as an opportunity to learn."
Jada Pinkett Smith says she had an 'entanglement' with August Alsina:
"I actually sat down with Will and had a conversation," August claimed. "Due to the transformation from their marriage to [a] life partnership that they have spoken on several times, and not involving romanticism, he gave me his blessing."
August was clearly emotional as he spoke about Jada.
"I truly and really, really deeply loved, and have a ton of love for her," he said. "I devoted myself to it, I gave my full self to it. So much so to the point that I can die right now and be OK with knowing that I truly gave myself to somebody. I really loved the person that I experienced that [with] and know what [that feels] like."
"I love these people. I really, genuinely do," he added, seemingly speaking about the entire Smith family. "I've never been in love in that kind of a way. So much so that being intertwined in that way -- walking away from it butchered me. I’m shakin' right now because it almost killed me. Not almost; It did. It pushed me into being another person, my newer self. It. Broke. Me. Down."
Jada then discussed his headline-making comments on an episode of her Facebook Watch show, Red Table Talk, which featured none other than Will. Jada acknowledged she had a past relationship with August that took place years ago when she and Will were separated, calling her relationship with the singer an "entanglement."
"Yes, it was a relationship, absolutely," she said when Will pressed her about her choice of word.
"I just wanted to feel good, it had been so long since I felt good," she also explained about that particular time in her life. "And it was really a joy to just help heal someone. I think that has a lot to do with my co-dependency."
Jada and Will stressed that there have never been secrets in their marriage, and Jada said she didn't consider what she did a "transgression," noting that she learned so much from it. As for she and Will, they said they continue to have "unconditional love" for one another.
"I want to put it on the table. I'm so proud of you. To be able to see you and Dad do that, for me, that was like, 'OK, that's the real deal,'" Willow told her mother. "That's real love."
Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston reunite:
It's the reunion we were all waiting for. Pitt and Aniston -- who divorced in 2005 after five years of marriage -- came face to face backstage at the 2020 Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles in January, after having both won in their categories. Aniston won Outstanding Female in a Drama Series for her role on The Morning Show, while Pitt took home Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role for his part in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The occasion marked the first time the former couple had been photographed together in over a decade, and they appeared to be in great spirits as they hugged and greeted one another.
"Brad and Jen started talking after their relationships ended. They have seen each other but only occasionally and casually," the source said. "Jen frequently gets photographed, so she was conscious of avoiding Brad because, while she has always adored him, she never wanted to start any rumors."
"She didn't realize how huge of a reaction the public would have to them," the source added. "They both have laughed a bit about it."
Aniston and Pitt ended up reuniting again in September when they both participated in Dane Cook's Feelin' A-Live, a virtual live table read of Fast Times at Ridgemont High. At the start of the reading, Pitt greeted his ex-wife, saying, "Hi Aniston." She replied, "Hi Pitt. How you doing honey?"
The two ended up playing the characters Linda and Brad, respectively, and fans again couldn't handle it when the two read a love scene together. The moment had even Julia Roberts, who participated in the table read, giggling.