Unless you are hiding under a rock, you have heard about the brouhaha surrounding "Empire" star Jussie Smollett potentially staging his own attack. And, like me, you are muttering…WTF!!! But before you completely condemn Mr. Smollett, let me remind you that he is far from the first actor on television to pull some major shit.
That said, I thought the timing was perfect for a walk down memory lane to revisit some of the small screen’s major scandals…and the negative outcome after each. While this is ranked in no particular order, how could I not start with the then king of the cuckoos, Charlie Sheen.
Charlie Sheen is Fired From "Two and a Half Men"
Considering his status in 2011 as the highest paid actor on any current television, you might have assumed all was well for "Two and a Half Men" star Charlie Sheen. But after PR fiasco in 2010 and 2011, including trashing the Plaza Hotel in New York after a night of hard drinking, dodging rehab and ranting incoherently to the media, among other things, the production company behind the sitcom, Warner Bros., had enough.
At the time, CBS and Warner Bros. were not about to let the top-rated "Two and a Half Men" go. Ashton Kutcher stepped in as a new character and the comedy lasted another four seasons. Sheen, meanwhile, wasted no time landing a new TV comedy. But syndicated "Anger Management" was no "Two and a Half Men." And when "Two and a Half Men" finally concluded, Sheen’s Charlie Harper, who was discovered still alive, met his maker by being crushed by a crashing piano. Ouch!
Angus T. Jones is Next to Exit "Two and a Half Men"
When you are a child actor and you land on a hit TV series, your future can be permanently set financially. As the "Half" in the title, Angus T. Jones began on the comedy series at age 10 and won two Young Artist Awards and a TV Land Award for his portrayal of Jake Harper. After announcing his newfound religious path in the fall of 2012 – when he got baptized and no longer wanted to appear on "Two and a Half Men" – he encouraged people to stop watching the show.
Downgraded to a handful of episodes in season 10, Jones announced his official departure from "Two and a Half Men" on March 18, 2014. While he did make a cameo appearance on the series finale one year later, Jones has basically disappeared from the small screen. The moral of this story: Don’t "bite" the hand of the production company that "feeds" you.
Grey’s Anatomy" Star Isaiah Washington Makes a Homophobic Slur Against His Co-Star
In the third season of medical drama "Grey’s Anatomy," Isaiah Washington made the headlines by using a homophobic slur against co-star T.R. Knight during a confrontation with Patrick Dempsey. Initially, Washington issued a statement, apologizing for his "unfortunate use of words during the recent incident on-set." But the controversy later surfaced when Washington joked, "I love gays. I wanted to be gay. Please let me be gay," at a red carpet interview at the Golden Globes in January 2007. And, in June of that year, ABC announced it had decided not to renew Washington's contract.
Said Washington in a statement: "I apologized and showed my remorse for what I said and for the pain I caused anyone. If a black man can't get forgiveness in this country, when so many other people like Robert Downey Jr. and the governor of California get second and third chances... I think that says a lot about race and this country where we stand."
While Washington did resurface in USA drama "The 100," it was no "Grey’s Anatomy" and his career has never been the same since exiting.
Thomas Gibson Throws a Temper Tantrum and Loses His Gig
Given his luck, you might have assumed that roles on three successful primetime series – medical drama "Chicago Hope," sitcom "Dharma & Greg" and current "Criminal Minds" – would have made Thomas Gibson, well, pretty damn satisfied. However, Gibson – who had already been in anger management - apparently kicked a "Criminal Minds" writer in the shins during a dispute over a season 12 script. The result was a quick dismissal, barely any work ever since, and a permanently tarnished reputation.
CeeLo Green Quits NBC’s "The Voice" Before the Network Issues the Expected Pink Slip
In September 2014, original "The Coach" coach CeeLo Green pled no contest to a felony drug charge stemming from a 2012 incident during which he allegedly gave ecstasy to a 33-year-old woman. She also claimed that he raped her, but Green avoided that charge due to lack of evidence, later allegedly tweeting that it’s not rape if the woman is unconscious.
Given the immediate backlash, Green deleted his Twitter account. Then he was sentenced to three years probation and 45 days of community service for the drug charge. And rumors of a pending termination by NBC began to circulate. While publicly announcing his departure was, no doubt, a ploy by Green’s PR team, his bizarrely inappropriate tweet has never been forgotten, particularly in the current world of the #MeToo movement.
Martin Lawrence Allegedly Misbehaves
Years before the #MeToo movement (two decades, actually), Tisha Campbell filed a lawsuit against her "Martin" co-star Martin Lawrence. The year was 1997, which was the fifth – and final – season of the Fox sitcom, and Campbell sued Lawrence and the show’s producers for sexual harassment and verbal and physical assaults. Lawrence, at the time, was a red-hot comedian with his own hit TV series, and he was no stranger to legal issues.
In July 1995, Lawrence lashed out in a violent rage while on set filming "A Thin Line Between Love and Hate." In May 1996, he became increasingly erratic and was arrested in the middle of an intersection on Ventura Boulevard in Los Angeles. And, in March 1997, he was arrested after punching a man in a Hollywood nightclub.
While Lawrence has remained relatively active over the years, memories of the success of "Martin" are permanently scarred by the Tisha Campbell lawsuit.
Shannen Doherty is Fired From Two Hit Series
After four tumultuous seasons on Fox high school drama "Beverly Hills, 90210," bad girl Shannen Doherty, who reportedly verbally sparred with a number of co-stars, was given her walking papers in 1994. Miraculously, producer Aaron Spelling gave Doherty another chance four years later, this time on fantasy drama "Charmed." But Doherty could not get along with co-star Alyssa Milano, who threatened to leave if she was not let go. In the final episode of "Charmed" in season three, Doherty’s character is attacked and left for dead. That was her last appearance.
While Doherty did resurrect her Brenda Walsh character from "Beverly Hills, 90210" in a series of guest appearances on the remake "90210" 10 years ago, it was too little too late. And, no… she will not be appearing on the upcoming limited revival of the original series on Fox.
Janet Hubert Clashes Will Will Smith and She is Tossed Out of Bel-Air
Naturally, there are two sides to every story. But when actress Janet Hubert had a major, and highly publicized, falling out with "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" star Will Smith in 1993, Daphne Maxwell Reid took over her role on the popular NBC sitcom. Hubert, who believed Smith was behind her departure, accused the network of trying to reduce her episode count and her salary. When she refused, out she went. Smith, in contrast, blamed Hubert’s negative attitude for her firing.
Regardless of who is telling the truth, the bottom line is to never clash with any TV series star, particularly one like Will Smith who was up and coming. You never win.
Suzanne Somers is Fired From "Three’s Company"
Given the immediate success of ABC’s "Three’s Company" in 1977, Suzanne Somers went from a string of obscure TV and film appearances (and a nude pictorial in Playboy) to the co-star of a trendy and top-rated drama. But Somers was not the center of this sexually spicy laugh-fest; it was John Ritter. And when Somers, at the hands of her manager/husband Alan Hamel, staged a walkout early in season five, demanding a pay raise from $40,000 to $150,000 per episode and 10 percent ownership of the show’s profits, she was reduced to a cameo appearance at the end of each episode until she was ultimately let go.
After a deal with CBS fell through, Somers fled to Las Vegas for her own musical show and extraordinary success for the Thighmaster in a series of infomercials (not to mention other eventual products). She even found long-term work on ABC in TGIF sitcom "Step By Step." But "The Brady Bunch" imitator "Step By Step" paled in comparison to "Three’s Company" and Somers will always be the poster child to how not to ask for a raise.
Jack Paar Walks Off "The Tonight Show"
Then the king of late night, Jack Paar was none too happy when NBC censors in 1960 cut his joke about a water closet. His response was to walk off the show in the middle of a telecast, stating: "There must be a better way of making a living than this." Paar did return one month later and acted as if nothing happened, but his outburst only solidified his then reputation for being difficult.
Two years after the walkout, Paar left again, for good, and his replacement was the legendary Johnny Carson. Jack Paar who?
Arthur Godfrey Axes Julius La Rose and Implodes His Career
Once a beloved and folksy TV show host in the early days of the medium, Arthur Godfrey is the only personality in television history to have two top-rated programs on air simultaneously ("Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts" and variety series "Arthur Godfrey and His Friends"). His origins were in radio and he seamlessly transitioned to television in the 1950s. But in what is considered a career blunder of epic proportions, Godfrey’s decision to fire young singer Julius La Rosa live on the radio on October 19, 1953 resulted in an immediate backlash.
The unexpected turn of events alienated many among Godfrey’s fan base. Not even a press conference explaining his actions could stop the immediate downward spiral. Ultimately, the media turned on Godfrey, as did much of his audience, and this once pioneer in the broadcasting medium is remembered primarily for his bad temper and terrible misjudgment.