The Top 9 Celebrity News Stories of 2021: From Bennifer to Britney Spears

From joyous romantic reunions to heartbreaking tragedies, let's look back at the biggest headlines of the year.

It's safe to say 2021 has been a big year for celebrity news. While there have been a few shocking heartbreaking tragedies that instantly come to mind, there have been some noteworthy bright spots as well. From joyous romantic reunions to a royal liberation, let's look back at the biggest headlines of the year.

Britney Spears' Conservatorship Is Terminated After 13 Years:


On Nov. 12, Britney Spears won her long legal battle to end her 13-year conservatorship. The 40-year-old pop star's father, Jamie Spears, had controlled her career and finances since 2008 after she purportedly struggled with mental health issues and was hospitalized, which she had been fighting against for years. Renewed interest in the case came after the #FreeBritney movement went viral and spurred documentaries this year that examined her conservatorship as well as the way she was treated by the media in the past, including the headline-making The New York Times Presents Framing Britney Spears. Spears received an outpouring of support from fans as well as fellow celebrities, and even an apology from her ex-boyfriend, Justin Timberlake.

Perhaps most shocking was Spears' explosive testimony in June, when she emotionally shared in her own words the struggles she's experienced under the conservatorship. Spears claimed she was put on lithium, was "traumatized" in rehab, and that under the conservatorship, was not allowed to get married or have kids with longtime love Sam Asghari.

"I've lied and told the whole world I'm OK, and I'm happy. It's a lie," she said, emotionally addressing the judge. "I thought, just maybe if I said that enough, maybe I might become happy because I've been in denial. I've been in shock. I am traumatized. You know, fake it till you make it. But now I'm telling you the truth, OK. I'm not happy. I can't sleep. I'm so angry, it's insane and I'm depressed. I cry every day."

Spears also spoke out against her father, noting that he as well as "anyone involved in this conservatorship and my management, who played a huge role in punishing me when I said, 'No ma'am,' they should be in jail." 

Following the official ruling of her conservatorship ending on Nov. 12, the pop star reacted by sharing a video on social media of the crowds gathered outside the courthouse, cheering for her newfound freedom.

"Good God I love my fans so much it's crazy!!!" she tweeted. "I think I'm gonna cry the rest of the day!!!! Best day ever … praise the Lord … can I get an Amen???? #FreedBritney."

Spears got engaged to Asghari in September. The couple recently celebrated her 40th birthday with a romantic getaway.

"Britney feels like this is the first year in a very long time that she actually has a reason to celebrate her birthday," a source told ET. "She feels like her 40th birthday is a huge milestone, not only in the fact that she is getting older and wiser, but also because she is finally living and enjoying life, along with all the new experiences it has to offer."

A source also told ET that Spears was looking forward to a career comeback in 2022, which will finally be on her terms.

"Britney is actively eyeing different brand deals and entertainment opportunities," the source said. "Several brands have reached out to her with amazing offers and nothing is off the table. She's excited to put her businesswoman hat on in the new year and explore different ventures that weren’t available to her in the past."

"Britney is her own decision maker now and she wants to expand her professional horizons," the source continued. "She's just waiting for the right time for everything."

Meghan Markle Spills the Royal Tea During Sit-Down With Oprah Winfrey:


It was the interview seen around the world. The Duchess of Sussex sat down for a candid interview with Oprah Winfrey and went into detail about her issues with the royal family in a special that aired in March on CBS.

Among the revelations was that she was at one point suicidal while pregnant with her and husband Prince Harry's son, Archie, and that someone from "the institution" discouraged her from getting help. She also alleged that contrary to media reports, it was her sister-in-law, Kate Middleton, that made her cry before her wedding to Harry after an issue about flower girl dresses and not the other way around, though Kate had since apologized and Meghan held no grudges.

Perhaps most shockingly, she said a member of Harry's family came to him with "concerns and conversations about how dark [Archie's] skin might be when he's born."

In the book Brothers and Wives: Inside the Private Lives of William, Kate, Harry and Meghan, author Christopher Andersen claimed that it was Prince Charles who asked about the complexion of his son, though Charles hit back in a Palace statement.

"This is fiction and not worth further comment," a Palace representative told multiple media outlets.

Harry also talked about family issues with both his dad and his older brother, Prince William, during the special. He alleged that Charles had stopped taking his phone calls and insisted that he didn't blindside anyone with his royal exit, and that his communication with his only sibling was complicated.

"I love William to bits. He's my brother. We've been through hell together," Harry said about his relationship with William, which has reportedly been strained in recent years. "I mean, we have a shared experience. But we're on different paths." 

"The relationship [with William] is space at the moment. Time heals all things," he added.

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez Rekindle Their Romance:

Steve Granitz/FilmMagic

Bennifer 2.0 was the surprise reunion we didn't know we needed. Fans were put into a frenzy this year after Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez rekindled their romance after breaking off their engagement back in 2004.

A source told ET in March that Affleck made the first move after her split from Alex Rodriguez.

"Ben has always had an affinity for Jennifer and was the one who initially started pursuing her and making an effort to reconnect, romantically speaking," the source said. "He wanted to explore things with her beyond a friendship and they've both really been enjoying spending time together."

The two haven't been shy about showing PDA and went Instagram official in July, with a romantic photo of them sharing a kiss while celebrating her 52nd birthday.

They later made a show-stopping appearance when they walked the red carpet together at the The Last Duel premiere at the Venice Film Festival in Italy in September, their first public appearance together in 18 years. 

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

In an interview with WSJ. Magazine, Affleck said their renewed relationship was "definitely beautiful to me."

"One of the things I really value across all facets of my life now is that it was handled in a way that reflected that," he said of his second chance with Lopez. "My life now reflects not just the person that I want to be, but the person that I really feel like I am -- which is not perfect, but somebody who tries very hard and cares very much about being honest and authentic and accountable."

"It’s hard to say who benefits more, without going into gossipy detail," he continued. "I could just say that I feel great about being very healthy. And it is a good story. It’s a great story. And, you know, maybe one day I’ll tell it. I’ll write it all out. And then I’ll light it on fire."

Alec Baldwin Discharges Gun in Fatal Rust Shooting:

Getty / Jim Weber / Santa Fe Ne Mexican

In October, a tragic incident occurred on the set of the film Rust when Alec Baldwin discharged a gun accidentally, shooting and killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injuring the film's director, Joel Souza. 

In a sit-down interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, Baldwin talked about the devastating incident. Baldwin said he was told by the assistant director, Dave Halls, that the gun was "cold," meaning it did not contain ammunition that could be discharged -- including blank rounds. With that in mind, Baldwin claimed it was Hutchins who directed him where to point the gun to get the angle she wanted to film.

"I let go of the hammer of the gun, and the gun goes off," Baldwin recalled, sharing that in past productions, he had been told by prop masters and armorers to not check the gun or manipulate the firearm after it had already been checked and deemed safe. "In the 40 years I've been in this business up until that day, I've never had a problem."

Baldwin said he's been haunted by the incident and hadn't slept in weeks. He also said that while he felt terrible about Hutchins' death, he doesn't feel guilt because he doesn't believe it was truly his fault.

"Someone is responsible for what happened, but I know it's not me," he stated. "I might have killed myself if I thought I was responsible, and I don't say that lightly."

Kim Kardashian Files for Divorce From Kanye West:

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After six years of marriage, Kim Kardashian filed for divorce from Kanye West in February. The move came after their public struggles following West's failed presidency run.

"Kim filing for divorce from Kanye is just a formal part of the process," a source told ET at the time. "The couple has been done for a while and have been amicable for a while. At the end of the day, Kanye and Kim love each other immensely but knew it was time to call it quits. Their children are their number one priority and no matter what will maintain a positive relationship for them."

While West was briefly linked to supermodel Irina Shayk, 41-year-old Kardashian shocked fans in November with a new romance with comedian Pete Davidson after they were snapped holding hands while riding a roller coaster at Knotts' Scary Farm. Since then, there have been multiple sightings of the two together.

"Kim and Pete are dating and having a great time together," a source told ET. "Pete is a romantic and goes out of his way to make Kim feel special. Kim thinks Pete is hysterical and he's constantly making her laugh, but they also have been connecting on a deeper level." 

"Pete and Kim are 100 percent dating and are very into each other. They are pretty much inseparable and very affectionate when they're together," a second source added. "They are supportive of each other's projects and are really taking an interest in what the other is passionate about. Pete has been in a great mood since he and Kim got together and he is very calm, chill and easy to get along with."

Following her sightings with 28-year-old Davidson, 44-year-old West publicly said he wanted Kardashian back during his appearance on Drink Champs and referred to her as his "wife."

"'Cause she's still my wife, it ain't no paperwork," he noted. "And I ain't ever seen the papers. We're not even divorced. 'Cause that ain't no joke to me." 

"My kids want their parents to stay together. I want us to be together," he continued. "But if you look at the media, that's not what they're promoting. They want it to be a new wedding, a new episode, a new TV show. And then they have people all around in my wife's ear. That publicist, I don't f**k with her. ... I want to get my family back together. I'm assuming this interview isn't that helpful to that. That's my family, Hulu!"

Later that month, West attended the Los Angeles Mission's Annual Thanksgiving event on Skid Row and acknowledged he made "mistakes" in his marriage.

"The narrative God wants is to see that we can be redeemed in all these relationships. We've made mistakes. I've made mistakes. I've publicly done things that were not acceptable as a husband," he said in video shared by Page Six. "But ... I'm here to change the narrative. If the enemy can separate Kimye, there's going to be millions of families that feel like that separation is OK… but when God brings Kimye together, there's going to be millions of families that are going to be influenced to see that they can overcome the work of the separation."

Still, in December, Kardashian filed to be declared legally single. In court documents obtained by ET, she stated that her relationship with West is unsalvageable and that no amount of counseling could fix their marriage.

Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker Get Engaged:

Jeff Kravitz/MTV VMAs 2021/Getty Images for MTV/ViacomCBS

Kim wasn't the only Kardashian making news this year with her relationship. Her older sister, Kourtney Kardashian, started dating her longtime friend and neighbor, drummer Travis Barker, this year, beginning a whirlwind romance that ended in an engagement.

Kardashian and Barker started dating in January and the romance has been intense from the start. The two made it no secret how enamored they were with one another, with Barker getting a tattoo of Kardashian's name on his chest in April and also sharing a video of her sucking his thumb.

And the PDA appeared to get to Kardashian's ex and the father of her three children, Scott Disick, as a scandal erupted in August when her other ex, Younes Bendjima, called Disick out on Instagram for allegedly DM'ing him to shade Kardashian's behavior with Barker. In the alleged message from Disick, there's a photo of Kardashian straddling Barker and kissing him during a trip to Italy. The message reads, "Yo is this chick OK!???? Broooo, like what is this? In the middle of Italy."

Bendjima posted the alleged DM and replied, "Doesn't matter to me as long as she's happy. PS: I ain't your bro. Keep the same energy you had about me publicly, privately." 

Younes Bendjima/Instagram Stories

Kardashian and Barker clearly remained unbothered, and in October, he popped the question and she not surprisingly said yes.

"Their families are beyond happy and excited for them too," a source told ET of the engagement. "Their kids are very much looking forward to being an official big happy family. Kourtney and Travis really feel like they've found their perfect partner and match. They can't wait for this next step in their journey as a couple and to spend the rest of their lives together."

On Barker's 46th birthday in November, 42-year-old Kardashian gushed about him on Instagram and shared sweet photos of the two.

"I f**king love you more than anything," she wrote. "My favorite everything. Happy birthday to you my baby!"

Barker replied in the comments, "You’re a dream come true, my soul mate my everything I LOVE YOU."

Travis Scott's Astroworld Concert Results in 10 Dead:

Rick Kern/Getty Images

Travis Scott's Nov. 5 concert during his Astroworld Fest event in Houston, Texas, took a tragic turn after 10 people died. Houston Fire Department Chief Sam Pena confirmed the deaths during a press conference, noting that 17 people had initially been transported to local hospitals from the "chaotic event," 11 of whom were in cardiac arrest. Pena said that 300 concertgoers were treated at a field hospital set up at the festival, which was held at Houston's NRG Park and had around 50,000 in attendance.

"At approximately 9 or 9:15 p.m., the crowd began to compress toward the front of the stage, and that caused some panic and it started causing some injuries," Pena said. "People began to fall out and become unconscious, and that created additional panic. People were getting injured."

In a tweet, 30-year-old Scott wrote, "I am absolutely devastated by what took place last night. My prayers go out to the families and all those impacted by what happened at Astroworld Festival."

"Houston PD has my total support as they continue to look into the tragic loss of life," he continued. "I am committed to working together with the Houston community to heal and support the families in need. Thanks you to Houston PD, Fire Department and NRG Park for their support. Love you all."

Scott is now being named in multiple lawsuits following the concert. In his first interview since the tragedy with Charlamagne tha God, he denied knowing that people were in distress amid his set or hearing any cries for help.

"It wasn't until minutes before the press conference that I figured out exactly what happened," Scott said. "Even after the show, you're just kind of hearing things, but I didn't know the exact details until minutes before the press conference. And even at that moment you’re like, 'Wait, what?'"

Scott said that he was still "trying to wrap my head around" the tragedy, and was figuring out a way he could "be there" for his fans.

"You wish you could kind of just hold everyone, kind of just heal them, talk to them, have conversations. It really just hurts, man," he said. "You do these shows, honestly, for people to have the best experience. Just to think that something like this happened, you're just trying to figure out [what happened]... Figure out the bottom solution of what's going on, and just try to ensure people's safety."

According to documents obtained by ET from the medical examiner in December, all 10 victims died from "compression asphyxia," with one of them also having the cause of death be from "combined toxic effects of cocaine, methamphetamine and ethanol."

Chrissy Teigen's Cyberbullying Scandal:


Chrissy Teigen is known for her witty tweets but found herself embroiled in a scandal this year after Courtney Stodden alleged in a Daily Beast interview that the 36-year-old model and cookbook author used to send her disparaging comments on social media. "She wouldn’t just publicly tweet about wanting me to take 'a dirt nap' but would privately DM me and tell me to kill myself," Stodden said. "Things like, 'I can't wait for you to die.'"

Teigen publicly apologized and claimed she reached out to Stodden personally, though Stodden alleged that she didn't.

"Not a lot of people are lucky enough to be held accountable for all their past bullsh*t in front of the entire world," Teigen tweeted. "I'm mortified and sad at who I used to be. I was an insecure, attention seeking troll. I am ashamed and completely embarrassed at my behavior but that I have tried to connect with Courtney privately but since I publicly fueled all this, I want to also publicly apologize. I'm so sorry, Courtney. I hope you can heal now knowing how deeply sorry I am."

"And I am so sorry I let you guys down," she added to her fans. "I will forever work on being better than I was 10 years ago, 1 year ago, 6 months ago."

In an essay published on Medium, Teigen apologized again to those she hurt and said she was "truly ashamed" by her past mean-spirited tweets, noting that there was "no excuse." 

"My targets didn't deserve them. No one does. Many of them needed empathy, kindness, understanding and support, not my meanness masquerading as a kind of casual, edgy humor," she shared. "I was a troll, full stop. And I am so sorry." 

"Now, confronted with some of the things that I said, I cringe to my core," she continued. "I'll honestly get sharp, stabbing pains in my body, randomly remembering my a**hole past, and I deserve it. Words have consequences and there are real people behind the Twitter handles I went after. I wasn't just attacking some random avatar, but hurting young women -- some who were still girls -- who had feelings. How could I not stop and think of that?"

The Cravings author said she's no longer the person who wrote those mean tweets.

"I grew up, got therapy, got married, had kids, got more therapy, experienced loss and pain, got more therapy and experienced more life. AND GOT MORE THERAPY," she wrote. "Life has made me more empathetic. I'm more understanding of what motivates trolling -- the instant gratification that you get from lashing out and clapping back, throwing rocks at someone you think is invincible because they're famous. Also, I know now how it feels to be on the receiving end of incredible vitriol. Believe me, the irony of this is not lost on me."

In June, she departed her Never Have I Ever guest voiceover role and also stepped away from Safely, the cleaning brand she launched with Kris Jenner. A month later, Teigen reflected on being part of the "cancel club" when asked about it by TMZ paparazzi.

"All I can do is live my life and take care of my kids and family," she said. "Everyone else can make their choice. You just have to be able to live your life and do the same things you were doing before."

Through it all, Teigen's husband, John Legend, has stood by her. The GRAMMY-winning singer took to Twitter to back her up when she fired back at designer Michael Costello, following his claims that her alleged bullying made him suicidal. Teigen claimed the DMs and emails that Costello shared as proof of the alleged bullying were fake.

Legend tweeted, "Chrissy apologized for her public tweets, but after her apology, Mr Costello fabricated a DM exchange between them. This exchange was made up, completely fake, never happened. ... Honestly I don't know why anyone would fake DMs to insert themselves in this narrative, but that’s what happened."

Demi Lovato Comes Out as Nonbinary:

Weiss Eubanks/NBCUniversal/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

In May, Demi Lovato, who goes by the pronouns they/them, shared some major news on their podcast, 4D With Demi Lovato. 

"Over the past year and a half I've been doing some healing and self-reflective work and through this work, I've had the revelation that I identify as nonbinary," they said. "With that said, I'll officially be changing my pronouns to they/them. I feel that this best represents the fluidity I feel in my gender expression and allows me to feel most authentic and true to the person I both know I am and am still discovering." 

The 29-year-old singer looked back on their 2020 whirlwind engagement to actor Max Ehrich, which ended after two months. 

"I got engaged to a dude and was like, 'OK, maybe this is it!' But it still didn't feel right," they reflected. "I knew when things didn't work out, I knew why it didn't feel right. It's because I wasn't being myself."

During their appearance on the Today show in September, they said they were doing better than ever. 

"I had a lot of time during quarantine to self-reflect and learn a lot about who I am," Lovato told host Hoda Kotb. "I came out as nonbinary in May and ever since then, it's just felt like my truth has been living my life as loudly as possible without a care in the world."

"I may be wearing a dress and heels right now, but I don't identify as just a woman or just a man," they continued. "I identify as both. But I do have a lot of grace and understanding for people who maybe misuse my pronouns. I still mess up sometimes." 

Of their sexual orientation, Lovato shared, "I identify as pansexual. I'm attracted to human beings and it doesn't matter what you identify as. I just don't hold myself back from sharing my love with anybody." 


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