In 2013, stories about outrageous celebrity antics, shocking deaths, game-changers and creative excellence piqued our collective interest in arts and entertainment news. Here’s a look at the top A&E stories of the past year.
Famous figures behaving badly typically grab headlines, but this year there were several standouts. If “twerking” wasn’t in your vocabulary before, former child star-turned-raunchy singer Miley Cyrus made sure you knew about it, most infamously with her tongue-wagging, bump-and-grind performance with Robin Thicke at the MTV Video Music Awards.
Another young star, Canadian Justin Bieber, couldn’t shake the bad press from countless missteps — be it scuffles with paparazzi, several vehicular incidents and shirtless escapades to pet abandonment, graffiti tagging and alleged brothel visits — no matter how many good deeds he did, new songs he released or funny videos he filmed. Honorable mentions: Amanda Bynes, another child star who crashed and burned in 2013, and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, now beloved fodder of late-night and talk show hosts.
The passing of a beloved performer, artist or creator always casts a shadow over the entertainment world. Several shocking deaths – Paul Walker, Cory Monteith, James Gandofini – remained in our thoughts for a long while afterwards.
Even when a loss might have been somewhat anticipated for an veteran entertainer or arts figure, the death itself still left many stricken. Those who died in 2013 include: music icons Stompin’ Tom Connors, Lou Reed, Rita MacNeil, George Jones and Mario Bernardi; bestselling writers Tom Clancy and Elmore Leonard; celebrated painter Alex Colville; performers Jean Stapleton, Jeanne Cooper, Annette Funicello and Peter O’Toole; and movie world legends Ray Harryhausen and Roger Ebert.
Sticking out, taking a stand and just being different: it’s tough to do in our generally conformist mainstream entertainment culture, but 2013 saw several instances of influential or game-changing decisions. Digital content company Netflix gambled on the binge-watching phenomenon and won fans (see: House of Cards, Orange is the New Black and Arrested Development), kudos and deals for new projects.
Actress and tabloid favourite Angelina Jolie chose to come clean about highly personal health struggles (revealing her family history, cancer risk and preventative double mastectomy) and got people everywhere — in mainstream newsrooms and hospitals, at coffee shops and dinner tables — talking about women’s health and genetic testing.
Eschewing the traditional music world model of building hype, endless promotions and carving up a new release through individual singles, singer Beyoncé Knowles dropped a fully realized album (complete with videos) as a holiday season bombshell, publicizing the stealthily produced, digital-first project through a single word shared on social media: “Surprise!”
In the highly subjective world of arts and entertainment, it’s usually tough to get consensus on a person or project’s greatness. There were a few instances, however, of widespread agreement, celebration and tributes: Alice Munro’s Nobel literature win, the epic final season of Vince Gilligan's TV hit Breaking Bad, Steve McQueen’s harrowing yet crucial must-see drama 12 Years a Slave and up-and-coming actress Tatiana Maslany’s celebrated performances as multiple cloned characters on Orphan Black. Honorable mention: Canadian rapper Drake, whose 2013 included a Grammy win, hit singles, a No. 1 album, a raft of high-profile collaborations and a new sideline as Toronto Raptors booster.