The 13 biggest, most captivating news stories of 2017: From superstar pregnancies to jaw-dropping drama
From Hollywood royalty having adorable babies to actual royalty getting engaged, the year wasn't without its heartwarming moments – but make no mistake about it, we got more than our fair share of heartache, tragedy and stomach-churning scandal to balance it out.
So let's take a look back at the past 12 months, and see some of the year's greatest highlights and darkest moments – as well as some those pop-culture zeitgeists that captured our attention, long enough for us to temporarily forget our woes.
[Note: We basically left out political stories from the list entirely, both out of a concern for brevity, and our own sanity.]
1. Two Sets of Twins!
February kicked off with a pregnancy announcement that dominated the news cycle unlike anything in recent memory, when Beyonce took to Instagram to gleefully reveal that she and JAY-Z were expecting twins.
The "Crazy In Love" singer posed for a flowery photoshoot in which she bared her burgeoning baby bump, and wrote in the caption, "We would like to share our love and happiness. We have been blessed two times over. We are incredibly grateful that our family will be growing by two, and we thank you for your well wishes."
The news of her pregnancy hit the internet like freight train, and it was all anyone could talk about for a week. In fact, the announcement photo went on to become the most liked Instagram post of 2017.
Just over a week after Beyonce's exciting announcement, it was revealed that another of Hollywood's most venerated star couples, George and Amal Clooney, were getting ready to welcome twins as well.
On June 13, Beyonce and JAY-Z welcomed their adorable bundles of joy -- son Sir and daughter Rumi. One month later, the couple -- who are also the parents to 5-year-old daughter Blue Ivy -- took to Instagram to share the first official photos of their precious progenies.
However, the Clooneys actually beat Beyonce to the finish line, welcoming their twins -- son Alexander and daughter Ella -- on June 6.
"This morning Amal and George welcomed Ella and Alexander Clooney into their lives. Ella, Alexander and Amal are all healthy, happy and doing fine," the couple said in a statement. "George is sedated and should recover in a few days."
ET sat down with the new dad at the Venice Film Festival in September, where he opened up about his adorable twins, and how they've already shown how different their personalities are.
"[Alexander] is a thug already… He's a moose! Literally, he just sits and he eats." Clooney explained, adding that Ella, by contrast, is "very elegant, and all eyes. She looks like Amal, thank god."
2. A Monumental Mix-Up at the Oscars
And the Academy Award goes to… Moonlight, eventually. In one of the most unbelievably uncomfortable live TV moments since Steve Harvey announced the wrong winner during Miss Universe 2015, movie stars Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway mistakenly named La La Landwhile presenting the award for Best Picture.
The creators, cast and crew of La La Land took the stage, but their moment of jubilation was interrupted when the film's producer, Jordan Horowitz, took the mic to announce that there had been a mistake.
"Guys, I'm sorry, no, there's a mistake," he explained. "Moonlight, you guys won Best Picture. This is not a joke."
The rightful filmmakers then took the stage amid cheers of jubilation and delivered their acceptance speech to much fanfare. However viewers at home were left wondering what could have happened. An embarrassed Beatty said he was given the wrong card backstage, and after a brief and confusing mystery, PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accounting firm that tallies the Oscars, owned up to the mistake in a public mea culpa.
"We sincerely apologize to Moonlight, La La Land, Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Oscar viewers for the error that was made during the award announcement for Best Picture," read a statement from PricewaterhouseCoopers. "The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected."
Naturally, the mix-up ended up being comedy fodder at subsequent awards shows throughout the year.
3. Mama June's Weight Loss Transformation Finally Revealed
After gaining fame on the reality series Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Mama June decided to change her life by undergoing dramatic surgery that led to her loosing over 300 pounds and of course it was all documented on TV in Mama June: From Not to Hot.
While the transformation began in late 2016, the WE tv docu-series following her extensive medical procedures and lifestyle changes finally revealed her shocking transformation in the show's March Finale.
Mama June's impressive health journey quickly became one of the most talked-about reality TV news stories of the year, as people were blown away by the dramatic change, and speculated wildly about whether or not she's able to stay on her healthy living path.
A sneak peek for the second season of From Not to Hotdebuted earlier this week, and gave fans a look at where the reality star is in her life.
4. Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner Finally File for Divorce
After two years of separation -- during which time Affleck and Garner continued to spend time together, and there were rumors and speculation of possible reconciliation – the pair officially filed for divorce, quashing any remaining possibility of rebuilding their marriage.
The couple put forth a united front in their paperwork with Garner asking for joint legal and physical custody of the pair's three children -- 11-year-old Violet, 8-year-old Seraphina and 5-year-old Samuel. Affleck and Garner filed "pro per," without legal representation, and filed both the petition and response -- which mirror each other exactly -- together.
"Ben and Jen are both still 100 percent committed to co-parenting their children and making sure their family situation works for them all. You can't have anything better than that," a source close to the couple told ET at the time.
Three months after filing for divorce, the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice star struck up a romance with Saturday Night Live producer Lindsay Shookus. "Ben and Lindsay have known each other for a couple of years," a source told ET at the time. "Ben has been on SNL five times and has met Lindsay while hosting the show. It is early on in the relationship but they are very happy together."
While Affleck and Shookus have been seen enjoying numerous date nights together, in Los Angeles and New York, throughout the year, Garner has seemingly gone a different route, eschewing the idea of starting a new romance all together.
In a recent interview with news.com.au, the actress said she hasn't been on a date since splitting with her ex in June 2015. "I haven’t been on a date and I am not interested in dating," she explained. "People want to set me up and I am just like, 'No thank you!'"
5. Bachelor in Paradise Shuts Down
In June, ABC released a statement that production on the fourth season of Bachelor in Paradisehad been suspended amid "allegations of misconduct," and all contestants had been sent home from Mexico, where the season was filming at the time.
While the circumstances surrounding the show were initially vague, details soon began to emerge that the incident in question occurred between castmembers DeMario Jackson and Corinne Olympios. While several different accounts were presented, it was reported by sources that Jackson and Olympios both heavily drank alcohol and the two ended up having a physical, sexual encounter.
Olympios addressed the controversy in a statement released via her lawyer days after news of the suspension broke. "I am a victim and have spent the last week trying to make sense of what happened on June 4," she wrote. "Although I have little memory of that night, something bad obviously took place, which I understand is why production on the show has now been suspended and a producer on the show has filed a complaint against the production… As a woman, this is my worst nightmare and it has now become my reality."
Jackson, in turn, denied any wrongdoing. Both parties went on to hire legal representation. After an investigation conducted by Warner Bros., the show's production company, found that the tape of the incident "does not support any charge of misconduct by a cast member," filming resumed in Mexico with much of the original cast, minus Olympios and Jackson.
Questions were soon raised about issues of consent between castmembers who have been drinking heavily, and producers put stricter limits on how much alcohol contestants were allowed consume. The season premiered in August and allowed both Olympios and Jackson to tell their side of the story in special episodes.
Jackson and Olympios eventually reconnected and formed a strong friendship, even sparking dating rumors at one point, which Olympios denied to ET. "DeMario and I are close friends. We are not dating," she said. "Since things with Bachelor in Paradise wound down, DeMario and I talk almost every day. We both know neither of us made the complaint that started everything, so why wouldn't we be friends? We've been able to move forward and he's like a brother to me."
6. Blac Chyna and Rob Kardashian's Feud Goes Nuclear
After a very tumultuous relationship, the once-engaged couple finally called it quits for real in early March.
However, the drama between the pair -- who welcomed daughter Dream in November 2016 -- came to a head when they went to war on social media in July. Kardashian took to Twitter to accuse his ex of cheating and went so far as to post nude photos of her, causing his social media accounts to be suspended.
Meanwhile, Chyna took to Snapchat to accuse her ex of also cheating on her, and being physically abusive. Chyna quickly deleted the posts. Days later, Chyna was granted a request for a temporary restraining order against Kardashian, and was represented by superstar attorney Lisa Bloom.
Bloom spoke with ET a day after Chyna was granted the restraining order, and she opened up about her client's desire to move forward as amicably as possible, in the hopes of being successful and productive co-parents.
"For now, Chyna has said she does not want to go to the police or pursue the criminal route," Bloom shared. "Chyna is aware that Rob is the father of her baby. She is not trying to start a war. She just wants herself to be protected and she wants to have some clarity about what the rules are going to be going forward [in regard to] co-parenting."
While the former couple eventually came to an agreement regarding custody, Chyna later sued her ex over the cancellation of E!'s Rob & Chyna – alongside his family – claiming in legal docs obtained by ET that the "Kardashian-Jenner family became media predators, slut-shaming her on social media and killing her hit television show," as a form of "revenge" for leaving her ex. The ever-evolving legal battle is still ongoing.
7. Abby Lee Miller Goes to Jail
On May 9, Dance Moms star Abby Lee Miller was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison after pleading guilty to bankruptcy fraud in June 2016. Additionally, Miller was ordered to pay a $40,000 fine and serve two years probation after her time behind bars.
"Somehow you got caught up in the fame and lost your moral compass," the judge told Miller. "I hope when you get out the stars align for you."
On July 12, Miller turned herself in to begin her 366-day prison sentence at the FCI Victorville facility in Victorville, California. Lifetime production cameras captured the last glimpse of Miller as she headed in to the facility. Before surrendering, Miller tearfully addressed her fears surrounding her upcoming incarceration.
"I hope it won't be as bad as I imagine. If it's that bad I probably won't survive it," she said. "I mean, if a whole gang of people want to kill you, they're gonna do it. If a whole bunch of people want to make your life a living hell, they're gonna do it."
8. Three Simultaneous Kardashian-Jenner Pregnancies
The 36-year-old Keeping Up With the Kardashians star and her husband, Kanye West, turned to surrogacy for their third baby after Kim struggled with her first two pregnancies. It was revealed in September that the couple are expecting a baby girl, who will reportedly be born in late December or early January.
On September 22, a source told ET that the 20-year-old reality star and make-up mogul is expecting a baby with her boyfriend, rapper Travis Scott.
"Kylie always wanted to be a young mom," the source said at the time. "She's a very hands-on aunt and was basically a step-mom to Tyga's kid… [the] baby will be very well cared for and so loved. Kylie is excited that her baby will have cousins close to her age, too!"
Scott and Jenner began dating in April, following the end of her on-again, off-again relationship with her ex-boyfriend, Tyga. Jenner herself has yet to officially confirm the pregnancy news.
Less than a week after Kylie's pregnancy made headlines, news broke that Khloe Kardashian was expecting as well! ET learned that the 33-year-old fashion designer and reality star is pregnant with her first child -- a boy! -- with boyfriend Tristan Thompson, 26.
"Khloe is pregnant and due early next year. It's going to be a very busy time for the Kardashian-Jenner family," a source told ET. "Everyone is thrilled." It was later learned that the couple are expecting a baby boy.
While Khloe has yet to confirm the news, she's been seemingly going out of her way to keep her baby bump covered.
9. Taylor Swift Returns With a New (More Aggressive) Attitude
Taylor Swift finally returned to the music scene with her new album, Reputation, which broke all kinds of sales records but the biggest, most talked-about moment was certainly her first single, "Look What You Made Me Do."
Immediately, it was clear Swift was taking her highly publicized feud with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian to a new level, with aggressive lyrics like, "I don’t like your little games/Don’t like your titled stage."
The magnitude of the diss-heavy and tonally complex track wasn't really felt until Swift debuted her mind-blowing music video during the MTV Music Video Awards in August.
From her zombification to her bathtub full of diamonds to the many, many snakes slithering around the scenes – every moment of the video was analyzed and scrutinized, and it turns out she actually hid a lot of Easter eggs throughout.
She followed it up with the music video for her second single, "…Ready For It?", which was packed with nearly as many hidden codes, and featured Swift in a Blade Runner-esque cyberpunk universe facing off against a nearly naked robot clone of herself.
10. Selena Gomez Gets a Kidney Transplant
In September, the "Bad Liar" songstress revealed to the world that she'd undergone a kidney transplant as part of her years-long battle with lupus, and that her longtime friend, actress Francia Raisa, had been the life-saving donor.
"I’m very aware some of my fans had noticed I was laying low for part of the summer and questioning why I wasn’t promoting my new music, which I was extremely proud of. So I found out I needed to get a kidney transplant due to my Lupus and was recovering," Gomez wrote in the caption to a photo of herself and Raisa laying side-by-side and holding hands in the hospital, before the operation. " It was what I needed to do for my overall health."
"There aren’t words to describe how I can possibly thank my beautiful friend Francia Raisa," she added. "She gave me the ultimate gift and sacrifice by donating her kidney to me. I am incredibly blessed. I love you so much sis."
In October, the friends sat down with Today's Savannah Guthrie, and opened up about the series of events that lead to the transplant. She was unable to find a match amongst family members and with a donor list seven to ten years long, the singer found herself without any viable options. Which is when Raisa took it upon herself to get tested, and it turned out she was a match.
"The thought of asking somebody to do that was really difficult for me," Gomez admitted. "Let alone somebody wanting to volunteer, it is incredibly difficult to find a match. The fact that she was a match, that's unbelievable. That's not real."
11. Terror Rocks the World
Manchester Arena Bombing
On May 22, fans leaving the Manchester Arena following an Ariana Grande concert became the victims of a horrifying terrorist attack that left 22 people dead and over 500 others injured. The soul-scarring attack left the world devastated.
In the weeks following the tragedy, Grande returned to Manchester to visit area hospitals and meet with the victims of the attack as they recovered.
Determined not to let terror and heartbreak win out, Grande announced, shortly after the attack, that she would be assembling a charity concert to benefit those whose lives were devastated by the tragedy.
The One Love Manchester concert, which sold out in minutes, took place on June 4, and featured performances from Grande, Katy Perry, Chris Martin, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus and many others. After all was said and done, the concert raised over $23 million for the families of the victims.
Las Vegas Shooting
On Oct. 1, a gunman opened fire on the crowd at Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival in in Las Vegas, while Jason Aldean performed.
In the days that follwed, celebrities, politicians and TV hosts paid tribute to the victims, including Aldean, who appeared during the cold open of Saturday Night Live and addressed the harrowing incident that could have easily claimed his life as well.
"So many people are hurting... Children, brothers, sisters, parents -- they're all part of our family… We're gonna work through these tough times together, all the way," Aldean said, before performing a cover of Tom Petty's iconic tune "I Won't Back Down" that served as a tribute to the victims of the shooting and to the late rocker, who died on Oct. 2.
12. Harvey Weinstein Scandal Breaks, Then the Dominoes Begin to Fall
Women who have accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment or assault
Women who have accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment or assault
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On Oct. 5, The New York Times on Oct. 5 published a reporting claiming Weinstein has reached at least eight settlements with women over sexual harassment claims between 1990 to 2015. The story also featured Ashley Judd, the first big-name star to go on the record, with her allegation that Weinstein sexually harassed her.
Within days, the list of celebrities to come forth with their own accusations of sexual misconduct, ranging from harassment to rape, against the high-powered movie producer included Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mira Sorvino, Rosanna Arquette, Rose McGowan, Cara Delevingne, Paz de la Huerta and dozens upon dozens of others. Weinstein's spokesperson responded to the claims, saying, “Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein."
Weinstein was swiftly fired from the production company he co-founded and fled to Arizona for treatment. While the fallout Weinstein faces is still growing months later, the accusations had a profound impact on Hollywood and America. Soon, the powerful #MeToo campaign took off, with millions of women sharing stories of sexual harassment that they've faced in their day-to-day lives. These courageous women were eventually honored by Time as the collective Person of the Year.
Additionally, the dominoes began to fall as other powerful men in show business were soon being called out for alleged incidents of sexual harassment and misconduct.
From director James Toback – who has been accused of sexual misconduct by over 325 women – to Kevin Spacey – who was accused of sexually assaulting underage boys in the past and faced allegations of sexual misconduct by dozens of other members of the House of Cards cast and crew – it was clear that the sexual harassment scandal rocking Hollywood was not going to be going away any time soon.
Since Oct. 5, over 50 filmmakers, actors, producers, showrunners, network executives and TV personalities have been accused of sexual misconduct, and many have lost their jobs after internal investigations uncovered serious claims.
Recently, longtime Today show host Matt Lauer was fired by NBC for alleged "inappropriate workplace behavior." Hours after his firing, Variety published a report that included multiple unnamed women who accused the veteran TV news personality of sexual harassment.
Lauer responded to his termination and the allegations in a statement read on-air by Today show host Savannah Guthrie, one day after being fired.
"There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions. To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry," the 59-year-old former newsman expressed in the statement. "Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed. I regret that my shame is now shared by the people I cherish dearly. Repairing the damage will take a lot of time and soul searching and I’m committed to beginning that effort. It is now my full time job."
14. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Get Engaged
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle engagement photo call
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle engagement photo call
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On November 26, the Royal family confirmed that the prince and the Suits star were engaged, and would soon be getting married. The coverage became a media frenzy as royal wedding fever began to spread across the globe.
Shortly after their official announcement, the pair sat down for their first joint interview where we learned Harry proposed during a cozy night at home while they were roasting chicken. The prince also revealed that he designed the gorgeous ring himself and it features two diamonds from the private collection of his mother, Princess Diana.
And just like that, the Royal Wedding countdown began! When will it be? Where will it be? What kind of cake will they serve? Why so fast? Who will be invited? Royal watchers just can't get enough ahead of the May 2018 nuptials.
Less than a week after the official announcement, the couple made their first official appearance together at the Terrence Higgins Trust World AIDS Day charity fair in Nottingham, England.