Top 10 Biggest Scandals of the Decade

Tiger Woods preceded by Britney Spears, Brangelina, Heath Ledger and others.

Dec. 11, 2009— -- Just when you were expecting another humdrum holiday season of too much turkey and eggnog, long lines at the airport and the usual family drama, leave it to Tiger Woods to provide a much-needed distraction.

There's nothing like a good-old celebrity scandal to get tongues wagging. And Woods is helping to close out the first decade of the new century with a doozy. With 11 women and counting apparently linked to the married golf superstar, the stories just keep coming:

Woods crashes his car the morning after Thanksgiving in a single-car accident that still has police baffled. Out of the wreck come rumors of Woods' infidelity to wife Elin Nordegren. When cocktail waitress Jaimee Grubbs releases a bombshell voice-mail message implicating Woods in a nearly three-year affair, the golfer finally issues a Web site apology for his "transgressions."

As more women emerge, Woods is said to be holed up in his Florida estate, while his wife may have moved out and her mother is rushed to the hospital, possibly from the stress of the erupting scandal.

Although it may seem nothing can top the implosion of Woods' carefully crafted image, there were plenty of other star scandals that rocked the headlines in the past 10 years. A look back at the biggest celebrity scandals of the decade:

Britney Spears

The decade started so good for Britney Spears. She was at the top of her game at the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards when she strutted across the stage crooning "I'm a Slave 4 U," a larger-than-life snake slithering above her taut abs.

Even Madonna wanted a piece of her. Their kiss at the 2003 VMAs made headlines around the world and is still one of MTV's most-talked-about moments.

By 2006, it appeared the pop princess was ready to abdicate her throne, her marriage to Kevin Federline and custody of their two boys, Sean Preston and Jayden James. A months-long saga of bad behavior that included multiple flashes of her private parts, countless nights on the town and allegations of drug and alcohol abuse culminated in February 2007 with Spears buzzing off her famous locks at a Tarzana, Calif., hair salon while photographers snapped away outside.

It took nearly two years and her father taking charge of her life before Spears regained her footing. Musically, she ends the decade on an up note, on tour with her latest album "Circus," which went platinum.

Janet Jackson

Usually playing the Super Bowl halftime show is a real honor. For Janet Jackson, it became a horror.

At the 2004 Super Bowl, Jackson, along with Justin Timberlake, sang a medley of her hits "All for You" and "Rhythm Nation." As Timberlake sang the lyric "I'm gonna have you naked by the end of this song" from his hit "Rock Your Body," he tore off part of Jackson's bustier, revealing her right breast, completely adorned with nipple shield.

Recovering From 'Nipplegate'

Millions of viewers glimpsed Jackson's breast for less than a second before CBS cut away to an aerial shot of the stadium. But it was enough to get the network in hot water.

Timberlake apologized twice for the so-called wardrobe malfunction, including once during his acceptance speech at the Grammy Awards. Recently, he told Entertainment Weekly it was one of his biggest regrets of the decade. "I wish I had been there more for Janet," he said.

Jackson issued two apologies of her own but declined to attend the 2004 Grammys when CBS insisted she apologize a third time on the air. Since then, Jackson has struggled to regain her footing.

Two albums released after the Super Bowl incident tanked and Jackson's 2008 "Discipline" tour was dogged by low ticket sales and Jackson's own illness suffering from vestibular migraines.

As for "Nipplegate," as it came to be known, CBS was slapped with a hefty fine. But the case remains open, with the network's appeal still bouncing around the courts.

Michael Jackson

It wasn't the first time singer Michael Jackson had been accused of molesting a child. But, in 2005, Los Angeles prosecutors were able to find a child willing to testify against him.

In the People of the State of California v. Michael Joseph Jackson, Jackson was accused of molesting 13-year-old Gavin Arvizo, giving him alcohol, or "Jesus juice," and conspiring to kidnap him and his family and keep them captive at his 2,700-acre Neverland ranch.

Jackson denied all counts and even claimed he was the victim on an extortion attempt. The subsequent four-month trial was a media circus with Jackson showing up late for court and once dressed in his pajamas. In the end, he was found not guilty.

But Jackson's reputation and finances suffered as he sought refuge outside the country with his three children and released no new music. Finally, in the spring of 2009, he announced a 50-concert comeback tour in London. Weeks before he was to perform his first show, the pop star died in his home June 25.

The Los Angeles County coroner ruled Jackson's death a homicide caused by a combination of sedatives and the powerful anesthetic propofol. As the police investigation continues, it's clear that Jackson's death will be as controversial as his life.


When Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston split in early 2005 after nearly five years of marriage, Angelina Jolie was widely believed to be the reason.

Pitt and Jolie met on the set of "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," where they played married assassins. A photo shoot promoting the film foreshadowed their relationship to come, with Pitt and Jolie posing as parents of five boys. At the time, all parties denied that Jolie was the cause of Pitt's divorce, although Jolie later admitted that she and Pitt fell in love while filming the movie.

Lost Hope for Heath Ledger

Dubbed "Brangelina" by the media, Jolie and Pitt finally confirmed their relationship publicly in early 2006 when Jolie admitted she was pregnant with Pitt's child. Since then, the scandal over the Jolie-Pitt-Aniston love triangle has continued to spawn headlines, with the celebrity media reporting non-stop on Brangelina's family of eight and Aniston's adventures in celebrity dating.

Roman Polanski

It's the one scandal director Roman Polanskihas been unable to shake, the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1977.

In September 2009, the 31-year-old scandal caught up with the French-born Polish director when Swiss police arrested him on a U.S. warrant stemming from the rape soon after he arrived for the Zurich Film Festival.

In 1978, Polanski pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse but fled to France before he was sentenced. Despite a fruitful career in Europe, which includes winning an Academy Award for "The Pianist," Polanski was a wanted man.

Polanski was recently granted bail and released from prison under house arrest at his Swiss chalet, pending his extradition to the United States. Finally facing his past could free him once and for all from the scandal that has followed him for three decades.

Heath Ledger

Heath Ledger's death in January 2008 from an accidental overdose of prescription pills took Hollywood by storm and, once again, shined the spotlight on prescription drug abuse.

"I had such great hope for him," Mel Gibson said at the time, echoing the sentiment of many. "He was just taking off and to lose his life at such a young age is a tragic loss."

The Australian-born Ledger was probably best known for his starring role in 2005's "Brokeback Mountain," about two cowboys who fall in love. Peter Travers, Rolling Stone's film critic and host of ABC News Now's "Popcorn," called Ledger's performance "one of the greatest performances of an actor from his generation."

But it was his final role as the Joker, which he had just completed filming for the Batman movie "The Dark Knight," that won him a posthumous Oscar in 2009 for best supporting actor.

Rihanna/Chris Brown

The real story of this year's Grammy Awards in February 2009 did not unfold on stage. Instead, pop couple Chris Brown and Rihanna, who had been scheduled to perform that night, were involved in an altercation that sent Rihanna to the hospital and Brown to the police station where he turned himself in for assault and criminal threats.

Stay Tuned for More Kate

The argument began when Rihanna read a text message on Brown's phone from another woman, according to the police affidavit. Brown shoved Rihanna into the window of his car, while driving. According to the police report, he punched her several times and said, "I'm going to beat the s**t out of you when we get home."

When Rihanna countered by calling her assistant's phone, Brown warned, "You just did the stupidest thing ever. I'm going to kill you," and threw her phone out the window, the report noted.

Brown eventually pleaded guilty to felony assault and was given community service, five years probation and an order to stay 100 yards away from Rihanna. After briefly reuniting, the couple has since steered clear of each other, giving their first interviews about what happened at the end of this year.

Rihanna told ABC News' Diane Sawyer, "He had ... no soul in his eyes. Just blank. ...He was clearly blacked out. There was no person when I looked at him."

Brown apologized and made no excuses for his behavior. "I was wrong for what I did," Brown told ABC News' Robin Roberts.

Jon and Kate Gosselin

After months of unfavorable tabloid coverage and speculation about the state of their marriage, Jon and Kate Gosselin announced on the June 22 episode of their TLC show, "Jon & Kate Plus 8," that they'd begun divorce proceedings.

The Gosselins, parents of twins and sextuplets, admitted then that they had been living increasingly separate lives for the past two years, and Kate said the breaking point in the marriage was not a result of the show or tabloid scrutiny.

"I believe it is a chapter that would have probably played out had the world been watching or not," Kate said.

But the world did watch as the couple argued in the media about everything from money to child care to infidelity. The only thing the world wasn't watching was the show, which suffered a slide in the ratings after the big divorce announcement.

Eventually, TLC said it was refashioning the show to focus on Kate's life as a single mother but Jon put that kibosh on that when he refused to give permission for the children to be filmed.

Thus, "Jon & Kate" officially wrapped on November 23.

Recently, Kate told ABC News' Barbara Walters that the kids miss the cameras and were devastated without the show. She also hinted that she'll be getting a show of her own next year.

Susan Boyle/Adam Lambert

With the explosion of reality television came the latest iteration of the talent show -- "American Idol" being the most watched of them all. "Idol" and the other talent contest shows had their share of scandals, including skeletons that emerged from contestants' past and charges of voter fraud.

Many of the scandals centered around "Idol" judge Paula Abdul, who was accused of everything from sleeping with some of the young male hopefuls to appearing dazed and confused on live television. She made headlines earlier this year when Fox decided not to renew her contract.

With Abdul gone, there are plenty of others left to generate headlines. In May 2009, British singer Susan Boyle nearly broke down under the pressure of competing for the title of "Britain's Got Talent." She came in second and had to be hospitalized for exhaustion afterward. Boyle's fans have made her a best-selling recording artist but the celebrity media continue to chart her every misstep, including a recent visit to America that ended with her sucking her thumb.

Adam Lambert is another talent show alum sure to keep the controversies coming. When Lambert, who is openly gay, gave his first post-"Idol" live television performance at the American Music Awards in November, he kissed his male keyboardist and brought a male dancer's face to his crotch. His performance sparked outrage and led to cancelled appearances.

But Lambert made no apologies. "I'm not a babysitter, I'm a performer," he told Ryan Seacrest on his radio show. A performer who will no doubt be making more headlines in the next decade. >>

More end of decade coverage at The Best of the Decade on Soapnet