For the first nine months of 2017, the world of entertainment news ran pretty much as usual. Movies got made, celebrities were roasted, and Tom Brady and Gisele posted cute photos on Instagram. There were still plenty of controversies, as when ‘SNL’ cast member Michael Che called Boston “the most racist city” he had ever been to, but nothing especially out of the ordinary.
Then came Oct. 5, when The New York Times published its Harvey Weinstein bombshell, and 2017 became a year of reckoning for the entertainment world. Allegations of sexual misconduct quickly emerged beyond Hollywood, in other public-facing industries like politics, media, and restaurants. Each wave of new allegations, the reactions to the allegations, and the reactions to the reactions to the allegations, became must-read stories. Victims spoke up, and people listened.
To attempt to catalogue this watershed year, we listed out the biggest Boston-related entertainment stories of 2017, presented in chronological order.
Given the foundational scandals that rocked Hollywood in 2017, it will be interesting to see what kinds of jokes Jimmy Kimmel makes when he hosts the Oscars again on March 4, 2018. At the 2017 Academy Awards in February, Kimmel focused many of his jokes on easy, familiar targets, like his “frenemy” Matt Damon. Kimmel ribbed the Cambridge native for his weight, how much money Damon’s film “The Great Wall” lost, and the actor’s decision to pass on the lead role in “Manchester by the Sea” (for which Casey Affleck won an Oscar later in the night).
During a March appearance at Boston University, “Saturday Night Live” star Michael Che courted controversy by saying that Boston was “the most racist city” he’d ever been to. The comedian did try to smooth things over in a March 25 Instagram post, noting that he still had love for Boston even if he thought the city was racist, writing, “Listen boston, my grandma is racist too, but i still love her. & i still love you.” A week later, Mayor Marty Walsh asked Che to meet with him to discuss racism in Boston, and in June, the topic resurfaced when Che returned to Boston for a pair of shows at the Wilbur. Che acknowledged he’d read the tweets, emails, and handwritten letters from people upset about his remarks. “And when I say ‘people,'” Che said of those upset by his words, “I mean ‘white guys.'”
The buzz around Harvard Yard during freshman move-in was more pronounced than usual this year, thanks to the arrival of former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama’s eldest daughter, Malia. Photos and videos of the Obama family (minus youngest daughter, Sasha) showed up on social media in August, with one passerby struck by the oddness of seeing the Obama “during peak solar eclipse.” The former president later joked that dropping Malia off at college was “a little bit like open-heart surgery.”
Rhode Island native and Miss Universe winner Olivia Culpo is probably best known as a model, but she’s also entering the restaurant business as a co-financier of Back 40, a comfort food spot run by her family. It opened in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, this past summer. Culpo, who cuddled up with her boyfriend, Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola, at Back 40’s opening, told Boston.com that she loved growing up in restaurants — her father, Peter Culpo, has ownership stakes in several in the Boston area — and that she hoped to stop in on a regular basis.
Proving that Boston’s fascination with the Kennedy family endures, plenty of people read about the Martha’s Vineyard wedding of Tatiana Schlossberg, one of the late President John F. Kennedy’s three grandchildren and a former New York Times reporter. The September ceremony took place at the Kennedy family’s property in Aquinnah and was officiated by former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.
September: Steven Tyler canceled his Aerosmith tour to seek immediate care for ‘unexpected medical issues’
Fans were worried when the Aerosmith frontman was forced to cancel the remainder of the band’s tour in September due to “unexpected medical issues” that required “immediate care,” according to representatives. Fortunately, Tyler quickly updated fans on his health, and was back onstage performing only a month after the cancellations.
October: Ben Affleck slammed Harvey Weinstein in a strongly worded Facebook post — then faced allegations of his own
After Affleck posted a message to social media in October saying that the allegations against Weinstein made him “sick,” the Cambridge native faced criticism and allegations of his own from a number of women in show business. Actress Rose McGowan, who accused Weinstein of rape, said that Affleck knew about Weinstein’s behavior. Matt Damon later said that he knew about Gwyneth Paltrow’s story of harassment by Weinstein because Affleck had told it to him. (Affleck and Paltrow previously dated.) Former MTV VJ Hilarie Burton tweeted that she “didn’t forget” about Affleck grabbing her breast on a 2003 episode of “TRL,” and makeup artist Annamarie Tendler, who is married to comedian John Mulaney, tweeted that Affleck grabbed her butt at a party in 2014. Affleck indirectly apologized to Burton on Twitter and later said in an interview, “What I was accused of by a woman was of touching her breast while I gave her a hug. I don’t remember it, but I absolutely apologize for it.”
One thing that didn’t change in 2017 was Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen’s status as Boston’s favorite celebrity couple. Fans eagerly awaited the duo’s social media updates, bestowing hundreds of thousands of likes on nearly every new post on Facebook or Instagram. The top post this year (at least among Boston.com readership) was the couple’s avocado toast Halloween costume, a fitting one considering Brady’s love of avocado ice cream.
November: Tens of thousands petitioned the Academy to bar Casey Affleck from presenting the Best Actress Oscar
In early November, a pair of petitions, each with tens of thousands of signatures, asked the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to prevent Casey Affleck from presenting at the 2018 Academy Awards due to prior allegations of sexual harassment against him. During the last seven ceremonies, the previous year’s winners of the Best Actor and Best Actress Oscars presented those awards to the opposite gender, which means that, because of his Best Actor win for “Manchester by the Sea,” Affleck is in line to present the Best Actress nominations and award at the 2018 Academy Awards.
During a November press conference, former WCVB news anchor Heather Unruh said that actor Kevin Spacey sexually assaulted her teenage son at a Nantucket restaurant in July 2016. Unruh said that Spacey, who is facing several additional allegations of sexual misconduct, bought “drink after drink after drink” for her underage and “starstruck” son at The Club Car restaurant. Unruh said that once her son was drunk, Spacey stuck his hand inside her son’s pants and grabbed his genitals. Unruh continued to speak out against Spacey in subsequent interviews, telling NBC’s Kate Snow that the phone conversation with her son about the assault was “the hardest phone call I’ve ever taken,” and telling NBC’s Megyn Kelly that she’s heard from “at least 8” other alleged victims of the actor since going public with her claims.
The Needham native and gold medal gymnast told “60 Minutes” in a November interview that she was sexually abused by former Olympic team doctor Larry Nassar, who is now serving 22 to 27 years in prison on federal child pornography charges. Raisman voiced her “disgust” for Nassar in a statement, and said during a “Today” show interview that while she had always found Nassar “weird,” she didn’t realize she had been abused until later. Raisman also discussed Nassar’s abuse in her new autobiography, “Fierce,” recalling how “he never made my injuries feel any better, but I always obeyed because he had a reputation for being the best doctor.”
Damon faced a hailstorm of criticism for a series of comments he made about sexual misconduct in Hollywood during a pair of December interviews. The Cambridge native’s remarks were wide-ranging, including reactions to allegations against Louis C.K., Al Franken, and others, and a determination that we aren’t talking enough about men who don’t sexually harass people in the entertainment industry. Some, like The Boston Globe’s Joan Venochi, felt the criticism of Damon was unwarranted. Many others, including actress Alyssa Milano and Damon’s “Good Will Hunting” costar Minnie Driver, slammed the actor for his words.