#55: Deep Throat Prompts Obscenity Trial

Before the early 1970s, pornography was a strictly underground taboo, but the revolutionary adult film Deep Throat broke the mold, sending erotica from “smut” to “porno chic” almost overnight.

In 1972, the World Adult Theater in New York’s Times Square premiered the monumental film, which tells the story of a sexually frustrated woman, played by Linda Lovelace, who goes to the doctor only to learn that her clitoris is located in the back of her throat. Thankfully there is a very simple remedy, which the doctor and a variety of other men happily demonstrate. Director Gerard Damiano set his film apart from other pornos by including an actual storyline, superior cinematography, and witty dialogue–like a recipient of oral sex asking, “Do you mind if I smoke while you eat?” The movie even garnered a favorable review in Variety.

An NYC judge ruled that the film was “indisputably obscene by any measure,” and Deep Throat was banned in 23 states. After a lengthy, costly legal battle, lead actor Harry Reems and 11 others involved in the film were convicted of conspiracy to distribute obscenity across state lines. (In the years to follow, Reems’s career hit the rocks and he fell into alcohol and drug abuse.)

But the government proved to be Deep Throat‘s best publicist. The controversy surrounding the flick pushed its worldwide gross into the stratosphere, with some estimates reaching $600 million.

Not even Batman or Spidey can touch Lovelace!


#50: Oliver Stone’s JFK Stirs Controversy

After more than 20 years of speculation (including congressional hearings and enough books to constitute a literary genre), the conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination of John Kennedy broke in a big way thanks to Oliver Stone’s JFK, a three-hour epic stuffed with unforgettable cameos (John Candy‘s Nawlins lawyer and Kevin Bacon‘s Nixon-loving hustler – “fascism is coming back!” – deserve special mention) and so many potential conspirators (FBI, CIA, the Mafia, Communists, anti-Communists) that it’s unclear just who WASN’T on the grassy knoll.

Thanks to script leaks, articles lambasting the production as unconscionable and “insult to the intelligence” appeared only days into shooting. The furor hardly diminished when the film was finally released in 1992. Along with endless complaints of factual inaccuracies (Stone claims the movie is a “countermyth,” which means it’s completely full of it but in a good way), gay activists didn’t appreciate the film’s salacious treatment of alleged conspirators’ homosexuality, particularly the costumed orgy between Bacon, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones and Joe Pesci. Yes, Joe Pesci.

Despite (or thanks to) the uproar, the film was a financial success and nominated for eight Oscars. Everyone from the Simpsons to Seinfeld paid comic homage, and in the ultimate sign of cultural saturation, Congress passed the JFK Records Act, promising the release of all files concerning the assassination by 2017. Only nine years till the truth is out!


#48: Fatty Arbuckle Charged With Rape, Murder

In 1921, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle was the biggest comic actor in America, the Jazz Age’s answer to Will Farrell. Paramount was paying him $1 million to make six laff riots a year (that’s more than 12 million in 2008 dollars). One fan described dancing with him as “like floating in the arms of a huge doughnut.” Then, 30-year-old aspiring actress Virginia Rappe died of a ruptured bladder after an epic party in Arbuckle’s San Francisco hotel room. Oops.

The cops concluded that the damage had been done by Arbuckle’s 300-pound girth during sexual intercourse. He was booked after a friend of the actress claimed Arbuckle had raped Rappe in the hotel room. Rumors quickly swirled around the case. It was whispered that Rappe had been abused by everything from an icicle to a champagne bottle.

After two mistrials, Arbuckle was acquitted, but the legal fees left him penniless. In 1922, he was banned from making movies and left with but a solitary friend — alcohol. Arbuckle died on June 30, 1933, aged 46, ironically the day after he had been signed by Warner Bros. to make his first feature film in 12 years. — Chuck Bottomley


#43: Robe Lowe Sex Tape

It’s 1988, and Rob Lowe‘s star is in the ascendant. Movies like Class (Lowe nails an older woman), St. Elmo’s Fire (Lowe nails Demi Moore) and About Last Night … (Lowe nails Demi Moore — again) made him the Brat Packer you’d most want to use as a seat cushion.

What better time, then, to go to the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta and have sex with two women, one of whom was only 16 at the time and may (or may not) have been a Dukakis supporter? And since it’s the 1980s, why not film it with one of those cool new camcorders?

As a consequence, Lowe was summarily blacklisted by Hollywood execs, but he stuck around to have the last laugh. SNL comedies like Wayne’s World and Tommy Boy let him play the heel, and the TV hit The West Wing made him seem like normal guy material. Perhaps most importantly, Lowe proved that a sex-tape isn’t necessarily a career ender, but a career booster. — Charles Bottomley


#42: Robert Downey, Jr. Has Drug Problems

If you asked anyone in 1998 where Robert Downey Jr. would be in ten years, you’d have heard “prison” or “dead” before “in one the biggest movies of the summer.” After all, that was the year that Downey, bleary-eyed and rocking orange prison threads, told a Los Angeles County judge his addictions were like “a loaded gun in my mouth … and I like the taste of gun-metal.”

Though Downey had been hooked on alcohol and drugs since the age of nine (thank his party-hearty director father), it wasn’t until 1996 that the Oscar-nominated actor hit the headlines with a series of bizarro arrests. One of the more notorious escapades involved Downey breaking into a neighbor’s empty house and passing out in a child’s bedroom. Another found him naked and speeding down Sunset Boulevard. Happy times!

Somehow Hollywood didn’t lose total faith in Downey, even when the actor, on parole and awaiting trial, was found confused and barefoot in Culver City, rather than learning his lines for a guest spot on Ally McBeal, whose producers promptly fired him. It wasn’t until two years later (with producer Mel Gibson paying his insurance bond) that he returned to action with The Singing Detective. After Downey appeared in a string of supporting roles, director Jon Favreau fought to have him play the titular hero in Iron Man, which grossed more than $300 million at the box office this year. Almost as surprising, button-downed Time magazine named the former junkie one of 2008’s most influential people.

by (@katespencer)

#33: Heath Ledger Overdoses

Heath Ledger was one of those special Hollywood types which rarely surface in that land of vapidity and vanity — a freakish combination of rugged good looks, startling talent, and a desire to live a grounded life out of the public eye. So it was no surprise that the world reacted with straight-up shock to his sudden death from an accidental overdose of prescription pills one January afternoon in 2008 — and continued staring with mouths agape as the sordid details came tumbling out.

Prior to his death, the actor had recently split from fiancée and Brokeback Mountain co-star Michelle Williams, and had spent the fall partying at NYC’s most exclusive hot spots, wrapped in the arms of various supermodels. But when his masseuse, who also worked for Mary-Kate Olsen, phoned the tiny starlet upon discovering Heath’s body, a secret relationship between the actor and the twin was revealed.

Heath had admitted to struggling seriously with a sleeping problem while filming The Dark Knight, and posthumous medical tests revealed six different drugs in his system. Yet while his performance as the Joker has led to whispers of an Oscar nod, some have theorized that his devotion to the dark role may also have contributed to his battle with insomnia, and ultimately his tragic demise.


#12: The Roman Polanski Rape Trial

Take a 13-year-old American girl, a randy (albeit brilliant) movie director decades her senior, and a nude private photo shoot in Hollywood’s hottest hottub (Jack Nicholson unknowingly donated his to the cause), and you’ve got the ingredients for a monster scandal — even without the champagne and Quaaludes.

After churning out some of Hollywood’s most memorable movies (Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown), Polish director Roman Polanski was charged with rape, sodomy, child molestation and giving drugs to a minor. The ensuing trial dragged on throughout 1977, and public opinion around the world was split as to his guilt, with the European media blaming victim Samantha Gailey (now Geimer) and American media gunning for pervy perp Polanski.

The 44-year-old director Polanski ultimately pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, and was sentenced to 90 days in state prison for psychiatric evaluation. But as the 2008 documentary Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired revealed, the director found out the judge was plotting a much harsher punishment and he skedaddled to France, where he remains a fugitive.

In a brand new twist, Wanted and Desired uncovered possible prosecutorial misconduct that could overturn the 30-year-old case. Too bad for Polanski that the film wasn’t made earlier — he might have been able to pick up his 2002 Best Director Oscar for The Pianist in person.


#10: Woody Allen Marries His Stepdaughter

“The heart wants what it wants,” says Woody Allen, which is probably the only reason a middle-aged man could ever give for hooking up with his babymama’s adopted daughter. Mia Farrow thought everything was fine between her and her director boyfriend in 1992 when she accidentally stumbled upon a series of nude photographs of the 22-year-old Soon-Yi Previn, which Allen had accidentally left on his mantle. D’oh!

Despite Allen’s claims that there was nothing remotely incestuous about the relationship (He barely knew Soon-Yi was alive until her mom asked him to take her to a basketball game!), the media quickly leaped on the story, which broke during the filming of Husbands & Wives the same year. In the film, Allen is tempted to cheat on Farrow with a young college student. Perhaps the credits should have read, “Inspired by a true story.”

Since the public furor and a contentious child custody case ended, Allen has continued to knock out a movie a year without interruption, and has now been with Soon-Yi (who he married in 1997) for longer than he was originally with Farrow. Allen has credited their marital success to a “paternal feeling” on his part. Yeah, that’s not creepy at all.

by (@katespencer)

Gossip Break: The Attack Of The Hot Hollywood Clones

Zac Efron and Chace Crawford are basically the same exact dude with two different, douchey names. []

Katie Holmes was allowed out of her robot cage to steal Lindsay’s leggings and rehearse her new Broadway show. [DListed]

Whoever believes that babies don’t come from storks hasn’t seen Nicole Kidman‘s post-pregnancy bod. Did she botox her bump away? [Seriously? OMG!]

Justin Timberlake might host the Oscars. We have a feeling Britney Spears will be watching Seinfeld reruns that night. [ICYDK]

Kate Hudson still likes hanging out with her long-haired kid. [PopSugar]

Lil Kim got drunk for her birthday. The Queen B loves booze. [Bossip]

by (@katespencer)

Kids Dress Like Adults At Teen Choice Awards

The teen clones were out in full force last night at the Teen Choice Awards, contorting their legs into weird poses and grabbing at their hips to see just how damn bony they really are. Also, peace is in this year!

Unfortunately, our celebrity kiddie pool wasted this opportunity to dress like the reckless, rebellious, fad-loving followers that they are and instead went for a look way beyond their years. Cute mini-dresses were in, Paris Hilton skank suits of yesteryear were sadly out. Also, Gossip Girls star Ed Westwick wore a man scarf. Nothing says Teen Choice like choosing to dress like a newly divorced 35-year old mom desperate to meet some hot arse at her local ladies night. We’re talking about you, Ed.