The Most Shameful Celebrity Cover-Ups: Excuses, Excuses

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Some celebrities require more out of their publicists than others when it comes to covering up their uncouth behavior. And based on the seemingly weekly updates from magazines and tabloids, apparently there’s no excuse too outlandish for a star to stand behind. These celebs’ justifications for their foolish or reckless acts make “My dog ate my homework” seem honorable.

Charlie Sheen
More often than not, Sheen is good for a bad-behavior story every other month or so. In November 2010, he made headlines for a drunken rampage that provided one of the most laughable excuses in a while. Seems the notorious bad boy ripped through his hotel room stark naked because, according to his publicist, he had an allergic reaction to medication. Uh-huh. Next thing you know, we’ll be hearing that spoiled fruit juice was what caused him to pick up another hooker.

Paris Hilton
She’s turned into the kind of celebrity who might actually use that “dog/homework” excuse with a straight face. Hilton blames most of her drug arrests on having been in possession of someone else’s purse at the wrong time, but the ultimate was when she was busted for felony possession of cocaine in August 2010, then claimed she thought it was gum. And that was after initially denying that the purse belonged to her at all. (She used her go-to “It was my friend’s purse” line at first.) Worst. Ever.

Ashlee Simpson
Sometimes it’s just better to come clean than to cop out. After all, who could rightly blame Simpson for taking the lip-synching route during her 2004 Saturday Night Live performance, when every other pop star was doing the same thing at the time? But after she got caught Milli Vanilli–style in front of a live audience, Simpson’s PR team went into overdrive. At first, it was the band’s fault for playing the wrong song (even though Simpson didn’t have a mic in hand). Rather than leave well enough alone, though, Simpson later released a statement blaming acid reflux, which had supposedly damaged her voice and caused her to have to use a backup vocal track. If by “backup track” she meant “recorded album,” well, okay.

Jeremy Piven
The flu. A migraine. Stomach problems. Most find it best to go with a relatable explanation to call in sick to work. But mercury poisoning? From eating too much sushi? Seriously? Yes, according to Piven. At least, that’s the reason he gave for bowing out of his 2008 performance in David Mamet’s play Speed the Plow. His reasoning was hugely mocked at the time, and yet Piven still stands by his story today, which makes it even worse.

Lindsay Lohan
Lohan has been giving Paris Hilton a run for her money in the worst-excuses department for years. She’s got an answer for all her problems—“It wasn’t mine”; “I was young and stupid”; “I lost my passport, so I couldn’t get to my court hearing in time”—but perhaps her best excuse followed her 2007 DUI arrest, when she released a statement claiming that the jeans she’d been wearing when cocaine was found in her pocket were borrowed and belonged to a “friend/assistant.” The cops couldn’t bust LiLo for the drug charge, because they apparently dropped the evidence on the floor, but a drug test later proved her excuse was an actual lie. Tsk, tsk …

Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake
Without this duo, the world might never have been blessed with the phrase “wardrobe malfunction.” Well, it’s a good thing Ms. Jackson’s exposed nipple was covered cheekily with a shield when these two topped off their 2004 Super Bowl performance with a premeditated shocking moment in which Timberlake grabbed the front of her costume, exposing her breast. Both stars later denied having been aware that such a reveal was planned, though Jackson’s career in particular took a huge hit following the controversy. (Not to mention that the Federal Communications Commission slapped CBS with an unprecedented $550,000 fine.) The incident also forced major changes in the big game’s future halftime shows, which have now given way to safe, family-friendly musical bets, like Tom Petty and the Who.

Britney Spears
It was a dark time indeed for the fallen pop queen in 2007, but no one was quite prepared for a crazed, umbrella-wielding, shaved-headed Spears to attack paparazzi the way she did one fateful night at a gas station. If that scene didn’t make it clear that Spears had gone off the deep end, her terrible explanation might have sealed the deal. As she said, “I was preparing my character for a role in a movie where the husband never plays his part, so they switch places accidentally. I take all my roles very seriously and got a little carried away.” Luckily, she got the help she needed shortly thereafter.

Winona Ryder
Britney isn’t the only one to rely on the “It was for a role” excuse. This Heathers actress returned to the public spotlight when she made headlines after being caught shoplifting at a Beverly Hills Saks Fifth Avenue in 2001. Her initial response to the security guard who popped her was that she was researching for a movie role, but she later admitted in a Vogue article that she was looped out on painkillers. Perhaps the craziest outcome of her misdeed was the way it played out in the media, with extensive coverage of Ryder’s trial and fans’ creating a “Free Winona” campaign.

All it takes is a little creativity and the right publicity team to back the worst excuses. Let’s just hope these celebrities don’t really believe the public is as stupid as the stars’ attempts to explain away their own ill-fated behaviors.

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons


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