Pop culture catch-up: What you missed

In this file image from 2014, Brad Pitt and his wife Angelina Jolie attend the premiere of Maleficent at Kensington Palace, London. Jolie has filed for divorce, TMZ reported on Sept. 20, 2016. (Justin Tallis/PA Wire/Zuma Press/TNS)
In this file image from 2014, Brad Pitt and his wife Angelina Jolie attend the premiere of Maleficent at Kensington Palace, London. Jolie has filed for divorce, TMZ reported on Sept. 20, 2016. (Justin Tallis/PA Wire/Zuma Press/TNS)

Were you living under a warm, snuggly rock this holiday break? Catch up on all the latest news in pop culture and entertainment that you may have missed.

1. Celebrity Deaths

The end of 2016 saw the passing of several renowned entertainers. First was singer George Michael, 53, who died in his home Dec. 25. Michael was an '80s pop icon best known for being one part of the singing duo Wham!. He also had a successful solo career — popular singles included “Faith” and “Careless Whisper.” After coming out in 1998, Michael also became an icon for the LGBTQ community. Many celebrities reacted to the news of his death on social media.

The grief in Hollywood continued over break with the passing of actress Carrie Fisher, 60, and her mother, actress Debbie Reynolds, 84. Fisher died Dec. 27 after suffering a heart attack on a plane Dec. 23. She is best remembered for her role as Princess Leia in the "Star Wars" series, though later in life she authored both novels and memoirs, the latest of which, "The Princess Diarist," was published in November 2016. 

Her mother, Debbie Reynolds, died one day later, Dec. 28, of a stroke at her son’s home. He claimed that the stress of Fisher’s death led to Reynold’s passing (commonly called broken-heart syndrome). Reynolds appeared in many movies, including “Singing in the Rain.” Many college students are most familiar with her role as the grandmother in the Disney Channel “Halloweentown” movies. Both Fisher and Reynolds are survived by Billie Lourd, Fisher’s daughter, who has a role on the Fox show “Scream Queens.”

2. Mariah Carey's New Year's Eve performance

Though the end of 2016 saw some sadness, a final moment of lightness arose from Mariah Carey’s bewildering performance on Dick Clark’s New Year's Rockin’ Eve special. The pop diva made headlines after becoming angry about technical difficulties with her earpiece on-air. Instead of singing her famous single “Emotions,” she walked around the stage, randomly singing notes to the music-only track while also adding commentary on the tech problems. By the time “We Belong Together” came on, which did include a vocal track, she had all but given up on lip-synching with her own voice. Carey tweeted after the performance that, “s--t happens. Here’s to making more headlines in 2017.” She later told Entertainment Weekly that Dick Clark would have been as “mortified” as she was. Carey is set to go on a 35-date tour with Lionel Richie later this year.

3. New Kennedy Center honorees

For 39 years, the Kennedy Center Honors has paid tribute to artists who have contributed to American culture. On Dec. 4, honorees were musician James Taylor, actor Al Pacino, pianist Martha Argerich, gospel singer Mavis Staples and the musical group The Eagles. The show was hosted by Stephen Colbert, and attended by President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, who sat with the honorees. You can watch the tribute performances to each honoree here.

4. Box office hits

At the Christmas box office, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” has been leading the pack with a total gross of $268 million as of Jan. 5. Other top movies on Christmas and New Year's weekends included the animated film “Sing” and the action film “Passengers.” For 2016 overall, the top grossing films domestically were “Finding Dory” with $486 million, “Rogue One” with $451 million, and “Captain America: Civil War” at $408 million.

5. Celebrity Divorce update

In celebrity couple news, HGTV fans received a shock when the stars of the popular series "Flip or Flop," Christina and Tarek El Moussa, announced their separation in December. Though originally HGTV said the series would continue as planned, the fate of the show remains unclear. 

Meanwhile, in the ongoing divorce of high-profile actors Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, Pitt requested that all child custody documents be sealed to respect the privacy of their children. On Jan. 3, Jolie filed an agreement to this decision — the judge will officially rule on the decision Jan. 17.

6. New Ed Sheeran music

After a year-long hiatus, British singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran released two singles on Spotify, iTunes and Amazon Music Jan. 6. The singer has been absent on social media and didn't release any new music in 2016. He teased to the release of the singles with a Twitter video Jan. 1, and wrote "Hello 2017." 

7. The Golden Globes

If you missed this year's Golden Globes, hosted by Jimmy Fallon, check out our recap of the awards show here.