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Top 10 Craziest Things Celebs Did for Attention

VO: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Andrew Tejada
Some stars will do anything to stay in the spotlight. For this list, we're looking at the wildest publicity stunts or outright lies that stars have used to draw attention to themselves. We’ve included insane stunts like DJ Khaled proposing to Nicki Minaj, Meg and Jack White pretending to be siblings and Shia LaBeouf’s paper bag. Join WatchMojo as we count down the craziest things celebs have done for publicity.
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Script written by Andrew Tejada

Top 10 Craziest Things Celebs Did for Attention


Some stars will do anything to stay in the spotlight. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 craziest things celebs did for attention.


For this list, we're looking at the wildest publicity stunts or outright lies that stars have used to draw attention to themselves.



#10: Joaquin Phoenix Lies to David Letterman…Twice


In 2008, Joaquin Phoenix shocked Hollywood when he announced he was giving up acting to become a rapper. A few months later, the actor made an appearance on Letterman’s show for an interview. Phoenix's wild beard and unusual behavior had people genuinely concerned that he’d lost his mind. However, it turned out that the appearance was an act to promote his upcoming mockumentary “I’m Still Here”. After Phoenix apologized, he lied to Letterman again in 2014 by making up a story about getting engaged to his yoga teacher. Although both pranks received some backlash, Phoenix's thriving acting career proves that he got the last laugh.





#9: Shia LaBeouf’s Paper Bag


Shia LaBeouf’s bizarre behavior has produced many attention-grabbing headlines. He’s volunteered to become a meme, watched all his movies with fans in a non-stop marathon and applauded a song that painted him as a vicious cannibal. But LaBeouf’s most infamous stunt occurred on the red carpet. During the Berlin premiere of “Nymphomaniac,” he wore a paper bag with eye holes over his head that said, “I’m not famous anymore”. The strange fashion choice may have been LaBeouf’s way of distracting people from his plagiarism scandal. Or it could’ve been another one of his performance art pieces. Regardless of LaBeouf’s intent, his bizarre fashion choice turned many heads.



#8: DJ Khaled Proposes to Nicki Minaj


There's nothing like a celebrity marriage to get people talking. DJ Khaled knew this when he proposed to Nicki Minaj on MTV in 2013. His heartfelt confession of love and stunning ten carat ring made his proposal seem legit. However, it didn't take long for the truth to come out. Minaj and Khaled both admitted the proposal was a publicity stunt for an upcoming album. While Minaj said she didn’t know about the stunt beforehand, she's also been accused of stretching the truth about her personal life. After fans were led to believe Minaj was bisexual, she revealed in an interview that she has no physical or romantic desires towards women.

#7: Farrah Abraham Lies About Her Sex Tape


When reality TV star Farrah Abraham was first asked about her rumored sex tape, she said it didn’t exist. But after adult film performer James Deen confirmed he shot a scene with her, the story drastically changed. Abraham claimed the tape was only for her “personal use”. She then sold it to adult film company Vivid Entertainment for around one million dollars. In less than a day, the racy video racked up millions of views. Despite its popularity, Abraham was criticized for apparently misleading people about the tape’s release. While the racy video’s origins are confusing, it clearly got people looking in Abraham’s direction.





#6: Meg & Jack White Pretend to be Siblings


For over a decade, siblings Meg and Jack White garnered praise as the Grammy award-winning rock duo “The White Stripes”. Although the music was real, their familial connection was a lie. Jack originally said he formed the band after hearing his sister Meg play drums. But the two weren’t related. In fact, they got married and divorced while playing in the band. Even after their marriage license was made public, the duo continued the lie until the band was dissolved. In 2005, Jack said that the sibling angle made them more interesting. It’s up to fans to decide if the truth makes legendary singles like “Seven Nation Army” sound any less awesome.



#5: Garth Brooks Creates an Alter Ego


Music fans are generally okay with musicians creating alter egos. Beyoncé had Sasha Fierce, Eminem had Slim Shady and country star Garth Brooks had the soul patch-wearing Chris Gaines. In 1999, Brooks slimmed down and changed his hair to transform into his alter ego. While assuming the persona, he released an album, performed as “Chris Gaines” on SNL and played the character in a “Behind the Music “special. Unfortunately, Gaines’ music didn’t generate huge album sales or interest. As a result, a movie centered around Gaines was canceled and Brooks had to go back to being a hugely successful country star.




#4: Ashanti’s Label Sends Threatening Emails


If your PR stunt inspires talk of protests, you may be doing it wrong. In 2008, Ashanti released a murder-themed music video for her new single “The Way That I Love You.” To promote the video, the label created the Gotcha-gram website. When users submitted their personal information, an email would be sent that said the user’s life was in imminent danger. An email link would then take them to a news report where their name was written in blood at a crime scene. The stunt received immediate backlash for its grim content. After people protested Ashanti, the label ended the bloody campaign.





#3: Brian Williams Exaggerates His Iraq Story


Shortly after the Iraq War began, Brian Williams traveled abroad to cover the conflict for NBC news. During a difficult day in the field, a friendly helicopter was hit with an RPG. Although Williams originally told people this version of events, he later exaggerated the story to say he was in the helicopter struck by the RPG. Williams’ reputation came under fire when his lie was exposed. Furthermore, NBC suspended him from his lucrative NBC Nightly News position. After apologizing and taking a step back from the spotlight, he continued his reporting career on MSNBC. Whether he’ll ever regain the level of trust he once inspired remains to be seen.





#2: Steve Rannazzisi Lies About 9/11


The September 11th attacks irrevocably changed many lives. For 14 years, comedian Steve Rannazzisi claimed he was at the center of the tragedy. He claimed he was working for Merrill Lynch on the south tower’s 54th floor on that tragic day. After narrowly escaping, he was inspired to chase his comedy dreams in Los Angeles. However, a 2015 NY Times article revealed he never worked for Merrill Lynch and wasn’t even in the towers during the attack. Rannazzisi apologized for the lie in a series of tweets. Although his kept his job on the League, Buffalo’s Wild Wings’ choice to pull commercials featuring Rannazzisi showed that some people weren’t ready to forgive him.



#1: Jussie Smollett Accused of Staging an Attack


In early 2019, “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett said that he was attacked by two men who screamed racial and homophobic slurs at him, threw liquid on him and placed noose around his neck.. After he talked to police and received tons of support, rumors later circulated that his January 29th attack had actually been staged. Following police investigation a few weeks later, the alleged attackers were revealed to be former “Empire” extras and evidence had been reportedly uncovered showing that Smollett had actually hired these men. Smollett was soon charged for filing a false police report. Following his arrest, Fox announced his character wouldn’t appear in last two episodes of “Empire” season 5. Smollett’s ongoing story echoes the saga of Morton Downey Jr. The talk show host alleged he was attacked by “skinheads” in 1989, but never filed a police report. (**xref) Unlike Downey Jr., if Smollett is found guilty of lying, he could face jail time.
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