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Biggest reality TV scandals of 2013

5:21 AM, Dec 31, 2013   |    comments
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Reality TV provides no shortage of headlines each year, whether it's Kim Kardashian giving birth on "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" or Blake Shelton getting knocked out of the competition for the first time in three seasons of "The Voice."

But not all headlines are good. In fact, reality TV offered some of the biggest talkers in entertainment in 2013. From cheating to fakery to just plain bad conduct, some unscripted personalities displayed their naughtiest behavior. Take a look:

'Duck Dynasty': Phil Robertson gets suspended - briefly
Cable TV's biggest reality hit found itself in the crosshairs after star Phil Robertson called homosexuality a "sin" and said black people were happy before the Civil Rights movement in a December GQ interview. GLAAD quickly condemned the quotes, and A&E issued a statement noting the star had been placed "under hiatus from filming indefinitely." Shortly after, the Robertson family put the future of the show in question when they said they couldn't imagine doing the program without their patriarch. When Robertson finally addressed the controversy himself, he told a Bible study group, "I will not give or back off from my path." On Dec. 27, A&E issued another statement, this time backing off from the suspension and saying filming would resume with the entire family.

'Kitchen Nightmares': Amy's bakes up trouble
Amy and Samy Bouzaglo made headlines when they appealed to Fox's "Kitchen Nightmares" and star Gordon Ramsay for help with their Arizona eatery, Amy's Baking Co. What the show revealed was that it wasn't negative customer reviews that were hurting the business, but the apparent behavior of the owners, who berated customers. At the end of the episode, Ramsay walked out and said this was the first time he was unable to help a restaurant owner. But that wasn't the end of it. After the episode aired in May, the Bouzaglos attacked commenters on their Facebook page, then later claimed they had been hacked. Forbes even used the tale for a piece on things people should never do on social media.

'Big Brother': Racism, sexism and homophobia on display
Game play and strategy took a backseat on CBS' summer staple when contestants Aaryn Gries, GinaMarie Zimmerman, Spencer Clawson and Andy Herren were caught making derogatory and inappropriate comments on the show's live stream throughout the season. Remarks ranged from racially insensitive to homophobic, and even included praise for Hitler. After the season ended, the offending contestants faced real-world consequences when some lost their jobs and others were publicly reprimanded.

'The Biggest Loser': Caffeine pills controversy
Viewers' jaws dropped when the popular weight-loss competition revealed on Nov. 12 that trainer Jillian Michaels had broken the rules by giving "caffeine supplements to each member of her team without doctor's permission." The trainer defended herself and her decision, insisting that the supplements were healthier than drinking "unlimited amounts of coffee." But breaking the rules is breaking the rules, and her team suffered for it. The bright side? Former "American Idol" champ Ruben Studdard's elimination was deemed void, and he returned to the competition. After the episode aired, "Loser" trainer Dolvett Quince told TODAY he hoped people would "continue to respect the brand."

'American Idol': Bickering judges
Before season 12 even kicked off in January, reports of discord between new judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj were coming regularly. When the show finally started, it was clear the two had a frosty relationship. From premiere night through the finale, the two ladies traded barbs and tried to one up each other regularly. When Carey announced she was quitting the show shortly after the season ended, Minaj made a similar reveal two hours later. After all the dust had settled, Carey said in a November interview that her time on "Idol" "was like hell. Going to work every day in hell with Satan."

'The Real Housewives of New Jersey':
Giudices charged with fraud
Big trouble came in the form of federal financial fraud charges in August for Joe and Teresa Giudice. The pair - who are accused of using fake pay stubs, tax returns and W-2 forms to get nearly $5 million in loans, and more - pleaded not guilty. Joe is also facing charges for not filing tax returns, and Teresa with hiding her earnings from the hit Bravo program when the Giudices applied for bankruptcy. Two more counts of fraud were added in November for a total of 41 counts. If convicted, the couple could be sentenced to decades in prison, face several million dollars in fines, and Joe - an Italian citizen - may be deported.

Count on more developments - and reality TV scandals in 2014. In addition to more potential trouble for the Giudice's next year when their case goes to trial, A&E's "Storage Wars" has some legal issues brewing for the new year. Last December, former star Dave Hester sued for wrongful termination and claimed that the popular series was rigged. A judge in March gave the network a win, tossing the reality personality's claim of unfair business practices. But in September, a judge allowed Hester's claim of wrongful termination to proceed. He's suing for $750,000 in general damages, plus punitive damages.

Stay tuned for more. As "Big Brother" proved, the always-recording cameras will catch all the action, both good and bad.

NBC News

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