In 2017’s version of Young Hollywood, the term scandal often evokes some sort of social media crisis. Maybe someone was caught on Twitter licking a donut. Maybe someone got in a fight on Instagram. Or maybe you’re just talking about the Kerry Washingtonshow.
But back in 2007, during the height of the Young Hollywood club scene and all the drinking, partying and general rule-breaking that went down in the industry’s insular group of It Girls, scandal was a much darker idea. That era seems so long ago now. Some of its major players have left the industry. Almost all of them have tampered their once-daily club appearances. Most of the establishments that fans came to know as synonymous with the late-night escapades of young starlets, like Les Deux or Hyde Lounge, have long since closed down. And all of the members of The Hills cast are moms.
But it’s worth taking a trip down memory lane, in part for entertainment’s sake and also because it can serve as a bit of a reminder of how far we’ve come.
First, in case the legal proceedings of young celebrities over a decade ago aren’t at the forefront of everyone’s minds, let’s set the scene. It was, of course, 2007. The iPhone had just debuted but most of the PYTs were still using T-Mobile Sidekicks—bonus cool points for any bedazzling. Grey’s Anatomy was still a new television show. Judd Apatowwas beginning his comedy reign with Knocked Up and Superbad. Live was still with Regis and Kelly. Los Angeles was the epicenter of celebrity culture and was beginning to be overrun by paparazzi.
The Internet was a part of pop culture in full force and gossip blogs, like Perez Hilton, and tabloid magazines were all anyone could talk about. The quickest way to relevancy was to have your photographed taken and the quickest way to have your photograph taken was to step out at known paparazzi dens. This meant restaurants like The Ivy, with its front terrace tailor-made for a staged al fresco lunch, but it also meant nightclubs. For a certain set of aspiring young stars, the combination of too much power and too much money meant that they could spend every night dancing and drinking. The result was, to put it mildly, interesting.
Paris Hilton was the first to succumb to the looming threat of legal intervention in her wild lifestyle. It all started during a September, 2006 traffic stop, when the heiress was pulled over and subsequently failed a field sobriety test. She pleaded no contest that winter and was given a 36-month-long probation period, but later that winter she failed to appear for a court-ordered alcohol education program and was pulled over two more times. Hilton was eventually busted for driving on a suspended license and asked to appear in court that summer which was perhaps the first time that the Los Angeles Courthouse resembled a nightclub.
The whole thing was a spectacle, to say the least, with crowds of photographers and reporters lining up near the building’s entrance and a dramatic late entrance by Hilton herself. She was sentenced to 45 days in county jail and, in a move that was surely a sign of her level of fame, was barred from the option of paying extra money to do her time in a nicer jail. That one was cold, Judge.
In perhaps the most Paris Hilton move of all, she checked herself into the Century Regional Detention Facility straight from a red carpet appearance at the MTV Movie Awards—the professional hair and makeup team that prepped her for the show being the ones responsible for that oddly glamorous mugshot. She spent only a handful of days in the slammer before being sent off to serve the rest of her time on house arrest, only to be hauled back to the courthouse (tearfully, in full view of the crowding photographers) and placed back in jail to serve out her sentence.
The star spent a total of 45 days in jail, getting out for good behavior and even squeezing in a phone interview with E!’s Ryan Seacrestwhile incarcerated. She told the host, “In a way I’m really glad this happened because it changed my life forever.” Plus, she had about the most flattering release photo a person could ask for, so it’s hard not to call the ordeal a success.
AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian
Next in line was Hilton’s A Simple Life costar and partner-in-cow-milking Nicole Richie. Any discussion of the star during this time requires a full suspension of belief, because of the drastic turnaround the fashion icon has gone through. The organic-chicken-raising, clothing-designing, adorable-children-raising woman we know and love today had her own fair share of legal troubles during the party craze of 2007. She was arrested in December, 2006 after driving her Mercedes the wrong way up an exit ramp in Glendale under the (admitted) influence of Vicodin and marijuana.
She plead guilty later that summer, barely a month after Hilton was released, receiving a four-day sentence. Thus began what is probably the most noteworthy of all the celebrity jail appearances: She spent 82 minutes on the inside. She was booked, she was processed, she maybe got a snack out of the vending machine, and then she left. Interestingly enough, on the same day that Richie was getting her brief tour of Los Angeles County Jail, her occasional partner in clubbing Lindsay Lohan was beginning a legal battle of her own.
The former Parent Trap star’s rap sheet is perhaps the most complicated all of the early aughts stars: It has more twists and turns than a Charles Dickens novel. It started Memorial Day weekend of 2007 when she lost control of her Mercedes and crashed in Beverly Hills, and when police tracked her down at an LA hospital hours later she was charged with driving under the influence. Just a month later she was pulled over again for suspicion of driving under the influence.
On August 23, 2007, while Richie spent her 82 minutes in the slammer, she plead guilty to misdemeanor cocaine use and driving under the influence and was sentenced to one day in jail. She reported for her time on the inside in November and just barely beat Nicole’s record stint: Lohan spent 84 minutes at Lynwood County Jail, which of course is the same facility where Hilton completed her sentence.
And with that, Young Hollywood’s whirlwind legal year came to a close.