2019 in Review: The Biggest Stories of the Year

It seems like just yesterday that we were reporting on Jussie Smollett’s alleged attack in Chicago. Actually, it was 300 or so days ago. The Empire celebrity was one of the many stories Reel 360 and our sister publication Reel Chicago covered in 2019. And there was much to cover.

Reel 360 expanded from mainly reporting Chicago and Los Angeles news to New York, Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis, Portland and a slew of other cities.

If there was a story and it was interesting, we did our best to cover it. Chicago made a lot of news this year, from musical chairs among ad agency creative directors to Steve Easterbrook being fired from his CEO position at McDonald’s. There were also the chicken wars between Popeyes and Chick-Fil-A.

Sarah Sanders left the White House and Keanu Reeves returned to Bill and Ted. Game of Thrones ended and Disney+ launched.

There was lots of Disney news. Lots of McDonald’s news. Then more Disney news. Then more McDonald’s news.

And Reel 360 went to the Oscars. Here is a smattering of the some of the bigger stories we covered in 2019.

20. Empire star Jussie Smollett beaten by MAGA supporters


On January 29, Empire star Jussie Smollett claimed he was viciously attacked early Tuesday morning in what Chicago police were calling a possible hate crime. The story became stranger and stranger. (Read Story)

19. Jussie Smollett charged with filing false police report


Like we said, things turned really strange in Smollett’s case as Nigerian brothers were arrested and Chicago PD charged the actor with disorderly conduct and filing a false police report. (Read Story)

18. Marketing Arm takes lead on State Farm from DDB

State Farm is reportedly consolidating business with Omnicom

In November, State Farm altered its 80-year-old relationship with DDB Chicago and awarded The Marketing Arm its creative business. This was a huge blow to the agency after the We Are Unlimited loss of McDonald’s. (Read Story)

17. Journalists condemn ‘Trump Kills Media’ video


In October, a violent video, created by a pro-Trump group, went viral. It depicted Trump stabbing, shooting and impaling the media, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney. (Read Story)

16. Fool House star Loughlin pleads not guilty in college scam


Star of Full House and the 90210 reboot, Lori Loughlin, got caught (along with Felicity Huffman and others) paying large sums of a money to a fake charity in order to get her two daughters accepted into the USC. She and her husband have plead innocent. (Read Story)

15. Netflix asks Bird Box fans to please stop challenge


In early January, Netflix issued a plea to fans of the streaming giant’s original horror film Bird Box – please do not participate in the “Bird Box Challenge,” a potentially dangerous online dare. (Read Story)

14. Jenny Lumpkin leaves Quriosity for The Mill


In August, industry vet, Jenny Lumpkin, left her position of Sales Rep and Senior Producer at Quriosity Productions to take on the role of Executive Producer at The Mill. (Read Story)

13. Amoaku named Chicago Film Office Director

In July, 25-year film industry vet Kwame Amoaku became the first African-American appointed to the vital and visible leadership role of Director of the Chicago Film Office. (Read Story)

12. Immesoete files $800K ageism suit against Epsilon

In October, former Epsilon chief creative officer John Immesoete has filed a suit worth $800,000 against the Chicago data agency, alleging age discrimination led to his firing last December. (Read Story)

11. Disney, Sony web up deal for one more Spider-Man

In September, after a very public dispute during the summer, which scared the webbing out of Marvel and Spidey fans, Disney and Sony came to an agreement to produce more webslinger films together. (Read Story)

ALSO READ: 2019 in Review: The Best of “Reel Ad of the Week”

10. McDonald’s taps Wieden+Kennedy NY as lead agency


This was a major blow to the former bespoke agency We Are Unlimited and the Chicago market in general. McDonald’s USA announced in September that WKNY would serve as the lead creative agency for its U.S. business. (Read Story)

9. 7,000 WGA members fire their agents


In April, the ATA, who refused to back off of their packaging deals, got a rude wake-up call from the WGA. They were fired. In an amazing show of solidarity, 7,000 termination letters were issued. (Read Story)

8. The ‘Chicken Sandwich Wars’ will leave you fried


When Popeyes introduced their chicken sandwich, a Twitter war began between the chain and reigning fowl champ, Chick-Fil-A. It was in the vein of great fights like “The Thrilla in Manilla,” “The Hatfields and The McCoys” and “Trump vs Anyone else.” We were in the midst of the “Great Chicken Sandwich Wars.” (Read Story)

7. Erica Duffy is MIFF’s new executive director

Earlier this month, The Midwest Independent Film Festival, named Camera Ambassador’s managing partner Erica Duffy as its new Executive Director. (Read Story)

6. Joker has last laugh as it is highest grossing “R” film

In October, Warner Bros. and director Todd Phillips laughed all the way to the bank as Joker passed the $800 million mark, making it the highest grossing R-rated film of all time worldwide. (Read Story)

5. Robert De Niro bringing 600,000 sq. ft. studio to NYC


In late July, Robert De Niro, his son and broker Raphael of Douglas Elliman, and producer film producer Jane Rosenthal announced they are purchasing a 5-acre property to convert into a film studio. (Read Story)

4. Emma Montgomery leaves Leo Burnett post


December was a big month for moves. Musical executive chairs continued in Chicago as Leo Burnett president and chief strategy officer Emma Montgomery resigned her post. (Read Story)

3. Wonder Woman 84 trailer drops and it’s wonderful

Appearing before thousands of devoted Wonder Woman fans and cosplayers at Brazil’s CCXP, actress Gal Gadot,and director Patty Jenkins introduced the first trailer to Warner Bros. upcoming Wonder Woman 1984. (Read Story)

2. Disney+ gets a minus w/streamers for error message

In November after four years of planning, teasing and an “unprecedented” marketing campaign from the Walt Disney Company, Disney+ is making its debut Tuesday. But there were hiccups. (Read Story)

1. McDonald’s Easterbrook fired over employee relationship

In early November, McDonald’s Corporation announced that that CEO Steve Easterbrook was fired due to a consensual relationship with an employee, the company said Sunday. (Read Story)

There were plenty more stories. How could there not be? We published almost every day of the year during 2019. We will continue to do so in 2020, bring you more news, events and weirdness from the worlds of advertising, film, TV, music, social, tech and gaming. Have the happiest of New Years from The Reel 360 team.

Contact Colin Costello at [email protected]