When Simon Cowell selected his former "American Idol" sparring partner Paula Abdul to join him as a judge on his U.K. import, "The X Factor," expectations ran high for another hit. But when viewership proved lackluster, Cowell gave Abdul the boot, along with first-year judges Steve Jones and Nicole Scherzinger.
Hugh Jackman, a cashier at a 7-Eleven?! Academy Awards-hosting Hugh Jackman? People magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive" song-and-dance man Hugh Jackman? It not only happened; he was actually fired from this unlikeliest of day jobs prior to his breakout screen role as Wolverine on "X-Men." "I got fired after six weeks because the (boss) said I talked too much to the customers," Jackman explained to Us Weekly.
Oprah Winfrey's ascent to multimedia superstardom began with an embarrassing belly-flop at age 22 when she was fired for low ratings from her much-hyped new position as co-anchor of the 6 o'clock weekday news on Baltimore's WJZ-TV. Winfrey was demoted to morning TV, where she found her voice and met fellow newbie Gayle King, who would one day become her producer and editor of O, The Oprah Magazine. Seven years later, Winfrey moved to Chicago, where her self-titled show would dominate daytime TV for a quarter-century.
Long before Rainn Wilson made us howl as egomaniacal Dwight Schrute on "The Office," he was fired from a real office job because his boss didn't find him amusing. Fresh out of college, Wilson went to work as an event coordinator for a New York City charity for the disabled. "My boss said, 'I need someone who, when I say jump, says, how high,'" Wilson told People magazine. "I said, 'I had no idea people actually said that.' He let me go."
Catfights are not uncommon on morning TV, but usually not among co-hosts. That changed in June 2006, when Star Jones suddenly announced on air that she was departing "The View" after nine years as co-host with the show's creator, Barbara Walters. "My contract was not renewed," she told People magazine. "I feel like I was fired." Blindsided that Jones had made the announcement prematurely, Walters responded by making her dismissal effective immediately.
After Charlie Sheen was fired in March 2011 from the top-rated CBS comedy "Two and a Half Men," he embarked on a vitriolic multimedia flameout that seemed to reinforce the wisdom behind his dismissal. But with a reported $25 million parting settlement in his pocket and the debut of his new FX comedy, "Anger Management," TV's bad boy may once again be "winning."
West Coast rapper and actor Snoop Dogg (now known as Snoop Lion) may be one of music's best packagers of catchy rhymes, but he freely admits he made a lousy bag boy. Snoop told Jay Leno that he was fired from his first job at a grocery store for one minor performance flaw: "I was better at stealing the groceries than I was at bagging the groceries." Retail's loss proved to be rap music's gain.
Long before Kate Walsh donned her surgical scrubs as Dr. Addison Montgomery on "Grey's Anatomy" and "Private Practice," she worked for both a king and a queen -- Burger King and Dairy Queen, that is. Fortunately for Walsh, a career in fast food was not on her menu. "At 14, I was fired from Burger King. I had a runny nose and the assistant manager didn't like me!" she told People magazine.
Acerbic comedian Gilbert Gottfried was fired as the nasally voice of the Aflac duck March 14, 2011, after he sent a series of offensive jokes via Twitter about Japan's magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami shortly after thousands had died in the disaster. Gottfried has put his foot in his mouth before, most notably with an ill-advised 9/11 joke just three weeks after the 2001 terrorist attacks.