Cracker Barrel has become the first sponsor to cut bait with "Duck Dynasty" ... but not entirely.
The Southern-themed food chain reacted to Phil Robertson's anti-gay comments by removing "selected products which we were concerned might offend some of our guests" from their stores and restaurants.
We called a bunch of Cracker Barrel stores, and the managers told us the products that were removed were the ones that had Phil's face plastered on the packaging. Almost to a person, the managers added, "We still offer a wide variety of Duck Commander products," and then we heard a click.
C.B. offers this explanation ... "We operate within the ideals of fairness, mutual respect and equal treatment of all people. These ideals are the core of our corporate culture."
As for most of the remaining products ... we're told you can find them in the sale bin.
Stars and Scars
You Be the Judge
12/21/2013 12:50 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Rough week for the "Duck Dynasty" ducklings ... A&E's taking a lot of heat for sacking Phil Robertson. So we gotta ask ...
With Atrocious Grammar
33 minutes ago BY TMZ STAFF
Barron Hilton has launched a full-frontal attack on the guy who beat him to a pulp in Miami last week ... and one thing's clear -- his 7th grade English teacher is hanging from the light fixture in her bathroom.
Barron posted his version of events on his Facebook page, scoffing at allegations he threw his famous last name around. Barron says, "This is as ludicrous, and almost as embarrassing as being publicly associated to (SIC -- sorry Barron, it's with) Lindsay Lohan."
Barron does admit, "I am guilty of being at the wrong place at the wrong time, nobody should ever put their hands on someone else." (Blatant run-on)
He continues by attacking puncher Ray Lemoine, "Lemoine sucker punched me, ran away, and used his blog to conjure up an image of himself as a hero by publishing lies." Suggestion -- period after hero -- confusing.
Barron says he wrote what he wrote because he was compelled to "articulate the truth."
He ends with delicious irony: "I hope this has brought clarity to the situation."
Didn't Want to Diss Gay Employees
By Keeping Phil on Show
12/21/2013 1:00 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Phil Robertson disrespected gay employees at A&E ... and THAT'S why he was sacked from "Duck Dynasty" ... sources connected with the network tell TMZ.
We're told A&E CEO Nancy Dubuc felt she could not in good conscience ask gay employees to kill themselves for a show when he disrespected them by calling them sinners.
Our sources say ... gay employees involved in the production -- and there are a number of them -- were outraged by Phil's comments to GQ and wanted Dubuc to give him the ax.
We're told Dubuc felt this way ... If Phil had made similar comments about African Americans or Jews ... there would have been a public outcry for his head. She felt it was just plain wrong not to have the same sense of indignation when the comments were directed at gays.
Our sources say GLAAD was heavily involved in lobbying the network to 86 Phil, and they had an impact.
As for TMZ's criticism that A&E knew full well what it was getting with Phil when they hired him ... as one source put it, "He just took it too far with GQ ... especially with the coarse language."
Our sources say A&E is adamant -- this has nothing to do with being "anti-religion." Fact is ... the network runs lots of religious programming, notably, Mark Burnett's "The Bible."
The CEO is paying the price. We're told she's been receiving death threats.
My Pasta Tweet Got Racial
12/21/2013 9:23 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Steve Martin learned an important lesson about lasagna last night ... the dish can get racial.
The SNL alum was cracking grammar jokes on Twitter .. when someone asked, "is this how you spell lasonia?"
Steve's response ... "It depends. Are you in an African-American restaurant or at an Italian restaurant."
Seconds later the 68-year old actor deleted the tweet and apologized. But the floodgates opened, the original tweet went viral and Martin atoned again: "I did apologize. But again, a second later I realized what an offensive thing I'd done ... In retrospect, bad joke."
A penne for his thoughts.
Tried to Strong Arm Wife
About Child Abuse Claims
12/21/2013 12:40 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Steve Harvey tried to pressure his ex-wife into making a mea clupa ... that she lied when she claimed he brutally beat their son ... so she claims.
Steve Harvey's lawyer wrote a letter for Mary Harvey to sign -- obtained by TMZ -- in which she says she made up the allegation that Steve beat their 11-year-old son with a belt and paddle.
The letter reads in part, "I have to deal with that [the lie] and answer to God for my behavior."
The letter goes on, "I know that you love our son and would do anything legal to protect him. You are a loving father."
As for Steve's effort to keep the allegations under wraps, the letter goes on to say, "I realize that you sought the sealing of the record as a measure to protect our son from a lot of unnecessary anxiety from his peers and others and to protect us as a unit from a media frenzy."
Mary refused to sign the letter and their war continued ... ending this week with a judge throwing Mary in jail for leaking documents to the media.
As for Steve ... authorities cleared him of the child abuse charges.
Tight Leash for Charity Trip
NO FUNNY BUSINESS
12/21/2013 12:30 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Chris Brown better not pull any stunts when he leaves lockdown rehab this weekend to attend a charity event ... because TMZ has learned, if he so much as steps out of line ... the rehab facility will kick him out for good.
TMZ broke the story ... CB obtained permission to attend the 3-hour celebrity toy drive on Melrose Avenue Sunday because the rehab facility -- where he's getting help for anger management -- thought the experience would be good for his treatment.
But sources tell us, the Malibu rehab facility is keeping the singer on an extremely tight leash during the excursion.
We're told Chris only has permission to attend the event from 1pm to 4pm ... as soon as it's over, he has to hightail it back to rehab. The facility is giving him just enough extra time to travel to and from West Hollywood, but that's it. ZERO free time to hang with friends before or after the event.
If he's late to rehab Sunday evening, Chris is out ... which would be real bad ... because rehab's the main reason he's not in jail right now. You'll recall, the judge in his Rihanna beating case revoked his probation, but decided not to toss him in the pokey because he was making good progress in treatment.
We're told the rehab facility will also be drug testing Chris when he gets back ... so he better not think about blazing either.
Christian Country Band
'Duck Dynasty' Haters May Riot
We Need Help!!!
12/21/2013 12:20 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
The Rhett Walker Band is worried a full blown riot may break out this weekend at their concert in Ohio ... and it's all because one of the guys from "Duck Dynasty" will be there.
John Godwin from "DD" is scheduled to make an appearance Sunday at the Rhett Neck Xmas show in Lima -- and Rhett says they've been getting blasted on social media for it ... with some threatening to cause major ruckus.
However, Rhett makes it clear -- he's not gonna let some haters ruin his concert ... especially since the singer agrees with everything Phil said ... and he's vowing to make sure it goes off without a hitch to support the suspended reality star.
Walker adds, "We do support Duck Commander and 'Duck Dynasty' ... if that blows us into an area where people think we hate the gay community that would sadden me -- but we 100% support Phil and what he said."
The band says they are beefing up security at the event ... just to be safe.
The Best (or Worst)
Secret Santa Ever
12/21/2013 12:02 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
A&E Publicist MIA
When Phil Went Off On Gays!
12/20/2013 4:00 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
If you asked yourself "Where was the publicist?" when "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson went off on gays during his big interview with GQ magazine ... TMZ now has the answer ... the publicist was not there!
Sources very familiar with the situation tell us ... a publicist did indeed accompany Robertson to the interview -- per A&E's rigid PR policy -- and the interview took place in several locations. When the GQ reporter and Phil hopped on ATVs, the publicist didn't come along for the ride.
We're told it was then the reporter apparently saw an opening and Phil made his incendiary anti-gay comments
It's pretty shocking ... because Phil is widely known as a loose cannon ... so it's a little like playing Russian Roulette to let him gallivant off with a reporter.
NFL Owners Can't Afford My Rhymes
12/20/2013 3:45 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Cleared of Horrendous Child Abuse Allegations
12/20/2013 3:20 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Steve Harvey was accused by his ex-wife and 11-year-old son of brutally beating the boy ... but Harvey's rep tells TMZ the comedian has been cleared.
A judge found Mary Harvey in contempt Thursday and sent her to jail for leaking sealed information about the alleged incident to the media.
As for the incident ... according to a police report -- obtained by TMZ -- Mary claims Steve got a phone call from the boy's school informing him his son lied about turning in homework. According to the kid, Steve hit him with a belt and then a paddle board -- the kind used for hazing in fraternities.
According to the police report ... cops took photos of the boy's injuries, showing bruises on his buttocks and right thigh, as well as cuts on his leg. The police report says the boy told cops, the beating was so brutal he had trouble urinating for days.
The matter was then referred to the Texas Dept. of Family and Protective Services. Steve's rep tells TMZ, the Dept. concluded, "Based on the information obtained, the child does not appear to be at risk ... the case is closed without further investigation."
Mary believes that it's all a cover-up, and she's been on a campaign for several years to expose him. But yesterday the judge had enough and felt she violated the protective order in the case and threw her in jail for 30 days.
Settles $50 Million Libel Lawsuit
Over 'Abandoned' Suri
12/20/2013 3:16 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
The war is over ... Tom Cruise has settled his epic $50 million libel suit against a magazine publisher that accused him of abandoning his daughter Suri ... and part of the settlement included a carefully-worded apology.
The terms of the settlement are sealed. Each side will pay its own legal fees.
Part of the deal was that the defendants issue the following statement: "Bauer Publishing, 'In Touch' and 'Life and Style' never intended to communicate that Tom Cruise had cut off all ties and abandoned his daughter Suri and regret if anyone drew that inference from anything they published."
As we reported ... Cruise sued Bauer Media Group last year over a cover story that appeared in Life & Style magazine claiming he had "abandoned" his then-6-year-old daughter Suri in the wake of his divorce from Katie Holmes.
The conflict was pretty insane -- you'll recall, Tom sat for a deposition in the lawsuit and compared acting to fighting in Afghanistan.
Regardless, it's all water under the bridge now.