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'American Idol' ABC vs. Producers ... Tug of War Over Racial Diversity

9/25/2017 1:00 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

The folks who are bringing you "American Idol" again are in conflict over racial composition of the judge's panel  ... TMZ has learned.  

Now that Katy Perry is in place and Luke Bryan is just days from signing, ABC and Fremantle, which co-owns the show, are trying to settle on a third judge. Sources connected to the production tell us Fremantle wants Charlie Puth, but ABC believes there must be racial diversity on the panel.

We're told the network continues to have its eye on Lionel Richie, who has been in play for several months. So far, we're told there's a standoff, but someone's gotta blink because they're almost ready to begin filming with the judges.

And this is interesting ... we're told Fremantle has taken a meeting with Troy Carter, a super manager of performers like John Legend, Nelly, Meghan Trainor, Miguel and Gaga. He's also one of the initial, big investors in Spotify.   We're told one of the reasons Carter may be appealing ... if ABC wins on the diversity issue, Carter wouldn't come with as big a price tag as Lionel, and the budget is almost blown. 

'DWTS' Barbara Corcoran I Like Holdin' Onto My Junk!!!

9/19/2017 7:27 AM PDT

Barbara Corcoran was hangin' onto Keo Motsepe for dear life ... hangin' onto his junk.

The "Shark Tank" star and her pro dancer scored a 14 on the season premiere of "Dancing with the Stars" Monday ... but the bigger story was Barbara grabbing onto Keo's crotch as the judges were dishing scores.

What's unclear is if Babs was oblivious or conscious that she was in the region.   

We reached out to Barbara and she tells TMZ ... "No, I have better aim than that! I was reaching for his hand and landed on his thigh and hung on for dear life."

'American Idol' Filming May Be Delayed Chaos Looms Large

9/14/2017 12:40 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

"American Idol" has backed itself into a corner, because it might need to delay taping until it lands more judges ... but that doesn't work for the only judge it's got so far -- Katy Perry.

Our 'Idol' sources tell us ... Thursday is the last stop for the show's tour bus auditions, and it's just weeks away from the planned taped auditions with the judges. Problem is -- producers are no closer to locking down stars to join Katy on the panel.

So the dilemma is simple and serious -- if the show's forced to postpone filming, it will likely conflict with Perry's Witness tour schedule producers worked so hard to accommodate in the first place.

Adding to the dilemma ... 'A.I.' still hasn't signed desired judge #2, Luke Bryan. We're told he wants more money, and the Disney perks he was offered instead of cash didn't cut it. 'Idol's' no closer to landing the 3rd judge.

Our sources say everything's still up in the air -- not a good place to be for a legendary show trying to make a triumphant return to TV.

Michael Bennett: I'm Gonna Sue Vegas Police ... Over Gun Incident

9/13/2017 6:02 AM PDT
Breaking News

Michael Bennett and his lawyer are making it very clear -- their plan is to sue the Las Vegas Metro Police Department over that August 27 incident where he was detained at gunpoint. 

The NFL superstar and his lawyer, John Burris, sat down with ABC News where they doubled down on claims he was racially profiled when 2 officers ordered him to the ground during an investigation into a possible active shooter at a Vegas hotel. 

The Seattle Seahawks star is still adamant he was detained because he's a black man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time -- and says he was physically and verbally abused until cops realized he was an NFL player. 

In fact, Bennett says it was only when cops Googled him, the abuse stopped. 

"I went from being a black man to a football player."

Burris has laid down the gauntlet with the LVMPD -- saying, "Unless something changes drastically that we don't know of, we're gonna file a lawsuit."

Disney Sued Your TV Show Was a Major Trip ... Landed Me in the Hospital!

9/11/2017 2:39 PM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

Disney got its wires crossed and cluttered while shooting a TV show in "Baywatch" star Yasmine Bleeth's home ... according to her husband, who claims he got jacked up in a trip and fall.

Paul Cerrito says Disney was using his home to shoot a pilot when the equipment tripped him up. In a lawsuit obtained by TMZ, Paul says the injury set him back ... as he was already trying to recover from a previous tumble.

He claims he slipped in a puddle of water in a grocery store back in December. Due to that fall he was using a walker when he went down at home. Cerrito says he's suffered permanent disability, and is suing the store as well as Disney.

Cerrito's lawyer tells us he also suffered a spinal injury. He wants Disney to pay damages and his medical expenses. We've reached out to Disney, so far no word back.

Shonda Rhimes Goodbye, ABC ... Hello, Netflix!

8/14/2017 6:38 AM PDT

Shonda Rhimes is down with Netflix and chill ... the megaproducer is leaving ABC and taking her talents to the streaming service in a blockbuster deal.

Shonda -- the creator of "Grey's Anatomy," "Scandal" and "How to Get Away with Murder" -- will take her ShondaLand production team to Netflix in a multi-year deal. It's unclear how much Netflix paid to swoop her away from the Disney-owned company, but she'll be getting more than she got at ABC.

While 'Grey's' and her other shows will remain airing on ABC, Shonda will develop new projects exclusively for Netflix, as first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Shonda's the latest producer to bail from broadcast TV to Netflix. Chuck Lorre, the brainchild behind "Two and a Half Men" and "Big Bang Theory," is there as well. Jenji Kohan, the creator of "Orange is the New Black" and "Weeds" also jumped ship.  

GMA's Lara Spencer This Just In .... My Body's Straight Fire!!!

8/10/2017 3:27 PM PDT

There once was a newswoman in Nantucket ... 

Whose body was so bangin', everyone wanted to ... compliment it. 

Here's 48-year-old Lara Spencer absolutely MURDERING a striped blue bikini this week while vacationing with her family in Massachusetts. 

Bonus points for the alcoholic (we think) beverage. 

BTW, Lara is a former division 1 college athlete -- she was on the diving team at Penn State. Now, she keeps in shape by playing tennis and running. 

Does a body good. 

'BIP' Stars Evan Bass, Carly Waddell Tie the Knot in Mexico!!!

6/18/2017 7:24 PM PDT

"Bachelor in Paradise" has a happy ending ... at least for last season, because two of its stars just tied the knot.

Evan Bass and Carly Waddell from 'BIP' season 3 said their "I do's" during a beach wedding near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

ABC will air the wedding despite controversy over 'BIP' and sexual assault allegations made by Corinne Olympios against DeMario Jackson and producers. Warner Bros is investigating.

Bass is begging ABC to hold firm and air the show, claiming his marriage has nothing to do with the current scandal.

Katy Perry Scores $25 MILLION Deal For 'American Idol'

5/22/2017 7:48 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

Katy Perry is getting a staggering $25 MILLION to judge "American Idol" ... this according to sources familiar with the negotiation.

Multiple sources tell us ABC was desperate to sign a name before the Upfronts last week, when honchos announced she was the lead judge. As one source put it, "Katy had all the leverage. If ABC ended up announcing the show without a judge, they'd be screwed."

TMZ broke a story way back in 2012 that 'A.I.' was trying to get Katy as a judge but she rejected the network's $20 mil offer.

As we reported, ABC tried to get Kelly Clarkson but at the last minute she jumped ship and went to NBC's "The Voice." NBC also snagged Jennifer Hudson.

We're also told ABC is "on the verge" of signing the deal with Ryan Seacrest to host the show. Sources connected with the first run of 'Idol' tell us Ryan was making $15 mil a season at his high point. We're told Jennifer Lopez was also raking in $15 mil a season. So Katy blew them both away.

Katy Perry It's Official ... I'm Judgin' 'Idol'!

5/16/2017 2:08 PM PDT
Breaking News

"American Idol" and ABC made it official Tuesday ... they've bagged Katy Perry to be the lead judge when the show returns next year.

ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey made the announcement Tuesday -- as we first told you she would -- at the network's Upfronts in NYC. Katy wasn't there for the big reveal, but said in a statement she was "honored and thrilled to be the first judge bringing back the American Idol tradition of making dreams come true."

The network didn't have anything else to say about its 'Idol' reboot. Our sources say it's still a near certainty Ryan Seacrest will host. Zippo on the other 2 judges too.

We broke the story ... 'Idol' honchos don't feel it's essential to the show's success to get another big name singer now that they have Katy. We're told they'll target songwriters and industry execs.

Stay tuned.

'American Idol' Auditions Will Go Down at Disney World!!!

5/9/2017 12:00 PM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

ABC ... you just snagged "American Idol." So, where you goin' for auditions? We're goin' to Disney World!!!

Yep, TMZ has learned the show will shoot audition weeks at Walt Disney World in Orlando. We're told there are 2 reasons:

-- It promotes a huge brand within the Disney company -- amusement parks.

-- It's way more cost-effective than travelling the show to various cities.

A source familiar with the deal tells us there's also talk of doing some of the auditions at Disneyland on the West Coast.

It would also give the show a cross-section of America and beyond, without having to hit the road.

Money is definitely an issue. The show got too expensive to produce, which is why it went off the air a year ago, and this will save a considerable sum.

RYAN SEACREST He's Not Sayin' No To Hosting 'Idol'

5/7/2017 6:03 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

Ryan Seacrest sounds like he's game for round two of "American Idol."

TMZ broke the story..."Idol" is coming back in March, 2018 on ABC. We got Ryan and GF Shayna in NYC Saturday night and he certainly didn't shut down the possibility of hosting the show again.

As we reported ... the new gig has almost super-human strings attached, requiring him to fly coast to coast twice in two days in the middle of the night each week to pull it off. Ryan seems to think he's up to the task... with an L.A. Fitness membership.

BTW... we got him going in to Le Bernardin restaurant in NYC. It's super expensive, so we're guessing he's banking on "A.I." money to pay the check.

'American Idol' Seems Headed for ABC in 2018

5/4/2017 11:15 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

"American Idol" seems headed for ABC for a March 2018 launch ... sources connected with the negotiations tell TMZ.

TMZ broke the story, ABC made the offer a week ago and asked the owners of the show if it could be moved to NYC so Ryan Seacrest could host, now that he's living there. That idea was quickly nixed and the show will go on in Hollywood.

ABC tells us ... there's no signed deal, but our sources say the negotiations are far along and the fine points are being worked out right now. We're told both sides expect to seal the deal "soon."

We're also told NBC, which made an offer several months ago, is out as a bidder. FOX also made an offer but from everything we're hearing, it's now all about ABC.

Our sources say the plan is for ABC to announce the return of 'Idol' at the Upfronts a week from next.

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