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Muslim Actors Scoring More Roles in Hollywood ... Take That, Prez Trump?

3/21/2017 10:58 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

0321-muslim-actors-hollywood-fa-getty-02Hollywood is hiring way more Muslim actors than ever before ... and President Trump might very well be the one to thank.

Industry sources tell TMZ there's been a big uptick in the number of roles for Muslim actors this pilot season, and that TV networks are pushing for more Muslim-American story lines in primetime.

For example ... Omar Metwally (CBS), Mouzam Makkar (NBC), Zainab Johnson (ABC), Adeel Akhtar (FOX) and Hasan Minhaj (Netflix) ... are all starring in pilots right now.

Sue Obeidi, the director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Hollywood, says studios and production companies are reaching out to her group to consult on accurate plots.

She adds ... rather than just casting someone who might look Middle Eastern or Arabic, networks are pushing for actual Muslims to play Muslim characters. As opposed to the infamous casting of Jake Gyllenhaal in 'Prince of Persia.'

Sources at one of TV's biggest casting agencies say the demand has been on the rise since Trump announced his presidential bid.

As for why? The timing makes it seem obvious -- Hollywood power players, most of whom are vehemently anti-Trump, are pushing back against what they see as his exclusionary policies.

Translation: In your face, Mr. President.

Tyra Banks New Host of 'AGT' Third Time's a Charm

3/12/2017 5:18 PM PDT
Breaking News

0312-tyra-banks-tmz-01Tyra Banks will be the new host of "America's Got Talent" ... this after multiple attempts to hire a comedian failed.

Tyra was not on the radar after Nick Cannon quit. The top 3 candidates were Marlon Wayans, Brandon Mychal Smith and Tone Bell. Marlon was asking for more loot than producers would pay, and then Brandon was tapped but we're told some of the honchos just weren't down with it.

Filming was supposed to begin last week, but Mel B had a death in the family ... so it was put on hold, rendering the show hostless.

Howie Mandel posted a video Sunday announcing the news, and Tyra confirmed it as well. She just finished her long-time gig on "America's Next Top Model."

So finally ... someone everyone agreed on. Season 12 is off and running.


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Marlon Wayans AGT Replacement Not About Race NBC Wanted 'A Like Smile'

3/11/2017 7:39 AM PST
EXCLUSIVE

Marlon Wayans says NBC's decision to replace Nick Cannon on "America's Got Talent" with another black guy has nothing to do with race, but the question ... is Marlon talking code?

We got the comedian Friday night at Catch, and he tells our camera guy that replacing Nick with someone like Brandon Mychal Smith is strictly a numbers game, and that race isn't even in the equation.

So what did Marlon mean when he says NBC was just looking for someone with "a like smile?"

BTW ... we broke the story, NBC wanted Marlon for the "AGT" gig but they couldn't agree on price.

Brandon Mychal Smith Tapped for 'AGT' After Marlon Wayans Negotiations Fizzle

3/8/2017 4:31 PM PST
EXCLUSIVE

0308-brandon-smith-marlon-wayans-tmz-2Brandon Mychal Smith is all but signed to be the next host of "America's Got Talent" ... this after negotiations with Marlon Wayans fell apart over money.

Multiple sources connected with the show tell TMZ, the deal is not done but it will happen soon, possibly in the next day.

We're told Marlon was first choice ... in no small part because he's a major name and has a history with the show as a guest judge. Our sources say reps for both sides went back and forth several days ago but Marlon wanted more than the network was willing to pay.

Brandon -- who's hysterical as a rapper on "You're the Worst" -- will cost way less, but one source said the other advantage is that he will become part of the show in a more seamless way than Marlon, who has an extremely strong brand independent of the show.

One source warns these deals sometimes fall apart at the very end, but it looks like Brandon will get the gig.

As we reported, Nick Cannon quit the show after a dispute with NBC. Nick groused he was reined in and the network tried to homogenize him.

Howie Mandel to Nick Cannon Please Come Back!!!

2/27/2017 8:23 AM PST

Howie Mandel did everything but drop to his knees ... begging Nick Cannon to return as host of "America's Got Talent."

Howie -- 1 of 4 judges on the talent show -- made a passionate plea Sunday at LAX. Howie's pretty damn adamant -- Nick's the heart and soul of the show.

TMZ broke the story ... Nick quit 'AGT' after learning NBC was on the verge of firing him for a harmless joke he made on Showtime.

Nick Cannon He Quit 'AGT' Because NBC Treated Him Differently

2/15/2017 2:26 PM PST
EXCLUSIVE

0215-nick-cannon-tmz-2Nick Cannon was "shaken to his core" and seriously questioned his value as an entertainer after NBC unleashed its fury on him, and that led him to the decision to quit "America's Got Talent."

Sources familiar with the situation tell us, Nick was devastated when he learned the network was on the verge of firing him as host of 'AGT.' He looked at the long history of entertainers -- Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, David Letterman and many others -- who trashed their networks right on their shows, and the brass allowed it. Yet Nick went on Showtime, made a few "harmless comments about NBC," and he was threatened with termination.

One example that hit home with Nick was Tracy Morgan, who made a comment during a show and suggested he might knife his son if he found out he was gay. NBC execs defended Morgan.

We're told Nick started to question his own self-worth as an entertainer, thinking he was being treated differently from the others because he just wasn't that good.

He also took into account losing his salary ... we've learned Nick has been pulling in around $4.5 million a season for 'AGT.'

Nick, we're told, was in a terrible state after NBC went on the attack. One source says it was emotionally harder on him than dealing with his very serious medical problems, including Lupus.

Cannon decided in the end he believed in himself and was undervalued by the network ... so he quit.

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Nick Cannon Yep, I'm Definitely Done At 'AGT'

2/14/2017 1:35 PM PST
EXCLUSIVE

Nick Cannon just dashed the hopes of NBC and 'AGT' ... because he made it clear there is NO chance he'll come back to the show.

Nick was at LAX Tuesday and showed firm resolve ... he's done with the show. As TMZ reported, Nick said he was leaving 'AGT' after NBC execs seriously discussed firing him for talking smack on the show and NBC on his Showtime comedy special.

Nick is unconcerned about the possibility of being sued although, as we reported ... the network likely has no interest in holding him to his contract if he's determined to leave.

'America's Got Talent' 'AGT' Still Wants Nick But if He Wants Out He Can Go

2/14/2017 1:06 PM PST
EXCLUSIVE

0214-nick-cannon-agt-TMZ-01"America's Got Talent" execs desperately want to keep Nick Cannon ... but if he really wants to walk, they likely won't hold him to his contract. 

Production sources with knowledge of the situation tell us the show fires up next month, but honchos aren't scouting for new hosts ... at least not yet. They're hoping Nick has a change of heart.

If Nick holds firm, NBC likely won't sue him for breach of contract. 

Our sources say Nick has been great to work with on 'AGT,' and the crew has become a family. There's reason to believe he's going through something emotional in his personal life and that may well be factoring into his decision. 

Nick Cannon & 'AGT' Nearly Fired Over 'Black Card' Joke ... Cooler Heads Prevail

2/10/2017 9:44 AM PST
EXCLUSIVE

0210-nick-cannon-agt-tmzNick Cannon pissed off some NBC execs with a joke he made during a stand-up comedy special -- and it nearly cost him his job on "America's Got Talent" ... TMZ has learned.

While Nick was recording the special more than a month ago, he joked with the audience that NBC was making him lose his "black card" -- strongly insinuating the network wanted him to show less swagger on 'AGT.' 

Sources familiar with the situation tell us NBC execs got wind of it when Nick was promoting the special on "The Howard Stern Show" ... and thought he was disparaging the network -- a violation of his contract. We're told his deal has a clause that bars him from talking about the network without approval.

There were serious discussions about axing him for breach of contract, or simply because ... if he's so miserable, why not just let him go?

Ultimately, the execs decided Nick had simply made a passing comment. We're told they like him and didn't want to blow the relationship. He'll be shooting 'AGT' next month.

As for the comedy special, it airs Friday night on Showtime and we're told the "black card" comment is in it.

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Matt Lauer Oprah Joining CBS is Good ... For Them

1/31/2017 9:45 AM PST
EXCLUSIVE

Matt Lauer says Oprah joining "60 Minutes" on CBS is great ... for CBS.

We got the NBC "Today" host in NYC Tuesday, where we asked if O joining their rival network was good for competition. 

Here's who's gotta worry ... Megyn Kelly, because she's getting a magazine show that may go head-to-head with "60 Minutes."

NBC Fires Back at Trump Supporter You Were Asking for a Beatdown

1/16/2017 8:51 AM PST
EXCLUSIVE

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When you go to the "Today" show with a shirt suggesting Bill Clinton did what Donald Trump said he did ... you gotta be ready for someone to kick your ass ... so says NBC.

Mark Gallagher went to 30 Rock before the election and wore a t-shirt with Clinton's face and the word "rape."

He claims he was standing there minding his own business when NBC security -- whom he called a "goon squad" -- descended on him and beat the crap out of him. He has sued NBC for $53 mil.

NBC has now fired off its answer, saying when someone does something as incendiary as Gallagher did, they assume the risk someone will come after them. NBC does not get specific, but the network disputes Gallagher's version of the facts ... presumably what he did before the incident.

And this is the best. NBC says Gallagher had a duty to minimize his damages by getting quick medical help, which he did not do. The legal docs say he could have availed himself of the benefits of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act -- aka Obamacare. 

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Megyn Kelly & Lara Spencer Near Collision at JFK Feeling Frigid in NYC

1/10/2017 7:43 AM PST

Lara Spencer and Megyn Kelly may have hugged, kissed or schmoozed before the camera rolled, but it certainly wasn't apparent from what we see at baggage claim at JFK.

The 'GMA' host and the soon-to-be NBC talk show host were feet from each other Monday night, but not a word was spoken ... at least as far as we can see.

ABC and NBC are in fierce competition, but then again competitive anchors still chew the fat.  

At the very least, the video's entertaining.

Trump Supporter NBC's Goons Beat Me Up ... Because I'm Anti-Clinton!!

11/2/2016 11:16 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

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NBC sent a "goon squad" to manhandle a "Today" show audience member because he's a known Trump supporter and they hated his t-shirt ... according to the guy's new lawsuit.

Mark Gallagher claims NBC security descended on him and roughed him up last month because he was pro-Trump ... according to the docs. He says he was doing nothing wrong at the time -- just chatting 2 ladies and wearing an anti-Clinton shirt. 

Gallagher admits he had a motive for being in the "Today" audience ... he believes Bill Clinton is a rapist, and wanted to get some TV time for a shirt with Bill's face and the word "RAPE" on it. He says he was successful doing this the day before on "Good Morning America."

According to the suit ... Gallagher was assaulted by the goons before he even had a chance to take off his sweater and reveal his shirt. He claims he was struck in the back of the head with a security radio and sustained injuries to his neck, lower back, ribs, arms and ankle while being removed ... and has bruises to show for it.

Gallagher is suing NBC Universal for more than $53 million. We reached out to NBC for comment, so far no word back.

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