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Elmo

SINGS at Thanksgiving Parade

'Nothing's Gonna Bring Us Down'

11/22/2012 7:45 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF



Elmo
is alive and well on Thanksgiving -- singing his heart out during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade today in NYC ... and the song may or may not be a musical response to the child abuse scandal.

Elmo -- along with the rest of the "Sesame Street" cast -- sang "What I Am," a song with lyrics that take on new meaning in the wake of the scandal involving Kevin Clash, Elmo's former voice actor who's been accused of sexually abusing 2 underage boys.

Among the lyrics -- "I'm gonna keep my head up high / keep on reaching high / Never gonna quit / Just keep getting stronger."

And if that weren't appropriate enough, Elmo chimes in with his solo -- "Nothing's gonna bring us down."

Check out the clip.

Elmo Accuser #2

'I'm Happy'

Kevin Clash Resigned

11/21/2012 2:01 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF

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The man who claims Elmo voice actor Kevin Clash sexually abused him as a 15-year-old says he's "happy" and "relieved" Clash called it quits on "Sesame Street" -- because the scandal could have wreaked even more havoc on the kids' TV show.

The accuser Cecil Singleton -- who's now 24 -- was out in NYC with his lawyer today when he reacted to the news ... that Clash resigned in the immediate wake of Singleton's lawsuit.

Singleton is suing Clash for more than $5 million, claiming Clash preyed on him as a child "to satisfy his depraved sexual interests."

Singleton also says Clash desperately tried to conceal his connection to "Sesame Street" during their courtship in 2003 -- claiming, "It was essential to him that I not find out who he actually was."

Singleton says he was motivated to file his lawsuit by Clash's first accuser Sheldon Stephens.

And there's this -- Singleton's lawyer says he won't be surprised if more men come forward, claiming he's already spoken to men with similar stories as Cecil and Sheldon.

Elmo

Continues to Tickle Kids

For XMAS

11/21/2012 11:40 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

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Elmo is alive and well in toy stores across the US of A ... and allegations of underage sex involving Kevin Clash, the voice of the famous puppet, has had no impact on sales.

TMZ contacted more than 20 toy stores across the country, and none of them have pulled Elmo from the shelves. Indeed, most of the managers in the stores were unaware Clash had resigned after a second man came forward claiming he had underage sex with Clash.

Most of the stores we called were Toys"R"Us.  A few examples --

-- Toys"R"Us on Broadway in NYC ... Elmo is still on the shelves.  There was no change in placement of the puppet in the store or returns.  The puppet is still selling.

-- North Lakeland, FL ... No change in sales.  Employee was unaware of scandal.

-- Brandon, FL ... Sold out of Laugh Out Loud Elmo.  Will restock soon.

-- Austin, TX ... We haven't been notified of the Elmo issue.  We still have Elmo dolls on the shelves.

-- Greenville, SC .... We do not have the LOL Elmo dolls in stock.  We're sold out and waiting on our next shipment.

None of the stores we contacted even hinted they might pull back on Elmo for XMAS.

Elmo

Won't Be Yanked

From Thanksgiving Parade

11/21/2012 10:52 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news

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Elmo won't be denied his right to ride through the streets of Manhattan on Thanksgiving Day .. TMZ has learned the embattled muppet is still scheduled to FLOAT in the Macy's parade.

Despite the fact that Kevin Clash -- the man who provided Elmo's voice for decades -- has resigned ... a rep for Macy's tells us ... "Elmo will be joining his Muppet friends on the Sesame Street float with an alternate puppeteer bringing him to life."

The rep adds, "Current events have no bearing on Sesame's participation in the Parade and we are confident their world-renowned, family-friendly entertainment and educational programming will continue to bring kids and families joy for decades.”

Elmo Accuser

We Dry-Humped

... But NO Intercourse!

11/20/2012 12:04 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news

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Kevin Clash -- the voice of Elmo -- did NOT have sexual intercourse with his 2nd accuser while Cecil Singleton was underage ... but they did engage in some dry-humping ... this according to Singleton. 

Cecil just held a media conference about the lawsuit he filed against Clash in New York -- describing the allegations against the former "Sesame Street" star.

According to Singleton, his sexual relationship with Clash began when he was 15 and Clash was an adult ... and initially lasted for 2 weeks. But they picked things up a while later.

Singleton claims that while they never had sexual intercourse, the two did engage in several sexual activities together ... including "groping, masturbation, intense kissing, dry-humping."

Singleton says they had sexual intercourse years later ... when Cecil was an adult.

Cecil says he broke off the initial relationship because he felt Kevin liked him too much -- and Cecil didn't think he could handle the relationship.

We broke the story ... Cecil is suing Clash for more than $5 million in damages ... claiming he's suffering psychological and emotional issues caused by the relationship.

Voice of Elmo Kevin Clash

Resigns

from Sesame Street

11/20/2012 10:25 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news

1120-elmo-kevin-clash-gettyKevin Clash, the voice of Elmo, has resigned from Sesame Street ... in the immediate wake of a new lawsuit accusing him of having sex with an underage boy -- the second such allegation in 2 weeks.

TMZ broke the story ... Clash is being sued by Cecil Singleton, who claims he met Kevin in a gay phone chat back in '93 ... when he was 15 and Clash was 32.

Sesame Workshop says, "Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding Kevin’s personal life has become a distraction that none of us want, and he has concluded that he can no longer be effective in his job and has resigned from Sesame Street. This is a sad day for Sesame Street."

Sesame Workshop had previously told TMZ, "Elmo is bigger than any one person." That was in response to the initial underage sex accusation from Sheldon Stephens.

As TMZ previously reported ... Stephens signed a $125,000 settlement with Clash, but has since expressed regret over signing the deal which required him to recant his claim.

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Voice of Elmo

NEW LAWSUIT

Allegations of Sex with SECOND Underage Boy

11/20/2012 7:28 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

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update_bar
8:20 AM PT
-- Clash has officially resigned from "Sesame Street" today in the immediate wake of this new lawsuit.

8:40 AM PT --
The accuser's lawyer has filed new court docs, in which the date of the alleged abuse has been changed from 1993 to 2003. The accuser also says he is currently 24-years-old ... and chalks up the mistake to a typo.

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Kevin Clash -- known as the voice of Elmo -- is facing NEW allegations that he had a sexual relationship with a SECOND underage boy ... TMZ has learned. 

The accuser -- who is now in his 30s -- has filed a lawsuit against Clash ... claiming the two met on a gay phone chat line back in 1993 ... when the accuser was 15 years old and Clash was 32.

In the suit, the accuser reveals his name -- Cecil Singleton. His attorney also provided TMZ with a photo.

Cecil Singleton

Among the allegations, Singleton claims, "[Clash] trolled gay telephone chat line rooms to meet and have sex with underage boys."

In the lawsuit, filed in federal court in NYC, Singleton claims Clash "groomed [the accuser] to gain his trust by, among other things, taking him to nice dinners and giving him money."

Singleton claims while Clash was featured on "Sesame Street," he was "preying on teenage boys to satisfy his depraved sexual interests."

In the suit, Singleton claims ... although the sex occurred nearly 20 years ago, he didn't take action until now because ... he "did not become aware that he had suffered adverse psychological and emotional effects from Kevin Clash's sexual acts and conduct until 2012."

Singleton is demanding more than $5 million.

We broke the story, Clash struck a settlement with a previous accuser who initially claimed he had a sexual relationship with Kevin beginning when he was 16 years old. As part of the settlement, the accuser issued a statement recanting his claims.

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Voice of Elmo Accuser

I Didn't Lie

I Want to Undo Settlement

11/19/2012 7:00 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

1118-Sheldon-Stephens-kevin-clash-gettyThe man who accused Kevin Clash, the voice of Elmo, of having sex with him while he was underage stands by his story, claims he was pressured into recanting it, and is now interviewing lawyers to help him undo his settlement.

TMZ broke the story ... Clash and Sheldon Stephens entered into a settlement in which Clash agreed to pay Stephens $125,000, but in return the agreement provides the following:

"Stephens agrees that immediately upon execution of this Agreement, his counsel, Andreozzi & Associates, P.C., shall release the [following] statement ... 'He [Stephens] wants it to be known that his sexual relationship with Mr. Clash was an adult consensual relationship.'"

We've learned Stephens has met with lawyers in Los Angeles and told them he was pressured into recanting his allegation and insists he's telling the truth when he says he had sex with Clash when he was 16.

Stephens -- who is now 23 -- is telling lawyers he will gladly forfeit the $125,000  to restore his name.  Stephens is saying he was literally crying during the final negotiations and repeatedly said he didn't want to sign.

Clash's lawyer told us Friday he would have no comment on the settlement story.

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Kevin Clash (Voice of Elmo)

Pays Accuser 6 Figures ...

Demanded Public Retraction of Underage Sex Claim

11/17/2012 11:35 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

1116-elmo-kevin-clash-sheldon-stephensKevin Clash -- the voice of Elmo -- agreed to pay his accuser $125,000, with one string attached -- that the accuser recant his story that Clash had sex with him when he was a minor ... TMZ has learned.

TMZ broke the story ... Sheldon Stephens alleged he was only 16 when Clash began a sexual affair with him. Clash has acknowledged an affair, but insists it started when Stephens -- now 23 -- was an adult.

Multiple sources tell TMZ ... hours before Stephens recanted his underage sex allegation, a settlement was struck between the two parties. Under the terms of the settlement, Clash agreed to pay Stephens 125k. But the settlement then provides the following:

"Stephens agrees that immediately upon execution of this Agreement, his counsel, Andreozzi & Associates, P.C., shall release the [following] statement ... 'He [Stephens] wants it to be known that his sexual relationship with Mr. Clash was an adult consensual relationship.'"

The settlement document goes on to say if Stephens is asked by anyone about his relationship with Clash, he must only repeat the statement [above] in the settlement that recants his story.

We've learned although Stephens signed the document, he continues to insist Clash had sex with him when he was a minor and was pressured into signing the settlement.

One source privy to the negotiations tells TMZ ... Stephens was crying during final negotiations and repeatedly insisted he didn't want to sign.

We contacted Clash's lawyer, but he had no comment.

Sesame Street Accuser

RECANTS

Underage Sex Allegations

11/13/2012 2:32 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Exclusive Details

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The man who claims he had a sexual relationship with Kevin Clash -- the voice of Elmo -- is RECANTING his story ... claiming he WAS an adult during their relationship after all.

The accuser's lawyer just released a statement saying, "[The accuser] wants it to be known that his sexual relationship with Mr. Clash was an adult consensual relationship. [The accuser] will have no further comment."

It's unclear why the accuser suddenly changed his story ... but sources close to the situation tell TMZ ... the accuser's attorney had been meeting with Clash's attorney as recent as an hour ago, discussing a financial settlement and 6-figures were on the table.

We broke the story, the accuser claimed he had a sexual relationship with Kevin beginning when he was 16 and Kevin was 45.

Clash has also released a statement saying, "I am relieved that this painful allegation has been put to rest. I will not discuss it further."

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Voice of Elmo's

Email to Accuser

'I Keep Talking About Sex with You'

11/13/2012 6:30 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

Kevin Clash, the voice of Elmo
Kevin Clash -- the man who voices Elmo -- had an email exchange with his accuser in 2010 in which he apologized for constantly talking about sex ... and promised to make all of his "dreams come true" ... TMZ has learned.

We broke the story ... Clash was disciplined by Sesame for sending a personal email from his Sesame Street email account. The email was sent to a man who now claims he had a sexual relationship with Clash when he was 16 and Clash was 45.

In the email -- sent well after the accuser turned 18 -- Clash writes, "I'm sorry that I keep talking about sex with you, its driving me insane."

He adds, "I want you to know that I love you and I will never hurt you. I'm here to protect you and make sure your dreams come true."

Clash continued, "I'll have my assistant book a ticket for you to come to NY and we can talk about this in person."

As we previously reported, Clash has acknowledged having a sexual relationship with the accuser but insists it only took place AFTER the accuser was an adult.

Clash has since taken a leave of absence from Sesame Street and says he will focus on fighting the allegations.

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Voice of Elmo

Denies Sex w/ Underage Boy

Takes Leave of Absence from Sesame Street

11/12/2012 10:00 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

Elmo Voice Actor Kevin ClashKevin Clash -- the man known as the voice of Elmo -- has taken a leave of absence from Sesame Street in the wake of allegations he had a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old boy, TMZ has learned ... allegations Clash adamantly denies.

We've learned ... Sesame Workshop lawyers recently met with a 23-year-old man who claims he and Clash began a sexual relationship 7 years ago ... when he was 16 and Clash was 45.

Clash has acknowledged to TMZ he had a relationship with the young man -- but insists it only took place AFTER the accuser was an adult.

Sesame Workshop honchos tell TMZ ... "In June of this year, Sesame Workshop received a communication from a young man who alleged that he had a relationship with Kevin Clash beginning when he was 16-years-old. This was a personal relationship, unrelated to the workplace. We took the allegation very seriously and took immediate action."

Sesame Workshop officials acknowledge to TMZ they met with the accuser twice and had a number of other communications with him.

Sources with direct knowledge of the situation tell TMZ ... after the accuser's initial meeting with Sesame Street, the accuser felt Sesame Workshop's lawyers were trying to muzzle him ... so he lawyered up with Andreozzi and Associates -- the firm that represented one of the victims in the Jerry Sandusky child rape case.

On August 15, 2012 ... Andreozzi fired off a letter to Sesame, accusing the company of trying to "discredit the victim in order to protect its employee and the image of one of its most valuable characters," adding, "This approach places a greater value on a puppet than the well being of a young man."

Sesame Workshop officials tell TMZ ... they conducted a thorough investigation and determined the allegation of underage sex was unsubstantiated. They say they never tried to silence the accuser -- rather they asked for evidence supporting his claim, but he never produced it.

Officials also tell us they're suspicious because the accuser has an email which TMZ obtained -- purportedly sent to him by Clash, acknowledging they had the affair when he was 16. The officials say the accuser never mentioned such an email existed and they believe it's fraudulent.

But there were other emails between Clash and the accuser, and although they don't suggest there was underage sex, officials tell us they disciplined him for inappropriate use of company email.

Sesame Workshop honchos tell TMZ ... "Kevin insists that these allegations are false and defamatory and he has taken actions to protect his reputation. We have granted him a leave of absence to do so."

It is unclear why Clash wanted a leave of absence, since he denies the allegations of underage sex.

As for Clash, the voice actor tells TMZ, "I had a relationship with [the accuser]. It was between two consenting adults and I am deeply saddened that he is trying to make it into something it was not."  Clash calls the accusations false and defamatory.

Finally Sesame Workshop officials tell TMZ the puppet is alive and well: "Elmo is bigger than any one person and will continue to be an integral part of Sesame Street to engage, educate and inspire children around the world."

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LeVar Burton

PBS Will Triumph ...

Romney or No Romney

11/6/2012 12:45 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

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Big Bird
is safe for now -- at least according to Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton, who tells TMZ, he's confident PBS will survive after the election ... no matter who wins ... despite Mitt Romney threatening to cut funding to the network if he's elected.

Burton had just cast his vote in L.A. -- take a wild guess for who -- and we asked if he was optimistic about PBS' survival next year post-election (in light of Romney's infamous anti-Big Bird agenda).

Burton replied, "I am. In my heart, I absolutely am."

He said,  "A lot depends on what happens this evening. But no matter what happens, PBS needs to reorganize its way of being effective."

Burton -- who has already expressed his outrage over Romney's anti-PBS stance -- added, "A lot of people need to acknowledge that the world is changing, and we got to change with it or get left behind."

Puppet power.

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