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Oakland Fire Art Commune Director Begs 'Can't I Just Say I'm Sorry?'

12/6/2016 6:26 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Breaking News

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Derick Ion Almena, director of the Oakland art commune that burned down, killing at least 36 people -- fell apart during a live interview on NBC's "Today."

Almena claimed his building was "up to code," and defended the space ... saying he let his own children sleep there. He quickly got agitated, started yelling and refused to answer questions.

He shouted at Matt Lauer, "I would rather get on the floor and be trampled by the parents! I'd rather let them tear at my flesh than answer these ridiculous questions!"

It got more bizarre as Almena lost it, begged for mercy and Lauer bailed out.

Billy Bush Officially Done at 'Today' ... NBC Pays Up

10/17/2016 3:49 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

1017-billy-bush-nbc-tmzBilly Bush and NBC have reached a financial settlement on his "Today" contract ... officially ending his employment with the network after the Donald Trump tape leaked. 

Sources with direct knowledge of the negotiations tell us Billy is happy with the final numbers ... which are confidential. As we reported, Bush had just joined NBC's flagship show in August, signing a 3-year deal for $3.5 million per year.

NBC suspended him after the "Access Hollywood" tape came out 10 days ago. Our sources said Bush felt the punishment was unfair because he'd openly talked about the tape in front of his bosses ... and was never disciplined.

We're told he felt like a scapegoat and was cut loose purely for PR reasons. 

An NBC memo to staffers said, "While he was a new member of the TODAY team, he was a valued colleague and longtime member of the broader NBC family. We wish success as he goes forward." 

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Billy Bush Negotiating Settlement with NBC

10/14/2016 1:43 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

1014-billy-bush-tmzBilly Bush showed up to a law office Friday morning ... to hash out a settlement with the NBC execs who want to give him the ax ... TMZ has learned.

Our sources say an NBC lawyer and a senior executive from NBC News "with full negotiating authority" were across the table from Bush and his attorney, Marshall Grossman.

Grossman tells TMZ the AM negotiations were "positive," adding, "I anticipate a favorable resolution in the near future."

Millions of dollars are on the table ... Billy was just months into a 3-year contract with "Today" and our NBC sources say he was pulling in $3.5 million a year.

We're told NBC made a decision Thursday to sit down at the table because Billy's people made it clear they would sue if the network tried firing him for a cause.

As we've previously reported, Billy was talking openly about the "Access Hollywood" tape in early August and NBC honchos knew what he had said, but had no problem with the tape until it was leaked.

The negotiations are continuing Friday afternoon, and Billy and NBC could be parting company by day's end.

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Donald Trump Soap Star Arianne Zucker 'Locker Room Banter' Doesn't Cut It

10/13/2016 6:13 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

The soap star ogled by Donald Trump and Billy Bush on that "Access Hollywood" video says what the 2 guys did is textbook misogyny.

Arianne Zucker said on "Today" she's going to try and turn this into a positive, by showing her daughter how to react in the face of gutter talk against women.

She's pretty compelling.

Billy Bush Suspension The Show Goes On For 'Today' Co-Hosts

10/10/2016 7:06 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

Billy Bush's co-workers had the awkward duty of explaining his absence to the "Today" audience on day 1 of his suspension for the Donald Trump tape.

Bush's suspension was addressed twice ... first by Savannah Guthrie at the top of the show -- and then by Al Roker and Tamron Hall.

Al and Tamron would normally be joined by Billy for the third hour of "Today."

NBC put Bush on the bench Sunday ... indefinitely.

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Billy Bush Lochte Demanded Sit-Down with Lauer ... There's No Bad Blood!

8/23/2016 12:40 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

Billy Bush says Matt Lauer did NOT bigfoot him out of the coveted first sit-down interview with Ryan Lochte ... telling TMZ Sports it was Lochte who called the shots.

There are reports that Lauer and his "Today" show team have been mean-girling Bush behind the scenes ... treating him like an "outcast" ever since he joined the show back in May.

And eyebrows were raised when, after Bush scored that huge exclusive 1-on-1 with Lochte on the beach in Rio (the one where Lochte straight up lied) ... the follow-up sit-down went to Lauer.

So, what happened?

Bush says it was Lochte who set the terms for the follow-up and hand-picked Lauer. Bush says any suggestion that Matt orchestrated some diabolical plot to hijack his story is just wrong. 

As for Lochte ... we asked Bush if the swimmer owes him an apology for lying to him on camera -- he didn't exactly say no.

Puff Daddy Hoda Kotb Just Freaked Me!

5/20/2016 7:15 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs and the Bad Boy family are back with Mase, Busta Rhymes, 112 and new backup dancer ... Hoda Kotb! Yes, Hoda.

Puffy pumped up this summer's Bad Boy Reunion Tour on the 'Today' Show Friday morning ... and while the stage was packed with superstar singers and rappers -- Kathie Lee's partner in crime stole the show. Check out her super close, semi-grinding moves on P. Diddy.

The crew performed a bunch of hits, including a tribute to Notorious B.I.G. built around his "Mo Money Mo Problems" verse. It was a little awkward ... kinda like Hoda's impromptu audition.

Donald Trump Caitlyn Can Use Any Bathroom She Wants

4/21/2016 6:35 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

Donald Trump is a progressive on transgender issues ... saying the trans community is welcome to use any bathroom in his slew of buildings.

Donald was on "Today" when Matt posed the question ... if Caitlyn walked into the Trump Tower, what bathroom could she use?

Trump not only opened the bathroom door, he went the extra mile, saying it would be discriminatory to create a bathroom specifically for the trans community. 

Al Roker NYC Cab Driver Was Racist!!!

11/23/2015 12:45 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Breaking News

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2:10 PM PT -- The Taxi & Limousine Commission says it's giving the cab driver 2 options: pay a $500 fine or have a hearing where he could possibly have his license suspended up to 30 days.

The same cabbie already paid a $200 fine in May for refusing to pick up someone ... according to the TLC. Al tells us, "I appreciate the TLC's prompt attention to his matter and look forward to a proper resolution."

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Al Roker was racially profiled by a NYC cab driver and got so PO'ed about it ... he filed a report with the city's Taxi & Limousine Commission.

Roker says he and his 13-year-old son Nick were trying to hail the cab when it passed them up for a white guy standing on the next block. 

The “Today” weatherman vented on Twitter about how painful it was to explain to his son why the cabbie dissed them. He added ... not all NYC taxi drivers are bad, but he wants to "weed out the bad apples.” 

Roker really hit taxis where it hurts though, by including the plug ... "Wonder why Uber wins?"

Charlie Sheen I'm HIV Positive ... And I've Been Blackmailed for Millions Over It

11/17/2015 4:55 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Breaking News

Charlie Sheen said it directly, "I'm here to admit I'm in fact HIV positive" -- and defiantly stated he would no longer fork over millions of dollars to buy silence from friends and sexual partners.

Sheen spoke calmly about his diagnosis with Matt Lauer on "Today"... saying he needed to "put a stop to this onslaught of attacks and untruths." He said he's known for roughly 4 years that he is HIV positive, and had "told enough people that I've trusted to be in the position that I'm in today."

TMZ broke the story ... Charlie says he was betrayed by people he trusted with knowledge of his diagnosis, but they ended up revealing it. Lauer asked if Sheen was still paying people, and he said ... "Not after today I'm not! I release myself from this prison today."

He also talked about the moment he found out about the diagnosis, saying he initially thought he had a brain tumor. As for infecting others ... Sheen said he's warned all of his sexual partners ahead of time -- and there were only 2 with whom he'd had unprotected sex, but they "were under the care of my doctor."

As we've reported ... our sources say Charlie has paid several settlements to sexual partners who said they were NOT warned ahead of time. 

Sheen says he doesn't know how he contracted the virus, but feels he has "a responsibility now to better myself and to help a lot of other people."  

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Caitlyn Jenner Cops are Wrong Speed NOT a Factor in Fatal Crash

9/9/2015 6:30 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

Caitlyn Jenner takes issue with the L.A. County Sheriff's Dept. investigation that concluded speed was a factor in the fatal PCH crash.

Jenner told Matt Lauer on "Today" she was going 46 in a 50 zone and therefore she was not speeding. TMZ broke the story, the Sheriff's Dept. concluded Jenner should have been going much slower  because traffic had been stopped, and just barely started moving again.

As we reported, Jenner slammed on her brakes a few seconds before the crash and, as she told Lauer, was only a half second away from averting the crash.

Nonetheless, it seems unlikely the D.A. will file criminal charges, but Jenner had some harsh words for the L.A. County Jail system and the way it treats transgender people.

Brian Williams Deception Excuse Makes No Sense

6/19/2015 6:51 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

Brian Williams tried explaining to Matt Lauer why he lied about war and other stories, but he may have dug a deeper hole for himself. 

Williams appeared on "Today" Friday and said the last 5 months have been "torture" for him.  

Matt began probing for motive, and Brian said he somehow drew a truth line ... when he got out of his anchor chair and did a talk show, he got "sloppier" because he felt the pressure of having to be quick and funny.

Matt then followed up and asked about lies Brian told in the anchor chair, and Brian said, "It came from a sloppy choice of words."  

It doesn't make sense ... in the anchor chair there was no pressure to be quick or funny ... so how is that a "sloppiness" issue rather than a lying issue?

Rachel Dolezal's Father She's Lying ... About Brown Crayons

6/16/2015 8:15 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

0616-larry-rachel-dolezal-abc-01The lies keep coming from Rachel Dolezal ... according to her father, who says she told another big one to Matt Lauer when she talked about drawing herself with brown crayons.

Larry Dolezal tells TMZ it simply never happened -- he never saw his daughter using brown crayons instead of "peach" ... as she claimed she did when she was 5 years old. He says she didn't start "fantasizing" herself as black until her 20s or 30s.

After watching Rachel on "Today" ... her father thinks she's still trying to deceive people, and says he wishes she would just be honest. He has no problem with her identifying as black and assimilating into the culture ... as long as she's honest about who she is. 

Dolezal added, "What would you think if I said to you since I adopted 4 African-American children I'm going to identify as black. I have a pretty good tan. Is that enough?"

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