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O.J. Simpson TV Series Al Cowlings Threatens Lawsuit

1/26/2016 6:46 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

0126-oj-getty-02O.J. Simpson's best friend is threatening to sue FX if it dares to paint him in a bad light when 'The People vs. O.J. Simpson' hits the air ... TMZ has learned.

Al Cowlings "despises the media" ... his rep tells TMZ, and he feels like he's being targeted 20 years after O.J. killed Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.

Cowlings is worried his character in the series -- played by Malcolm-Jamal Warner -- will be untrue and damaging to his reputation.  

A porn star claimed shortly after the murders Al -- known as AC -- told her he got rid of the murder weapon, saying the knife "was sleeping with the fishes." He denied saying it.

There was also a lot of unsubstantiated scuttlebutt that he cleaned up Simpson's Rockingham house and 86ing Simpson's bloody clothes.   

Cowlings never said publicly if he believed Simpson committed the murders.  He has said on occasion, "It's none of your f****** business." 

Sofia Vergara My Face is Gonna ... Cost Ya At Least $15 Million

1/25/2016 3:50 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

0125-sofia-vergara-tmzSofia Vergara was used and financially abused by a beauty company ... according to a lawsuit she just filed.

Sofia says Venus Concept blew up images of her and used them to promote its products around the world. In the suit, she says the whole thing started with an innocent Instagram post.

Sofia says she got Venus' Legacy treatment -- it's a skin tightening massage -- in August 2014. She posted a pic of herself on the table ... which got about 40k likes.

However, she says she actually didn't like the treatment and found it  "a waste of time and money with little in the way of any results."

0125-sofia-vergara-venus-suing-INSTAGRAM-01But she says Venus took the ball and ran with it anyway ... putting up photos of her at exhibition booths and on its website with captions like, "Loved by ... bombshell actress Sofia Vergara."

Sofia's beef is Venus never paid her a dime, and she gets MANY dimes to do this kinda work. She says her going rate to endorse a beauty product is a whopping $15 million!

She's suing Venus for at least that much, and she wants the company to yank all materials with her mug. 

Sam Simon 'Simpsons' Emmys Auction Blocked ... By the Emmys!

1/25/2016 1:17 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

0125-sam-simon-tmz-01The estate of 'Simpsons' co-creator Sam Simon wants to unload 2 handfuls worth of his Emmys, but the people at the Emmys ain't havin' it ... TMZ has learned.

Simon passed away last year and his foundation listed 10 Emmys -- which he won for "The Simpsons" and "The Tracey Ullman Show" -- through the Abell Auction Company.

They could go for $2,500 - $6,000 each ... however, the Academy of Television says it's the rightful owner of those awards. A rep for the Academy tells us a winner's heirs or successors must "return the statuette to the Academy, and we hold it in storage in memory of the recipient.” Those are the rules.

The Academy broke that news to Simon's estate, and as of Monday morning ... the Emmys have been pulled off the block. 

The auction's still going down February 21 and will include pieces from Sam's art collection, like Picasso lithographs and a mini "Thinker"  -- but your shot at a 'Simpsons' Emmy is officially dead.

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LeBron James NFL Tight End Scores Gig On New TV Show

1/25/2016 12:45 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

0122-lebron-james-mercedes-lewis-TMZ-01LeBron James' Hollywood success is trickling down to the NFL -- 'cause a Pro Bowl tight end just booked a role on his new TV show ... TMZ Sports has learned.  

Jacksonville Jags star Marcedes Lewis confirms ... he just locked up a gig on "Now We're Talking" -- a scripted comedy about 2 washed up QBs who try to become broadcasters. 

The show is being produced by Warner Bros. in conjunction with LeBron's Uninterrupted sports-entertainment network for Verizon’s Go90 mobile-video service.

As for Marcedes' part -- he tells us he plays a pro football player who's taking broadcasting courses in the hopes of landing a gig ... and runs into a bunch of old football buddies trying to do the same. 

Lewis says Steelers WR Martavis Bryant will also be in the show ... but brags, "I got extra scenes!" 

The show is expected to debut in the spring. 

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'SpongeBob SquarePants' DUI Bust Won't Cost Squidward His Job

1/25/2016 12:30 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

0122-squidward-roger-bumpass-nickelodeon-GETTY-01Rodger Bumpass -- aka Squidward Tentacles on "SpongeBob SquarePants" -- can rest easy ... he won't get sacked from the show for his DUI arrest. 

Sources close to production tell us, execs don't view a DUI bust as a deal breaker, and good thing, because half of Hollywood would lose their jobs.

We're told the only basis for firing him would be the "morals clause," and the show takes the position getting a DUI is not an immoral act. Legally speaking, that's exactly right.

Bumpass told us he was worried sick he'd be fired.

TMZ broke the story ... Bumpass was busted January 15 after cops noticed his blue PT Cruiser in the middle of the road. They say he was propped on the hood, admitted drinking and driving and flunked a field sobriety test. Cops say his blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit.  

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Hulk Hogan Back On TV Pitching A Loan Again, Naturally

1/24/2016 1:00 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

0122-SUB-hulk-hogan-TMZ-01Hulk Hogan is back and in black -- this time as a spokesperson for 800-Loan-Mart commercials. 

The Hulkster caught some heat last year regarding certain racist remarks that were made public after several years ... but he's moved past that and is now set to star in a big TV commercial for the title loan company.

Hulk's been their spokesperson for years, but the company is now ready to air new spots with him.  

Visiting The Hulkster -- Dennis Rodman, who was one of the first celebs to defend Hogan, saying they've been pals for 25 years and Hogan doesn't have a racist bone in his 6'7" 300 pound body. The two former tag team partners are both repped by celebrity sports agent Darren Prince.

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Kia Hamster Actor Cops Plea in Fraud Case I Was Dancing While 'Disabled'

1/22/2016 10:37 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

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One of the hip-hop hamsters in the famous Kia ads has just pled no contest to felony insurance fraud ... after taking disability money while dancing up a storm. 

Leroy Barnes snagged California disability money between Sept., 2010 and Sept. 2011, claiming he couldn't work when in fact he was dancing in the Kia commercials.

Barnes had claimed in 2010 he was injured while working as a dancer and was struck by a piece of ceiling during sound check. As a result, he collected the disability for which he has been prosecuted.

0122-kia-mug-01Barnes was sentenced to 90 days of electronic monitoring and 400 hours of community service. He also has to repay $24k to the State of California. 

The dancer's credits include dancing for Madonna, Chris Brown and Kelly Roland.

Farrah Abraham Fires Shot at Kardashians With a Ray J Assist

1/21/2016 12:33 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF

Farrah Abraham is ready to take on anyone who wants a piece of her (and not in the porn sense) -- because she fired off a helluva comeback at Kendall Jenner

Kendall took the opening shot on Wednesday night's debut episode of Khloe Kardashian's show, "Kocktails with Khloe." When Farrah's recent beef with Nicki Minaj came up ... she ripped Farrah for her "decisions in life." 

Check it out ... Khloe and co. had some laughs, especially with Snoop's Farrah impersonation. But then Farrah dropped this meme bomb -- a Kardashian/Jenner family pic (vintage with Lamar and Bruce) ... with Ray J photoshopped over them. The caption, giving props to Ray's famous junk, is straight outta the comeback hall of fame.

Which should definitely be a thing.

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Brendan Dassey On the Move From One Prison to Another

1/21/2016 9:54 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

0121-brendan-dassey-apBrendan Dassey has been quietly moved from one prison to another.

TMZ has learned Dassey -- the younger subject of Netflix's "Making A Murderer" -- was transferred Wednesday from Green Bay Correctional Institution to Columbia Correctional Institution ... a Wisconsin maximum security prison about 125 miles away.

A spokesperson for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections tells us inmate transfers are common ... but wouldn't elaborate. 

Sources close to Dassey tell us the move was for several reasons -- one of which related to the convict becoming so high profile as a result of "Making A Murderer."

Dr. Phil Sued Ex-Employee Claims False Imprisonment ...In Staff Meeting

1/21/2016 6:09 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF

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Dr. Phil should just book his accuser for the show ... an ex-staffer claims the doc held his entire staff hostage in a room with the help of security guards to figure out who was leaking stories to the media.

Leah Rothman claims in her lawsuit she was ordered in on her day off, along with 300 other employees, where she says everyone gathered in a room and then Phil ordered the doors locked. She claims he said someone had leaked internal info to the media, and he had contacted the "Feds" because the info was transmitted "over state lines."

Rothman claims Phil said, "If you f*** with me, I'll f*** with you" and used other profanities in the meeting.

The employee says she began "experiencing emotional distress from the verbal assault of Dr. Phil which was magnified by the confined space ..." She says it amounted to false imprisonment.

And Rothman says, she "saw cue cards in Dr. Phil's hands" from which he read.

She says Phil and the other brass already knew the source of the leak, but they wanted to make a point.

And she claims, the Executive in Charge of Production told her Phil "got joy out of the process and in scaring his employees."

Rothman goes on to say the whole thing made her a nervous wreck and she had to quit ... and now claims it was "constructive termination."

We reached out to Dr. Phil's spokesperson, who declined comment.

'Spongebob Squarepants' Squidward Tentacles Claims Cops Lied in DUI Bust

1/20/2016 10:07 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

0120-roger-bumpass-getty-01Rodger Bumpass -- aka Squidward Tentacles on "SpongeBob SquarePants" -- says cops lied about his DUI arrest ... but Bumpass' accusation could actually hurt him legally.

TMZ broke the story ... cops claimed they saw him leaning against his PT Cruiser on a Burbank street when they approached him. Police say he tried to walk away and stumbled as if he were impaired. He then flunked a field sobriety test and blew more than twice the legal limit.

Bumpass tells us he was NOT leaning against his car. Here's the way he says it went down. Bumpass admits he had been drinking at a Burbank bar, got in his car and began driving home. At some point he says cops began tailing him, pulled him over and asked if he had been drinking. He confessed he had, and then failed the field sobriety test.

Here's the problem ... cops say they never saw him behind the wheel, and even if he confessed he was so out of it the confession could be challenged. By claiming cops first spotted him while he was driving blows that defense out of the water.

Bumpass says he's spoken with several people over at Nickelodeon and his fate there is uncertain.

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Spike Lee I Never Called for Oscar Boycott

1/20/2016 6:02 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF

0120-spike-lee-tmz-01Spike Lee has corrected the media for reporting he was calling for an Oscar boycott.

Spike appeared on 'GMA' and made it clear ... blasting the Academy for shutting out black actors and films and vowing not to attend the ceremony is NOT the same as calling for a boycott.

Lee said he and his wife would be at the Knicks game at Madison Square Garden the night of the Oscars, and everyone else can either attend or not ... not his business.

There were lots of reports Jada Pinkett Smith also called for a boycott, which she did not. She said it's time for African Americans to stop begging the Academy for acceptance and do their own thing in their own community.

As for Chris Rock, Spike's making no judgment on whether he should still host.


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Jamie-Lynn Sigler I've Had M.S. Since 'Sopranos'

1/20/2016 6:37 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF

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Jamie-Lynn Sigler's been battling multiple sclerosis for more than a decade, but says she's only now ready to go public.

The former 'Sopranos' star said she actually got the diagnosis when she was 19 ... smack in the middle of the hit HBO show's run. 

Sigler says the degenerative disease prevents her from exercising too much. She told People, "I can't walk for a long period of time without resting. I cannot run. No superhero roles for me. When I walk, I have to think about every single step, which is annoying and frustrating." 

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