If you asked yourself "Where was the publicist?" when "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson went off on gays during his big interview with GQ magazine ... TMZ now has the answer ... the publicist was not there!
Sources very familiar with the situation tell us ... a publicist did indeed accompany Robertson to the interview -- per A&E's rigid PR policy -- and the interview took place in several locations. When the GQ reporter and Phil hopped on ATVs, the publicist didn't come along for the ride.
We're told it was then the reporter apparently saw an opening and Phil made his incendiary anti-gay comments
It's pretty shocking ... because Phil is widely known as a loose cannon ... so it's a little like playing Russian Roulette to let him gallivant off with a reporter.
Principles are Principles
But Money is Money
12/20/2013 9:31 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
A&E will continue to profit off Phil Robertson and his family during Christmas week -- despite the fact that they benched Phil for his recent anti-gay comments -- because the network will be airing SEVERAL huge "Duck Dynasty" marathons.
DD is pretty much taking over A&E's Christmas schedule. The network will air 4 separate rerun marathons of the show in 4 days (December 22-25) totaling 35.5 hours of air time.
December 22 -- 5PM-4AM EST
December 23 -- 7PM-4AM EST
December 24 -- 6PM-9PM EST
December 25 -- 3:30PM-4AM EST
because he publicly preached about his beliefs for years.
So we gotta ask ...
Family Says ...
We Won't Do the Show Without Phil
12/20/2013 7:00 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
The Robertson family just drew a line in the sand with A&E -- NO PHIL, NO SHOW ... and says they are already talking to the cable channel about possibly pulling the plug on "Duck Dynasty."
The family issued a statement saying, "As a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm. We are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future of 'Duck Dynasty.'"
They also say they're "disappointed" that Phil Robertson was suspended by A&E just for expressing his religious beliefs ... which, they point out, is his "constitutionally protected right."
Fun fact: "Duck Dynasty" is the highest rated cable reality TV show ever.
Way to go A&E.
I'll NEVER Bury the Hatchet
with Peter Hitchens
12/20/2013 6:21 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Matthew Perry is engaged in a war with a British journalist ... a war that has no end in sight -- and it's all over how the U.K. treats drug and alcohol addicts.
Perry was at LAX yesterday when we brought up his fiery exchange with Peter Hitchens on BBC's "Newsnight" ... in which Hitchens (who believes in stronger punishments for drug users) argued that addiction is nothing more than a "fantasy."
During the show, Hitchens went off on Perry and another guest ... saying, "Well you two believe in this fantasy of addiction, a complete fantasy, in which people lose all power over themselves and become victims of this terrible, frightening disease after which they cannot stop taking drugs. If you really believe that then you would presumably think that the best thing would be they never ever come in contact with those drugs."
Perry was furious ... calling his comments "ludicrous" and explaining, “I'm a drug addict. I'm a person that, if I have a drink, I can't stop. And so it would be following your ideology that I'm choosing to do that.”
Now that a few days have passed and the two have had a chance to cool down, we asked Perry if there was a chance they could ever be friends.
Perry made it clear ... Hitchens shouldn't ever expect a Christmas card.
'Duck Dynasty' Wife
That's NOT My Naked Body For Sale!
12/20/2013 12:50 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
A photo allegedly showing "Duck Dynasty" star Korie Robertson duck naked is being shopped around to media outlets ... but TMZ has learned it's a TOTAL FAKE!
The photo on the left (below) shows a woman who looks like Korie standing in front of a hotel room door in her birthday suit -- her hotness is up for debate, but one thing is not open for debate ... the fact that the pic has been Photoshopped.
Here's what we've determined.
-- Korie's face was superimposed on someone else's body.
-- We found the original photo, which depicts another woman who has similar body features but a very different face (for privacy reasons, we've blurred her punim).
-- One interesting thing ... both women have a similar and peculiar V-shaped collarbone.
Bottom line ... it's pretty clear someone's so pissed at Phil over his anti-gay comments ... they want to drag his son's wife through the mud.
I Got Suspended
I'm Going to Church!
12/19/2013 1:37 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Phil Robertson turned to the Lord after getting benched from "Duck Dynasty."
The pastor at White's Ferry Road Church tells TMZ ... while everyone went crazy last night over Phil's suspension, Phil was in the pews with his prayer group, praying for a woman who had been diagnosed with cancer.
Pastor Mike Kellett tells us ... Robertson didn't even MENTION the TV show or the suspension
-- it was all about the sick woman.
Pastor Mike dodged our question -- whether Phil's a homophobe -- saying, "Phil is doing his best to follow God's word. He always treats people with love and respect."
Pastor Mike says the church is solidly behind Robertson: "Television shows come and go. His faith is forever."
'Duck Dynasty' Stars
Biggest Sponsor Pledges Support
Under Armour Won't Cut Ties
12/19/2013 1:34 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
The guys from "Duck Dynasty" are NOT in danger of losing their biggest sponsor, Under Armour -- 'cause while the company tells TMZ its not down with Phil Roberston's homophobic comments, its not willing to kill the business relationship ... yet.
UA -- which sponsors the Duck Commander business, founded by Phil -- just issued a statement to TMZ ... saying, "We have no plans to change our current relationship.
The company adds, "We are obviously aware of the situation. And his comments are not indicative of Under Armour's views."
UA insists the company is committed to treating all people equally and with respect ... even if Phil isn't.
'Duck Dynasty' Fans
BRING BACK PHIL
A&E's Denying Him Freedom of Speech
12/19/2013 9:29 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Thousands of "Duck Dynasty" fans are on a mission to end Phil Robertson's network suspension over his anti-gay comments -- 'cause they say A&E is denying him his human rights.
Over 35 THOUSAND people have signed a petition -- which fired up yesterday on Change.org -- demanding A&E end the suspension.
Even worse for the network ... it's being ROASTED on social media by DD fans -- hundreds of people are accusing A&E of not allowing Phil Robertson his basic right to freedom of speech.
One fan put the network on blast saying, "As a gay male, is what he said wrong and not educated about how gay people really are? Yes it was. Does he have the right to speak on what he thinks YES HE DOES!"
The fan adds, "Was I offended NO I WASN'T he is a smart man and could learn the truth about things he has no idea about. He's old school you can't hate on him for his beliefs DO NOT GET RID OF PHIL ON THIS SHOW! KEEP HIM!! I will no longer watch if he's gone!!!"
So, we gotta ask ...
After Winning Australian Trip On TV Show
12/19/2013 8:15 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
A Marine died in a parachute accident last weekend -- during a trip his wife won on the "Ellen" show.
Cherilyn McGraw won a trip to Australia on "Ellen" last January. Cherilyn and her husband, Gunnery Sgt. Brandon McGraw, took the trip last week. On Saturday, the two of them went skydiving in the same plane. Cherilyn made a tandem jump, but Brandon was experienced and followed by jumping solo.
An employee from the skydiving school tells TMZ ... approximately 300 feet from the ground, Brandon's parachute suddenly caused him to turn radically right and left and he crashed to the ground. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Cherilyn posted a message on Facebook with photos inside the plane before the jump, saying, "My hero. My angel. These are truly such symbolic photos. He was happy and doing what he loved."
My Advisors Didn't Quit ...
We Broke Up
12/18/2013 8:00 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Charlie Sheen tells TMZ ... the people who guided his career have parted company with him NOT because they were fed up -- it was "mutual."
Charlie's lawyer, Jake Bloom, his publicist, Larry Solters and his manager, Mark Burg all said sayonara to Sheen last week.
Charlie tells TMZ ... there are explanations for all 3 departures.
-- Jake Bloom: Charlie says Jake was there to make movie deals for him, and since he's not doing any movies "his brilliant skill set wasn't required."
-- Larry Solters: Charlie says Larry is a music publicist who he hired at the start of "Anger Management." Charlie says he needed a TV publicist so he made a switch and hired TV veteran Jeff Ballard. Charlie does not explain why he hired Larry in the first place.
-- Mark Burg: Charlie says Mark asked to step down because he just had a kid and wanted to spend more time with his family.
Charlie then kind of backhandedly says, "I couldn't be more pleased with the current state of my team. Much like their fearless leader, they don't believe in excuses, fatigue or failure."
Legless Hopeful Has
The Right (Zombie) Stuff
12/18/2013 12:02 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
'Walking Dead' Creator to AMC
I'll Cremate You
12/17/2013 2:28 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
The creator of "The Walking Dead" -- one of the most popular shows on TV -- wants his pound of flesh from AMC -- to the tune of TENS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS.
Frank Darabont was the mastermind who adapted the popular comic book into a series back in 2009. He claims in his suit he would get 12.5% of the profits, but he claims AMC unceremoniously fired him in 2011 and he hasn't received a penny.
Here's what he says is especially galling. The show is a juggernaut, sometimes even beating Sunday Night Football. Yet AMC tells him the show is operating at a deficit. Darabont says AMC has outright defrauded him by producing and distributing the show to itself and essentially cooking the books to screw him out of his share.
What really pisses him off ... Darabont says the creator of "Mad Men" -- which also airs on AMC -- gets a huge cut of a $3 million fee PER EPISODE, even though "Mad Men" gets less than 1/4 of the viewership of "The Walking Dead."
Darabont wants 10s of millions of dollars. And this is kinda funny. He also wants a cut of "The Talking Dead," the talk show that follows each episode.
'Zombie Vine' Kid
I'm One Step Closer to Terrorizing the World on 'Walking Dead'
12/17/2013 12:10 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
The New Jersey high school kid who turned his disability into a hilarious "Zombie Prank" Vine account says he's one giant step closer to his dream -- starring on "The Walking Dead" -- but he's waiting on one important phone call.
17-year-old Nick Santonastasso -- who was born with only one arm and no legs -- Skyped in to "TMZ Live," telling us there's a petition gaining a LOT of momentum online, begging "Walking Dead" producers to get Nick on the show.
The petition has more than 1,500 signatures ... nonetheless Nick says he hasn't gotten a phone call from showrunners to make it all official. But he's optimistic.
For all his followers, however, Nick's still taking a lot of heat from people who say he's reducing his disability to an object of mockery ... check the clip to hear his thoughts. Pretty profound.