Joe Exotic No, He Didn't Get Pardoned ... Just Being Impersonated

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Joe Exotic is NOT living it up on the Vegas strip with 'Tiger King' stars Jeff and Lauren Lowe -- he's still behind bars, and the guy hanging with the couple is all about show biz.

'Tiger King' fans went nuts over the weekend when Jeff and Lauren started posting photos and videos with someone who looked a lot like Joe, leading folks to believe he was free. No dice.

Sources with direct knowledge tell TMZ ... the photos show Jeff and Lauren at lunch in Sin City with Vegas Joe, a Joe Exotic lookalike who was recently hired to impersonate the 'Tiger King' star in an upcoming Vegas show.

Vegas Joe is a dead ringer ... he's got the clothes, mannerisms, piercings, tattoos and voice of Joe Exotic down to a T. We're told Vegas Joe didn't even have to audition for the lead role after production crew members saw him on the strip.

As for the show ... we're told it's basically going to be an hour-long parody play with dancers and performers, plus an escape room. The hope is for a mid-summer premiere, or whenever Nevada allows live shows to fully reopen amid the pandemic.

Our sources say Jeff will be featured in the show, along with other 'Tiger King' alums making appearances from time to time ... including alleged hitman-for-hire Alan Glover, the nanny and Lauren.

Meanwhile, the real Joe is still pushing for a pardon from President Biden after getting snubbed by Donald Trump.

Harriet Tubman $20 Bill Back on the Table ... Biden Relaunches Project

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SPEEDING THINGS UP
White House

Remember the plan to make Harriet Tubman the face of the new $20 bills? Well, it's back on ... and President Biden's administration's looking for ways to speed things up.

The Prez's Press Secretary, Jen Psaki, just told reporters ... the 2016 Obama-era effort to put the famous abolitionist on the front of the new twenties is being resumed in order for American money to "reflect the history and diversity of our country."

Psaki says they are trying to expedite the process -- which was originally announced in April 2016 -- but the Dept. of Treasury is handling it.

As you may recall ... President Obama's Treasury Secretary, Jacob Lew, said the Tubman $20 bills were going to replace Andrew Jackson in a U.S. currency redesign.

But then, as you definitely recall, when Donald Trump -- a self-proclaimed Jackson fan -- became POTUS, he dismissed the plan for the Tubman twenties as "pure political correctness." His Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, said the new bills wouldn't be out until 2028 and never mentioned Tubman.

It looks like President Biden's looking to finish what his pal Barack started ... so Oprah can start cheering again.

Coronavirus Virus-Sniffing Dogs at Airports ... Doc Says It's Pawsible!!!

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Air travel could be a lot safer than it is now, when it comes to COVID-19 -- instead of relying on the honor system to screen passengers, dogs that can sniff the virus could be deployed.

DOGGIE DETECTIVES
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The dogs are being trained at Florida International University, and Dr. DeEtta Mills, who's leading the program, joined us Monday on "TMZ Live" to explain how the canines get up to snuff.

The good doc says their program is similar to how dogs learn to detect bombs and drugs -- but instead of explosives and contraband, trainers used discarded face masks from COVID-positive patients.

The NBA's Miami Heat are about to start using coronavirus-sniffing dogs to screen fans at AmericanAirlines Arena ... and Dr. Mills thinks our airlines and airports could adopt the process too.

Virus-sniffing dogs are already being used to detect COVID-19 in Chile, United Arab Emirates and Finland. Researchers say the highly-trained canines detect the disease with almost 100% accuracy.

Dr. Mills also tells us how each dog will be trained to alert for COVID, bombs and drugs at the airport ... get ready for a lot of nervous fliers.

Trey Songz Violent Altercation with Cop at Chiefs Game Allegedly Refused to Mask Up

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TAKEN AWAY
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10:04 AM PT -- Kansas City Police just gave TMZ the rundown on what happened with Trey Songz (in their eyes, anyway) and according to them ... the dust-up did indeed start because TS refused to follow the stadium's coronavirus protocol -- namely, that he allegedly refused to wear a mask.

KCPD says fans were complaining that Trey wasn't following Arrowhead's safety rules re the virus and that once security was called and unable to get him to comply or successfully boot him outright, they called in the big guns and had police deal with him.

Cops say Trey again refused to obey orders and was eventually told he was under arrest. They allege he punched an officer and put him in a headlock, which you can clearly see on video. More cops were called in and they were finally able to get it under control.

KCPD says the case is being referred to the Jackson County Prosecutor for further review. Trey's attorney, John P. O'Connor had no comment.

9:55 AM PT -- Trey was just released from custody. Sources connected to Trey with direct knowledge tell TMZ, he believes the cop in question had it in for him long before the altercation, and when the officer came over to him he was immediately aggressive. Another source says the cop's beef before the incident was that Trey and his crew were not wearing masks and refused to put them on.

6:58 AM PT -- 1/25 We've just obtained Trey's booking photo.

9:56 PM PT -- A law enforcement source tells us ... Songz was arrested for trespassing, resisting arrest -- both misdemeanors -- and for assaulting a police officer ... a low-grade felony. We're told he's on a 24-hour hold, and will likely be released Monday night.

Trey Songz found himself in the middle of a physical altercation with a police officer during the KC Chiefs' game, and fans who witnessed it say the cop was way out of line.

We've obtained this video from Arrowhead Stadium Sunday, which -- at first -- shows Trey and the officer in a struggle. Trey connects a punch with the officer's head, and gets him in a headlock, but then the officer pins Trey to a seat.

A witness tells us the whole thing started when Trey was being heckled by some fans a few rows behind him and he asked them to chill out. We're told the officer approached Trey, and without warning, went after him. The witness says Trey was totally caught off guard when the officer got physical, and started to defend himself.

You can hear fans throughout the video shout at the officer, telling him to get off Songz until additional officers arrived. Fans were yelling for the officer to be arrested.

Once backup got there, they were able to separate Trey and the cop ... and they put Trey in handcuffs.

We're told Trey is currently in custody, but it's unclear if he's being booked for anything ... or simply detained.

We've reached out to his reps ... so far, no word back.

Originally Published -- 1/24 8:34 PM PT

Tom Brady Dad Was Hospitalized for COVID in 2020 ... 'Matter of Life & Death'

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A SCARY SITUATION
“Greeny” on ESPN Radio and ESPN Plus

Tom Brady's father says both he and his wife battled COVID at the beginning of this NFL season -- with Tom Brady Sr. needing to be hospitalized for 3 weeks.

"I was in the hospital with COVID for almost 3 weeks and my wife was sick with COVID at the same time," Tom Sr. said Monday morning on ESPN's 'Greeny' radio show.

"We didn't even see the first 2 games of the year. First 2 games I've ever missed in his career because I was sick as a dog and my wife was sick as a dog."

"It was a matter of life and death just like anybody [who] goes into the hospital ... serious stuff."

Seems Tom Sr. had a much tougher time with COVID than his wife, Galynn -- who is a breast cancer survivor.

Fortunately, both Tom Sr. and Galynn are doing much better now -- but Tom says the whole thing was scary.

"We’ve never missed a game [when Tom was playing] at Michigan or New England or wherever. [But] for the first 2 games [of the 2020 NFL season] when I was in the hospital, I didn’t even care if [The Bucs] were playing much less missing the game."

Tom Sr. says his son "fought through it" and continued to play -- but the news definitely explains Tom's unusually bad play in the Week 1 opener against the Saints, when the Bucs lost 34 to 23 and Tom threw 2 interceptions.

"Now it’s in the rearview mirror," Tom Sr. said ... "We’re healthy, we’re happy and everything is good."

Still, Tom says his son tries to FaceTime him every single day on his way to and from practice.

Tom Sr. finished by noting his family isn't special when it comes to being affected by COVID -- "We’re just representing the 25 million Americans who have had it so far this year. So, it’s nothing to shake a stick at."

President Biden Dogs Arrive at the White House ... Let's Move In Pawready!!!

President Biden just brought a tradition back to the White House -- his dogs are now officially residents at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

The Bidens' 2 German Shepherds, Major and Champ, were introduced to their new doggy digs over the weekend, becoming D.C. residents anew -- this a few days after their humans flew in from Delaware and got their new home situated.

As for the delay ... the White House says the first couple wanted to get settled in before bringing the pooches. Makes sense, gotta get some of those family smells they're used to around the place.

Photos of Champ and Major frolicking were posted by the WH. Yeah, they're total posers ... especially with the Washington Monument now as a background. The First Lady's press secretary says, "Champ is enjoying his new dog bed by the fireplace and Major loved running around on the South Lawn." The pics match up with that description.

Champ's around 12 years old and has been with the Bidens a mighty long time. Meanwhile, Major's relatively new to the fam ... having just been adopted in 2019, and sitting pretty at a whole 2 years. You can tell which one is which right off the bat.

Remember, the return of dogs is a step back to tradition -- up until Donald Trump, who didn't have any pets during his 4-year term, there'd been a canine in the White House for about a century. The last Prez to not have a dog before 45 was ... William McKinley, in 1897.

Ah, a return to normalcy at long last.

Kodak Black Charitable Tweet Vanishes!!! Pledged $1 Mil if Freed 🤔

7:10 AM PT -- Kodak's attorney, Bradford Cohen, obviously thought Kodak's tweet was inappropriate from the jump, telling us, "A statement promising something for something in exchange is not appropriate and although Kodak has always given to charity his whole career and will continue to do charity, not in exchange for anything. Some think this is a story. It isn't."

He continues, "Instead of harping on a young black man and how much charity he does, why don't we take a look at the amount of charity the writers of these articles do? Last week, Kodak pledged $100k to setting up a scholarship fund in the name of Meadow Pollack. The week before he donated $50k to barstool fund to help small businesses. That's $150k and he's been out 5 days."

Kodak Black was in a giving mood when he promised to donate a million bucks toward charity if Donald Trump freed him from prison ... but it looks like he might be going back on his word.

The rapper's account tweeted back on November 27, "If The President Them Free Me, I'm Gonna Spend 1 million on Charity within The First Year I'm Out. That's on Everything."

As you know ... the Prez did commute Kodak's sentence last week, along with 142 other people he either pardoned or freed from prison, but now Kodak's tweet has been deleted.

We broke the story ... just because Trump commuted the rapper's sentence for a federal crime, does not mean he's protected against prosecution for state crimes, which is exactly what he's facing in South Carolina.

Kodak's accused of forcing himself on an 18-year-old woman in a hotel room after a Feb. 2016 concert -- allegedly raping her and biting her -- and prosecutors in the state have vowed to "aggressively" go after him in their pending case.

Maybe Kodak's waiting to see how that all pans out before he starts giving away the mil -- but, even if that's the case, why delete the tweet? Regardless, social media's already set a reminder for him ... with several users and bloggers questioning his intent.

Originally Published -- 6:50 AM PT

Frontier Airlines Passenger Complains Another Passenger is Ill ... Launches Probe After Flight Attendant's Comment

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STOP COMPLAINING!!!
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10:27 AM PT -- 1/25 -- A spokesperson for Frontier tells TMZ ... the airline is fully committed to the health and well-being of all customers and crew members. What's more ... Frontier is "reviewing the video and investigating what transpired during the flight."

The spokesperson added, "Frontier has a comprehensive set of protocols that includes a health acknowledgment for all customers, temperature screenings for passengers and crew members before every flight and enhanced cleaning of aircraft."

A passenger on a Frontier Airlines flight was coughing and sneezing, and when the passenger in front of him complained to the flight attendant, the passenger was told he had the option of driving ... and the exchange got even hotter after that.

It went down Thursday on a flight from Miami to Philly. The passenger who shot this video was in seat 25C on a packed flight. The passenger in row 26 right behind him was hacking and sneezing, to the point the passenger in 25C requested to move to the back of the plane.

He moved to the back, and after the plane landed he complained to the captain the guy in row 26 was clearly sick. A flight attendant intervened, and said, "You have an option. You can drive your car if it's a problem," adding, "You can't tell people to get off the plane if they got a cough and they're sneezing."

The passenger persisted, claiming the other passenger was sick, to which the flight attendant fired back, "You're no doctor."

We're told passengers had a temperature check at the gate before boarding.

At one point a flight attendant who is not seen in the video tells the passenger he should be on a no-fly list and the flight attendant you see agrees. Again, the captain is looking on during the exchange.

The complaining passenger did not file a complaint with Frontier. We reached out to Frontier Airlines ... so far, no word back.

Originally Published -- 1/24 9:19 AM PT

Larsa Pippen Doc Antle Visit Gets PETA's Attention ... Org Pushes For USDA Probe

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PETA's looking to put Doc Antle in the USDA's crosshairs because Larsa Pippen posted pics with some of his exotic animals ... but Doc says PETA's got it twisted.

The animal rights org fired off a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture requesting an investigation into the 'Tiger King' star for alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act ... stemming from Larsa's recent visit to his Myrtle Beach Safari.

In the letter, obtained by TMZ ... Debbie Metzler, PETA's Associate Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement, cites Larsa's visit there this week and her photos with adult and juvenile tigers showing direct public contact.

She claims the USDA warned Antle 15 years ago his methods of photographing the public with large adult cats was a violation of the law ... and she wonders why the "USDA has apparently refused to take any meaningful action to prevent Antle from allowing these types of dangerous, direct contact stunts."

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

PETA's also worried Larsa and her children's close contact with the tigers and an infant chimpanzee put the animals at risk of contracting COVID-19, claiming the encounters are another violation of the law.

SAVE THE TIGERS
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But, Doc says PETA's got the wrong idea about Larsa's visit ... he claims Larsa took a tour, which included goofing around with tiger cubs and primates, before shooting footage for a PSA on wild tiger conservation.

Doc tells us it was a closed set with larger adolescent tigers in a pool, with strict protocols in place that are compliant with USDA guidelines and recommendations.

Matthew Perry Unloads Malibu Pad for $13.1 Million!!!

It's hard to put a price on paradise but Matthew Perry's done just that ... after selling his beachfront Malibu pad.

The "Friends" star has unloaded his 4-bedroom, 3.5 bathroom house for a cool $13.1 million ... and about a decade after he bought the property in an off-market sale for $12 million. It's easy to see how Matthew made tons of friends with this crib ... it's a beaut.

The 5,500-square-foot contemporary house -- sitting on one of the most coveted streets, Malibu Road -- offering picturesque views of the blue Pacific and immediate access to it. But there's tons to keep you entertained in this loft-style house.

There's also an outdoor spa and a state of the art movie theater that seats up to 10 guests in deep-cushioned sofas. You can enjoy some of the best sunsets from practically every room thanks to the floor-to-ceiling windows ... and a sick wrap-around deck.

"Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles" star Josh Flagg of Josh Flagg Estates and his husband, Bobby Boyd, also of Josh Flagg Estates, repped Perry.

Floyd Mayweather Unloads On Conor McGregor 'Con Artist McLoser' Lost In His Own Sport!!!

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The hits keep on coming for Conor McGregor -- this time, it's Floyd Mayweather trashing his old boxing opponent ... "Con Artist McLoser."

In fact, Floyd says the positive way Conor continues to be treated by the public even after multiple losses -- while Mayweather still gets constant hate -- is proof racism is still alive and well.

"The world knows Con Artist McLoser can steal everything from me and be loved but I’m hated," Mayweather posted on IG after Conor got knocked out by Dustin Poirier at UFC 257.

"That just lets you all know that racism still exist."

Remember, Floyd beat up Conor in their 2017 boxing match -- dominating from start to finish ... with the ref stopping the fight in the 10th round.

Then Floyd really dug and unloaded on Conor ... suggesting Conor also ruined his shot at a high-profile boxing match with Manny Pacquiao.

"Just know, that bum will never be me or be on my level. I’m just built different, my mindset is on another planet, my skills are second to none, I’m a natural born winner and yes I talk a lot of trash, but every time I back it up!"

"This is what they hate. It’s sad that you can be a poor black kid from the ghetto that has dealt with racism your whole life and work extremely hard to put yourself and your family in a better position, and most of the hate come from my own people."

"Connor [sic] cannot even win in his own sport, but talking about coming back to boxing to fight Pacquiao. Nobody wants to see that, it's like my leftovers eating leftovers."

So, what now for Conor? He's gunning for a rematch with Dustin Poirier ... and Khabib Nurmagomedov ... and also Floyd.

Will anyone actually give him the opportunity?!

Charlie Balducci Died from Drug Overdose

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Charlie Balducci -- best known for his time on the MTV reality show, "True Life" -- died from a drug overdose ... TMZ has learned.

The New York City Medical Examiner's Office tells TMZ ... Charlie's cause of death is acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone and alprazolam. The manner of his death has been ruled accidental.

TMZ broke the story ... Balducci was found unresponsive in his bed back in July and paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene. When we spoke to his mom, she told us his death came unexpectedly since he hadn't exhibited any kind of sickness.

For the non-hardcore reality TV aficionados out there ... Balducci is known as a trailblazer of sorts in the reality TV world after appearing in "True Life: I'm Getting Married." He allowed MTV cameras to follow him for 4 months before marrying Sabrina ... which ultimately produced one of the most infamous rants ever caught on TV.

Quick recap ... the limo driver was running late on the day Balducci was supposed to get married, prompting him to threaten the limo driver, "I will gut you like the piece of s*** you are" and "I'll hunt you down like cattle."

Stephanie McMahon 'Very Hopeful' Ronda Rousey Returns To WWE

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FAMILY COMES FIRST
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Ronda Rousey hasn't wrestled since mid-2019, but Stephanie McMahon says WWE's "doors are absolutely open" ... and the company's "very hopeful" the former Raw champ will come back.

TMZ Sports spoke to McMahon -- WWE's Chief Brand Officer -- about Rousey's future with the wrestling powerhouse.

"Ronda's been very public that she’d like to start her own family," McMahon tells us.

"Once she does that, our doors are absolutely open, our arms are open, we are very hopeful that Ronda will come back home to WWE."

Rousey joined WWE back in 2018, and immediately started kickin' ass and takin' names ... beating Alexa Bliss for the Monday Night Raw title at SummerSlam in August 2018.

She was champ for nearly 8 months.

But, Rousey -- who's reportedly under contract until mid-2021 -- walked away from the squared circle ... announcing she was taking an "impregnation vacation" in April 2019.

After leaving, Ronda said she loved WWE and the other Superstars, but slammed WWE fans ... calling them "f***ing ungrateful."

Bottom line -- it's obvious the McMahon family and WWE really want Rousey back ... question is, will she return??

Chico DeBarge Posed as His Bro During Drug Bust

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Chico DeBarge is famous for making hits with his family members in the '80s ... but cops say he tried to throw one of them under the bus during his latest arrest.

The DeBarge singer got busted in Burbank when he was pulled over near a shopping center on January 13. Cops say he was driving without his headlights on at night and didn't have license plates.

Burbank PD tells us ... Chico didn't have ID, but identified himself as James ... his older brother, who was also in the family singing group back in the day.

According to police ... Chico was driving with 2 female passengers, and cops found methamphetamines and heroin on him during a search. He was arrested, and we're told he was properly ID'd during the booking process.

Chico's been charged with drug possession, DUI and yes ... cops hit him with a false impersonation charge for the alleged brother act.

After nearly 10 days in jail, Chico finally made bail on Friday.

Chico's admittedly struggled with addiction for years, and was arrested 2 other times -- in late 2019 and also in 2007 -- for drug possession.

Ed Helms Selling His Cherry Honda Hog

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Long before he was known to the world as toothless, butt-whipped Stu in "The Hangover" ... Ed Helms drove this Honda motorcycle to auditions, and he's finally parting ways with it.

The actor/comedian is selling his 1976 Honda CB750F motorcycle ... and while the price is pretty modest at a mere $4,800, the bike does have tons of sentimental value. The new owner should know ... it's the bike he used to drive to his auditions when he lived in NYC.

He had it shipped to L.A. when he moved. Pays to have a bike ... to zoom in and out of traffic on the 101 and 405.

The bike has 13,591 miles and it's in cherry condition. It was stored at Atlantis Motor Garage in L.A. for some time now. We're told he decided to take it out of storage, spruce it up some and sell it.

As all Ed Helms fans know by now ... he gained notoriety when he appeared as a correspondent on 'The Daily Show' before slowly becoming a household name on "The Office." But, his role as Stu in the 'Hangover' trilogy is where he made his mark ... and the rest is history.

Guess Who This Happy Kid Turned Into!

Before this smiling sweetheart was stomping down some of the fiercest fashion runways, she was just another little kid showing off her big grin in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

This cute kid made headlines in the modeling world for her unique looks that set her apart from the rest. She has caught eyes with her edgy brand in shows for Yeezy, Marc Jacobs, Fendi, Jeremy Scott and -- most recently -- Rihanna. In 2018, she stunned audiences on the Savage X Fenty runway while nine months pregnant.

Her real name is Simone Thompson, but you may know her better by this smooth nickname.

Can you guess who she is?

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