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Jussie Smollett Put in 2 Days Community Service With Rainbow PUSH Coalition

3/26/2019 1:52 PM PDT
Exclusive Details

Jussie Smollett logged a total of 18 hours of community service over 2 days -- with Jesse Jackson's organization, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition -- and that was enough to satisfy prosecutors in Chicago. 

Honchos at Rainbow PUSH -- a civil and human rights organization -- tell us, Jussie volunteered for the first time Saturday, putting in 8 hours from 10 AM  to 6 PM. He just completed another 10 hours on Monday. 

We're told Jussie's "service" included stuffing membership envelopes, working in the group's bookstore to sell merchandise ... and critiquing its Saturday broadcast. We're told he helped them with camera angles, and also worked with the music director on a plan to build the choir.

A Rainbow PUSH rep says it was their decision, not Jussie's, to keep his work with them under wraps. The rep added that they viewed his efforts as volunteering, not community service. Point being ... Jussie never mentioned his deal with prosecutors. Remember, the prosecutor's office says it was in discussions with Smollett's camp for weeks about dropping the charges. 

Another group, the Black AIDS Institute, wrote a letter in support of Jussie.

We're told he planned and hosted a December gala for the group -- which is based in L.A. -- but we're told he hasn't done any work with them since his arrest. So, the letter speaks more to his character than any Chicago community service.

Ranking Roger General Public Singer Dead at 56

3/26/2019 3:37 PM PDT

Ranking Roger, the co-founder of General Public and English Beat singer, died Tuesday after battling cancer.

English Beat announced Roger Charley's death ... telling fans he had "sadly passed away peacefully at home with his family by his side earlier today. Roger's family would like to thank everyone for their constant support during this tough time. Roger was a fighter."

Roger reportedly suffered a stroke last summer and was diagnosed with two brain tumors and lung cancer -- but no cause of death has been released yet. 

The late singer was born in Birmingham, England, and fell in love with punk rock as a teenager. He went on to play drums with a group called the Dum Dum Boys ... before joining The English Beat in the late 1970s.

After The English Beat broke up in 1983, Roger and fellow Beat alum, Dave Wakeling started their new group, General Public ... which also included former members of The Clash and Dexys Midnight Runners.

GP recorded 3 albums, and their biggest hit in the U.S. was 1984's "Tenderness."

Roger was 56. RIP

Jussie Smollett Criminal Case Dropped!!! Mayor Calls It a 'Whitewash of Justice'

3/26/2019 1:06 PM PDT

1:05 PM PT -- First Assistant to the Cook County State Attorney Joseph Magats -- who replaced Kim Foxx when she recused herself -- says they dropped the charges because Smollett doesn't have a violent criminal history, and lying about the alleged attack was not a violent crime.

Magats says his office prioritizes violent crimes in Chicago, and felt this case wouldn't be the best use of resources. For the record, he says he made this decision alone ... without consultation from Foxx.

He also squarely says he believes Jussie DID concoct a hoax and lied about it to police. Even though Chicago PD and Mayor Emanuel ripped the State's Attorney's Office ... Magats made it clear he stands by the findings of the cops, and believes they had the evidence to get a conviction. 

The obvious question is asked ... why take the case to a grand jury, only to drop the charges? Check out Magats' answer -- a lot of people, and not just Chicago PD, won't buy what he's selling here.

BTW, Magats says discussions have been going on for weeks with Jussie's camp ... about dropping the charges, and his community service. All of which must have been done in total secrecy because we know cops, the Mayor and others involved in the case had no clue this was going to happen.

10:45 AM PT -- Mayor Rahm Emanuel is very strongly hinting at corruption in the State's Attorney's Office, calling the decision to drop the charges against Smollett a "whitewash of justice."

The Mayor added, "From top to bottom, this is not on the level." He called for accountability from the prosecutors.

Emanuel was joined by Chicago PD Superintendent Eddie Johnson who said he didn't feel justice was served by letting Smollett off the hook.

What's more, Johnson said if Jussie was, in fact, innocent ... he should've taken his day in court, and not broker a backdoor deal in secrecy. Bigger picture -- Johnson feels the City of Chicago is still owed an apology, as he believes Jussie carried out a hoax.

10:15 AM PT -- FOX says, "Jussie Smollett has always maintained his innocence and we are gratified that all charges against him have been dismissed."

As for WHY they were dropped -- you'll recall State's Attorney Kim Foxx recused herself from the case. She reportedly had asked cops to stand down at the behest of Tina Tchen -- Michelle Obama's former Chief of Staff and a friend of Jussie's family. The conflict forced Foxx to bow out.

The Cook County State's Attorney's Office tells us the decision to drop all charges against Jussie was made by Joseph Magats -- the First Assistant State's Attorney -- who was placed in charge of the case after Foxx's recusal, and NOT by Foxx. 

It's still odd. Sources tell TMZ the prosecutor in the case, as late as Friday afternoon, was making plans to handle issues involving cameras in the courtroom for the trial ... and seemed completely unaware of plans to drop the case.

9:22 AM PT -- Jussie and his lawyer, Patricia Holmes, just addressed the media, and the takeaway message was simple ... he's happy and wants to get on with his life. Holmes reiterated this was not a deal Jussie struck with prosecutors -- instead, they dropped the charges on their own, and he forfeited his bond voluntarily ... it wasn't a tit-for-tat situation.

Jussie thanked everyone who supported him through this case, and maintained he'd been truthful and consistent throughout the case. He added ... that he would never put the LGBTQ movement "through a fire like this." He also thanked his "Empire" cast members for their support.

If you're wondering if things will really get back to normal for Jussie -- he stopped to take a few selfies with fans on his way out of court.

And there's this ... federal law enforcement sources tell us Jussie is still under investigation for the threatening letter -- with racist and homophobic slurs -- that was sent to him at the "Empire" studio 8 days before the alleged attack.

You'll recall ... the Chicago PD Superintendent claimed Jussie sent it to himself, but our sources say the FBI had not reached that conclusion yet.

8:45 AM PT -- Jussie's family has also released a statement celebrating the news. They state, "This morning truth has prevailed and (Jussie) has been vindicated."

They continue, "While many were quick to rush to judgement before hearing the actual truth, we are grateful that the truth about Jussie has come to light. We look forward to bringing the real perpetrators to justice."

8:35 AM PT -- State's Attorney Kim Foxx's office says, "After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett's volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case."

The statement is consistent with what our sources said about Jussie only getting community service if he'd been convicted. The decision is NOT sitting well with Chicago PD.

On the other hand, Jussie's co-workers on "Empire" are celebrating on Twitter.

Jussie Smollett will not be prosecuted for allegedly faking a racial attack, because all charges have been dropped!!!

Jussie and his lawyers ran to court Tuesday morning in Chicago, where he was facing 16 felony counts of lying to police in the alleged racial and homophobic attack.  

Jussie will surrender his $10,000 bond. But, that's it. The case is over.

We're told the State's Attorney, Kim Foxx, told Chicago police she was dropping the case because Jussie would have only gotten community service if convicted and she said he has already performed community service so there is no point in prosecuting him. We could not find any record of Smollett doing community service.

We're told Chicago police are "furious" and feel something untoward is going on with Kim Foxx.   

Click here... it's not over yet

Conor McGregor's Rep Slams Rape Arrest Report As 'Rumor' ... In Ireland Hotel

3/26/2019 12:42 PM PDT
Breaking News

12:42 PM PT -- Conor McGregor's spokesperson, Karen Kessler, has issued a statement ... referring to The NY Times report about the UFC star's arrest as a "rumor."

"This story has been circulating for some time and it is unclear why it is being reported now," Kessler said in a statement first published by ESPN. 

Kessler also addresses people trying to connect Conor's retirement tweet to the report about his arrest. 

"The assumption that the Conor retirement announcement today is related to this rumor is absolutely false."

And then, she added a shot at the UFC ...

"Should Conor fight in the future it must be in an environment where fighters are respected for their value, their skill, their hard work and their dedication to the sport."

We should note the statement does not directly address the sexual allegations described in The NY Times report. 

Conor McGregor was arrested in January as part of a sexual assault investigation stemming from an alleged incident in December at a hotel in Dublin, Ireland ... this according to The NY Times

McGregor was released from custody and has NOT been charged with a crime, according to the report. However, The NY Times says officials are still investigating the case. 

Local media in Ireland have been covering the situation for months but without naming McGregor as the suspect because of laws that prevent news outlets from naming rape suspects unless they have been convicted. 

The accuser is a woman in her 20s who claims she had been hanging with friends in South Dublin before ending up at the Beacon Hotel on Dec. 10. 

After the alleged sexual assault, the woman went to police and filed a report -- and was then taken to a nearby hospital where she was treated in the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit, according to local reports. 

Unclear if a rape kit was administered but it seems to be the standard operating procedure for women who are treated in this particular unit. 

According to local reports, cops tried to obtain surveillance footage to see if they could place McGregor at the hotel at the time of the alleged incident. 

When approached by the media back in December, a police spokesperson said, "[Cops] are investigating an alleged sexual assault on a female which occurred in Dublin 2 in the early hours of this morning, Monday December 10th 2018."

"No arrests have been made and investigations are continuing."

So far, McGregor has not commented on the allegations. 

30-year-old Conor McGregor is no stranger to the law -- he was convicted of throwing a steel dolly at a UFC bus last year. 

He was also in an Irish court last year over a 2017 speeding incident

Originally Published -- 12:17 PM PT

Jussie Smollett Allies Asked SA Kim Foxx to Intervene Leaked Texts, Emails Show

3/26/2019 12:09 PM PDT

Jussie Smollett had pals of his in the Cook County State's Attorney's ear early on in his case -- and, based on leaked correspondence, it looks like she acted on his behalf.

Texts and emails between State Attorney Kim Foxx and two Jussie allies -- one of which is reported to be a family member of his -- have been leaked, and they show that Foxx was asked to intervene in the case a few days after he'd reported the alleged attack to Chicago PD. It appears that she did exactly that ... and kept Jussie's camp in the loop. 

The initial correspondence started when Michelle Obama's former chief of staff, Tina Tchen, emailed Foxx to say that she was reaching out on behalf of Jussie's family to express "concerns" they had with how the investigation at that point was being handled.

Jussie had not been charged with a crime yet, but it's believed Chicago PD was already doubting his story and leaking info to the press pushing that narrative. 

Foxx responded to Tchen on Feb. 1, saying ... "Spoke to Superintendent Johnson. I convinced him to Reach out to FBI to ask that they take over the investigation. He is reaching out now and will get back to me shortly." 

The same day, an unnamed relative of Jussie's texted Foxx herself, as well, and Foxx said she was working on getting the case sent over to the FBI. The relative replied, "Omg this would a huge victory." Foxx then responded, "I make no guarantees, but I'm trying."

Later, Foxx recused herself from the case when Jussie became a suspect. And, of course, her office just announced Tuesday that it was dropping all of the charges against Jussie, after coming out strong with a 16-count indictment just weeks earlier. 

Her official reasoning for dropping the charges ... Jussie has done community service in the community, so we're good. Her office asked a judge to seal the case, and they obliged. Mayor Rahm Emanuel strongly hinted at corruption in the State's Attorney's Office.

The Chicago-Tribune first reported on the leaked texts and emails.

On the heels of all the charges being dropped against Jussie earlier Tuesday, the Fraternal Order of Police in Chicago is asking the Dept. of Justice to investigate Kim Foxx and her involvement in this case.

Anna Faris 'Sweet' Chris Gave Me a Heads-Up ... On Proposing to Katherine

3/26/2019 7:22 AM PDT

Anna Faris and Chris Pratt have so much respect for each other even after divorcing that he called her to let her know he'd be proposing to Katherine Schwarzenegger.

The actress made the revelation Monday on divorce attorney Laura Wasser's podcast, 'Divorce Sucks!' ... telling the Disso Queen Chris gave her a ring one day and bashfully said, "So, I’m going to ask Katherine to marry me. I just wanted to give you a heads-up."

Anna says she was ecstatic for her ex-hubby, reminding him that she's an ordained minister and could possibly marry them. We already knew Anna had floated that -- she told that story on her own podcast a couple months ago. Now, we know Chris reached out first.

But, check out Anna's description here of how she and Chris have navigated their lives post-divorce -- it's a great lesson in "conscious uncoupling" 101. 

Chris and Anna finalized their divorce back in October, and the settlement includes a 5-mile rule in terms of living arrangements for the next five years. 

They share one child together, young Jack

Motley Crue & Netflix Sued I Got Electrocuted on Set of 'The Dirt'

3/26/2019 10:01 AM PDT

The crew member who was electrocuted on the set of Netflix's new Motley Crue movie is suing the band.

Louis DiVincenti just filed suit against the Crue and Netflix in Louisiana -- where filming for "The Dirt" took place, and where he suffered the electrocution. According to the suit, he says he was handing down metal pipes to other crew members, and one of the pipes made contact with a power line ... sending an electric current that "entered his body and blew out through his right foot."

DiVincenti says the March incident left him with third-degree burns on 50 percent of his body, and required a partial amputation on his foot ... as well as multiple surgeries and skin grafts.

In docs, obtained by TMZ, DiVincenti says Netflix and the producers -- which includes Tommy Lee and the rest of the band -- are on the hook for failing to address electrical hazards on set, and should be forced to pay for his suffering.

 

We broke the story ... DiVincenti had to be carried off in a stretcher at the time of the incident. 

He's suing to get Netflix and Motley Crue to pay for the medical bills he's racked up, and for at least $1.8 million in damages.

Michael Avenatti Still Going After Nike After Arrest ... Names Deandre Ayton, Bol Bol

3/26/2019 7:25 AM PDT

Michael Avenatti is not lying low following his release from custody for allegedly extorting Nike -- instead, he's doubling down ... and throwing two huge basketball stars under the bus.

The lawyer just went on a Twitter attack against Nike, claiming the company has not been cooperating with a federal investigation into its Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) for over a year.

Avenatti adds ... "Unless you count lying in response to subpoenas and withholding documents as 'cooperating.' They are trying to divert attention from their own crimes."

The "divert attention" part is interesting -- Avenatti is implying his arrest Monday for allegedly trying to extort $20 million out of Nike in exchange for not announcing harmful allegations against the company is a distraction for its own crimes.

But then -- speaking of diverting attention -- Avenatti dropped a bombshell tweet accusing Nike of paying off 20-year-old PHX Suns star Deandre Ayton and his mom before he made it to the NBA. Ayton played college ball at the University of Arizona and was a highly recruited high school star before that. 

Avenatti wrote ... "Ask DeAndre Ayton and Nike about the cash payments to his mother and others. Nike’s attempt at diversion and cover-up will fail miserably once prosecutors realize they have been played by Nike and their lawyers at Boies. This reaches the highest levels of Nike."

And there's more ... he's also calling out star Univ. of Oregon center Bol Bol, saying he and his handlers received large sums of cash from the shoe co.

As we reported ... Avenatti was arrested Monday for an alleged extortion scheme prosecutors in NY say played out over the course of a few days last week. They claim Avenatti demanded payment from Nike to keep him quiet about allegedly paying families of some high school basketball players.

Avenatti is also facing more federal charges for bank and wire fraud in an unrelated case to the Nike one. The U.S. Attorney in the Central District of California claims Avenatti embezzled client money to cover expenses for his coffee corporation.

He was released Monday afternoon on $300k bond and held a press conference saying he's confident he'll be "fully exonerated."

NASA All-Female Spacewalk Screwed by Ill-Fitting Suits NASA Responds to Criticism

3/26/2019 9:56 AM PDT
Breaking News

9:53 AM PT -- NASA has just responded to the backlash, stating, "To clarify, we have more than 1 medium size spacesuit torso aboard, but to stay on schedule with @Space_Station upgrades, it's safer & faster to change spacewalker assignments than reconfigure spacesuits."

9:25 AM PT -- Hillary Clinton just weighed in on the situation, and her solution is pretty clear ... "Make another suit."

NASA's no better than your average department store -- lack of the right sizes in its women's department just screwed 2 astronauts out of making history with the first all-female spacewalk mission. 

Turns out the space geniuses don't have enough spacesuits to fit female astronauts Christina Koch and Anne McClain ... who were scheduled to make a repair to the International Space Station's solar panels on Friday. NASA says it only has one medium-sized space shirt, and it's going to Koch ... although it's kind of a hand-me-down. 

McClain used it last week during a spacewalk, which is when she discovered the bad fit. She originally planned to wear a large, but found the medium more to her liking. Since McClain wore it last, Koch is getting the nod this week.

NASA and all the astronauts agree the proper fit is critical to mission success ... still sucks to miss out on history. Perhaps worst of all, a man's taking McClain's place Friday.

Yes, even at around 220 miles above Earth ... there's a glass ceiling.

Note to President Trump: More fitting rooms for Space Force, please.

Originally Published --  6:58 AM PT

Kris Humphries Kim K Marriage 'Not Fake' ... Split Was Brutal

3/26/2019 7:53 AM PDT
Breaking News

Kris Humphries is opening up about the most famous 72-day marriage of all time -- saying his relationship with Kim Kardashian was 100% real ... and he was genuinely "embarrassed" when they broke up. 

The ex-NBA player spilled his guts about his coupling with Kim K in The Players' Tribune ... saying, "Look, I should have known what I was getting into."

Kris and Kim began dating in 2010 and got engaged in May 2011. They tied the knot August 20, 2011 ... and Kim filed for divorce on Oct. 31. 

"I was definitely naive about how much my life was going to change," Kris says ... "But the one thing that really bothers me is whenever people say that my marriage was fake."

"There’s definitely a lot about that world that is not entirely real. But our actual relationship was 100% real."

Kris says "it sucked" when he realized the marriage wasn't working -- "It’s never easy to go through the embarrassment of something like that — with your friends, with your family."

"But when it plays out so publicly, in front of the world, it’s a whole other level. It was brutal."

Humphries -- now 34 years old and out of the NBA -- says he didn't know how to handle the negative attention stemming from his breakup ... admitting, "There was about a year where I was in a dark place."

Kris says he didn't want to leave his house and didn't even want to be known as Kris Humphries. Instead, Kris says he pretended to be Blake Griffin when he was out in public. 

He also reflects about how much it sucked to be booed and taunted in the wake of the split -- wondering if fans were after him because they thought he was a wannabe reality star ... or because they thought he disrespected the game of basketball. 

Humphries says he's not asking for pity -- and never really wanted to be famous -- claiming he's now trying to stay "under the radar" as he works on the next phase of his life. 

So, what is Kris planning to do next? He's already opened up several restaurants -- 10 Five Guys burger joints and with plans to open 7 CRISP & GREEN eateries. 

Michael Avenatti Indictment Casts Shadow On R. Kelly's Criminal Case

3/26/2019 7:10 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

Michael Avenatti's new legal woes -- being accused of extortion and fraud -- could derail the case against R. Kelly ... that's what the singer's lawyer thinks.

R. Kelly's attorney, Steve Greenberg, tells TMZ ... now that Avenatti has been charged with extortion as well as bank and tax fraud, his credibility is now a centerpiece in the singer's case -- specifically, the circumstances surrounding how prosecutors obtained a key piece of evidence.

That evidence, of course, is a sex tape that Cook County investigators claim shows R. Kelly having sex with an underage girl, who's alleged to be 14 years old. It's what many believe to be a smoking gun against R. Kelly ... and the catalyst that led to a 10-count indictment.

Greenberg says the issue of "chain of custody" -- how Cook County got hold of that tape via Avenatti -- is now questionable. Greenberg strongly suggests the possibility the tape could've been altered before it got to prosecutors. 

Sources connected to the case tell us that the man who handed the tape over to Avenatti is a whistle-blower who has a history of extorting R. Kelly. 

We're told the man recently confessed to prosecutors in Chicago that he squeezed about a million dollars out of R. Kelly's team in the past to stop the tape from going public. So, the question ... if the guy got the cash, how would Avenatti have gotten it?

Remember, there were supposedly TWO R. Kelly sex tapes that Avenatti turned over to Cook County officials, but Greenberg tells us he's only aware of one.

Either way, if Greenberg can create reasonable doubt in the jury's mind as to authenticity ... he could get R. Kelly off. Hey, we've seen it happen before.

TMZ Live Dr. Dre's USC Joke Backfires ... Daughter Said He 'Pushed' Her to Attend

3/25/2019 10:55 AM PDT

HERE'S THE RUNDOWN
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Ariana Grande Press Sours on Sweetener Tour's Photo Policy

3/26/2019 6:53 AM PDT

Ariana Grande is acting like a tyrant on her new tour ... at least, according to media organizations that are fuming over her photography policy.

Several major news outlets -- including the AP, New York Times, LA Times and 12 others -- have joined the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) in protesting Ariana's photo policy on her current Sweetener World Tour.

The NPPA claims the tour contract she's making them sign to cover her concerts requires photographers to hand over all rights to their photos to her tour company, GrandAriTour, Inc. ... and they're only allowed to take still shots from a designated area during the first 3 songs.

If the photogs want to use their pics, they have to get written approval from Grande ... and even then, they can only use each photo once as part of a news story. 

The 16 media outlets believe this is a massive overreach and flies in the face of journalistic principles ... and the NPPA president is urging members to refuse to sign Ariana's photography agreement.

No word yet if the singer will change her tune.

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