Elon Musk Hey, Corporate America ... Pay Me $1,000 for Gold Checkmarks!!!

The days of being verified for free on Twitter are coming to an end -- which goes for corporate accounts too ... who'll have pay a pretty penny for their verification status.

A new report from The Information suggests Elon Musk and co. are rolling out a new payment plan option for companies/brands who want to hold on to their gold checkmark ... which, up until now, was free if they were of note or importance.

Another separate reporter, Matt Navarra, appeared to confirm Twitter's plans ... which include charging business accounts $1,000 per month if they want to stay verified. Any affiliate accounts under the bigger corporate account will cost an additional $50/month.

They're calling the program Verified for Organizations, and it sounds like they're reaching out to brands now to get them onboard early. If they refuse to pony up, they'll lose their gold check and look like any other unverified Twitter user. It's unclear when this goes into effect.

It doesn't seem this new subscription plan applies to media companies, which would be at risk of phony accounts popping up and posing as them ... thus, spreading fake news.

On the contrary, this looks to be aimed more so at straight up corporations -- like Target, Bank of America, etc. -- that are strictly in the business of selling goods and services ... and turning a profit. It also sounds like a ploy to make quick cash, which Twitter reportedly really needs these days -- with mounting lawsuits from all ends and ongoing staff shortages.

Of course, this is just the latest money-making gimmick from Elon. In addition to this, he's still desperately trying to get people to sign up for Twitter Blue any way he can -- which is $8/month and guarantees virtual nobodies a blue checkmark, for whatever that's worth.

Meanwhile, tons of old legacy accounts -- like journos/other people of note -- continue to rock their blue checkmarks (for free, it seems) and public officials now have grey checks.

TMZ INVESTIGATES

A work in progress, indeed.

Dave Bautista New 'Cabin' Movie ... Aiming to Sink 'Avatar' as #1

James Cameron's 'Avatar' sequel has reigned supreme at the box office for weeks now -- but a new flick might be gearing up to take it down ... with Dave Bautista at the helm.

We're talking about M. Night Shyamalan's sci-fi thriller "Knock at the Cabin," which just hit theaters. The film's gotten mixed reviews, but it seems the movie-going crowd is eager to see it ... so far, it's made $5.4 mil and is on track to make about $14.5 mil through Sunday.

While lower than what early projections had it pegged at -- between $15M-$20M over the weekend -- that figure is still strong enough to knock off 'The Way of Water' ... which has been #1 for over a month now. The sequel has been cruising, without much competition.

Box office estimates have 'Avatar 2' coming in at around $10 million ... which, if it holds true, would actually drop it down to #3, below yet another new movie that's doing quite alright.

That would be the Jane Fonda-led '80 for Brady,' which is expected to fetch around $13 million this weekend ... not too far behind Shyamalan's highly-anticipated mind-twister.

This one's about a group of older women who take a trip to Foxborough to catch their favorite Patriots QB in action. It's an original comedy ... and considering those are kinda tanking these days in ticket sales, it's a nice surprise to see the strong showing -- especially since this is targeted toward a more senior-leaning audience.

TMZ INVESTIGATES

In either case, it looks like 'Avatar's' time on top is coming to an end -- but it's not like Cameron and co. are complaining. The blockbuster has made more money than anyone could've hoped for ... now sitting as the 4th highest-grossing motion picture of all time.

Something tells us they can afford to let someone else be king for a little while now. At least until part 3 comes out, that is.

Prince Harry I'm The One Who Took His V-Card ... So Claims Ex-Stable Girl

Prince Harry suggested he'd lost his virginity to an esteemed older woman in the U.K.'s countryside -- but, according to the alleged V-card-taker, she was just a couple years older.

A woman named Sasha Walpole has come forward to claim she was the one who first slept with PH in the summer of 2001 ... when she says she was just about to turn 19, while Harry was 16 (going on 17). What's more, she says it was Harry who put the moves on her.

Walpole -- who used to work as a stable girl for then-Prince, Charles at his Gloucestershire estate, Highgrove House, and now makes a living as an industrial plow digger -- says she was pals with Harry at the time, and had known him for years.

On July 21, 2001 ... she says she invited Harry to the Vine Tree pub to celebrate her 19th birthday -- during which, she claims he invited her out back to have a smoke ... she says they then 'got it on' in the adjacent field just like he described in his memoir, 'Spare.'

Here's how Walpole describes it ... "He started to kiss me. It was passionate, intense. We both knew. It went from a kiss on to the floor pretty quickly."

She adds, "It was instant, fiery, wham bam, between two friends. It was sparky because we shouldn't have been doing it. He wasn't 'Prince Harry' to me, this was Harry, my friend, and the situation had got a little bit out of control. It felt naughty, I suppose, in the sense that it shouldn't be happening." Walpole also says he didn't do it like a virgin ... and she had no idea he was one at the time. The whole thing, she claims, lasted about 5 minutes total.

Afterward, Walpole says she did indeed smack his ass like he wrote in the book -- saying it was just a cheeky joke, seeing as how she worked with horses and found it funny.

It's interesting ... Walpole had been photographed with Harry around that time although, in these pics -- he looks to be flirting and fooling around with other girls ... not so much her.

You'll recall, when this tidbit about his first roll in the hay first surfaced -- as excerpts of his book started leak -- there was wide speculation he may have banged the legendary Elizabeth Hurley, even though she totally denied it.

Now, Walpole is spilling her guts to the British media ... doing an interview with the Daily Mail, and saying she was actually bothered by Harry's revelation about their brief tryst. She says she'd kept his secret for years, and is embarrassed he put their business out there.

TMZ INVESTIGATES

Harry hasn't responded to her claims thus far.

65th Annual Grammy Awards Crypto Seating Arrangement ... Who's Sittin' Next to Who?

We now know who'll be sitting next to who at the 65th Grammy Awards this weekend -- and while some of the pairings are no-brainers, others are a little more ... interesting.

CBS and the Recording Academy just dropped photos/video of the seating arrangement for Sunday night at the Crypto.com Arena in DTLA ... and it seems showrunners both tried to mix it up, while also playing it safe at the same time.

For example, the Grammys have Taylor Swift sitting next to her longtime collaborator and music industry pal, Jack Antonoff at one table -- while they've also placed Beyonce and Jay-Z right next to each other at another table across the way. No big surprises there.

Where they seem to be throwing everyone for a loop lies in some other big names cozying up next to each other who don't necessarily have close ties -- like Cardi B sitting next to John Legend, or LL Cool J next to Shania Twain ... or even Lizzo sitting next to Adele.

Some other interesting matchups ... Chuck D and Flavor Flav (who've beefed in the recent past), Black Thought/Chris Stapleton (OGs of their genre), Viola Davis/Queen Latifah.

A handful of artists that appear to be sitting all by their lonesome (at least for now) include ... The Rock, Olivia Rodrigo, Ice T, Bad Bunny ... and Mr. Harry Styles, who's also performing.

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

Worth noting ... these name cards certainly suggest this is where folks will be parked throughout the broadcast -- but, of course, these things are likely subject to change and not necessarily set in stone. In other words, they could easily switch things up by showtime.

Still, it's clearly going to be a who's-who of Hollywood ... not only are the biggest music stars rolling through -- sans a few notable exceptions -- but it looks like movie/TV stars are filing in as well, so this stands to be even bigger than the forthcoming Oscars ... which is all film.

TMZ INVESTIGATES

Can't wait to see it live!

Chinese Spy Balloon U.S. Shoots It Down Dramatic Video of Blow-Up

WE GOT 'EM
TMZ.com
UPDATE

5:13 PM PT -- China has condemned the downing of their air balloon, calling it an "excessive overreaction," while also expressing "strong dissatisfaction" for the move.

UPDATE

1:16 PM PT -- Biden just addressed the balloon operation, saying he ordered the Pentagon to shoot it down as soon as possible -- noting he had given that order on Wednesday. He told reporters that he was informed that the safest way to do it would be to wait until it was above open waters.

UPDATE

Here's the (potential) problem with that ... the White House has gone on record to say JB was first briefed about the balloon on Tuesday, but Bloomberg reports his administration had actually become aware of its presence as early as Jan. 28th (last Saturday).

UPDATE
UPDATE

No other major outlets have confirmed that ... but, if true, it would indicate Biden's camp was trying to keep this hush-hush until they couldn't any longer. Very similar to the classified docs scandal -- which was also on their radar long before anyone publicly knew about it.

UPDATE

So, if Joe was actually first told about it on Tuesday -- but his administration was aware of it way earlier -- what the heck is going on with the information funnel for our CiC???

UPDATE

12:18 PM PT -- TMZ has obtained video of the moment the balloon was struck, and it's pretty damn dramatic ... and something you might see in a Tom Cruise-led movie.

UPDATE

Check it out ... you see a fighter jet approaching the balloon, and then launch a projectile that strikes the aircraft and blows it up. As you can hear, it was quite a sight to the people on the ground too.

UPDATE

12:02 PM PT -- The Chinese spy balloon, which wasn't carrying passengers, has been shot down.

UPDATE
UPDATE

FOX News got some great footage of the moment it was hit and started to plummet down to the ocean. Word is, the thing was hit with missiles over Surfside Beach in South Carolina. It looks like fighter jets were circling it prior to firing.

A Chinese spy balloon that's been hovering over the U.S. throughout the week is probably going to meet its maker once it reaches the deep blue ... something President Biden teased.

JB made one of his first public comments about the foreign aircraft Saturday while out in Syracuse, NY -- where he was asked about it by a reporter ... to whom he casually responded, "We're going to take care of it." Reports from AP and ABC News suggest it's going down.

According to the outlets, the Biden administration is strongly considering shooting the balloon while it's floating over the Atlantic Ocean ... that way, there's no risk of any debris crashing into anything or anybody on the ground. The reports say U.S. officials have cleared airspace for this, and that they would collect the debris for further examination thereafter.

As of Saturday morning, the balloon could be seen fly above the Carolinas and heading East. Estimates say it should be over water sometime this afternoon, so it could go down later today.

The Prez was reportedly first briefed on the fact the balloon had entered our territory on Tuesday, and the first sightings of it over Montana and other midwestern states began surfacing Wednesday. China says it's an unmanned weather balloon conducting research which accidentally veered off course and floated our way ... but the U.S. has called BS.

Instead, intelligence officials are saying it's a surveillance balloon ... and they believe it was sent here intentionally. In any case, it's not great for diplomatic relations right now.

A second balloon was also spotted floating above Latin America today. Time will tell if it's flight comes to an end ... and what any potential findings could mean for how we deal with China.

Things have been bumpy lately with the superpower nation, especially as it pertains to predictions about war and whatnot. With this brazen move, it doesn't bode well.

TMZ INVESTIGATES

The balloon takedown could happen any moment now ... stay tuned.

Originally Published -- 10:30 AM PT

Armie Hammer 'I Was an Asshole' ... But I Did Not Assault Women

Armie Hammer has broken his silence over the sexual assault allegations that have dogged him for 2 years, flatly denying he raped or sexually assaulted anyone, but conceding he was "emotionally abusive" to some of the women with whom he had sexual encounters.

Hammer, who has been categorically canceled since the allegations surfaced 2 years ago, said he not only contemplated suicide, he took action back in February 2021, shortly after the story broke. He says he was in the Cayman Islands and swam out as far as he could, hoping "that either I drowned or was hit by a boat or eaten by a shark. Then I realized that my kids were still on shore, and that I couldn't do that to my kids."

As you know, several women have claimed they were sexually assaulted by him during BDSM sex. One woman in particular, known as Effie, claimed he raped her and the LAPD has been investigating this case for more than a year and a half. As TMZ has reported, law enforcement sources say no charges will be filed, yet the case has languished at LAPD and has still not been referred over to the D.A. for a final decision.

As for the alleged rape, Hammer told Air Mail it was a rape "scene" ... all planned out in advance and fully consensual.  He says it was planned with every detail ... meeting at a Starbucks, following her home, walking in the open front door and engaging in a "consensual non-consent scene." He says, "Every single thing was discussed beforehand. I have never thrust this on someone unexpectedly. Never."

Hammer was asked if he was emotionally abusive to these women. He answered, "One million percent," adding, "I'm here to admit my own mistakes, take accountability for the fact that I was an asshole, that I was selfish, that I used people to make me feel better, and when that was done, moved on."

The allegations of BDSM fantasies and cannibalistic fetishism became a centerpiece for the streamer, "House of Hammer."  The actor was dropped by his talent agency, and publicist, dropped from film projects ... fully canceled.

He has spent time in the Caymans ... selling timeshares to pass the time and make some money.

Hammer says he's done a lot of work to regain sobriety and peace, referring back to what he says started him down a bad path. He says he was molested by a youth pastor when he was 13, explaining, "What that did for me was it introduced sexuality into my life in a way that it was completely out of my control."

He went on ... "I was powerless in the situation. I had no agency in the situation. Sexuality was introduced to me in a scary way where I had no control. My interests then went to, I want to have control in the situation sexually."

Howard Roseman, a producer on "Call Me By Your Name," also appeared in the Air Mail story, saying "All of [the allegations are] just pure bulls**t, and yes, he deserves a second chance."  He called the reaction to the Armie story, "kink shaming."

TMZ INVESTIGATES

Meanwhile, the LAPD still has the case. A law enforcement source told TMZ they were having trouble with some "3rd party witness" that was resisting cooperation. We're told that 3rd party is a company, not a person. We asked our sources why they didn't just get a subpoena to get whatever it needed from the company, but we did not get an answer.

We have asked our LAPD sources when the case will be wrapped up and sent to the D.A. but never got a clear answer. One source who formerly worked closely with Hammer but no longer does tells TMZ, "The fact that LAPD has had this case for 2 years and still hasn't cleared him is f**king insane."

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org.

Stars and Scars You Be the Judge

Tom Brady retired again, but this time it seems it's for good, and Alec Baldwin is officially a criminal defendant in an involuntary manslaughter case. So, we gotta ask ...

Tom Brady Retiring ...

Tom Going To FOX Sports ...

More At Fault In 'Rust' Shooting ...

Beyonce's New World Tour ...

Pam Anderson Says Sex Tape Ruined Career ...

Austin Butler's Elvis Accent ...

Police Violence Since George Floyd ...

Monkeys In Zoos ...

There Will Be Nuclear War ...

Grammys 2023 Celebs Party Big-Time For A Second Night ... Jay-Z and Beyonce In The Mix!!

Some of the biggest names in music were out in force Friday for a second night of pre-Grammy partying, hitting several major shindigs around L.A.

Just like Thursday night, there were were a slew of celebrations in town ahead of the iconic awards show and the parties were flooded with bold-faced names, including Jay-Z and Beyonce.

QUEEN'S NIGHT OUT
BACKGRID

Jay and Bey, DJ Khaled, Wiz Khalifa, Future and Rich Paul all showed up at the United Master Celebration of Independence in Hollywood. Khaled gave a big thumbs up and even bigger smile on his way out of the soiree. Seems like he had a rockin' good time.

In Beverly Hills, Cher and her much younger fiancé, Alexander Edwards, were spotted hand-in-hand entering and leaving Matsuhisa restaurant. Cher was smartly dressed in a white jacket and grey slacks while Alex cut a more casual look.

Pusha T, Usher, Pharrell Williams, Tyga and Jermaine Dupri also dipped in and out of the bash.

Adam Lambert, Casey Affleck and Alessandra Ambrosio were also in a celebratory mood, but they chose a more intimate setting for their get-together at a private home.

TMZ INVESTIGATES

By the way...the 65th Annual Grammy Awards kicks off Sunday night at L.A.'s Crypto.com Arena.

Beyoncé World Tour Fans Pleading for Cash on GoFundMe ... Help Score Us Tickets!!!

Beyoncé fans are begging to score tickets for her upcoming tour ... making public pleas for $$$!!!

The BeyHive is buzzing around the crowdfunding website, GoFundMe, to ask family, friends and other Bey diehards to throw them some bread to secure a ticket for her "Renaissance" tour.

Problem is, even if they raise the money, that doesn't mean they're guaranteed a ticket ... just ask Swifties about the presale of Taylor Swift's "Eras" tour!

That's not stopping fans from trying, and some of their pleas are pretty funny. One fan writes, "This is the only life experience I care about living before I die. I will get those front row tickets either way but this way is safer than selling my kidney on the black market."

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

Another fan says, "Listen…I would love your financial support in sending me to Beyoncé World Tour 2023. I haven’t missed a Beyoncé concert yet, but I got 'bills, bills, bills.'"

TMZ INVESTIGATES

Some fans have managed to raise a few hundred bucks ... while others have raised next to nothing.

Pre-sale in the UK has begun and fans say the supply nowhere meets the demand.

Tickets go on sale in the U.S. next week ... brace yourselves, BeyHive.

Idaho Massacare Suspect Bryan Kohberger Kentucky Woman Professes Love For Him

Bryan Kohberger -- the man charged with the University of Idaho student massacre -- is already getting the bizarre affection from women obsessed with alleged mass murderers.

Brittney Hislope has written a series of Facebook posts professing her love for the accused murderer of 4 college classmates, gushing that Kohberger is the “perfect man” for her.

In one post, Hislope said, “My love interest … is named Bryan and is accused of murder, and I just wish to connect with him above anyone else.”

She added, “One way to describe my feelings for him over the last week or so … is kind of like being lovesick.”

Hislope started posting her passionate letters to Kohberger January 4 ... just a few days after the former PhD criminology grad student had been arrested at his parent's home in Pennsylvania for the murders.

TMZ INVESTIGATES

The single Kentucky mom, who has a 16-year-old son, pointed out she and Kohberger shared some things in common, such as their astrological signs — both are apparently Scorpios. She also claimed they have similar birth charts, making Kohberger her “divine masculine counterpart.”

In another IG post, Hislop referenced the strange love scene between Jason Patric and Jamie Gertz in the 1987 vampire movie, "The Lost Boys." She said, "Although it’s not very explicit, I’d want to be with my love interest Bryan in those ways.”

Kohberger has been charged with the murders of Kaylee Goncalves, 21, Madison Mogen, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and Ethan Chapin, 20. He has denied any wrongdoing. His next court date is June 26.

Bill Maher I Got 10 New Categories for the Grammys ... And They're F'ing Hysterical!!!

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION...
Real Time with Bill Maher/HBO

The Grammys show promises to be endless, what with 91 categories, and now Bill Maher has exacerbated the problem by adding 10 categories to the list, and they're f***ing hysterical.

The 'Real Time' host mused about some of the actual categories, like Best Score Soundtrack for Video Games, and Best Spoken Work Poetry Album.

So, to cross the 100-category line, Bill has offered up a few more ...

Best Album that Pretentious Assholes Say Sounds Better on Vinyl.

TMZ INVESTIGATES

Best 90's Love Song That Reminds Your Parents When They Used to F***.

Award for The Most Times A Rapper Asks If You Know What He's Saying.

Bill got into more serious territory at the end of the show, talking about the dangerous similarities between extremes on the political spectrum. It's as troubling as it is interesting. Have a listen.

Cindy Williams Hometown Honors Coming Right Up ... Day Dedicated to Legacy

"Laverne & Shirley" star, Cindy Williams' name won't soon be forgotten in the place she grew up in ... because they're dedicating an entire day in her honor.

Williams was raised in the Van Nuys neighborhood of Los Angeles, and there's now an official movement to declare January 25 -- the day she passed away -- as Cindy Williams Day in the community.

A spokesperson for the sixth district of Los Angeles tells TMZ ... “Our office was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Cindy Williams, a Van Nuys treasure and Hollywood icon. Throughout her life, Cindy served as a role model to young women in Hollywood and showed them that, through hard work and dedication, they could achieve whatever they put their minds to."

As we reported, the actress, made famous for her portrayal of Shirley in the hugely popular "Laverne & Shirley" died at the age of 75 last month.

While she's best remembered for playing alongside Penny Marshall in the hit series, she did a ton of other gigs throughout her career ... like taking on projects on Broadway and appearing on other shows such as "8 Simple Rules".

Of course, the "Laverne & Shirley" series was wildly popular throughout its 8-season stint from 1976 to 1983. At one point, it was the most-watched sitcom in the U.S. ... racking up 6 Golden Globes nominations and 1 Emmy nom.

Doug Williams I Teared Up When Mahomes, Hurts Made Super Bowl ... Was Like When Obama Got Elected!!!

HISTORY IN THE MAKING
TMZSports.com

Doug Williams tells TMZ Sports he teared up after Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts officially made the Super Bowl ... comparing the moment to when Barack Obama first got elected.

Williams, the first-ever Black starting quarterback to win the Lombardi Trophy, said the tears never quite spilled over onto his cheeks -- but he said they were there, and they were filled with happiness nonetheless.

"I had tears of joy in my eye because I had an opportunity to witness this," the former Washington signal-caller said.

"Sit there, and just look at it, and say to myself, 'Man, we got two Black quarterbacks playing in the Super Bowl.'"

Williams said he had similar feelings when Obama beat out John McCain in the 2008 Presidential Election ... and also when Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith coached against each other in the Colts vs. Bears Super Bowl XLI.

"Things like that," Williams said, "give me joy. Give me chills."

Williams became the first Black QB to win a Super Bowl in 1988, when Washington beat Denver in SB XXII. Since then, Russell Wilson and Mahomes are the only two who have accomplished the same feat.

Williams called the upcoming Mahomes vs. Hurts matchup a huge step -- but said there's certainly more he wants to see in the NFL ... and across society as a whole.

Lil Pump New Year, New Smile ... Gets $25K Mouth Makeover!!!

PUMP'S PEARLY WHITES
5 Star Smiles

If you thought his recent slump in music was gonna make Lil Pump stop smiling, think again, because the guy just got a new set of chompers he's gonna be showing off for a long time.

5 Star Smiles CEO Danielle Noguera tells TMZ Hip Hop Pump came in earlier this year to get a new pair of porcelain veneers.

The set Pump opted for has tons of longevity -- 30 years in fact -- and we're told the procedure cost Pump a cool $25k, done in Pump's hometown of Miami.

TMZ INVESTIGATES

Dentists had been reaching out to Pump for years offering to do his teeth, but Pump opted for 5 Star Smiles, a company with plenty of experience with celebs including Lil Meech, Erica Mena, and the Clermont Twins, to name a few, in the past.

ALL SMILES
5 Star Smiles

As expected, Pump won't just stop with the veneers, we're told he's upping his game even more -- with a pair of custom grills currently in production.

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

The "Gucci Gang" rapper recently debuted a massive weight loss and says he's now addicted to the gym. Health is wealth and Pump is looking like a rich man these days!!!

Babes In Big Sweaters Guess Who!

It's that time of year to pair the changing weather with a revealing sweater, so you already know the celebs are taking matters into their own hands and have never looked better! Can you say 'more skin for the win?!'

These sexy stars aren't just slaying in sweaters ... you've got hoodies, knits and cardigans oh my! From Kim Kardashian to Ashley Graham, there's a bundle of babes cozying up just enough to keep you on your toes!

Warm up with these cuties by scrolling through our gallery of babes in big sweaters ... and while you're at it, see if you've got what it takes to guess which celeb is in the shot reppin' sweater weather!

What's The Big Frigin' Difference?!

"Selling Sunset's" Emma Hernan is used to being in the spotlight, but this time she looks a tad caught off guard! See if you can help her get back on track by finding the ever-so-slight differences in these two shots!

The blonde bombshell real estate agent took a timeout from showing LA's finest cribs and recently hit the streets of Hollywood, showing off her long legs and locks. Check your time limit and track down the changes made before you get ticketed! You've got this in the bag!

**HINT: There are THREE differences in the above Emma Hernan photos!**

Old news is old news!
Be First!

Get TMZ breaking news sent right to your browser!