U.S.-Mexico Border Agents Use Horse Reins as Whips ... Ward Off Haitian Migrants

Border Patrol agents attempting to push back Haitian migrants trying to cross into the U.S. used what appear to be horse reins as whips to keep them at bay ... and now, the White House says it's looking into the tactic.

The images surfaced this week amid a chaotic situation at various parts of the U.S.-Mexico border, especially in Texas ... where scores of people have been wading across the Rio Grande to the U.S. side -- including thousands of Haitians, many of whom have set up camp under a bridge in the town of Del Rio, which has grown exponentially in recent days.

As a way to deter people ... some border agents on horseback were photographed and taped swinging around what seems to be either reins or lariats attached to the saddle equipment on their steeds. The photos and video here don't appear to show the agents actually make contact with any of the Haitians trying to cross, but still ... it looks bad.

The sheer optics of this -- white border agents apparently trying or threatening to whip predominantly Black Haitian migrants -- has caught the Biden administration's attention.

POTUS's Press Secretary, Jen Psaki, was asked about it repeatedly during Monday's press conference ... and said the staff had seen the footage, but needed more information to make an assessment on what was actually happening before weighing in further.

Still, Psaki did acknowledge that based on what they'd seen thus far ... it didn't seem like anything that'd be appropriate in any scenario, but made a point to say they were trying to gather the full context and more details -- despite reporters pushing back and getting testy.

One journo flat out asked if this is okay under Biden's watch and if it would continue -- but Psaki held the line ... namely, that they were looking into it.

2021 Emmys COVID-Safe, No Masks Required ... L.A. County Responds to Seth Rogen

Seth Rogen's rant suggesting the Emmys broke COVID safety rules is misguided ... at least according to the L.A. County Department of Health, which is refuting some of his comments.

The Health Dept. tells TMZ ... yes, the current mandate in L.A. requires everyone to wear a mask indoors -- whether vaccinated or unvaccinated -- but it also says exceptions are made for film, TV and music productions.

The county says the Emmy Awards qualify as a TV production, and all the people appearing on the show are considered performers ... so masks were not a must for attendees.

Additionally, the Dept. of Health says there were extra safety modifications in place for the event. Yes, everyone had to be fully vaxxed ... but they also had to have a verified negative COVID test within 48 hours of the show. Crew members were either fully vaccinated or recently tested as well.

Overall, the Public Health office says the Emmys reached out to share its safety protocols and they "exceeded the baseline requirements for television and film productions."

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WHAT ARE WE DOING?!
CBS

Still, Rogen's speech during the ceremony was about more than just the optics of all the maskless celebs sitting close to one another. He also claimed Emmy officials promised them the show would be outdoors, and it wasn't.

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FELT SAFE TO ME, SETH
TMZ.com

However, several other stars in attendance didn't seem to mind nearly as much as Rogen.

Billie Eilish Droppin' Two New Pair Of Kicks Collabing W/ Jordan Brand!!!

Move over Travis Scott ... there's a new music superstar collabing with the Swoosh, 'cause Billie Eilish and Jordan Brand linked up and are about to drop brand new kicks.

The 19-year-old pop star revealed the retro Js on her feet in her IG post on Monday -- saying she's "SO excited" for the release.

"I’ve always loved @jumpman23 🥰," Eilish says, "and it was such an incredible and surreal experience getting to create these, especially in a sustainable fashion."

The new Eilish-Air Jordan collab is a lime green Air Jordan 1 KO -- that has her signature Blohsh logo on the tongue of the shoe.

There are also the Jordan 15s -- Eilish's favorite -- that will come in a tan shade.

The Grammy award-winning singer -- who's big on climate change and eco-friendly -- also announced that both pairs are "100% vegan with over 20% recycled material."

Of course, Billie isn't the first ultra-famous celeb to team up with Nike ... Scott and the brand have created some of the most coveted kicks in the sneaker game. The Scott Nike's have been sold on the secondary market for over $1k.

How will sneakerheads and music fans react to Eilish's sneakers? We'll soon find out.

The kicks will be released on BI's website on Sept. 27 and hit Nike's SNKRS app on the 30th.

Britney Spears Who's Back on Instagram? It's Britney, Bitch!!!

Britney Spears' getaway with Sam Asghari wasn't just a celebration of their engagement ... it was also the perfect reason for her to get back on Instagram.

The singer posted 2 identical photos -- one color, one black and white -- on Monday and said they were taken during a weekend trip to Palm Springs to celebrate their commitment to get married.

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Brit says, "I couldn't stay away from the gram too long so I'm back already 💍😂!!!! Psss I took these in Palm Springs with clip in extensions 💁🏼😉."

As you know, just 2 days after Sam popped the question, Britney deleted her Instagram and said, "Don't worry folks ... just taking a little break from social media to celebrate my engagement 💍😉 !!!!  I'll be back soon 💋🌹✨."

The IG break lasted all of 7 days. As we reported ... sources with direct knowledge had told us she wanted to take a break from social media ahead of her conservatorship hearing later this month.

Long story short ... Britney wanted to keep a low profile ... with our sources saying there was concern in Britney's camp that she was a little too "out there" with some of her posts ... like her topless ones.

In any event, Britney clearly felt it was time to loop her fans back in on her whereabouts. We're still 9 days away from her big day in court, so ... we'll see how this plays out.

Gabby Petito 911 Call from Utah Stop ... Alleges BF Brian Slapped Her

REPORTING A DISTURBANCE
Fox News

Gabby Petito's boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, allegedly slapped and hit her in the run-up to them being pulled over and questioned by a cop in Utah, shortly before she vanished ... this according to a 911 caller, who claimed to have witnessed violence.

FOX obtained the 911 call in question, which was placed on August 12 near Moab, Utah -- not too far from where Gabby and Brian were eventually pulled over later that day by a city cop, whose body camera captured a distraught Gabby ...  and Brian unseemly denying anything had happened between them.

Check out the audio ... you hear a man tell the operator he's calling to report a domestic dispute he says he saw in town, going on to paint a picture of the white van Gabby and Brian had been traveling in, while also providing a license plate number ... and descriptions of both of them.

When the operator asks point blank what he saw them doing ... the guy doesn't hesitate -- he says he saw the man slapping and hitting the female, then both of them running up and down the sidewalk ... and finally jumping into the van and driving off.

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INTERACTION WITH MOAB POLICE
Moab Police Department

Not long after this, Gabby and Brian were, in fact, stopped by a Moab officer and questioned. While neither Gabby nor Brian admitted to any physical confrontation -- it was clear the former was having a hard time and going through some sort of a breakdown, as she started to cry in front of the cop. Brian, for his part, said they'd just been arguing ... nothing more.

Interestingly enough, FOX reports that an official police account of this entire incident claimed "no one reported that the male struck the female" -- which appears to be contradicted here.

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As we reported ... the feds announced Sunday that they believe they found the remains of Gabby's body in a national park in Wyoming, one of the last places she's said to have been with Brian -- who came back to Florida solo, and who has since gone missing himself.

Police have called him a person of interest, but have stopped short of saying he's a suspect -- however, they are searching his parents' home, where he lived, which is being deemed a crime scene.

Drake Airballs Jump Shot ... In 1-On-1 Game With Tory Lanez

Drake's jumper clearly still needs some work ... 'cause cameras have caught him airballin' yet another shot on the court -- this time in a 1-on-1 game with Tory Lanez.

The whiffed shot all went down in Miami (unclear exactly when) ... when Drake was getting in some run with his fellow rapper.

You can see in some footage of the two musicians' workout, Aubrey pulled up from deep against Lanez, shot the rock ... and then hit nothing but court.

To his credit, he didn't seem too downtrodden after the shot -- and Lanez somehow didn't even talk smack!

Of course, missing rim, backboard and net is nothing new for the "Certified Lover Boy" rapper ... 'cause, you'll recall, back in 2014, he famously missed a shot while in a layup line with the Kentucky men's basketball team.

Unclear who ultimately ended up winning the 1v1 match ... but something tells us if Drake didn't lock in the jumper -- Lanez probably made it a long afternoon in the gym for Drake.

AJ McLean We Want Int. Fans At Vegas Residency ... That's Why We Postponed It

we love our fans
TMZ.com

AJ McLean says postponing the Backstreet Boys' upcoming Vegas residency was the right thing to do for 2 good reasons ... the pandemic and their international fans.

The BSB singer joined "TMZ Live" Monday -- along with NSYNC's Joey Fatone -- and explained it was only right to push his group's Vegas residency until 2022, because a lot of fans from outside the U.S. still can't travel here.

The 'Boys were slated to begin their residency in November at Zappos Theater inside Planet Hollywood. They were also set to simultaneously drop their first-ever Christmas album. AJ says the residency and the album, which is still in the works, go hand in hand ... and it's why the album release was also delayed.

That being said ... AJ, Joey and others are still slated to perform this upcoming weekend in Miami at Fountainbleu for its 90's Pool Party. We had to ask ... why still move forward with that, while delaying the residency? AJ gave us the deets.

He also shared the challenges that come with trying to plan live shows during a pandemic. It's not easy, but AJ says constant communication with fans is key.

George Holliday Man Who Shot Rodney King Beating Video Dead From COVID

George Holliday -- the man who filmed Rodney King's beating at the hands of the LAPD in the '90s, which eventually triggered the L.A. Riot -- has died after contracting COVID-19.

Holliday passed away Sunday while hospitalized in Simi Valley, CA where he'd been since mid-August -- this according to one of his close friends and his business partner. We're told he'd been bedridden with pneumonia, and finally succumbed to the virus after a few weeks. We're told he wasn't vaccinated.

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THE BEATING

There's also this ... people close to George tell us that he was on a ventilator the last few days of his life. We're told when he was first admitted, he had an oxygen tube, but his condition worsened and eventually, he was put on the ventilator.

LAST OUTGOING MESSAGE

We're told he was plagued with blood clots and internal bleeding toward the end. His outgoing voicemail referenced he was in the hospital with COVID.

Holliday's claim to fame is the historic and horrific video he captured in 1991 ... which showed 4 LAPD cops swinging batons down on a cowering King, who was trying to protect himself from the blows.

If not for Holliday's quick and decisive move to start recording the madness from his apartment balcony across the way ... it's almost certain no one would've caught wind of what had been done to King that night in March of '91.

The tape ended up as the impetus for bringing charges against 4 officers -- all of whom ended up being acquitted in criminal court ... a decision that sparked the 1992 L.A. riots.

Businesses were destroyed, cars and property were set ablaze ... and people were outright fighting with law enforcement on the streets for nearly a week straight -- resulting in more than a billion dollars in damages.

King did end up winning a civil lawsuit ... and was awarded $4 million.

Holliday put his infamous video camera up for auction just last year -- with a starting bid at nearly a quarter of a million dollars. He said it had come to symbolize more than he could ever imagine, especially in the wake of George Floyd.

He was 61.

RIP

Wrestling Star Daffney Death Ruled Suicide

Ex-WCW star Daffney's death has been ruled a suicide by officials in Georgia ... TMZ Sports has learned.

According to the death certificate, released Monday, the former wrestler died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.

As we previously reported, Daffney -- real name Shannon Spruill -- was found dead on Sept. 2 ... after she had recorded herself on Instagram Live appearing to be suicidal.

In the videos, Daffney could be heard saying, "Do you guys not understand that I am all alone? Do you not understand that?"

She later said, "Remember, my brain goes to Boston."

Daffney's good friend, fellow wrestler Lexie Fyfe, told TMZ Sports Daffney had been battling mental health issues in the weeks leading up to her death.

Daffney starred in the WCW from 1999 to 2001 ... and after her passing, she was remembered fondly by wrestling legends, including Mick Foley, who said, "She was far ahead if her time in our business. #RIPDaffney."

She was 46 years old.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Seth Rogen Calls Out Emmys ... This Ain't COVID Safe!!!

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WHAT ARE WE DOING?!
CBS

Seth Rogen said out loud what lots of people were thinking ... how did all the celebs at the Emmys Sunday night get a pass when it came to wearing masks indoors?

Seth kinda joked he would have rethought even going to the Emmys had he known it would be held in a hermetically-sealed tent and there was not a mask in sight. He flat out called the Emmy honchos liars, saying, "They said this was outdoors. It's not. They lied to us."

The L.A. County Health Dept. says everyone at indoor events must wear masks ... what with the Delta variant still out of control in these parts. It seems undeniable -- that precaution was ignored as the gussied-up stars were like super-upscale masses huddled together as they cheered each other on. In fact, Seth groused, "There are way too many of us in this little room."

The only possible out for the Emmys is to argue the event was a "television production," but that's a stretch for everyone in the audience. Even if that were the case, it's sure bad messaging to viewers.

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"West Wing" star Bradley Whitford begged to differ, saying he thought everything was COVID hunky-dory.

Cedric the Entertainer actually challenged Seth, saying, "It actually feels amazing in here, unlike what Seth was talking about." He noted everyone inside was vaxxed, joking that he didn't have an adverse reaction like the dude Nicki Minaj was talking about.

True enough ... they were all vaxxed, but it sure seems hypocritical to ignore the rules of the COVID road because it spoils a good look.

The Emmy organizers say tables in the room were 6 feet apart and the audience was smaller than normal. Nevertheless, what about masks?

Anthony Anderson told our photog there might be a loophole regarding COVID protocols if there's ventilation ... but that's not what the Health Dept. says.

Kanye West Drops a Whopping $57.3 Million for Malibu Home/Sculpture

Kanye West has a new home by the sea ... and it's one of the rarest you'll see.

Ye just dropped a fortune on one of the only homes in the U.S. designed by famed Japanese architect Tadao Ando, so the place is a house just as much as it is a work of art.

The nearly 4,000 square-foot Malibu property hit the market last year for $75 million, so Kanye got a pretty good deal at $57.3 mil to add to his collection of homes all over the country.

The house sat on the market a long, long time ... it was listed in May, 2020.  Our real estate sources say the house didn't sell quickly because it's small and it's attractive "to a very specific buyer" -- translation, it's not for everyone.

The 3-story sculpture-esque home also resembles a military bunker, with tons of concrete and reinforced steel to go with the 4 beds and 4.5 baths ... and it sits right on the beach overlooking the Pacific.

Kanye's new pad is only about a 30-minute drive from the massive Hidden Hills compound he built with Kim Kardashian ... where his estranged wife and their kids still live.

So yeah ... looks like "Donda" was pretty successful.

Kylie Jenner & Travis Scott Take Stormi to the Houston Zoo

Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott were back in his hometown this weekend for family fun ... showing their daughter some lions and tigers and ... elephants.

The couple took their 3-year-old girl Stormi to the Houston Zoo Sunday for several hours. We're told they hit up all the big attractions, checked out the giraffes and seals ... and visited the elephant exhibit as well.

Of course, the family was flanked by private security guards with golf carts all day ... including when Stormi took a ride on the carousel.

As we've reported, these outings are nothing new for Kylie and Travis, who love taking Stormi to amusement parks and pumpkin patches and all that good stuff. They've always kept that up, even when they had split as a couple.

They're back together now, though, and expecting their second child ... which we first told you about last month, and Kylie made it official a couple weeks ago.

'Friday' Star Anthony Johnson Dead at 55

8:31 AM PT -- Johnson's rep tells TMZ ... "Our BH Talent family is saddened about the loss of an amazing iconic legend in comedy, our client and friend Anthony "AJ" Johnson."

The rep adds ... "We are praying for all those that were touched by his comedy, acting, but most of all his life. We are especially praying for his beloved Wife, Children, Siblings and Manager."

Anthony Johnson -- best known for his roles in "House Party" and "Friday" -- has died ... TMZ has learned.

Johnson's nephew tells us ... A.J. was found lifeless in a store earlier this month in Los Angeles and rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. So far, no cause of death has been released.

The actor and comedian's career took off in 1990 after he landed the role of E.Z.E. in "House Party" and going on to do stand-up all over L.A.

After that, he appeared in films like "Lethal Weapon 3" and "Menace II Society" before his breakout role playing Ezal in the 1995 comedy "Friday."

A.J. would go on to appear in nearly 50 films and TV shows, including "Moesha," "Martin," "Malcolm & Eddie," "The Players Club" and "I Got the Hook Up" and its sequel. It's also rumored Johnson was cast to reprise his role in the upcoming "Last Friday."

Johnson was 55.

RIP

Originally Published --  6:30 AM PT

Conan O'Brien I'd Like to Thank the Academy!!! ... For An Award I Had Nothing to do With

PARTY CRASHER
CBS

Conan O'Brien stole the show Sunday night, barreling down the aisle to celebrate Stephen Colbert's Emmy win for Outstanding Variety Special ... thing is, Conan had nothing to do with it!

The famous stage crasher was beside himself with joy -- bear hugging Colbert. As Colbert gave his acceptance speech, Conan was effusive, prompting Colbert to quip, "And all of these people behind me, most of these people behind me ... most of the people behind me really deserve this Emmy right now."

Well, maybe this was all an act, because Colbert said backstage, "I said 'why don't you come on stage with us if we win?' We love Conan. We're honored to be superfans of Conan O'Brien."

And, that wasn't the end ... as the Academy Prez, Frank Scherma, said a few words to the crowd, Conan was back in fine form, saluting him with audible approval.

Well, if it was really staged, it was executed pretty brilliantly. It had shades of Kanye West hijacking Taylor Swift's VMA win back in 2009.

Emmy After-Parties Sudeikis, Winslet Celebrate Big Wins!!!

Jason Sudeikis and Kate Winslet know the only one way to celebrate bringing home a shiny, wing-woman trophy is to hit up the after-parties ... with that Emmy in hand, of course.

Jason and Kate were among the throng of celebs who kept the night going after the Emmys were awarded. Jason ended up at the famed Sunset Tower in L.A. ... and looked pretty damn sharp rocking his Tom Ford tux.

He snapped selfies with fans before going inside. Jason won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for his role on the hilarious Apple TV+ series, "Ted Lasso." The series also won for Outstanding Comedy Series.

Anya Taylor-Joy didn't let getting snubbed at the Emmys for her role in "The Queen's Gambit" bring her down ... she was also at Sunset Tower partying it up.

About a mile or so down the road ... Kate hit up the San Vicente Bungalows in WeHo with her hubby, Abel Smith. She looked pretty stoked carrying around her statue after winning the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie category for HBO's "Mare of Easttown." The Weeknd also joined the Bungalows celebration.

Speaking of HBO ... Kaley Cuoco and Conan O'Brien were among the many who hit up HBO Max's after-party.

Patrick Mahomes Little Bro Douses Ravens Fans With Water ... After Chiefs Loss

Patrick Mahomes' brother, famous TikTokker Jackson Mahomes, was so tired of being heckled by Ravens fans Sunday ... he straight-up doused the men with water.

The scene went down just minutes after Patrick's Chiefs lost a heartbreaker in Baltimore, 36-35 ... when Ravens fans appeared to be talking smack to Jackson.

In footage of the incident, you can hear people telling the younger Mahomes, "I'm so sorry for you! I'm so sorry for you!"

Another fan added, "Go home, Jackson!"

Eventually, Jackson grew so annoyed with the ribbing ... he pulled out a water bottle, unscrewed the cap, and threw the contents all over the Ravens supporters.

Jackson then headed up the stairs to get inside one of the suites at M&T Bank Stadium.

The Baltimore fans didn't appear to be too shaken up by the water-tossing ... they celebrated with glee after Jackson left his seat.

Jackson, meanwhile, later commented on the incident on his social media page ... saying, "they were thirsty."

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