Velma in 'Scooby-Doo' James Gunn Wanted Her 'Explicitly Gay' ... Claims Studio Blocked It

"Scooby-Doo" sleuth Velma is a lesbian -- at least according to writer/director James Gunn, who says she was definitely gay in his initial 2002 movie script.

Before the filmmaker rose to the ranks of director of the "Guardians of the Galaxy" films, he wrote the screenplays for the live-action "Scooby-Doo" and its 2004 sequel, 'Monsters Unleashed' ... and he says he intended for Velma to be "explicitly gay."

Gunn was replying to a fan on Twitter asking him to return to the franchise and make a live-action Velma gay ... he claims he already tried it.

According to Gunn ... the studio, which was Warner Bros., "just kept watering it down & watering it down, becoming ambiguous (the version shot), then nothing (the released version) & finally having a boyfriend (the sequel)."

Essentially ... Gunn's accusing Warner Bros. of putting the kibosh on a gay character riding shotgun in the Mystery Machine with Scoob & co.

Gunn replied to another fan, suggesting the 2002 film’s home video release hinted at what he was trying to do with Velma’s sexuality in the original script.

The Velma character in the movie was played by Linda Cardellini ... of "Dead to Me" and "Bloodline" fame, most recently.

Washington Redskins Changing Name & Logo ... Navajo Nation Suggests 'Code Talkers'

Breaking News

9:07 AM PT -- 7/13 The Navajo Nation is applauding the decision -- saying, "July 13, 2020 is now a historic day for all Indigenous peoples around the world."

"The NFL Washington-based team officially announced the retirement of the racist and disparaging 'Redskins' team name and logo," the Navajo Nation continued.

"For generations, this team name and logo has misrepresented the true history and events that define the term 'redskins.'"

The Navajo nation even has a suggestion for a new team name -- The Washington Code Talkers.

"Renaming the team 'Code Talkers' to honor the Navajo Code Talkers, and other tribal nations who used their sacred language to help win World War II would set the team on a path to restoring its reputation and correcting the historical misrepresentation of Indigenous peoples."

It's official ... The Washington "Redskins" are no more.

The NFL franchise announced Monday morning it's FINALLY changing the team nickname they've had since 1933 ... effective immediately.

"Today we are announcing we will be retiring the Redskins name and logo," the team said.

The team says owner Dan Snyder and head coach Ron Rivera are "working closely to develop a new name and design approach that will enhance the standing of our proud tradition, rich franchise and inspire our sponsors, fans and community for the next 100 years."

After the announcement, Washington QB Dwayne Haskins weighed in ... saying "As a kid who grew up in the dmv it’ll always be #HTTR but looking forward to the future."

The team had initially announced a "thorough review of the team's name" back on July 3 after Native American groups and sponsors had decided enough was enough and put pressure on the team to make a change.

Nike had stopped selling "Redskins" merchandise on its official website -- and FedEx -- which has spent MILLIONS over the years for the naming rights to FedExField in Maryland -- threatened to jump ship if the team didn't make a change.

And, Fawn Sharp -- president of the National Congress of American Indians (which represents more than 500 tribal nations) also issued a scathing statement to the team -- calling for players to boycott until the name was changed.

What's important about Fawn ... is Washington had long argued that Native American groups were largely supportive of the nickname. Fawn and the NCAI called BS and they couldn't hide behind that claim anymore.

The team has not locked in new team name yet -- they're reportedly working on the business side of that ... but the season is set to begin soon, so the clock's ticking.

So far, the Redtails and the Warriors have been thrown around as possible replacement names -- you like?

Originally published -- 7/12 7:05 PM PT

Black Bear Breaks Into Canadian Home ... Comes Up Short on Pizza

BEARY CURIOUS
Newsflare

Here's yet another example of just how crafty bears can be in their never-ending search for human food -- which, if you leave out, WILL attract these beasts almost every time.

Check out this black bear effortlessly breaking his way into a Canadian home in Ontario, opening the front door with its paws and sauntering in like it's nobody's business. Luckily, no one seemed to be in this part of the house ... could've spelled big trouble.

Anyway, it was pretty clear what the creature was after as soon as it was inside -- PIZZA!!! You can see there are three boxes left out on the floor, and sure enough ... the bear here gets to work rummaging through them to see if there's any leftover scraps.

He/she comes up short on any extra pies -- but it just goes to show that even an empty pizza box (which might've been there for who knows how long) can still be detected by a bear.

Black bears are said to have an incredible sense of smell -- about 7 times that of a bloodhound, which is already nearly 1,000x greater than that of a human.

Back to the bear here ... it goes out the same way it came in, but seemed to have some trouble with an extra spring-y door. No worries though -- one good push, and it was on its way.

Central Park 'Karen' Prosecution Forges Ahead ... Despite Birdwatcher Not Cooperating

Exclusive May 25, 2020
HE'S "THREATENING" MY LIFE!!!
Facebook/Christian Cooper

Amy Cooper -- AKA Central Park "Karen" -- isn't off the hook for making a false report against a man who asked her to leash her dog, despite the fact he doesn't want her prosecuted ... TMZ has learned.

As we reported ... the Manhattan D.A. announced this week his office initiated a prosecution against Cooper for Falsely Reporting an Incident in the Third Degree ... this, for the May 25 incident in which she called police claiming, "There's an African-American man threatening my life."

That man -- Christian Cooper (no relation), a birdwatcher -- made headlines shortly afterward when he said ... "She's already paid a steep price. That's not enough of a deterrent to others? Bringing her more misery just seems like piling on."

Amy was fired from her job and briefly lost custody of her dog after the video of her incident with Christian went viral.

So, Christian says if the Manhattan D.A. wants to pursue charges against Amy, that's his right ... but he will not be involved in the prosecution.

Well, TMZ's learned ... that's exactly what will happen. We're told the D.A.'s Office would like Christian to cooperate, but in this case, it's not necessary -- because he's technically not the victim ... it's the city. Besides, there's a smoking gun -- the video.

We reached out to the D.A.'s office ... it had no comment, other than to confirm Amy's scheduled to appear in court in October for her arraignment.

If convicted, she faces a max sentence of 1 year in jail.

SI Swimsuit Issue Culpo, Bock And Sanders Land Cover ... Shot Before COVID Ruined Everything

Breaking News

If you're wondering why Olivia Culpo, Kate Bock and Jasmine Sanders are all up on each other with no masks on the cover of the new SI Swimsuit Edition ... there's a good reason.

IT WAS SHOT BEFORE THE COVID LOCKDOWNS!

The mag wrapped up its final shoot in on March 5 -- roughly 2 weeks before Los Angeles issued its stay-at-home order due to the pandemic. Things obviously escalated around the country after that.

The three ladies -- who are all repped by The Society Management -- wrapped up their Bali shoot back in November ... well before the pandemic came into play in the U.S.

So, yeah ... no masks and no social distancing on the SI cover -- but also, NO COMPLAINTS!

Of course, the models are no strangers to TMZ Sports ...

Culpo has been dating Carolina Panthers superstar Christian McCaffrey for more than a year and documenting every step of the way -- (see: here).

Bock's longtime BF is Cleveland Cavs' star, Kevin Love ... who together (with their adorable pup, Vestry) have provided incredible content on vacays all over the globe -- (see: here).

As for Sanders, she's been spotted hitting LA with NBA hunk Kelly Oubre, Jr. ... but even when she's alone, she's brought the heat on her social media -- (see: here).

MJ Day, editor in chief of SI Swim spoke on the decision to go with the 3 women ... saying it was their business endeavors outside of modeling that made them a perfect fit.

"These women are limitless, unstoppable and collectively represent the next wave of moguls to come out of the franchise."

The issue -- which hits shelves on July 21 -- will feature 4 different covers ... one with all 3 models ... and 3 other versions featuring each model by herself.

Congrats!!

Lizzo Feeling Good As Hell ... After Landing This Villa Post-Landlord Beef!!!

Here's the incredible house Lizzo rented after the landlord at another rental kicked her out early, and it's easy to see why she boasted, "This house is better anyways" ... 'cause it's true!!!

TMZ's obtained pics of the private 2-acre hillside compound in Palm Springs the rapper and her crew headed to after the landlord at their first rental kicked her out of a 7-day rental, 3 days early.

As we reported ... Lizzo clapped back last week at the property owner and essentially told him to bite her where the sun don't shine. She posted this video at her new digs and captioned it, "This is for mocking the way that I dance and for using Instagram footage of me and my 6 black homegirls to say that we could ‘hurt him’ and threaten to call the police."

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As for the villa where she landed -- it rents out for $5,000 a night and it features the only legal residential helicopter pad in Coachella Valley. Clearly, it caters to the rich and famous, i.e. Lizzo.

The compound is secured by steel gates at the foot of a 600-ft-long sweeping driveway. It also features mesmerizing panorama views of twinkling city lights, and the surrounding desert and mountains. In fact, the views are so sick ... Lizzo called them inspiring in the pics and vids she posted.

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The house itself is 4 bedrooms, five bathrooms and 4,300-square-feet of living space. There's also a sprawling patio that features a 60-foot infinity-edge pool.

Easy to see why Lizzo loved it here.

'Hamilton' on Disney+ Release Revs Up Theater Sites ... Huge Traffic Boom

Exclusive

The popularity of "Hamilton" on Disney+ can't be denied, and now ... neither can the theater-loving audience's lust for more plays and musicals.

TMZ's learned that the release of Lin-Manuel Miranda's masterpiece has resulted in renewed interest and traffic for several leading theater-streaming services ... and people are wanting to get more than just their "Hamilton" fix.

A spokesperson for Filmed on Stage, the largest online database for filmed Broadway musicals and plays, tells us ... its website saw a spike of nearly +250% in the 2 weeks leading up to the July 3 premiere of "Hamilton."

We're told traffic peaked on that Friday -- with an increase of nearly 400% compared to an average Friday -- and interest in the site's filmed Broadway Musicals section has been steadily increasing ever since ... from users all across the U.S.

Filmed on Stage says its most popular titles this past week include "Newsies," "Rent" and "Kinky Boots," but it's also been receiving hundreds of emails from users asking why their favorite Broadway show isn't available to stream.

The rep tells us ... "While we are used to receiving such emails, I can safely say we received an unusual amount in the past week with visitors mostly asking for other hit Broadway musicals -- 'Wicked' leading the list."

Thespie is another streaming platform that allows visitors to discover more than 1,000 theater performances. A rep for the company tells us total traffic has increased by 86% compared to last week ... largely based on people searching for where they can watch "Hamilton."

We're told views of all the "Hamilton" and Lin-Manuel resources available on Thespie have increased by a whopping 277% since July 3 ... while non-"Hamilton" titles are also up 62%.

Of course, with Broadway shut down for the rest of the year amid the pandemic, these streaming services are more important than ever to keep theater fans satisfied ... but the "Hamilton" hype has certainly given them a shot of adrenaline.

'Dont Worry, Be Happy' Singer Bobby McFerrin 'Memba Him?!

West Coast vocalist Bobby McFerrin shot to stardom in 1988 after his feel-good acapella tune, "Don't Worry, Be Happy," shot to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 charts and even landed him 2 Grammy Awards for Song Of The Year and Album Of The Year.

Bobby McFerrin -- who's known for his incredible vocal techniques and creative singing style -- has gone on to perform around the world and collaborate with some of the biggest names in the industry ... but won't be heard without performing his trademark tune.

The music video for "Don't Worry, Be Happy" featuring Robin Williams and Bill Irwin.

Guess what he looks like now!

Church COVID Pivots Bishop Elbow Bumps ... Remote Control Car Collections

The world is constantly adapting to a new normal during the pandemic -- and that includes churchgoers and their leaders, who are pivoting too. As proof, here's Exhibit A and B.

We'll start with Archbishop Jose H. Gomez here, who presided over a mass this Sunday at the historic San Gabriel mission in Southern California -- this after a fire ravaged the main edifice Saturday, and parishioners were redirected to a separate chapel on the same campus.

Once the church service wrapped, the bishop and what looks to be a fellow priest were dishing out socially distant-friendly goodbyes to their worshipers ... giving 'em elbow bumps, waves and air crosses. One lady wanted a handshake, but got a blessing instead.

Everyone seemed to be wearing masks, and per reports on the ground ... the number of people allowed inside capped out at 100, so folks were spread out fairly well in the pews.

Now, elsewhere in the Catholic world ... someone captured an innovating way one church went about doing their weekly collections. Usually, there's a person going around with a basket, which then gets passed around with people tossing in cash and donations.

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With 'rona going around though, that ain't that safe obviously. So, instead, one parish got creative to get their dough ... strapping a basket to a remote control car and zipping out to the crowd, some of whom threw down some bucks and carried on like normal.

Making due regardless of the circumstances around us. Can we get an amen?

Miami Zooo Gorilla Gets 'Rona Nasal Swab Test ... Amazing Up-Close Photos!!!

A gorilla got into a nasty fight with its sibling at a zoo, and as a safety precaution -- docs gave him a coronavirus test ... which they documented in some incredible shots.

This is Shango, a 31-year-old, 433 lb. lowland gorilla who lives at the Miami Zoo -- and earlier this week, he got into a brawl with his brother, Barney ... suffering some injuries in the process. Shango was bitten and scratched up -- so to be safe, they got him 'rona tested.

Looks like a team of vets put Shango under to do the procedure and to also attend to his wounds. As you can see, he's got a deep gash on his hand after apparently being bitten. As far as the COVID test, the ape got the best of the best that's out there ... a nasal swab.

According to the zoo staff, Shango's test came back negative -- but it just goes to show ... animals can contract the virus, which has been a thing zoos have had to grapple with of late. And, of course, seeing how primates are close cousins of ours ... they're susceptible too.

Now, can we talk about how wild it is to see just how big this creature is up close? Absolutely massive -- he takes up the whole table -- and completely majestic all at the same time.

Anyway, hope ya feel better, Shango. Play nice, and try to distance if you can!

Naya Rivera Search Will Include Cabins on Lake Piru ... Intensity to Lessen

Exclusive

12:32 PM PT -- According to reports, Ventura County's search for Naya will continue on a day-to-day basis, but not at the same intensity it's been at these past few days. Sonar scans of the lake are said to be completed by end of day Sunday.

Authorities will search cabins that line Lake Piru ... not because they believe Naya Rivera is there, but because there has been so much social media activity about the cabins that law enforcement wants to put the theory to bed.

An official from the Ventura County Sheriff's Dept. tells TMZ ... they have been seeing a ton of Twitter users imploring cops to search the cabins in the area ... presumably, because they think Naya may have made her way to one.

The official tells us ... they do NOT believe Naya is in a cabin. They're confident she's still in the water, but nevertheless, a search team will walk the area where the cabins are located.  Deputies will knock on doors and ask if they know anything about Naya's whereabouts.

If a cabin is not occupied, deputies will peer inside for any signs.

That said, the focus of the search is still Lake Piru, where Naya went missing Wednesday while swimming with her 4-year-old son. Because of extremely poor visibility due to debris in the water, searchers will be primarily relying on sonar.

Originally Published -- 9:19 AM PT

Radio Host 'Karen' Attacks Non-English-Speaking Workers ... Gets Canned from Job

Breaking News

2:06 PM PT -- Dianna Ploss just got fired from her radio gig in New Hampshire. WSMN 1590 issued the following statement, "Dianna Ploss is no longer associated or affiliated in any way with  WSMN or Bartis-Russell Broadcasting, LLC."

They added, "We at WSMN value freedom of speech,  freedom of expression and assembly. We will not tolerate discrimination, racism or hatred. We continue to present and offer on air opportunities for discussion, education and the exchange of opinions and ideas."

A radio host in New Hampshire went on a vile, racist tirade against a group of workers doing their job, because they dared to speak Spanish.

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It's almost unbelievable ... Dianna Ploss saw the workers who were doing landscaping in downtown Nashua, and she just went nuts, screaming, "It's America. Speak English!"

Her ignorance is breathtaking ... she assumes they're working for the State of New Hampshire, as if that would justify her comments. For the record, there's no law in New Hampshire that we found prohibiting people from speaking languages other than English.

They correct her, saying they are a private company, but she's not deterred, hurling insults and making ridiculous demands.

An African-American man who happened to witness her tirade comes by and confronts her, and she barks back, "Because he's a black man. He's gonna protect the brown man from this white woman." Afterward, she posted on her Facebook page, "I'm not backing down."

We've seen a lot of racist videos, but rarely is the person who shoots it the racist herself.  BTW ... Ploss reportedly quit her job in 2016 to campaign for Trump.

There's a petition circulating for her to get the ax from her radio station. Hopefully, the petition is written in English and Spanish.

Originally Published -- 8:02 AM PT

Kangaroos (Play?) Boxing on a Farm ... Leg Kicks Are Permitted!!!

THROW DOWN UNDER
Storyful

Two kangaroos got into it on camera -- and by the looks of how the bout went ... one of them was Tyson Fury, the other was Deontay Wilder, and one got his ass kicked.

These fully-grown marsupials were going at it in a (sorta) hardcore boxing match down on a farm in Australia -- and while they both seemed to be in the same weight class and have the about the same reach, one of the 'roos certainly had the upper hand ... and the upper jab!

For funsies, let's just call these fellas Apollo Creed and Rocky Balboa (from Part I), where the former was delivering a serious beat-down, but the Stallion just kept coming back for more.

That's kind of what's happening here -- the more proficient boxer of the kangaroos gets tons of clean hits in ... and a few hard kicks to the body too, while balancing on its sturdy tail. Apparently, anything goes in the animal kingdom -- it's almost like a UFC Octagon out there.

It's also just wild to see these creatures in action, 'cause they clearly do this type of thing all the time, and they look almost human-like as they rumble.

Anyway, we have to give this round to the Creed 'roo ... 'cause he definitely out-boxed his opponent. Now, if they're truly like us outside of just fighting, there'll definitely be a rematch.

Symbols of Hate Racists Display Confederate Flag with Noose On Truck

Breaking News

An Indiana man is proud of himself this weekend, thinking he cleverly combined 2 symbols of hate -- the Confederate flag, and a noose. And, he has them displayed on the back of his pickup truck.

The man was in Bedford, Indiana when he recorded himself next to his pickup truck with the flag adhered to the back. Draped over the flag -- a noose.

He and one of his cohorts joked that it was just a leash for his dog, which itself is thinly-veiled dog-whistling. The men joked they couldn't understand why someone would leave a note on their car in disapproval.

These racist episodes are all the more troubling because the people who are spewing hate are the ones recording themselves doing it and then posting it on social media.

TikTok Hype House's Thomas Petrou If App Shuts Down ... Screw It, I'm Moving Somewhere Else!!!

Exclusive
SOMETHING'S GOTTA CHANGE
TMZ.com

One of the TikTok's biggest personalities says he thinks there are serious issues with the app, but isn't worried if the U.S. bans it outright ... 'cause he's got a surefire backup plan.

We spoke to the uber-popular content creator, Thomas Petrou, Saturday night in WeHo, and he told us straight-up ... he DOES think TikTok has privacy and security issues ... something the Trump administration came out and said as justification for possibly nixing it from our shores.

Tom didn't get into the details of what he thinks the problem with it is, but if you've been keeping up -- you know it's a Chinese-run company ... and U.S. officials are very skeptical.

So, what's the solution? Well, according to TP ... he says he hopes a competitor comes along and offers what TikTok does, but in a safer environment. He's got the perfect man in mind for the job too ... any guesses?

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But, get this ... Thomas says if TikTok is, in fact, shut down and deemed an actual security threat to Americans -- he'll have no problem migrating to another platform that he knows and loves. Yes, it's where Jake Paul and a ton of other viral video folks live ... YouTube, baby.

Telling that Tom's down to abandon TikTok, seeing how he's one of the handful of Gen Z'ers living in the Hype House -- a 'Real World'-esque living space for TikTok's most well-known users.

Lil Marlo Shot Dead in Atlanta

Rapper Lil Marlo was shot to death over the weekend in Atlanta ... law enforcement confirms with TMZ.

Cops tell us, they responded to a call late Saturday night. The call came in as a car accident on Interstate 285 in downtown Atlanta, but when police arrived they found the rapper had been shot. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

An police official tells TMZ, the investigation so far points to Lil Marlo being shot while he was driving.  The official adds, "At this time, investigators believe the victim was the intended target of the gunfire and they are working to determine the circumstances surrounding the shooting."

The Medical Examiner confirmed with us they have the body of Rudolph Johnson ... that's Lil Marlo's government name.

ON THE SCENE
@2jz_bino / Instagram

Someone shot video of the aftermath.

Lil Yachty broke the news Sunday morning, saying, "We just did a song a 4 this morning smh rip brother."

Lil Marlo was signed to the Quality Control label and scored big with several songs, including "1st N 3rd," "F****em" and "9 + Z6ne = 1'5."

Marlo was in good company at QC ... other artists include Migos, Lil Yachty, Lil Baby and City Girls.

Marlo joined Quality Control in 2017 ... you hear him on "The Load" with Lil Baby and Gucci Mane.

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Lil Marlo leaves behind a daughter and a son. On Father's Day he posted a video of himself and the little girl ... you see her trying to put a shoe on her father's foot. He captioned the post, "Thanks For Making Me Y'all Father I Wouldn't Trade Y'all For Da World."

Lil Marlo was 30.

RIP

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