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Lori Loughlin, Mossimo Giannulli Defense in Bribery Scandal We Didn't Know

4/24/2019 6:58 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

Lori Loughlin and her husband had no idea college bribery mastermind Rick Singer was going to grease the palm of a USC coach to get their daughter into USC ... sources familiar with the case tell TMZ.

Our sources say ... lawyers for Lori and Mossimo Giannulli didn't take a plea early on because they believe they have a solid defense on several fronts. First, ringleader Rick Singer did not tell them how he would use the $500k to get their daughters into the school. Fact ... they were aware Rick Singer wanted pics of the girls on a rowing machine, but they say that doesn't mean they knew the end game.

It's true ... knowledge and intent are key elements to proving bribery, and we're told Lori and Mossimo's lawyers are making that a centerpiece of their defense ... their only intent is to generally get their daughters into USC by using a "facilitator" who got hundreds of other students into colleges.

One big problem ... according to the complaint, Giannulli -- not Loughlin -- sent at least $100k directly to the assistant athletic director. 

And, we're told, they have a more basic defense ... colleges have horse-traded with relatives of prospective students for decades ... e.g., fund the wing of a school building and your child will miraculously get accepted. It's not only been tolerated by many schools ... it's aggressively encouraged by some of the schools, and parents know it.

A former USC assistant coach is expected to plead guilty to criminal charges in connection with the scandal. The former coach, Laura Janke, allegedly made it appear Olivia Jade was on the rowing team. 

Wendy Williams Kevin Hunter's Totally Cut Off ... Process Started Weeks Ago

4/24/2019 1:00 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

Wendy Williams is taking several steps -- professionally and personally -- to erase her estranged husband from her life, and she got the ball rolling even before serving him divorce papers.

Sources close to Wendy tell TMZ ... she's totally cut Kevin Hunter off from her money and has hired a team to ensure all of her finances are secure. We're told she's separated their funds and created new accounts ... a process that began before she filed for divorce.

Wendy's officially locked down her own place in Manhattan, as well. Our sources say she signed the lease on her new home a few weeks ago and has already paid rent for the next year.

She and Kevin previously lived together at their home in New Jersey. That's where that weird story went down in January ... when, as we told you, cops conducted a welfare check on Wendy.

As for business matters -- we're told Wendy waffled over whether to keep a professional relationship with Hunter, but ultimately decided to cut all ties. She's currently looking for a new manager.

Sources connected to Kevin tell us he hasn't received any money from the show following his departure. Not yet.

We're told he's known as a pretty savvy business guy, so show execs fully expect he'll insist on some kind of exit package.

As we reported ... Wendy talked about her new life on her show, shortly after her divorce filing. Obviously, Kevin is not part of her plans.

Hailey Baldwin Comforts Devastated Bieber ...as Maple Leafs Lose!!

4/24/2019 6:34 AM PDT
Breaking News

Justin Bieber PRAYED TO GOD his Toronto Maple Leafs would emerge victorious in Game 7 of their NHL playoff series ... so, when they lost, he REALLY needed comfort from his wife Hailey Baldwin

Justin and Hailey were sitting in a private VIP box at TD Garden in Boston to watch his Canadian team take on the Boston Bruins. 

Before the game, Justin offered up a prayer for his players on IG -- saying, "Dear lord please be with Austin Mathews, Mitch Marner and all of the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight as they play game 7 against the Boston bruins."

JB's prayers went unanswered -- his Maple Leafs got SHELLACKED in a 5-1 blowout. 

You can see video of Hailey rubbing Justin's shoulders as she quickly realizes things aren't going his way ... 

After the game ... Boston Bruins star David Pastrnak rubbed the win in Bieber's face -- tweeting, "Not today [Justin Bieber] #BostonStrong."

And, get this ... Justin's out of Canadian teams to root for in the NHL playoffs -- the Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames were both eliminated, too. 

#USA #USA #USA!!!!!!!!!

Pete Wentz I'm a Total 'Dork' with 'GoT' Theories ... Follow Me Down the Wormhole!!!

4/24/2019 7:30 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

Pete Wentz is such an extreme "dork" for "Game of Thrones," he's almost apologizing for it, but he's also sharing some DEEP theories about the final season ... including who's next to kick the bucket.

We got Pete outside of Craig's Tuesday night in WeHo and our guy could barely get his question out about 'GoT' when Pete went full Thronee ... nerding out with conspiracy theories that, as he said, go way beyond who's going to end up on the iron throne. You can tell, Pete's been up and down several Reddit rabbit holes.

Check out the vid ... Pete's got his own ideas about Bran Stark, Melisandre and Grey Worm's fates as the stage is being set up for an epic battle between Westeros and the White Walkers.

If Pete's this geeked out ... maybe he oughta put some money where his mouth is.

Britney Spears Speaks On Her Mental Health ... I'm Gonna Be Just Fine!!!

4/24/2019 7:00 AM PDT

4/24 7:00 AM PT -- Britney was actually out and about Tuesday ... she went to a froyo joint in Santa Monica around 4 PM. She was driven there, and didn't have much to say on her way out.

Britney Spears just posted a video -- the first time we’ve heard her speak since getting treatment for mental health issues -- and she wants her fans to know she’ll be back in action soon.

Spears went on Instagram Tuesday to send out the short clip, giving an update on her health and saying her family is going through some serious “stress.”

The singer says she's dealing with a lot of “stress and anxiety” and she just needed some time on her own to deal with the situation.

She also posted a lengthy caption, saying, "Wow!!! There’s rumors, death threats to my family and my team, and just so many things crazy things being said. I am trying to take a moment for myself, but everything that’s happening is just making it harder for me. Don’t believe everything you read and hear."

She closed the message with, "My situation is unique, but I promise I’m doing what’s best at this moment. You may not know this about me, but I am strong, and stand up for what I want! Your love and dedication is amazing, but what I need right now is a little bit of privacy to deal with all the hard things that life is throwing my way. If you could do that, I would be forever grateful. Love you."

TMZ broke the story, Spears has nearly wrapped a month-long stint in a mental health facility after the pressure of her dad’s failing health and a new mix of medications took a toll on the singer. 

We got Britney's boyfriend, Sam Asghari, out in Los Angeles earlier Tuesday and he gave a positive update on her condition and said she's doing "amazing." Sam strongly insinuated it's time for her fans to stand down on claims she's being exploited or held against her will, because there's "nothing to worry about."

As we first told you, Britney checked herself into a mental health facility in March, and her medicine triggered the crisis. We're told doctors were adjusting Britney's cocktail of meds. But, the reality is it's a trial and error process to find the right mix, and while she was dealing with those changes, she also had to cope with her father's recent illness. 

As we reported ... Britney got a day pass from the mental health facility on Easter Sunday, and she spent her free time hanging with Sam in Beverly Hills. 

If fans didn't believe her boyfriend when he said Britney was gonna be back soon, now they're hearing it directly from her.

Originally Published -- 4/23 7:11 PM PT

Marshawn Lynch Retires from NFL ... Again

4/24/2019 5:55 AM PDT
Breaking News

It's over for Marshawn Lynch -- and this time, it's for good! 

Beast Mode is reportedly hanging up his football cleats ... again ... retiring from the NFL after 11 seasons in the league, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter

The Oakland Raiders running back just turned 33 years old this week -- which is old for an NFL running back -- and "is not planning to play football again."

The timing is interesting ... the 2019 NFL Draft kicks off on Thursday and now Raiders head coach Jon Gruden and GM Mike Mayock can focus on bringing in a fresh set of legs to take over the role. 

Lynch is a legend -- he racked up 10,379 rushing yards in his incredible career and 93 total touchdowns ... which would have been 94 if Pete Carroll would have called a RUN PLAY at the end of Super Bowl XLIX!!!!

Marshawn has retired before ... he stepped away from the Seattle Seahawks back in 2016 -- and around that time, we tried to ask him if he would ever come back to the game. 

His response is one of the best burns on a TMZ photog ... EVER!! 

So, congrats on an amazing career ... will be interesting what Marshawn does next! 

Soulja Boy My Security Cams Prove $500k Burglary Was Inside Job!!!

4/24/2019 12:50 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

Soulja Boy's sitting in a jail cell, but even from there he can smell something fishy back at his house -- and it's that $500k burglary ... which he's now convinced was pulled off by someone close to him.

Sources close to the rapper tell TMZ ... peeps on his team have analyzed the home surveillance and say there's evidence the burglars had some inside information because they knew when to strike, where to enter the house and beelined it straight for his safe. 

As we first told you ... the crooks hit Soulja Boy's crib in the San Fernando Valley after he was locked up on a probation violation earlier this month. They made off with jewelry, cash and his iPhone -- which they promptly used to go live on Soulja's IG account. Real rocket scientists.

We're told on the day of the crime, Soulja's team left the house for 3 hours, and the burglars broke in about half an hour before they returned. We're told surveillance video shows the thieves were lightning fast, taking only 5 minutes to get in, hit the safe and make a clean getaway. 

Soulja Boy's home is in a secluded location, which we're told is pretty hard to find unless you've been there before. The final "inside job" straw for Soulja is the burglars entered through a door that was damaged during the February police raid at his place.

Our sources say cops have the security cam footage. As for the house -- Soulja's adding security and we're told the damaged door's been fixed.

Conor McGregor Hit Me with Brutal, Cheap Shot ... Boxer Claims

4/24/2019 12:40 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

The man Conor McGregor boxed in an exhibition match in Ireland last week tells TMZ Sports ... Conor started off the fight with the WORST cheap shot he's ever seen ... and we got the video!!!

"It was as the cheapest shot I ever caught in me life, man," Michael McGrane tells us. 

Here's the deal ... McGrane took on McGregor in a 4-round fight in Dublin on Friday, April 19. Conor is in the red trunks, Michael is sporting blue. 

When officials rang the bell to start the match, McGrane says he expected Conor to touch gloves ... but instead, the UFC superstar unleashed a left hook that caught him flush in the eye. 

"You're meant to go back to your corner, but Conor never went back to his corner," McGrane says ... "Conor leaped at me with a left hook."

You can see the damage McGrane says he took from the shot -- still visible days after the fight.

"Conor McGregor hit me a cheap shot in his own hometown!!!"

McGrane says he got no help from the ref that day -- because even the official was obviously rooting for Conor. 

"The ref was on his side. There's no way I would have won that fight unless I knocked him out."

By the way, we're told the fight ended in a DRAW. 

Despite the controversy, McGrane says he's greatly appreciative of the opportunity to fight someone as HUGE as Conor McGregor and hopes the experience will make him better in the long run. 

McGrane -- an electrician by trade -- says he's hoping to give up the electric game to focus on boxing full-time because he thinks he has potential to be a world champ!!!

Good luck!!!

Meghan Markle Unwelcome Mat for Dad ... For Birth of First Child

4/24/2019 12:30 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

Meghan Markle's father won't be around to spoil the joy of her firstborn ... because he's still iced out of the Royal Family.

Sources close to Thomas Markle tell TMZ ... he's not traveling to London -- or making any plans to do so -- despite the fact his daughter is due to give birth to her and Prince Harry's child any day now. Meghan's mom, Doria Ragland, arrived this weekend.

We're told, unlike last year -- when health issues kept Thomas from attending the Royal Wedding and giving Meghan away -- the reason he's not visiting his daughter and meeting his new grandchild is because he's squarely persona non grata.

Our sources say Thomas has been unable to make inroads reconciling with Meghan because he believes she's in a "cone of silence" ... but he hopes their relationship can be repaired after she has a baby.

As you'll recall ... Thomas seemed to get shunned by the Royals shortly after the wedding for going to the media, a move perceived by many as self-serving. There's been a lot of speculation about the father-daughter relationship since then, but it's clear they haven't been on speaking terms since August.

Regardless, we're told Thomas, of course, wishes Meghan and Harry the best and hopes for a safe delivery of a healthy baby ... and he's glad Doria's made the trip to be by her side.

In other news...

‘Game of Thrones’ Star Maisie Williams Reacts to Her Parents Watching Her Sex Scene

She may have gotten through the uncomfortable nature of filming her first sex scene on Game of Thrones, but the real awkwardness came on Sunday night as Maisie Williams dealt with knowing her parents and siblings were all watching it!

SEE MORE »

Captain Marvel on '70s 'Shazam!' Show 'Memba Him?!

4/24/2019 12:01 AM PDT

Jackson Bostwick was only 30 years old when he slipped into the shocking spandex and took on the role of the superhero Captain Marvel  -- opposite Michael Gray as the young boy Billy Batson -- on the short-running Saturday Morning television show 'Shazam!'

Although the series only lasted from 1974 to 1976 Jackson Bostwick only played the character Captain Marvel for the first 17 episodes of the program ... and was replaced by John Davey for the final eleven episodes.

Fun fact: Shazam stands for Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, Mercury ... which were Captain Marvel's elders.

Guess what he looks like now! 

Luke Walton's Accuser 'I Thought He Was Going to Rape Me'

4/23/2019 5:03 PM PDT
Breaking News

4:57 PM PT -- We asked if there was any video or photo evidence to help prove Tennant's case, and her attorney essentially told us no.

4:53 PM PT -- When asked what they want to get out of the case, Tennant's attorney says they have no particular sum in mind. 

4:49 PM PT -- Tennant says she did not go to law enforcement because she feared it would jeopardize her career.

Tennant's attorney says they do not intend to file a police report because they do not want to put Walton in jail.

4:43 PM PT -- Tennant says she didn't come forward at first because, "I was scared." 

"I was scared for my job, my safety and what my job would be like."

She claims she's spent years trying to move past the incident and "bury it" -- but she couldn't. She says she finally mustered up the courage to tell her story. 

4:40 PM PT -- Kelli Tennant got emotional while telling her story ... recounting how she felt Walton was "going to rape her" during the hotel encounter. 

Tennant says she begged Walton like crazy to let her go but he ignored her pleas ... until finally giving up and letting her out of the hotel room. 

"This type of behavior cannot be condoned," Tennant said. 

4:33 PM PT -- Kelli says the alleged sexual assault took place in 2014, when she was 25-years-old. 

Her attorney says she was uncomfortable coming forward back then but she's comfortable now. 

Kelli says she met Luke Walton about 10 years ago through the volleyball community. 

The woman accusing Luke Walton of sexual assault will speak with the media at 4:30 PM PT ... and TMZ Sports will be live streaming the whole thing. 

Kelli Tennant and her attorney, Garo Mardirossian, will hold a press conference at his office in Los Angeles, they announced. They are both planning to speak. 

Mardirossian has just issued a pre-press conference statement saying, "By way of this lawsuit, Ms. Tennant is speaking out and saying #timesup to the culture of abusing women in the NBA."

We broke the story ... Tennant -- a longtime sports reporter -- claims Walton sexually assaulted her in a Santa Monica hotel room while he was an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors. 

Walton has lawyered up and adamantly denied the allegations -- with his attorney attacking the accuser as an "opportunist." 

There are TONS of unanswered questions ... what was the date of the attack? Is there any photo of video evidence? Witnesses? Etc. 

Originally Published -- 4:19 PM PT

The Weeknd, SZA & Travis Scott 'GoT' Inspired Music Vid is Coming Check Out the BTS Shots

4/23/2019 2:53 PM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

"Game of Thrones" is all about winter right now, but the music that's on its way inspired by the hit show's gonna be way more fire than ice ... with some huge stars at the forefront.

TMZ's obtained behind-the-scenes shots of The Weeknd, SZA and Travis Scott on set while shooting the video for their track, "Power is Power." The trio's all decked out in clothes fit for the Seven Kingdoms ... in front of some iconic imagery from the show.

We're told the rappers/singers shot the video last weekend in L.A. Their collab is part of HBO and Columbia Records' release of "For the Throne" ... an upcoming album inspired by 'GoT.'

Other artists set to be featured on the album include A$AP Rocky, The Lumineers, Ellie Goulding, Ty Dolla $ign, Mumford & Sons, The National, X Ambassadors and the late Lil Peep.

Travis and SZA -- who we're told are huge 'Thrones' fans themselves -- have been teasing the vid for a bit ... but now we have another sneak peek.

"For the Throne" drops Friday ... but we'll probably have to wait a little longer for the 'Power' video.

Fred Savage Harassment Lawsuit Dismissed ... Signs Point to Settlement

4/23/2019 4:20 PM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

Fred Savage is no longer being sued for allegedly assaulting and harassing a female crew member on his TV show ... and all signs are pointing to a settlement. 

According to new legal docs, obtained by TMZ, the court signed off on the lawsuit's dismissal ... and the key thing here is the suit's being dismissed with prejudice, which means it's likely Savage and the woman who sued him reached a settlement out of court. 

TMZ broke the story ... Youngjoo Hwang sued Savage back in March 2018 for allegedly tormenting female crew members on the set of his TV show, "The Grinder." She claimed he had a rep for intimidating women working under him, hurling profanities and telling them, "Don't ever even f**king look at me anymore!" 

When the suit was filed, Savage denied Hwang's accusations, saying they were without merit and completely untrue. Savage said her claims were investigated by FOX, but he says the network found no evidence backing her story.

Hwang's attorney, Anahita Sedaghatfar, tells TMZ ... "We are very pleased with the resolution reached in this case. My client stood on the shoulders of the brave women who came out before her during the inception of the #metoo movement and I hope she serves as an example to other women so they too can have the courage to come out and speak their truth."

We reached out to lawyers for Savage ... so far, no word back.

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