UFC's Nina Nunes Stoked to Fight 6 Months After Having Baby ... Battle of the Moms!

MOTHER KNOWS BEST
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UFC star Nina Nunes just gave birth 6 months ago ... but tells TMZ Sports she CAN'T WAIT to get back in the Octagon and fight on Saturday!

Nina -- formally known as Nina Ansaroff -- had a baby back in September with her longtime partner Amanda Nunes, who happens to be one of the greatest combat sports athletes of all time!

Nina ain't too shabby herself -- she's the #5 ranked UFC strawweight -- and she's taking on fellow mom Mackenzie Dern on "UFC on ABC 2" on April 10.

Mackenzie made headlines herself back in 2019 when she fought Amanda Ribas just 4 months after giving birth ... and gave a pretty inspiring performance, despite losing the fight.

Nunes tells us she has tremendous respect for Dern ... and hopes the fight will show people you can be a mom and also kick ass as a pro fighter!

Nunes admits her delivery wasn't exactly smooth -- she had some serious medical issues that left her in rough shape.

But, as soon as she was cleared to work out, she got ripped in weeks -- just look at the photos! Amazing!

As for Dern, she tells TMZ Sports the respect with Nunes is mutual -- "The babies make us better athletes, better fighters, more motivated, more professional."

SETTING AN EXAMPLE
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Both women tell us they're expecting a war -- but it's not personal ... and they expect to take pictures with their babies together after the fight!

#Respect

Chris Harrison 'ATFR' Replacement Announced ... Emmanuel Acho Takes Host Seat!!!

Chris Harrison's out, and Emmanuel Acho is in -- he's officially set to fill in as host for 'The Bachelor' season finale episode ... this amid a racism scandal that won't go away.

The former NFLer and current FS1 sports broadcaster broke the news Saturday, taking to Twitter to write ... "IT’S OFFICIAL: I’ve accepted the Rose & am honored to be hosting the @bachelorabc After the Final Rose this year."

He adds, "It’s been a pivotal season & this episode will be one of the most storied shows in its history. Empathy is needed and change is coming. See y’all then! 🌹 ❤️"

It'd been widely rumored that Emmanuel would get a serious nod from ABC ... especially after Rachel Lindsay -- the first Black 'Bachelorette' in the franchise -- publicly name-dropped him recently as a great potential option to step in for Chris.

She said he'd be ideal since he has no affiliation with the franchise, and could be relatively neutral. Not just that, but Emmanuel is Black too ... and well-versed in issues of race, as he's quite vocal on his own programming. He seems pretty stoked for the opportunity too.

GMA confirmed the announcement as well, and Emmanuel responded ... "Life changing. I can't wait!" It'll be interesting to see how he moderates the convo with Matt James and whoever he ends up picking -- including potentially Rachael Kirkconnell, the problem-contestant from whose old racist photos this whole situation arose.

As we reported ... ABC execs were looking for a 'Bachelor' outsider to fill in -- and despite the fact that Emmanuel hadn't been approached as of Wednesday ... it looks like they came knocking shortly thereafter.

Remember, Rachel herself had also been approached ... but she respectfully declined. And while 'Bachelor' Nation thought Tayshia Adams -- the second Black 'Bachelorette' ever -- would also be ideal to serve as the 'ATFR' host ... she had not been approached.

The flip side to this is that Rachel Lindsay took a break from Instagram, apparently because she was getting bombarded with hostile 'Bachelor' fans who were sending hateful comments.

So, good news/bad news there. In any case, we're sure she's happy for her pal. 'After the Final Rose' airs on March 15 ... word is filming could happen as early as this weekend.

Chris Harrison Stepping Away from 'Bachelor' for now Amid Racism Excusing Scandal

Chris Harrison is stepping away from 'Bachelor' duties -- including moderating the 'After the Final Rose' ceremony -- and is once again apologizing for defending a contestant's alleged racist past.

The longtime 'Bachelor' host issued a new, lengthier apology Saturday ... this after he posted a quick one on Instagram a couple days ago that many felt was not up to par in addressing his recent remarks. Some said he was dismissive and excusing of racist behavior alleged against Rachael Kirkconnell -- one of the final few women vying for Matt James' heart.

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Chris' statement is much more heartfelt than perhaps his initial remarks. He says ... "I have spent the last few days listening to the pain my words have caused, and I am deeply remorseful. My ignorance did damage to my friends, colleagues and strangers alike."

He goes on to say by excusing historical racism, he defended it ... and now realizes that was wrong, especially doing so in an interview with none other than Rachel Lindsay, the franchise's first Black 'Bachelorette.' He says he's been educated and open to being taught more about this topic, and promises to be more mindful about these issues in the future.

That said, Chris also broke some news about his time on camera ... saying, after consulting with ABC execs, he's decided it's best if he skips the 'After the Final Rose' ceremony, where the lead man/woman gets to reflect in front of a live studio audience.

It's unclear how long Chris plans to be absent from the series -- usually, 'The Bachelorette' starts taping immediately after 'The Bachelor' wraps. In any case, he's taking some time off.

Now, as for what the heck this is really all about ... Chris basically stepped up to defend Kirkconnell after old photos of her at a college antebellum party surfaced -- which many say celebrates the South's racist past, and is part of Confederate culture. It's a bad look.

There's also a TikTok video out there that chronicled Kirkconnell's social media history -- including stuff she'd posted and liked in recent years ... and there appears to be a lot of pro-Trump stuff, Confederate flag backdrops, MAGA shots and Blue Lives Matter posts.

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She's also alleged to have made fun of white friends of hers in high school for dating Black guys -- but the evidence for that seems to be a little thin and less documented.

She'd been mostly silent over all the outrage that had been building, until Friday ... when she issued this statement and an apology -- copping to some of the social media activity, but not all of it.

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Kirkconnell says a lot of the posts and behavior she engaged in occurred when she was young, and says she's a different person now ... realizing the hurt she inflicted. She notes her apology doesn't mean she's deserving of forgiveness, but she's asking for it anyway.

It's rumored Kirkconnell is one of the contestants who go the distance -- time will tell how this plays out in the weeks ahead.

Connie Chung Working with Sawyer and Walters Was Like Tonya Harding Kneecapping Nancy Kerrigan

5:10 PM PT -- A rep for Barbara tells TMZ, "Barbara paved the way for every female journalist that came after her. She has been a tremendous supporter for all women."

Connie Chung just went scorched earth on some huge names in news ... saying working with Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer was "not unlike what Tonya Harding did to Nancy Kerrigan."

Chung was on "The Originals" podcast for L.A. Magazine and dished about her time as an anchor at ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN. She said, "When I got to ABC news, I joined with Both Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer there and I thought, "Oh, this is going to be great. It'll be three women who get along."

Chung says it couldn't have been further from the truth, claiming her fellow anchors big footed her out of the best interviews ... per ABC news execs.

She was famously paired with Dan Rather as co-anchors of the "CBS Evening News," and says teaming up with Rather was right out of "Psycho."

And, there's more. Connie, who's been married to Maury Povich since 1984, frequently appeared on David Letterman's show. There was a lot of chatter they were flirting with each other, although Connie says, "I had this thing for him, and he had a thing for me, and I really think it was inexplicable in that respect." But, then she went on to say, "And yet, I really didn't have a thing for him. Do you know what I mean?" Sorta.

She went on to say Dave's "a dark, unhappy sort of, I don't mean he's unhappy. He is a kvetch ... He's anti-social is what he is."

Chung also had harsh words for Hugh Grant ... she had a cameo in "The Undoing." She says, "He was not very friendly. I had interviewed him right after 'Four Weddings and a Funeral' for his next movie. So when I saw him I said, 'Oh hi. I interviewed you ... do you remember? And he said, 'No."

We reached out to reps for Dan, Diane, Barbara and Dave ... so far, no word back.

Originally Published -- 4:59 PM PT

Carole Baskin Dancing With Myself ... Prepping For 'DWTS' Debut

Carole Baskin's got the eye of the tiger as she prepares for her big "Dancing with the Stars" debut ... and she's practicing her moves in a way that would make Billy Idol proud.

Sources close to Carole tell TMZ ... she's been dancing with herself in her Los Angeles apartment during her downtime this week as she gets ready for her first 'DWTS' number.

Carole's gearing up for her first dance, which will be to "Eye of the Tiger," but we're told she's not practicing to any specific music ... just the music in her head.

With Carole only getting 3 to 4 hours a day of official 'DWTS' rehearsal, she's taking her work home ... we're told she feels she needs more practice and moved the furniture in her living room to create her own dance floor.

Carole's documenting her progress too ... we're told she's recording her practice dances on her phone so she can look back and see how far she's come.

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Remember ... Carole studied hard and cheaply, before getting on the 'DWTS' set ... picking up her ballroom basics by watching video tutorials on YouTube.

With some rehearsals under her belt, we're told Carole is mostly focusing on dance steps and staying on tempo when she's home alone.

Carole's costume for her first number will have no feathers or fur, and our sources describe the outfit as a "sunset" with a lot of "cattitude" ... whatever that means.

We're told Carole instantly fell in love with the getup ... and she's already asked producers if she will be allowed to keep it or purchase it after the show, but producers haven't indicated a final decision.

And, get this ... our sources say Carole told her family she thought to herself, "I want to be buried in this dress," when she first saw it. Thing is, we're told she plans on being cremated and wouldn't want the dress to burn. How sweet.

'Supermarket Sweep' Ex-Host David Ruprecht ... Up for New Gig on Reboot

I'M DOWN!!!
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David Ruprecht wants in on the new "Supermarket Sweep" fun, but with a different J-O-B -- the former host says he's is in the running to be the announcer.

David, who hosted 'Sweep' from 1990 to 1995 and again from 2000 to 2003, tells TMZ ... he auditioned with honchos at ABC for an announcing position and says he's still on the short list for the role.

If ya hadn't heard, the new host is former 'SNL' star Leslie Jones -- but David says he'd love to carry on the classic game show's legacy by putting on a new hat for the reboot. He even gave us his announcing pitch.

It sounds like he's in game shape ... ready to share play-by-play of shoppers running around grocery stores throwing hams and turkeys into their carts.

While David hosted the show for almost 10 years, he doubts his wealth of experience will help Leslie. While she hasn't reached out to him for hosting tips, he knows she doesn't need it because she's already a pro.

David still wants to connect with Leslie before the reboot though ... and tells us about her unique connection to the show.

'Big Brother' Season 22 Busting Out the All-Stars This Summer ... Filming Despite Coronavirus

"Big Brother" is coming back this summer with an All-Star cast for Season 22 ... coronavirus pandemic be damned.

Every year, "Big Brother" shoots during the summer, but due to COVID-19, there was lots of speculation 'BB' would be another casualty of the virus ... but we've learned the reality show is still ON.

Production sources tell TMZ ... "Big Brother" was in the middle of casting for its next season when the coronavirus outbreak hit. We're told casting was completely shut down in May, leaving execs to change the format to an All-Star edition instead.

Our sources say an All-Star cast made the most sense, because those contestants are already familiar with the show and have already been vetted by network execs ... plus it would have been difficult to cast fresh faces for a new season in the middle of a pandemic, a process we're told would have dragged on for weeks.

The coronavirus isn't preventing another season, but it is delaying things a bit ... we're told contestants were supposed to head to Los Angeles at the beginning of July to begin testing and quarantines, but the timetable is being pushed back to the end of the month.

Our sources say, contestants, who are flying in from across the country, will be tested for the virus and then quarantined for 2 weeks before being cleared to enter the "Big Brother" house.

Should be smooth sailing once contestants are in the house ... it's been a bubble-like atmosphere long before COVID-19.

Matt James Cruizin' with Cameron on Jupiter

Matt James celebrated his new "Bachelor" status by hopping on a boat with buddy and fellow "Bachelor" Tyler Cameron and his female friend.

Matt was enjoying the R&R aboard Tyler's boat in sunny Jupiter, Florida.

As you know, "The Bachelor" has finally selected the show's next leading man -- the first African-American in that role in the 40 seasons.

Rachel Lindsay became the first black female lead on season 13 of "The Bachelorette" ... way back in 2017. It's clearly no coincidence ... Matt got tapped because of what's going on in the country and the world.

ABC said, "We know we have a responsibility to make sure the love stories we're seeing onscreen are representative of the world we live in, and we are proudly in service to our audience. This is just the beginning, and we will continue to take action with regard to diversity issues on this franchise. We feel privileged to have Matt as our first Black Bachelor and we cannot wait to embark on this journey with him."

The 28-year-old works in real estate, and was a football player at Wake Forest University. He tried unsuccessfully to make it on a couple NFL teams.

Cokie Roberts ABC News Journalist Dead at 75

8:58 AM PT -- Former President Barack Obama said he and Michelle are sad to hear about Cokie's passing. The 44th President said, "She was a trailblazing figure; a role model to young women at a time when the profession was still dominated by men; a constant over forty years of a shifting media landscape and changing world, informing voters about the issues of our time and mentoring young journalists every step of the way."

Obama added, "She will be missed -- and we send our condolences to her family."

Cokie Roberts -- the revered journalist and political commentator who was a pioneer for women during her storied career -- has died.

The network where she spent more than 3 decades, ABC News, announced Cokie's passing Tuesday morning. She died from complications of breast cancer, according to a family statement.

Cokie -- born Mary Martha Corinne Morrison Claiborne Boggs -- earned her name from her older brother, who couldn't pronounce Corinne. The name Cokie stuck for the rest of her life. She made a name for herself as a young Capitol Hill reporter for NPR before joining ABC News in 1988.

She became a contributor on "This Week" before co-anchoring the popular news show with Sam Donaldson. They co-anchored the show from 1996 until 2002.

Cokie was also a best-selling author with several New York Times Best Sellers titles to her name.

She was inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame and named one of the 50 greatest women in the history of broadcasting by the American Women in Radio and Television.

She was so respected ... Cokie was literally named a "Living Legend" by the Library of Congress in 2008. She famously came from a long line of family members embedded in politics -- her father was Congressman and Democratic House majority leader Thomas Boggs, who was also a member of the Warren Commission ... which investigated the JFK assassination.

Cokie's survived by her husband of 53 years, Steven Roberts, and her 2 kids, Lee and Rebecca.

She was 75.

Originally Published -- 8:02 AM PT

Ryan Seacrest Massive Disney Deal in the Works ... For More 'Idol,' 'Live,' Etc.

Ryan Seacrest was weirdly left out of Disney's press release announcing a new season of "American Idol" -- but we've learned he's not out, just delayed with the Mouse House ... on account of what looks like a massive new deal.

Our Disney sources tell TMZ ... Ryan will likely return as host for a third season of 'AI' on ABC, as its longtime host. The reason the deal hasn't been signed ... he's currently in talks with Disney honchos for a huge contract that goes way beyond 'A.I.' and "Live with Kelly and Ryan."

We're told the new deal encompasses what he's doing now, but includes a massive production deal for new TV shows, produced through his production company.

Interesting ... at the same time, the ABC bigwigs were announced Monday that Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie were coming back to 'Idol' for season 3, Ryan was spotted leaving Marea restaurant in NYC with Disney TV Chairman Peter Rice.

You'll recall ... Ryan ended up landing around $15 million from Disney with his current contract.  Our Disney sources say this is a much sweeter deal.

We're told it's just a matter of time before Disney announces it's snagged Ryan again.

'Bachelorette' Reject Luke P. Show Unfairly Made Me Look Like I Slut Shamed Hannah B.

'Bachelorette' reject Luke P. feels used by the show and Hannah B., because we're told viewers did NOT hear a conversation that ultimately sent Luke reeling ... which led to him calling her out and allegedly slut shaming her.

Luke was dumbfounded after Hannah B. told him she had sex with another guy in the Fantasy Suite. He squarely showed disapproval, implying she wasn't the right kind of woman for him.

Folks in Luke's world tell TMZ ... he was reacting to a conversation he had with Hannah B. at a bible study during the Hometown episode, where she suggested to him she wasn't open to having sex in the fantasy suites. We're told her comment was on Luke's mind when she blurted out she indeed had sex, and that's why he reacted the way he did on camera.

We're told Luke is upset producers did not air the full bible study convo, which would have put his comments on Monday night's show in context. He comes off as a heel.

Our Luke sources say he's had hell to pay in the last 16 hours ... he and his family are getting skewered on social media and his Christian faith is being weaponized against him.

Luke, meanwhile, has already filmed the 'Tell-All' episode, and we're told it didn't go well ... with Hannah and the other guys ganging up on him. That said, our sources say he's been met with love and support from his local community ... and he's moving on.

We reached out to ABC regarding the unaired moment ... they had no comment.

Nik and Lijana Wallenda They Did It!!! Tightrope Walked 25 Stories Over Times Square

It seemed impossible ... but Nik and Lijana did it -- they walked a quarter of a mile across Times Square, 25 stories up and balancing the entire way on a tightrope.

The view looking down was incredible, and it was broadcast live on ABC. Thousands watched as Nik and Lijana met in the middle and he actually CLIMBED OVER HER -- around 18 minutes into the stunt.

It was especially daunting for Lijana, who broke almost every bone in her face after suffering a near-fatal fall a few years back.

She was more than confident Sunday night, having nailed the run-through 25 times in a row. Lijana sang biblical hymns and praised the Lord as she traversed the famous landmark, with neon lights glaring and the crowd roaring.

Nik and Lijana constantly talked with each other ... he especially offering words of encouragement to his sister. Their dad was in the control room, and Nik and Lijana seemed to draw comfort from that.

By the way ... the poles they held weigh 38 lbs!!!

It took just over 36 minutes ... but it was historic, and did we say incredible?

President Trump Guy Coughs in Middle of Interview ... Nooope, Run it Back!!!

President Trump doesn't like having his train of thought interrupted, which he made very clear Sunday by demanding a redo when somebody coughed in the middle of his interview.

45 was chatting it up with ABC's George Stephanopoulos in The White House, discussing everything from the Mueller report to his still-unreleased tax records -- and as he was explaining the latter ... someone off-camera let out a heavy cough that threw DT off.

He stopped mid-sentence and asked George if they could run his answer back, 'cause he didn't appreciate the interruption. Trump said quite bluntly, "Let's do that over, he's coughing in the middle of my answer," going on to add, "I don't like that, you know?"

George seemed to indicate that the culprit was Trump's Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, but it's unclear if it was in fact him. Whoever it was ... Trump definitely wasn't very nice in telling them to shut the hell up. In fact, he instructed them to leave the room.

"You just can't, you just can't cough," Trump told the cougher.

George and the ABC team reset and the Prez finished his tangent about his "fantastic financial statement." What's funny is that the gaffe made it to air during Sunday's broadcast.

Say what you will about him -- and there's plenty to say -- but Donny makes for great TV!

Elisabeth Hasselbeck 'F*** That, I'm Not Taking That!!!' Raged at Barbara Walters

Elisabeth Hasselbeck has a much shorter fuse than you probably thought ... but it's been revealed in this audio of a backstage tirade at Barbara Walters during a taping of "The View."

The explosive audio was recorded in 2006 after the hosts talked about the so-called morning-after pill -- Elisabeth was incensed and argued against it very passionately on the air. Barbara cut her off and told Elisabeth she needed to discuss things calmly "and not go so crazy that you don't listen to anybody's opinion."

As they went to commercial, Elisabeth was clearly pissed. She stormed off, but was still wearing a mic and then blew up!!! She raged to Joy Behar, "F**k that! I'm not going to sit there and get reprimanded on the air!"

She went on, "What the f**k? I don't even swear. She has me swearing. This woman is driving me nuts!!"

Variety obtained the audio of the incident ... which is described in a newly released book called, "Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of 'The View.'"

Elisabeth is already apologizing, saying, "I am quite humanly reactive. I used bad words when frustrated. I was pregnant with Taylor and a big conversation about the value and the lives of the unborn took place at the View. It was a battle -but not of the flesh. I used fighting words because I believe that God decides the value of the lives of babies."

She added, "I used big battle words (one in particular that I am not proud of and am sorry for using in the heat of trying to defend the lives of the unborn)."

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