Olivia Newton-John Publicist Heated Over Emmys 'In Memoriam' Snub ... I'm Very Disappointed!!!

Olivia Newton-John's publicist is fuming the late singer and actress was excluded from the "In Memoriam" tribute at the Emmys ... insisting she absolutely deserved to be honored.

Michael Caprio, Olivia's publicist of 24 years, tells TMZ ... while the family is still grieving and not commenting at this time, he was personally very disappointed by the snub.

Michael feels the decision wasn't right, given Olivia's extensive track record in Hollywood and especially on TV ... including acting in TV movies like "A Mom For Christmas" as well as appearing on "American Idol," "RuPaul's Drag Race," "Murphy Brown," "Glee" and 'DWTS.'

He also noted, Olivia had ton of TV specials like ABC’s "A Special Olivia Newton-John" and "Olivia Physical."

ICYMI, the 2022 Emmys faced a ton of backlash when viewers noticed Olivia and other stars were left out of the annual segment dedicated to stars who died within the last year.

The tribute included legends such as Betty White, Bob Saget, Ray Liotta, Anne Heche and Sidney Poitier ... and naturally folks were shocked after noticing Olivia was missing.

As we've reported, Olivia died in August -- at the age of 73 -- after a long battle with breast cancer, and, obviously, was a household name in Hollywood and around the world.

Like her incensed fans, Michael feels it's only right she gets her flowers.

'Bachelorette' Stars Olumide & Riley Weigh In on Blackface ... Hope Erich's Learned

BACHELORETTE BLUNDER
TMZ.com

The lead man on "The Bachelorette" has a blackface controversy that's dogging him -- and a couple of former Black contestants have mixed reactions on how he should proceed.

We got former 'Bachelorette' stars Olumide Onajide and Riley Christian in NYC Tuesday to weigh in on Erich Schwer donning dark makeup back in high school to make himself look like Jimi Hendrix.

Olumide tells us he's on the fence over Erich's apology ... especially with the history of blackface and what it means for African-Americans. Still, he doesn't think the dude had bad intentions in his heart -- and thinks he might still have a chance with Gabby Windey.

HISTORY LESSON
TMZ.com

Riley also acknowledges the painful connotations of blackface ... saying he can't believe it's still being done in this day and age (he ain't alone there).

But on the issue of forgiveness, RC says it's certainly achievable for Erich ... especially if he's genuinely sorry and can learn from this mistake. It sounds like he and Olumide are on the same page on how to proceed -- let the show go on, and allow Gabby to decide what she wants to do.

As we reported, the old photo of Erich dressed as Hendrix for Halloween resurfaced during this season -- which was shot a while ago. He apologized for it, citing ignorance and naivete ... claiming he wasn't aware how offensive it was at the time.

There's going to be a reunion episode in the coming weeks, and he'll almost certainly address this there too.

Nurse Olivia Harper In 'Grey's Anatomy' 'Memba Her?!

American actress Sarah Utterback was 23 years old when she first started playing the role of nurse Olivia Harper -- the nurse at Seattle Grace Hospital known for being awkward and snarky -- on ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" from 2005 to 2009.

Sarah shared the screen with Ellen Pompeo as the feisty and serious doctor, Meredith Grey, Patrick Dempsey as the warm and charismatic doctor, Derek Shepherd, Katherine Heigl as the compassionate doctor, Izzie Stevens and Sandra Oh as the ambitious doctor, Cristina Yang.

Sarah made a stop at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital and reprised her role in 2018.

Guess what she looks like today at 40 years old!

Jeff Garlin Leaving 'Goldbergs' ... After Investigation into 'Abusive' Behavior

Jeff Garlin is leaving ABC's hit show "The Goldbergs" ... but it sounds like he was going to be fired on the heels of a human resources probe into allegations he'd been "emotionally abusive" and intimidating to staffers.

Garlin had one more day, at most, of shooting the current season, but won't get to finish up ... according to Deadline, which broke the story and reports a mutual agreement was reached for Garlin's exit.

In a Vanity Fair interview, Garlin talked about some of the accusations and confirmed he had been involved in HR probes -- one, in particular, about him using the word "vagina." He claimed he was just being "silly" ... as a comedian.

However, Garlin allegedly retaliated by repeatedly saying the word to the camera assistant who filed a complaint about him saying it the first time.

Other witnesses on set claimed he abused his power to intimidate, embarrass and belittle a couple that worked together on the show -- and according to Deadline that was the last straw.

We've reached out to the show's producers at Sony Pictures Television for comment.

Alec Baldwin Not in Clear Yet on 'Rust' Probe ... D.A. Reacts to ABC Interview

DECEMBER 2021
NOT MY RESPONSIBILITY
ABC

Alec Baldwin's claim he's not responsible for Halyna Hutchins' death is not echoed by the woman leading the "Rust" shooting investigation -- instead, she says Baldwin, and several others, could still be charged for their roles in the tragedy.

During his sit-down with George Stephanopoulos, Baldwin said he didn't feel guilt over what went down. As he put it, "Someone is responsible for what happened and I can't say who that is, but I know it's not me."

Well, Santa Fe County District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies isn't ready to clear his name, criminally, just yet. She tells TMZ ... "Everyone involved in the handling and use of firearms on the set had a duty to behave in a manner such that the safety of others was protected, and it appears that certain actions and inactions contributed to this outcome."

Her Office, along with the Sheriff's Dept., hasn't completed their probe yet ... and she's making it clear no decisions have been made about exactly who could be charged. She says, "Once I have had the opportunity to review the complete investigation, certain individuals may be criminally culpable for his/her actions and/or inactions on the set of Rust."

DOESN'T MAKE SENSE
TMZ.com

And, there's this ... Baldwin's explanation for how he fired the fatal shot isn't holding water with weapons expert Steve Wolf, who says the "no trigger" theory IS possible -- but there were several other mistakes made on the set.

Steve's been working with munitions and props for TV and film for decades, so he was particularly interested in Baldwin's claim that the replica antique revolver he was holding fired without him pulling the trigger.

I AIMED AS DIRECTED
ABC News

Steve was on Friday's "TMZ Live" when he held up a similar handgun and demonstrated exactly what Baldwin described. He pulled back the hammer on the weapon, but unlike Alec claimed ... Steve says it's just not possible for the hammer to strike and fire a bullet without the trigger getting engaged. Not normally, anyway.

He admitted there are 2 possible exceptions -- first, there could have been a mechanical flaw ... and the other possibility has to do with how the weapon was manufactured.

IT'S POSSIBLE ...
TMZ.com

The Colt .45 Baldwin was using is a replica of an 1873 revolver, and it could have been made without a safety feature that is standard on such weapons now, but wasn't back in the 19th century.

Steve says investigators will be able to determine what really happened by inspecting the gun.

Alec Baldwin Explains How Gun Went Off Without Pulling Trigger ... If I Felt Responsible, I May Have Killed Myself

I AIMED AS DIRECTED
ABC News

Alec Baldwin says he never pulled the trigger on the gun that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and followed her instructions to point the gun at her, not knowing there was live ammunition in the chamber.

Baldwin says he pointed the gun at her as directed ... cocked it and let go of the hammer and that's when the gun went off. He says he never touched the trigger. Assistant Director Dave Halls backed Baldwin up and says Baldwin never had his finger on the trigger.

Baldwin says the only issue for him is how live ammunition got into the chamber of the gun. He says he was told it was an "empty gun" -- meaning only dummy bullets.

When the gun fired and Halyna fell to the ground, Baldwin says he didn't know for 45 minutes to an hour she was hit by a live round. He thought maybe Halyna got hit by wadding typically found in blanks.

Baldwin felt people waited too long to get her to a hospital. A helicopter finally came and took her to a hospital.

The Sheriff eventually told Baldwin Halyna had died. The photos of Baldwin outside on the phone are when he called his wife to tell her what happened.

Baldwin says George Clooney didn't help the situation by commenting that he always checked a gun that he handled on set. Baldwin was clearly annoyed at Clooney. He says he's always relied on the experts -- like the armorer -- on the set that a gun was safe to handle.

Baldwin does not believe the live ammo on the set was an act of sabotage ... something claimed by the lawyer for Hannah Gutierrez-Reed. He says this was an accident.

Baldwin says he hates that Reed and Halls have been villainized unfairly, he believes.

He also doesn't discount his brother Daniel -- who told TMZ he believed Baldwin was targeted for his political beliefs. He mentions Donald Trump, who went after Baldwin.

Baldwin said he was not a nuts-and-bolts producer who made hiring decisions ... rather, he says he was a "creative producer" -- meaning his role was more about content. This is significant ... given the allegations, Reed was way too inexperienced to be an armorer and Halls had safety issues on previous sets.

He says he was never told by the crew they had safety concerns ... he says the complaints were along the lines of grousing they wanted better hotels.

Baldwin says he's having recurring nightmares and is not sure he wants to make movies anymore. He says it's the worst thing that's ever happened to him. He says he feels sadness and anger, but not guilt. He says if he felt he was responsible he might have killed himself.

Alec Baldwin I Didn't Pull Trigger on Hot Gun

RELIVING THE TRAGEDY
ABC News
UPDATE

11:54 AM PT -- Hollywood weapons expert Steve Wolf is giving his take on what he thinks Alec Baldwin means when he says he "didn't pull the trigger" -- and it sounds like it all boils down to semantics.

UPDATE
THE TRIGGER WAS PULLED
TMZ.com
UPDATE

Wolf gave us a demonstration Wednesday on "TMZ Live," using a similar style gun to what Alec is reported to have had in his hand that day ... and based on what he shows here, it's quite obvious that any slight amount of pressure on the trigger could cause the gun to fire.

UPDATE

In other words ... Wolf thinks Alec is trying to say he didn't *intentionally* pull the trigger, but suggesting his finger wasn't on the trigger at all is ludicrous. We'll see how AB explains it.

Alec Baldwin says he didn't pull the trigger on the gun that killed Halyna Hutchins, the first time we've heard him make the new claim, and leaving many more questions to be answered.

The actor is speaking out about the 'Rust' tragedy in his first sit-down interview, which will air Thursday on ABC. The network just released a teaser for what is to be discussed, and there's a lot to unpack -- including his claim that he didn't squeeze the trigger.

In a nearly 2 minute clip, you hear anchor George Stephanopoulos peppering Baldwin with questions -- and it sounds like he's asking everything that most everybody has wondered about this story ... and Alec seems to respond to much of it, oftentimes in emotional terms.

One question revolves around the alleged fact that Alec pulling the trigger during the rehearsal that day was not called for in the script ... at least according to people who've sued over this so far.

Immediately in response, Alec is heard saying ... "Well, the trigger wasn't pulled. I didn't pull the trigger." GS seems stunned, but AB insists he'd never point a gun at someone and fire. Of course, this would mean Baldwin is suggesting the gun misfired on its own.

There's not much clarity on what Alec means exactly -- but we suppose everyone will get the answer when this chat hits the airwaves tomorrow.

Originally Published -- 10:43 AM PT

Adam Trent I'm Handing out Magic to Normies For New ABC Special!!!

MIND-BLOWING MAGIC
TMZ.com

Adam Trent is one of the best in the biz when it comes to the ol' abracadabra -- but he's just as magical when he gives his gift to others, which is what he's doing for a new TV special.

We spoke to the veteran magician about his new ABC special, "The Magic Maker," and it's all about him helping ordinary people wow loved ones with out-of-this-world feats that deceive the eyes.

Of course, Adam and the network had to figure out who exactly was deserving of getting crowned with an honorary magician's hat ... and he explains how that process worked.

Sounds like Adam and co. did, in fact, hone in on the best sorts of people -- everyone from children's doctors to firefighters and service members ... and even head over heels in love folks.

That last mention is a nod to what looks like an incredible stunt Adam was somehow able to pull off with a guy proposing to his GF ... leading up to it with a walk on water that seems way too real to believe.

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That's just one of the many incredible magic tricks Adam teaches others ... and he did it live, on camera. The special was obviously pre-taped, but word is -- all the tricks were performed front and center without any assistance from video editing.

Speaking of real-life magic ... Adam shows us a little something we couldn't wrap our heads around. You might not be able to either -- seriously, the dude is a wizard!

Meghan McCain ABC Execs Privately Calling BS ... On Her Toxic 'View' Story

Meghan McCain is pissing off some of her old bosses with her scathing assessment of her tortured time on "The View" -- because they believe it's the exact opposite of how she's framing things.

Sources close to the production tell TMZ ... ABC honchos are furious about Meghan's new memoir, and the subsequent interviews she's recently done -- characterizing "The View" as a toxic work environment, full of coworkers/cohosts who despised her.

We're told there are many points of dissent -- for instance, ABC execs say the notion Meghan left on her own volition is wrong, and ditto for her claim everybody except her was oozing toxicity.

Our sources tell us Meghan was essentially forced out of her role after an internal investigation into the environment she describes -- which we're told was, in fact, real ... but mostly due to Meghan's behavior on and off camera, not her coworkers' -- other way around.

Our sources say new ABC chief, Kim Godwin, did a thorough investigation -- meeting with key stakeholders of the show, like talent and producers -- and in the end, we're told she found Meghan was the source of a lot of the in-fighting that ultimately played out on the show ... something Godwin had to address head-on in an emergency Zoom meeting.

Those on-camera blow-ups are well-documented, and even though a lot of the hosts are often seen bickering ... we're told many at ABC feel Meghan was, more often than not, the instigator of these arguments -- or she was the one who kept them going longer.

We should say, however, there are some execs at ABC who have confided in TMZ, telling us the environment was hostile and the bullying is what led to McCain's exit ... so clearly, not all honchos feel the same way.

As for her departure ... our sources didn't have details on the negotiations behind the exit, but we're told the bottom line is it wasn't simply her decision after hitting a breaking point. The network was ready to move on too.

Of course, we're told this was a long time coming ... as many at ABC apparently felt the old boss, James Goldston, didn't have the stones to give MM the boot earlier, because he allegedly feared a conservative backlash.

Now that Meghan's gone ... our sources say the mood on set is way better, and people at home can see it for themselves. The temperature in the room, we're told, has lowered. Not just that, but the ratings are steady ... with the show remaining #1 on daytime TV.

We've reached out to reps for ABC/"The View," as well as Meghan, for comment ... so far, no word back.

Jesse Palmer Takes Over As 'Bachelor' Host After Chris Harrison Scandal

Jesse Palmer is the new permanent host of "The Bachelor" ... replacing Chris Harrison, who was cut loose after his racism scandal.

The move keeps it all in the family, so to speak ... because Jesse's a former 'Bachelor' himself, and now he'll be the face of the ABC franchise for its upcoming 26th season.

Jesse says he's humbled by the opportunity to return to the show as host, and he's looking forward to offering the next 'Bachelor' advice as production is about to begin.

Some of that advice might involve being certain about names of the women in the rose ceremony -- something Jesse learned the hard way in 2005 in one of the show's most infamous moments.

7/27/21
FEELIN' FREE
TMZ.com

TMZ broke the story ... Chris says he has no hard feelings over his 'Bachelor' exit, telling us he's happy to have his Mondays back and seems at peace with the end of his era.

Chris hosted both shows in the franchise for 2 decades, but he found himself embroiled in scandal this year after he excused historical racism during an interview with ex-'Bachelorette' Rachel Lindsay.

3/4/21
COMMITTED TO CHANGE
ABC

CH caught a ton of flak, went on an apology tour and ultimately left the franchise ... and now ABC is handing the keys rose to Jesse.

'Ultimate Surfer' Cast Our Hot Shots Are A Perfect 10!!!

Are you a total shubie and wanna channel your inner wave rider?? Now's your chance to live vicariously through these smokin' hot athletes -- the cast of the hit show, "The Ultimate Surfer"!!

If you haven't seen the new ABC series -- produced by Dana White -- it's a competition where surfers group up in teams of one male and one female to face off in difficult challenges at Kelly Slater's Surf Ranch ... with $100k and wildcard spots on the 2022 WSL Championship Tour on the line.

There are some seriously skilled stars in the show -- from Anastasia Ashley to Zeke Lau to Malia Ward, Tia Blanco, Mason Barnes, Luke Davis and more.

The competition is already underway ... and some folks have been sent packing. There's also been a bit of alliance-building and drama going down -- but don't worry, we won't spoil it for ya.

In the meantime, check out all these scorching hot pics of all the season's contestants ... and you guessed it -- a lot of poses include their beloved surfboards.

Hang loose ... or whatever the surfers say nowadays.

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

MOTHER KNOWS BEST
TMZSports.com

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
TMZSports.com

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.

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

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

UPDATE

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.

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