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.

Exclusive

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.

Exclusive

'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)."

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Jussie Got Way Better Treatment than I Would!!!

CELEB TREATMENT
ABC

Jussie Smollett got off in his criminal case simply because he's a celeb -- so says Chicago's mayor, Rahm Emanuel ... who stops short of calling this a corrupt move, but certainly insinuated it.

Mayor Emanuel went on GMA Wednesday morning following his blistering attack on the Cook County State's Attorney's Office the day before, after they dropped all 16 charges against Jussie and let him walk scot-free.

The Mayor said flat-out ... if he did the same type of thing, he'd have the book thrown at him.

First Assistant to the State's Attorney Joseph Magats says they decided to drop the charges because it wasn't a violent crime -- and thought Jussie coughing up $10k and doing community service sufficed as punishment. Hizzoner says no one on the outside can make sense of it.

3/26/19
SOMETHING STINKS
Fox 32 Chicago

Emanuel doubles down on what he told the media Tuesday -- when he called the decision a "whitewash of justice."

Colton and Cassie Here's What We Have to Say ... About Virginity and Marriage!!!

EXCLUSIVE
THE FAM IS ALL IN
TMZ.com

Colton Underwood and Cassie know how to say a lot and a little at the same time ... so we found out at LAX.

The freshly-minted couple had just landed when our photog -- an avid 'Bachelor' fan -- peppered them with questions, ranging from virginity to marriage.

On the subject of marriage, one's coy and the other's pretty definitive. You never know what's gonna happen in a week or so when they venture to Sin City.

On the subject of virginity ... well, the show certainly made it fair game. Our guy tried 6 ways from Sunday to get an answer. Check it out.

Kiefer Sutherland We Have Obama Ties on 'Designated' ... No Need for the Real Deal

EXCLUSIVE
NEXT BEST THING
TMZ.com

Kiefer Sutherland plays POTUS on his TV show, but says he doesn't need an actual President -- like say, Barack Obama -- to consult on it ... he already has the next best thing.

"Designated Survivor" -- which stars Kiefer as the Prez -- just jumped from ABC to Netflix, and you know Obama already has a production deal with the streaming service. So, we asked Kiefer at LAX if there's any chance they'd hook up.

Believe it or not, he took a hard pass, but only because 44's already had a huge impact on 2 seasons of 'Designated.' Turns out, one of Kiefer's costars worked for the Obama administration. Check out the clip if you don't know which one.

As for how season 3 on Netflix will be different -- he gives one hint: they aim to please.

Colton Underwood Virginity Won't Define Me Forever ... It Will Be Something Else

EXCLUSIVE
MORE THAN A VIRGIN
TMZ.com

Colton Underwood is carrying himself like a man who just released a huge weight from his shoulders -- or maybe from somewhere else -- because he says the conversation surrounding his virginity will soon shift.

We got the 'Bachelor' star Wednesday at LAX, and you gotta see his reaction when our camera guy asks if he's fed up with the endless virgin talk surrounding him. Safe to say Colton is an expert in being coy.

BEATING A DEAD HORSE
ABC

It's easy to see why Colton might be tired of getting his sexual purity constantly shoved in his face ... as you know, the virgin jokes quickly became a tired gag during this week's season premiere.

Check out the clip ... Colton doesn't explicitly tell us he's finally swiped his v-card, but you gotta hear his explanation for the spring in his step.

Kinda makes ya wonder, doesn't it?

'The Bachelor' Season Premiere Colton's Virginity Top of Mind

BEATING A DEAD HORSE
ABC

As if the new 'Bachelor' didn't already know he was a virgin, his suitors (and the show at large) constantly reminded him during the season premiere ... and it got old fast.

Colton Underwood's journey got started Monday night, and as he was meeting the lovely ladies who'll be vying for his heart ...and apparently his crotch. His virginity was on the minds in the mouths of almost every girl. It was awkwardly charming at first, but quickly became a tired gag.

Even worse ... the virgin gimmicks quickly escalated from a chat to full-blown costumes just to land the joke. One girl popped a "cherry" balloon in front of Colton, another teased him with a real peach, and yet another took away his "V" card in a corny magic trick.

But, Alex D. of Boston took the cake (and the award for worst contestant thus far) by creeping out of the limo in a human-size sloth suit and lurching over to him in slow-mo ... staying committed to the whole sloth thing the entire way through.

It was cringeworthy to say the least. Fact is ... Colton's more than just his virginity -- here's hoping the producers of the show realized that before it's too late.

'The Conners' Star Michael Fishman Splits With Wife After 19+ Years Of Marriage

EXCLUSIVE

12:30 PM PT -- According to the docs -- obtained by TMZ -- Michael and Jennifer want joint physical and legal custody of their 16-year-old daughter. It appears they'll work out dividing their assets privately including a couple vehicles and several bank accounts.

8:38 AM PT -- Michael tells us the decision to split with Jennifer was an amicable one and they went to court to file the docs together. They've been in the process of splitting amicably since June 2017 but that was delayed when production on "Roseanne" abruptly stopped.

Michael Fishman, famous for playing Roseanne Barr's TV son, is on the road to ending his marriage with wife Jennifer Briner after more than 19 years of matrimony.

Jennifer filed docs Thursday for legal separation. The couple tied the knot in 1999, when Michael was a teenager, and have two children together. It's unknown what led to the split.

Michael played D.J. Conner as a child actor on "Roseanne" from 1988-97, and reprised the role for this year's reboot.

We got him back in October outside NBC Studios in NYC where we asked him about Barr's departure from the show, and he called continuing the program without her "bittersweet."

MOVING FORWARD
TMZ.com

As you know, Roseanne's character was killed off the show by an opioid overdose during the season premiere. Ratings for the reboot's second premiere were significantly less than the first ... (10.8 million vs. 18.2 million).

Originally Published -- 8:04 AM PT

Jenifer Lewis Trump's a Mentally Ill Lawbreaker ... Who Needs to Be Prosecuted

EXCLUSIVE
TAKE HIM DOWN
TMZ.com

Actress Jenifer Lewis says Donald Trump has done horrendous things to our country, including breaking the law, and she's not down for any deals that would let him evade prosecution.

We got the "Black-ish" star on "TMZ Live" and asked her about a scenario that, frankly, is possible. What if prosecutors squarely put it to the President -- if you resign from office, we won't prosecute you or your family?

Lewis is appalled at that prospect, essentially calling Donald Trump a mentally ill criminal who doesn't deserve any deals when it comes to prosecution.

Lewis, who has written about her own struggles with bipolar disorder in her book, "The Mother of Black Hollywood: A Memoir" ... calls herself 25% actress, 75% activist.

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