Too Short & E-40 Biggest 'Verzuz' Production Yet ... Nearly $500k Budget!!!

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"Verzuz" is pulling out all the stops for its 2020 finale, and when Too Short and E-40 hit the stage it'll look like a full-fledged arena concert ... proving how much of a cash cow the show's become.

The Bay Area icons will face off on a soundstage in NorCal that will reflect the nearly $500,000 budget for this single event ... according to sources involved in the production.

TMZ obtained a blueprint of the stage setup for 40 and Short, and you can tell Swizz Beatz, Timbaland and Apple are thinking big.

We're told the MCs will be surrounded by concert-style lighting and some expensive props -- 2 classic old school cars will be on stage behind each of them. Makes sense, both Short and 40 have told us their battle will be an homage to the Bay's hip-hop scene.

Our sources say Apple -- which is now streaming all the "Verzuz" episodes -- realizes how much of a cultural phenomenon the show is, and they're spending like it.

In fact, Short and 40 almost squared off at the Steve Jobs Theater on the Apple Campus, but due to COVID safety concerns, the show had to be moved.

BRING IT ON!!!
TMZ.com

Unlike Jeezy and Gucci Mane, the Oakland legends are longtime friends who come into the "Verzuz" beef-free. However, when they came on "TMZ Live," it was very clear they're both playing to win.

Translation: Expect lots of old school trash talk to go along with the new school big-budget production.

Steve Wozniak The CDC Blew Me Off in January ... When I Told Them My COVID Story

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I SOUNDED ALARM, CDC DIDN'T LISTEN
TMZ.com

Steve Wozniak got incredibly sick after a trip to Asia in late December, and he's now sure it was COVID, but he couldn't get the attention of the CDC.

The Apple co-founder and his wife Janet were in Asia in December 2019, traveling through several spots where COVID-19 is believed to have first spread -- including China -- before returning to the U.S. on January 4. He took a selfie with someone from Wuhan, suggesting that's how both he and his wife contracted the virus.

Steve says he and his wife got incredibly sick -- worse than any flu by a long shot. He says they were coughing up blood, had diarrhea and other symptoms that lasted 3 weeks, subsided and then flared up again in March.

Steve says when he got back he gave his data to the CDC, telling them lots of people on the plane ride from Hong Kong back to the U.S. were coughing. The response from the CDC ... "They could care less about my story."

Steve says his case study proves the CDC was wrong when it said the first cases were in Seattle in mid to late January ... he thinks there was an untold number of people infected way before the alarm was sounded in the U.S.

Steve says from his vantage point, COVID was in the U.S. in December, and his theory is supported by a recent study.

BTW, Wozniak just started his first company since Apple -- a blockchain-based platform called EFFORCE that funds energy-efficient businesses. If history's any indication ... it's gonna be a pretty big deal.

Barack Obama to Oprah What I Miss About Being President ... Oval, Music & Travel!!!

KEEPIN' IT COOL
AppleTV+

Barack Obama was feeling nostalgic talking to Oprah about his new book -- reminiscing on what he missed most about being President ... and his answers might surprise you.

44 sat down for a chat with O on her Apple TV+ show, "The Oprah Conversation," in which they discussed his latest written project -- "A Promised Land" -- and also took a trip down memory lane about the perks that a Commander in Chief gets to enjoy.

He admitted flying on Air Force 1 and Marine 1 is an unmatched experience -- and one he sincerely misses -- because of the exceptional staff, and not having to wait around to get somewhere.

Barack also said he always took joy walking into the Oval Office -- where he says he could feel the ghosts of Presidents past all around him -- and he revealed his favorite view from the White House.

And, of course, BO says he got a kick out of the intimate White House performances they'd put on every now and then for free -- with some marquee acts swinging by, like Paul McCartney ... who famously sang The Beatles' "Michelle" to the First Lady in 2010.

Good times and good memories.

Pablo Escobar's Bro Sues Apple for $2.6 Billion ... iPhone X Almost Killed Me!!!

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Pablo Escobar's brother says his life was threatened because of lax security protocols on his phone ... so, now he wants Apple to cough up billions.

The notorious Colombian kingpin's bro, Roberto, is suing Apple for a whopping $2.6 BILLION, claiming someone hacked his smartphone and found his address through FaceTime, even though he claims an Apple employee assured him the iPhone X was the most secure on the market.

According to the lawsuit, obtained by TMZ, Pablo's brother bought an iPhone X back in April 2018, and he claims the security promise fell horribly flat. One year after buying the X, Roberto claims he got a life-threatening letter from someone named Diego, who said he found Roberto's address through FaceTime.

In the docs, Pablo's bro says he had to relocate for his safety, and lost a ton of money beefing up his security ... not to mention the emotional distress he says he suffered as a result of the security breach. Roberto claims he had several assassination attempts on his life before buying the iPhone X, and only bought the phone because he'd been assured his info would be safe from hackers.

In the suit, Roberto says he conducted his own investigation after receiving the letter, and found his iPhone had been compromised due to a FaceTime vulnerability.

Pablo's brother is not stopping at a lawsuit ... Roberto is also going after Apple's bread and butter.

GOIN' FOR GOLD

Roberto just launched a limited edition gold-plated iPhone 11 Pro 256GB, which his Escobar Inc company is hawking for $499. Roberto says it's his way of fighting Apple -- selling their phones at a lower price, with gold-plating and sexy girls showing off the phones.

Pablo's brother says ... "Apple can never do that."

Roberto also bought and launched the domain name www.ripapple.com, which links to his gold-plated iPhone. He says the website will have "proof showing how the people of the world were scammed by Apple Inc, buying crap for crazy prices."

If he wins the lawsuit, Roberto says he will share the dough with people who bought iPhones and "ultimately donate it all."

We reached out to Apple ... so far, no word back.

Warren Buffett Yep, Finally Got Myself an iPhone!!! Use It Like a Flip Though

FLIPPIN' OUT
MSNBC

Warren Buffett is getting with the times at the ripe age of 89 -- FINALLY buying himself a nifty smartphone ... but still using it like the flip phone he's left behind.

The billionaire Berkshire Hathaway CEO was chatting with CNBC Monday, talking about Apple and how great of a company it's turned out to be ... speculating about its stock value and that sorta thing. During the convo, he dropped a bombshell ... new phone, who dis?

Yep, ol' Warren says he's caved at last and purchased himself the latest edition of Apple's iPhone, which has apparently become his go-to mobile device. RIP to his notorious $20 Samsung flip phone, which he'd been using for at least the past several years.

Warren had some pretty good things to say about his new celly -- which he affectionately seems to think is called the one and only "Smartphone." Anyway, the guy says iPhones have permeated just about everyone's lives in modern society ... and are revolutionary.

He even likens it to when the original telephone was created way back when, explaining the iPhone has had that same sorta cultural impact ... perhaps even more so.

As for how he uses his cool new gadget, Warren says he's still basic AF ... just utilizing the lone the phone call function. Nice ... never change, WB!!!

Cristiano Ronaldo Rocks Ancient Music Device ... Is That an iPod Shuffle?!

Breaking News

8:48 AM PT -- So, laugh all you want ... but Ronaldo just scored a HAT TRICK as Juventus steam rolled Cagliari Calcio in a 4-0 victory. Keep the Shuffle pal.

THIS IS NOT A PHOTO FROM 2010!!!

This is Cristiano Ronaldo wearing an iPod Shuffle -- and it was shot TODAY!! In 2020!!!

The Juventus superstar arrived at Allianz Stadium in Turin, Italy to take on Cagliari Calcio on Monday sporting the Apple music device, which was discontinued back in 2017.

CR7's being clowned on social media for the device -- no one can figure out why such a rich, powerful and stylish guy wouldn't update his tech! We did some digging, you can find a Shuffle on eBay for like $20.

Some people think he's using it as a distraction to take the attention off of his new top knot hairstyle!

FYI, Apple stopped updating the Shuffle in 2010 -- letting it die a slow and painful death after realizing most people were using their phones for music storage instead of a separate device.

Still better than a Zune, right!?

Barack Obama Power Dinner With Apple CEO and 'The Irishman'

Barack Obama, Tim Cook and Robert De Niro likely all have a spot on the list of celebs people want to have dinner with ... and the trio was seated at the same table Monday night in NYC.

The former U.S. Prez, the Apple CEO and the movie star met up at Yves restaurant in the City's Tribeca neighborhood for a meeting of the minds ... and we're told they dined for several hours.

So, the big question here -- other than who picked up the check -- is what the heck did they talk about? Politics? Technology? Movies? Streaming services? De Niro's appearance on CNN last month?

Gotta think they reminisced about that last one for sure.

Anyway, Obama's New York visit's been pretty low-key other than the power dinner -- no big speeches or fundraising galas on the books -- and he's even crashing at a friend's place.

Okay, he's staying at The Greenwich Hotel -- which is owned by De Niro -- but still pretty chill for a former POTUS.

Steve Wozniak Get Off Facebook!!! Privacy Concerns Scare Me

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THEY'RE LISTENING ...
TMZ.com

Steve Wozniak has a warning for anyone who uses social media ... the platforms are eavesdropping on your private conversations, and sending that precious data to advertisers.

We got Steve at Reagan National Airport in D.C. Friday and just had to ask him if he's worried about Facebook, Instagram and others infringing on his privacy ... the Woz says he's terrified, and you should be too!!!

Steve knows what he's talking about ... the dude co-founded Apple, and he's very much plugged into Silicon Valley and all aspects of tech. 

JUST A COINCIDENCE
CBS This Morning

The paranoia surrounding social media spying is top of mind right now after Gayle King called BS on Instagram chief Adam Mosseri's assertion the platform does NOT listen in on your private convos. 

Woz says he ain't buying the company line, either ... and he explains why anything you say in the presence of your electronics is readily made available to all sorts of entities. 

Check out our clip ... Steve makes some pretty good suggestions for ways to fix the system, and he has a dire warning for anyone who is hooked on Facebook.

Oprah A Billion Reasons ... Why I Picked Apple TV+ Over OWN for Harry Series

EXCLUSIVE
GOIN' GLOBAL
TMZ.com

Oprah needed just 3 words to explain why she picked Apple TV+ over her OWN network for her new series with Prince Harry ... and it makes TOTAL sense.

We got O leaving "The Daily Show" Wednesday night in NYC ... where she was greeted by a throng of fans on her way out. It took a while ... but eventually, our guy asked Oprah what everyone wants to know ... why choose a fledgling streaming service over an established network with her friggin name on it?

Check out the vid ... she hints that Apple TV+ has a bigger reach than OWN, which was launched in 2011 in just over 80 million homes. And therein lies the answer ... OWN's reach is only in the millions.

As you know ... she teamed up with the Duke of Sussex to co-produce a new series focusing on mental health. It's slated to debut next year on Apple TV+. It's an issue that hits close to home ... so reaching a much bigger audience for such an important topic proved paramount.

Prince Harry & Oprah Apple TV's Royal Dream Team!!! Co-Producing New Series

Prince Harry is joining Oprah in Hollywood ... and it means Apple TV might have the heaviest hitters in town when it comes to executive producers.

The Big O and the Duke of Sussex are joining forces as EPs on a new series that will focus on mental health -- it's slated to debut next year on Apple TV. Harry and Meghan Markle made the announcement Wednesday morning on their official Instagram account.

Oprah and Harry have been working for months now on the multi-part docuseries, which they hope will inspire viewers to have more open, honest conversations about mental wellness.

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

Harry, of course, has been open about his mental health in the past. Back in 2017, he disclosed he'd been in counseling in his late 20s to deal with emotions surrounding the death of his mother, Princess Diana.

Oprah herself has talked about her experience with anxiety and depression. As she wrote in O Magazine ... she'd "come face-to-face with mental illness, as several people close to me were hospitalized with severe suicidal depression and manic and schizophrenic thoughts."

The collaboration between Oprah and Harry is also a huge score for Apple as it dives head first into original programming. It already has Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steven Spielberg on its roster.

Nipsey Hussle Music Soars on Amazon, iTunes ... In Wake of His Murder

Nipsey Hussle's murder has rocked the music world, but it has also sparked new spins on his most beloved tunes -- 'cause the rapper is dominating the charts.

The Crenshaw rapper's music has soared on Amazon and iTunes in the wake of his fatal shooting, with a lot of his former projects jumping up in position by as much as 500%. Specifically, Nipsey's debut studio album, "Victory Lap," has skyrocketed to the #1 album on Amazon's Movers & Shakers list ... having risen by a whopping 504,766%.

That's not all though -- Nipsey's album and previous mixtapes actually occupy all four top slots on Amazon's Movers & Shakers list. "Victory Lap" has also jumped to #2 on Amazon's overall bestsellers in digital music.

Nipsey's making an impact on iTunes as well -- his studio album is ranked second on its album chart, and his mixtape, "Crenshaw," has climbed to #12 on the list.

For the record, "Victory Lap" was nominated for Best Rap Album at this year's Grammy Awards. It lost out to Cardi B's record, but it was still a major milestone for Nipsey.

TMZ broke the story ... Nipsey was shot and killed Sunday outside of his Marathon Clothing store in South L.A. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

He was 33.

Lil Uzi Vert Song Pulled From Streaming Services ... Over Licensing Issues

EXCLUSIVE

Lil Uzi Vert's return to music is now shrouded in controversy ... his new single is getting yanked from digital music services because he freestyled over someone else's beat.

Lil Uzi Vert's new song, "Free Uzi," is no longer available on Tidal and Apple Music -- for streaming or purchase -- because of licensing issues and copyright concerns. The single features a beat that was previously used in a G Herbo song.

Our music sources tell us Lil Uzi's single isn't an original production -- and he didn't clear the sample -- so he can't make money off of it.

The timing is interesting, considering Uzi is beefing with DJ Drama and Don Cannon's label, Generation Now. However, honchos at the label tell us they weren't the ones pushing for the song to come down, and there's no bad blood between the two sides.

In fact, we're told Uzi decided to drop the song after Drama and Cannon said they'd support him releasing music ... it just backfired due to the copyright.

"Free Uzi" hasn't been completely scrubbed from the internet ... you can still listen to it on YouTube and SoundCloud.

His label, Atlantic Records, had no comment on the song being pulled.

Madonna Note Railing Over Infamous Letterman Show Could Go for Thousands

A letter Madonna penned about her infamous appearance on David Letterman's show in the '90s is up for grabs, and the rant is likely to fetch big $$$.

Boston-based auction house RR Auction is putting Madge's handwritten note from May 1994 on the auction block at the end of the month. What's puzzling ... she apparently published the letter on her fansite ICON, but no one took notice.

As for what the letter said ... she wrote about "how sexist the world we live in really is" following her disastrous appearance on 'The Late Show,' when she dropped the f-bomb 14 times in an excruciatingly awkward interview with David Letterman. It made censorship history.

She rants in the letter that, had Andrew Dice Clay or Snoop gone on the show and done something similar, "no one would have given a f***."

She goes on ... "In this country you are not allowed to be a girl, look good, have a point of view and have a good time all at once. Need I say more."

The auctioneers say they expect the letter will fetch $2k-$3k ... but we know the drill. If the bidding gets hot, it will go way higher.

Online bids will start being accepted Thursday, and the live auction is on Sept. 25.

Apple Event Need Medical Help ... Apple Watch to the Rescue

Breaking News

1:35 PM PT -- Apple's new watch is ruffling some feathers. The folks at Life Alert reached out to inform us they trademarked the famous phrase, "Help, I've fallen and I can't get up" ... which was our original headline. They weren't too happy because they feel like our post promotes a competitor's "similar feature" ... a violation of their trademark.

The seniors falling biz is serious stuff, y'all.

Apple's latest game-changing tech is essentially a Life Alert-like bracelet with a built-in heart monitoring system too -- all packed into a new watch.

Apple's COO Jeff Williams introduced a number of new features Wednesday for the company's Apple Watch Series 4, but none more fascinating than its new fall detection and electrocardiogram technology ... which could potentially save lives.

Williams says the new watch can detect when you've taken a hard fall, and automatically call emergency services if you don't respond to the alert. It'll also reach out to your emergency contacts.

THE FUTURE IS NOW
Apple

Not just that ... but the watch's new ECG feature measures heart rate and will let you know if anything is irregular or potentially dangerous. Kinda like having an ER on your wrist. Apple says the FDA's signed off on all this new tech.

The watch's new capabilities certainly seem aimed at a new demographic that perhaps might've escaped Apple's clutches before ... senior citizens. The Series 4 watch will start at $399, and go up from there depending on the model.

Of course, Apple also unveiled 3 new iPhones -- the XR, XS and XS MAX. The XR's Apple's newly discounted iPhone that starts at $749. It comes in 6 colors including white, black, blue, yellow and red.

But, the bells and whistles are really with the XS and the bigger XS MAX, which comes with a 6.5-inch screen ... making it the biggest screen ever on an iPhone. It's also the priciest starting at $1,099. The XS starts at $999.

New camera features let you blur the background in photos AFTER snapping pics. There was also a cool moment during the event when newly-minted NBA Hall of Famer Steve Nash hit the stage to pimp an app he's been working on -- Homecourt. The app -- with help from the camera -- tracks real-time shot science that measures release speed, time, speed and height among other cool things.

Originally published -- 11:14 AM PT

Nicki Minaj Thanks, Cardi B ... My Business is Exploding!!!

EXCLUSIVE

Nicki Minaj thinks Cardi B took a giant L in their war that almost erupted in hand-to-hand combat, because Nicki's business empire has gotten even bigger, her radio show has shot to #1 and all Cardi got was a lump on the head.

Sources connected to Nicki tell us the MC is ecstatic Cardi went nuclear at Friday night's Harper's Bazaar Fashion Show.

9/7/18
CARDI BEASTMODE
TMZ.com

Nicki's podcast, "Queen Radio," was trending at the top of Twitter Monday and the show has been sitting pretty at #1 on Apple Music ... all the result of the publicity Nicki's getting off the fight. Sources say her listeners quadrupled last week from the week prior.

Not just that, but we're told Nicki believes her strong debut numbers for her new music video for "Barbie Dreams" is partially due to Cardi's antics. The video's already got over 5 million views after just one day of being released.

There's also this ... apparently, Nicki's been getting blown up a lot more for appearance requests and concert bookings in the last few days.

One last parting shot ... we're told Nicki believes Cardi's the one who's been made to look like a laughingstock after the shoe-throwing incident, especially after she walked away with a fat knot above her eye. She's been kinda getting the meme treatment ... no arguing that.

Besides, sources say Nicki feels like her friends in hip-hop and celebs in general are siding with her and praising how she handled the situation. Cardi, of course, feels differently.

THEY'LL FIGURE IT OUT
TMZ.com

We got Common in NYC Tuesday, who has a slightly different take ... he says he's got nothing but respect for both women and believes they'll resolve it all peacefully.

Only time will tell.

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