Taylor Swift Scooter Braun Screws Up Attack Plan at AMAs

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Taylor Swift may be locked and loaded to go after Scooter Braun Sunday at the AMAs, but we've learned she'll be talking to an empty chair because Scooter will be thousands of miles away.

Sources with direct knowledge tell TMZ ... Scooter's not scared of what Taylor might do ... fact is, he never planned on showing up for the show. He'll be in Tampa, Florida supporting one of his artists who's performing there ... in case you're not familiar, her name is Ariana Grande.

As we first told you ... Scooter's getting death threats from loyal Taylor fans in the wake of their idol claiming Scooter and other Big Machine honchos were holding her first 6 albums hostage.

Our sources say Taylor -- who's getting an award for Artist of the Decade -- plans to weave her anger toward Scooter and Big Machine into her acceptance speech, but there won't be awkward cutaways of Scooter, and that kind of deflates the balloon.

And, there's more intrigue ... Ariana and Taylor are both nominated for Artist of the Year and Favorite Female Artist Pop/Rock at the AMAs. It'll be interesting if Ariana wins since she's squarely in Scooter's corner.

The speeches could be super entertaining.

'Jeopardy!' Star Austin Rogers Here's What Some G.O.A.T. Q's Might Be ... Time to Flip the Script!!!

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BATTLE OF THE G.O.A.T.S
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The top 3 "Jeopardy!" contestants to ever win big are going head-to-head (to head) on TV -- and one guy who had a great run thinks he knows what sorta questions will be asked.

We spoke to Austin Rogers -- who had a 12-game winning streak in 2017 -- and he mused with us over what Alex Trebek and his crafty writers are gonna ask Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter and James Holzhauer come Jan. 7 for "Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time."

It's exactly what it sounds like -- these guys have amassed the most cash out of anyone on the show, and it's time find out who's the true king in a 3-way face-off. As for what'll be asked -- or answered, rather -- Austin tells us the "Jeopardy!" crew will get diabolical.

Fact is, Austin says the writers know exactly how to tailor the topics for these three -- and he believes they'll be throwing pop culture curveballs instead of ancient history softballs.

Check it out -- Austin even weighs in on who he thinks has an edge here among these titans of trivia, and it sounds like our boy, James, is in the driver's seat with his scattered approach in hunting for Daily Doubles ... and his go big or go home wagers.

Good luck, fellas!!!

Kodak Black My Prison To-Do List ... Nietzsche & a College Degree!!!

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It looks like Kodak Black is gonna be a superman when he walks out of a federal prison -- that is, if he sticks to his higher education plan, which includes a little nihilistic philosophy!!!

Sources close to the incarcerated MC tell TMZ ... on the heels of getting sentenced to 46 months in prison, Kodak's shooting to get a college diploma by the time he gets out. We're told he's interested in pursuing business and marketing. The federal prison in Florida where he's doing his time offers classes, and he plans to register.

That's not where his learning road ends. Our sources say Kodak's actually planning to take the SAT when he's eventually released in hopes of getting into the University of Florida and earning a bachelor's degree.

Of course, this follows his previous goal of wanting a GED about a year ago while he was locked up. We're told he ended up getting it, BTW.

And, as if biz and marketing reading isn't enough, we're told he'll be supplementing that with some other literature to get his creative juices flowing -- good, old-fashioned Friedrich Nietzche books, in fact. Ah yes, "The Death of God," "The Superman" and "The Will To Power." Heavy stuff, but time's on his side. Sorta.

In addition to his nearly 4-year sentence, Kodak was just hit with two new counts of gun possession last week and could get up to 30 more years for each charge.

We reached out to his lawyer, Bradford Cohen, but he had no comment.

Ol' Dirty Bastard Son Drops $60K for Beer Tribute ... And It's Ale Good!!!

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Ol' Dirty Bastard is the inspiration behind a brand of brew courtesy of Young Dirty Bastard ... who says he's getting into the beer biz because his late pops loved a cold one.

The new adult beverage is a honey ale called Young Dirty Brew ... and ODB's kid says he's wanted to honor his father with a drink ever since he first saw his pops sipping on Olde English.

Young Dirty Bastard's rep, Avery "Msartistry," tells TMZ ... the rapper poured in $60,000 to make his childhood dream a reality, and worked with Circa Brewing to stir up the right brew and get if off the ground.

KEEPIN' THE DREAM ALIVE
Circa Brewing Co

The late Wu-Tang rapper's probably smiling down on his son. As you can see, Young Dirty Bastard was heavily involved in the brewing process, channeling his father's style along the way.

We're told YDB and his biz partners, Divine Everlasting and Logan Feldman, took about 6 months to perfect their ale, and 100 cases go on sale New Year's Eve in select New York liquor stores, bars and online.

Circa Brewing Co.

Of course, if you get your hands on one ... be sure to pour a little out for ODB.

A$AP Rocky No Fear Going Back to Sweden ... But I Ain't Talking Trump!!!

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GOTTA GIVE BACK
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A$AP Rocky says his time behind bars in Sweden is exactly why he's returning to that country -- which seems insane -- but he's on a mission to help the inmates and immigrants he met there.

We got the rapper Tuesday evening outside the swanky Rick Owens clothing store in NYC and asked why in the world he'd go back. A$AP says the month in jail for his assault case opened his eyes to the plight of immigrants. He says he was especially aware of the support he was getting, as a celeb, while some prisoners around him were rotting for 10 months or more before seeing a judge.

He's on a mission to change that. For starters, A$AP says he's donating proceeds from his December 11 concert in Stockholm to an immigrant rights org called FARR, the Swedish Network of Refugee Support Groups.

VICIOUS ATTACK
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As we first reported ... Rocky was held in inhumane conditions while prosecutors decided whether to charge him for aggravated assault stemming from a street brawl. The case drew worldwide attention ... and even President Trump and his administration got involved.

A$AP was ultimately found guilty but did NOT have to serve any more time behind bars. Rocky wasted no time jetting outta Sweden, and it seemed that would be the last time he'd ever be there -- until Live Nation announced he'd be returning to Sweden next month.

THE INCITING INCIDENT

A$AP had said jail was scary and humbling during his first performance in the States after getting back from Sweden. Still, he tells us he's not letting fear hold him back, and even plans to visit an area where police don't go ... just to boost spirits of Swedish immigrants.

There was one topic he did NOT want touch, though. We asked about Trump's efforts to free him, and ... well, just watch. Fair to say, Rocky would rather play a Swedish jailhouse concert than discuss POTUS!

I'M BACK!!!
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Aaron Carter Goes Nuts in Court ... After Judge Orders Him to Surrender Guns

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HARD TO LOVE
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Aaron Carter lost it in court when a judge ordered him to surrender his firearms.

Aaron was on the losing end of a hearing for a restraining order. His twin sister, Angel Conrad, convinced the judge to issue an order prohibiting Aaron from having any contact with her or her family for a year. Then the judge enraged Aaron, by telling him he's too dangerous to possess guns. He went nuts in court ... screaming at the judge that he would just go out of state and buy more firepower.

TMZ broke the story ... Angel filed docs back in September in L.A. for a domestic violence restraining order after claiming Aaron threatened to send hit men after her. She claimed that during a phone conversation Aaron told her, "I have people that would come and harm you."

Angel said she feared for her life because Aaron was brandishing firearms on social media. She said she also feared for her husband and her daughter.

After the judge lowered the gauntlet on Aaron, he threatened to just get up and leave, but the judge ordered him to sit down.

What's unclear ... whether Aaron will surrender his guns. If he doesn't, the judge could hold him in contempt and throw him in jail. As part of the order, Aaron must also stay away from The Grove shopping center in LA where Angel's husband works.

As we first reported ... Aaron's brother, Nick, also filed for a restraining order against him claiming Aaron had "thoughts of killing babies." Nick claimed Aaron had made the claims during a FaceTime with Angel back in August.

Nick had also said Aaron told Angel he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Aaron's then-girlfriend, Lina Valentina, was there during the conversation and she chimed in, "Angel, how do you think I feel with him sleeping with a sword next to him?" According to the docs, Aaron got furious and said, "Shut up Lina, you are next on my list."

NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT
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As we reported ... Aaron had wanted court-ordered protection from Lina, but he later decided to drop it and move on. For Aaron's part ... he denies making those statements to his siblings and Lina, adding he just wants them to leave him alone.

Kanye West Osteen Appearance Was Ratings Boon!!! ... Biggest Christian Event in Memory

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Kanye West's appearance and performance at Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church was one of the biggest Christian events in recent memory, with streaming numbers that shattered records.

Kanye's Sunday night service was broadcast across 4 Lakewood-related platforms on Facebook and YouTube with 4.17 million unique viewers total. We're told by comparison, Joel's Sunday morning service usually pulls between 700k and 1.3 million sets of eyeballs.

YE AT LAKEWOOD
Lakewood Church

The 4.17 million is certainly impressive, considering Kanye's appearance at Joel's service earlier in the day also amassed hundreds of thousands of viewers. It was also broadcast on SiriusXM radio and will hit television sets in the coming weeks.

People in Christian circles tell us the Kanye collab was one of the biggest faith-fueled events in recent history ... and the effects are still being felt around the community.

PULPIT PREACHIN'
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It's unclear if any future Ye appearances at Lakewood are currently in the works at this point, but considering how successful this first-go was ...  ya gotta imagine the powers that be are thinking about it.

Jalen Rose I Love Carmelo On The Blazers ... Happy He's Back!!!

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EXPECT SOME BUCKETS
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Carmelo Anthony is FINALLY making his NBA return Tuesday night ... and ex-NBA star Jalen Rose says he's expecting the newest Trail Blazer to make an immediate impact.

It's been 374 days since Melo saw the court ... but he'll be making his highly-anticipated return when Portland takes on the Pelicans in a few hours.

TMZ Sports spoke with Rose out in NYC about Anthony getting picked up ... and he's elated the "Free Melo" campaign is over.

"I'm happy that he back in the league," Rose tells us. "I think it's a great pickup to have a Hall of Famer back in the league and have the opportunity to end on his own terms."

We asked Rose if Melo would have any rust in his first game back ... and he's predicting the superstar to have double-digit scoring!!

Taylor Swift All Clear to Sing 'Shake It Off' at AMAs ... But Still May Not Perform It

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Taylor Swift's battle with her old record label, Big Machine, over her performance at the AMAs should be over, but it's not, and the big question ... why is she still reluctant to sing her old songs?

Taylor has been angry at Big Machine and Scooter Braun over ownership of the masters of her first 6 albums. She claimed last week BM was withholding permission for her to sing her old hits, but the label fired back saying she can perform anything she wants during a live broadcast.

Our Taylor sources said that wasn't enough because Dick Clark Productions -- which produces the AMAs and rebroadcasts/repurposes the show -- has to get permission from BM. Then on Monday, BM announced it worked out a licensing deal with Dick Clark Productions so Taylor could sing all her old songs.

Taylor's people then complained that there couldn't be an agreement without notifying her camp in writing of the licensing agreement. That was done Monday, so all should be good. But, it's not.

Now, we're told Taylor may not have enough time to incorporate the old songs in her performance, because such rehearsals take at least a month. Here's the issue ... she told her fans last Thursday she had been planning to perform her old songs, so if she was planning to, you would think she would have rehearsed with them.

On top of that, we're told Taylor wasn't rehearsing in L.A. this past weekend ... she was at her apartment in London so it would seem she's locked and loaded.

So the question ... will you hear "Shake It Off" at the AMAs? The jury is out, but we're not betting on it.

Post Malone I Love a Morning Hooters Party!!! (Yes, Even on Mondays)

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BEER BONGS AND HOOTERS
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Post Malone is celebrating the final leg of his tour in the most Posty way possible ... by renting out Hooters to chug beer and rip cigs with his boys!!!

We got the "Rockstar" rapper outside the world-famous Hooters on Hollywood Blvd bright and early Monday morning ... sipping a cold brew (not coffee) and bumming a cigarette after spending some quality time inside the wing joint with his buds and a solo Hooters waitress.

The family restaurant normally opens at 11 AM, but when you're Post Malone and you decide you want wings and things to kick off your Monday morning, you make a few calls, pull a few strings and get the place to yourself!!!

Post tells us he rented out the Hooters to celebrate life and the final 2 shows of his tour ... but he must want to keep the party going. Live Nation just announced a 2nd leg of his tour that extends into 2020.

Speaking of touring, Post explained why he's only been performing with one half of Rae Sremmurd in Swae Lee. Don't worry Slim Jxmmi fans ... it's nothing personal.

Al Sharpton NFL's Demands Were 'Insulting' ... Kap Handled It Right

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WHAT PROBLEMS!?
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Al Sharpton thinks people need to BACK OFF Colin Kaepernick and direct their anger at the NFL -- claiming it's the LEAGUE that bungled Saturday's workout ... not the QB.

"I think Kaepernick handled it right," Sharpton tells TMZ Sports ... "To have to be told that you're gonna have to sign some waivers and limit the media is absolutely insulting."

"I think that Kaepernick did the right thing by going to the high school, by opening it to the media, opening it to the public."

"He is being penalized for standing up for the rights of people, standing up for criminal justice and to try and reduce him to some kind of photo op for the NFL is something that is antithetical for what he stood for and is insulting to the fans and is insulting to the intelligence of the American people."

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Sharpton says he salutes Kap for exposing the NFL's "hypocrisy."

Of course, there are several high profile people who feel the complete OPPOSITE way ... from Stephen A. Smith to James Brown to Jay Z.

As we previously reported, Jay was disappointed with the way Colin handled the situation -- our sources say Jay feels Kap "turned a legitimate workout into a publicity stunt."

Michael Jackson's Accusers Robson, Safechuck Feel 'Closer' to New Trials ... After Appeals Court Hearing

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A NEW DAY
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2:28 PM PT -- The Appellate Court hearing just ended and attorneys for Robson, Safechuck and the Michael Jackson estate all agreed the new law could open the door to new trials for both men. The judges have not made a final ruling yet, but the handwriting's on the wall. We spoke to Wade and James on their way out of the hearing.

Jackson estate attorney Howard Weitzman says they understand "the Court of Appeal agrees that these cases must be returned to the trial court to be analyzed under the new law signed by Governor Newsom." However, he adds ... "The Appellate Court's tentative ruling is not on the merits of Robson and Safechuck's allegations and the Court in no way said that these cases will go to trial."

Weitzman says the estate remains confident the claims "will, once again, be dismissed as has happened before."

1:00 PM PT -- We just got Wade and James on their way into court, both were happy to have another chance and hopeful for the future of their case.

The 2 men who sued Michael Jackson's estate and were the subject of the gut-wrenching "Leaving Neverland" documentary ... are set to get their day in court to press their sexual abuse claims against the singer's estate.

As you may know ... Wade Robson and James Safechuck sued MJ for sexual abuse, but their lawsuits were dismissed in 2017 -- partly due to the statute of limitations. Both men appealed their rulings and the cases have been stuck in appellate court ... until now.

We've learned the California Court of Appeal just issued a tentative ruling which would overturn the dismissals, on grounds a new California law extended the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse cases. That means Robson and Safechuck can have their cases heard before a jury.

It's not a done deal. As we said, the ruling is tentative. Oral arguments are set for this week, and the justices could change their minds, but typically the tentative ruling stands.

Now the MJ Estate has a number of other objections to claims, which will be addressed by the trial judge.

Wade and James' story aired on HBO in January, and their molestation claims sparked a movement to mute Michael Jackson and further tarnished his legacy. Jackson's family called "Leaving Neverland" an unfair "public lynching."

We reached out to reps from the MJ Estate and reps for the alleged victims. They all had no comment.

Originally Published -- 1:00 AM PT

Transgender Singer Kim Petras I Didn't Put Billboards Up ... But I Love Razzing Westboro Baptist!!!

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AWESOME SURPRISE
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Kim Petras has no clue who is responsible for placing those bombshell billboards right under the nose of a homophobic church ... but she loves sticking it to Westboro Baptist!!!

The transgender singer spoke to us Monday on "TMZ Live" after her mug started popping up on electronic billboards right down the street from the hatemongers' HQ in Topeka, Kansas ... and Kim says she's tickled by the fact folks at Westboro Baptist have to see her every day.

KSNT

While Kim is coy about who is ultimately behind the placement of ads purposefully directed at the infamously anti-LGBTQ church -- she has a few ideas -- the up-and-coming singer takes a stab at the campaign's endgame and tells us why the move fits her brand.

Kim fills us in on the statement she's hoping to make on behalf of the transgender community ... a message that goes beyond sassy billboards and music.

Kanye West Buys Another Ranch for $14 Mil ... Loving Wyoming!!!

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Kanye West is going back for an extra helping of ranch -- he just scored another massive property in Wyoming!!!

Kanye plunked down a huge chunk of change -- $14,495,000 -- for an estate called Bighorn Mountain Ranch ... a sprawling property outside Cody, WY, known for its beautiful hikes and climbs.

The ranch has mountains, rolling hills, canyons and bluffs filled with wildlife -- as well as some of the best trout fishing in the state, thanks to the creeks running through the 6,713-acre property.

BMR has been around since 1906, but it's pretty modern now with 2 heated helicopter pads. There are also several log cabins and lodges with walk-in saunas and sweeping views of the surrounding mountain ranges.

If you're looking for world-class elk hunting, hit up Ye ... his new pad has that along with deer, antelope, pheasants and turkey. Sounds like he's gonna love roaming around the property on his ATVs.

It's Kanye's second massive, $14 million ranch in the Cowboy State. As we first told you, back in September he scooped up Monster Lake Ranch. Now, he's planning to build a huge amphitheater on that land.

Dax Hayden and Bill Vacek of Hayden Outdoors Real Estate had the listing.

Kanye, clearly, can't get enough of Wyoming.

Colin Kaepernick Tape's Been Sent Workout Video Goes to All 32 NFL Teams

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Colin Kaepernick's team has sent the full video of his Saturday workout to all 32 NFL clubs, TMZ Sports has learned ... and now the waiting game begins.

Sources connected to Kap tell us turning the video around quickly was a priority and they had it out within 24 hours of the Atlanta workout.

We're told Colin also sent a note to each team saying he's ready, willing and able to visit with any team for an interview and/or workout (as teams usually do) if there's real interest.

Of course, the most important thing for Team Kap is making sure decision-makers get a chance to see Colin's skills for themselves so they can quickly evaluate him and hopefully make an offer.

The immediate reaction to the workout from the scouts who attended was reportedly good -- with one NFL exec telling ESPN's Adam Schefter his arm talent is "elite."

Directly after the workout, Kaepernick had a message for NFL owners, GMs, coaches and even Commissioner Roger Goodell.

"We’re waiting for the 32 owners, the 32 teams, Roger Goodell, all of them to stop running. Stop running from the truth, stop running from the people. We’re out here, we’re ready to play, we’re ready to go anywhere."

BACK IN ACTION
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Not everyone was stoked about the workout -- several high profile media members including Stephen A. Smith felt Kap's decision to bail on the official NFL workout and hold his own open workout instead cut heavily against him.

Jay-Z felt the same way -- telling people he was disappointed with the way things went down because Colin "turned a legitimate workout into a publicity stunt."

Time will ultimately tell if Kap's decision will bear fruit -- stay tuned.