Famous Wildlife Expert Jim Fowler Dead at 89

Jim Fowler -- the famous zoologist who made tons of appearances alongside Johnny Carson on the 'Tonight Show' and made a cameo on "Seinfeld" -- has died.

The longtime co-host of "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom" died Wednesday at his home in Norwalk, Connecticut ... according to his family. The cause of death is unclear.

Fowler worked at a raptor sanctuary in Florida before landing his show 'Wild Kingdom' in 1963 ... co-hosting with fellow zoologist Marlin Perkins before going solo from 1985 to 1988. The show was later revived in 2002 and it aired until 2011.

Fowler, of course, appeared in over 100 episodes alongside Johnny Carson and also served as a wildlife correspondent for 'Today.' Fowler and Carson were tight ... to the point both families all went on a vacation to Africa after the 'Tonight' host retired.

Fowler was huge in the bird world ... becoming the first man to successfully trap a harpy eagle and bring it back alive in the U.S.

"Seinfeld" fans will remember him for his appearance on season 9 of the hit series ... "The Merv Griffin Show" episode. Kramer invited Fowler for his animals segment of the show. Fowler brings a hawk which hilariously attacked George Costanza, who was holding a squirrel.

Fowler was born in 1930 in Albany, Georgia. He was a standout baseball player who fielded offers from the Yankees and Phillies. Fowler was also rather tall ... standing an intimidating 6-foot-6.

But, he was a big softy when it came to all animals. The "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom" wrote on its page Fowler's mission as a naturalist was to "educate the public about wildlife specifies throughout the world and how to preserve environments for both animals and humans."

Fowler was 89.

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.

Kevin Smith My Healthy Heart Wants What It Wants ... A Dose of 'Avengers!!'

EXCLUSIVE
IT'S A HEART-RACER
TMZ.com

Kevin Smith was stoked about surviving a massive heart attack for at least one good reason ... he was dying -- in a manner of speaking -- to see "Avengers: Infinity War."

We got the famed director leaving the 'Late Show' studio Wednesday in NYC where he went into gnarly detail about what triggered the heart attack he suffered in February. As we reported, Kevin said the doctor told him he had 100% blockage in his "widow-maker" artery.

Check it out ... Kevin said the movie had some tense moments (don't worry, no spoilers here) but didn't kill him, thanks to his clean bill of health. Looking good, Kev!

James Franco The Sexual Misconduct Allegations Aren't True, But ...

James Franco had some hand-wringing moments with Stephen Colbert as he tried to address accusations on social media that he sexually assaulted and harassed women.

'The Late Show' almost felt like "Dr. Phil" as the actor took issue with several women making claims, including one who wrote on Twitter, "Remember the time you pushed my head down in a car towards your exposed penis & that other time you told my friend to come to your hotel when she was 17?"

He says he's perplexed by actress Ally Sheedy, who cryptically posted a comment after watching Franco win Best Actor at the Golden Globes ..."Why is James Franco allowed in? Said too much."

But then James seems to waffle a bit, saying, "If there is restitution to be made I will make it."

Watch the clip ... super interesting.

David Letterman Secret Guest Revealed ... I Got Malala!!!

SECRET'S OUT?
SplashNews.com

David Letterman's return to the talk show world has been shrouded in mystery, but this video reveals a huge puzzle piece -- youngest ever Nobel Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai.

Malala was spotted leaving a taping of Dave's Netflix show in NYC Monday night. She says it went great, and best we can tell -- she's guest #2 of 6.

Rumor is Barack Obama was Dave's first guest a month ago. Dave's not confirming that, or much at all, about his new gig. It's unclear who the next 4 guests will be, but we did see 2 other famous possibilities.

John Krasinski and Emily Blunt were spotted leaving the studio, but they could've just been guests in the audience. Again, Letterman ain't saying much.

Malala's gotta be great though. Pretty sure it's Dave's first time sitting down with the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner, who fought for girls' rights to education, and survived the Taliban.

Billy Bush to Stephen Colbert I Went After Trump ... To Stand Up for His Accusers

Billy Bush says part of the reason he penned an op-ed calling out President Trump had to do with his accusers, and what Billy perceived as the Prez belittling their claims.

Billy's on the "Late Show" with Stephen Colbert Monday night, and he elaborated on how he came to write a piece in the New York Times directly calling out Trump as the voice on the Access Hollywood tape ... after Trump reportedly tried denying it.

He says he was moved to action by Trump's accusers and their stories ... whom he believes Trump is undermining by casting doubt on the tape.

The fired NBC host goes after Trump again pretty passionately here -- ya gotta wonder when DT will hit back.

Stephen Colbert Dear Trump, Please Resign ... On Heels of Intel Leak

Stephen Colbert flat-out called for President Trump's resignation ... the prez admittedly shared classified intel about ISIS with Russian diplomats.

Colbert obliterated Trump during his Monday night monologue after the Washington Post reported the prez had leaked the info. Tuesday morning, Trump tweeted he had "the absolute right" to do so.

The 'Late Show' host disagrees, strongly, but did find a silver lining ... "The good news: Trump found the leaker."

The Trump-Colbert feud -- the gift that keeps on giving.

David Letterman Drops Thousands On Staff's Parting Gifts

Exclusive Details

David Letterman's former employees didn't walk away empty-handed this week -- he dropped thousands of dollars hooking them up with ... wait for it ... custom-made letterman's jackets.

Letterman's final gift to his staff have the words, "Thank you and good night" scrawled across the front. Dave scooped up more than 200 of them ... according to the owner of Golden Bear Sportswear.

Dave's been buying staff swag from GBS for 15 years, and the owner tells us they were contacted last winter, after Letterman announced his retirement plan. She says Dave designed the jacket as a final gift.

GBS wouldn't divulge exactly how much Letterman spent, but the jackets run AT LEAST $300 each ... so you do the math.

Safe to say, Dave can afford it.

David Letterman Marines Get Ship-faced at After-Party

EXCLUSIVE
THAT WAS AWESOME!
TMZ.COM

David Letterman had scores of big celebrities at his finale after-party, but the most entertaining guys in the building were 2 Marines who enjoyed a lot of free vodka on Dave.

The 2 guys are in NYC for Fleet Week, and their first night got awesome when they bumped into Steve Martin's wife, who invited them into the shindig.

They told us about all the famous people they met, but it sounds like their new best friend is the bartender.

Happy Memorial Day!!! It's gonna be an awesome Fleet Week.

THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES
TMZ.com

David Letterman Cake Rots On Street As Big Names Show for Finale

David Letterman's last show drew big stars ... who resisted grabbing a remnant of the cake which became a launching pad the night before for Bill Murray.

Dave's sendoff included quite the guest list, including Chris Rock, Jim Carrey, Peyton Manning, Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin, Barbara Walters, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jerry Seinfeld, and Tina Fey.

Everyone's been super secretive about the particulars of Dave's final show ... but we do know Letterman gave the staff special jackets embroidered with a 'Thank You' message.

Not exactly Oprah level ... but still not bad.

THE STARS ARRIVE
TMZ.com

Stephen Colbert Named David Letterman's Replacement

Breaking News

Stephen Colbert has been named as David Letterman's replacement, taking over as host of CBS' "Late Show."

Letterman announced just last week he was retiring in 2015. According to CBS, Colbert is being given a five-year deal.

In making the announcement, Colbert said, "Simply being a guest on David Letterman’s show has been a highlight of my career. I never dreamed that I would follow in his footsteps, though everyone in late night follows Dave’s lead. I’m thrilled and grateful that CBS chose me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go grind a gap in my front teeth.”

Colbert was part of "The Daily Show" from 1997 until leaving to host "The Colbert Report." Colbert has hosted that show on Comedy Central since 2005.

David Letterman I'm Retiring

Breaking News

David Letterman, the longest-serving late-night talk show host in TV history, has just announced his retirement.

Letterman made the announcement during the taping of his show Thursday in New York, telling the audience his last show will take place in 2015.

He told the audience ... he's turning 67 and wants to spend more time with his family. Dave went on to say he'd be retiring in the next year or 2. The audience thought he was joking because he said, "Finally Paul and I can get married."

Johnny Depp then came on and told Dave people backstage were weeping. It appears Dave's staff knew of the announcement and many were backstage.

During his announcement, Dave said he started in the business when he was 34 so he's been doing it for half his life, and now it was time to be with his son.

Letterman began his Hollywood career as a stand-up comedian in the late 1970s, appearing several times on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson." He got his morning show in 1980 and began his late night career in 1982 on NBC with "Late Night with David Letterman."

11 years later in 1993, Letterman moved to CBS to host "The Late Show with David Letterman," after Jay Leno was tapped to replace Johnny Carson on NBC.

Letterman's CBS contract is scheduled to expire next year and Letterman won't be re-upping.