Tom Brokaw Escapes Fire at His NYC Building

TMZ.com

Tom Brokaw got a very rude awakening on the first day of the 2020s ... but it ultimately saved his life.

The former "NBC Nightly News" anchor and his wife awoke to a blaze in their Upper East Side building Wednesday morning, which was reportedly 2 floors above their 12th-floor apartment.

Brokaw tells The Post he and his wife were "very, very fortunate" to escape the fire, and he heaps praise on the FDNY for putting it out and getting everyone to safety.

He says their dogs woke them up a bit after midnight and when they went to the hallway, firefighters were on their way to fight the blaze ... which was really scary.

Overall, 100 firefighters were called to the scene and were able to get it under control by 2:30 AM. The fire resulted in one minor injury, and a civilian and 5 firefighters were taken to a hospital for non-life threatening injuries ... according to FDNY.

Could have been a lot worse ... thankfully it wasn't.

'Days Of Our Lives' Lives to See Another Day ... Season 56 is a Go!!!

Breaking News
NBC Universal

There's MORE sand in that hour glass, after all -- "Days of Our Lives" ... the soap opera just got renewed for its 56th season on the heels of the cast being released from their contracts.

Sources involved in production confirmed the long-running sudser got the good word Thursday from executive producer Ken Corday. The green light means the cast doesn't have to sweat the bad news they got just 10 days ago.

As we reported, producers let all the actors out of their deals, but the show was still scheduled to air through the end of this season ... in summer 2020. They've taped that far ahead.

ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN!!!
TMZ.com

You'll recall ... Chrishell Hartley, who plays -- or played (spoiler alert) -- Jordan Ridgeway on the soap, told us the situation wasn't as dire for 'Days' as it seemed, and she predicted more episodes after the current well ran dry. Turns out, she was right!

No character is ever really gone in the soap biz, and the same is apparently true for 'Days.'

'Days of Our Lives' Entire Cast is Free to Go!!! End of an Era?!?

NBC Universal

It's feeling like the end of days for the stars of "Days of Our Lives" -- the entire cast just got released from their contracts.

TMZ has confirmed the producers of the more than 50-year-old soap opera let all their actors out of their deals ... meaning they're all free to get new jobs, but it doesn't necessarily mean the show's definitely sunk.

The NBC sudser, which is about to begin season 55, is going on indefinite hiatus. The network is expected to decide in early 2020 whether to bring it back for season 56.

The good news for 'Days' fans ... the soap shoots 8 months in advance, and there's going to be enough episodes in the bank when the show halts production at the end of November to last through Summer 2020. Whew.

So, to be clear ... "Days of Our Lives" -- which first aired in 1965 -- has NOT been canceled. Not yet. It's possible they'll bring everyone back, if the network re-ups, but at lower salaries.

We've reached out to NBC ... but no word back, so far.

Matt Lauer Denies Rape Story 'Today' Crew Responds

TMZ.com

8:57 AM PT -- "Today" anchors Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb seemed to have Brooke's back Wednesday morning during their reporting of the story, somberly saying the allegations she made were "shocking and appalling" and that they fully support Brooke coming forward.

SHOCKED AND APPALLED
TODAY

Hoda went on to explain that this new revelation -- much like the initial wave of allegations against Matt -- was like opening a door on somebody you thought you knew, but realizing there's an ugly side to them. She notes that these aren't just allegations of an affair, but allegations of a crime ... and that news was a shocking bombshell to the "Today" crew.

Both of them said they were going to take time to process the claim, but made a point of saying they were disturbed nonetheless.

Matt Lauer is firing back against a bombshell claim of rape against him by an ex-NBC employee, saying all the sexual encounters they had were consensual and mutual.

The disgraced "Today" show outcast penned a letter Wednesday in response to a salacious claim made in Ronan Farrow's new book -- in which a woman named Brooke Nevils says Matt anally raped her in his hotel room at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Nevils -- a former NBC producer -- claims she and Matt had several drinks together one night, and that on two separate occasions ... she went up to his hotel room. During that second visit, Nevils alleges Matt pounced on her, put her on the bed and penetrated her.

In the book, Ronan says Nevils told him she repeatedly said "no" during the alleged rape.

Matt says that account is "categorically false" though, going on to explain that the episode was completely wanted and reciprocated on both sides ... which carried over into what he describes as an "extramarital affair" back in New York.

In his letter, Matt writes ... "In a new book, it is alleged that an extramarital, but consensual, sexual encounter I have previously admitted having, was in fact an assault. It is categorically false, ignores the facts, and defies common sense."

'Saved by the Bell' Reboot Still Trying to Land Mark-P. Gosselaar ... There's Just One Catch

Exclusive
TMZ.com

Zack Morris superfans can breathe a small sigh of relief ... NBC's "Saved by the Bell" reboot producers aren't giving up on getting Mark-Paul Gosselaar on board -- in fact, he's in HIGH demand. Which is kinda the problem.

Sources connected to the production -- which is still in its infancy -- tell TMZ ... they ARE trying to get Mark-Paul, and they very much WANT him to be part of the show, but it won't be like the Zack of old.

WAITING FOR MY INVITE
@LionsShareNews

As you probably heard, when NBC announced it was bringing back its 80s and 90s megahit ... the plot surrounds the now California Governor, Zack Morris, and his education policies. That's why everyone assumed MPG was part of the cast, but fans were shocked when we got vid of Mark Wednesday at LAX saying no one's called him about it.

We're told there's a good reason for that -- Mark-Paul's contract to star on ABC's new show, "Mixed-ish." Our sources say production on that show will most likely overlap with that of 'SBTB' ... so NBC knew it couldn't land him for the reboot.

In fact, we're told when they first started talking about the reboot, MPG was starring on another show ... FOX's "The Passage." Hey, the guy works a ton ... great problem to have in Hollywood.

The plan right now is to try to get Gosselaar to make as many guest appearances on 'Saved' as his "Mixed-ish" schedule will allow. It's a tricky dance, but not impossible. We're told 'Saved' honchos will absolutely be reaching out to MPG's reps to make it happen.

Meanwhile, Mario Lopez and Elizabeth Berkley are already in as regulars at the new Bayside High ... where A.C. Slater is now a coach, and Jessie Spano is a guidance counselor.

We're told other members of the OG cast could make cameos too, but the reboot will focus on the new kids on the block at Bayside.

Sorry, Mr. Belding ... there's a new principal in town.

Mark-Paul Gosselaar 'SBTB' Sequel Sounds Great ... But I'm Not in the Clique!!!

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WAITING FOR MY INVITE
@LionsShareNews

Mark-Paul Gosselaar says he's completely out of the loop when it comes to the recently announced "Saved by the Bell" sequel ... but he's down to join if he gets the invite.

We got the star of the popular '90s high school sitcom at LAX Wednesday and asked about the buzz over bringing the show back ... and he shockingly says nobody's reached out to him about it.

Not only that, but as far as MPG knows ... several of his other former costars haven't been contacted yet either, and he seems just as confused as we are.

Getty

He tells us he's wishing those who are definitely involved -- Mario Lopez, Elizabeth Berkley and writer Tracey Wigfield -- nothing but the best, and suggests if producers do want to bring the OG Zack Morris back ... he'll take the call.

It would make sense to, because the premise of the TV sequel reportedly centers around Governor Zack Morris and his new schooling policy involving Bayside High. However, it's unclear how NBC plans to portray the governor character.

Gosselaar doesn't seem to be too upset by the strange situation, though ... because he's got another big TV show he's currently involved in on ABC.

You gotta hand it to NBC as well ... the company never explicitly stated MPG would be back as Zack, but now everyone can't wait to find out.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Now Ya See Zit ... Now Ya Don't!!! TV Camera Mystery Ensues

Exclusive
DISAPPEARING ACT
NBC

10:39 AM PT -- Rep. Gabbard joined us on TMZ Live and says the red dot wasn't on her chin at all on Wednesday ... and she has no idea what the spot could have been. She's clearly not concerned about it and is ready for the rest of her campaign. 

POPPIN' THE SITUATION
TMZ.com

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is at the center of perhaps the most puzzling moment of the Democratic debates, because a magic act happened on her chin ... and the question is WHO's the magician??

The Congresswoman from Hawaii was talking foreign policy during the debate -- specifically the possibility of America going to war with Iran. Important stuff, no doubt. However, as Gabbard spoke many viewers focused on her chin and what appeared to be a tiny zit -- nothing that would require Dr. Pimple Popper or anything, but still ... it was there.

Then it happened. Seriously, if you haven't seen it ... YOU MUST. Within a matter of seconds the blemish simply vanished ... AS Tulsi was talking!!! Remember, this is on a close-up camera, ON live television.

Look, we know this has zero impact on real Presidential issues ... but it's also kinda hard to ignore when ya see it happening clear as day on LIVE TV! 

Btw, we also combed through a bunch of photos of Gabbard from last night -- check the gallery -- and the Congresswoman ain't pimpin' ... as in, there's no sign of the mystery zit. Or whatever it is ... was.

We've reached out to NBC, which was responsible for the debate broadcast, and also Rep. Gabbard's campaign office. No word back from either ... but we're guessing the Congresswoman's as baffled as we are.

Seriously, folks. Where's Zapruder when ya need him??  

Originally published -- 9:11 AM PT

Matt Lauer Erased from 'Today' In 25-Year History Montage

Matt Lauer did not have a single special moment on "Today" during his 20-year run as cohost of the show ... at least according to the producers of an anniversary montage.

NBC released a highlight video Thursday in honor of its morning program celebrating 25 years in the famed indoor/outdoor Studio 1A ... but Lauer's nowhere to be seen.

Check it out ... the 5 and half minute vid opens with Savannah Guthrie talking about the big move to 1A in 1994, and features clips and interviews with several other "Today" stars like Al Roker, Hoda Kotb, Lester Holt, Craig Melvin, Jenna Bush, Carson Daly and of course Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel.

The montage leaves out Lauer, though, who took over for Gumbel back in 1997 and remained there until November 2017 ... when he was fired by NBC for sexual misconduct.

11/29/17
THE ANNOUNCEMENT
NBC

As you know, Lauer's accused of sexually harassing multiple female NBC staffers during his time with the network, along with specific allegations of exposing himself, giving sex toys as gifts, and having a button under his desk to lock the door without getting up.

The scandal is still clearly on the minds of "Today" honchos who decided to keep him out of the "special" tribute. Interestingly, Ann Curry -- who had issues with Lauer and claims she told NBC brass he was a problem back in 2012 -- was also left out of the montage.

Megyn Kelly Putting in Work ... On Her Bikini Bod!!!

If you're wondering what Megyn Kelly's been working on since her NBC exit -- these pics of her shredded body make it clear ... the woman's been working OUT!

The former NBC and FOX News host spent Easter weekend in the Bahamas. She did a lot of paddle boarding and let's just say her athletic talent is ABS-olutely showing. It's impressive, hard to argue there's something more impressive than her incredibly toned bod.

Check out the pics ... she wore the hell out of a very small bikini while flashing her $38 million smile throughout her vacay. Megyn, who hasn't been on the air since her NBC ouster last October, told us she'll be on TV again at some point this year.

If she didn't have a solid offer before ... we're pretty sure she will now. Tick, tock.

NYC Anchor David Ushery Check Out My 'Doggystyle' Snafu ... Co-Anchor Loses it!!!

DOGGONE MISTAKE
WNBC

NBC4's David Ushery must have been listening to Snoop Dogg on his way into work today ... otherwise, he's got some explaining to do about this slip of the tongue on-air.

The NYC anchor was reporting Tuesday morning about a dog that was rescued 135 miles off the coast of Thailand. What David meant to say was "doggy paddle" ... but what came out of his mouth was a bit more, um ... sexual.

Check out the flub ... his co-anchor Stacey Bell's reaction says it all.

Bell couldn't stifle her laughter for long ... and Ushery knew he was screwed. To his credit, he owned it and made the situation even more hilarious with a perfect joke to wrap it up ... and through their LOL'ing they managed to get to a commercial.

Trained professionals.

Charles Van Doren Famed 'Quiz Show' Contestant Dead at 93

Charles Van Doren, perhaps the most infamous TV game show contestant ever -- and the subject of an Oscar-nominated movie -- died Tuesday at his Connecticut retirement home ... according to his family.

Charles famously admitted cheating on the NBC game show, "Twenty-One," back in the 1950s. He actually testified before Congressional investigators and said the games were rigged. It was a huge scandal because prime time game shows were enormously popular back then ... drawing up to 50 million viewers.

Robert Redford directed the 1994 movie, "Quiz Show" -- with Ralph Fiennes playing Van Doren -- about the cheating scandal. The movie earned 4 Oscar nominations and 4 Golden Globes nominations.

Van Doren won $129,000 -- which would be more than $1 million today -- but later told Congress he had been given the questions and answers in advance. He also said he was coached up on how to create more drama as he pondered his answers on the show.

Although he was from a very prominent and wealthy Manhattan family ... Van Doren was disgraced after the cheating scandal. He went on to become an editor for Encyclopedia Britannica and wrote a few books.

He'd been living in the retirement community for several years before his death.

Van Doren was 93.

Miley Cyrus Breaks Down at Janice Freeman's Memorial

HEARTFELT TRIBUTE

Miley Cyrus was so overcome with emotion at the memorial service for one of her favorite 'Voice' contestants ... she couldn't fight back the tears.

Miley attended the Celebration of Life for Janice Freeman Monday at Mariners Church in Irvine ... where she poured her heart out and honored the former 'Voice' singer. You see Miley break down but she still manages to get a laugh when she says, "I was never her coach, ever. She was always mine."

Before surrendering the stage to her dad, Billy Ray, who led a rousing rendition of "Amazing Grace" ... Miley had some touching words for Janice, whom Miley was paired up with during season 13 of "The Voice."

Miley said, "I've learned more from her than anyone that I've ever gotten the honor to be in the room with, not just vocally, I should've gotten more lessons than I did, but she taught me everything that I know about love."

She went on to say, "And, to be here, and I had planned on singing a song for her, but just losing her is just too much for me. So ... my dad's gonna take care of this for me. But, I'll always be your sister, I'm here for you, and I'm here for your family, and Janice I'll miss you more than I could ever say."

Miley joined her dad in song.

We broke the story ... Janice died from a blood clot in her lungs. She had been battling a combination of bronchitis and lupus. Janice was 33.

Michael Carbonaro Heads to Trial Over 'Magic Clerk' Lawsuit

EXCLUSIVE

Michael Carbonaro might need to pull a rabbit out of his hat -- or from behind the counter -- 'cause he's heading to trial for allegedly screwing over the lady who created the idea for his hit TV magic show.

Carbonaro was sued in 2015 by producer Beth Einhorn, when she claimed he'd broken a verbal agreement that she says they struck in 2012, to create a show based on the popular 'Tonight Show' skit called "Magic Clerk" ... which she wrote and he starred in.

Waiting for your permission to load Vimeo video.

Best of Magic Clerk from Trickster Productions on Vimeo.

Einhorn claims she and Carbonaro entered into a 50/50 verbal contract to produce a spin-off series based on "Magic Clerk," which she says they called "TrickShow." It would've been similar in premise -- a hidden camera show where in-store hijinks fool customers.

Fast-forward to 2014 ... Einhorn says she discovered Michael suddenly had his own show, "The Carbonaro Effect" ... which Beth says is an exact duplicate of what they allegedly agreed to produce together. Einhorn claims Carbonaro peddled the show as his own thing ... without crediting or paying her a dime.

'TCE' went on to be a huge hit on truTV, and now the 2015 lawsuit is heading to a jury trial, which starts Wednesday.

Einhorn's gunning for major damages, alleging fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, conversion, unfair competition and more.

Tom Brokaw on Hispanics GOPers Always Tell Me ... IDK If I Want Brown Grandbabies

Tom Brokaw is offering a half-ass apology for going on national TV and expressing some pretty xenophobic thoughts on the Hispanic community.

The iconic news anchor was on "Meet the Press" Sunday with a group of panelists, who were discussing what it would take to unite the country at this point. The convo weirdly went from the U.S. standing up to Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro to Brokaw offering his take on how the GOP is grappling with a rising Latinx electorate.

Brokaw said one of the issues that's affecting the GOP these days -- according to people who confide in him, apparently -- is that they're worried the U.S. is becoming flooded with Hispanic voters, who by and large register as Democrats.

Then the xenophobia ... Brokaw said conservative folks have expressed fear of having "brown grandbabies" due to interracial couples. He piggybacked on that sentiment with his own two cents ... saying the Hispanic community should "work harder" at assimilating in this country -- namely, by speaking English and making everyone else comfortable.

The backlash was swift on social media ... and Tom followed up later Sunday by saying he felt terrible if part of his comments offended anyone in "that proud culture," adding that he's worked hard to knock down false stereotypes over the course of his career.

He finished by reiterating his point about both sides needing to work to find common ground -- but a lot of people took his statement as a de facto non-apology.

Back to you, Tom.

Chris Hansen Catches Break in Bad Checks Case ... Makes 11th Hour Payment!!!

EXCLUSIVE

1:35 PM PT -- The store owners tell us Chris sent them a check on Monday for the full amount he owed them. And yes, this time they made sure the check cleared before informing prosecutors.

Chris Hansen is off the hook for allegedly bouncing checks -- which got him arrested in Connecticut -- because prosecutors dropped the charges ... TMZ has learned.

The former host of "To Catch a Predator" came up with the nearly $13,000 he owed to a mom-and-pop shop in Stamford, CT ... according to the court. As a result, prosecutors decided to drop the whole matter.

As we've reported ... Hansen was arrested and booked for larceny after allegedly bouncing 2 checks to the store owners.

Hansen’s attorney, Philip Russell, tells TMZ … Chris was in court Wednesday for a hearing, but he didn't have to plead to any charges after paying his debt in full.

As for when Hansen settled the tab, we'd assume he paid up after his arrest -- but when we posed that question to the court clerk we got a "no comment."

Originally Published -- 9:34 AM PST

Chris Hansen Kickstarter Donors Pissed Saw Money Trouble Before Arrest

EXCLUSIVE

Chris Hansen's larceny arrest is no shocker to the people who funded his "To Catch a Predator" reboot -- they say Hansen came up short with them long before Johnny Law caught him.

The former host launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2015 to start a new show about himself catching predators. His goal was $75k and he offered tiered prizes to anyone who donated.

Some of those prizes included the custom mugs and shirts Hansen got from the vendor in Connecticut -- and allegedly tried to pay for with 2 bounced checks ... leading to his arrest this week.

As it turns, out ... he apparently failed to deliver on the goods to a handful of his donors too, many of whom are furious. Chris' Kickstarter page is flooded with comments -- dating back years -- complaining about getting partial prizes, delayed prizes, or just bupkis.

$89k had been raised.

A rep for Kickstarter told us their policy is clear -- anyone who's got issues with a fundraising campaign has to take it up with the creator, and it's ALL on the creator to make things right.

Translation: Got beef? Talk to Hansen.

We've reached out to Chris, but so far ... radio silence.

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