Tarek El Moussa Positive for COVID ... Impacts HGTV & 'Selling Sunset'

Tarek El Moussa has COVID-19, which means his TV show is pausing production, but it's also making waves for his fiancee, Heather Rae Young's hit show on Netflix.

The HGTV star's rep tells TMZ ... Tarek came back with a positive result recently, and after consulting with his doc -- he's decided to quarantine and take a break from filming his series, 'Flipping 101.' After his quarantine period, he'll return to the show.

We're told Tarek will quarantine with Heather, who hasn't tested positive, but will also be taking a break from "Selling Sunset." BTW, they're both fully vaccinated -- and the rep says Tarek isn't experiencing any symptoms at the moment.

Production sources say filming for 'SS' was halted this past Friday -- and that everything is going on standby out of an abundance of caution. Both stars want to do things as safely and responsibly as possible.

There's also this ... we're told there's suspicion Tarek's result was a false positive. We're told he's had multiple negative tests since the positive one, but has stepped back from production ... just to ensure everyone around him remains healthy.

If ya didn't know, Tarek and Heather are living together ... they just got engaged this past July, and have been dating for a little over a year. Now, they get to quarantine together. Again.

'Tiger King' Zookeeper Erik Cowie Remains Claimed By Fam, Not Jeff Lowe ... Zoo Memorial Scrapped

"Tiger King" zookeeper Erik Cowie's body was not picked up by Jeff Lowe as planned ... instead, someone claiming to be Erik's relative got the remains from the medical examiner.

Jeff tells TMZ … he and his wife Lauren were notified this week someone claiming to be Erik's family member claimed the remains, and they are scrapping their plans to have him cremated and spread his ashes at their Oklahoma zoo.

As we first told you ... Jeff was under the impression Erik didn't have a family and his remains might go unclaimed, so Jeff was ready to step in so Cowie's body wouldn't be dumped into a mass grave without a proper send-off.

Now, Jeff says he heard Erik had 2 children ... but he says he didn't think either would have come forward because the kids were estranged from their dad.

A spokesperson for the NYC Medical Examiner's Office confirmed to TMZ ... a family member claimed Cowie's remains, although the M.E. did not say who.

As we reported ... Jeff and Lauren were planning to have a big memorial service for Erik, but now they're switching gears to a small get-together with staff at the zoo instead of a public sendoff.

Jeff says he doesn't want to steal any thunder from Erik's family, which might have their own service.

TMZ broke the story ... Erik was found dead last week in the Big Apple, where he was visiting a friend and was found at her place. He was 53.

Netflix's 'Buried By The Bernards' You Gave Us The Wrong Ashes!!!

11:03 AM PT -- The attorney for R. Bernard Funeral Homes, Randall Fishman, tells TMZ ... the remains of the body were, indeed, given to the family in question. He further explains that when a cremation is done there, a metal disc is placed into the incinerator with a number ... so no mix-ups on whose remains you might have can occur.

Further, Fishman says the reason the Velasquez family might think there was a horrible mistake is because an incorrect name label was placed onto the urn they brought in and requested to have the remains transferred to -- but he assures us Anita's ashes are in there.

He also says that after the family asked for compensation for their trip -- which he claims they were offered -- the Velasquezes supposedly changed their mind. Fishman adds that his client regrets the confusion, but again insists that they have their mother's remains.

The funeral service featured in the Netflix reality comedy series "Buried By The Bernards" is being accused of a colossal screwup ... a family claims they were sent the wrong ashes.

Alfred Velasquez tells TMZ … his mother, Anita Velasquez, died in February from kidney failure and was cremated through R. Bernard Funeral Services in Memphis, the place featured on the Netflix show.

The Velasquez family claims they picked up the ashes from the funeral parlor in March, but when they went to spread them on their late mother's birthday in July, they noticed a tag with a different person's information.

We're told the Velasquez fam had traveled all the way to Florida to spread the ashes in the ocean as one of Anita's last wishes, and when they noticed the issue, they reached out to the funeral home.

The family claims they were told the company would look into it and get back to them ... but we're told the funeral home called back and said the family had the correct ashes.

Nevertheless, the company offered to reimburse him $2,000 for the funeral expenses.

The family's since made a complaint with the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance and we're told the family is considering their legal options.

According to legal docs, R. Bernard Funeral Services says the family received the correct ashes, but another person's papers were accidentally placed inside the urn.

We reached out to the funeral service ... so far, no word back.

Originally Published -- 1:00 AM PT

Jeff Lowe Claiming 'Tiger King' Zookeeper's Body ... Will Cremate, Spread His Ashes

"Tiger King" zookeeper Erik Cowie doesn't have any family ... meaning his body could go unclaimed at the medical examiner's office following his death. Enter Jeff Lowe.

Jeff tells TMZ ... he does NOT want Erik's body to be dumped in a mass grave just because he doesn't have a family. Jeff says he plans to give Erik a proper sendoff and will do so by claiming his remains.

We're told Jeff and Lauren plan to pay to have Erik cremated once the autopsy is completed. Soon after ... Jeff wants to have a memorial service at his zoo in Thackerville, Oklahoma.

They're considering having the memorial service streamed on Facebook Live so friends and fans can take part. The plan then is to spread Erik's ashes with his favorite cat that died last year. The Liger's name is Django.

We checked New York Law and it does indeed provide that when there's no family, a close friend can claim a body. Erik's remains have not been claimed as of Saturday at 9:58 AM ET.

TMZ broke the story ... Erik was found dead last week in NYC. Erik, a fan favorite on the Netflix documentary, was in town visiting a friend when he was found at her apartment.

Law enforcement sources told us investigators learned Erik used alcohol excessively ... and a large bottle of vodka was found at the scene. He was only 53.

'Tiger King' Zookeeper Erik Cowie Dead at 53

12:49 PM PT -- Law enforcement sources tell us Erik was in town visiting a friend at her apartment, where he was found dead. Investigating officers learned Erik used alcohol excessively, and a large bottle of vodka was found at the scene.

Erik Cowie -- one of the zookeepers featured on "Tiger King" -- has died ... TMZ has learned.

Law enforcement sources tell us Cowie's body was found Friday in NYC. We're told a friend found him face down in the bedroom of a residence. Unclear if it was his or theirs ... but he was a long way from Oklahoma, where he'd worked and lived in recent years.

Our sources say there's nothing suspicious about the death at this point, and no drugs were found on the scene, though a toxicology test will likely still be performed.

The guy made several appearances in Netflix's hit show from last year as one of Joe Exotic's longtime animal caretakers. In fact, he's often cited as the head keeper of JE's big cats ... and even stuck around to work at the GW Zoo even after Joe got thrown into prison.

Speaking of that ... Cowie testified against Joe -- saying he'd seen Joe order some of the zoo animals to be shot and killed -- which contributed to his conviction.

Cowie said before showing up on Joe's doorstep, he was apparently "at the end of (his) rope" ... admitting to a one-time drinking problem, but denying any other drug use or addiction, despite his appearance.

People speculated Cowie might've used meth due to his bad teeth, but he shot that down and attributed it to old age. Funny enough, he got those chompers fixed up nice post-"Tiger King."

Like many other "Tiger King" stars ... Cowie had run into some legal trouble. Earlier this year, he got busted for DUI in Oklahoma following a car accident. He pleaded guilty and was supposed to be sentenced shortly thereafter.

However, he never showed up to court, so an arrest warrant was issued. It was unclear where he'd gone, but obviously he landed in the Big Apple.

Erik was 53.

RIP

Originally Published -- 8:21 AM PT

'Queen Sugar' Star Kofi Siriboe Netflix Breaking Down Barriers ... Black Romance Film Without Trauma

MOVEMENT BEHIND THE MOVIE
TMZ.com

"Really Love" star Kofi Siriboe says his new Netflix movie breaks the mold ... a romantic drama with Black leads where the story is not rooted in trauma or crime.

Kofi -- best known for his role in Ava Duvernay and Oprah Winfrey's TV series "Queen Sugar" -- says he grew up on love stories like "Love & Basketball" and "Brown Sugar."

Nevertheless, he was frustrated most films in this genre featuring Black actors do not make romance the foundation of the flick ... probably because studio heads fear audiences won't accept it.

In "Really Love," Kofi plays a promising painter named Isaiah Maxwell who is stopped in his tracks when he meets Stevie ... an ambitious law student played by Yootha Wong-Loi-Sing. And, so begins a delicate dance between pursuing love or success.

The film's already getting lots of critical acclaim. And, of course, audiences love watching Kofi ... both for his acting and his incredible looks.

'How to Be a Cowboy' Star I Might Be the Next Joe Exotic ... Without the Rap Sheet!!!

COWBOY CURRICULUM
TMZ.com

Dale Brisby is getting hyped as 2021's version of Joe Exotic -- and while he does have a new show on Netflix, Dale says there's one huge difference ... he's not behind bars!!!

The star of "How To Be a Cowboy" joined us Tuesday on "TMZ Live" to tell us how a long-time ranch manager and pro bull rider becomes the subject of a wild new TV docuseries.

As a bunch of city slickers, we gotta say it was eye-opening! Dale says he has a fresh group of interns -- half a dozen of 'em -- hungry to learn how to be a real-life cowboy, or how to ride a bull.

He says they're bucket list items for some, and a career starter for others.

The Netflix show drops Wednesday and the reviews are already comparing it to last year's Netflix phenomenon, 'Tiger King.'

Dale seems pretty comfortable with the comparisons, but he makes it clear he doesn't come with Exotic baggage. His character, though, seems just as bold.

BTW, if you're digging Dale's look ... you gotta see him explain why his shades never come off, even when he's riding bulls.

You can catch the full interview on Tuesday's "TMZ Live" (check local listings). Giddyup!!!

Carole Baskin's Big Cat Rescue Sells Joe Exotic's Old Zoo Property ... Makes Sure it Won't Be a Zoo Again Anytime Soon!!!

12:58 PM PT -- Joe, through his attorney, John M Phillips, tells TMZ, "Carole is obsessed with me. She has spent nearly 2 million dollars (as she testified under oath) in order to shut me down and sell my zoo for only $140,000."

Carole Baskin's closing the door on Joe Exotic's former zoo for good -- or at least for 100 years -- by selling the property with the stipulation it can't become a zoo again for a century ... and the owners can have nothing to do with 'Tiger King.'

A judge granted Carole's Big Cat Rescue sanctuary control over Joe's former Oklahoma exotic animal park in Wynnewood back in mid-2020 ... to satisfy the $1 million judgment she won against him in their notorious trademark lawsuit.

Carole previously vowed to sell the property on the condition the new owners would not use it as a zoo, and according to legal docs obtained by TMZ ... she did just that.

We got the paperwork showing Big Cat Rescue sold the property formerly known as Joe Exotic's G.W. Zoo for $140k in June to Francisco and Nelly Vazquez.

According to the deed, the Vazquez's are expressly barred from using the land to house exotic animals of any kind -- or as a zoo, wildlife park or menagerie -- for 100 years ... but there's more.

The new owners also can't name any new business on the property after anything related to its 'Tiger King' past ... including Joe Exotic, G.W. Zoo, anything with the word "tiger" or "big cat."

PUTTING IT TO BETTER USE
TMZ.com

Our photog got Carole and her husband Howard out in Santa Monica where they were promoting a documentary, "The Conservation Game," and they confirmed the sale of the property and even had a suggestion of what it could be used for.

Originally Published -- 3:50 AM PT

'Instant Hotel' Star Jannine Barossa Dead at 61

Jannine Barossa -- one of the stars of the hit Netflix show "Instant Hotel" -- has died.

Jannine passed away peacefully ... surrounded by family, including her husband, Mark, and daughter, Hollie. The cause of death is currently not known, but it appears she was suffering from some sort of ailment because her death notice ended with "free from pain and suffering." She died June 21.

The bed and breakfast she and Mark ran paid tribute to her on Facebook and said she'll "be forever missed by her loving husband Mark, daughter Hollie, Family, Friends, B&B Guests and fans of 'Instant Hotel' worldwide." The tribute also included a poem.

Jannine and Mark were fan favorites on the Australian-based show, where homeowners compete for the title, best "Instant Hotel," by staying overnight in one another's rentals and rating their experiences.

The couple ran what the show described as a "Unique Retro Home." The hotel slept 8 people with 2 bedrooms, 4 beds, 2 bathrooms that ran around $800 per night.

Though the couple was beloved ... they were eliminated in episode 2 of season 1.

Jannine was 61. RIP.

'Selling Sunset' Star Christine Chrishell Has No Leg Up on Listings ... Just 'Cause She Sleeps w/ The Boss!!!!

SAW IT COMING
TMZ.com

Christine Quinn says Chrishell Stause hasn't gotten any favoritism just because her boss/BF Jason Oppenheim ... at least not yet.

We got the "Selling Sunset" star Friday leaving Starbucks on Sunset Blvd. and our photog wondered what all the fans of the show are thinking ... is Chrishell being served hot listings by her boss/BF on a silver platter?

The question's fair ... considering "Selling Sunset" fans know once upon a time Jason dated/hooked up with Mary Fitzgerald ... one of the agents at The Oppenheim Group.

It was quickly revealed in season 2 the women had serious gripes with Jason and took him to task ... accusing him of giving Mary coveted listings.

Well, fast forward to now ... Jason's dating another one of his agents ... and while Christine says she hasn't seen Jason show Chrishell any favoritism ... it's easy to see why people are skeptical.

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

So far so good ... says Christine, who went on to make some jokes at Mary's expense.

As we reported ... Chrishelle and Jason went Instagram official during a group trip to Italy. That trip, btw, also included Mary and her new/young hubby. Awk?

Chris Brown's Daughter Royalty Visits Doc Antle's Zoo ... Tigers, Chimps & Hyenas, Oh My!!!

WILD DAY AT THE ZOO
Myrtle Beach Safari

Chris Brown's daughter is living the dream -- that's exactly how Royalty's describing the trip she and her mother, Nia Guzman, took to hang at a 'Tiger King' star's wild animal park.

Royalty and Nia hit up the Myrtle Beach Safari Wednesday, and got pretty cozy with the baby animals at Doc Antle's facility during a day and night safari.

Chris' 7-year-old little girl was pretty chill while petting a couple tiger cubs -- she even jumped in a pool with 'em, and was eventually joined by a baby hyena too.

Royalty and Nia both posted a bunch of photos and videos from their adventure, which included encounters with a chimp, some monkeys and an elephant. Royalty captioned one of her videos ... "Living the dream! #SaveTheTigersSaveTheWorld."

The post also gave a shout-out to Doc Antle saying, "We love what you are doing @docantle thank you for these memories!"

Doc, of course, is the same guy who was indicted in Virginia for animal cruelty and wildlife trafficking in October 2020. He called the charges bogus. Most recently ... PETA wanted the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate Doc for alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

DECEMBER 2017
MONKEYING AROUND

This isn't Royalty's first rodeo with exotic pets. We doubt she remembers -- she was only 3 -- but her dad got into hot water back in 2018 after he posted video of Royalty hanging with a baby Capuchin monkey he owned.

Chris eventually paid an $11k fine for not having a permit for the monkey.

'When They See Us' Netflix Can't Dodge Defamation Suit By Ex-Prosecutor Fairstein

Netflix and Ava DuVernay will continue to battle Linda Fairstein's defamation lawsuit over her portrayal in "When They See Us" ... a judge just denied their bid to toss the suit out of court.

According to new legal docs obtained by TMZ ... a federal judge in Manhattan ruled Monday Linda's defamation suit plausibly alleged defamation in 5 scenes of the critically acclaimed series about the Central Park 5 case.

Remember ... Linda was the woman who helped prosecute the now-vindicated Central Park 5, and Felicity Huffman plays her in the Netflix series.

The judge ruled several scenes depicting Linda as racist while directing a police roundup of potential suspects in Harlem, withholding DNA evidence from the defense and coercing confessions could prove to be defamatory and can't be tossed out at this stage of litigation.

As we reported ... Linda sued Netflix and the series director for defamation back in March 2020, claiming the show portrayed her as a "racist, unethical villain who is determined to jail innocent children of color at any cost."

Netflix initially called the suit frivolous and without merit and tried to get it tossed by arguing the series is protected by the First Amendment. Although some of Fairstein's claims were tossed, the judge ruled the case could go forward on her claims concerning some critical scenes in the series.

Stay tuned ...

Joe Exotic Prostate Cancer May Have Spread ... Says He's 'Ready to Die'

Things are looking grim for Joe Exotic -- he fears his prostate cancer has spread to his pelvis and stomach ... and says he will not seek treatment if it's already progressed to an advanced stage.

As we reported ... the imprisoned 'Tiger King' star revealed his cancer diagnosis in May and pleaded with President Biden for a pardon so he could be released and get medical treatment.

Joe says he hasn't received any treatment since then -- and that he's also been waiting for a colonoscopy and endoscopy since October -- and now claims he's been told by doctors his cancer might have spread. His attorney, John M. Phillips, tells us doctors are checking Joe's pelvis and stomach ... he was supposed to have an appointment Monday, but it was canceled because of COVID lockdown.

According to The Sun ... Joe's still awaiting an official diagnosis, but insists he will refuse medical help if his cancer is stage 3 of 4 and "let it take me." He added, he's "ready to die."

7/14/21
SO THANKFUL
Law Offices of Phillips & Hunt

The unfortunate news comes about a month after things were looking a little more positive for Joe, with a court ruling resulting in a potentially shorter prison sentence.

He also launched his own weed line from behind bars ... but now it seems like his prison stint, and life in general, is taking a turn for the worse.

'Selling Sunset' Christine Quinn Hits the Beach with New Baby ... Bikini Bod's Back!!!

Christine Quinn could sell a lot more than real estate these days -- the "Selling Sunset" star might wanna bottle her post-birth workout regimen, 'cause she hit the beach to show off some tremendous results.

The real estate agent -- who's featured on the Netflix reality series -- was on the beach in Taormina, Sicily ... cruising the shore with her newborn son, Christian, in hand -- who's just about 3 months old at this point.

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

Check out the photos ... Christine was cradling her baby boy in her arms, and even got into the water with him -- holding Christian and an umbrella pretty seamlessly.

Cute mom and son moment, no doubt, but the other takeaway is how good Christine's looking. She had to have an emergency C-section during delivery in May. Three months later, as they say ... baby and mom are doing fine. Really fine!!!

Christine hasn't been shy about showing off her fitness during her Italian getaway.

The whole fam's out there -- including her hubby, Christian Sr. -- and it seems they're having a ball. Baby Christian probably won't remember this, but his folks sure will. Enjoy!

'My Unorthodox Life' Ripped for Unfair, Negative Depictions By 'Jew in the City' Founder

WE WANT THE TRUTH
TMZ.com

Allison Josephs has had it with Hollywood's portrayal of the Orthodox Jewish community, and believes "My Unorthodox Life" is the latest contributor to negative stereotypes she calls downright dangerous.

We got the "Jew in the City" founder outside the Peninsula Hotel in NYC, and she had some stern reactions to the controversial new Netflix series about Julia Haart -- CEO of modeling agency Elite World Group -- who left her Haredi community in 2013.

Josephs has several issues, first and foremost with Julia ... who she accuses of co-opting someone else's story and not being entirely truthful. She also blasts Haart for generalizing her former Jewish community as "fundamentalist" at a time when hate crimes against Jews are on the rise.

Allison goes on to say these recurring negative portrayals of the Orthodox community on TV and film are devastating ... and she's pleading with Hollywood execs to do better.

"My Unorthodox Life" is far from the only culprit of this, according to Allison ... just listen to her rattle off several other examples, including a brand new movie.

Carole Baskin To Joe Exotic Snitch If You Want Lighter Sentence!!!

RAT THEM OUT
TMZ.com

Carole Baskin doesn't like the fact Joe Exotic could potentially get out of prison early, but she says there's something he could do that WOULD warrant an early release -- snitch!!!

We got Carole this week on Capitol Hill and asked about Joe having his 22-year sentence in his murder-for-hire conviction vacated because of trial error.

As we reported ... Exotic's original sentence is being tossed, and the case is getting sent back to a lower court, where he'll likely receive a shorter sentence in the range of 17-21 years. His original sentence was 22 years behind bars.

The 'Tiger King' star says Joe belongs in prison, but if he really wants to get out early, Carole thinks he should rat out anyone who allegedly conspired with him to put a hit out on her.

7/14/21
SO THANKFUL
Law Offices of Phillips & Hunt

As we first told you ... Joe's super optimistic about going home earlier than expected, and he's confident his lawyers will prove his innocence once and for all.

Carole seems to think Joe could get a very light sentence if he snitches, but doubts he will pull a Tekashi69.

There's always bad blood between Carole and Joe ... and Baskin makes sure she gets in a parting shot.

Old news is old news!
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