Netflix, Google & FB drop the hammer on the unvaccinated

Those who are unvaccinated and want to continue working at Netflix, Facebook or Google in the near future better roll up their sleeves ... and get the jab, 'cause it'll be mandatory.

The news that all 3 media behemoths would be requiring COVID vaccines for in-office/on-set work came down Wednesday. Google's CEO, Sundar Pichai, reportedly sent an email to employees, saying they were delaying their full office return to October 18, due to the recent Delta spikes.

He also noted, however, that anyone coming back to work in the office after that would have to be inoculated, and show proof. It's unclear if Google will continue to let employees work from home part-time -- something they said they'd allow back in December ... with workers required to come in at least 3 days a week once things were totally back to normal.

Facebook came out and said they'd be doing the same soon -- confirming that employees looking to come work at U.S. offices going forward would need to prove they've gotten a shot ... while also offering a small concession for those who don't get vaxxed, saying medical and/or other reasons will be considered and evaluated as they navigate a way forward.

Netflix implemented something similar this week as well. They reportedly told their in-house production teams and partners that folks working in "Zone A" -- which encompasses actors and those in close proximity to them -- would be required to be vaxxed up.

They seem to be the first studio to draw a hard line in the sand on this issue -- and other studios may follow suit now that they've taken this uncertain first step.

Netflix's regular employees, meanwhile, have by and large been WFH during the pandemic -- something their CEO, Reed Hastings, has suggested he hates ... and wants to put an end to as soon as a majority of his workforce is vaccinated. He called WFH a "pure negative."

It's an interesting move on everyone's part -- more and more companies seemed inclined to mandate the jab as time goes on ... which is bad news for anti-vaxxers.

Joe Exotic Weed Line Package Earns Its Stripes ... Shows Off Its Pride!!!

Joe Exotic has dubbed himself "The New King of Cannabis" ... it's front-and-center in the packaging of his new weed line and TMZ's obtained the first pics.

The colorful packet for his new cannabis line, Joe Exotic Cannabis, will be unveiled next week at the cannabis CHAMPS Trade Show in Las Vegas ... and TMZ has a first look at what Joe and his partners have been up to since announcing their new venture last month.

The packaging's got Joe's touches all over it ... from paying homage to his moniker as the so-called "Tiger King" ... to celebrating his sexual orientation with a display of the Pride flag at the bottom of the package.

There are tigers, lions and cubs drawings on the front of the package ... and Joe's smoking a blunt while sitting on his new throne. As we first reported ... Joe's team struck up a deal with Tango Hotel Charlie Group, LLC and Cannaxxs LTD to launch the line.

Even though Joe's behind bars, he's been pretty hands-on through calls and emails with his attorney, Brad Small.

Joe is working with Joshua Anderson, the founder of Tango Hotel Charlie Group. Joshua will be handling the distribution and brand development. They've partnered with Xotic Flavorz farm in Honeydew, CA to produce the cannabis.

GROW EXOTIC
TMZ.com

And, get this ... Joe's line will also debut a cannabis seltzer at next week's trade show. The seltzer's name is aptly dubbed "Tiger Piss." Some of the flavors include tiger's blood orange and peach-mango.

CHUG!!! (responsibly) CHUG!!! (responsibly) CHUG!!! (responsibly).

'Outer Banks' Star Chase Stokes Dating a Costar? This Is How Madelyn and I Handle It ...

KEEPIN' IT PROFESSIONAL
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Dating costars tends to usually go south FAST but "Outer Banks" star Chase Stokes shares how he and his costar/girlfriend, Madelyn Cline, make it work. Take note, Hollywood.

We got Chase leaving the "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" studio Thursday, and we were eager to find out how he and Madelyn manage to make their relationship thrive when so many costar relationships tend to flame out.

Fans of the popular Netflix show know Chase and Madelyn are each other's love interests on the show. Just a couple of months after it premiered in April 2020, Chase and Madelyn went public with their relationship ... and they've been inseparable ever since.

Season 2 drops next week, and the show's success is hugely dependent on cast chemistry -- which means Chase and Maddie dating could be risky business. What happens if the BF/GF thing doesn't work out???

Chase isn't worried ... he told us having a business-first approach helped them lay the foundation. And, if you think spending 10-15 hours with your significant other at work seems like a drag ... just wait 'til you hear from Chase why it's certainly not for him.

Chase also tells our photog it helps Maddie's an awesome person. Know what else helps? Singing your GF's praises for all to see and hear.

This guy's a pro. Way to score brownie points, Chase!!!

Joe Exotic Conviction Upheld ... Reacts To Potentially Lighter Sentence!!!

3:11 PM PT -- Here's Joe Exotic reacting to the possibility of being a free man sooner than expected ... and you can hear the optimism in his voice.

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

TMZ has obtained video of Joe calling his lawyer, John M. Phillips, and you can tell Joe is feeling good about his vacated 22-year sentence.

Joe says he's confident his lawyers will prove his innocence so he can finally go home ... and he's also got messages for President Biden and Carole Baskin.

Joe Exotic just caught a potential break, and while he's not walking out of prison today ... he might get out a little bit sooner.

The federal appeals court in the 'Tiger King' star's case just upheld his conviction for murder-for-hire, but there's a silver lining ... his 22-year sentence has been vacated, and he'll be resentenced.

According to legal docs obtained by TMZ ... the appeals court reviewed Joe's case and upheld the conviction, but determined the U.S. District Court for the Western District in Oklahoma City made a technical error by not grouping the 2 murder-for-hire convictions at his sentencing.

So, Exotic's original sentence will be tossed, and the case is getting sent back to the lower court ... where he'll likely receive a shorter sentence now.

That's the good news, but ... even after the grouping error is corrected, he's looking at a sentence in the range of 17-21 years. Joe was convicted of murder-for-hire after all.

Still, Joe's legal team is celebrating the W. His appellate lawyer, Brandon Sample, tells us he's pleased with the appellate court’s decision. He says, "I knew when I agreed to represent Joe that an appeal would be difficult, but I also knew that the law was on Joe's side."

Sample adds, "I am optimistic that the decision today is but one of many more victories to come for Joe—and his eventual freedom."

Originally Published -- 12:42 PM PT

'Bling Empire' Chèrie and Jessey Leaving Show

"Bling Empire" will have a bit of a different look for the upcoming second season ... because Chèrie Chan and Jessey Lee tell us they're leaving the Netflix show.

Chèrie and Jessey tell TMZ ... they've decided to move on to focus on their family, business and other endeavors. As 'Bling' fans know, Chèrie proposed to her baby daddy, Jessey, on the season one finale, so now they're engaged with 2 kids.

Chèrie and Jessey tell us they're grateful for being on the first season of the Netflix series and they wish "Bling Empire" success in season 2 and beyond.

There was already speculation the couple wouldn't be coming back for season 2, and the fact is they don't have any real financial incentive to remain on the show. If ya didn't know ... Chèrie is an heir to a denim empire.

As we first told you ... season 2 is already in production and Dorothy Wang is one of the new faces shooting with the rest of the returning cast.

Millie Bobby Brown's Ex I Shouldn't Have Talked About Our Relationship

Millie Bobby Brown's ex is apologizing for talking about their relationship in a live stream ... he says he was drunk and, rather than ramble on, should've shut his mouth.

TikTok star Hunter Echo just explained his side of the controversial live stream ... saying he was drinking and responded to negative comments the wrong way by continuing to talk about his past with Millie.

NOT MY FINEST MOMENT
@hunter_echoo / TikTok

Hunter says he shouldn't have said anything at all and he's sorry ... but it's important to note he never apologizes to Millie or claims that what he says was untruthful. In fact, he doesn't even mention Millie by name once in the apology.

Remember ... Hunter recently alluded to having a sexual relationship with Millie when she was 16 years old and he was 20, going on Instagram Live and seemingly aiming crude comments about kinky sex acts at Millie.

As we first told you ... Millie's reps say, "Mr. Ecimovic’s remarks on social media are not only dishonest, but also are irresponsible, offensive and hateful. Instead of engaging in a public discourse with him through the press or on social media, we are taking action to ensure that he stops this behavior once and for all."

The reps for the "Stranger Things" star didn't say specifically how they feel Hunter's being dishonest ... and he's just saying he should've handled things better.

Millie Bobby Brown TikTok Star's Being 'Dishonest' About Our Relationship

Millie Bobby Brown says the TikTok star bragging about their alleged sexual encounters when he was 20 and she was just 16 is not being truthful ... and her team is threatening legal action to shut him up.

Here's the deal ... TikToker Hunter Echo recently alluded to having a sexual relationship with Millie, claiming she was in love with him and saying he thought her parents knew about the alleged relationship because they were all living under one roof.

Millie's reps tell TMZ ... "Mr. Ecimovic’s remarks on social media are not only dishonest, but also are irresponsible, offensive and hateful. Instead of engaging in a public discourse with him through the press or on social media, we are taking action to ensure that he stops this behavior once and for all."

The reps for the "Stranger Things" star would not say specifically how they feel he's being dishonest.

Hunter came under fire for his crude comments seemingly aimed at Millie -- he mentioned tons of kinky sex acts -- but he says he won't apologize for anything.

We reached out to law enforcement sources across L.A. ... none of which had any sort of investigations open concerning Echo.

Millie is now 17 and she has recently been hanging out with Bon Jovi's 19-year-old son, Jake Bongiovi.

H.E.R. My Music on Obamas' New Show Can Connect Kids to Politics

ENGAGING A NEW GENERATION
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There's zero need to fill in H.E.R. about "Schoolhouse Rock!" ... 'cause not only has she heard of the iconic series, but she's also helped the Obamas improve on it with their new Netflix animated series.

The 4-time Grammy-winning singer joins us Monday on "TMZ Live" to let us know how executive producers Barack and Michelle Obama got her onboard for "We the People." Here's a hint: there was no arm-twisting involved.

The series features roughly 3-minute long episodes teaching viewers about different aspects of American civics and politics -- and they're centered around originals songs from H.E.R., Janelle Monae, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Bebe Rexha and others.

Now, for older heads this is gonna sound very familiar ... kinda like ABC's popular series, "Schoolhouse Rock!," from the 70s and 80s. You know "I'm Just a Bill" was a jam!

Well H.E.R. says "We The People" differs in one big way -- it has established hitmakers, like herself, which she says will immediately draw young audiences, and help them connect with the message. Let's just call it better learning through better music.

H.E.R. hopes the songs from the Netflix series live on like those from "Schoolhouse Rock!" ... and help young people get more invested in the country's political future.

After all, THEY are the people.

T-Pain Usher Told Me I Ruined Music ... But No Hard Feelings!!!

"DID I RUIN MUSIC?"
NETFLIX

10:17 AM PT -- T-Pain just added some much-needed context that softens the blow everyone assumed he took with Usher's comment -- saying it's not as big a deal as he perhaps made it seem.

TP writes, "I still love and respect @Usher telling that story was in no way meant to disrespect that man. Ppl talk s*** about me 24/7 but when it comes from someone you truly respect it hits very different."

He adds, "I never said f*** Ursh it was a drop in the ocean of s*** I was already goin through."

T-Pain says Usher summoned him some years back just to casually let him know he had torpedoed the music biz by popularizing autotune ... which T says sent him into depression.

The 'Buy U a Drank' singer recently told the tale on Netflix's new docuseries 'This Is Pop' -- detailing what he claims was a seriously cold-ass encounter in 2013. Watch how T-Pain describes the alleged put-down ... apparently, they were both flying in the same airplane on the way to an award show, when T says he was called to Mr. Raymond's seat. They exchanged pleasantries, and then T-Pain says Usher laid in.

According to T, Usher believed T-Pain had tainted professional singing for guys (like Usher) who use their natural voice, and he supposedly said it with a straight face.

T-Pain says he was shocked and that, before he knew it, he realized he'd fallen into a depression, which he says lasted 4 years -- something he seems to be attributing to the Usher moment itself. It's a wild story.

Of course, people are jumping to T-Pain's defense in light of this, assuring him he not only did NOT ruin music, but might've actually revolutionized it ... considering every other famous rapper/singer these days uses some form of autotune.

And, for argument's sake ... even if you agree with Usher's sentiment, why break it to someone in that manner, and so randomly??? Seems like a jerk move -- on its face, anyway. We'll see if Usher offers a different version of the story.

Originally Published -- 8:51 AM PT

'Bling Empire' Star Christine Chiu Yamashiro's Chef is Right About Kane ... Asians Need to Unite

WE'RE ON THE SAME SIDE
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Kane Lim might've been doing more bad than good with his harsh words about Yamashiro -- whether he knew it or not ... this, according to his reality TV costar, Christine Chiu.

We got the "Bling Empire" cast member leaving Craig's in WeHo Friday night, alongside Dorothy Wang -- who's said to be filming for season 2, and should be featured on the show in the future. Of course, our photog had to ask about Kane's drama with Chef Vallerie.

Remember ... Vallerie accused Kane of spreading "Asian hate" when he called her sushi restaurant "disgusting" on camera -- but he pushed back, saying he was just expressing an opinion ... and that he didn't even know Vallerie or her work as head of the new grub.

RUDE COMMENTS
@rembrandt / Instagram

That's where our camera guy picks things up -- asking CC straight-up ... who's in the right here??? Check it out -- she tries being diplomatic, but clearly sides with the chef ... telling us Asians need to band together and put on a united front, instead of bashing one another.

Dorothy hits that point home with an even more nuanced take -- saying it's fine to have preferences, and to even express those preferences ... but there's a way to say things, especially these days when topics such as this are delicate to talk about. Well said.

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

She also touches on another angle that rings true as well -- in light of restaurants now opening back up to full capacity on the heels of the pandemic. Watch ... she says Kane should've been mindful of that dynamic as well, before spouting off so recklessly.

Lots of solid arguments here from the 'BE' ladies -- and the takeaway seems to be ... use your words carefully, and think twice before speaking.

'Bling Empire' Star Kane Lim My Yamashiro Diss Wasn't 'Asian Hate' ... Head Chef Claps Back!!!

5:26 PM PT -- Chef Vallerie tells TMZ ... Kane told her he was interested in going back to Yamashiro, but it didn't feel sincere, and she's "not looking to create a photo opportunity for him."

The chef says she's also been harassed and bullied recently by others in the AAPI community and says she won't allow herself to be silenced or gaslighted.

One of the stars of Netflix's "Bling Empire" got called out for allegedly spreading Asian hate by dissing a famous sushi joint -- but he's hollering right back ... respectfully, calling BS.

Kane Lim -- a Singaporean real estate developer -- was recently filmed on a pal's IG Story, hyping up the fact they were eating from another sushi restaurant in town, Tadaima, instead of L.A. celeb hot spot Yamashiro ... which they, including KL, openly mocked and called "disgusting."

RUDE COMMENTS
@rembrandt / Instagram

Yamashiro's head chef, Vallerie Castillo Archer, took the jab personally, and also leveled an allegation against Lim and his buddies ... saying they were helping spread hate against their own race.

She wrote, in part ... "How can we promote Stop Asian Hate when we are the ones publicly hating on Asians?" She added that she found Lim's remarks hurtful to the cause.

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

Despite how Vallerie interpreted Lim's comments, he tells TMZ she's got this one wrong, and is kinda making a mountain out of a mole hill. Kane says his remarks were simply based on his own eating experience at Yamashiro from a few years back -- and were not aimed at her, her work or her staff directly. He just didn't dig the food there, period.

With that said, Kane adds this ... "It's unfortunate this has escalated to this level. I get how it has been interpreted and am disappointed it's been crafted into an Asian-hate thing."

Kane goes on to clarify that he does NOT hate his own race, and as far as Val ... he's more than willing to make amends and give Yamashiro another shot. In fact, we're told they're making plans to meet up and hash this out in the near future.

Originally Published -- 1:39 PM PT

Joe Exotic Launching His Own Cannabis Line ... Straight from the Joint!!!

Joe Exotic has a new venture that could put him in high spirits -- he's launching his own cannabis line all while doing hard time in federal prison.

The 'Tiger King' star cooked up the idea last July and the wheels have been in motion ever since. His attorney, Brad Small, tells TMZ ... they have a deal locked for Joe to partner with Tango Hotel Charlie Group, LLC and Cannaxxs LTD to launch Joe Exotic Cannabis.

We're told Joe's been directly involved in the biz through calls and emails with his attorney. The deal includes the various companies ponying up the dough with Joe's name attached to the products.

Small tells us the products include CBD edibles and will be sold in dispensaries throughout California, Colorado and Oklahoma. While recreational THC is legal in Cali and Colorado, only medicinal is kosher in Joe's old OK stomping grounds.

We're told part of the reason Joe's doing this is to help people who need cannabis to ease their pain from various ailments.

Small says the launch will happen within weeks, and a share of Joe's profits will go towards captive tiger care. As we reported ... Joe said in the year since the Netflix docuseries 'Tiger King' dropped his life had been a living hell.

The new revenue stream should give him a boost.

'Tiger King' Jeff Lowe & Wife Busted for DUI ... Weeks After Big Cat Seizure

12:18 PM PT -- TMZ just obtained the incident report in regards to Jeff and Lauren's DUI arrest -- and it appears Oklahoma City PD is claiming that both hubby and wife were driving at different times before they got busted.

According to the report, OKCPD alleges that they spotted a white Range Rover pull out of a parking lot at a high rate of speed and then stop abruptly when they saw a cop was nearby. The officer goes on to note that he saw Lauren lean out of the driver side window, yell for help and then exit the driver side door ... only to switch places with Jeff, who was riding passenger.

The police go on to claim that Jeff then started driving himself and pulled into another lot -- this as cops started hitting the lights and pursuing. Before coming to a stop, they claim Jeff made an illegal lane change without signaling. Once they were pulled over, OKCPD says they conducted field sobriety test for Jeff, whom they claim appeared incredibly intoxicated.

They note Lauren, too, appeared quite drunk ... as her speech was slurred, among other signs. That seems to explain why she was also arrested for DUI.

Jeff Lowe is continuing to take legal lumps -- the current owner of Joe Exotic's onetime 'Tiger King' zoo was behind bars to kick off his weekend ... this after a DUI bust.

Lowe and his wife, Lauren, were both arrested early Saturday morning in Oklahoma County for driving under the influence ... and it looks like Jeff might've been the one behind the wheel, because the Sheriff's Office also booked him on a changing lanes improperly charge.

Since it appears Jeff was driving it's unclear why Lauren was also arrested for DUI.

The Lowes were brought to jail around 4 AM ... and they posed for these mugs while getting processed. We weren't quite sure that was Jeff at first without his signature bandana/cap combo -- but yep, that's him alright. Last we checked, they were still in custody.

The details of the arrest/alleged incident haven't surfaced yet -- but in any case, it's the latest hit Jeff and co. have taken when it comes to Johnny Law ... both on the state and federal level.

5/6/2021
TIGER TAKEDOWN
TMZ.com

As you might recall ... he had a couple run-ins with law enforcement earlier in the month of May, as they steadily confiscated dozens of his big cats and other animals that he had at his zoo ... which the feds claim weren't being properly cared for or, in some cases, were malnourished, allegedly violating federal guidelines.

So, yeah ... the dude's had it rough lately, and this is just the most recent ding.

Fans of the former zoo owner might be rubbing their hands together in glee watching Jeff's proverbial fall from grace right now -- as some believe he did Joe dirty and helped land him in prison ... where JE currently remains as he continues to try and fight for his release.

Originally Published -- 11:10 AM PT

Chrissy Teigen Pulls Out of Acting Gig ... In Wake of Bullying Controversy

Chrissy Teigen has pulled out of an acting gig in the wake of criticism over past bullying.

Chrissy had planned on doing voiceovers for an upcoming Netflix show, "Never Have I Ever" Season 2 ... well according to Variety, she's decided to take a pass on the gig.

“Never Have I Ever” follows a teenage girl who's a first-generation Indian American and her days in high school.

Teigen has been on the hot seat for going after Courtney Stodden, who married a 60-year-old when they were just 16. Chrissy had sent them cruel DM's, including -- "I can't wait for you to die."

She has repeatedly apologized and said she was a different person then ... seeking attention in the wrong way. She has been off Twitter and Instagram for nearly a month.

MARCH 2021
"HYPO-CHRISSY TEIGEN"
TMZ.com

For her part, Stodden hasn't been very forgiving, calling Chrissy a hypocrite when she bowed out of Twitter for a time because of the bullying.

It's an interesting saga ... Chrissy is well-liked and very popular. The question ... will that goodwill eventually put all this behind her?

To be continued ...

Peter Berg I Ride with Netflix, But ... Let's Get Back to Movie Theaters!!!

BRING THEM BACK!
TMZ.com

Peter Berg's pumped about movie theaters finally making a pandemic comeback even though he's in business with Netflix, because as he explains ... it's good for the entire film biz.

The producer/director was heading to Gold's Gym in Venice when we got his response to the Memorial Day box office rebound thanks to "A Quiet Place Part II" ... and he seems as excited to head back to the movies as everyone else.

It might seem like Berg's biting the hand that feeds since he recently scored a first-look deal to produce and direct live-action projects for the streaming giant ... but he says that's not the case at all.

Peter points out Netflix can release movies in theaters first, and then on its platform ... and that's actually what they want. He calls it the best of both worlds.

Berg admits box office numbers might take a hit from folks who still opt to watch movies from home -- like millions did last year for his Netflix hit, "Spenser Confidential" -- but he suggests that's a small price to pay.

Oh, and as for all the hubbub about AMC stock amid the theater revival ... Peter simply says beware. And, that goes for crypto, too.

'Tiger King' Zookeeper No-Shows for DUI Sentencing ... Lands In More Hot Water

Erik Cowie, the former 'Tiger King' head zookeeper, might have gotten himself in more trouble after failing to appear for sentencing in his DUI case ... this according to law enforcement.

We’re told Cowie no-showed in court this week where he was scheduled to be sentenced after previously entering a guilty plea last month for driving under the influence.

Our sources say Cowie was likely looking at just a year probation, fines and fees and a potential alcohol education program for his sentence -- as is customary in Oklahoma for first-time DUI offenders -- but his no-show could change that.

The maximum sentence is up to a year in county jail ... and we're told that's back on the table. After Cowie failed to appear, the judge issued a bench warrant for his arrest and set his bond at $2,500.

We broke the story ... Cowie was busted after cops say he was driving drunk and crashed into another car on an interstate highway. Fortunately, nobody was hurt in the crash.

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