Juice WRLD Police Racial Profiling Suspected

Exclusive
Getty

The fact cops were all over Juice WRLD multiple times -- including an NYC bust last year -- pisses off his friends, who think cops were merely profiling a 20-year-old rich black man who dares to fly on private jets.

Sources who regularly interacted with Juice and were close to him tell TMZ ... all of the run-ins he had with cops are more than suspicious. The fact feds just happened to show up at multiple airports where he and/or his private jet were searched is enough for Juice's inner circle to believe this might well have something to do with race and rappers.

Law enforcement sources tell TMZ ... Juice got arrested in 2018 at NYC's La Guardia Airport after officers responded to a call for "prohibited items" found inside one of his checked bags. We're told the items included a small amount of marijuana and bottles of codeine cough syrup.

Juice WRLD Running the Table on Music Charts ... Tunes Soar on the Big 3

Exclusive
Getty

Juice WRLD's death resonated with the fans everywhere, but his music might be having an even bigger impact right now ... because it's flooding almost every chart imaginable.

The rapper is running the board on digital platforms in the wake of his death Sunday in Chicago ... with several of JW's songs and albums claiming top spots on Amazon, Apple and Spotify -- seeing exponential surges of several thousand percentage points, in some cases.

Let's start with Amazon's Movers and Shakers list ... where Juice's single, "Legends," has risen in the ranks by a whopping 84,954% to reach #1 in just a couple days. Two of his other tracks -- "Lucid Dreams," both the explicit and clean versions -- are sitting at #2 and #3.

For albums, Juice's "Death Race For Love" and "Goodbye & Good Riddance" also claim the top 3 spots on Amazon's CDs and Vinyl list. In short, folks are swooping up his content.

On the Apple side of things, Juice WRLD is also toppling some of the hottest names in the game this past week -- including Roddy Ricch, The Weeknd, DaBaby and Trippie Redd. On the service's Top 100 songs chart, Juice claims 8 spots ... including #1, #2, #5 and #6.

And, if you thought your 2019 Spotify Wrapped list was set, it might just change this week based on how dominant Juice has been there too ... he's got 9 spots locked in alone.

Juice's Top 10 tracks on Spotify have also been getting tons of love (and plays) -- we're talking hundreds of thousands, especially "Lucid Dreams," which got streamed over 990k times since Sunday. Of course, Juice is no stranger to chart success -- 7 of his songs have made on Billboard, and 3 cracked the Top 10. He'll probably be up there again next week.

TMZ broke the story ... Juice suffered a fatal seizure early Sunday morning at Chicago's Midway Airport. Federal agents were there waiting for him and his entourage, and after conducting a search ... found tons of weed and a few guns on board.

We're told at some point in the search, Juice was seen ingesting multiple pills believed to be Percocet. Juice suffered a seizure shortly thereafter and died soon after that.

He was 21.

RIP

Juice WRLD Cops Say He Swallowed Percs ... Tried to Hide 'em from Feds

Exclusive Details
TMZ.com

Juice WRLD might've made a fatal decision as law enforcement searched his private jet -- swallowing a bunch of painkillers in an attempt to hide them from the feds.

Law enforcement sources tell TMZ ... the pilot who was flying Juice's private plane alerted authorities on the ground that the rapper's entourage had guns on them -- a big no-no in air travel. When they landed, FBI and FAA agents were waiting for Juice and company.

DISPATCH AUDIO

We're told at some point between the plane landing and the feds conducting their search ... Juice was seen swallowing several Percocet pills in what people believed was an attempt to hide them. Our sources say the pills might've contributed to his death in a possible OD.

An autopsy was performed on the rapper Monday, but additional testing, including toxicology, cardiac pathology and neuropathology is still needed before determining an official cause.

'Benson' & 'Star Trek' Actor Rene Auberjonois Dead at 79 ... Son Cites Lung Cancer

Breaking News
Getty

Rene Auberjonois -- who starred in "Benson," "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" and several other hit shows over the decades -- has died.

The veteran TV, movie and voice actor passed away Sunday at his L.A.-based home after a battle with metastatic lung cancer, according to his son, Remy, who spoke to the Associated Press.

Auberjonois is perhaps best known as Clayton Endicott III on "Benson" -- the snobbish chief of staff to Governor Eugene X Gatling in the hit '80s sitcom -- which itself was a spinoff of "Soap." He played the role for 6 seasons, acting in 135 episodes through 1986.

In the '90s, he went on to play Odo on 'Deep Space Nine' opposite Avery Brooks -- starring in all 173 episodes. His TV career was even more prolific beyond that though -- Auberjonois had supporting roles in hits like "NET Playhouse," "Rhoda," "Charlie's Angels," "Frasier," "Starsky and Hutch" "The Jeffersons," "L.A. Law," "Matlock," "Boston Legal," "Madam Secretary" and many, many more.

As far as movies are concerned, he might be best remembered as Father John Mulcahy in "M.A.S.H." ... and for voicing Chef Louis in "The Little Mermaid." He acted in plenty of others too -- 'Police Academy 5," "King Kong," "The Patriot," "Eyes of Laura Mars," "Batman Forever," etc.

The guy might've been an even busier voice actor, having lent his talents to animated series like "Jonny Quest," "Pound Puppies," "The Looney Tunes Show," "Scooby-Doo," "Archer," "Justice League" and a bunch of others. In short, he worked a lot ... and had an extensive resume.

Auberjonois is survived by his wife, Judith, his 2 children and three grandchildren. He was 79.

RIP

Big Bird Puppeteer Caroll Spinney Dead at 85 ... 'Sesame' Resident Since '69

Breaking News
Getty

Caroll Spinney -- the guy who manned Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on "Sesame Street" for nearly half a century -- has died.

Spinney passed away Sunday at his Connecticut home after living with Dystonia for a while, according to Sesame Workshop ... the nonprofit org behind the hit children's television show. Dystonia is a movement disorder in which a person's muscles contract uncontrollably.

Incredibly, the longtime puppeteer worked on the show for 49 years ... and retired from 'Sesame' just last year. He had been on the show since its early days in 1969. Besides being the man behind Big Bird, Spinney also handled and voiced Oscar the Grouch.

The legendary Jim Henson brought Spinney on-board, and by most accounts ... he struggled bringing Big Bird to life at first and having him resonate with the audience. Eventually, Spinney said he turned BB into a "big kid" character -- and the rest was history.

Getty

He starred in thousands of "Sesame Street" episodes -- more than any other cast member -- and it was certainly no walk in the park controlling the 8-foot bird costume. Spinney said he would have to hold the 5-pound head up with his right hand and work the mouth and eyebrows on that end ... while controlling both arms with just his own left one.

There was a fishing wire that connected both extremities inside the suit, and Spinney would operate both by using just his left side. Oscar, no doubt, was much easier to work.

He's survived by his wife, Debra, and his three children. Spinney was 85.

RIP

Casey Kasem Wrongful Death Suit Settled ... Family Rift Remains

Exclusive
TMZ/Getty

The legal battle between Casey Kasem's children and his widow, Jean Kasem, is finally over -- they've reached a settlement, but not everyone in the family's happy.

Casey's children filed docs requesting dismissal of their wrongful death suit against Jean. The court's signed off on the dismissal this week -- and a source connected to Casey's daughter, Kerri Kasem, tells us both sides agreed on a settlement.

However, we're told Kerri's upset about how it all came to an end. We're told she's "distraught and heartbroken" because she feels her sister and brother and 2 attorneys forced the settlement on her.

You'll recall ... Kerri, Julie and Mike Kasem sued Jean back in 2015, claiming she'd caused their father's death as a result of allegedly blocking him from seeing his kids before he passed. They also claimed she'd been abusing him while he suffered from dementia.

The children were accused of conspiring to kill him, but they were ultimately cleared of that ... with authorities calling BS.

Jean herself also dodged criminal charges for the same allegation, but the kids went after her in civil court ... and the case had dragged on for the past 4 years.

Casey -- the legendary radio DJ -- died in June 2014 from a combination of sepsis, UTI and a staph infection ... something the children claimed was exacerbated by an unattended bedsore Jean allegedly neglected.

John Singleton Daughter Granted Monthly Allowance A Couple Thou & Then Some

Exclusive
TMZ/Getty

John Singleton's daughter will be taken care of for now in the wake of her father's passing ... while his estate figures out how to distribute his multi-million dollar fortune.

21-year-old Cleopatra Singleton -- one of the late filmmaker's seven children -- just got what she'd asked for a couple months ago ... a monthly allowance of nearly $3,000, plus a one-time payment to cover her semester abroad. A judge signed off on it just this week.

Per the order, Cleopatra will receive $2,778 a month -- as well as a one-time payout of $4,150. It's exactly what she'd requested back in September, arguing that her father had taken care of her finances while he was alive ... and she needs the dough to hold her over.

As we reported ... John's estate is estimated to be worth upwards of $35 million, which still needs to be divvied up. The estate also recently came up on an extra $500k or so.

TMZ broke the story ... John died in April after suffering a massive stroke. His mother, Shelia Ward, was put in charge of his estate.

Worth noting ... Sheila and Cleopatra have been at odds recently, so it's good to see they could come to terms on this issue.

Auburn Football Legend Pat Sullivan Dead at 69 ... Family Cites Cancer Battle

Breaking News
Getty

Sad news in the college football world ... Pat Sullivan -- Auburn's first Heisman winner ever -- has died, according to his family.

The university released a statement Sunday, confirming the news on behalf of Pat's family. They say he died peacefully Sunday surrounded by loved ones. The fam goes on to say, "He was diagnosed with cancer in 2003 and fought a long and difficult battle as a result of his treatments. The family is appreciative of everyone's outpouring of love and support."

Sullivan played quarterback for the Tigers between 1968 and 1971, going on to win the coveted Heisman in his final year. He threw for over 2,200 yards in '71 -- scoring 21 touchdowns and rushing for 66 yards. He went out with Auburn going 9-2.

His jersey number -- No. 7 -- was retired at the school, and he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1991. He went on to be drafted by the Atlanta Falcons, playing in the NFL for five seasons between the Falcons and the Redskins. He retired from football in 1976.

Years later, in 1986, he came back to Auburn to serve as their QB coach for a few years, before going to take on the role as head coach at TCU. He had a long career working in college football ... and eventually bowed out completely in 2014.

Pat was 69.

RIP

Pink Taco Founder Harry Morton Dead at 38 ... Ex Lindsay Lohan Responds

3:47 PM PT -- Harry Morton's ex-girlfriend, Lindsay Lohan, just commented on Harry's death, posting a photo of the two of them from back in the day and writing ... "Best friends. Best life."

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

Harry and Lindsay dated briefly in 2006, for about three months or so.

1:48 PM PT -- A spokesman for Pink Taco tells TMZ ... "We are saddened by the passing of Harry Morton, the founder and former owner of Pink Taco. Harry was a visionary and restaurateur ahead of his time, and his contributions, both professionally to our brand and personally to those he worked with, were numerous. Our thoughts and condolences are with his family and friends during this difficult time."

Harry Morton -- the business tycoon and son of Peter Morton -- has died ... TMZ has learned.

Law enforcement sources tell us that Harry was found unresponsive Saturday afternoon at his Beverly Hills home by a family member. Paramedics were called, but we're told Harry was pronounced dead at the scene and was then transported to the coroner's office -- where an autopsy is pending. Our sources say no foul play is suspected at this point.

Harry is perhaps best known as the founder of the Pink Taco restaurant chain, which blossomed on the Sunset Strip in L.A. but has since expanded to other cities across the U.S. He is also part of a very famous family of restaurateurs. His grandfather, Arnie, cofounded the incredibly popular Morton's The Steakhouse chain in 1978, and his dad, Peter, cofounded the Hard Rock Cafe empire in 1971. Harry worked at HRC for years, and later headed up the business's development wing.

He founded Pink Taco in 1999 when he was just 18. He's also the owner of the Hollywood nightclub the Viper Room -- where Joaquin Phoenix's brother, River Phoenix, died of a drug overdose in 1993. Harry bought it in 2008 -- it appears he still owns it to this day.

Harry recently made headlines for buying Elvis Presley's former Bev Hills estate the singer bought the year he married Priscilla Presley. We're told that Harry did not die there though -- he was found at a separate Beverly Hills residence of his.

It should also be noted that Harry was a volunteer sheriff's deputy in and around L.A. -- specifically, with the West Hollywood Sheriff's Station, where he was recently honored as a Reserve Detective of the Year. The station says he had dedicated hundreds of hours a year in support of the station's Detective Bureau. In other words, he was big on giving back.

Harry dated Lindsay Lohan back in the 2000s. He's also been linked to Demi Moore after her breakup from Ashton Kutcher, as well as Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Jennifer Aniston and Hayden Panettiere. It doesn't appear he's been married or has any kids of his own.

His half-sister, model/bounty hunter Domino Harvey, died of a drug overdose in 2005. Both of his parents -- Peter Morton and Paulene Stone -- are still alive today.

Harry was 38.

RIP

Originally Published -- 10:33 AM PT

Cincinnati Zoo Giraffe Dies After Hoof Procedure ... Suffered Chronic Lameness

Cincinatti Zoo

A giraffe at the Cincinnati Zoo has died after what appears to be a bad reaction to a recent surgery done on its hooves ... which was supposed to mitigate a major health issue.

The zoo says that the male giraffe, named Kimba, passed away Sunday after it had collapsed to the ground early that morning in the zoo's giraffe barn -- where the staff had been monitoring a pregnant female giraffe who's supposed to go into labor any day now.

Cincinatti Zoo

It's unclear how exactly the giraffe ended up dying -- the Cincinnati Zoo says they're awaiting the results of a necropsy to learn more about what exactly happened -- but they note that Kimba had been dealing with complications from a surgery he had done on his hooves last week. The photo above shows Kimba getting that work done by a team of specialists.

The surgery was meant to help Kimba fight off chronic lameness in his legs -- something the zoo says he'd been experiencing since last summer ... which was causing mobility issues.

The surgery was basically a hoof trim, and based on what the doc told them ... it was supposed to make him "sound" again -- but unfortunately, it sounds like it didn't take. Kimba was 12 years old, and had sired 6 calves, including a 7th on the way now.

Cincinnati Zoo

Of course, this is the same place where Harambe the gorilla was shot and killed a few years ago after a child fell into his cage and got dragged around by the animal.

Sad news all around.

Snoop Dogg's Pal Rapper Bad Azz Dies in Jail at 43 ... No Foul Play Suspected

Exclusive Details

6:08 AM PT -- 11/13 -- Cops say guards were conducting a security check when they noticed Bad Azz in need of medical assistance. Medical staff attempted to perform lifesaving measures, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Law enforcement sources say there are no signs of foul play, and their investigation remains ongoing. The cause of death will be determined by the coroner.

Rapper Bad Azz -- one of Snoop Dogg's close friends in the game -- has died in jail.

Bad Azz appears to have passed away Monday while being held in custody at a detention center in Riverside, CA on a domestic violence charge. It's unclear how he may have died, but the guy was picked up Friday and had an upcoming court date Tuesday.

His bail was set at just $10,000, and based on jail records ... it doesn't look he'd bailed out.

The west coast MC was an affiliate of Snoop's, Daz Dillinger, Kurupt, Warren G, Nate Dogg and others associated with Tha Dogg Pound Gangsta Crips based out of Long Beach.

He'd collaborated with all of those guys, plus Tupac (when he was alive) as well as MC Eiht, Mistah F.A.B., Bizzy Bone, The Lady of Rage, Ice Cube, Busta Rhymes and others. He put out four solo albums and was featured on at least 2 collaborative albums.

His DPGC buddies posted tons of tributes on social media -- seeming to confirm his death -- including an Instagram post by Snoop who wrote ... "Damn 😥. R. I. P. To my young. D. P. G. L. L. G. L. B. C. Crew original @badazzlbc gone 2 soon."

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

One of his most famous tracks was "Wrong Idea," which featured SD. He had well over 70 features credited to his name over the years, dating back to the mid-90s.

Bad Azz was 43.

RIP

Originally Published -- 11/12 6:25 AM PT

Whitney Houston BFF Robyn Crawford Opens Up on Love Affair

Breaking News
Getty

Whitney Houston's longtime pal, Robyn Crawford, is now saying what everyone in Whitney's world knew ... she had a physical relationship with the singer.

Robyn -- who made the revelation in her new book, "A Song for You: My Life with Whitney Houston" -- says she met a then 16-year-old Houston in 1980 at a summer camp, and that their friendship quickly turned physical and romantic.

We were lovers
NBC News

Robyn told NBC News in a new interview ... it started with a kiss, and then eventually went on to sleeping together. Robyn says it wasn't planned -- it's just something that happened.

Over the next 2 years ... Robyn explains Whitney told her they had to stop seeing each other, as she felt it would sink her music career. On top of that, Robyn says there was family pressure.

Here's what's crazy ... Robyn says Whitney wanted to keep things on the down-low, yet people we've spoken with who were close to the singer say she often flaunted her relationship with Robyn in public. One source says he saw them at the Crillon Hotel in Paris, and they were full-on making out in the lobby, with numerous people watching.

Shutterstock Premier

Robyn goes on to say, in the interview airing Saturday on Dateline, Whitney told her that her own mother -- a gospel singer -- had issues with them being together, saying it wasn't natural.

Whitney married Bobby Brown and had one child with him -- Bobbi Kristina Brown. Whitney died in 2012, and her daughter passed a few years later. As you know, they both eerily died in a bathtub and drugs were involved.

With her book, Robyn says she hopes to shed more light on who Whitney truly was. She'll be live on 'Today' November 11 ... the day before her book comes out.

Jennifer Hudson Kisses Marlon Wayans In 1st Look as Aretha Franklin

PASSION ON THE SET
BACKGRID

Jennifer Hudson is ready for her close-up as the Queen of Soul herself -- 'cause she's already in character and filming -- as is her onscreen husband, Marlon Wayans.

The Oscar-winning actress and Grammy-winning singer was spotted on set Sunday in NYC, where she was in costume as a young Aretha Franklin for the upcoming biopic about the music icon called 'Respect.' Marlon plays her first hubby and ex-manager, Ted White.

In this scene -- which is supposedly set in Harlem during the mid-60s -- you can see Marlon talking to a group of prostitutes, before collecting money and roughing one up a bit. Jennifer (as Aretha) looks on from a waiting car, and when Marlon gets back in ... they share a passionate kiss. Gotta say ... the production value seems to be pretty high here.

A CELEBRATION OF LIFE

BTW, Jennifer was reportedly hand-picked by Aretha before her death in 2018. She probably couldn't have chosen a better person to play her in a movie. Jen's got the chops on both ends to pull it off -- and so far, she certainly has the early Aretha look down.

And, while Marlon usually plays the funny guy, he comes off as menacing and serious here. That jives with the real-life Ted, who's remembered as a notorious Detroit pimp ... who allegedly abused Aretha before they finally parted ways in 1969.

Should be a good  one ... the flick's set to drop next summer.

Walter Mercado Dead at 87

Breaking News
Getty

Walter Mercado -- a Spanish TV icon who served as an eccentric astrologist with his own syndicated segments -- has died.

Mercado passed away late Saturday at a hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico due to kidney failure, according to the facility's spokesperson, Sofia Luquis, who told AP. It's unclear how long he'd been hospitalized there and what exact ailment he'd been battling.

Nonetheless, a major loss in the Spanish community -- as Mercado was a staple in many Latino homes through the '80s, '90s and onward. He got his start on TV in his native land of Puerto Rico, establishing himself with daily horoscopes, advice and predictions.

Eventually, he got his own show on Univision, where he had a home for years before parting ways in 2010 and moving on to other Spanish networks. He was known for his lavish outfits, which often included robes, capes, jewelry, makeup and other extravagant accessories.

While he never came out and announced his sexual preferences, Mercado was a bit of a hero in the LGBTQ community ... with many viewing him as a trend-setter on Spanish TV, which had often leaned more conservative. He had no children,  and no known partners.

In 2012, Mercado was rushed to a Cleveland area hospital for cardiac problems -- after which, he claimed he'd seen death ...  wanting to devote himself to philanthropic causes.

Mercado had a known catchphrase he'd always end his horoscope segments with. It went like ... "Que reciban de mi siempre pas, mucha pas. Pero sobre todo, mucho, mucho, mucho amor." It translates to, "May you always receive peace from me, but above all else ... lots and lots of love."

He was 87. RIP

Actor Brian Tarantina Dead at 60 ... Rep Cites Illness

Exclusive
Getty

5:20 PM PT -- Brian's rep, Laurie Smith, tells TMZ that she believes the actor died from complications due to a recent illness. Smith says Brian had been very sick for the past few months and was in upstate NY for about a month being treated for a possible heart issue.

Smith adds ... Brian was recently released from the hospital, but after speaking to him a couple days ago,  she says she learned he suffered another setback. Because of this, she believes his death is tied to his ailing health.

Brian Tarantina has died ... TMZ has learned.

Law enforcement sources tell us that the veteran actor was found dead early Saturday morning in his Manhattan apartment from what we're told appeared to be a fatal drug overdose to the officers and first-responders who came out.

Our sources say Brian's niece went to check in on him at his Hell's Kitchen residence at around 12:30 AM, and discovered her uncle unresponsive on the couch. We're told the niece told cops she'd last talked to him late Tuesday night. Upon finding him, she called 911, and we're told when officers and paramedics arrived ... they found a white powdery substance near his body, believed to be alleged narcotics. He was pronounced dead on the scene.

It's unclear at this point what the white substance might've been. We're told the NYC medical examiner's office will conduct an autopsy to determine an official cause of death.

Brian has been working in the biz for a long time, often playing supporting characters through the '80s and '90s, and even into the 2000s and onward. He's perhaps best known for tough guy roles in flicks like "Jacob's Ladder," "Uncle Buck," "The Jerky Boys," "Summer of Sam," "Knight and Day," "Carlito's Way," "Donnie Brasco," "City By the Sea" and others.

He's got a much more extensive resume than that though. The guy's been in tons of stuff over the years ... shows like "Law & Order," "Miami Vice," "Spin City," "Oz," "NYPD Blue," "ER," "The Sopranos," "Gilmore Girls," "Heroes," "The Black Donnellys," "The Blacklist," "Madame Secretary," "Blue Bloods" and most recently in "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" playing Jackie.

He was 60 years old.

RIP

Originally Published -- 11:18 AM PT

John Singleton Estate Settles Old 'Baby Boy' Audit ... For Over $500k!!!

Exclusive
TMZ.com

John Singleton's estate and the fortune it claims is aboutta get little more flush -- because the studio that distributed one of his biggest films is ponying up some belated cash.

According to court docs, obtained by TMZ, Sony Pictures has agreed to fork over a little more than half a mil to the late director's film company, New Deal Productions. The money -- $515,472 -- is tied to John's 2001 flick, "Baby Boy." Unleash the behind-the-door Rodney memes!!!

In case you haven't seen it, 'BB' stars Tyrese Gibson, Taraji P. Henson, Ving Rhames ... and, of course, Snoop Dogg playing a gangster who's out to square things with Tyrese's character, Jody, who's got a kid with Taraji's character, but still lives at home with his mom.

It made $29.3 million in the U.S. box office, with a budget of around $16 mil. Sony and its subsidiary, TriStar Pictures, were the primary distributors.

Based on the docs, it appears John had requested a formal audit for money the film made a while back, and now in wake of his death ... Sony is settling up with this dough. The company says the settlement was agreed to prior to John's death in April.

That's definitely a nice bonus to John's net worth, which could reportedly be as high as $35 million. The money's still gotta be divvied up, per the terms of his will, but more money's never a bad thing.