Danny Masterson I Need More Time in Rape Case ... Leah Remini's Meddling!!!

Danny Masterson claims Leah Remini's well-known anti-Scientology campaign is a driving force behind the accusations in his rape case, and now he's asking for more time to prepare a defense.

According to new legal docs, obtained by TMZ, the "That '70s Show" star claims Remini -- who famously left the Church of Scientology -- has been influencing the prosecution and LAPD detectives to work against him ever since he called her out for "religious bigotry" in 2016.

Masterson claims Remini began urging 3 women -- all Jane Does -- to make reports to the LAPD accusing him of sexual assault. He says Jane Doe 1 had made baseless allegations against him 12 years prior, but Jane Does 2 and 3 -- women he claims to have been romantically involved with years ago -- didn't come out with their allegations until after his spat with Remini.

According to the docs ... Masterson says Remini guided the Jane Does as they spoke with prosecutors and even engaged in "correcting" their statements by piping in during the interviews.

He also accuses the prosecution of being "starstruck" by Remini due to her high-profile crusade against Scientology and her TV career, and claims she's chummy with LAPD detectives ... even using them as her personal security.

All in all ... Masterson's alleging there is an anti-Scientology bias against him in the investigation, so he's asking the court for more time to combat it, gather more info, and prepare his defense.

As we've reported ... the actor has been charged with raping 3 women between 2001 and late 2003.

Hank Azaria Invited to Meet with Hindu Org ... Over Lingering Apu Guilt

Hank Azaria feels awful about his years-long portrayal of Apu -- but there's still a way he can get right with the Indian community which he, and others, feel has been harmed by the character.

Shereen Bhalla -- a rep for the Hindu American Foundation -- tells TMZ ... Hank doesn't have to torment himself for his work on "The Simpsons," or at least he doesn't have to do it alone. Bhalla says she and the staff at HAF would love to have a sit-down with him.

She tells us coming to the table with them would help Hank do a lot of the learning he seems very open to at this point. Shereen says they can expose him to Indian people's lived experiences, and have a dialogue about his lingering guilt.

"I APOLOGIZE FOR MY PART"
Armchair Expert

It's clear from Hank's comments on Dax Shephard's podcast that he does, indeed, have a lot of remorse about Apu ... even going so far as to say he feels the need apologize to every Indian person.

If Hank's concerned about "cancel culture" ... HAF does not want to see that happen to the veteran actor. We're told the group doesn't feel Hank needs to be excommunicated, and believes he's genuinely sorry and willing to educate himself ... which HAF would love to help him do.

As for how to proceed, there are a few options. For one, HAF is offering Hank a third-party facilitated dialogue with Indians across the nation, on or off the record ... his choice. Also, HAF has a podcast called "That's So Hindu" and would be more than happy to have him as a guest.

BTW, we're aware not all Indian people are Hindu ... or even religious for that matter. However, Apu was portrayed as a devout Hindu on the show, so it's all kosher.

DMX Prayer Vigil at Hospital 🙏

DMX's family's going to hold a prayer vigil at the New York hospital where he's still clinging to life.

The rapper's family announced the gathering will take place Monday at 5 PM ET outside of the White Plains Hospital, where on Sunday night ... staff members held a small vigil of their own.

As we reported ... DMX's fiancee and mother have both been allowed to visit him in the ICU, where he remains on life support following the heart attack he suffered during an overdose Friday night.

We're told some of his kids are also flying in to see him, and family members are holding out hope that he's going to pull through despite our sources saying he has limited brain function and it does not look good.

For now though, everyone close to DMX is simply asking for prayers.

Canadian Pastor Gives Calgary Police the heave-ho Utterly Enraged They Crashed Passover Service

A Canadian pastor quite literally exorcised the local police from his building after they apparently tried breaking up his church service over COVID rules ... and the video is wild.

Check out this clip that Artur Pawlowski posted Sunday, live from a church in Calgary ... where he seemed to be holding a service in observance of Passover, which ends the same day as Easter this year. His video picks up with him confronting several cops, along with what appears to be a municipal worker accompanying them ... and things get heated fast.

He calls them "Nazis" and part of the "Gestapo" repeatedly, telling them they're not welcome there and that if they wanna try shutting something down, to come back with a warrant.

The police and the worker appear to pushback at first, trying to explain the situation -- looks like someone might've called in to complain about the number of people inside -- but Pawlowski was having none of it ... screaming at them in a rage and giving 'em the boot.

Eventually, Calgary PD caved ... and they left the premises as Pawlowski followed them out, with his congregation in tow. He said he couldn't believe the cops would come and make a stink on the holiest of days for his religion, which appears to be some form of Christianity.

Now, some are praising Pawlowski for standing up to them ... calling him a "hero." However, others point out that if he was, indeed, breaking regulations by hosting too many people ... that's not cool. Calgary has a 15% in-person capacity limit right now for worship.

In any case, it's a mixed bag on how people feel about this. There's one thing everyone can agree on, though ... that face-off was intense. Yikes ... 😬

Justin Bieber Getting Yard Time with CA Prisoners ... First Pics of Prison Trip

The show Justin Bieber put on for a group of SoCal inmates was less about song and dance, and more about sitting and listening ... as photos of his recent prison visit reveal.

TMZ's obtained pics showing the Biebs surrounded by a big group of prisoners in the yard at the California State Prison of L.A. County. Justin and his pastor took a field trip to the correctional facility last week, but this is our first look at what went down.

In one shot you see Justin listening intently while seated outside, and in another, he appears to be praying. We're told Bieber specifically visited inmates taking part in the prison's Urban Ministry Institute ... a seminary program run by Prison Fellowship.

And, get this, JB also visited the Paws for Life K9 Rescue program, which is the first dog rehab program in a men's maximum-security prison. Inmates actually train them to become service dogs to military vets. Pretty awesome.

As we first reported ... Justin's RV was seen pulling into the prison last week where he was spreading the good word.

One other cool moment from the visit ... we're told Justin committed to personally chartering buses to help families get to remote prisons -- 10-12 hours away from SoCal -- to see loved ones behind bars.

Jon Jones Raises Hell Over Lil Nas X Satan Shoes ... They're 'Bulls***'

Add Jon Jones to the list of athletes who have a major problem with the Lil Nas X "Satan" shoes ... with the UFC superstar calling them absolute "bulls**t."

The quick background ... Lil Nas X collaborated with a company called MSCHF to produce the Satan Shoe, AKA the "blood shoes."

The kicks are essentially customized Nike Air Max 97 shoes -- with each pair featuring the pentagram symbol, a Bible verse that references Satan, and allegedly a drop of blood from one of MSCHF's employees.

There are also only 666 pairs being made -- and came with a $1,018 price tag ... a number which happens to be a not to the Bible verse Luke 10:18, which references Satan's banishment from heaven.

Enter Jon Jones -- a religious man who famously sports a "Philippians 4:13" tattoo on his chest (a bible passage that says "I can do all this through him who gives me strength").

When Jones heard about the shoes Monday evening -- he incorrectly believed Nike was involved with the sale (which it is not) and threatened to set all of his Swoosh apparel on fire as a result.

"Tomorrow morning I’m going to burn all my Nike shoes, you will never catch me in that sh*t again," Jones tweeted.

Don't worry, one of his followers quickly informed the UFC legend Nike isn't involved -- and that the company has already taken legal action to stop the sale of the shoes.

"OK, now I’m seeing there is a lawsuit," Jones added a short time later ... "Glad to know Nike isn’t behind this bulls**t."

Two other well-known athletes have spoken out against the shoe -- NBA star Nick Young and the projected 1st overall pick in the NFL Draft, Trevor Lawrence.

Lil Nas X 'Satan Shoes' Get Stamp of Approval ... From Church of Satan

The Nike lawsuit might have caught Lil Nas X by surprise, but he had to see this coming -- the Church of Satan is throwing its support behind his new limited edition "Satan Shoes."

David Harris, magister for the Church of Satan, tells TMZ ... the shoes, which feature an inverted cross, bronze pentagram and a drop of human blood, are getting a ton of love from the Church because they embrace the essence of Satanism.

For the uninitiated ... Satanists do not actually worship Satan, nor do they believe in God or the Devil. They are opposed to all spirituality and anything supernatural, and with no belief in the afterlife, Satanists emphasize being your true self, living life to the fullest and personal achievement ... values it says LNX is following with his new kicks.

Harris, who's pretty high up in the Church of Satan (kinda like a cardinal), says Satanists are digging the way Lil Nas X is turning against religion to market his customized Nike Air Max 97 shoes.

The shoe's Monday release came on the heels of Lil Nas X's polarizing "MONTERO" music vid featuring the Prince of Darkness -- a brilliant marketing plan, apparently, because all 666 pairs sold out within minutes, with folks shelling out $1,018 a pop for the limited-edition kicks. BTW, that price tag is an ode to the bible scripture emblazoned on the side, Luke 10:18, which references Satan's banishment from heaven.

Between the shoes and the "breathtaking" music vid, Harris says LNX is clearly extending a middle finger to folks who told him he'd burn in hell for his sexuality. However, the Church of Satan applauds Lil Nas X for living life on his own terms and being his honest self ... which will, no doubt, infuriate his critics even more.

As we reported, it's not just Nas' religious fans who are pissed ... Nike is suing the company he teamed with to make the Satan Shoes.

Lil Nas X Teams Up with MSCHF To Release 'Satan Shoes'

Lil Nas X is fully leaning into his new hellish aesthetic -- teaming up with an idea org to release "Satan Shoes" ... this on the heels of his polarizing music video on the same subject.

The rapper/pop star is putting out a limited release of Nike sneakers that are all about the Prince of Darkness and his kingdom ... right down to the box artwork and even the shoe design itself, which features a pentagram emblem sitting on the laces.

Check out the photos ... they're not leaving much to the imagination here.

The shoe body is a Nike Air Max '97, which MSCHF -- the company behind this campaign -- has reinvented with Nas X's new 'Montero' song and video in mind. It's got a bible scripture emblazoned on the side, Luke 10:18, which references Satan's banishment from heaven.

There's also a 666 reference toward the back of the shoe ... with another number in front of it, alluding to which limited unit it is. Word is, MSCHF/Nike are only dishing out 666 of these puppies to the public ... so if you have 6/666, that seems to mean you got the 6th model.

Here's the kicker ... apparently, these shoes will contain one drop of human blood somewhere along the soles. And no, not the metaphorical blood, sweat and tears of the factory workers who will presumably put these together ... like, actual plasma-filled red stuff.

Unclear whose blood exactly is being used for this ... but it's provocative, without a doubt.

Of course, the collab follows Nas X dropping a visual project for his track 'Montero (Call Me By Your Name)' ... which got a lot of mixed reactions this past week.

It depicts him descending into hell and cozying up to Lucifer himself ... and giving him an erotic lap dance, no less. Some loved it, saying it's a celebration of Nas X's sexuality. Others, including some parents, felt it was over the top and NSFW ... especially considering Nas X's younger audience, aka children, who came to know/love him through 'Old Town Road.'

Seems LNX is embracing the famed Jordan "f*** them kids" mantra. He's all in on H-E-double hockey sticks. The shoes will retail for over $1,000, and hit the market March 29.

H.S. Football Coach Fired For Using Anti-Semitic Play Calls ... During Game

A high school football coach in Massachusetts has just been fired ... after investigators say they confirmed he used anti-Semitic play calls during a game this month.

Officials involved in the case at Duxbury HS say head man Dave Maimaron used terms such as "Auschwitz," "rabbi" and "dreidel" to describe plays for his players in a tilt with Plymouth North on March 12.

And, after days of parents, fans and civil rights leaders calling for action ... the school finally made the move to can the coach Wednesday, blasting him for the naming of the calls.

"The fact that members of our school community used such offensive language, including anti-Semitic language, is horrifying and disappointing," Duxbury HS officials said in a statement.

Officials added they did not believe the terms were directed at players or used to insult opponents ... but said, "The outrage is real, warranted, and we hear it."

The school announced it's cancelling its game against Hingham on Friday after cutting ties with the coach. It has yet to make a decision on its future schedule past that.

For his part, Maimaron released an apology in a statement earlier this week ... saying the anti-Semitic words were "careless, unnecessary and most importantly hurtful on its face -- inexcusable."

"On behalf of the staff and players of the Duxbury High School football team," the coach added, "I want to extend my apology for the insensitive, crass and inappropriate language used in the game on March 12th."

Duxbury -- which had been playing its football season this spring after the pandemic postponed its usual fall season -- is known as one of the better football programs in MA. The school has won five state titles in the last 16 years.

It's unclear who will take over the program in the wake of Maimaron's firing.

Justin Bieber Visits L.A. Prison w/ Pastor To Spread the Word of God!!!

Justin Bieber is back in L.A. after a break in the islands, and one of his first orders of business is telling prisoners about the big man upstairs ... TMZ has learned.

The singer's RV was spotted Tuesday pulling into the California State Prison of L.A. County -- which prompted the question ... what the heck is he doing there, especially on the heels of his Turks and Caicos weekend getaway with the missus???

The answer, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, is quite simple -- the Biebs was there to spread the good word.

A rep for the CDCR tells TMZ ... the warden of the state prison signed off on a brief visit for him and his pastor to support faith-based programs. Unclear what JB exactly did -- singing or speaking the gospel -- but we're told COVID protocols were followed to a T, and it all went smoothly.

If Justin was aiming for anonymity ... he definitely chose the wrong ride. That RV of his was a dead giveaway, as he and Hailey have been seen cruising all over the Western U.S. in it.

Gotta love how he packed a vacation and important charitable work into the same week -- one day on the beach, the next preaching behind bars.

Easter 2021 Bunny Costume Sales Hopping... Preps for 'Normal' Holiday, Too Soon?

The Easter Bunny's making a comeback of sorts, and this time it doesn't just mean Spring is sprung, it's a sign Americans are getting ready to celebrate Easter like it's 2019 ... for better or worse.

The bellwether in this case -- bunny costume sales, and they're super hot with Easter less than 2 weeks away. A rep at HalloweenCostumes.com, the world's largest costume retailer, tells TMZ ... its Easter category sales are up over 75% year-to-year.

For instance, this time last year -- as the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns were beginning -- the retailer had sold just 49 bunny costumes. This year, with COVID cases flat or dropping in most places, they've sold 171 ... and expect to sell out before Easter, which is April 4.

The easy explanation for biz boomin' is two-fold -- the decrease in cases and the increase in availability of COVID-19 vaccines. Not to mention the loosening of restrictions in many states, and total lack of them in others.

What's more ... the CDC also recently said vaccinated people can visit indoors with unvaccinated people of a single household without masks or social distancing if unvaccinated people are in the low-risk category. Great news for grandma and grandpa heading into the holiday!

Important to note, though, that if no one in your family's been vaccinated, the CDC is still recommending keeping celebrations within your household, and gathering virtually with others. And, of course, outdoor gatherings, if weather permits, are most ideal.

The good news for those of you ordering those hot-selling Easter bunny costumes is ... built-in face-covering! Yes, the CDC and President Biden are still urging you to wear those.

Miami Heat Unload Meyers Leonard After Anti-Semitic Incident

3:38 PM PT -- The Miami Heat have addressed the decision to move on ... thanking Leonard for his time with the team ... as well as his efforts in educating himself in the week following the incident.

"Meyers was a key part of our team that made a run to the NBA Finals and we will always be grateful for his contributions and leadership last season," the Heat said.

"His recent comments were very hurtful and disappointing, but, we are encouraged that he has spent this last week meeting with community leaders, Rabbis and Holocaust survivors to greater understand the impact of his words and we hope that his education will continue."

Meyers Leonard's time in South Beach is over -- the Miami Heat are trading the controversial center just one week after he spewed an anti-Semitic slur on a live stream.

The Heat are shipping the 29-year-old and a 2027 2nd-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Trevor Ariza, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski ... but OKC is not expected to keep Leonard once the trade is completed.

In other words, the Thunder didn't want Leonard ... the team just used his contract to make the trade work.

As a good faith gesture to the Heat, Leonard waived his no-trade clause to help get the deal done.

Remember, Leonard was handed a one-week suspension and a $50,000 fine by the NBA after he called an opponent a "f***ing k*** bitch" during a video game sesh on March 9.

THE FOUL MOMENT
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The NBA also required Leonard to participate in a cultural diversity program as part of his punishment.

NBA commish Adam Silver condemned Leonard's remarks ... calling them "inexcusable and hurtful" ... adding, "such an offensive term has no place in the NBA or in our society."

Leonard apologized following the incident ... saying he did not know about the history of the slur, but did not want to use it as an excuse.

"I acknowledge and own my mistake and there's no running from something like this that is so hurtful to someone else."

As we previously reported, Leonard has been in touch with various Jewish groups and leaders from the community in an effort to educate himself about why the word he used is offensive and dangerous ... and we're told he's committed to continuing that work no matter what happens with his NBA career.

For now, we're told Leonard is staying in Miami to continue to train and rehab -- and continue his education with a broad range of leaders in the Jewish community.

There's a good chance Leonard doesn't play NBA ball again for a while -- he played in 3 games in 2020-21 and underwent season-ending surgery in February.

Originally published -- 12:00 PM PT

Virginia Tech Hoops Coach Trashes Jehovah's Witnesses ... Apologizes Hours Later

"We’re not playing the Jehovah’s Witness All-Star team here. We’re playing the [Florida] Gators, man."

What a stupid thing to say, right?!

Well, the man behind that idiotic quote is Virginia Tech basketball coach Mike Young ... and guess what, he's apologizing now!

Young was addressing the media during an NCAA Tournament news conference Tuesday ... when he was asked about his mindset going into the team's 1st round game against the Florida Gators.

"We’re not playing the Jehovah’s Witness all-star team here. We’re playing the Gators, man. We’re playing the Gators."

Get it ... Young's insinuating that a team full of Jehovah's Witnesses would be trash compared to the Florida Gators.

Someone wanna clue in Coach Young about Serena Williams -- perhaps the most dominant athlete on the planet ... who also happens to be a Jehovah's Witness?

Obviously, there are many examples of talented JW athletes -- but that's not the point. The point is, it was a stupid and offensive comment. And, within hours, Coach Young was apologizing.

"Earlier today on the NCAA Tournament conference call, I attempted to show my respect for our upcoming opponent, the University of Florida. Regrettably, I didn’t articulate that sentiment in an appropriate manner," Young said.

"I apologize for my insensitive remark and am sincerely sorry for anyone I may have offended."

Virginia Tech (#7 seed) is set to take on Florida (#10 seed) on Friday -- and when the season ends, Mike should probably stop bashing talented JW players and start recruiting some instead.

Elton John on Vatican Hypocritical for Gay Marriage Blessing Refusal ... You Financed 'Rocketman'!!!

3:31 PM PT -- Elton John is weighing in on the Vatican's hard stance on gay marriage, pointing out a report that cites the institution as having invested at least a million bucks into a biopic about the singer, which depicts gay sex and gay relationships in realistic terms.

EJ writes, "How can the Vatican refuse to bless gay marriages because they “are sin”, yet happily make a profit from investing millions in “Rocketman” - a film which celebrates my finding happiness from my marriage to David?? #hypocrisy"

He links to a Daily Beast article, which details another report out of Italy ... which claims to have found that a lucrative papal fund, called Peter's Pence, had been used to help finance flicks like 'Men in Black: International' and 'Rocketman' -- with a reported $3.6M for the former and about a mil for the latter.

The Vatican at the time said they were looking into it how that cash came to be spent the way it had -- before Pope Francis ordered a de facto audit.

The Catholic Church is not allowed to bless same-sex unions because God "does not and cannot bless sin" ... according to the Vatican, in a decree approved by the Pope.

The Vatican's orthodoxy office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issued the official ruling Monday in response to a question about whether or not Catholic clergy can bless gay unions.

The answer is no, because the Vatican says Catholicism teaches that marriage is a lifelong union between a man and a woman with the purpose of creating new life.

The decree seems pretty two-faced ... considering the Vatican says gay people must be treated with dignity and respect, and the church can continue to bless gay people ... as a whole.

On the flip side ... the Vatican also describes gay sex as "intrinsically disordered."

In recent years, Pope Francis has made headlines for his support of gay rights and even legal protections for same-sex couples -- but the buck clearly stops at marriage.

Originally Published -- 8:12 AM PT

'SNL' Michael Che Called Out Over Jewish Joke Critics Blast Him for Anti-Semitism

12:55 PM PT -- The Conference of Presidents -- a coalition that speaks on behalf of several Jewish orgs, including the Anti-Defamation League -- put out a strong statement against Che's joke.

They say Israel's vaccination rollout is being distributed equitably, regardless of gender, race, or religion ... and their efforts have included Palestinians living in the area too. COP goes on to say that what Che did was piling on to anti-Semitic tropes, which they find deeply troubling.

"Saturday Night Live's" Michael Che is getting dragged for what some are calling an anti-Semitic joke.

Che was at the anchor desk for "Weekend Update" Saturday night, when he quipped that half the folks in Israel have already gotten the COVID vaccine, adding, "I'm going to guess it's the Jewish half."

True enough ... Israel's faced criticism for not yet inoculating around 100,000 Palestinians who work in Israel. That said, Che did not say the Israeli half was vaccinated ... he said the Jewish half. By saying that, he made it about religion, not the government.

Fact is ... Israel is inoculating Jews, Arabs and Christians. They were slow on the uptake with Palestinians, but they're correcting that.

Twitter went crazy after Che dropped the joke, calling him out, but he has yet to address it.

Originally Published -- 12:58 PM PT

Rep. Adam Kinzinger 11 Family Members Shun Him in Letter ... Call Him Disappointment, Embarrassment

Rep. Adam Kinzinger's not only in a battle with Republicans standing behind former President Donald Trump ... he's fighting with his own family, who've accused him of joining the "devil's army."

In a rancorous letter dated Jan. 8 -- the day after Kinzinger separated himself from his party by calling for the 25th Amendment to be used to remove Trump from office for his role in inciting the Capitol riots -- 11 of the Congressman's family members call him a disappointment "to us and to God" ... accuse him of being brainwashed, and supporting abortion and socialism, which they label "the ultimate sin."

The letter was penned by Kinzinger's cousin, Karen Otto, who according to The New York Times ... sent it certified mail to Rep. Kinzinger's dad to make sure he read it. It was signed by her husband Greg along with 9 other family members, but Karen claims in the letter ... there are more who feel the same way.

Along with calling Kinzinger an embarrassment and saying they are "truly disgusted" by him, the family seems to most offended he went against President Trump ... who they say is not perfect, but claim he is a Christian believer. They say they don't like his "horrible, rude accusations of President Trump!"

The irony in the letter is the line -- "It is not for us to judge or be judged!"

2/1/21
FIGHT FOR THE PARTY
TMZ.com

Rep. Kinzinger told TMZ earlier this month he's leading the push to reclaim the GOP, and get away from the radical, conspiracy-driven beliefs that have been promoted by Trump.

He's one of just a few House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, as well as strip Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from her committee posts.

1/7/21
IT'S TIME, AMERICA
@RepKinzinger / Twitter

Kinzinger's on record saying he's willing to lose his job to do what he's doing because he believes it's right, and clearly ... a letter from his family isn't stopping him.

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