Howard University Rolling Out Chadwick-Inspired Masterclass

Chadwick Boseman wanted to get Howard University students up to speed on the entertainment biz early and often, which is why he came up with a great idea for his alma mater ... one it's now bringing to fruition.

HU Prez Wayne Frederick tells TMZ ... the university is going to be rolling out a masterclass template for the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts that's actually inspired by the man himself -- who presented his concept to head honchos before he passed away last year.

Here's how it'll work ... students enrolled in the fine arts college are going to be introduced to a tweaked curriculum in the near future, which will help them get familiar with their specific fields of study. We're told they'll be working with pros, currently working in the industry, who can share real-life experiences.

Now, Howard has always had professionals come by for guest lectures -- including famous alums -- and they already have a great mentorship program too. But, Fredrick says the masterclass is going to be more structured ... weaving the guests into day-to-day learning and coursework on campus.

Frederick tells us Chadwick wanted to help spearhead the program -- he actually signed paperwork to get it started -- and would've likely been very hands-on, if he were still alive.

Frederick says there's no question that CB's own experience at HU is a big part of what made him pitch this in the first place ... including the memorable tale of Denzel Washington once paying for Chadwick's tuition back in the day.

We're told, Phylicia Rashad -- who was just named the new Dean of the fine arts college -- will help shepherd the new masterclass, so it's still in good hands.

COVID in India Body Dumped in River, 2 Arrested ... Post-Virus Death

A body was dumped over a bridge into the water below in northern India -- an unthinkable act that 2 people have been arrested for ... but also, a testament to the siege the country is under during a second wave of COVID-19.

This wild video surfaced over the weekend, which purportedly shows two guys chucking a cadaver into the Rapti River somewhere in Balrampur ... which sits in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Local reports say police have identified the men and arrested them.

In the clip, you see the two people here struggling with what appears to be someone in a body bag ... hoisting them up onto the ledge, and then opening whatever enclosure they're in to unleash what's inside. One of the guys doing the deed is covered in full PPE.

According to India Today, a chief medical officer ID'd the body ... reportedly saying they'd been admitted to a hospital on May 25 after testing positive for COVID, only to die a few days later. The hospital released the body to the man's family for cremation, whom officials now claim are the ones behind him being disposed of in morbid fashion.

Bodies along river banks are sadly becoming a regular thing throughout India lately -- as they continue to battle rising COVID cases and deaths during a crippling second wave that has devastated citizens there. Mass burial sites have been formed in and around the Ganga River of late, with scores of dead people being lined up ... and in some cases, burned at a pyre.

While we seem to be turning a corner here in the States, this is a good reminder that many around the world are not faring well against the virus, even at this point.

'Tarzan: The Epic Adventures' Star Joe Lara Dead at 58 Plane Crashes in TN Lake

Joe Lara -- the star of "Tarzan: The Epic Adventures" -- has died after a small plane he, his wife and a few others were on crashed into a lake this weekend.

The private jet -- said to be a Cessna 501 -- took off Saturday from Smyrna Airport, just outside of Nashville, and was reportedly headed toward Palm Beach, FL ... but somehow plunged into Percy Priest Lake not too long after takeoff.

Fire and other rescue crews were dispatched to the scene -- but, after an all-night operation -- authorities say the passengers were found to be deceased ... and their families were notified. An investigation is underway to determine what might've caused the crash.

Lara was one of seven people who were killed. The others are his spouse -- Christian diet guru Gwen Lara -- Jennifer J. Martin, David L. Martin, Jessica Walters, Jonathan Walters, and Brandon Hannah, all of whom are locals and reported to be part of the same church.

JL is famous from his TV days, when he played the king of the jungle between 1996 and 2000 ... starring as Tarzan for a total of 22 episodes, including a TV movie that came out years prior called "Tarzan in Manhattan" -- which catapulted him into the role.

He'd been in other action/fantasy projects over the years -- including "Steel Frontier," "Sunset Heat," "Gunsmoke: The Last Apache," "American Cyborg: Steel Warrior" "The Magnificent Seven," "Baywatch" and "Tropical Heat," among several others. Lara had 28 acting credits to his name.

Lara married Gwen Shamblin in 2018 -- who's famous for founding the Remnant Fellowship Church as well as the Weigh Down Workshop ... a weight loss program that was big in the '80s and '90s among churchgoers and others.

Gwen and Joe leave behind three children. He was 58 and she was 66.


Moto3 Rider Jason Dupasquier Dead at 19 ... After Fatal Crash

Jason Dupasquier, a 19-year-old Swiss Moto3 rider, died after a terrible accident during a qualifying session for the Italian Grand Prix.

Dupasquier and several other riders crashed into each other between turns 9 and 10. The accident was horrifying, as riders flew off their bikes with the momentum propelling one of them a long distance. EMTs immediately descended on the scene.

Officials explained, "FIM Medical Intervention Vehicles arrived at the site immediately and the Swiss rider was attended to on track before being transferred by medical helicopter, in a stable state, to Careggi Hospital in Florence."

The statement goes on ... "Despite the best efforts of circuit medical staff and all those subsequently attending to the Swiss rider, the hospital has announced that Dupasquier has sadly succumbed to his injuries."

Dupasquier was ranked 12th in the standing.

He was 19.


B.J. Thomas 'Hooked On a Feeling' ... Dead at 78

B.J. Thomas -- the famous crooner behind hits like "Hooked on a Feeling" -- has died.

The singer's management team announced Saturday that Thomas had passed away of complications from stage 4 lung cancer ... which he'd been diagnosed with in March. He'd been receiving treatment at a Texas hospital, and was hopeful for a recovery.

It's reported Thomas died at his home in Arlington.

BJT is perhaps best known for singing the classic "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head" -- which was featured in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" -- winning an Academy Award for Best Original Song and nominated for a Grammy in 1970 for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.

Even before that, he had hit the charts with major success with his love song for the ages ... performing "Hooked on a Feeling," which garnered him mainstream success and going on to sell over a million records. He's also remembered for a famous cover of "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" -- not to mention for singing the theme song to 'Growing Pains' ... 'As Long As We Got Each Other.'

'Hooked' went on to be covered over and over again as the years went on -- and it became a staple for Valentine's Day ... serving as the song stuffed animals would sing when you pressed a button. The band Blue Swede did the most famous cover -- and the tune was even featured on "Guardians of the Galaxy" ... included in Star-Lord's throwback playlist.

Thomas went on to have more success with songs like "Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song," "Rock and Roll Lullaby," "I Just Can't Help Believing," "Don't Worry Baby," "Whatever Happened to Old-Fashioned Love" ... as well as several gospel albums such as "Home Where I Belong."

He's survived by his wife Gloria Richardson and his three children. Thomas was 78.


Gavin MacLeod 'Love Boat,' 'MTM Show' ... Dead at 90

Gavin MacLeod -- a veteran TV actor, famous for roles on "The Love Boat" and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" -- has died ... TMZ has learned.

MacLeod passed away overnight early Saturday morning at his home in Palm Desert, CA -- where he was surrounded by loved ones and caretakers ... this according to Gavin's nephew, Mark See. We're told he'd been in and out of the hospital these last few months with varying illnesses -- and it's unclear what exactly might've caused his death in the end.

That said, See tells us it was not COVID-related. MacLeod's ex-wife, Joan Devore, confirmed all of those details, except for the location of his death.

The guy is perhaps best known for playing Murray Slaughter on 'TMTS' -- in which he played the head writer of the fictional TV station that Mary worked at. He was a main character on the series ... appearing in all 168 episodes over seven years, opposite the lead actress.

MacLeod is also just as famous for portraying Captain Merrill Stubing on "The Love Boat" for a decade ... appearing in 250 episodes, plus spin-off made-for-TV movies from the franchise.

His TV career was pretty much second to none -- the guy had roles on hit shows like "Hawaii Five-O," "Hogan's Heroes," "Perry Mason," "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.," "McHale's Navy," "The Untouchables," "Peter Gunn," "Cain's Hundred," "The Andy Griffith Show," "My Favorite Martian," "The Big Valley," "It Takes a Thief," "Charlie's Angels," "Scruples," "Murder, She Wrote," "Oz," "JAG," "That '70s Show," "Touched By An Angel" ... and dozens more over his 7-decade career.

MacLeod was a familiar face on late night shows, talk shows, game shows, variety programs and TV specials in his heyday -- having made memorable appearances on "The Dick Van Dyke Show," "The Merv Griffin Show," "Dinah!," "The Jim Stafford Show," "Tattletales," "Celebrity Sweepstakes," "Celebrity Bowling," "Hollywood Squares," "The Mike Douglas Show," "Donny and Marie," "All-Star Family Feud," "Late Show," "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" ... and others.

GML was also a devout Christian ... and appeared in several Christian-themed shows and movies over the years -- this on top of other activism he had partaken in throughout his life.

MacLeod has over 100 acting credits to his name -- and is probably one of the most prolific actors from the 20th century. He's survived by his wife of several years, Patti, their four children and grandkids.

He was 90 years old.


Juice WRLD Estate Sued He Jacked My Beat!!! On 'Scared of Love'

Juice WRLD ripped off another musician's beat and tried to pass it off as his own ... this according to a new lawsuit against the rapper's estate.

According to the lawsuit, obtained by TMZ, a guy with the stage name Ghost Loft claims he made a song called "So High" way back in 2013, only for Juice WRLD to rip off 16 bars for his song "Scared of Love" on JW's 2018 album "Goodbye & Good Riddance."

In the docs, Ghost Loft claims Juice WRLD and Mitch Mula are the only credited writers on 'Scared,' even though he says Mula later admitted to sampling his beat, and he says 'Scared' wouldn't exist without him.

Ghost Loft is suing Juice WRLD's mother and executor of his estate, Carmella Wallace, as well as Mula, Universal Music Group and Interscope ... and he's going after them for damages, an injunction prohibiting Juice's estate from profiting off the song and a writing credit.

TMZ broke the story ... Juice WRLD died in December 2019 at Chicago's Midway airport, the result of an accidental overdose of oxycodone.

We reached out to UMG ... so far, radio silence.

Prince Harry Cops Urgently Tried to Wake Harry ... With News of Prince Philip's Death

Prince Harry got a phone call recently with some tragic news, but he never answered the phone and cops ended up at his door.

Law enforcement sources tell TMZ ... back on April 9, someone from the U.S. Embassy began calling Harry just before 3 AM to inform him his grandfather, Prince Philip, had died.

It's unclear if Harry's ringer was turned off or whether he and Meghan were just sound sleepers, but no one answered. After repeated attempts, the Embassy rep called the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Dept. and asked if an officer could go to Harry's Montecito estate to inform him the Embassy was urgently trying to reach him.

The Sheriff's Dept. obliged and an officer rolled up to the gates of Harry and Meghan's estate and made contact with someone who went and told Harry he needed to call the Embassy STAT, and that's how Harry was informed Prince Philip had died.

As you know ... Prince Philip died the morning of April 9 at Windsor Castle in England, which is 8 time zones ahead of California.

There's some interesting subtext to this story ... the Royals are extremely upset that Harry and Meghan have gone public with their grievances over their treatment by the Royal Family, including allegations of racism. You gotta think they did not want Harry to learn of Philip's death through the media ... it would make the Royals look kinda heartless, so the scramble to get to Harry ahead of the death announcement is understandable.

Harry traveled back to Britain to see the Duke of Edinburgh laid to rest.

Harambe 5-Year Anniversary of Tragic Death ... NFT Photo Honoring Him

Harambe the gorilla has been dead for exactly 5 years, and the interest in his life and death has not subsided a bit.

A photo of the beloved ape is being auctioned off as an NFT as a way of memorializing his passing.

Harambe was killed after a child entered his enclosure and he began dragging the child around. The Cincinnati Zoo's Dangerous Animal Response Team decided there was a life-threatening situation they had to abate and shot him dead.

There was considerable controversy over the decision to shoot Harambe, particularly since Harambe did what apes do ... he was the true victim.

Social media has not forgotten Harambe, who was 17 when he was killed. He had celebrated his birthday the day before his death.

911 CALL

Harambe died on May 28, 2016. He was 17 years old.

Milli Vanilli Real Singer John Davis Dead from COVID

One of the real singing voices behind the infamous pop duo Milli Vanilli has died at the age of 66 after a battle with COVID-19 ... according to his daughter.

John Davis' daughter, Jasmin, revealed her dad died May 24 with a post that read, “My dad passed away this evening through the coronavirus.” She continued, “He made a lot of people happy with his laughter and smile, his happy spirit, love and especially through his music. He gave so much to the world! Please give him the last round of applause. We will miss him dearly.”

The Milli Vanilli duo the public came to know was made up of members Fabrice Morvan and Rob Pilatus. The pair won a Grammy for Best New Artist in 1990 after their wildly successful "Girl You Know It's True" album dropped the year before.

However, after wildly successful year -- including multiple #1 hits and tours -- Fab and Rob and their producer came clean that it was all a front. They didn't actually sing the songs they'd released, and it was really Davis' voice, and a few others, on the records.

Perhaps the most infamous moment for the pair came during a live performance for MTV in 1989 when the track for "Girl You Know It's True" skipped on a loop, leaving the duo on stage embarrassed.

From there, it was all downhill for Morvan and Pilatus ... they eventually gave up their Grammy, and lawsuits and demands for refunds came flooding in from fans.

Davis attempted to form his own group with one of the original ghost singers, but couldn't repeat the group's success.

Pilatus died in 1998 at the age of 32, following an overdose.

Tawny Kitaen Family & Friends Celebrate Her Life

Tawny Kitaen's family and closest friends gathered to remember the late actress one last time, with an intimate celebration of life in the town where she died.

Tawny's brother, Jordan Kitaen, tells TMZ ... her memorial service was held Monday at her ex-husband Chuck Finley's home in Newport Beach, CA. We're told about 100 people attended, including the 2 daughters she had with Chuck.

As you can see, the program for Tawny's memorial service remembered her as a "loving mother, daughter, sister, friend, artist ... and now our angel." The back of the program featured one of her paintings.

There was a musical element too ... we're told her nephew, Leo, played "Let It Be" on the violin and her friend, Victoria Shaw, sang an acapella version of "Never Alone."

TMZ broke the story ... 59-year-old Tawny died May 7 in Newport, not long after her father had passed. Jordan told us the loss of their dad was too much for Tawny to handle.

We're told Tawny's been cremated, but the family hasn't decided what to do with her ashes yet. They're also still awaiting the results of her autopsy.

Samuel E. Wright Broadway Tribute Fulfills His Wish For Shout-Out After His Death

The man who voiced Sebastian in "The Little Mermaid" got what he always wanted after his passing -- a Broadway tribute.

Samuel E. Wright's daughter Dee tells TMZ ... her father's death has been very emotional for the family, but they're also overjoyed that one of his wishes came true.

As we told you ... Sam was a veteran theater actor who starred in several popular Broadway shows -- including originating the part of Mufasa in "The Lion King." Dee says he always joked with the family, "When I go, I want my name up there!" ... referring to the theater marquees.

Well, on Tuesday after news broke of Wright's death, Broadway's New Amsterdam Theatre honored him by doing precisely that.

Sam's daughter adds ... the fam's actually in good spirits, which she says may seem odd ... but it's a testament to his joy and positivity.

Dee also says the outpouring of support they've seen on social media from his fans and actors he worked with has been overwhelming.

Wright's public wake will be held Friday in Walden, NY for fans to come and show their love ... something the family feels is the best gift they can give him.

Samuel died of prostate cancer, which he was diagnosed with 3 years ago. He was 74.

'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' Author Eric Carle Dead at 91

Eric Carle, the artist and author who created one of the best-selling children's books of all time, is dead.

The man behind "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" died Sunday, according to his family. Eric's son, Rolf, told the New York Times the famous author died at his summer studio in Northampton, MA, as a result of kidney failure.

Eric illustrated more than 70 children's books during his career, which amazingly didn't start until he was in his late 30s. He's most famous for 'Hungry Caterpillar,' which was published in 1969 and went on to sell a whopping 55 million plus copies.

All told, Carle's publisher, Penguin Random House, says his books have sold more than 170 million copies.

Carle says 'Caterpillar' is meant to be a story of hope for children as they enter kindergarten ... and it's known for its colorful illustrations and a modest 224 words. The book's been translated into more than 70 different languages.

Eric's also known for his illustrations in the 1967 children's book, "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" He did the drawings for his friend, Bill Martin Jr., who authored the book.

Carle was 91.


'School of Rock' Kid Drummer Dies in Bicycle Incident ... Jack Black 'Heartbroken'

2:57 PM PT -- Jack Black says he's devastated and heartbroken by Kevin's death, saying he died way too young.

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JB is remembering Kevin as a "beautiful soul" and says they had tons of great memories together. Jack's also sending love to Kevin's family and the whole 'SoR' community.

"School of Rock" star Kevin Clark, who played the drummer, is dead after a motorist hit him while he was cycling around Chicago ... TMZ has learned.

The professional drummer -- best known as Freddy Jones, aka Spazzy McGee -- was riding his bicycle on the Northwest Side of Chicago early Wednesday morning when he was struck by a Hyundai Sonata ... according to police.

Kevin was rushed to a hospital, but was pronounced dead at 2:04 AM CT ... according to the Cook County Medical Examiner.

Kevin's sister says he was riding his bike home at the time of the accident. Police say a 20-year-old woman was driving the car that struck and killed Kevin. She was not arrested, but has been issued citations.

As we first reported ... Kevin caught up with Jack Black back in 2018 for an impromptu 'SoR' reunion during a Tenacious D set in Chicago.

Kevin gave Jack a custom shirt from his own band, Dreadwolf, and JB threw it on immediately.

"School of Rock" was Kevin's only movie credit, and he once told us he only got the 2003 role because he could actually play the drums.

Clark was 32.


Originally Published -- 12:59 PM PT

Chadwick Boseman Howard U. Names College After Him ... Iger Kickstarts Fundraiser

Howard University is cementing Chadwick Boseman's legacy into its campus -- putting his name on a college, and securing some financial backing from a Disney bigwig.

HU announced Wednesday that its College of Fine Arts would be named after Chadwick, who graduated from Howard in 2000, and had deep ties to the higher-ed facility and the college that will now bear his name.

According to Howard, Chadwick was one of a few people back then leading the charge to keep the College of Fine Arts from being folded into the larger College of Arts & Sciences ... literally hitting the ground with protests and other activism to preserve the COFA's integrity.

Turns out, his efforts worked ... because not only was the College of Fine Arts left alone as a stand-alone school, but it's now going to be juiced up big time in light of the renaming.

Disney Chairman Bob Iger is heading up a fundraiser that seeks to help pay for a new state-of-the-art facility for the Chadwick Boseman College of Fine Arts -- which will house an endowment in Chadwick's honor, plus a lot of other helpful resources for those looking to get into entertainment and/or broadcasting ... including serving as the HQ for Howard's radio and TV stations.

Chadwick had been back to visit Howard a few different times over the years after graduating, and he was even delivered the commencement speech in 2018.

His rich ties to the campus are exactly why fellow alumnus Ta-Nehisi Coates called the college bestowment "perfect" ... which his family said CB would be "overjoyed" with.

His widow, Simone Ledward-Boseman, also said, "Chad was a very proud Bison — both Howard and Ms. Rashad played integral roles in his journey as an artist. The re-establishment of the College of Fine Arts brings this part of his story full-circle and ensures that his legacy will continue to inspire young storytellers for years to come."

BTW -- Chadwick's former mentor of the school, Phylicia Rashad, was just named Dean of the Fine Arts College Chadwick helped save all those years ago. Cool story all around.

DMX Planned to Honor Youngest Son ... With Album Title

DMX's first posthumous album is going to be named after his youngest son -- something that had been in the works before he passed ... and it's now happening thanks to a longtime collaborator.

The CEO of Ruff Ryders Inc., Joaquin Dean, tells TMZ, X's newest album -- the first to hit shelves since his passing -- is going to be titled "Exodus" ... but fans might not have realized it was an idea X had kicked around at length before he died.

We're told DMX had been working on this album for the past year ... as he was growing closer and closer to his 4-year-old, whom he shared with his widowed fiancee, Desiree.

Dean says X had expressed to his lifelong friend Swizz Beatz -- who helped produce "Exodus" -- he wanted to name the project after his boy. So, to fulfill that wish, Swizz made the call to honor X's wish.

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In addition to the title, there are two tracks on the album that reference X's relationship with his son -- including a track called "Exodus Skit" and "Letter to my Son (Call Your Father)." "Exodus" also happens to be the final tattoo DMX got before his passing.

Dean tells us there are planned "ryde outs" for the album release -- where people will be hitting the streets in all sorts of vehicles to pay tribute to the late rapper ... much like they did when they brought his casket to Barclay's Center during his memorial.

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