Donnell Rawlings Chappelle Takes COVID Seriously ... Everyone at Austin Shows Got Tested!!!

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NEVER WORRIED
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Dave Chappelle clearly thinks there's nothing funny about potential exposure to COVID-19 -- much less contracting it -- because he went all out to keep his Austin shows as safe as possible.

That's according to his pal, Donnell Rawlings, who joined us on "TMZ Live" Friday and revealed Chappelle had strict COVID protocols in place for everyone -- from performers and staffers to servers and every single audience member.

Donnell tells us he's never worked with anyone who takes as much precaution as Chappelle. In fact, Donnell says Dave dropped a whopping $300k to have people tested in his community of Yellow Springs, Ohio for his shows there last year.

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As for how Chappelle contracted the virus ... Donnell says he doesn't know and wonders ... how does anyone really know? That being said ... he's all down for strict measures, and he's glad his comedian pal's taking it seriously.

So much so ... Donnell said, "Dave Chappelle is addicted to corona testing people so much he violated my nose for 2 months."

TMZ broke the story ... Chappelle canceled his Austin shows at Stubb's Amphitheater following his positive test. Donnell says, "I texted Dave yesterday to check on him and I said, 'I love you, brother' and 'we are gonna get through this.' His response -- "I know we will, but dammit, I thought it was gonna be you before me!"

Alice Marie Johnson Freeing Prisoners is My Mission ... Snoop Knows I'm Serious!!!

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PAYIN' IT FORWARD
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Alice Marie Johnson's paying it forward by helping prisoners gain their freedom, and Snoop Dogg's witnessed her commitment firsthand ... which she describes as the most rewarding thing she's ever done.

As you know ... Alice is the grandmother whose sentence was famously commuted by President Trump in 2018 thanks to Kim Kardashian lobbying for her, and she joined "TMZ Live" Wednesday to explain why she's now doing the same for others.

Alice tells us the feeling she got Tuesday night celebrating with the families of those freed from prison in Trump's final round of presidential pardons and commutations was awesome ... even more so than her own release.

6/6/2018
FINALLY FREE
CNN

That's pretty incredible ... considering this is how that emotional moment went down in June 2018.

Alice says having such a positive impact on others' lives is unmatched, and that's why she started her own organization not just to free prisoners ... but to assist them on re-entry back into the real world.

As we reported ... that's the next step for Snoop's pal, Death Row Records co-founder Michael 'Harry-O' Harris ... whose sentence was commuted by Trump after heavy lobbying from Alice and Snoop.

Alice says the rapper came to her for help, but she had already looked into Harry-O's story ... and didn't need any convincing to go to bat for him.

Helena Duke No Regret Outing Mom at Capitol Riots Casts Blame on Trump

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NO REGRETS
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The daughter who publicly ID'd her own mother as a bloodied participant in the Capitol riots feels some guilt for calling her mom out ... but says she doesn't regret it, for several reasons.

Helena Duke joined "TMZ Live" Monday to add some context to why she decided to out her mother, Therese Duke, in a viral clip where Therese gets punched by a security guard outside the Capitol after the insurrection.

Helena says her mom lied to her about her whereabouts on January 6 -- claiming she was getting a medical procedure -- so she wouldn't have known Therese attended the riots ... if not for the video of her getting punched.

As for why Therese was in D.C. ... Helena believes Donald Trump radicalized her mother about a year into his Presidency. She says it was "unsettling" how her mom flipped from lifelong Democrat to far-right Republican.

If you missed it ... the day after the riots, Helena commented on the vid of her mother getting punched -- "hi mom remember the time you told me I shouldn’t go to BLM protests bc they could get violent...this you?"

Shortly afterward she went a step further by publicly ID'ing her mom, aunt and uncle as attending the riot.

Therese has since been fired from her job at a Massachusetts hospital ... which stated her termination was linked to her being involved in the Capitol violence.

Due to all the fallout, Helena tells us she does feel some guilt ... but she has a very interesting explanation as to why it seems she would do it all over again.

Rep. Jim Clyburn GOP Members Trying to Bring Guns on House Floor ... Could Be Inside Job Suspects

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LAY DOWN YOUR ARMS
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Rep. Jim Clyburn says the Republican members of Congress who want to be armed on the House floor are striking fear into colleagues -- and he believes they might have ill intentions.

The Congressman from South Carolina dropped his bombshell Wednesday on "TMZ Live" ... revealing his suspicion of several GOP legislators who refused to go through metal detectors Tuesday night at the Capitol. He says some of them were armed, and that made other Reps nervous.

That's because, according to Clyburn, some of the armed lawmakers might be suspected of helping the pro-Trump insurrectionists ... part of a possible inside job.

Rep. Clyburn says other Congressmen and women are afraid these armed lawmakers might do "crazy things" while on the House floor.

On a less dividing note ... Clyburn told us why he recently introduced legislation to make "Lift Every Voice and Sing" the official national hymn in the U.S.

If you aren't familiar, the song's been dubbed the "Black national anthem," but at a time in the country when everything feels so divided ... Clyburn believes it should lose that moniker and provide a unifying message for people of all races.

Rep. Tim Ryan 'F****** Livid' Over Capitol Storming ... Better Be Safe Next Week!!!

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NO EXCUSES
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Congressman Tim Ryan isn't mincing words over the coup attempt -- he was "f****** livid" when the mob stormed the Capitol, because law enforcement assured Congress it would be safe.

The U.S. Rep. from Ohio joined us on "TMZ Live" Tuesday and told us why there's no excuse for the lack of security during the insurrection ... he says security forces should've been prepared for the worst, and now Congress needs to get to the bottom of what went wrong.

Tim says he's glad to see more boots on the ground in D.C. this week as the National Guard is mobilizing at least 10,000 troops ahead of next week's inauguration ... the sort of move he would've liked to have seen before the riot.

As we told you ... Congress was just briefed on the 7 main groups of extremists organizing to descend on the Capitol for Joe Biden's inauguration and the days leading up to it.

While Rep. Ryan says last week's outcome was an epic fail, he seems confident Congress will be better protected moving forward.

SoHo 'Karen' Arrest Entire Incident Reflects Racial Injustice ... Say Alleged Victim's Parents, Ben Crump

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"THIS IS FOR EVERYONE"
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Miya Ponsetto's arrest for attempted robbery -- after attacking a 14-year-old boy and accusing him of stealing her phone -- isn't nearly enough, according to the child's parents ... who insist racism was involved in the incident.

Keyon Harrold Jr.'s mom and dad -- Kat and Keyon Sr. -- joined us on "TMZ Live," along with their attorney, Ben Crump, to address Ponsetto being taken into custody ... more than 2 weeks after her altercation with the teenager at a SoHo hotel.

But, the so-called SoHo Karen's arrest led to a much bigger discussion about ongoing examples of racial injustice in the country, which Crump says was also highlighted during the historic events in the Capitol this week.

As for the incident with Ponsetto and Harrold Jr. ... Keyon's parents say he's still in therapy to deal with the aftermath. His mom and dad are worried about PTSD, and Kat describes the trauma as something her son doesn't deserve ... same goes for countless people of color before him.

Kat goes on to lay blame on the SoHo hotel for its role in Ponsetto's attack on her son, claiming it enabled her to lay hands on him.

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ATTACKING A 14-YEAR-OLD
NYPD Detectives

As we reported ... Ponsetto has denied her attack of Harrold had anything to do with race -- instead, her lawyer says it was anxiety-induced -- and our law enforcement sources say she will not be charged for any sort of hate crime.

Instead, it's possible Ponsetto will be hit with a charge of attempted robbery of the teenager's phone, and as you know ... it's just one of the many legal issues she is dealing with right now.

Rep. Karen Bass Calls Out Sad Irony of Capitol Riots ... I'm Angry, Concerned!!!

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Experiencing the chaos firsthand
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Rep. Karen Bass is outraged and saddened about the ordeal she and all of Congress endured -- and can't help thinking the Capitol attack would've been thwarted if rioters weren't Trump supporters.

The Congresswoman from California's 37th district joined "TMZ Live" Thursday to recount the terror of the moment lawmakers had to be evacuated ... a shocking event she calls ironic ... in a couple of ways.

First of all, Bass says she anticipated things getting dicey on the streets of D.C. ... but she told her family she'd be safe and sound inside the typically heavily guarded Capitol.

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"SHOW STRENGTH AND BE STRONG"
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Secondly, she believes the protesters-turned-rioters were almost enabled by the authorities to do what they did. Rep. KB says it stands in stark contrast to what happened during last summer's Black Lives Matter demonstrations.

Her implication is pretty clear, and it all comes back to President Trump ... who still has 13 days left in office. If you think Bass isn't concerned about that even though the riots are over ... think again.

As she points out ... it's not just his actions yesterday that are troubling, but his behavior on social media over the course of his presidency and his plethora of recent lamed duck hirings and firings

So, no, Bass doesn't think we are out of the woods yet ... which is why some members of Congress are looking to invoke the 25th Amendment or impeach Trump (again).

Mayor Francis Suarez Miami Thriving with Few Restrictions ... COVID Tips for Other Cities?!?

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DOING OUR BEST IN MIAMI
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Miami Mayor Francis Suarez says while the 305 was once a hot spot for COVID-19 infections, his city's found a way to turn the page ... while other major cities are struggling.

The Mayor joined "TMZ Live" Thursday and touted Miami's progress in battling the coronavirus -- a stark contrast to what L.A. County is dealing with right now. He harkened back to some dark days last summer when Miami averaged 3,500 new cases per day, but says they're down to 2,500 per day.

Suarez says their hospitalization numbers are even better.

As for why L.A. is doing so much worse ... with much stricter restrictions and business closings -- Mayor Suarez says Miami's citizens are "hardwired" to do the basics ... wear masks, social distance and frequently wash their hands.

Doesn't seem like there's any magic solution there, but it's hard to argue it's not working. L.A.'s nightclubs, bars and restaurants are closed -- indoors and outdoors -- while Miami's wide open. Celebs like Diddy, Teyana Taylor and others are taking full advantage ... though we didn't see much social distancing at those events.

The Mayor says Miami's focusing on COVID-19 vaccinations now, and told us his plans for an effective rollout.

Killer Mike Weed Industry Built On Black Backs ... We Deserve Huge Stake!!!

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DEMAND CHANGE
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Killer Mike is all about trees ... and we don't mean the Christmas variety.

The Atlanta rapper, activist and marijuana mogul joined us on "TMZ Live" and made the case why Black people deserve a big piece of the cannabis pie.

The way Killer Mike sees it ... ganja's popularity in America has largely been built on the backs of Black folks, so he says they deserve at least 25 percent of the industry -- profits, licenses, businesses, etc.

While legalization and decriminalization continue to gain traction at the state level, one of the criticisms is the lack of access for minorities to make money off a substance that put so many behind bars. Mike uses prohibition to explain why we're making the same mistake twice here.

Killer Mike's also pushing President-elect Joe Biden to be like Bernie Sanders and pledge to decriminalize dank ... and he shares his protest plans for April 20, the unofficial stoner holiday.

It's pretty enlightening ... Mike tells us about his new weed strain, and why he likes to light up with Indicas.

Black Teen Falsely Accused of Theft Parents Say Race was a Factor ... Hard Convos Were Had

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HOTEL RAMPAGE
@keyonharrold / Instagram

The parents of a Black teen falsely accused of stealing a white woman's phone say they dreaded the idea of having to tell him his race might've been the trigger ... but they did.

Jazz musician Keyon Harrold and his wife, Kat, joined us Monday on 'TMZ Live' after a disturbing episode at the Arlo Hotel in NYC this weekend ... where Keyon captured what many might consider a "Karen" insisting his 14-year-old had stolen her misplaced phone ... which was NOT true.

After she lunged at the boy and demanded a manager force him to give her his phone ... Keyon says her device was eventually returned by an Uber driver, who'd found it in his car. So, she was wrong after all -- and Keyon, at the time, said nobody offered an apology.

"IT MIGHT BE BECAUSE YOU'RE BLACK"
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Fast-forward a couple days ... and it's clear the family is still rattled by an incident they say was likely fueled by racism. Keyon says he honestly doesn't know why the woman assumed his son, of all people, had her phone ... explaining he was dumbfounded in the moment.

The boy's mother, Kat, detailed the excruciating conversation she had after the fact when her son asked why he might've been singled out ... and her answering with the fact that his skin color possibly had something to do with it. It's gut-wrenching hearing her break it down.

We also talked to attorney Ben Crump -- who's repping Keyon and co. -- and he made his expectations clear ... he wants the woman criminally charged and a civil rights investigation into the matter. He tells us flatly ... this wouldn't have happened to a white person.

Jillian Michaels Home Workouts Great But Gyms Offer Huge Benefits!!!

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fitness options galore!
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Jillian Michaels loves that people used quarantine to focus on their health with at-home workouts, but she also stresses the importance of gyms will be obvious when we get back to "normal."

The fitness guru joined "TMZ Live" and said the silver lining in the pandemic-ravaged year is people at home found creative ways to stay in shape when the coronavirus forced gyms to shut down across the country.

That being said ... Jillian said there's something to be said about the benefits a gym offers. And, it doesn't matter if it's a huge gym, a boutique gym or even just a yoga class ... the benefits range from having a social environment to the intensity of in-person instruction.

Jillian's not knocking at-home workouts. Far from it. In fact ... she loves all the options spinning bikes, workout apps -- she has a very popular one -- and other devices have to offer. But, in a post-pandemic fitness life ... she envisions folks subscribing to what she calls a hybrid model.

Too Short & E-40 Biggest 'Verzuz' Production Yet ... Nearly $500k Budget!!!

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"Verzuz" is pulling out all the stops for its 2020 finale, and when Too Short and E-40 hit the stage it'll look like a full-fledged arena concert ... proving how much of a cash cow the show's become.

The Bay Area icons will face off on a soundstage in NorCal that will reflect the nearly $500,000 budget for this single event ... according to sources involved in the production.

TMZ obtained a blueprint of the stage setup for 40 and Short, and you can tell Swizz Beatz, Timbaland and Apple are thinking big.

We're told the MCs will be surrounded by concert-style lighting and some expensive props -- 2 classic old school cars will be on stage behind each of them. Makes sense, both Short and 40 have told us their battle will be an homage to the Bay's hip-hop scene.

Our sources say Apple -- which is now streaming all the "Verzuz" episodes -- realizes how much of a cultural phenomenon the show is, and they're spending like it.

In fact, Short and 40 almost squared off at the Steve Jobs Theater on the Apple Campus, but due to COVID safety concerns, the show had to be moved.

BRING IT ON!!!
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Unlike Jeezy and Gucci Mane, the Oakland legends are longtime friends who come into the "Verzuz" beef-free. However, when they came on "TMZ Live," it was very clear they're both playing to win.

Translation: Expect lots of old school trash talk to go along with the new school big-budget production.

Too Short & E-40 Friends Let the Trash Talk Begin ... It's ON for Verzuz!!!

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BRING IT ON!!!
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Too Short and E-40 don't want you to get it twisted ... they're buddy-buddy now, but there's gonna be plenty of smack talk leading up to and during their rap battle ... and it's already heating up.

The Bay Area rappers joined us on "TMZ Live" Friday ahead of their highly-anticipated matchup on "Verzuz," and we asked them if they're really going to keep it friendly during Saturday's match.

Short and 40 say don't let their chummy attitudes fool you ... they're coming out swinging. In fact, each of 'em threw a jab or 2 while we were talking to them.

DOIN' IT FOR THE BAY
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Remember ... this week in Bev Hills, Too Short made it sound like it was going to be all love between them -- and nothing like the beef-fueled "Verzuz" Gucci Mane and Jeezy put down.

But, now, as they get close to game time ... their competitive juices are flowing.

Still, they both agree on this -- the showdown's gonna be an educational trip down memory lane, with plenty of fireworks and, yeah ... trash talk.

COVID Vaccine 2nd Dose a Doozy!!! Pfizer Volunteer Describes 'Really Sick' Feeling

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RISKIN' IT ALL FOR SCIENCE
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People who are getting the coronavirus vaccine don't know what's coming next -- that 2nd shot could hit like a ton of bricks, according to a guy who volunteered for Pfizer's study.

Eric Gross joined us on "TMZ Live" Thursday, and laid out his experience getting both doses of the vaccine during Pfizer's clinical trials. He said the first injection made his arm a little sore -- which we've heard from others this week -- but he says the 2nd shot is a whole different ballgame.

In Eric's experience, it left him feeling sicker than he's ever felt in his life, although not for too long. He has an analogy for his body's reaction -- think sucker punch in the face. Watch the vid, it's a great explanation.

"THIS IS A SPECIAL DAY"

As you know ... healthcare workers in America started getting the first round of vaccinations Monday and folks like Sandra Lindsay, the intensive care nurse who got the first shot in New York, told us so far, so good ... as far as any reactions or side effects.

Eric also talked to us about the story TMZ broke -- that volunteers who got the placebo during the trial pressured Pfizer to let them get the real deal.

He says Pfizer made a big change to their initial rules because, as he puts it, it just wasn't fair to the placebo folks.

Dionne Warwick Happy 80th with Celeb Pals, Fans!!! Love for Chance the Rapper

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COME CELEBRATE WITH ME
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Dionne Warwick's calling on her A-list friends to help celebrate her 80th birthday ... which is doubling as a fundraiser for an important cause.

The legendary singer hopped on "TMZ Live" Friday to dish deets on her Holiday Musical Birthday Celebration ... a virtual party and concert, going down Saturday, her 80th birthday.

Dionne's using the occasion to lift spirits with her angelic voice while also raising money for Hunger Not Impossible ... an org connecting kids and families in need with prepaid, nutritious to-go meals from nearby restaurants.

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Some of Dionne's pals joining the festivities include Aloe Blacc and country stars John Rich and the Oak Ridge Boys -- but anyone can join through her website, where fans can buy packages with cool perks. Aside from getting entry to the virtual event, you can get a private Zoom meet-and-greet with Dionne and a special shout out from her.

And, Dionne's still making new friends ... she told us all about the friendship she's formed with Chance the Rapper since she playfully checked him on his stage name.

ICYMI, the Chi-town MC was blown away when Dionne roasted him, but she told us what really impresses her about Chance. It's all about giving back ... something both music superstars have in common.

Isaac Wright Jr. NYC Mayor Hopeful Praises Kim K ... She Gets My Battle for Justice Reform

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WHO WOULDN'T SAY YES?!
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Isaac Wright Jr. -- who was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to life in prison -- is now running for Mayor of NYC, and says he'd welcome Kim Kardashian's counsel in overhauling the city's justice system.

Isaac joined "TMZ Live" Tuesday and said there's no question about it ... Kim K's platform and her influential power would be a huge boost, not only for his campaign ... but for his goals if he wins next year's election.

His incredible life up to this point is already famous -- wrongfully convicted on drug charges in 1991, Isaac was sentenced to life in prison ... but studied as a paralegal while inside and proved his innocence in 1996. His story is the inspiration for the 50 Cent produced show, "For Life" on ABC.

Kim K and Wright are kinda on the same team already ... fighting for criminal justice reform and prisoner's rights. Isaac helped overturn 20 wrongful convictions, along with his own, just as Kim's successfully helped several inmates get clemency or overturned convictions.

Isaac acknowledges Kim's not only getting it done due to her celebrity -- he says she gets in the trenches ... and says that's the kind of people he wants working with him once he's elected.

BTW, they have something else in common -- Wright attended law school after he was released from prison and passed the bar exam in 2008. As you know, Kim's currently studying for the bar.

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