Simone Biles Still Battling 'Twisties' 'Scared To Do Gymnastics'

It's been over two months since the Olympics, but Simone Biles says she's still dealing with the "twisties" ... adding that she's straight-up "scared to do gymnastics"

Biles was hit with the issue in Tokyo in July -- explaining to her followers at the time that a mental block was preventing her from controlling her body while doing her most famous mid-air stunts.

Biles pulled out of multiple events due to it all ... though most figured she'd be able to return back to normal after a break.

But, in an emotional interview Thursday morning with "Today" show host Hoda Kotb ... Biles said she still can't fly through the air like she used to.

"It's not the same," the 24-year-old said, fighting back tears. "To do something that I've done forever, and just not be able to do it because of everything I've gone through is really crazy because I love this sport so much. It's hard. I'm sorry."

She added, "I'm still scared to do gymnastics."

Biles has been performing in the Gold Over America Tour the past few weeks ... though she said she's kept her routines simple and has avoided any twisting.

The gymnastics legend, though, said she's sure her tricks will "come back" eventually ... telling Hoda in the meantime she's happy to "be a leader for the survivors."

"I'm happy to be a voice for them," Biles said. "We go through our own things. It's hard."

As for her future in the sport, it's unclear if Biles is intending to continue her Olympic career ... she's yet to commit to taking part in the 2024 Games in Paris.

Katie Couric I Was Devastated and Disgusted by Matt Lauer

LEFT IN THE DARK
NBC

Katie Couric says she never saw the dark side of her former "Today" show co-host Matt Lauer, but she concedes there was gossip surrounding the now-infamous revelations.

Couric was pushing her memoir on "Today" Tuesday and went in hard on Lauer, saying she was devastated and disgusted when the news broke over allegations he was abusive toward women on the staff.

It's almost a mirror of Season 2 of "The Morning Show." Couric says Lauer was a great colleague and she never saw the other side of him. When Savannah Guthrie pressed, Couric acknowledged there were rumors floating around, but she felt it was none of her business.

She went on to say she has no relationship with Lauer and their friendship has fully deteriorated.

10/1/21
YOU RUINED MY CAREER!
TMZ.com

More intriguing ... Couric addressed allegations she derailed Ashleigh Banfield's career -- something we talked to Banfield about on "TMZ Live." Couric's answer was guarded ... she flatly denied the allegation, but then took a shot at Banfield, saying it was hard to be generous when someone was gunning for your job.

Clint Eastwood Awarded $6.1 Mil ... in Lawsuit Against CBD Retailers

Clint Eastwood could see a LOT of green soon ... he's just been awarded nearly $6.1 million in his lawsuit against CBD retailers.

The legendary actor -- and the company Eastwood runs that owns rights to his likeness, Garrapata -- just scored a $6.1 million default judgment after the companies he sued failed to respond to his lawsuit.

You'll recall, Eastwood and Garrapata argued a Lithuanian CBD company falsely made it look like he endorsed their products and illegally tried to profit off his name, likeness, and goodwill. In addition to the damages, the CBD retailers were also permanently blocked from using Clint's name and likeness moving forward.

As we reported ... Clint sued in July 2020 after claiming several CBD retailers pimped their products by using fake interviews with him where he gushes over the weed merch.

The lawsuit claimed the CBD company made it look like Clint endorsed the CBD products on the "Today" show. The company took a photo of an actual interview Clint did on the show and flashed up words that appeared to be an endorsement.

Clint made it crystal clear in his pair of lawsuits -- he's never sat down with any of these companies and, under no circumstances, endorsed their products.

He also accused the companies of defaming him with their lies to lure customers into thinking he was in bed with the CBD products. Although the judge did say the ads were not defamatory on their face, the court found that Eastwood and Garrapata did enough to prove their case that the CBD company misappropriated his good name to sell the products.

Monica Lewinsky Bill Clinton Should Want to Apologize ... But I Don't Need It

I'M GRATEFUL
NBC

Monica Lewinsky says it's taken her a long time to get past her scandal with Bill Clinton, and while she's no longer harboring resentment ... she implies the former Prez still owes her an apology.

Lewinsky's story is set to take center stage again with the Tuesday night premiere of "American Crime Story: Impeachment," so she's understandably nervous ... but says she's also proud of the project because she worked as a producer on it.

It seems like the mini-series, airing on FX, will focus on telling Monica's side of the notorious American tale, and she provided a hint of what to expect when "Today" host Savannah Guthrie asked Monica if she has a message for Clinton

Monica says Bill should want to apologize for his actions, but watch ... she strongly insinuates he never has offered her one. The good news for Monica is she says she no longer needs it.

Lewinksy's main point is she's thankful she made it through the traumatic public shaming ... and now she wants to give hope to anyone else in her shoes.

'Today' Show Weatherman Willard Scott Dead at 87

Willard Scott -- the iconic "TODAY" show weatherman who preceded the Al Roker era -- has died.

Al himself confirmed the news this weekend, taking to IG with an honorary post for Willard and writing ... "We lost a beloved member of our @todayshow family this morning. Willard Scott passed peacefully at the age of 87 surrounded by family, including his daughters Sally and Mary and his lovely wife, Paris."

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

AR adds, "He was truly my second dad and am where I am today because of his generous spirit. Willard was a man of his times, the ultimate broadcaster. There will never be anyone quite like him."

Willard started at "TODAY" in 1980, and became famous for his jovial anchoring -- be it during a weather segment, or any other special event he ended up hosting for NBC thereafter. The dude's antics were hilarious -- he'd dress up in crazy costumes, joke around like crazy on the air (and during MOTS interviews) ... and was just an overall hoot of a personality.

He's also perhaps best remembered for wishing Americans a Happy 100th Birthday in an ongoing Smucker's segment ... in which he'd feature different centennials who hit the milestone. Willard also hosted some of America's most memorable celebratory moments -- covering presidential inaugurations, holiday parades and parties, expos and more.

He was pretty much the Al Roker of his day, and did indeed pass on the baton when he retired from anchoring in the mid-to-late '90s. Still, they remained great friends ... and Al credits him as his mentor.

BTW, Willard also had quite the history in clowning around -- literally. He played the very first incarnation of Ronald McDonald in TV ads during the '60s, and even had a turn at playing Bozo the Clown too. Dude was just an all-around joy-spreader -- from start to finish.

He's survived by his wife, Paris Keena, and his children. Willard was 87.

RIP

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade NYPD Keeps Crowds Moving During Pre-Tape

The NYPD is doing its best to stop the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade from becoming a super spreader event -- cops are posting up around the parade route to make sure large crowds don't form.

The turkey day tradition is now a shortened parade stretched over 3 days, and with pre-taping going on Tuesday and Wednesday, police are busy standing guard for trouble and herding folks along.

As you can see, there's a ton of barricades set up on the blocked-off side streets around Macy's flagship store, where most of the pre-taping is going on ... and cops are holding the perimeter.

Police are making their presence known, but a high-ranking NYPD official tells TMZ the police detail for the parade has been slashed by 80 percent from last year, which is a huge cut. The reduction in force, we're told, is because the parade is much smaller.

We're told NYPD is not expecting any large crowds or any trouble, believing most people will be smart and shy away from gathering to watch pre-tapings ... but if people do come to watch, cops will educate them about crowd dangers in a pandemic and move them along.

So far, things seem to be running smoothly as Macy's tackles a new-look parade, which is essentially only the final section of the usual 2.5-mile route.

Honchos at Macy's tell us there haven't been any issues pre-taping floats, balloons, Santa Claus and performers on the side streets around the flagship department store ... thanks in part to the secure perimeters. Organizers didn't telegraph where they were filming, which also helped prevent crowds from forming.

Macy's says Thanksgiving Day will see a live show outside the flagship store anchored by Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker and Hoda Kotb during a shortened parade ... and we're told there will be a larger police presence.

Bottom line ... Macy's is hoping folks stay home because of the pandemic, but there are cops standing by to handle any issues that crop up.

Hoda Kotb I'm Running for Al, He's 'Looking Good' After Cancer Diagnosis

PRAYERS FOR AL
TMZ.com

Hoda Kotb says things are looking up for Al Roker in his battle with prostate cancer ... and she's got a message for fans who want to help out.

We got the "Today" host jogging through NYC Tuesday -- she says she's running for Al, BTW -- and asked for an update on his health. She'd just recently spoken to him, and was happy to report Al's in a great mood ahead of surgery this week to remove his prostate.

As you know ... Al revealed his cancer diagnosis on the air Friday, saying he learned about the diagnosis Sept. 30 and explaining why he's going to be taking time away from "Today" for surgery and recovery.

Hoda says Al feels things are "looking good" for him, but she had a message for all of his fans looking for a way to help.

It's great news Al's doing well, but we can't say as much for our photog. Watch the clip and one thing is obvious ... Hoda can teach our guy a thing or 2 about cardio.

Al Roker Reveals Prostate Cancer Diagnosis ... Surgery Set for Next Week

Al Roker's sharing some scary personal medical news ... he's been diagnosed with prostate cancer, but he's taking aggressive steps to beat it.

The longtime "Today" host and meteorologist announced it Friday morning on the air, and said he's going to undergo surgery next week to have his prostate removed. Al said he learned about the diagnosis on September 30 but shared the news now to explain to viewers why he'll be taking off some time for the surgery and recovery.

Al called it a good-news-bad-news situation, saying, "Good news is we caught it early. Not great news is that it's a little aggressive, so I"m going to be taking some time off to take care of this."

Dr. Vincent Laudone will perform the procedure at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NYC, and said they decided removing the prostate was the better option over radiation.

66-year-old Roker says he hopes sharing the news will encourage Black men to get screened for a cancer that's very treatable if detected early. Al's been advocating for that since 2013, when he and co-anchor Craig Melvin got prostate exams live on "Today."

Matt Lauer Dating Life Getting a Yacht Better ... I'm Very 'Resilient'!!!

DATE NIGHT
TMZ.com

Matt Lauer is enjoying himself as a newly-single bachelor ... wining and dining his date and taking her for a ride on his $1.4 million floating escape that screams resilience.

The fired "Today" show host pulled out all the stops this week while on a date with a mystery brunette in Orient, NY, a picturesque town at the end of the North Fork of Long Island.

Check out these videos and pics of Matt and his mystery woman as they dine at Duryea's Orient Point. They're awfully chatty as they pick at a shared vegetable platter.

Things went well for Matt ... after an hour at their table, the two left the fancy restaurant and boarded his yacht, named "Resilient."

As you know ... Matt was canned from NBC in Nov. 2017 in the wake of sexual harassment allegations against him, and not long after his wife, Annette Roque, filed for divorce. He's now officially single.

Matt's on his best behavior here ... helping his date onto his expensive Hinckley T38 yacht before shoving off and taking the wheel as they head out into the beautiful blue waters for more summer fun. They even wore masks in public.

While Matt's date remains a mystery ... she bears a striking resemblance to Shamin Abas, his longtime friend who reportedly started dating him toward the end of last year. Abas, by the way, looks a lot like his ex-wife.

Hugh Downs Broadcast Legend Dead at 99

Hugh Downs -- a broadcasting legend with 60 years experience on "Today," "20/20" and 'The Tonight Show' -- has died.

Hugh died Wednesday at his home in Scottsdale, AZ ... according to his family, who released a statement Friday, saying his passing is not related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Hugh was one of TV's most familiar faces during his incredibly long and successful run as a broadcaster ... he co-anchored NBC's "Today" show from 1962 to 1971 and is most remembered for his 21 years as Barbara Walters' co-host on ABC's "20/20."

Downs was also known for his signature sign-off during his time at "20/20" ... ending the nightly program with this gem, "We're in touch, so you be in touch."

Hugh was on the tube for so long, at one point he held the record for most hours spent in front of a TV camera with a whopping 15,188 ... a long-standing record eventually topped by Regis Philbin.

While Hugh officially retired from "20/20" way back in 1999, he lent his smooth voice to a number of TV specials and documentary films during the 2000s.

Hugh was born in Akron, Ohio and he got his broadcasting start on radio in Detroit and Chicago before moving to TV in 1949 as an announcer on a classic children's puppet show called, "Kukla, Fran and Ollie."

Downs also served as the announcer for one of the earliest versions of NBC's "Tonight Show," working alongside Jack Paar in the late 1950s and early '60s.

He even launched one of the most popular daytime shows in the 1960s, "Concentration," a memory-matching game he hosted for over a decade.

Downs worked for PBS too, for much of the 1990s he was the host of the network's "Live From Lincoln Center" broadcasts.

Hugh was 99.

RIP

Zamboni Goalie David Ayres Tryouts with Other NHL Teams? ... Not Interested!!!

BACK TO THE ZAMBONI
TMZSports.com

Here he is ... David Ayres -- the Zamboni driver was called out of the stands to play goalie for the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes team on Saturday ... and he's a rockstar!!!

The story is amazing ... the 42-year-old was sitting in the stands at the Maple Leafs vs. Carolina Hurricanes game in Toronto when both of the 'Canes top two goalies suffered injuries and couldn't play.

So, the 'Canes called for the emergency backup (there's one in the stands at every game who could play for either team if the situation deems necessary) ... and he strapped on the pads and got in the game!

Ayres was rusty at first, letting in 2 quick goals -- but he stepped up and blocked several shots to close out the game ... helping the 'Canes beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-3.

Now, the guy is turning into a superstar in front of our very eyes ... he hit up the "Today" show on Monday morning and on the way out, was stopped by fans for pics!

Ayres told TMZ Sports ... the fan reaction has been amazing -- with a bunch of his old coaches reaching out to give him props!

We asked if he would be chasing an NHL contract now that teams now he's legit -- but Ayres told us he completely happy staying as the emergency backup in Toronto.

Guessing at the very least he'll get some minor league offers in the near future -- so stay tuned on that!

As for compensation, Ayres was reportedly paid $500 for his appearance and allowed to keep his game-worn jersey.

FRAME THAT THING, BRO!

Kim Kardashian West Rodney Reed Said 'Praise Jesus' When Execution Got Halted

FAMILY PLAYS A HUGE ROLE
NBC

Kim Kardashian West says an overwhelming sense of relief and hope filled the room when Rodney Reed learned his execution had been delayed ... and she could "feel his soul" as he got emotional about it -- she could feel it, because she was there.

Kim told Jenna Bush Hager on "Today" about visiting with the death row inmate last week as he was just days away from his scheduled execution for a 1996 murder conviction -- a crime she believes he did not commit.

She was sitting with Reed when he got word that the highest court in Texas has issued a stay of execution and remanded the case back to the trial court for further consideration, and Kim says it was extremely emotional ... Rodney let out a "Praise Jesus."

Kim was also asked about getting involved in the Reed case and how she came to the decision to tweet at Texas Governor Greg Abbott about it ... she says it's a strategic process, and she does her homework.

She adds that she's extremely proud of the bipartisan support for Rodney's cause, and explains why she turned her focus to prison reform in the first place. Hint -- it starts with her own family.

Kim also responds to the victim's family's belief that Reed is indeed guilty ... she says she's sympathetic, but still wants to make sure all the evidence is released.

As we've reported, Reed is on death row for the murder of Stacey Stites, a white woman he claims he had a consensual affair with. Reed was convicted of raping and killing Stites, but has maintained his innocence for over 20 years ... and new evidence has come to light suggesting another suspect -- Stites' fiance at the time.

Kathie Lee Gifford Sorry, Hoda ... I Don't Miss My 'Today' Job!!!

NO THANK YOU
TMZ.com

Kathie Lee Gifford's definitely not wistful over her old gig at NBC ... but she's still got love for all her old friends there.

The famous TV host was leaving the NBC building in NYC Tuesday afternoon when we asked if she misses her morning news days with 'Today' as the cohost of the fourth hour, "Today with Kathie Lee and Hoda."

In a word ... nope!

Kathie tells us she misses the people, but not the work, and she's very happy doing what she's doing now ... so don't expect an NBC comeback.

It's interesting ... Kathie just made her return to her old stomping grounds this week for the first time since leaving the show in April, and told her pal, Hoda Kotb -- who now hosts the show with Jenna Bush Hager -- she's happier than ever.

As for why ... Gifford moved to Nashville, and she says the people and the culture there are just so much kinder, and the atmosphere is more joyful and fun.

Kathie's also expressed a desire to produce Christian movies, which she's been doing with the Hallmark Channel, and has a Christmas flick called "A Godwink Christmas: Meant for Love" coming up.

Sounds like more than anything ... her new situation just suits her better than the Big Apple.

Matt Lauer Denies Rape Story 'Today' Crew Responds

8:57 AM PT -- "Today" anchors Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb seemed to have Brooke's back Wednesday morning during their reporting of the story, somberly saying the allegations she made were "shocking and appalling" and that they fully support Brooke coming forward.

SHOCKED AND APPALLED
TODAY

Hoda went on to explain that this new revelation -- much like the initial wave of allegations against Matt -- was like opening a door on somebody you thought you knew, but realizing there's an ugly side to them. She notes that these aren't just allegations of an affair, but allegations of a crime ... and that news was a shocking bombshell to the "Today" crew.

Both of them said they were going to take time to process the claim, but made a point of saying they were disturbed nonetheless.

Matt Lauer is firing back against a bombshell claim of rape against him by an ex-NBC employee, saying all the sexual encounters they had were consensual and mutual.

The disgraced "Today" show outcast penned a letter Wednesday in response to a salacious claim made in Ronan Farrow's new book -- in which a woman named Brooke Nevils says Matt anally raped her in his hotel room at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Nevils -- a former NBC producer -- claims she and Matt had several drinks together one night, and that on two separate occasions ... she went up to his hotel room. During that second visit, Nevils alleges Matt pounced on her, put her on the bed and penetrated her.

In the book, Ronan says Nevils told him she repeatedly said "no" during the alleged rape.

Matt says that account is "categorically false" though, going on to explain that the episode was completely wanted and reciprocated on both sides ... which carried over into what he describes as an "extramarital affair" back in New York.

In his letter, Matt writes ... "In a new book, it is alleged that an extramarital, but consensual, sexual encounter I have previously admitted having, was in fact an assault. It is categorically false, ignores the facts, and defies common sense."

Matt Lauer Erased from 'Today' In 25-Year History Montage

Matt Lauer did not have a single special moment on "Today" during his 20-year run as cohost of the show ... at least according to the producers of an anniversary montage.

NBC released a highlight video Thursday in honor of its morning program celebrating 25 years in the famed indoor/outdoor Studio 1A ... but Lauer's nowhere to be seen.

Check it out ... the 5 and half minute vid opens with Savannah Guthrie talking about the big move to 1A in 1994, and features clips and interviews with several other "Today" stars like Al Roker, Hoda Kotb, Lester Holt, Craig Melvin, Jenna Bush, Carson Daly and of course Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel.

The montage leaves out Lauer, though, who took over for Gumbel back in 1997 and remained there until November 2017 ... when he was fired by NBC for sexual misconduct.

11/29/17
THE ANNOUNCEMENT
NBC

As you know, Lauer's accused of sexually harassing multiple female NBC staffers during his time with the network, along with specific allegations of exposing himself, giving sex toys as gifts, and having a button under his desk to lock the door without getting up.

The scandal is still clearly on the minds of "Today" honchos who decided to keep him out of the "special" tribute. Interestingly, Ann Curry -- who had issues with Lauer and claims she told NBC brass he was a problem back in 2012 -- was also left out of the montage.

Old news is old news!
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