Eric Garner's widow dissolved into tears after testifying in the mock murder trial of the cops who killed her husband ... and the powerful moment is part of a new TV special.
As you know, no one was put on trial for the death of Eric Garner, so REELZ network got a courtroom, a judge, lawyers and witnesses. And, on Saturday, viewers can see what a trial might have looked like.
It's especially relevant now, given what could be a number of criminal trials over the next few months. Four cops will stand trial for the death of George Floyd, 2 cops will stand trial for the death of Rayshard Brooks, and there may be a belated trial in the horrific death of Breonna Taylor.
Garner's widow, Esaw Garner Snipes, who testified in the trial, sobs as she recounts how her husband died after being put in a police chokehold, and the pain and sorrow is worsened by the fact their daughter died right before the mock trial.
There are shocking similarities between the Garner case and the George Floyd case ... and the latter will go to trial, so the dry run is, at the very least, interesting. By the way, there is no verdict ... it's up to the viewers to decide.
"American Trial: The Eric Garner Story" will air on REELZ Saturday at 8 PM ET.
Georgia born actress Jo Marie Payton gained fame when she landed the role of Harriette Winslow ... the character was first featured as a reoccurring role on "Perfect Strangers" ... but is best known as the mom on the classic '90s ABC family sitcom "Family Matters."
Jo Marie Payton was cast alongside a star-studded cast of actors including Reginald VelJohnson as the police patriarch and husband, Carl Winslow, Kellie Shanygne Williams as the well-liked Laura Winslow, Darius McCrary as the big bro jock, Eddie Winslow ... and of course Jaleel White as the nerdy neighbor Steven Q. Urkel.
Payton's other notable television credits include "Moesha," "Will & Grace," "Small Wonder" and "Silver Spoons."
3:09 PM PT -- Danny was taken into custody Wednesday morning around 11:30 AM PT -- at which point he was booked and eventually released the same day after posting bail.
"That 70's Show" star Danny Masterson has been charged with rape -- this after being accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct and assault over the years.
The charges against Danny were announced Wednesday by Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, who says her office has charged the actor with three counts of felony forcible rape involving three different women ... all of whom are being identified as Jane Does.
The alleged rapes -- according to the D.A. -- occurred between 2001 and late 2003 ... right in the middle of the sitcom's run.
Danny's attorney, Tom Mesereau, tells TMZ ... "Mr. Masterson is innocent, and we’re confident that he will be exonerated when all the evidence finally comes to light and witnesses have the opportunity to testify."
He adds, "Obviously, Mr. Masterson and his wife are in complete shock considering that these nearly 20-year old allegations are suddenly resulting in charges being filed, but they and their family are comforted knowing that ultimately the truth will come out. The people who know Mr. Masterson know his character and know the allegations to be false."
The actor has been publicly accused of rape before, and each and every time ... he's vehemently denied it.
If convicted on all charges, Danny faces 45 years to life behind bars. It's unclear if he's been taken into custody yet, but the charging documents state that his recommended bail be set at $3.3 million.
Originally Published -- 2:55 PM PT
Sophie Turner is reaching the bulging baby bump stage ... and she might be getting a head start on shopping for her bundle of joy.
The 'Game of Thrones' star and her husband, Joe Jonas, hit up Melrose Ave Tuesday afternoon, strolling down the famous shopping street and showing off her growing baby bump, which is pretty prevalent these days.
Sophie dressed up her bun in the oven with grey leggings, a crop top and plaid blazer. Kid's already more stylish than the average.
The expectant parents wore masks as they shopped around ... never too early to get a head start on baby stuff, even in a pandemic. Fortunately, stores on Melrose are open again, so Sophie can shop till she drops.
Peep Joe's Bruce Lee graphic tee ... makes ya wonder, is the baby kicking already? Of course it is!
Andre Royo -- best known for his role as "Bubbles" on "The Wire" -- is about to live life in the single lane, his wife's filing for divorce after 22 years of marriage.
The actor's wife, Jane Choi, filed the divorce petition in L.A. County Superior Court to end the marriage, citing irreconcilable differences ... this according to docs obtained by TMZ. She lists the date of separation as December 5, 2019. They were married on November 21, 1997.
It seems this divorce case has all the makings of a smooth sailing -- they have 1 daughter together but she's not a minor. Jane also checked the box blocking the court from awarding either of them spousal support.
Andre's got TONS of TV and film credits ... most notably during his 5 seasons on the hit HBO series. He's also appeared on "Fringe," "Party Down" and "How to Make It in America." He also appeared as Thirsty Rawlings on "Empire" ... playing Terrence Howard's character's attorney.
California native Mitzi Kapture was in her late 20s when she gained fame after landing the role of the sex detective, Sergeant Rita Lee Lance -- who solved crimes revolving around sex in the swanky Palm Beach, Florida neighborhoods -- on the late-night '90s crime drama, "Silk Stalkings."
Mitzi Kapture was cast on the CBS series alongside Rita's Captain, Harry Lipschitz, played by Charlie Brill ... and of course, her detective partner Sergeant Chris Lorenzo played by Rob Estes.
Kapture is also known for her character, Alex Ryker, on the classic beach babe show, "Baywatch."
Treach believes his new movie about police brutality and tensions between cops and communities can provide common ground for everyone ... and even be used as a training tool in the future.
The Naughty by Nature rapper and actor joined "TMZ Live" Monday to break down his new crime drama with Ice-T, "Equal Standard," which he claims will provide an unbiased perspective on some of the policing issues plaguing our country.
Treach says the point of the movie is to show all sides of the story when it comes to tragic incidents like police shootings ... and delve into the reasons why these things keep happening.
The rapper says it's not as black-and-white as ya think, and insists the movie is not about cop-bashing either. Instead, it aims to get to the root of a problem that Americans have been protesting about since George Floyd was killed.
He makes it pretty clear, though ... this is something he wants the world to see -- regardless of race or political leanings -- because we're dealing with a crisis of humanity right now, and it's gonna take everyone to fix it.
"Equal Standard" is available now on VOD.
SpongeBob SquarePants' sexuality has entered the chat -- and lo and behold, the Bikini Bottom dweller might be, as many suspected for years, gay.
Nickelodeon tweeted Saturday in support of Pride month, and attached photos of three of their canon characters as a clear indicator that they're all part of the LGBTQ+ community ... but without actually saying it outright.
The tweet heard round the Krusty Krab said, "Celebrating #Pride with the LGBTQ+ community and their allies this month and every month 🌈."
All of the characters -- Sponge, Schwoz Schwartz from 'Henry Danger,' and Korra from the 'Avatar' spin-off show 'Legend of Korra' -- are featured in a rainbow color background.
What's interesting is ... fans have known for a while Korra was gay/bisexual -- as it was revealed in the show itself. As for Schwoz, the actor who plays him -- Michael D. Cohen -- is a transgender man in real life.
So, that leaves the Krusty Krab's fry cook. If the other 2 are clearly members of the community, it makes some people think the tweet is about more than declaring SpongeBob an ally ... instead, they think it's his coming out.
Of course, we gotta say folks had their suspicions for a long time. If you know, you know ... we won't break it down for boomers.
Funny enough, Nickelodeon AND the series creator Stephen Hillenburg came out firmly in the early 2000s and explicitly said SBSP was NOT gay ... but asexual. Change of heart?
Former "SNL" cast member Jay Pharoah was jogging down a San Fernando Valley street, when multiple LAPD cops pulled their guns on him, ordered him spreadeagled on the ground and one officer then put his knee on Jay's neck ... Jay says all because he matched a vague description of a black suspect wearing gray.
Jay posted the video Friday night and said the incident went down approximately one week before Ahmaud Arbery's murder. He says he was getting exercise, wearing noise-canceling headphones, when he saw the cops approach. He thought whoever they were after was in big trouble ... and then it dawned on him -- they were after him.
The cops told Jay he fit the description of a suspect -- black male wearing gray sweatpants and a gray shirt.
You see the security footage in Jay's video, and it matches his narration. You see a cop approach Jay from behind, with gun pointed. Another officer arrives with his gun in the air, and a patrol car rolls up and one of the 2 cops exits with his gun drawn.
Jay was cuffed, and with a knee to the neck, he urgently tried explaining he was not the guy they were looking for. He told the cops to look him up on Google, adding, "You will see that you made a big mistake." He says the cops released him "a minute later."
Jay says he's gone public with his story because he could have been Ahmaud Arbery or George Floyd, and "I'm still here to tell my story."
Jay ended by saying his parents tried to shield him from racism, but now he says as black men, "we have the knowledge and we have the power to overthrow," adding, "I'm Jay Pharoah, and I'm a black man in America and my life matters. Black lives always matter."
The LAPD tells TMZ they've seen the video and are investigating.
Matt James celebrated his new "Bachelor" status by hopping on a boat with buddy and fellow "Bachelor" Tyler Cameron and his female friend.
Matt was enjoying the R&R aboard Tyler's boat in sunny Jupiter, Florida.
As you know, "The Bachelor" has finally selected the show's next leading man -- the first African-American in that role in the 40 seasons.
Rachel Lindsay became the first black female lead on season 13 of "The Bachelorette" ... way back in 2017. It's clearly no coincidence ... Matt got tapped because of what's going on in the country and the world.
ABC said, "We know we have a responsibility to make sure the love stories we're seeing onscreen are representative of the world we live in, and we are proudly in service to our audience. This is just the beginning, and we will continue to take action with regard to diversity issues on this franchise. We feel privileged to have Matt as our first Black Bachelor and we cannot wait to embark on this journey with him."
The 28-year-old works in real estate, and was a football player at Wake Forest University. He tried unsuccessfully to make it on a couple NFL teams.
Matt Alexander, who survived 21 days on "Naked and Afraid," is now accused of beating his girlfriend and holding her against her will in a car.
The former reality show contestant was arrested in Louisiana on a warrant for domestic battery and false imprisonment, after Jefferson Davis Parish Sheriff's deputies spoke with his GF about an alleged fight she and Matt had last Sunday.
According to law enforcement ... the couple was driving down Interstate 10 when they started arguing, and Alexander allegedly struck her in the face several times. She told cops Matt kept her in the car for 40 minutes before she was finally able to escape.
Deputies who spoke to the woman said they saw bruises on her face and busted blood vessels in her left eye. They found Alexander at his home the next day and arrested him. He's since been released after posting a $3,500 bond.
The 38-year-old appeared on "Naked and Afraid" in 2016 ... when he made it through 3 weeks in a jungle in the Philippines.
2:23 PM PT -- Check that ... a source with direct knowledge of the situation tells TMZ ... Stassi's entire tour has been canceled.
2:09 PM PT -- 6/12 -- The fallout continues for Stassi as more dominos continue to fall in wake of her alleged racist behavior. She had scheduled events at The Chevalier Theatre in Boston, The Florida Theatre in Jacksonville, The Pageant in St. Louis and Charleston Music Hall in South Carolina ... but they've all now been canceled.
Stassi Schroeder is feeling the fallout after losing her ''Vanderpump Rules'' gig due to alleged racist behavior -- 'cause now her revived speaking tour's hit a speed bump.
The reality TV star's "Straight Up with Stassi LIVE" roadshow -- which is based on her podcast and began in late 2019 -- was set to return at New Jersey's Basie Center in January ... but the venue just announced its cancellation.
Stassi's tour was already on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but on the heels of getting fired by Bravo, losing sponsors and streaming platforms dropping her podcast -- it's starting to look like the whole tour could be done ... according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
So far, though ... only the NJ stop's gotten the official ax.
As we reported ... Bravo fired the 'Vanderpump' OG, along with her fellow costar, Kristen Doute, over claims they were racist "Mean Girls," basically, toward former cast member Faith Stowers.
Faith, who's Black, says Stassi and Kristen lied to police, saying Faith fit the description of a woman who was drugging and robbing L.A. men in 2018. They both fessed up, and went on an apology tour.
Too little, too late ... they've lost their spots on 'VR,' and Stassi's on the verge of losing even more.
Originally Published -- 6/11 2:28 PM PT
11:11 AM PT -- Rachel Lindsay's reacting to the news with cautious optimism. The former 'Bachelorette' tells TMZ ... she's happy to see a black man was finally cast after 18 years and 40 seasons, calling it a step in the right direction. That being said, Lindsay tells us, "It would be remiss of me to not point out that based on the current climate it feels like a knee-jerk reaction and a result of societal pressure."
She goes on to say, "This announcement, without any further commitments regarding diversity, sweepingly brushes deeper issues under the rug. Until we see other action to address the systemic racism within the franchise, the casting news today is equivalent to the trend of posting a black box on your social media account without taking other steps to dismantle the systems of injustice."
"The Bachelor" finally has an African-American male calling the rose ceremony shots -- Matt James is the show's next leading man.
ABC made the announcement Friday morning, saying it's "privileged to have Matt" as the first black Bachelor. Saying it's been a longtime coming is an understatement ... it hadn't happened in 40 seasons of the franchise.
Rachel Lindsay was the first black female lead on season 13 of "The Bachelorette" ... way back in 2017. It's undeniable Matt finally got the nod due to the whole country becoming laser-focused on equality and increasing diversity.
In fact, ABC said, "We know we have a responsibility to make sure the love stories we're seeing onscreen are representative of the world we live in, and we are proudly in service to our audience. This is just the beginning, and we will continue to take action with regard to diversity issues on this franchise. We feel privileged to have Matt as our first Black Bachelor and we cannot wait to embark on this journey with him."
The lack of a black 'Bachelor' has been a big issue for the show for years, and most recently an online petition calling the franchise's lack of diversity "unacceptable" got nearly 100k signatures. At least 'Bachelor' producers, like many companies and individuals, finally seem to be listening and learning.
As for Matt ... he's no stranger to 'Bachelor' Nation. You'll recall he was cast on Clare Crawley's season of "The Bachelorette" in season 16 though nobody really got to know him because production was shut down due to the pandemic.
Here's what ya need to know: The 28-year-old works in real estate, and was a football player at Wake Forest University. He tried to make it on a couple NFL teams, but no dice. Hey, at least he's the 'Bachelor' now.
Originally published -- 6:55 AM PT
George Floyd's name could be worth a lot of money in the entertainment business ... and now one man is looking to lock up the rights to his name for movies and TV shows.
According to new legal docs, obtained by TMZ, a man named Munemo Mushonga filed a trademark application to use the name George Floyd in the "production and distribution of television shows and movies."
It seems Mushonga is looking to capitalize on the Black Lives Matter movement that sprouted up in the wake of Floyd's killing, because he has no known connection to George's family and wouldn't tell us his grand plans.
Mushonga was mum when we asked him what he hoped to gain from the trademark, if approved, and refused to divulge why he filed the application or the inspiration behind it.
The guy could be facing an uphill battle in his quest to lock up the rights to George Floyd's name ... the United States Patent and Trademark Office generally doesn't allow trademarks for people's names unless certain conditions are met, such as getting the consent of the person, the name being very unique, or the name being part of a unique and widely recognized brand.
Stay tuned ...
Blake Shelton's shout-out to a fan's new book -- written in honor of her late daughter -- is giving her a huge emotional pick-me-up, and it ain't bad for sales!
Frankie Williams is the author of "The Merdragon," a fictional children's book she wrote for her daughter, Shauntae, who passed away last year. Shauntae was only 36 and died from undiagnosed heart disease.
Frankie says, at the time, she tweeted at Shelton and his country singer friend Craig Morgan, because Craig had written a song about his son's tragic death. Blake was promoting the tune, "The Father, My Son and The Holy Ghost" ... and she found it very inspiring.
Frankie says Blake replied, saying he was inspired by people like her and Craig who find ways to help others deal with grief while still dealing with their own ... and it motivated her to write the book as a tribute to Shauntae.
Flash forward to Monday -- Frankie tweeted at Shelton saying she wanted to send him a copy of 'Merdragon' as a token of gratitude for his kind words, and he responded again ... saying he'll order it instead.
And, the kicker ... he encouraged all of his 20 million followers to order it, too!
Frankie tells us ever since Blake's tweet, her book's been selling like hotcakes. She says she doesn't have official sales numbers yet, but it's currently in the top 5 in three different children's categories on Amazon ... skyrocketing up the charts from the 400-500 range it was in before Shelton's shout-out.
Williams says, obviously, he didn't have to do this for her, but she'll be forever grateful, and adds ... Blake Shelton is amazing.
11:28 AM PT -- 6/11 -- Anson just explained why he filed divorce docs for the 2nd time in 10 months, telling TMZ ... "When I canceled the divorce filing in September, we agreed for the sake of the children to remain apart and to lead separate lives. However, even that arrangement didn't work and our status needed to be clarified with a decree of divorce."
Ya can't say Anson Williams and his wife didn't give it the ol' college try, but the "Happy Days" star is filing divorce docs for the 2nd time in less than a year.
Anson, who played Potsie on "Happy Days," filed in L.A. last Friday ... and we're guessing all he really had to do was change the date from the docs he filed last September.
Anson and Jackie Williams have been together more than 30 years now, and have 5 kids together -- but things have clearly been rocky since at least last year when they broke up, but pretty quickly decided to try again.
As we reported, Anson first went down divorce road last year on 9/11. However, by October 1 he was back in court, filing to dismiss that divorce.
Fast forward 9 months and they're back in splitsville. Unclear what led to their parting of ways this time around. Last year, Anson told us "sometimes you have to do what's best for everyone."
We've reached out to his rep. No word back yet.
Originally Published -- 6/10 6:09 PM PT