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Michael Jackson Documentary Cops On Alert for Protesters ... At Sundance Premiere

1/18/2019 1:00 AM PST
EXCLUSIVE

The blistering Michael Jackson documentary premiering at Sundance will also feature angry pro-Jackson protesters, and we've learned local police are gearing up for possible confrontations.

Law enforcement sources tell TMZ ... the Park City PD is aware of an anti-documentary protest being organized on social media, so cops are going to beef up their presence both inside and outside the premiere with uniformed and undercover officers.

We're told law enforcement is most concerned about disruptions taking place during the Q&A portion of the screening -- historically, that's when protesters have caused the biggest disturbances. However, we're told cops won't stop people from exercising their First Amendment rights, so long as protesters don't block sidewalks or entrances.

As you know ... the doc, "Leaving Neverland," explores alleged sexual abuse by the King of Pop, and the film is already being slammed by the late singer's estate. Despite outside pressure to pull the film, Sundance officials say it's full steam ahead.

All Sundance events have increased security -- including bag checks and bomb dogs -- but extra resources will be allocated to the MJ screening when it premieres Friday, Jan. 25.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez If Mitch Won't End Shutdown ... Cardi B and I Will!!!

1/17/2019 3:35 PM PST
EXCLUSIVE

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is still desperately seeking the one man who can end the government shutdown today ... and says Cardi B's verbal smackdown of President Trump is on point.

We got the freshman congresswoman Thursday on the Hill, and she continued calling out Sen. Mitch McConnell. She says he's nowhere to be found, and places blame on him -- more than Trump -- for the fact government employees still aren't getting paid ... 27 days into the shutdown.

AOC's first speech from the House floor on Wednesday topped 1 million views -- a record for C-Span's Twitter feed -- so, it's clear people are paying attention when she speaks. Still, she admits she can't smoke out McConnell.

She also weighed in on her fellow New Yorker's rant about the gov't shutdown.

If ya missed it, Cardi B blasted Trump, saying "our country is in a hellhole right now, all for a f***ing wall."

Not shockingly, Cortez gives Cardi her stamp of approval, and says they might have to do what Sen. McConnell won't do.

Dana White Responds to Ariel Helwani 'I Don't Give a Sh*t What He Thinks'

1/17/2019 10:28 AM PST
EXCLUSIVE

Dana White isn't taking kindly to being called "tone-deaf" over his decision to book Greg Hardy and Rachael Ostovich on the same UFC fight card ... saying, "I could give a sh*t."

... and it didn't stop there. 

First, some backstory ... 

Both Hardy and Ostovich are fighting at the big UFC on ESPN event on Saturday night -- which drew heavy criticism from ESPN's main MMA reporter, Ariel Helwani, who sounded off Wednesday. 

"I found this decision to be incredibly tone-deaf, to put it mildly," Helwani said on ESPN.

FYI, Hardy was found guilty of domestic violence by a judge in 2014 -- but the conviction was thrown out in 2015 when he appealed to have the case go in front of a jury ... and his accuser stopped cooperating with prosecutors.

Ostovich suffered serious injuries in an alleged domestic violence incident back in November. She claims her husband (who's also an MMA fighter) snapped and beat her ruthlessly.

Helwani and others have expressed concern over having them fight on the same card -- so, when we saw White in NYC on Thursday morning, we asked for his thoughts. 

"I don't give a sh*t what Ariel Helwani thinks," White said ... "Who the f*ck is Ariel Helwani to question anything that we do."

"I think we've done a pretty good job in 20 years. I could give a sh*t what he thinks, or anybody else for that matter."

So, why are they on the same card? White says they're both on the UFC roster and it was bound to happen at some point.

White has previously said he spoke with Ostovich about booking Hardy on the card and claimed she was cool with it. 

Dave Chappelle R. Kelly & His Goons Threatened Me For 'Piss on You' Skit

1/17/2019 7:48 AM PST
EXCLUSIVE

Dave Chappelle says R. Kelly and his "goons" bum-rushed him over his famous skit mocking the singer's urination video -- but Dave's sense of humor definitely saved the day.

The comic hopped onstage at the WeHo Improv Monday night with his friend and "Chappelle's Show" costar, Donnell Rawlings. Dave revealed Kelly and his crew approached him in Chicago -- during a Common concert -- and made it clear they were, umm ... pissed about his "Piss on You" skit.

Dave says things never got physical, but he says Kelly grilled him about the skit and asked how he could possibly have done such a thing. 

The irony of that question was not lost on Dave, who had the most awesome and hilarious response.  Check out the video ... classic story. 

Chappelle also addressed some of the criticism he's faced in the wake of Lifetime's "Surviving R. Kelly" docuseries -- saying he wants comedians to call out things that are wrong with the world, period.

We asked Dave about the criticism this week -- but he opted to let his pal, D.L. Hughley, do most of the talking that night. 

Michael Jackson Estate Blasts HBO for 'Leaving Neverland' ... This is How You Repay Him??

1/17/2019 8:53 AM PST

Michael Jackson's rolling over in his grave, just to get stabbed in the back by HBO -- the producers of the controversial documentary, "Leaving Neverland" -- that's his estate's take, anyway.

The estate's made no secret of its feelings about the documentary featuring 2 of MJ's alleged molestation victims -- and Wednesday night it took a shot on Twitter, posting an old promo for a Michael concert that aired on HBO.

The 1992 concert -- Michael's first to air on TV -- "gave HBO their highest rated special ever" ... according to the estate, which added ... "Now, to repay him they give a voice to admitted liars."

'Neverland' is set to premiere next week at the Sundance Film Festival, and will air on HBO after that.

It's interesting the estate thinks a network -- which, no doubt, paid Jackson to air his concert -- is somehow beholden to him more than 25 years later.

That's just not how showbiz works. Facts.

Nelly Super Bowl Halftime Outrage Is Stupid ... 'I'd Probably Do It'

1/17/2019 6:29 AM PST
EXCLUSIVE

If you watch the NFL on Sundays ... but you're pissed off about Travis Scott doing the Super Bowl halftime show, you're a hypocrite, period. 

... so says rap legend Nelly

"I don't see the big deal on people upset about who's performing at halftime," the St. Louis legend told us at LAX. 

"Because what people have to understand ... if you're really against the NFL, the halftime show is not what you should be concerned about."

"If you're watching the NFL ... if you're supporting your team ... that's how [the owners] get paid. They don't get paid through the halftime show."

We asked if Colin Kaepernick had a point in his criticism of Travis Scott ... Nelly kept it real. 

"I wouldn't say that he has a point in the sense of ... I mean he has his own reasons but again ... if you watch the NFL every Sunday, you support your team, that's how they make their money."

"If you're trying to make a stand against the NFL, you should probably not watch it on Sunday or you should not go to the games ... the halftime show is irrelevant."

When asked if he would consider doing the SB Halftime show if he was asked, Nelly responded -- "Probably."

Gladys Knight 'Proud' to Perform Nat'l Anthem ... at Super Bowl

1/17/2019 6:51 AM PST
Breaking News

Gladys Knight says she's IN for the Super Bowl -- she's decided to perform the National Anthem before the big game ... and it's all for reasons bigger than football. 

"I am proud to use my voice to unite and represent our country in my hometown of Atlanta," the 74-year-old said. 

"The NFL recently announced their new social justice platform Inspire Change, and I am honored to be a part of its inaugural year." 

Knight's statement sounds similar to Travis Scott -- who agreed to perform during the Super Bowl halftime show after the league agreed to donate $500k to Van Jones' social justice organization. 

There has been backlash from some high-profile people -- including Common -- who says the NFL doesn't care about black people and he wishes artists would boycott the league. 

Common and others (including Jay-Z) have said they're extremely upset with the way the league has treated Colin Kaepernick and they want no part of the Super Bowl. 

Meanwhile, other stars like Nelly have said it's pointless to boycott NFL pre-game and halftime entertainment if you're just gonna watch the game anyway. 

As for Knight, she's following P!nk -- who sang the anthem in 2018. Luke Bryan had the honors in 2017. And, Lady Gaga in 2016. 

Rep. Greg Pence Read My Lips ... VP Pence & His Wife Are Not Anti-LGBT

1/16/2019 3:38 PM PST
EXCLUSIVE

The Vice President and his wife are getting a bad rap when it comes to LGBTQ rights, despite their track record ... at least according to Mike Pence's older brother.

Indiana Congressman Greg Pence was on Capitol Hill Wednesday when we asked him about the backlash over the VP's wife, Karen Pence, going back to teach at Virginia's Immanuel Christian School ... which has a policy of refusing admission to gay students.

Rep. Pence did an artful DC two-step -- especially for a freshman -- dodging the question by saying he can't speak for Karen. However, when we asked point-blank if his brother and sister-in-law are anti-LGBT ... he answered. Definitively.

Now, whether anyone buys his answer is another thing. The Veep's reputation in the LGBTQ community stems from a stance he took in 2000 during a campaign. 

His website stated the following regarding the Ryan White Care Act, which provided funding to HIV/AIDS patients: 

Congress should support the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act only after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus. Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.

That paragraph is why it's widely believed VP Pence supports conversion therapy for gays. He's also backed a law defining marriage as strictly between a man and a woman.

Still, Greg seems to think his brother's reputation is undeserved.

Common NFL Doesn't Support Black People ... 'I'm with Kap'

1/16/2019 3:37 PM PST
EXCLUSIVE

Common says he loves Travis Scott -- but really wishes the guy would PULL OUT of the Super Bowl halftime show over the way the league has treated Colin Kaepernick.

"I ain't with supporting the NFL," Common told us ... "They don't really support black people."

"Kaepernick said he's standing up for people who are being shot down, black and brown. The NFL basically blackballed him. They've shown how they feel about us for real."

Common says he respects the NFL players -- his beef is squarely with the owners. 

As for Travis Scott, Common says ... "He's a dope dude, but I really don't want to support none of that stuff."

"Travis is doing what he's gotta do ... I feel like man, I wish he wouldn't [do the halftime show] to be honest."

Common says he has great respect for artists like Rihanna who have reportedly turned down the NFL in a show of support to Colin. 

"All I know is that I'm supporting Kaepernick," Common added ... "I just want you to know that."

As we previously reported, Travis Scott reached out to Colin to discuss the Super Bowl halftime show before he officially signed on. 

The two men had a cordial conversation but Colin explained why he would NOT give Travis his blessing to perform. 

Travis negotiated with the NFL to have $500,000 donated to Van Jones' social justice organization in exchange for his participation -- and ultimately, Scott felt it was worth it. 

Rosie O'Donnell Trump Will Be Arrested ... Before the 2020 Election!!!

1/16/2019 12:42 PM PST
EXCLUSIVE

Rosie O'Donnell thinks Donald Trump has a snowball's chance in hell of being reelected in 2020 ... because it's really hard to run for office when you're sitting in prison.

We got the comedian Wednesday in NYC, and asked if she had any thoughts on Trump's chances to be a two-term President. Rosie says there's no way in hell that's happening and adds ... the American people won't let it happen.

She makes it clear she has faith citizens will bounce back from what she describes as Trump's "tyranny," and -- to borrow one of his fave phrases -- lock HIM up.

Watch ... Rosie also has some fiery thoughts on Trump's chances of getting his beloved border wall.

Travis Scott, Kaepernick Spoke BEFORE Super Bowl Deal was Signed ... But Travis Didn't Ask Permission

1/16/2019 10:30 AM PST
EXCLUSIVE

10:30 AM PT -- We've now made sense of what happened between Colin and Travis, and sources connected with both sides agree the two men spoke, but the timeline and substance of the convo are critical.

Sources connected to Travis acknowledge, when TMZ broke the story on December 20 that Travis would perform at the Super Bowl, he had indeed made that decision. The contract, however, had not been signed.

Travis has a track record for charity work and donations -- and wanted to incorporate that into his deal -- and that's when he started thinking of some sort of donation the NFL might make. We're told Travis' people started negotiating a donation amount with the NFL and Travis was "willing to walk" if he didn't get what he wanted.

Before the contract was signed, sources tell us Travis reached out to Colin ... presumably to get him on board but not to ask for permission. We're told Colin was not supportive of Travis performing at the Super Bowl, and the 2 men disagreed. Multiple sources characterize the conversation as "cordial and not hostile."

The NFL contract, we're told, was only signed a few days ago ... AFTER the conversation between Colin and Travis. That contract includes a $500,000 donation to Van Jones' charity, Dream Corps.

One final thing ... a Travis source underscored, although he respects Colin, "Colin doesn't tell Travis what he can and can't do. That's Travis' decision."

Colin Kaepernick and his close circle of friends are strongly DENYING a report rapper Travis Scott "consulted" with the ex-NFL quarterback before agreeing to do the Super Bowl halftime show. 

The report claims Travis and Kap spoke over the phone -- and while they didn't exactly see eye to eye, there was a mutual understanding.

The report seemed to imply Kap was okay with Scott performing because the NFL and Scott agreed to donate $500k to a social justice organization. 

But now, Kap's crew is calling BS -- and the QB is putting his stamp of approval on the public denials. 

Kap's friend, Ebro Darden -- the famous HOT 97 radio host who works closely with Kap's girlfriend, Nessa -- tweeted, "Kap did not approve this bullshit! Get the f*ck outta here."

Kaepernick retweeted Ebro's statement -- and Nessa also weighed in saying, "FACTS @EBRO!!! THEY NEED TO STOP LYING."

In fact, the same day it was announced Big Boi from Outkast would also be performing at the Super Bowl, Nessa posted the urban dictionary definition of the word, "Sell out."

She added, "If you are with them, then you are definitely not with us."

Originally Published -- 6:15 AM PT

Lady Gaga Pissed R. Kelly Collab Still For Sale ... On Google Play

1/16/2019 11:37 AM PST
EXCLUSIVE

11:37 AM PT -- A source close to Gaga tells us the singer is furious the song is still on the Google service. We're told she was under the impression everything had been taken down, and this one, somehow, slipped through the cracks. Her team blames Google's switch of most of its music operations to YouTube for the lapse as Play dramatically cut staff.  

10:35 AM PT -- IGA tells TMZ, "We are working on taking this down now."Lady Gaga hasn't completely followed through on her promise to remove her song with R. Kelly from streaming platforms, because their collab is still available for purchase on Google Play Music. 

As of this post, you can still throw down $1.29 to buy Lady Gaga's song, "Do What U Want (With My Body)" featuring R. Kelly. 

Gaga said 6 days ago she was pulling the collab from iTunes and other streaming services as an act of solidarity with the women Kelly allegedly abused.

It HAS been disabled on iTunes, Spotify and YouTube. It's unclear if Google Play was overlooked, or if the purge just hasn't gotten to the platform yet. 

As you know, Celine Dion, Ciara, Chance the Rapper and the Pussycat Dolls followed in Gaga's footsteps and pulled or are in the process of pulling their collabs with R. Kelly in the wake of Lifetime's docuseries, "Surviving R. Kelly." Still, it's interesting that Gaga and Kelly's song hasn't been completely scrubbed.

We've reached out to Google and Gaga ... so far, no word back.  

Originally Published -- 10:18 AM PST

Dave Chappelle My Skits Mocking R. Kelly Scandal ... Hmm, IDK ... I Gotta Watch It Again

1/16/2019 7:04 AM PST
EXCLUSIVE

Dave Chappelle was noncommittal on his feelings about some old skits that mocked some shocking behavior by R. Kelly.

We got the comic in WeHo Tuesday night leaving Craig's, and asked about his sketches from "Chappelle's Show" where he created a music video -- titled "Piss on You" -- mocking the real video of R. Kelly urinating on what appears to be a teenage girl. 

Dave also did a comedy sketch on the jury selection process in the criminal trial, and used R. Kelly's scandal as material for years.

Dave said he didn't have a vivid memory of the sketches and needed a relook.

Our photog also asked if he had regrets over not participating in "Surviving R. Kelly." The show's EP, Dream Hampton, claimed Chappelle was among a number of celebs who turned down interviews.

His dinner partner, D.L. Hughley, came out swinging, not only saying R. Kelly and Michael Jackson were birds of a feather, he lashed out at people who feigned ignorance for years, pretending they didn't know.

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