Skip to main content


Return to Transcripts main page


Hurricane Katrina

Aired August 29, 2005 - 19:00   ET


A.J. HAMMER, CO-HOST: I`m A.J. Hammer.
KARYN BRYANT, CO-HOST: And I`m Karyn Bryant. TV`s only live entertainment news show starts right now.


BRYANT (voice-over): On SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, Hurricane Katrina`s devastating landfall. Tonight, the must-see and most dramatic video as the storm moved in. Plus, the reporters who risked their lives to bring you the pictures of this historic storm.

HAMMER (voice-over): MTV`s Video Music Awards take Miami by storm.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you guys in the mood to go around the world?

HAMMER: First, a rapper is shot at a party. Then, a convicted felon onstage as a presenter. And another awaiting trial on child pornography charges, performing in a racy skit. Tonight, is the party over for the VMAs?

BRYANT: Michael Jackson jurors compete for the spotlight. You may soon be able to read more about the Jackson trial than you ever wanted to know. But is it right for the jury to profit? And how many books on the trial do we really need?

JEFF GORDON, NASCAR DRIVER: I`m Jeff Gordon. If it happened today, it`s on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.


HAMMER: Hello I`m A.J. Hammer.

BRYANT: I`m Karyn Bryant. Live in New York City.

BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And I`m Brooke Anderson live in Miami. A hurricane and a shooting before the show, and a star about to go to jail goes on the show. I`ll have complete coverage of an MTV Video Music Award show to remember.

BRYANT: But first after leaving its mark, Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast today, creating scenes that could have come from a special effects drive Hollywood movie. David Haffenreffer is live right now in the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom with the scenes we don`t forget any time soon -- David.

DAVID HAFFENREFFER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Karyn, Katrina came ashore this morning with winds topping 140 miles per hour, and viewers around the country and the world tuned into their TVs to watch Mother Nature wreak havoc on the Gulf Coast.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The winds are really kicking.

HAFFENREFFER: That`s the understatement of the hurricane season. Hurricane Katrina blew a 145 mile per hour path of destruction through the Gulf Coast. And the job of covering this destructive storm was enough to literally blow some reporters away.


HAFFENREFFER: As day broke, the eyes of news outlets were focused on New Orleans, the biggest city threatened by the storm and the city with the biggest potential for disaster.

In an incredible display of riveting television, one New Orleans reporter ran right out into the storm to illustrate its power.

BRIAN ANDREWS, TV REPORTER: If you see something coming at me, just scream at me, all right?

All right. I`m going to crouch down and use this as cover. This is what it`s like in downtown New Orleans right now. It is just after 8:20 in morning Eastern Time. Stuff is flying down is the street. These are the hurricane force winds.

All right. That`s it, guys. I`m going to come back in. We`re going to let it go. All right.

Reporting from the hurricane, in New Orleans -- come on, let`s go for cover.

HAFFENREFFER: Even though Katrina passed just to the east of New Orleans, all day TV screens were filled with dramatic images of the damage Katrina caused in the Crescent City.

Viewers watched as CNN`s Wolf Blitzer gave a play by play of a passerby`s dramatic rescue of a man who drove his car into a flooded road.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Look at this. You see this man. He sees the car going into this area which once had been a street. Clearly the floods make it look like a river.

But as we see what`s happening, this man, a very courageous man, is going up to the car and is going to try to help that individual inside get out of that automobile. Look at this. He`s taking his own life into his hands as these waters clearly emerging. He`s going about, just simply, simply trying to save this guy`s life. WWL, our affiliate, bringing us these pictures.

HAFFENREFFER: Fortunately, the driver and his rescuer lived to talk about it on TV.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a stupid thing to do, and I did it.

HAFFENREFFER: The drama wasn`t limited only to Louisiana. TV reporters also fanned out across Mississippi to cover the significant damage suffered by that state. CNN`s Rob Marciano was in Biloxi, where he reported from right under a hotel that was coming apart over him.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Look at this. The undercarriage of this awning has been torn apart. Light fixtures, light bulbs blowing up and flying everywhere. We`re protected somewhat by three sides of stucco and concrete. But this structure is coming apart as we speak. Look at that debris. Look at that. The entire thing is coming apart.

Heads up, guys. This is a good spot. All right.

HAFFENREFFER: Viewers saw CNN`s Gary Tuchman in Gulf Port, through shaky videophone footage that did not lessen the impact of the devastation he was covering.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are watching the dismantling of a beautiful town, Gulf Port, Mississippi.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Turn that off (ph).

HAFFENREFFER: And as viewers spent all day watching reporters put themselves in danger to cover the storm, CNN`s Miles O`Brien took a moment to answer a key question.

MILES O`BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR: A lot of folks tell us repeatedly as we do this coverage, you know, why do you put yourselves in harm`s way? The idea, first of all, is to tell the story and the other idea, of course, more important than that, really, is to stay safe.


HAFFENREFFER: The storm posed a special problem for the local stations that had to both cover the storm and get away from it. Katrina knocked out or forced the evacuation of several stations along the coast. Some affiliates even had to scramble to stay on the air. One had to broadcast, we understand, from the campus of Louisiana State University.

Karyn, back to you.

BRYANT: All right. Thank you, very much, David Haffenreffer.

And now we want to hear from you. It is our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. Hurricane Katrina: are you glued to the TV coverage? You can vote at and send us e-mail at We`ll read some of your thoughts later on in our show.

HAMMER: Truly some amazing pictures there.

Well, tonight, the mystery of a missing Grammy-winning music producer is solved. And the end of the story is just about as bizarre as the beginning. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT first told you about the producer who vanished after making a panicked phone call. And now, we know what happened.

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Sibila Vargas live in Hollywood tonight with the latest -- Sibila.


Well, we`ve been working the phones. We`ve gone to the scene and we`ve been chasing all leads since last week, trying to make sense of a disappearance that involved a scary cell phone call, a sketchy Internet scheme and the mountainous Topanga Canyon regions of Los Angeles County.


VARGAS (voice-over): It was a strange end to an even stranger mystery. The nearly week-long search for Christian Julian Irwin, a Grammy nominated music producer, ended on Friday.

The 48-year-old producer, who`s said to have worked with such artists as David Bowie, Carly Simon, Queen Latifah and Vanessa Williams, vanished August 21 after making a predawn panicked call to a friend, saying he`d fled his Topanga Canyon home and was being chased by people with dogs.

His sister, Sharon Riolo said he was frantic.

SHARON RIOLO, IRWIN`S SISTER: He said, "People are chasing me. I had to leave the house. I`m down at Amerigas. Come get me. Please help." My brother, said, "I think they have dogs. And I think it must be about the money."

VARGAS: Irwin had recently received a check for $50,000 as part of a supposed Nigerian Internet scheme. It completed unnerved him and he sent the check back.

Authorities searched near the Topanga Canyon gas station and surrounding areas. They found his glasses in a nearby stream.

Topanga Canyon is a mountainous region about 20 miles from downtown Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains. Bulletins were posted all over. In the end, it was local resident who spotted Irwin by his backyard creek. He was found sitting naked on a rock.

Captain Ray Peavy told SHOWBIZ TONIGHT Irwin was very distraught.

RAY PEAVY, LOS ANGELES COUNTY HOMICIDE BUREAU: Agitated would be the best describer. He was unhappy. He seemed unhappy with the fact that the police were there, that all this attention was being made. He wasn`t in harm`s way. He was sitting there on a rock, washing his Levis.

VARGAS: He had no supplies, and authorities said he had survived for almost a week by drinking water from the creek. A mental evaluation team was on the scene, and he`s currently being evaluated by the local hospital.

Captain Ray Peavy told SHOWBIZ TONIGHT there is no reason to suspect anyone was after him.

PEAVY: There is no evidence at all that anyone was chasing him. It appears that it was all something that he imagined. His mind told him that this was occurring, and you know, he believed it.

Christian was very agitated, making statements about the Nigerian Internet scheme, that those people were still after him, that he doesn`t trust the police.

VARGAS: Authorities looked into the scheme, but uncovered that the $50,000 check Irwin received was counterfeit.


VARGAS: And the family told authorities that Irwin has had no history of mental illness, and that is why they believed foul play had occurred. Now authorities tell SHOWBIZ TONIGHT that Irwin had also called 911 the same night that he placed the cell phone call to a friend. But when police responded to the call, he`d already disappeared.

When authorities found Irwin, they said he no longer trusted police. Very mysterious and sad story. A.J., back to you.

HAMMER: Mysterious, indeed. Thank you very much, Sibila. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Sibila Vargas, live in Hollywood.

BRYANT: Hurricane Katrina caused some problems for the preshow events at MTV`s Video Music Awards in Miami. But the show did go on. Once it did, it was sometimes hard to believe what you were seeing. R. Kelly comes to mind. Next we`re taking you live to Miami.

HAMMER: Plus, deja vu. Jury selection begins in Robert Blake`s trial connected to the murder of his wife. We`ll find out what`s ahead, coming up in the "Legal Lowdown."

BRYANT: And more on the hurricane. We got more dramatic video from the reporters and the crews who risked their lives to bring you the story.

HAMMER: First, time for tonight`s "Entertainment Weekly Great American Pop Culture Quiz." Which of these Britney Spears songs was not -- I repeat was not -- on her 1999 debut, "Baby One More Time"? Was it "Sometimes," "E-mail my Heart" -- one of my favorites -- or "(You Drive Me) Crazy" or "Lucky"? We`re coming right back with the answer.


BRYANT: One again tonight`s "Entertainment Weekly Great American Pop Culture Quiz." Which of these Britney Spears songs was not on her 1999 debut, "Baby One More Time"? Was it "Sometimes," "E-mail my Heart," "(You Drive Me) Crazy" or "Lucky"? The answer is D, "Lucky."

HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer.

Our coverage of Hurricane Katrina continues now. As we told you just a short time ago, reporters face a double challenge of telling the story and, of course, making sure they don`t get hurt in the process. But what`s like to be a reporter on the front line of the hurricane all day long?

CNN correspondent Kathleen Koch has been covering Hurricane Katrina and joins us now live from Mobile, Alabama. I know things have improved dramatically, Kathleen, but what`s the situation right now?

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now here, the situation has improved immensely. And I will tell you that our first priority when we`re covering a storm, besides bringing you the news, is staying safe. No story is worth dying for.

And so, we pick our locations very carefully. We chose this hotel because it`s in a high part of Mobile. There was a lot of flooding in other lower lying downtown areas. But -- but you know, at a certain point if the winds get too high, if debris is flying around, then you make the call that you`ve got to go inside.

HAMMER: Yes, you have to draw the line somewhere. And hopefully -- I saw your hat got blown off at one point during the day today. Hopefully that was the worse of it for you. Have you ever been put in a situation, though, where you`re saying, you know, "This is dumb and I really need to get the heck out of here"?

KOCH: If I were put in that situation, I would just get the heck out of there. We did have one scary moment today. And I`ll tell you what happened. I was doing a live report. And my cameraman, Gill, here was shooting it. I don`t have eyes in the back of my head. So I was doing the live report. Gill was standing over here next to the camera, and I saw him react, like this. But I didn`t know why.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is what I saw coming from the sky. Not only did I have to keep an eye on you to make sure you`re balanced. But also, you know, watch you, watch your back. And this caught my eye. It was coming from the sky, coming like someone dropped it right out of the sky. And it landed and made a huge noise.

KOCH: Right. So obviously, I turned. I was doing a live shot with Wolf Blitzer. And I did what I don`t do in a live shot; I whipped my head around like that, because I just -- you have to be careful. You never know what might be coming to clobber you. But luckily, Gill gave me a heads up.

HAMMER: Nice to have people looking out for you. And those are the things that we may see happen on the camera. I imagine there`s a lot of challenges that we don`t see in what you have to face bringing the story to us. Can you mention some of those?

KOCH: Quite a few, A.J. And what we`ll do is we`ll swing around. And I`ll let you see some of our equipment. And this is Emanuel, who`s also been shooting and doing audio for me today. And look at, here is some of our gear, and the plastic that we`ve used to cover it.

Gill, why do we have to wrap this stuff up like this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, two things. It`s just to keep it dry and keep it secure from the wind. The wind blows a lot of debris and sand, which is not really good for electronic videotape. So we take a plastic bag, and we put it over everything. And then we take duct tape and we tape everything around the seams so the water can`t seep in, because the most paramount thing is to keep water from getting into the electronics, which don`t mix together well.

KOCH: Exactly. And Emanuel and Gil have done an amazing all day. And everyone else behind the scenes in the truck, keeping us on the air. But there were lots of times when we couldn`t broadcast, because it just was too wet, too rainy, and the gear couldn`t take it. So then you stop. You dry it out. You fix it up and then you get going again.

HAMMER: Well, the pictures have been fascinating. You`re doing a yeoman`s job yourself. CNN`s Kathleen Koch, thanks for joining us tonight here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

KOCH: Happy to, A.J.

BRYANT: Well, this may be the year that no one forgets the MTV Video Music Awards but perhaps for all the wrong reasons. With the artist formerly known as P. Diddy hosting the show in Miami last night, it was a night to remember. And so were the nights leading up to the show.

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Brooke Anderson covered it all. And Brooke is live tonight in Miami. Hey there, Brooke.

ANDERSON: Hey there, Karyn.

You know, first a storm. Then a shooting. Then, the show. The VMAs are always dramatic. It`s basically expected with this award show every year. And this year, basically, was no exception.


KANYE WEST, RAP ARTIST: So we don`t have to worry about nothing.

ANDERSON (voice-over): That`s rapper Kanye West winning the first award of night, Best Male Video. But it wasn`t his moon man stature that people were talking about; it was what took place the evening before at his star-studded pre-party.

Violence at the super swank Shore Club. Rap music mogul Suge Knight shot in the leg at the hotel VIP room early Sunday morning at a party attended by the likes of Jessica Alba, Jessica Simpson and her husband, Nick Lachey.

Tonight Suge Knight is good condition. But police are still looking for a suspect. So far, they haven`t gotten much from witnesses.

When I caught up with Kanye West before the award show...

(on camera) How are you doing?

WEST: How are you doing?

ANDERSON (voice-over): ... he didn`t really want to talk about it.

(on camera) OK, all right.

(voice-over) But when I caught up with Alicia Keys, who won last night for Best R&B Video, she was not so silent.

ALICIA KEYS, SINGER: I think it sucks, and I think it`s so tired. And I`m so disappointed that it actually keeps happening.

DIDDY, MUSIC PRODUCER: The theme tonight is anything can happen.

ANDERSON: And once the show, hosted by Diddy, got going, anything did happen. L`il Kim was chosen as a presenter for Best Rap Video, alongside "Entourage" star Jeremy Piven.

JEREMY PIVEN, ACTOR: I just want to say one thing about this great lady of rap right here. You know, she`s about to go to the big house.

ANDERSON: The choice might be an odd one. She`s a convicted felon and is about to go to jail for a year for lying to a grand jury about what happened during a shooting outside a New York City radio station.

PIVEN: But I`d like to place a call to the warden and upgrade a little situation for you, get that Martha Stewart cell, you know, or possibly -- but have it, you know, instead of sort of shabby chic, we`d be going into some sort of ghetto fabulous situation, right? Get the conjugal visits?

L`IL KIM, RECORDING ARTIST: Jeremy, I think I`ve suffered enough. Right?

ANDERSON: Just before L`il Kim got on stage there was R&B singer R. Kelly, who has some legal trouble of his own. He`s awaiting trial on child pornography charges.

But that didn`t stop producers from booking him to perform part of his five-part steamy song about couples who cheat on each other in the most explicit way.

And if all that wasn`t enough, there was plenty of profanity to go around, as well.

BILLIE JOE, GREEN DAY LEAD SINGER: Thank you very much. And remember, do the things that you (EXPLETIVE DELETED) believe in, all right?

ANDERSON: Green Day was just one of the acts keeping the people in curse control on their toes. Fifty Cent and G Unit member Tony Jaio (ph) were bleeped after taking a jab at fellow rapper, Fat Jones.


ANDERSON: Just days before the show, there was concern that Hurricane Katrina, which slammed into south Florida on Thursday, could crash the party. The heavy winds, rains and power outages forced MTV to cancel concerts and events leading up to the show. Despite the problems, though, the all-star lineup remained intact.

(on camera) Did the hurricane dampen your plans at all?

JAY-Z, RAP ARTIST: I already had this picked out so it didn`t matter if it was gray or not. The only thing happened is I would have to take off the shades if it was raining outside.

ANDERSON: As for the big winner last night, definitely Green Day.


ANDERSON: The rock group won seven out of the eight categories it was nominated in, including best rock group and video of the year.



ANDERSON: It was also a good night for pop star Kelly Clarkson. She took home two awards: Best Pop Video and Best Female Video. Missy Elliott and Gwen Stefani also won two statues a piece. And now MTV tells me we`ll have the numbers on how many people tuned into to watch tomorrow.

Karyn, that`s it. Back to you.

KARYN BRYANT, HOST: All right. Well done. Thanks very much, Brooke Anderson, live in Miami. And coming up later in the show, we`ll talk with a gossip columnist who was at the party where rap music mogul Suge Knight was shot. And we`ll hear what he had to say. That`s still ahead.

HAMMER: I thought Kelly Clarkson rocked out last night.

Well, with a name like New Pornographers, how can that group possibly miss? We`re going to get a review of their new record, coming up next in "Picks and Pans."

BRYANT: Plus, a little Monday morning quarterbacking on what went wrong between Brad and Jen. We`ll tell which one of Brad`s famous former girlfriends is speaking out. That`s coming up.


BRYANT: Time now for "The SHOWBIZ Guide," where throughout the week we help you decide where to spend your dollars on movies, music, DVDs and more. Tonight, "People`s Picks and Pans." We`ve got new music, rapper Kanye West, the innovative Herbie Hancock and indie rock band the New Pornographers. All have new discs out. We`ll let you know if they`re worth your hard earned cash.

Joining us live is "People" magazine`s senior editor, Julie Dam. Julie, good to see you. Let`s right to it. Kanye West. This is his sophomore album. That`s always tough.

JULIE DAM, SENIOR EDITOR, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: right. He`s the men of the hour. He was on the cover of "TIME." Of course, he won last night at the VMAs. And this album has actually been better than the last.

BRYANT: This one`s called "Late Registration."

DAM: "Late Registration," which is his follow-up to "College Dropout," of course. And you know, he`s not the best rapper in the world. But, he really knows how to write a hook. And he`s great at the samples, which is what he`s known for. I mean, he samples everyone from Etta James to Ray Charles to a gospel choir. So it`s a really good album.

BRYANT: All right. Well, let`s move on to Herbie Hancock. Because he is just legendary as a jazz pianist.

DAM: Right.

BRYANT: And in this new album, "Possibilities," he`s teaming up with a lot of guest stars.

DAM: Yes. I mean, this one kind of, you know, defies genre. Because he`s got everyone from Carlos Santana to Christina Aguilera to Josh Stone (ph).

BRYANT: There`s Christina right there. Look at that. And he`s just so talented. So you liked this record a lot?

DAM: Yes. It`s -- I mean, it`s just like this fabulous jam session with al of these people.

BRYANT: Cool. All right. Well, let`s move on to the New Pornographers. This is a group out of Canada. If you look at them, they don`t look like rock stars to me. I`ve got to be honest.

DAM: Well, it`s like -- it`s an indie rock collective. When you hear the word "collective," you`re kind of like, you know, what does that mean? It actually is led by this guy, the frontman who is incredibly talented. He plays six different instruments. He writes. He sings, a whole lot. And it`s actually our critic`s choice this week.

BRYANT: OK. And it`s called "Twin Cinema."

DAM: Yes.

BRYANT: All right, well, very good. So Herbie Hancock, pretty good.

DAM: Yes.

BRYANT: Also, New Pornographers and Kanye.

DAM: Yes.

BRYANT: Three good ones this week.

DAM: Definitely.

BRYANT: All right. Very much -- thank you very much, Julie Dam.

And for more of "People`s Picks and Pans," you can pick up a copy of "People" magazine. It is on news stands now.

HAMMER: Well, the most dramatic part of MTV`s Video Music Awards, which happened last night, happened even before the ceremony began. And it was the talk of the night. That`s still ahead. We`re going to explain all that in a few moments.

Plus, more of the Michael Jackson jurors are reportedly planning to tell all. We`re going to tell you how many books are in the works and why some people are outraged about it. Harvey Levin`s going to join us in the "Legal Lowdown." That`s on the way here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

And for some people of course, Hurricane Katrina really their worst nightmare come true. For others, like those of us covering it on television, simply another day on the job. We`re going to show you the dramatic video from the front lines of reporting. It`s riveting. It`s fascinating. And it`s coming up next here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.


SOPHIA CHOI, CNN HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT continues in just a minute. I`m Sophia Choi with your "Headline Prime Newsbreak."

Hurricane Katrina has been downgraded now to Category 1 hurricane. Emergency crews are trying to help stranded residents and assess the damage. Power is out in much of the Gulf Coast and parts of Mississippi are under as much as 12 feet of water.

The president may tap into the U.S.`s Strategic Oil Reserves. Much of U.S. crude production takes place in the Gulf and was shut down in anticipation of the storm.

Also, travelers are being hit hard by Katrina. At least six airports have suspended flights, stranding thousands of passengers. Right now, Katrina and its 75 mile-an-hour winds are heading north into Tennessee and Ohio.

Now, to Iraq, where thousands of Sunni are protesting Iraq`s new constitution. Sunni leaders are urging the community to vote against the charter in October unless the leaders` points are resolved.

That`s the news for now. I`m Sophia Choi. Now back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. It is 31 minutes past the hour. I`m A.J. Hammer.

BRYANT: And I`m Karyn Bryant. You`re watching TV`s only live entertainment news show.

HAMMER: Well, still to come in this half-hour, it looks like there are going to be more book deals in place for more Jackson jurors. We could wind up with a dozen Jackson juror books.

BRYANT: Please, no.

HAMMER: Not necessarily a good thing. We`re going to deal with that in our "Legal Lowdown" in a few minutes.

BRYANT: That`s right. And still to come this half-hour, as well, A.J., you know, I complain sometimes in here. It`s cold, it`s chilly. Well, guess what? There are some reporters out there doing the real work covering the storm. And we`re going to have some more highlights of the spectacular job that they did today covering Katrina. So that`s still to come.

HAMMER: Perspective.

BRYANT: Yes, indeed. But first, let`s get to tonight`s "Hot Headlines" from SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Sibila Vargas who joins us once against from Hollywood.

Hi, Sibila.

VARGAS: Hi, Karyn.

Tonight, a missing music producer has been found. But the end of the mystery is only the beginning of the bizarre story. Tonight, 48-year-old Christian Julian Irwin, a Grammy-nominated producer who has worked with everyone from Carly Simon to Queen Latifah, is being evaluated at a hospital in California.

He was found about 20 miles from Los Angeles sitting naked on a rock after disappearing August 21st. Police say Irwin was very distraught, convinced that people were chasing him, but there`s no evidence that anyone was after him.

And the night belonged to Green Day at MTV`s Video Music Awards. At the ceremony in Miami last night, the band won seven awards out of the eight it was nominated for, including video of the year for "Boulevard of Broken Dreams."

Hurricane Katrina has disrupted several movie shoots in Louisiana. Oscar-winner Hilary Swank had to evacuate. She was shooting a Joel Silver movie called "The Reaping" in St. Francisville. And former "Xena" star, Luci Lawless, was shooting a TV movie in New Orleans when the evacuation call came in.

And those are the "Hot Headlines." A.J. and Karyn, back to you.

HAMMER: Sibila Vargas in Hollywood. Thanks very much.

Well, America has certainly been held captive by their televisions over the past 24 hours, watching all of this dramatic, unprecedented footage of Hurricane Katrina, as it slammed into the Gulf Coast. And it was the fearless reporting of correspondents around the area that brought it straight into our living rooms.

Tonight, Hurricane Katrina, caught on tape.


KIMBERLY CURTH, MOBILE, ALABAMA: We`re in downtown Mobile, right by Royal Creek. If you look behind me, that is Water Street. You can`t -- you can`t stand up. You don`t want to come down here. Guys, we`re in store for one nasty storm. Stay inside.

BRIAN ANDREWS, NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA: I don`t know if you can see it, but in the middle of Canal Street, there`s a tree that`s down. I`m going to try to head out towards that mailbox right there and get a glimpse of what I can see, all right?

Kevin, if you see something coming for me, just scream at me, all right? All right, I`m going to crouch down and use this as cover. This is what it`s like in downtown New Orleans right now. It is just after 8:20 in the morning Eastern time. Stuff is flying down the street. These are the hurricane-force winds.

All right. That`s it, guys. I`m going to come back in.

CURTH: We wanted to show you some of the damage that this storm is causing here in Mobile. It`s not looking good, guys. This is a business, right here you see in front of me. And if you will notice there, an entire billboard sign has gone crashing through the building. That billboard sign has been completely uprooted. There are downed power lines there.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: This structure is coming apart as we speak. Look at all the debris down here. This is not only from the awning, but also flashing from pieces of the roof and the gutter, all littering now this area, damaging cars that are parked. And beyond that, the trees that we keep showing you, look like they keep disappearing by the minute. Look at that debris. Look at that! The entire thing is coming apart.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Getting pretty bad here. The winds along the Mississippi are really picking up. It`s getting to the point where, you know, you cannot look into the rain. It`s that stinging rain that really hits you pretty hard.

I want to show what the Mississippi looks like right now. We`re seeing white caps on the Mississippi River. And the water has been slamming into this crane, which is on a barge, which is sort of parked here. But we have seen water just slamming into that, pouring over the edge of it. And that crane started to move back and forth. Which, as these winds pick up, is a big point of concern, what`s going to happen to that barge. That is something we`re watching very closely.


HAMMER: There`s your reality TV right there. Hard to turn away from. That leads us once again to our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day." Hurricane Katrina: Are you glued to the TV coverage?

You can keep voting by going to You can tell us more of your thoughts at We`re going to read some of your e-mails at 54 past the hour.

BRYANT: Katrina ripped through Miami in a daze leading up to last night`s MTV Video Music Awards. But it was a bullet ripping through the leg of music mogul Suge Knight during Kanye West`s exclusive party on Saturday night that had Miami running for cover once again.

Let`s go back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Brooke Anderson live in Miami.

ANDERSON: Karyn, Suge Knight was just one of the many celebrities at Kanye West`s party at the Shore Club`s Sky Bar. He was in the VIP room when the shooting occurred. He was then taken immediately to Mount Sinai Medical Center for treatment. He`s listed in good condition.

Ben Widdicombe, gossip columnist for the "New York Daily News," was actually at the party when the shooting occurred. And he`s joining us live tonight from Miami.

Ben, great to see you`re in one piece. Thanks for being here tonight.


ANDERSON: Good evening to you. Now, I`m sure some big names were at this party. Who was there?

WIDDICOMBE: Well, Jessica Alba had, in fact, just left the party when the shooting occurred. Kanye West was, of course, there. I was told by one witness that Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey was there, although I was unable to confirm that independently. It was really one of the very big parties the night before the VMAs.

ANDERSON: A huge party for the weekend. And, Ben, did you hear a gunshot? What happened? Take us through the events of the evening.

WIDDICOMBE: Well, it was a very interesting night. Almost as an omen, the very last violent rainstorm, as Hurricane Katrina left the area, came down very suddenly. The sky bar is in the Shore Club Hotel in South Beach. There are big, very beautiful gardens.

Most people were in the garden. And everyone scattered. Now, the VIP area is called the Red Room. It`s one of the few sheltered areas at the sky bar. So people scattered away from the front door of the Red Room.

Just as we settled under some cover, I got a call from a woman I was sitting next to, who was, in fact, the girlfriend of the bar manager, saying there`s been a shooting. So I ran to the door. People were being evacuated at that stage.

Through a cracked door, I could see there was a stretcher, a number of police officers, and medics were congregating there. And there appeared to be quite a lot of excitement. People had left the Red Room by that point. And everyone`s cell phones started ringing. The news spread like wildfire.

ANDERSON: So did you see -- when you saw the stretcher, did you see Suge? Did you know it was him at that point?

WIDDICOMBE: Well, I saw the medics working on someone who appeared to be on the floor. They closed the door pretty suddenly, so it was very hard to see what was going on. I peered through a window. I was standing next to an ABC correspondent, who was filing a live radio report, saying they`d been working on him for about 10 minutes.

By that point, they didn`t know whether the shooter was in the area. I saw police frisking people. One man was handcuffed in front of me. He, in fact, was wearing a pink shirt. And since that night, there have been reports that a man wearing a pink shirt is a suspect.

Having been there, I think that people might have just misinterpreted this man who was cuffed, really because he gave the police an attitude, and they didn`t like it. And they let him off, so...

ANDERSON: So no official arrests at this point?

WIDDICOMBE: Well, they cuffed that one guy, but he clearly -- he was not a suspect in the shooting. He had just been shooting his mouth off, if you like, to the police.

Another theory, which is getting a lot of currency, is that he may have been shot by a weapon he was carrying. The reason police think that is because they unusually have not been able to recover a shell casing from anywhere near the scene, so that`s unusual.

ANDERSON: Oh, interesting. Well, hopefully we will have some answers very soon. And, Ben Widdicombe from "New York Daily News," we appreciate you for joining us and sharing what you know from the evening.

Thanks so much.

And, Karyn, that`s going to wrap up our coverage from here in Miami on the MTV Video Music Awards. Back to you.

BRYANT: All right, thanks very much. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Brooke Anderson live in Miami.

Well, tonight, Gwyneth Paltrow is dishing out some celebrity marriage advice, and she`s serving it to her former boyfriend, Brad Pitt. In an interview with "Time" magazine out today, the Oscar-winning actress says that the breakup of Pitt`s marriage to Jennifer Aniston could have been a lot smoother.

Gwyneth says, quote, "It would be a lot easier on Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston now, had they not talked to the press about each other and everything to begin with."

Paltrow is married to Coldplay`s front man, Chris Martin. And they have a 15-month-old daughter named Apple. Paltrow does practice what she preaches. She and Martin are rarely photographed together.

Well, if she can`t get President Bush on her side, will she settle for President Bartlett? We will tell you what happened when Martin Sheen met with antiwar protestor Cindy Sheehan. That`s next.

HAMMER: Plus, you may soon be able to fill an entire library with all the tell-all books from Michael Jackson jurors. Of course, not everybody thrilled by that idea. We`re going to check it out, coming up in the "Legal Lowdown."

BRYANT: And somebody get Andy Garcia on the phone, because George Clooney is hanging around casino blueprints again. No, it isn`t "Ocean`s 13." This is real life. And we have the story ahead on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.


HANK AZARIA, ACTOR, "HUFF": Hey, I`m Hank Azaria from "Huff." What I`m watching mostly these days is "Rock Star: INXS." I`m obsessed with reality TV, and I love that show.



BRYANT: Although Cindy Sheehan still hasn`t met with the president during her three-week antiwar protest, she has met with a man who plays the president on TV. Martin Sheen, President Bartlett on NBC`s "The West Wing," visited Sheehan`s camp on Sunday outside President Bush`s ranch in Crawford, Texas.

Sheen had a few nice words to say about Sheehan and feels that the president should pay her a visit.


CINDY SHEEHAN, SON DIED IN IRAQ: What she has done for us, for our country, for every mother, is just miraculous and a mighty blessing. He should come. He`s invited here. He should come and join these good people. He should mourn, and weep, and pray, and be present.


BRYANT: Sheehan`s been holding a protest vigil outside the president`s ranch since August 6th demanding to speak with him about the war in Iraq, which claimed the life of her son, a soldier.

HAMMER: It`s time now for the "Legal Lowdown." Tonight, there`s a report that several more Michael Jackson jurors are saying they`re going to turn their trial experience into a tell-all book.

And from books by jurors to booking a jury, today, jury selection began in the wrongful death civil trial of actor Robert Blake. How might this play out differently than the criminal trial?

Joining us live tonight from Los Angeles, Harvey Levin from "Celebrity Justice," who is also an attorney.

Harvey, you`ve not been shy about your distaste for these book deals and the Michael Jackson trial in particular. Why are these a bad idea? Obviously, people want to read this stuff, or the book deals wouldn`t exist.

HARVEY LEVIN, "CELEBRITY JUSTICE": You know, I`m not sure they do want to read these, A.J. I mean, five books by jurors? First of all, really, what do they know?

I mean, they heard what absolutely everybody else heard. So I`m not sure they have a whole lot to say. And five of them is such unbelievable overkill.

What bugs me about this is that, you know, people should serve on juries to decide if somebody is guilty or innocent, not to figure, "Wow, there`s a payday for me at the back-end, and maybe I`ll make the verdict go a certain way, because that`ll be a better book, or maybe some conflict in a jury room will juice up the book a little bit."

So I just think it`s a lousy idea. And, you know, if five of them doing it, maybe each will sell five books, because the others will be interested. But I don`t think a whole lot of others will.

HAMMER: You can`t help but think that there is a profit motive involved when some of these people get on the juries. So should there be - - although it`s probably unlikely there could be -- but should there be some sort of preemptive measure to keep people from profiting after they`ve appeared on a jury?

LEVIN: There are already laws in place in many states where they can`t make deals for a certain period of time after the verdict. But it doesn`t really matter, because in hot trials, like Michael Jackson, book publishers are willing to wait. And people can kind of make a deal, you know, with a wink.

So, you know, it`s really hard to curb this thing. But I got to tell you. Celebrity trials, I think, are ultimately in jeopardy, because I don`t see how a celebrity can really get a fair shake one way or the other, if people are thinking of a payday at the end.

HAMMER: Another celebrity trial getting under way today with jury selection, just beginning in the civil trial against actor Robert Blake, the wrongful death civil trial in the death of Bonny Lee Bakley. Will the attorneys at all being paying attention to the potential profit motive, when they`re looking at these jurors who may say -- you know, be savvy enough to say, "Hey, I see dollar signs here. I`m going to try to get on this jury."

LEVIN: Well, sadly for the Robert Blake, I`m not sure the profit motive in this case is there. I mean, he`s not the kind of star that Michael Jackson is. I mean, he`s had his heyday. And even his criminal case really did not get a whole lot of attention. As a matter of fact, A.J., when the jurors were asked today, "Did you follow the criminal case?" Most of them kind of said, "You know, sporadically we followed it."

But I don`t think Robert Blake is the kind of top-of-mind, bestseller, front of the B. Dalton Bookstore guy that maybe Michael Jackson is.

HAMMER: And, of course, he was...

LEVIN: Although I have to tell you, what`s really interesting about this case is that the judge made a real point of saying to the jurors at the beginning, "Look. Do not think that what you see on television is the way trials really happen. Forget about all of that stuff. They`re cartoons."

And the judge was just trying to get people to say, "Hey, you know what? It`s not real. The way it`s going to happen here is not the way it happens on TV." That`s become a real problem in these trials.

HAMMER: Well, Harvey, I have less than a minute here, but could you just break it down for us quickly? He was acquitted, of course, in the criminal trial. This is the civil trial, basically what happened with O.J., same sort of thing. What is the essential difference between the criminal and civil trials?

LEVIN: Well, two differences. One is the standard of proof. In a criminal case, you have to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In the civil case, all you have to do is tip the scale to prove it`s more likely than not that he murdered his wife.

Also, in this case, Robert Blake is going to have to take the stand. He had a right to remain silent in the criminal case, which he did. Here, he has no right to say, "I`m not going to testify," because there`s no incrimination. He`s already been found not guilty. So Robert Blake on the stand could be pretty interesting stuff.

HAMMER: And I`m sure there will be a book deal along the way, too. Harvey Levin from "Celebrity Justice," thanks for joining us tonight.

LEVIN: See you.

BRYANT: Tonight, in the "Show`s Biz," in "Ocean`s 11," George Clooney robbed a casino. Now he`s opening one. Clooney is teaming up with businessman Randy Gerber, who is Cindy Crawford`s husband, to develop a new hotel and casino complex in Las Vegas.

Las Ramblas is a $3 billion project, though Clooney isn`t saying how much he has personally invested. It`ll will be just off the strip and will feature 11 towers, including night life, dining, shopping, an upscale casino, and the city`s first open air pedestrian promenade. Construction is expected to start mid-2006.

HAMMER: So what do Ozzie Osbourne fans and Jimmy Kimmel`s Aunt Chippy have in common? The answer: absolutely nothing. Well, that`s what Jimmy learned on the "Jimmy Kimmel Show" live when he sent her out to cover the Ozzfest. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you want to say?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was brilliant.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, isn`t that nice? Charming. Why do they all have to scream? Get off of me!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, what channel is this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s "Jimmy Kimmel Live."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes! It`s Jimmy Kimmel!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freakin` animals. They`re animals.



HAMMER: Just another good time for Aunt Chippy. Not her type of crowd, but she actually did appreciate the yelling. She says she sounds rather similar when she screams at her kids.

There`s still time for you to sound off in our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day," if you haven`t gotten to it already. We`re asking, Hurricane Katrina: Are you glued to the TV coverage?

You can vote at You can also write to us at We`re going to read some of your e-mails live, coming up next.


HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. Well, tonight, actor Robert Downey, Jr., is a married man once again. Downey got married over the weekend to his long-time fiancee Susan Levin. She`s a film producer. And the couple met three years ago on the set of the film "Gothika," which Levin co-produced. They married Saturday at a private home in the Hamptons in New York. This is Downey`s second marriage. He has an 11-year-old son from his first. Downey has credited Levin with helping him recover from the addictions that sent him to rehab and to jail.

BRYANT: Well, "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" has scored again. For the second week in a row, the very funny Steve Carell, his comedy was on top of the box office this weekend, bringing in more than $16 million. "The 40- Year-Old Virgin" edged out Terry Gilliam`s "The Brothers Grimm," starring Matt Damon and Heath Ledger, which debuted in second place.

The Wes Craven thriller "Red Eye" was in third, followed by "Four Brothers," starring Mark Wahlberg, and "Wedding Crashers," still getting a very good reception, in fifth place.

HAMMER: We`ve been asking you to vote online in our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day." Hurricane Katrina: Are you glued to the TV coverage?

The vote so far, well, only 35 percent of you said, yes, you`re glued to the coverage; 65 percent of you say, no, you`re not.

We`ve gotten some e-mails on the subject. Heard from Jessie in Ohio who writes, "I think it`s ridiculous. How long until a reporter is seriously hurt or even killed in one of these storms?"

Good point, Jessie.

Also heard from Norma in California who writes, "My eyes have been glued to the hurricane coverage. It`s like watching a train wreck in slow motion."

Keep voting by going to

BRYANT: OK, well, thanks for writing. It`s time to see what`s playing on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT tomorrow.

HAMMER: Let`s take a look at the "Showbiz Marquee," back for a Monday. Marquee Guy, take it away.

MARQUEE GUY: Welcome back, A.J. And come on everybody, all together now. Jeremiah was a bullfrog. Well, anyway, Three Dog Night is a good friend of mine. Me, the Marquee Guy. And they`ll be on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT tomorrow. Maybe we can help them drink their wine.

Also tomorrow, we`ve seen the light, now we have the blues. Elwood Blues himself, Dan Aykroyd, joins us live with new "Blues Brothers" news.

This is the Marquee Guy on a mission from God. Karyn, A.J., let`s put the band back together.

HAMMER: You know, a week is too long to be gone when you don`t have the Marquee Guy in your life.

BRYANT: Did you miss him? I could have phoned it in for you.

Well, anyway, that`s it for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m Karyn Bryant.

HAMMER: I`m A.J. Hammer. Stay tuned for the latest from CNN Headline News.


© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines