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SHOWBIZ TONIGHT

Desperate SOS from New Orleans for Help; Celebs Plan Benefit Events for Hurricane Victims; Harry Shearer Lambastes Government for Slow Response; Former Miss Louisiana to Aid Relief

Aired September 1, 2005 - 19:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HAMMER (voice-over): On SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, chaos in New Orleans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You see them dying. It`s your fault.

HAMMER: A scene of desperation, and danger. Tonight, the graphic images in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as the situation deteriorates. And the latest unprecedented steps the networks are taking to tell the story, including bringing in armed guards.

BRYANT (voice-over): Plus, celebrities quickly rallying to lend a big hand and many voices. Tonight, a preview of what could be one of most important events of the year. What Hollywood heavyweights are doing and what you too can do to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Plus, Louisiana native and country star Tim McGraw tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT his very personal story.

BRYANT: And, Harry heads home. Harry Connick Jr. returns to New Orleans. Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is with the singer during his emotional tour of the city he loves. And we`ll have his inspirational words for the future.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRYANT: Hello. I`m Karyn Bryant.

HAMMER: I`m A.J. Hammer.

Tonight, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The situation is bad and only getting worse, with increasing violence and the mayor of New Orleans issuing a "desperate SOS" and a call for help.

BRYANT: All of this is playing out in front of our eyes on TV and on the Web. But major TV networks aren`t just banding together to cover this unspeakable disaster. They`re also trying to help. We`ll have more on that in a moment.

But first, David Haffenreffer is live in the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom with more on the desperate situation in the Gulf Coast -- David.

DAVID HAFFENREFFER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And desperate, Karyn, is the stage that many seem to have arrived at today in New Orleans. It`s been four days since the hurricane struck, and people remain homeless, hungry and without direction. And it`s all playing out live on television.

We do have to warn you: some of the images you are about to see are disturbing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It`s hard to describe. It`s something I never could conceive of ever seeing in a major city like New Orleans.

HAFFENREFFER (voice-over): More shocking images from New Orleans: 15,000 to 20,000 desperate people crammed into that city`s convention center. Hurricane Katrina and the flooding that followed left them with no food, no water and no place to go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want help! We want help!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want help! We want help!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want help! We want help!

HAFFENREFFER: This afternoon, CNN`s Chris Lawrence with a riveting account of the horrible conditions there.

LAWRENCE: We talked to mothers holding babies. I mean, some of these babies, 3, 4, 5 months old living in these horrible conditions. Putrid food on the ground, sewage, their feet sitting in sewage. We saw feces on the ground. These people are being forced to live like animals.

We saw dead bodies. People are dying at the convention center, and there`s no one to come get them. We saw an older woman, someone`s mother, someone`s grandmother, in a wheelchair. Her dead body pushed up against the side of the convention center with a blanket over it. Right on the ground next to her, another dead body wrapped in a white sheet. People are literally dying.

It is just heartbreaking that these people have been sitting there without food, without water, waiting for these buses to take them away, and they keep asking us, "When are the buses coming? When are the buses coming?"

And you just have to say, "I don`t know. I really don`t know."

What it is, is, like any large group, it`s a different story for everyone. You`ve got some young guys in there who drink a lot during the day. They get drunk and at night they fight. It`s violent. They said that as bad as that looks during the day, everyone was telling us, it`s five to 10 times worse at night. People have been trampled at night. Fights break out constantly.

HAFFENREFFER: Images of looting and scattered reports of violence are revealing an even uglier side of Katrina. Now we`re getting word that the situation is getting so dicey, that news networks are taking steps to keep their reporters safe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The wire service reporting that some shots were fired at a helicopter over the Superdome.

HAFFENREFFER: Today, NBC News acknowledged that it`s hired a private security firm to protect its staffers in the region.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The death toll estimates here in New Orleans are so staggering.

Reporter: CBS News tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT it`s done the same. But CBS wouldn`t tell us how many security people they`re sending.

The CEO of one firm providing security for media in the Gulf Coast tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT about the work his company is doing in the region.

ROBERT TUCKER, CEO, T&M PROTECTION: We`re not there to intimidate, and we`re not there to threaten anyone. There`s a lot of people who are -- who are very, very much in dire straits down there. And, you know, our job is to help our clients produce information so that it gets out to the public, and to do that seamlessly without intimidating and making the situation worse.

HAFFENREFFER: Still, reporters on the scene agree that the main story from Katrina is not the security angle. It`s the fact that days after Katrina swept through, there are still countless people in genuine need of help.

LAWRENCE: There are few people who are really trying the best they can to lift people`s spirits, to keep people calm. But there`s no one in charge. It is just a complete free-for-all. And a lot of folks were just telling me, they are so close to the end of their rope.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAFFENREFFER: Anger and frustration from the seemingly slow relief efforts isn`t just coming from the hurricane victims. At times, it comes from the media covering the story. Today on CNN`s SITUATION ROOM, commentator Jack Cafferty angrily lashed out at the government`s response to the disaster.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN COMMENTATOR: We got 500 or 600 letters before the show even went on the air. No one, no one says the federal government is doing a good job in handling one of the most atrocious and embarrassing and far reaching and calamitous things that has come along in this country in my lifetime.

I`m 62. I don`t -- I remember the riots in Watts. I remember the earthquake in San Francisco. I remember a lot of things. I have never, ever seen anything as badly bungled and poorly handled as this situation in New Orleans.

Where the hell is the water for these people? Why can`t sandwiches be dropped to those people that are in that Superdome down there? I mean, what is going -- this is Thursday. This is Thursday! This storm happened five days ago. It`s a disgrace.

And don`t think the world isn`t watching. This is the government the taxpayers are paying for. And it`s fallen right flat on its face as far as I can see.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAFFENREFFER: Angry words from CNN`s Jack Cafferty about a story that still packs an emotional punch -- A.J.

HAMMER: Certainly does. And those amazing images we were seeing a moment ago, David. Thank you for that report. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s David Haffenreffer.

BRYANT: Well, it is being called the worst natural disaster to hit our -- America in our lifetime. Tonight, Hollywood heavyweights are banding together to offer support in every way possible. The list of celebrities helping out is getting longer and longer.

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Brooke Anderson joins us live from Hollywood with the details.

Hi, Brooke.

BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Karyn.

Well, the celebrity response has been overwhelming. Stars from music, film, television, every genre of entertainment, basically, are speaking out about the misery from Katrina and their plans of action to help out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON (voice-over): Hurricane Katrina has impacted the lives of many and touched the hearts of many more. Massive relief efforts are under way led by some of the big television networks and some of the biggest names in Hollywood.

Just moments ago, Chris Rock spoke with SHOWBIZ TONIGHT outside a news conference announcing a BET network celebrity telethon, slated for Friday, September 9.

CHRIS ROCK, COMEDIAN: The food, the music, you know. But it`s the people, man. It`s not even about New Orleans or -- it`s just people have no place to go. They are refugees in America. You know, if it was a place with no flavor or no music and no food, you know, we should -- everybody should come together and try their best to help out people.

ANDERSON: In a press conference with reporters, Muscular Dystrophy chair Jerry Lewis announced that his annual MDA drive, airing Sunday evening through Monday afternoon, will now also raise money for hurricane relief.

JERRY LEWIS, COMEDIAN: The trouble those people are in is unlike anything that has ever happened to this country before, including 9/11.

ANDERSON: How could we forget the post-9/11 star-studded "Tribute to Heroes"? All the major networks came together, and now they`re doing it again.

All six broadcast networks are reportedly pooling to make an unprecedented appeal for help. Word is that special will air next week.

And remember the major celebrities on hand for NBC`s tsunami relief concert back in January? NBC is putting the finishing touches on another one. Tim McGraw, Harry Connick Jr. and Wynton Marsalis, who all have ties to the impacted areas, will be on hand for that event tomorrow night. Leonardo DiCaprio is just one of the major stars who will be there.

And big names are on board for MTV, VH1 and CMT`s live performance special, including Green Day, Ludacris, Alicia Keys, Dave Matthews and many more. The special will air across all three major networks Saturday, September 10.

More singers and stars told SHOWBIZ TONIGHT last night at the World Music Awards they want to pitch in, too. We talked to Jon Bon Jovi.

JON BON JOVI, MUSICIAN: And we as Americans are anxious to often reach out and make a difference. But, you know, those little contributions really can help. And if it`s something as simple as singing a song to raise some money to help somebody, that`s easy.

ANDERSON: Carmen Electra is on board, too.

CARMEN ELECTRA, ACTRESS: I can`t imagine what it would be like to lose your house and your belongings and everything you own. Hopefully, that, you know, everyone will come together and help those people get back on their feet.

ANDERSON: James Denton told us the "Desperate Housewives" cast are ready to help.

JAMES DENTON, ACTOR: I know those women well enough that -- and the guys that they`ll try to do something as a group to really, you know, really make a difference somehow.

ANDERSON: Nick Lachey says he and Jessica Simpson want to pitch in, too.

NICK LACHEY, SINGER: Certainly, we would love to be a part of anything we could to help that situation. It`s just absolutely mind blowing what`s going on there.

ANDERSON: More help is already on the way. CNN`s Larry King is hosting a special, "How You Can Help," that will air on CNN this Saturday. The Weather Channel has made a $1 million cash contribution, and is airing promotional spots to encourage donations. And the Spanish language network Telemundo is organizing a fund-raiser, too.

The Dave Matthews band today told SHOWBIZ TONIGHT they will play a benefit concert in Denver September 12. The group said, quote, "Our thoughts and prayers are with the communities that have been affected by Katrina. The devastation and human loss is heartbreaking."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: We have already seen many of these efforts pay off. NBC`s Channel 4 in New York raised $8 million last night when it preempted "Extra" and "Access Hollywood" to air a live one-hour fund-raisers.

And a number of stars have reached into their pockets. The pop stars Sean "Diddy" Combs and Jay-Z are together donating $1 million to the American Red Cross, while Celine Dion has also pledged $1 million.

And Ellen DeGeneres is planning to announce "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" Hurricane Katrina relief fund on her talk show on Monday, Karyn. Ellen DeGeneres, of course, from New Orleans originally.

BRYANT: That`s right. Great to see everybody pitching in. Thanks very much. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Brooke Anderson.

Now coming up, one of the stars who is headlining the telethon tomorrow, country superstar and Louisiana native Tim McGraw, will give us a preview. That`s just in a bit.

And now we want to hear from you. It is our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. Hurricane relief concerts: will you donate? You can vote at CNN.com/ShowbizTonight. You can also send e-mail to us at ShowbizTonight@CNN.com. And we will read some of your e-mails later on.

HAMMER: Well, a music legend from New Orleans goes missing, but SHOWBIZ TONIGHT finds him. The very first pictures of his rescue, coming up.

BRYANT: Plus, you know his voice from "The Simpsons." Now, he is voicing some strong opinions on the federal government`s response to the hurricane. Harry Shearer joins us live next.

HAMMER: And, another Harry -- Harry Connick Jr., the singer, takes an emotional trip back to New Orleans -- his city -- and surveys the damage. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has his special message on the way.

BRYANT: Now, tonight`s "Entertainment Weekly Great American Pop Culture Quiz." On "The Cosby Show," which member of the Huxtable family did not appear until several episodes into the first season? Was it Rudy, Theo, Denise or Sondra? We`ll be right back with the answer.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRYANT: Once again, tonight`s "Entertainment Weekly Great American Pop Culture Quiz." On "The Cosby Show," which member of the Huxtable family did not appear until several episodes into the first season? The answer is, D, Sondra.

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

Tonight, Fats Domino has been rescued. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has obtained the first picture of the legendary R&B singer, known for his hits like "Blueberry Hill" and "Ain`t That a Shame," apparently being saved from his New Orleans home.

No one has heard from Fats since Sunday when Hurricane Katrina began its path of destruction through the city. Just a short time ago, a producer who worked with Domino told us that he still has not been able to get in contact with the singer, and there is no word on where he is right now.

BRYANT: We told you earlier how Hollywood is coming together in the next few days to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. But some in Hollywood are saying more should have been done earlier. They are outraged.

And one of Hollywood`s most outspoken is writer, actor and director Harry Shearer. He also does many of the voices on "The Simpsons," like Mr. Burns and Smithers. He joins us live from Hollywood.

Harry, I love your program on NPR. I know you`re usually known for your satire. You have a great wit. But I`m imagining things to you right now are not so funny.

HARRY SHEARER, WRITER/ACTOR/DIRECTOR: That is correct. I`ll tell you, right next door to me, an Australian correspondent was beginning her report on this story with the words, "A day of shame for the world`s richest country."

BRYANT: Truly, I`m -- I am shocked when I look at the pictures and I see that that is here on our own homeland. What do -- what do you make of the relief and the aid that is or isn`t being sent down there?

SHEARER: Well, Karyn, first of all, I am an adoptive New Orleanian. So I have a great emotional response to this story, and it fuels a certain amount of fury within me.

I heard and saw the mayor on local New Orleans television, which I`ve been able to see from here, saying Tuesday that he had gotten an agreement from the Corps of Engineers to start dropping sandbags to heal that breach in the canal Tuesday.

Had they done so, a lot of the flood -- you know, most of what we`re seeing today is the result not of the hurricane, but of the flooding of the city. And everybody was going, "Where were those sandbags?"

And yesterday, midday, I saw on CNN`s air, a spokesman for the Corps of Engineers saying, "We`re filling sandbags." Well, you had a Category 5 predicted hurricane heading for New Orleans. Weren`t they thinking about filling sandbags on Saturday?

And, you know, some people were saying, "Well, they`re coming up with a better plan." But yet this afternoon, what are they doing? They`re dropping sandbags two days later.

I`m appalled at people sitting on rooftops, sitting in the convention center, sitting on overpasses waiting for food and water...

BRYANT: What would you tell...

SHEARER: ... and the federal government is just now responding. We`re watching "The Late Show."

BRYANT: Yes, well, what would you tell President Bush, quickly, if you had his ear?

SHEARER: Get on it. You know, here`s what I`d say. "If you were thinking that you were mischaracterized in `Fahrenheit 9/11` for that footage that made people think maybe you were responding slowly to 9/11, I`d get my heiney out of Crawford, Texas, first thing if I wanted to prove that I was on top of this."

That`s a little behind the curve now. But, you know, these people need help now.

BRYANT: They absolutely do. Well, Harry, thank you for joining us. And hopefully, that message will get out.

SHEARER: I hope so.

BRYANT: All right. Very much -- thank you very much, Harry Shearer - - A.J.

HAMMER: All right, Karyn.

Well, coming up, a former Miss USA and Miss Louisiana chimes in on the hurricane disaster. Ali Landry is going to share some of her thoughts, and she`s going to tell us what she`ll be doing to help, coming up next.

BRYANT: And country star Tim McGraw is a Louisiana native. He`ll be headlining tomorrow`s relief concert. We`ll have a preview of tomorrow`s star-studded benefit with Tim McGraw. That`s next.

HAMMER: Also, all hurricane, all the time. How the networks are pulling out all the stops to bring you nonstop coverage. The never before taken steps the media is taking to keep you glued to the tube. That`s on the way.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMMER: Watching the heart-wrenching images of the disaster left by Hurricane Katrina has affected all of us, but none more so than the natives of the damaged areas. Former Miss Louisiana, Miss USA and Louisiana native Ali Landry grew up in Breaux Bridge, just about 2 1/2 hours outside of New Orleans. She joins us now in New York.

Ali Landry, it`s nice to see you, under unfortunate circumstances.

ALI LANDRY, FORMER MISS LOUISIANA: It is unfortunate. Absolutely. Devastating.

HAMMER: Tell me what the last two days have been like for you, being so attached to Louisiana and having family and friends in the New Orleans area.

LANDRY: Well, first I think I have to start out by saying people from Louisiana, you`re so used to having these hurricanes. Every year there`s hurricane season. As children we had meteorologists coming into our classroom teaching us about the storm, and so people are ready, really.

HAMMER: It was part of your culture, growing up.

LANDRY: It was part of the culture. Absolutely. So you watch the television. You know that these storms can turn any second.

So my parents, of course, were glued to the television. They see it coming and fortunately, it missed my town, which is Acadiana. But then it was headed towards New Orleans.

And I had a girlfriend here with me here in New York City. And her parents are in New Orleans. So we were sort of going through the, you know, calling them and then the problem is, you know, you can`t get through.

HAMMER: Communication. They`re very limited.

LANDRY: I can`t get through to my parents now. Only early, early in the morning or late at night. So, you know, it`s been constantly the phone calls of friends who are in New Orleans. My uncle in Mississippi, and we still haven`t heard from him. We don`t know how he`s doing. And just contacting, you know, everyone we know.

HAMMER: So it has to be very frustrating for you. And another thing that has been a lot of the talk today is a lot of people are saying not enough happened soon enough. And I imagine as an ambassador to Louisiana, that has to make you angry.

LANDRY: You know what? I think this morning -- I`ve had limited access to a television. And when I do watch, I just can`t help but cry, because I feel like, you know, I go through every single emotion. Sadness, anger, you know, the frustration. And then, you know, what are we going to do now? But I`ve asked all those questions.

Why -- I mean, I can remember in school, everyone knows New Orleans is below sea level. Why didn`t they have some kind of, you know, evacuation - - I know they did -- in place?

But you know, they have all these people that are still there, and I`m watching the news with people with "help me" signs, and they can`t even pick up the bodies because they`re trying to still get the people who are still alive.

And then I find out this morning that FEMA has stopped, you know, all the rescue attempts as of now. And it`s just very frustrating. And why didn`t these people leave?

I think part of the reason is, again, they saw the news. They saw that the storm was not going to hit New Orleans head-on. Same as my parents. "We`re going to get some winds. We`re going to get some rains. We`re used to that."

But I don`t think they anticipated the levees breaking. And that`s the problem.

HAMMER: And a lot of people.

LANDRY: You know, we`re surrounded by water there. And these -- we have levees all throughout the state. And it`s the water that just came in and totally destroyed the city.

HAMMER: Well, fortunately, this does also bring out the best in people. So many relief efforts already under way. I imagine you`ll be getting involved with some?

LANDRY: I`ve already contacted the Red Cross. I`m very -- I know the lieutenant governor (sic), Kathleen Blanco. I`m going to be contacting her. I will be doing the telethon with "LARRY KING LIVE."

And I`m here in New York. I guess when I get back to L.A. I`ll have a little more access to the people that I work with. And, you know, I know Tim McGraw is from Louisiana. Faith Hill is from Mississippi. Oprah is from Mississippi. I hear Clinton and Bush and they`re all trying to come together with some kind of effort.

And I think right now the most important thing, and what I just saw a bulletin on the Red Cross is, no donation is too little.

HAMMER: Right.

LANDRY: And immediately, I think this is when southern hospitality will need to kick into high gear. And I spoke to my mom. She`s clearing out my father`s closet, and everyone is loading their trunks with diapers and formula to take to the evacuation centers.

One of them is in my town, which is a huge -- like it`s the Cajun Dome.

HAMMER: Right.

LANDRY: And I know Houston has -- you know, is helping out and San Antonio. But it`s really everyone in that immediate community needs to come together. And then I know the nation will follow and, hopefully, the world.

It`s just scary that, you know, when the cameras leave, these people will still be left in total devastation.

HAMMER: Well, the cameras are going to be sticking around for awhile. The story is not going away. And Ali Landry, I want to thank you for stopping by and joining us.

LANDRY: Thanks.

BRYANT: Country star Tim McGraw is headlining tomorrow`s star-studded concert for hurricane relief. And coming up, he`ll give us a preview, and this Louisiana native will also tell us why this cause is so important to him.

HAMMER: And singer Harry Connick Jr. returns to his devastated hometown with a message of hope. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT was right there with him. That`s coming up next, here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Well, the mayor of New Orleans has issued a desperate SOS. He says supplies have run out and that shelters have become unsanitary and unsafe.

The first wave of National Guard police will be landing at the New Orleans airport tonight to try and restore some order. The head of FEMA says the agency has the resources it needs, but those resources have been slow in arriving to the victims of Katrina.

Elsewhere along the Gulf Coast, emergency relief has begun to arrive. At least 185 people are reported dead in Mississippi and about one million people still have no power.

President Bush says he will visit the region tomorrow, and Congress is rushing back to Washington now. Legislators are expected to pass an emergency aid package worth at least $10 billion for the devastated Gulf Coast.

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

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

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

HAMMER: Still to come in this half-hour, native son of New Orleans, Harry Connick, Jr., went back to his hometown. While so many people are trying to flee New Orleans, Harry went back. And we were able to tag along with our cameras to see it through his eyes. Fascinating story. We`re going to have that coming up in just a few minutes.

BRYANT: And Harry is, in fact, going to take part in the benefit relief, the benefit for relief tomorrow night. And Tim McGraw, he is going to be headlining that. He`s on the board of the American Red Cross, and he`s going to be talking to us about those relief efforts. So we`ll get to him.

But first, let`s get tonight`s "Hot Headlines" from Brooke Anderson, who joins us once again live from Hollywood -- Brooke?

ANDERSON: Thanks, Karyn.

Tonight, we have word that legendary R&B singer Fats Domino, who was missing in New Orleans, has been rescued. No one had heard from him since Sunday night. But this photo shows him being rescued on Monday by a New Orleans Police Department SWAT officer and a New Orleans harbor patrol officer. Still, there is no word on where he is right now.

The hurricane aftermath is having effects in some unlikely places, even "American Idol." Today, FOX announced it has cancelled auditions that were schedule for Monday in Memphis, Tennessee. In a statement today, the network said the city has taken in tens of thousands of evacuees, and that`s where the focus needs to be.

Celebrities are starting to make major donations to the hurricane relief effort. Today, we learned singer Celine Dion and actor Nicolas Cage have each donated $1 million to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. Jay-Z and Diddy have joined together to also donate $1 million to the Red Cross. And they`ve also pledged immediate donations from their clothing lines.

In a statement today, they said, as African-American men, they had to help. Diddy said, quote, "These are my people. These are communities that have always supported me. Now it`s my turn to support them."

And those are your "Hot Headlines."

A.J., back to you.

HAMMER: All right, Brooke, thanks so much. Brooke Anderson, live in Hollywood.

Well, for everybody, particularly people from New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, it is simply heartbreaking to watch all of the images of so many people in strife, especially as the situation continues to get worse by the hour. But for Harry Connick, Jr., a New Orleans native, he`s doing more than just watching.

David Haffenreffer, live in our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom right now, with that story -- David?

HAFFENREFFER: A.J., getting back to his roots. It`s his hometown, after all. And he isn`t about to forget about all those people struggling to survive there in New Orleans.

Harry Connick, Jr., flew into the city late last night. And today, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT was there as he got his first glimpse of the devastation of the city.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HARRY CONNICK, JR., MUSICIAN AND ACTOR (singing): Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?

HAFFENREFFER: New Orleans, the heart of jazz, the heart of Harry Connick, Jr.

CONNICK, JR.: I was talking to my wife the other day. She said, "You know, New Orleans is my favorite city in the world." It`s mine, too. It`s unbelievable.

HAFFENREFFER: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT was there as Connick toured his own stomping grounds in the Big Easy. He looked uneasy.

CONNICK, JR.: It`s like this is the end of the world.

HAFFENREFFER: Visibly moved, surveying landmarks of his youth submerged in water.

CONNICK, JR.: That`s Bourbon Street right there. Bourbon Street starts here on Canal Street, and there`s a guy in a boat.

HAFFENREFFER: Connick grew up here.

CONNICK, JR.: That`s where I grew up and where that breach in the levee was is my neighborhood.

HAFFENREFFER: This morning, he told the "Today" show that he owes a lot to this city.

CONNICK, JR.: Nobody knew who I was if it weren`t for New Orleans. Everything that I have professionally and so much of what I have personally is because of this great, fair city. And to see it being drowned like this is almost unbearable.

HAFFENREFFER: His roots go deep. His parents, his extended family all live in New Orleans.

CONNICK, JR.: My aunt, Jessie (ph) and Uncle John, who are maybe, I don`t know, four or five miles up the street that way, you know, we didn`t hear from them. They had to be air-boated out of their house. My dad, I didn`t hear from him until yesterday, the day before.

HAFFENREFFER: It`s not only his family, but the people of New Orleans, his heart goes out to.

CONNICK, JR.: I mean, I have been so blessed in my life. There`s people down here who don`t have cars. They don`t have money.

HAFFENREFFER: He says seeing the destruction firsthand is like being kicked in the gut.

CONNICK, JR.: This is New Orleans. You know what I`m saying? We`re supposed to watch this on the "Today" show and see this halfway around the world. This isn`t supposed to happen to us. I feel so in shock.

HAFFENREFFER: But there is hope. Buildings may be destroyed, but Connick says the spirit of the city is strong.

CONNICK, JR.: One thing about New Orleans, these people are freakishly strong and passionate about this city.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAFFENREFFER: And Connick will join other New Orleans natives, including Wynton Marsalis and Tim McGraw, in a benefit telethon for hurricane relief. That will air tomorrow night on NBC -- A.J.?

HAMMER: You know, he speaks the truth when he talks about the people of New Orleans. I`ve spent a lot of time down there, and they truly have an amazing spirit. It may take awhile, but they will bounce back.

Thanks so much, David Haffenreffer in our newsroom.

BRYANT: As we`ve been telling you, stars from all over the country are coming together to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Joining us now from Toronto is one of those stars, country music`s Tim McGraw.

A Louisiana native and American Red Cross board member, Tim is also co-headlining the NBC music special this Friday to benefit hurricane relief efforts.

Tim, thanks for joining me. You`re from the area. I want to know, have you been able to be in touch with any of your friends and family that are still there?

TIM MCGRAW, COUNTRY MUSIC SINGER: Yes. You know, as far as I know, most of the people that I know and am acquainted with or close to are out of harm`s way. Faith`s from Mississippi, and all of our family are a little farther north than the Gulf Coast. But everybody`s doing fine. You know, they`re on generators, because they don`t have any power, the water - - and they don`t have water.

But other than that, everybody`s doing well, as opposed to the people down on the coast who are just devastated. And, you know, I`m here just to deliver a message and say a little bit about the show that we`re doing tomorrow night to raise money, because a lot of times people really don`t know what to do or where to send money.

And the Red Cross is an organization that I`ve been affiliated with for a long time. And if there`s any place that gets the job done and uses the money right, it`s the Red Cross. And you can bet that they`re focused right now on that area and everything that they do concerns that area.

And if anybody feels like there`s nothing they can do, money is the thing that helps more than anything. There`s a lot of people down there who are in a lot of trouble.

And just imagine the children who are involved, the babies and the children who are helpless, and, in some cases, don`t know where their parents are, and, you know, are kind of fending for their self. And parents who have no means to help their children who are just stranded and can`t get out. And nobody`s coming to get them.

So the only thing that we can do is just pour money into organizations like the Red Cross, who are going to do their best to get down there and help people.

BRYANT: Right. And we mentioned that you are on the board of the Red Cross. What made you get involved with the Red Cross initially, and was this -- when you saw Katrina on Monday, did you just instantly pick up the phone and say, "We have to do something"?

MCGRAW: Well, the Red Cross, I`ve been involved with for a long time. And it`s because it is the Red Cross, and it`s the greatest organization in the world when it comes to tragedies like this, and disasters, and helping people.

And, yes, when -- my wife and I, Faith, we were watching the storm come in, it was just scary. It was just really scary. And we were on the phone talking to whoever we could get a hold of and wondering how we could help.

Because our main concern, and like everybody`s concern, was, yes, there are people who could get out, and evacuation`s great, but there are also hundreds of thousands of people that have no means to get out.

And, you know, everybody talks about New Orleans, and Biloxi, and Mobile, and the towns that everybody knows about. But there are hundreds and hundreds of small towns along that coast and communities that, you know, probably nobody has even been to yet or seen yet and, quite frankly, probably are just completely disappeared, that nobody will even know it was even there.

And, you know, again, my mind always goes back to the children who are involved and who are helpless. And, you know, you can imagine a parent`s anguish of being in that situation and not having any recourse whatsoever.

BRYANT: Right. And so at the telethon, who else have you gotten to stand beside you up there?

MCGRAW: Well, I think Harry Connick is going to be there. And Wynton Marsalis is going to be there, who are New Orleans natives. My wife`s going to be there.

You know, it changes hourly. You know, everybody wants to help. I mean, I can`t imagine over the next year that there`s -- I can imagine there`s going to be lots and lots of these kind of things and these kind of shows and concerts to raise money, because that`s the one thing that can help.

You know, anything else, you can`t go down there and help, because you just get in the way of the people who are trying to help. And it`s pretty much mass confusion now anyway. So the best thing that people can do is to send money.

BRYANT: Right. All right, well, Tim McGraw, thank you very much for joining us. And once again, NBC`s telethon featuring Tim, as well as appearances from Harry Connick and Wynton Marsalis -- he just mentioned -- many others also joining in. That will air tomorrow night on NBC.

HAMMER: And that once again leads us to our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day." Hurricane relief concerts: Will you donate?

You can continue to vote by going to CNN.com/showbiztonight. You can also write to us at showbiztonight@CNN.com. We`re going to check out some of your e-mails at 54 past the hour.

BRYANT: The images on television have prompted the benefits and, to some degree, the public outrage and despair, as we watch the scene deteriorate before our eyes. Coming up next, an in-depth look at the coverage that has America riveted.

HAMMER: Plus, the hurricane and its aftermath are leading to some changes at the networks. Some commercials are even being taken off the air out of sensitivity. That`s also ahead.

BRYANT: And a look at relief efforts and how music is playing a part online. That`s ahead, in the "Showbiz Guide."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

The images, the stories, and the disastrous effects of Hurricane Katrina have been dominating television this week. Around-the-clock television coverage of the disaster has been remarkable in so many ways. And joining us live from Hollywood to talk about the compelling drama that`s been unfolding before our very eyes on television, Melissa Grego, who is the managing editor for "Television Week."

Thanks for being with us, Melissa.

MELISSA GREGO, "TELEVISION WEEK": Thanks for having me.

HAMMER: This truly is one of the most dangerous and logistically difficult stories ever covered on U.S. soil, isn`t it?

GREGO: Absolutely. You know, it goes with the territory, when you go into the television news business, that you will have danger. It will be difficult at times, whether it`s, you know, a matter of covering riots, or war, or other natural disasters, even terrorist attacks.

But this, in particular, is unique for a lot of reasons. In part, it`s the logistics. Some TV news executives have told us at "Television Week" that they actually had a harder time in the last few days communicating with their reporters in the field than they did with their reporters covering the tsunami in Asia.

You know, without power, without phone, with spotty cell coverage, and a need for security, they are just a lot of things. And it`s pretty amazing that it`s, you know, in this country, and yet they`re having so much trouble.

They`re actually even trucking in RVs for some reporters to sleep in, because they have nowhere to sleep.

HAMMER: They need the supplies. They need them just like the refugees themselves. And you mentioned security. Can you think of a time in U.S. history when security had to accompany reporters to cover an unfolding story on our soil?

GREGO: Well, you know, I mean, there have been instances. I mean, whenever there`s civil unrest, you know, that`s a concern. Safety is certainly a concern. But this is just of such a great magnitude. Indeed, it is very, very rare.

HAMMER: Interesting development today on CNN with Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM," when the mayor of New Orleans issued an SOS on our airwaves, asking for help, saying that supplies are running out, that their much-needed resources have diminished. We`ve never really seen that happening on TV.

GREGO: No. And you know what? It`s amazing, because that really does point out how powerful television is. And that`s what`s been, for me, I think, a hugely interesting aspect of the coverage of this story.

It`s really television that is the way that the mayor can get his word out and that the reporters can communicate, really, the gravitas and graveness of this situation.

But with that power comes the responsibility, too, of, you know, making sure that, you know, when you present images that will create so much concern among the viewers, that they know what to do with that concern, you know, they know how to help. And I`ve actually been really pretty impressed.

HAMMER: And one of the most interesting thing to see with these reporters, who set out to cover the story, they`re now living the story. They are grubby, just like the images that they`re capturing. They`re having a difficult time getting supplies. And we`re seeing their emotions, although, for the most part, being kept largely in check, we`re actually seeing a very human side that we`ve not seen before.

GREGO: Absolutely. You know, the reporting style really is stripped down. You`re seeing not only the un-coifed version of network news personalities, but they`re also stripped down in terms of -- you know, there`s a certain amount of being unguarded, as well.

They clearly are feeling this situation and this story, and I think, in a large part, that`s a good thing. You know, like I said, with the power comes the responsibility. It`s important that they`re not so unchecked that they incite hysteria, but at the same time it`s really good to effectively communicate what really is going on down there.

HAMMER: It`s a difficult job that they`re doing.

GREGO: Yes.

HAMMER: Melissa Grego from "Television Week," we thank you for joining us tonight.

GREGO: Thank you.

HAMMER: Well, ABC is rethinking its programming in light of the hurricane tragedy. Today, the network announced that it will not run promos for a new drama called "Invasion," because those ads feature a fictional hurricane. As of now, ABC has no plans to cancel the premiere of the show, which is set for September 21st. In the first episode, a hurricane hits the Florida coast, which leads to the show`s main plotline.

BRYANT: While ABC is rethinking its program, other media companies are creating programming to help with the hurricane relief efforts. In tonight`s "Showbiz Guide," we`ll tell you what MTV, Napster, and iTunes are putting online in response to Hurricane Katrina.

Joining us live to take us through this, Jonathan Cohen, editor for Billboard.com. Jonathan, talk to me about MTV. They have a broadband, online capability that will be doing sort of a telethon?

JONATHAN COHEN, EDITOR, BILLBOARD.COM: Well, right. For their September 10th telethon -- it`s also going to be broadcast on VH1 and CMT - - MTV has broadband portal called Overdrive. VH1 also has one called V- spot, and they will be joining in for the live broadcast of this event. It features some big names, Usher, Green Day, Dave Matthews Band, Alicia Keys, so the online component will be right there with the television broadcast.

BRYANT: Now, will there be something where I can click and donate online?

COHEN: I`m sure there will be. MTV is just now getting around to announcing details of this, but I`m sure that these broadband portals will be offering not only bonus content, but ways for people to make donations.

BRYANT: OK. Now let`s move on to Napster. This is a site made famous, made infamous for swapping of songs and really sort of being the bane of the record companies` existence. But here they are doing something good, right?

COHEN: That`s right. They`re trying to make a difference today. They`ve made available a compilation that`s called "Download to Donate." It has some classic tracks by some classic New Orleans artists, like Fats Domino, and Harry Connick, Jr., and the Neville brothers, and also some uplifting songs from Aretha Franklin and other artists of that ilk. So it`s a nice thing for them to be doing.

BRYANT: Because, certainly, they`re not the favorites of a lot of people right now.

COHEN: That`s right.

BRYANT: Let`s talk quickly about iTunes. This is a site where people have been legally buying music for quite some time now. What are they doing?

COHEN: Well, with one click, just as easy as when you would purchase a track on their service, you can donate some money to the relief effort going directly to the American Red Cross, anything from $5, to $100, to $200.

BRYANT: Great. All right. Very nice. Well, Jonathan Cohen of "Billboard" magazine, thank you very much.

COHEN: Thank you.

HAMMER: There`s still time for you to vote on the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day." Hurricane relief concerts: Will you donate? You can vote at CNN.com/showbiztonight. You can also write us, showbiztonight@CNN.com is the address. We`re going to read some of your e- mails live after the break.

BRYANT: But first, it`s time to take a look at the best from late- night laughs in "Laughter Dark." Well, from 50 to "Fitty," Puff Daddy to Diddy, name changes in the music industry baffle the masses. On "Jimmy Kimmel Live," rapper 50 Cent clears up any confusion with his name and that other name, as well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": Does it bother you when white people call you "Fitty"?

50 CENT, RAPPER: No, that`s cool.

KIMMEL: That`s OK?

50 CENT: And in fact, I`m "Fitty." And now Puffy wants to be Diddy.

KIMMEL: Right.

50 CENT: You know, he`s trying to move his name closer to me.

(LAUGHTER)

KIMMEL: You`re right. You`ve got to stay one step ahead of him. You`re right. I never thought about that.

50 CENT: See, you know, when it`s cold outside, you got to stay next to the fire to keep warm.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

It`s time now for the "Showbiz Showcase." Tonight, the new movie, "The Constant Gardener," which looks like a great flick, stars Ralph Fiennes as a British diplomat and Rachel Weisz as his wife, who`s found murdered in Kenya. They`d been compiling data against a drug company that used Africans as guinea pigs to test a tuberculosis remedy with fatal side effects.

Here`s a look at a clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RALPH FIENNES, ACTOR, "THE CONSTANT GARDENER": But if they don`t give consent, then they lose the right to medical care. It`s not much of a choice, is it? I suppose they`re not even informed that they`re testing a new drug.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t make the rules, Mr. Quayle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Quayle?

FIENNES: Yes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you please come with us?

FIENNES: OK. There`s your card. Thank you. Why is the child being questioned?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: "The Constant Gardener" is in theaters now. And make sure you tune into SHOWBIZ TONIGHT tomorrow for "People" magazine critic Leah Rozen`s review of the film.

BRYANT: Throughout the show, we`ve been asking you to vote online in our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day." Hurricane relief concerts: Will you donate?

Take a look at how the vote is going: 56 percent of you saying, yes, you will; 44 percent of you saying you will not.

We`ve been receiving a lot of e-mails from people who are saddened and frustrated by what`s going on. Here are just a few of those e-mails.

Lynn from Oklahoma writes, "I am a 22-year-old college student and work at a restaurant to make extra money. I donated all my tip money from the last three nights to the Red Cross. I am praying for all the people that have lost so much."

And Susan from New Jersey writes, "The U.S. can pump millions of dollars per minute into Iraq, but we can`t put homeless Americans into clean rooms in hotels? This is a national disgrace."

Got to be honest, A.J. I absolutely agree.

You can keep sending us your thoughts at showbiztonight@CNN.com.

HAMMER: Harry Shearer and Ali Landry echoing that sentiment earlier on the program.

BRYANT: It is so frustrating. And I can`t believe they don`t have food and water. I`m just horrified.

HAMMER: Just have to pray and hope that it continues to get better.

BRYANT: Hope so.

HAMMER: Well, that is it for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer.

BRYANT: And I`m Karyn Bryant. Stay tuned for the latest from CNN Headline News.

END

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