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SHOWBIZ TONIGHT

Media Pushes for Government Action on Hurricane Disaster; Talk Radio Abuzz with Anger Over Slow Reaction; NBC to Hold Hurricane Benefit Tonight

Aired September 2, 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, the Katrina catastrophe. Tonight, outrage everywhere...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one came to tell us. No one.

HAMMER: On TV...

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": Do you get the anger that is out here?

HAMMER: ... radio...

MAYOR RAY NAGIN, NEW ORLEANS: This is the biggest goddamn crisis in the history of this country.

HAMMER: ... and online. People everywhere pleading, "Why is help only coming now?" How the media covering the story has become a part of it.

BRYANT (voice-over): Also, Ellen`s hometown heartache.

ELLEN DEGENERES, TALK SHOW HOST: My friends and my family have lost everything.

BRYANT: Plus, devastation in their backyard. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT speaks with stars directly affected by Hurricane Katrina. Personal stories from this "American Idol" finalist, and this popular rock band.

HAMMER: And, tonight, the stars show their support. Celebs come out for the Concert for Hurricane Relief. And SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is right there, live. We`ll tell you which Hollywood heavyweights are showing up. But it`s just the beginning. What else is in the works?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRYANT: Hello, I`m Karyn Bryant.

HAMMER: I`m A.J. Hammer.

Tonight, continuing coverage of the Katrina catastrophe. America watches the developments in the Gulf Coast, minute by minute, in horror. As the death toll increases, so does the outrage.

HAMMER: Now SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has been taking the pulse of America. And quite frankly, all we`ve been hearing: the outrage from American viewers, from local politicians, from Capitol Hill. And, from the media who`s covering the catastrophe.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want help! We want help!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want help! We want help!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want help! We want help!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hate to relive this, but we got to the top. And when we got the children over, we got to the top of the levee. Because we were counting on someone to pick us up. The truck never came.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one came to tell us. No one. No National Guard, no sheriff`s department, no one. We were on our own, basically, for three days.

HAMMER: It`s a question burning on everyone`s mind -- where has the federal government been as thousands remain stranded in New Orleans living in unimaginable squalor?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The buses are passing us up. No one is doing anything. No one knows anything.

HAMMER: Many of those tough questions have come from the media.

MATT LAUER, CO-HOST, NBC`s "THE TODAY SHOW": Let`s bring up one of those hard questions. And it`s a blunt question. The great majority of the people we`re seeing suffering right now are black and they are poor. How much of a wakeup call does this have to be for people in this country?

COOPER: Do you get the anger that is out here?

SOLEDAD O`BRIEN, CO-HOST, "AMERICAN MORNING": How is it possible that you`re not -- that we`re getting better intel than you`re getting? We had a crew in the air. We were showing live pictures of the people outside the convention center.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why has the response been so slow? Why has the mayor of New Orleans issued an emergency SOS?

HAMMER: The mayor did more than issue an SOS. Listen as he unleashed his fury at the lack of government response.

NAGIN: This is ridiculous. I don`t want to see anybody do any more goddamn press conferences. Put a moratorium on press conferences. Don`t do another press conference until the resources are in this city. Don`t tell me 40,000 people are coming here. They`re not here. It`s too doggone late. Now get off your asses and let`s do something. And let`s fix the biggest goddamn crisis in the history of this country.

LAUER: Have you talked to anyone in Washington, anyone in the administration over the last 24 to 48 hours who thinks this is going well?

TIM RUSSERT, HOST, NBC "MEET THE PRESS": No.

HAMMER: In Washington, it was Michael Brown, head of FEMA, that got the brunt of the tough questions.

KATIE COURIC, CO-HOST, NBC`S "THE TODAY SHOW": I don`t mean to belabor the point. But we knew for several days before hand that this hurricane was going to hit. To say that by Sunday you`ll have 30,000 National Guardsmen on the ground, it seems like a pretty long lag time in terms of actually having them on site.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mike Brown, in all my years, I never thought I would see a major American city with anarchy reigning. And I think the question everybody wants answered is how did you, the federal government, and the city and the state allow it to come to this?

HAMMER: And on CNN`s Paula Zahn, when Brown said the government only recently learned of the plight of thousands of people stranded at the convention center...

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Sir, you aren`t telling me you just learned that the folks at the convention center didn`t have food and water until today, are you? You had no idea they were completely cut off?

MICHAEL BROWN, DIRECTOR OF FEMA: Paula, the federal government did not even know about the convention center people until today.

HAMMER: As NBC`s Tim Russert put it, "The last few days we have watched playing on our TV screen, the fault lines of American society. And for the reporters on the ground, the frustration with the situation was palpable.

CNN`s Anderson Cooper cut Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu off mid- sentence, as she attempted to thank various politicians for their efforts.

COOPER: Excuse me, Senator, I`m sorry for interrupting. I haven`t heard that, because, for the last four days, I`ve been seeing dead bodies in the streets here in Mississippi.

And when they hear politicians slap -- you know, thanking one another, it just, you know, it kind of cuts them the wrong way right now, because literally there was a body on the streets of this town yesterday being eaten by rats, because this woman had been laying in the street for 48 hours. And there`s not enough facilities to take her up.

HAMMER: Those tough questions may have paid off. "The New York Time`s" Alessandra Stanley wrote, quote, "It was as those images of mounting desperation and disorder began dominating the screen, that Washington suddenly seemed to snap to attention."

And today troops began to pour in and a visibly shaken President Bush arrived on the scene.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It`s as if the entire Gulf Coast were obliterated by the worst kind of weapon that you can imagine.

HAMMER: As he met with refugees and surveyed the damage, he acknowledged the poor response to the devastation.

BUSH: The federal government`s is big and it`s massive. And we`re going to do it. Where`s it`s not working right, we`re going to fix it. If it`s not going exactly right, we`re going to make it go exactly right. If there`s problems, we`re going to address the problems. And that`s what I`ve come down to assure people.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAMMER: No shortage of outrage at all today. And fortunately, people are speaking up.

And also, fortunately, just hours before President Bush visited New Orleans, stranded evacuees at the convention center got the much-need relief they were waiting for. They welcomed National Guard trucks carrying food, water and medicine. And of course, there were plenty of cheers and tears of joy.

Now we`d like to hear from you. It is our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. Katrina media coverage: has it changed your view of the U.S. government? I have a feeling we`ll be hearing from a lot of people tonight. Vote at CNN.com/ShowbizTonight. If you`ve got more to say, please e-mail us. The address: ShowbizTonight@CNN.com. We`re going to share your thoughts later in the show.

BRYANT: Tonight, as relief aid begins to get distributed in the areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina, many Americans continue to ask, "What the -- took so long?"

Public outrage at the pace in which the government has responded has been fueled by the nonstop coverage of the desperate situation in the Gulf Coast, which has worsened day by day. Radio airwaves are on fire with furious callers.

And joining us live tonight to share some of the public`s sentiments are three radio hosts. Live out of North Dakota, Ed Schultz of the nationally syndicated "Ed Schultz Radio Show." Live from Florida, Joyce Kaufman from WFTL radio. And Joe Pagliarulo, Joe Pags, from WOAI radio in San Antonio, Texas.

And Joyce, I want to start with you. Remember the three of you, this is about what your listeners are saying. Joyce, I want to hear from you first. What`s going on?

JOYCE KAUFMAN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, for Floridians this is deja vu all over again. Because when Andrew hit us, the response was lackluster. The government took a lot of criticism back then. Bush Senior didn`t get down here for a long time. So we`re not as surprised as the rest of the country seems to be.

Now, of course the sadness and the tragedy resonates with everybody. But the anger and the fear that we have in Florida: what happens if there`s a terrorist attack? Is the kind of response homeland security has?

BRYANT: And Joe, let`s hear from you. What are your callers saying?

JOE "PAGS" PAGLIARULO, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, in San Antonio it`s a bit of a different situation simply because we`re a border state. I think some people headed to Jacksonville, Florida.

But beyond that, everybody`s heading to Texas. So initially, we`re getting calls, "Where can I send the diapers and the food and the water and the school supplies? How can I give somebody a job for a couple of days? How can I house a family or help them, you know, store their pet for awhile?"

But when you do get down to the politics of it all, the political rancor, you know, Texas isn`t immune from that happening. And you`re hearing a lot of the blame game: this side blaming that side.

The callers we`re getting do want to know why the federal government took so long, certainly. They want to know what was the plan here? What was the plan in New Orleans? New Orleans had a levee system that was able to take a Category 3 hurricane.

As Joyce said a moment ago, Andrew was a Category 5. I was on the air in South Florida in Palm Beach when Andrew hit. The Category 5 hit his 13 years ago in this country. Why wasn`t the levee system updated to take better than a Category 3? That`s a big question being asked, too.

BRYANT: Absolutely. Now Ed, let`s get a pulse on what your listeners are saying.

ED SCHULTZ, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, I think they`re confused. They don`t understand how much of a focus can be put on homeland security and all this preparedness. And then this happened, especially when they had a three day warning at the level that it was going to hit as far as the intensity was concerned.

They are as emotional today as they were after 9/11. And they want answers. They want accountability.

But in the same sense, Americans are showing a tremendous amount of compassion on the airwaves. They want to help. They want buses brought to their communities.

And I think that that really is the big answer. You`ve got to get these people out of there and into the communities where the help is instead of bringing the resources in. And that`s what they`re saying.

Americans want a plan. And there will be plenty of time to do the Monday morning quarterback later on, but I think right now, they are furious. They`re emotional. And they want some action. And they feel that their government has failed them.

BRYANT: Now, Joe, here`s the thing. You`re from Texas. You`re based down there in Texas. George W. Bush from Texas.

I see him today in Mississippi with the, sort of, smirk on his face saying, "We`re going to fix it." And he kind of sort of apologized and admitted they didn`t do things right.

This is his home state. What are they saying there about George W. Bush in particular? Are they angry? Are they ashamed of him, as many are?

PAGLIARULO: I wouldn`t say that they`re ashamed of him. I mean, he`s still the favorite son here in Texas. And I think, as Ed said a moment ago, the Monday morning quarterbacking is getting a little bit tiresome for the people, especially here in Texas.

I`m not sure where Ed is, but here in Texas the Houston Astrodome has 15,000 people right now. Refugees, evacuees, whatever you want to call them. Dallas is now housing a whole lot of people. Tens of thousands are heading here to San Antonio.

So listen, you know, for right now in Texas, it`s not the loud political rancor and the upheaval that you`re getting elsewhere.

But I would go on to say, and I want to make sure I am clear about this. There are people who are pointing a finger at the Bush administration. There are people saying the federal government could have been faster about this.

And there are equal numbers, if not more numbers, Ed, of people who are saying, "What the heck was the plan in New Orleans? One of our biggest metropolises in this country didn`t have a plan? Are you serious?"

BRYANT: It is pretty outrageous. Joyce, I want to give you one last quick word. Are the listeners in your area, are they just fed up with George Bush? Are they having any fun with this, picking on him? Because people certainly do love to hate George W. Bush.

KAUFMAN: Oh, absolutely. This for the Bush haters, we`re in a frenzy in South Florida. This -- and don`t forget, the president`s brother is our governor.

BRYANT: Right.

KAUFMAN: And there`s a lot of ill will towards him as well at this point.

BRYANT: All right, well I know you guys are still going to be very busy for the days ahead. I`m sure. Thank you for joining us, Ed Schultz, Joyce Kaufman, and Joe Pagliarulo.

PAGLIARULO: Later.

SCHULTZ: Thanks.

KAUFMAN: Thank you.

HAMMER: Well, in just minutes from now, the stars are going to be taking the stage for the Concert for Hurricane Relief. The first of many such efforts that will be coming in the immediate future. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is right there. David Haffenreffer, live in New York with a preview.

BRYANT: Plus, we`ll hear from `N Sync`s Lance Bass. He is from Mississippi. And tonight, his family is affected. He`s going to join us live.

HAMMER: And, hope and outrage online. How the Internet is playing a big factor in the Katrina rescue efforts. But why some are saying the online coverage is racist. What the bloggers are writing on their web sites, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRYANT: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m Karyn Bryant.

Hollywood heavyweights are lining up to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Tonight, NBC is hosting a live, one-hour benefit show. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is right there where it`s happening. David Haffenreffer joins us live with more.

How`s it going, David?

DAVID HAFFENREFFER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it`s going very well, Karyn. The celebrities are out tonight for the victims of Katrina in the aftermath.

And this NBC fundraiser really the first of many televised events that we`re going to see on television. Not only to raise money for the victims of those who have endured such devastation along the Gulf Coast, but also to bring awareness about everything that`s going on in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAUER: I hope you`ll join me for a special concert tonight at 8.

HAFFENREFFER (voice-over): As he was ending his day job on "The Today Show" this morning, Matt Lauer reminded viewers of his nighttime gig. He`s hosting NBC`s Concert for Hurricane Relief tonight.

Earlier today, NBC gave SHOWBIZ TONIGHT a sneak peak at the stage where the one-hour live show will take place. It`s the same stage Conan O`Brien uses for his late night show.

And tonight, it will be graced by an all-star list of performers banding together to raise money to ease the horrible situation in the Gulf Coast.

TIM MCGRAW, MUSICIAN: Everybody wants to help.

HAFFENREFFER: Country star and Louisiana native Tim McGraw told SHOWBIZ TONIGHT last night that he`ll be doing the NBC benefit. So is his wife, country star and Mississippi native, Faith Hill, who went on "The Today Show" the morning and implored Americans to do their part.

FAITH HILL, MUSICIAN: It`s not just about sending money. But it`s about opening up your homes if you have space anywhere. It`s about just helping.

HAFFENREFFER: New Orleans native Harry Connick Jr. will also be at tonight`s benefit. On "The Today Show" this morning, a hoarse and emotional Connick talked about the conditions he saw when he spent yesterday with storm victims.

HARRY CONNICK JR., SINGER: There was nothing. I mean, nothing. The smell in the bathroom was disgusting. These people were like animals. You might as well go to a slaughter house to see the cows. It was like that. It really was like that.

I got up on a chair and I told the people I`m going to do anything I can to make -- to make other people aware of this. I`m a musician. I don`t have that kind of power.

HAFFENREFFER: Still, a lot of stars are doing what they can. Also participating in NBC`s benefit, Hilary Swank, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mike Myers, Lindsay Lohan and Wynton Marsalis.

Tim McGraw says we can expect to see more of these events in the near future.

MCGRAW: I can imagine there`s going to be lots and lots of these kinds of things and these kind of shows and concerts to raise money.

HAFFENREFFER: He`s right. A week from tonight, all six broadcast networks will simulcast a one-hour hurricane relief show. NBC will participate in that event, as well, in addition to the solo one the network is throwing tonight.

ANDREW WALLENSTEIN, "THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER": It could be argued that there`s really more the merrier when it comes to telethons. I mean, the victims of the hurricanes could use all the help they can get.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAFFENREFFER: And we just saw Harry Connick arrive just a few moments ago.

And the list of celebrities taking part crosses and spans many different industries out there. In the music industry others include Kanye West, Britney Spears, Aaron Neville. Actress Glenn Close arrived just a short time ago. Richard Gere, John Goodman, Chris Tucker, Marcia Gay Harden. Even from the political world, New York Governor George Pataki is taking part.

Back to you in the studio.

BRYANT: Thanks for that report. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s David Haffenreffer, live from NBC Studios in New York City.

We here at CNN are also doing our part to help. Tomorrow night at 8, find out how you can help as Larry King is joined by Eric Clapton, Magic Johnson, Harry Connick Jr., Celine Dion, Sela Ward, Bill Cosby, Terri Hatcher and more for a three hour special edition all about how you can help. That`s "LARRY KING LIVE," tomorrow night at 8, on CNN.

HAMMER: So many stories unfolding as we`ve been hearing about celebrities and their connections to the places hardest hit in Louisiana and Mississippi.

And joining us live tonight, another celebrity who has been affected directly by Katrina catastrophe. It`s Lance Bass. He is of the pop group `N Sync, of course. Born in Mississippi and has family members currently in the area. And Lance joins us now live from Hollywood.

Thanks for being with us, Lance. I understand you have a large family in a rural part of Mississippi. How were they affected? And has everybody been accounted for at this point?

LANCE BASS, SINGER: Everyone definitely has been accounted for right now. They are there Laurel, Mississippi, which is near Hattiesburg, which is about 90 miles inland. And they had no clue it would be this bad. And they have now taken shelter with my parents up in the Jackson area. And -- which actually have electricity, one of the very few in that area, also. So there`s about six families all shacked up together right now.

HAMMER: And those areas, particularly in the rural parts of Louisiana and Mississippi, not the ones getting a lot of the media attention.

In the areas that have been getting a lot of the media attention, there has been a pervasive outrage about the inadequate response by the government. Are you at all sharing in this?

BASS: It`s very bad. I know just from what my family`s been telling me there in Laurel and Hattiesburg, there is no help. They know that it`s not the worst in there in the rural areas, but it is a catastrophe. It`s like a huge tornado came in and ruined a lot of people`s houses.

And the only way they can describe it is taking a lot of power lines and a lot of trees and just mingling them together and just threw it on all the cities. And that`s where they`re dealing with right now.

HAMMER: I want to ask you real quickly about the relief efforts. You`re going to be involved with "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" from ABC. Perfectly positioned show to get involved with this. I understand you`re doing something with them.

BASS: Yes, I know they`re getting together. I know the series is definitely giving them the OK to just go in and taken tons of supplies down there. So hopefully, I`ll be helping them out.

And also, I`m getting together with UBid.com and putting together one of the biggest charity auctions ever done. Many, many celebrities and athletes are out there, donating a lot of things. So that will be coming up next week on UBid.

HAMMER: Lance Bass, we wish the best for your family, and we appreciate you joining us tonight. Thanks so much.

BASS: Thank you.

BRYANT: An "American Idol" finalist`s family was right in Hurricane Katrina`s path of destruction. He`ll tell us what happened and what he`s doing to help. That`s live, and that`s next.

HAMMER: And, Ellen DeGeneres` family has its life turned upside down by Katrina. The talk show hosts a very emotional plea for help. We`ve got that coming up.

BRYANT: Also, the media`s job has traditionally been to tell the story. This time, though, it has become part of the story. Has the media fueled the outrage surrounding relief efforts? We`ll take a look.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRYANT: Hurricane Katrina has taken its toll on Gulf Coast residents, and arguably, all Americans. We have been inundated with images of people, many of them poor, desperately trying to keep their lives and families together amid the devastation.

A New Orleans native, third-season "American Idol" finalist, is here tonight with a message of hope. Joining me now live from Dallas, Texas, George Huff.

George, first and foremost, is your family OK? Are you all doing OK?

GEORGE HUFF, "AMERICAN IDOL" FINALIST: Well, the majority of my family is OK. We wasn`t able to get everybody out. I know that I still have cousins that are down there in New Orleans. Hopefully, they got to a safe place and everything. So we`ve just been like praying all day and all night. So...

BRYANT: OK, and let`s talk about a little bit of positivity here. What do you want to tell the people who are struggling right now?

HUFF: Well, I want to just send out, you know, to let them know to hold on, to hold onto your faith. Don`t let go. Don`t give up. And that a brighter day is on the way.

I am a victim myself, but there are a lot of things that we`re working on right now. I`m partnering with some people out of Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Cares Foundation in which we`re taking a lot of donations, food, items and stuff and which we`re going to take to Houston.

As far as the single is concerned, we`re looking for somebody to partner with us to raise money for the relief efforts. So -- and then, what else. It`s just a lot of things. It gets really tough, but, you know, just hang in there, you know? A brighter day is on the way.

BRYANT: And you and your dad, your family, you`re all...

HUFF: My dad -- my dad is still down there. He`s in the house. Hopefully, they saved him, but he`s in the house in the dark eating off of a grill, you know. Wow. So, we`re hoping that he got to a safe place. His name is George Clayton Huff Sr.

My cousin, Takeisha Washington (ph), Shakila Bass (ph), and all of their kids, we`re praying that they come home safely.

BRYANT: All right. Well, George, we wish the best for you and your family as well. And thank you for joining us tonight here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

HUFF: Thank you so much.

BRYANT: Hurricane Katrina and racism? Bloggers say color is playing a very unwelcome role. We`re going to see what the web sites are saying, and we`re going to hear from Rosie O`Donnell`s blog, as well, coming up.

BRYANT: Plus, New Orleans is very near and dear to talk show host Ellen DeGeneres. She just shot her first show of the season. And SHOWBIZ TONIGHT was there for the tearful taping. That`s next.

HAMMER: And, a popular Mississippi rock band has been completely devastated by Hurricane Katrina. We`re going to hear their story when 3 Doors Down joins us live, coming up 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."

Seven thousand additional National Guard troops arrived in New Orleans today to restore order to a city on the brink. A convoy also ferried tons of relief supplies to the thousands of people waiting to be shuttled out of New Orleans, including meals ready-to-eat and water.

A caravan of buses also arrived in the city today. The mayor estimates 50,000 people remain in New Orleans waiting to be evacuated. But sadly, one bus full of refugees on its way to Dallas crossed a median and flipped over, killing one person. Several others are now in critical condition.

President Bush got a firsthand look at the devastation along the Gulf Coast from the air and from the ground. He consoled some and praised rescue teams that pulled thousands of people from rooftops. But he also said the results of the federal response to the disaster are unacceptable.

That`s the latest 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.

Still to come on the program, we`re going to go to Hollywood. Ellen DeGeneres, very funny lady. Unfortunately, right now, heartbroken. She is from New Orleans, and we`re going to get a look at what she did before the first taping of her show.

HAMMER: And, of course, in New Orleans, there`s no power. Communications are virtually nonexistent. Yet, thanks to a diesel generator, there`s a small group of people operating a web blog out of downtown New Orleans...

BRYANT: Unbelievable.

HAMMER: ... with amazing pictures and video. It`s a fascinating story. And we`re going to talk about that coming up in just a few moments.

But first, though the disaster-stricken areas of the South are far and wide, the spotlight sits squarely atop New Orleans and the outrage of the victims. Five days of disturbing images and vivid reporting, and now aid finally seems to be coming in.

Joining us now to discuss how and if the media has actually fueled the anger is CNN`s Rick Sanchez, live for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT in New Orleans.

Rick, we appreciate you joining us. And with all of this pervasive coverage of the outrage today, we`re wondering if it`s due to that or due to the passing of time that has helped bring the disaster aid into the stricken areas, or is it probably just a combination of both?

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, there`s a saying that says it`s the squeaky wheel that usually gets the grease. And in this case, that may be taking place.

The mayor of New Orleans, Mayor Nagin, has taken to the airwaves. And he didn`t do it on national television at first. This interview that I`m sure you all have heard, where he uses a couple of not-so-nice words when referring to how he thinks the federal government has responded, was actually done in a local radio station here, whose been broadcasting and staying on the air throughout the time.

So this is something that`s really been bubbling up from the surface. Obviously, there`s a lot of people in this town who are very upset. It`s hard not to be upset, when you are looking at what`s going on here.

We were on a boat yesterday, and we could go on a boat today, A.J., and we`d still see people who are stuck in their homes. And no one has still been able to get them out, for various reasons.

But, obviously, it`s something that needs to be reported. It needs to be displayed. And when people see that, it frustrates them. And it makes them obviously think that perhaps the help is not getting here soon enough.

I`m not smart enough to figure out whether that help was fast or not fast, or whether it could have been faster, but those are the facts. And I think most people are dealing with that, like reality.

HAMMER: But you certainly know how you feel. And seeing what you`re seeing, and still having to cover the story -- and obviously, you sound a little frustrated. Now, you`re seeing things that we`re not even getting to see here. Are you finding it difficult to control any personal outrage you may have, when you`re just trying to deliver the information?

SANCHEZ: If you`re a father, like I am, with four kids, and you see mothers and fathers with their children huddled in a building with nothing to eat, and nothing to drink, and that look of hopelessness in their face, you can`t help but feel a sense of emotion, as you look at that and deal with it.

You cover the story. You do the best you can. But, as you go through this town, you see scenes, like the one I just described to you, over and over again.

We could focus this camera that you have on me right now right down there to that airlift, and you would see people literally coming in one after another holding their children, holding their babies. Hospital patients, who may have been on their last days, who, in some cases, have not pulled through, and have literally died on the way here.

It`s tough. And it may be as bad a natural disaster as we`ve faced in this country in certainly decades. I was in the middle of Andrew. This doesn`t compare. It`s very, very, very different, because people are still in it. It`s not just dealing with, "Oh, what am I going to do with my life once I get out?" It`s, "How do I get out of this now, and will I get out alive?"

And those are the questions being asked still in New Orleans tonight.

HAMMER: And for you, not just covering the story, you`re living it. And CNN correspondent Rick Sanchez for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. We appreciate you joining us live from New Orleans.

And we have been asking you to vote online on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day." Katrina media coverage: Has it changed your views of the U.S. government?

Please keep voting by going to CNN.com/showbiztonight. You can also write to us by sending an e-mail off to you, showbiztonight@CNN.com. We`ll read some of those e-mails at 54 past the hour.

BRYANT: As we have been reporting, celebrities have been rallying around this cause, donating time and money to help support the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Ellen DeGeneres has a more personal investment in making difference. And SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Sibila Vargas is live in Hollywood with that story.

Hi, Sibila.

SIBILA VARGAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Karyn. Well, New Orleans is a place that Ellen holds dear to her heart. And in the wake of the hurricane devastation, the usually upbeat talk show host has taken to the airwaves nearly in tears.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ELLEN DEGENERES, COMEDIAN: If you don`t have family, just imagine if you had someone there that had no water, no food, and...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know, I know.

VARGAS (voice-over): At times choking back tears, Ellen DeGeneres took to the local airwaves, KNBC in Los Angeles, to ask for donations in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and to share her heartache over the loss of New Orleans.

DEGENERES: You don`t find buildings like that anymore in America, you know? I mean, New York still has buildings like that. You go to certain cities, and they still have maintained that. But the French Quarter, it will never be the same. They will never be able to rebuild it.

VARGAS: Ellen DeGeneres called New Orleans home. She was born and raised there, living in the city until she was 20. Many friends and family members still there.

DEGENERES: This is our very first show of our third season.

VARGAS: And in yesterday`s taping of her daytime talk show, which will air in syndication Monday. She devoted the entire program to one big name that means everything to her right now: Katrina.

DEGENERES: We have a different show planned for you today, because things have changed. And we cannot pretend they haven`t. We have to acknowledge the people effected by Hurricane Katrina. This is the worst disaster in the history of the United States.

VARGAS: Visibly distressed and saddened, at times near tears, Ellen shared with her viewers her grief.

DEGENERES: My friends and my family have lost everything. My aunt, Helen, who is 82 years old, has nothing left. My cousins have lost their home. My friend and her husband and three kids have lost their home. So I can`t pretend to do a normal show. I just won`t do it.

VARGAS: Ellen`s first show is an effort to encourage donations to the American Red Cross to aid those affected by Hurricane Katrina.

DEGENERES: Even a couple of dollars. I mean, if everyone just donated a little bit.

VARGAS: Ellen invited Roger Dickinson (ph) of the American Red Cross on the show and announced that Warner Brothers Entertainment, part of the CNN family, will donate $500,000 to kick off their fundraising effort, and will match viewer donations up to another $500,000.

It was a serious show, but at times, still silly.

DEGENERES: My mother in my dressing room right before we came out here, you know, was upset and saying how horrible this all is, and the news is just so devastating. And she said, "It`s so important to laugh, so you better damn well be funny."

(LAUGHTER)

VARGAS: As she talked about Green Bay Packers football star Brett Favre`s efforts, he lost his family home in Mississippi, her humor did shine through.

DEGENERES: But this Green Bay Packer quarterback, Brett Favre, which is spelled Favre, so I think he`s pronouncing it wrong. I`m going to say Favre, because I think he`s just surrounded by "yes" men, and they`re not correcting him.

(LAUGHTER)

What he did is he took the team airplane, he loaded it with generators, food, water, flew it to Nashville. He got a tractor-trailer and got the supplies to New Orleans. It`s amazing. And then...

(APPLAUSE)

VARGAS: And when NASCAR star Jeff Gordon announced on the show he was donating his uniform to raise money, Ellen seemed more like herself.

DEGENERES: You`re donating your outfit, for sure?

JEFF GORDON, NASCAR DRIVER: Absolutely. For sure.

DEGENERES: Now, is it just the top, or are there pants?

GORDON: No, it`s a whole uniform, yes.

DEGENERES: OK.

VARGAS: Humor, as her mother said, is still important.

DEGENERES: I hope that I do for you every day, and I will try to do for you every day, is to make you laugh, take your mind off of things.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VARGAS: And Ellen will surely try to offer some bright moments amidst all the pain and devastation when she hosts the Emmys later this month. You may remember Ellen hosted the Emmys after September 11th, and she was praised for handling the situation with grace and compassion. And you can bet she`ll do it again in this situation. In fact, I couldn`t think of a better host -- Karyn?

BRYANT: Thank you very much. Ellen is terrific. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Sibila Vargas live from Hollywood.

And tonight, another popular talk show host is reacting to the Katrina catastrophe. Just a short time ago, Oprah`s people called SHOWBIZ TONIGHT to tell us that she will air a live show from Houston, Texas, on Tuesday. Houston, of course, is where thousands of New Orleans evacuees have ended up.

HAMMER: Well, coming up next, why some are calling Katrina coverage racist. Outrage from the web bloggers, that`s on the way.

BRYANT: That just infuriates me.

Plus, one of the biggest bands ever to come out of the Gulf Coast area is directly affected. But it`s turning tragedy into positive energy. Three Doors Down, live, next.

HAMMER: And, late night reacts. What Leno and Letterman are saying and doing for Hurricane Katrina victims. We`ve got that coming up.

BRYANT: But first, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT today obtained a public service announcement, recorded just hours ago, by New Orleans native Aaron Neville.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Hope. It`s more powerful than a hurricane. Help victims of Hurricane Katrina and thousands of other disasters across the country each year. Call or visit Redcross.org today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMMER: There`s more outrage tonight about the Katrina catastrophe. It`s tough putting those words together sometimes. It`s about the images that we`re seeing.

Two photographs of New Orleans residents making their way through chest-deep water unleashed a wave of chatter among bloggers about whether black people are being treated unfairly in online media coverage of post- hurricane looting.

Take a look at this shot. It`s taken for the Associated Press. And it shows a young black man wading in deep water, with the caption saying he, quote, "looted," those are their words, "looted," a grocery store.

In the other, similar shot, taken for Getty Images, a white man and a light-skinned woman are shown wading through the flood after, quote, "finding" bread and soda.

This has caused an online firestorm. And this is truly the first time that we`ve had a national disaster of any kind of magnitude since the proliferation of online blogging.

Joining us now live from Hollywood to talk about the flurry of Hurricane Katrina blogs is Xeni Jardin. She`s a tech journalist for Boingboing.net, also the co-editor of that.

I want to first talk to you about something that I think is unusual and fascinating to come out of this. It`s MGNO.com, which is perhaps the only live blog, at least the only one that we know of so far, coming out of downtown New Orleans, which baffles the mind.

Tell us how this is being done and what`s on this, Xeni.

XENI JARDIN, BOINGBOING.NET EDITOR: Yes, the young man behind that blog is named Michael Barnett. And he`s an employee -- he`s a tech employee of a company that hosts web sites.

And because they host web sites, they have access to bandwidth. Somehow, they have this data center that`s still running. And he and a small group of employees are inside. And he`s been blogging what the experience has been like for them.

He describes them as self-organizing, almost as if they were a military unit, where one person is responsible for finding water, one person is responsible for another task. Now, somebody`s looking out the window to find out what the source of that fire is.

And they`re kind of documenting this as they go along. And it`s just been a terrifying time for them.

They`ve been posting photographs. They have a webcam that shows everybody who`s working inside that data center. It`s kind of amazing to imagine what it must be like for them.

HAMMER: And basically, they`re only going to be able to keep this thing up and running as long as their generator, their diesel generator, continues to have fuel, which can`t be for too much longer.

JARDIN: No, it can`t. I mean, as you know, so much of the communication system throughout that region beyond New Orleans has been devastated. There`s no phone lines. There`s no cell service. There`s no data service.

So it`s amazing that there`s this little pocket there. And there are these people connected to it that are showing us this incredible devastation around them.

HAMMER: Katrina certainly the number-one topic on the celebrity blogs. Rosie O`Donnell never shy about sharing her thoughts with America. I want to read from her blog right now.

Do we have that particular caption?

She says, "When the death toll arrives, we shall all sit stunned, ashamed. To think of the federal surplus we had before Bush arrived, now we are a nation deep in debt with our bravest in Iraq instead of Mississippi and Louisiana. It has been five days since thousands ran and thousands more died. And we told them to evacuate. It`s hard to leave without a car, sir. Where`s the help, dammit, the water, the food? This is America."

We`re seeing this all across the web. But how else are the blogs manifesting themselves since Katrina?

JARDIN: Well, certainly, we`re seeing a lot of outrage. And a lot of people are asking, what good is a government if it fails to protect its people, the most poor and vulnerable people, who have cars to drive out of a city like that, who can`t fend for themselves?

But we`re also seeing bloggers not just expressing opinion but trying to use the web to do something, by organizing missing people reconnection pages, people figuring out ways to send aid there. Some tech companies are actually connecting with the FCC, the Federal Communications Commission, to try to get the technology infrastructure back in order so that people can place phone calls, so that people can reconnect with their families, so that the police, so that other kinds of first responders, can take care of things.

HAMMER: The technology definitely being put to good use. Xeni Jardin, we appreciate you joining us on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

JARDIN: Thank you.

BRYANT: Well, the rock group Three Doors Down is one of the most successful bands ever to come out of the Mississippi coast area, a region devastated by the hurricane. Now, the group, like many, have lost homes, personal possessions, and a lot more.

They are currently on tour, but are now devoting most of their time, energy and skills to help out the hurricane relief efforts. Joining us live here in New York is Brad Arnold, lead singer of Three Door Down.

And, Brad, thanks for joining us.

BRAD ARNOLD, LEAD SINGER, THREE DOORS DOWN: Thanks for having me.

BRYANT: Tell us about you, your family, the guys in your band. Are they all OK? How are they handling?

ARNOLD: All of our families are all right. Everybody in the -- all the guys in the band`s families are OK.

You know, I came out really lucky. Some of the guys in the band, Chris, he had a lot of water in his house, just a disaster here in his yard. But those are things that can be fixed, you know? And as long as people are OK, that`s what we`re worried about.

BRYANT: But are you as angry as we`ve seen people? I`m furious, and I`ve never been down there. I don`t know what I`m losing, what I`m missing.

I feel it as an American, but I got to believe you`re just outraged at the lack of swiftness in the help.

ARNOLD: Yes. You know, we would like it to have been faster. I think one thing that people don`t realize is a lot of these cities are completely surrounded by bridges that are no longer there.

And it`s just really -- like anywhere you go into Biloxi, in particular, any way you go, it`s surrounded by a bridge. And when you can`t cross it, it just makes it so much harder.

But, you know, you would like to see the help there as quickly as possible.

BRYANT: You think, you know, just a little bit? So what are you guys going to be doing to help? Because as we`ve said, you know, you`re the biggest thing to come out of that area. Are you going to be able to go down there and do something for your people?

ARNOLD: Oh, we are. We`ve got the Better Life Foundation, which is, you know, it`s planned out to benefit local children`s charities. All that money that -- we`ve been taking a dollar from each ticket that we`ve sold throughout this year, and all that money will be diverted to go to relief efforts.

As well as this Saturday, our show in Atlanta, a lot of people joining us on that one. It`s going to be great. And we`ll see what we can do.

And I mean, you know, like I was just watching Ellen say a minute ago, anything you can give, anything, you know, $5, $2, $10. The people need it, and you know? And it`s just the American way to help.

BRYANT: And for those of us who haven`t been there, what is it about living down there that you love so much? What is so special about, you know, Mississippi and the Gulf Coast?

ARNOLD: It`s just that southern spirit, you know? And it`s a strong one, too. And it`s resilient. And it will come back. It will. And, you know, it`s just -- I love going home. And I love going down to Biloxi and just hanging out.

And it`s finally things to do there. You know, I can remember when I was young, there was nothing really around there. Now there`s all of this stuff to go out and do. And for it to be wiped away, it`s just heart- breaking.

BRYANT: It`s a shame. All right, well, we thank you for your help. And we`re glad you and your family are OK. Brad Arnold of Three Doors Down, thanks.

ARNOLD: Thank you.

HAMMER: Well, "The Late Show with David Letterman" is reacting to what it says are late efforts to bring relief to hurricane victims. Here`s how Dave began his program last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE SHOW": Welcome to "The Late Show." Boy, I am so glad you people are here, because last night, what an awful audience. Oh, my God. Remember those people?

PAUL SCHAFFER, CO-HOST, "LATE SHOW": Oh, ouch.

LETTERMAN: What a horrible audience. And I hate talking about people when they`re not here, but God, you know, I thought it was the Bush administration...

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

... because they were -- they were so slow to respond.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: Well, "The Tonight Show" is revving up it`s support for the hurricane victims. Starting Tuesday night, Jay Leno`s going to ask a celebrity guests, each one he has on, to sign a new Harley-Davidson like this one. And then, later on in the month, he`s going to auction off the motorcycle on eBay, donating the money to hurricane relief. Leno did the same thing after the Indonesian tsunami and 9/11.

BRYANT: There is still time for you to sound off in our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day." Katrina media coverage: Has it changed your view of the U.S. government?

You can vote at CNN.com/showbiztonight or write us at showbiztonight@CNN.com. We`ll read some of your e-mails live, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. Throughout the show, we`ve been asking you to vote online on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day." The Katrina media coverage: Has it changed your view of the government?

Here`s how the votes been going so far tonight. Almost an even split, with 59 percent of you saying, yes, it has, 41 percent of you saying, no, it has not.

BRYANT: We`ve been receiving a lot of e-mails from people. Here are just a few of them.

Scott from Florida writes, "Americans must turn their backs on this government come election day. They are a disgrace. Where is all the money we put into homeland security? Katrina is a wake-up call: This government does not have our backs."

HAMMER: Also heard from Clay in Florida who writes, "All of you in the media need to knock off the divisive tone of your commentary regarding the tragedy in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Your repeated attempts to politicize the alleged slow response" -- they say the "alleged slow response" -- "of government aid and relief is not missed by many in this country. Launching a relief effort on this scale is not going to happen overnight."

BRYANT: OK.

And Donna, from New York, writes, "The government`s response to Katrina does not surprise me. It`s all about big business, never the little people. They can wait. Get our troops out of Iraq and back home. Charity begins at home."

Well, you can keep voting at CNN.com/showbiztonight.

HAMMER: Fascinating comparisons on CNN.com about what is being spun and what is actually taking place. It`s worth checking out.

BRYANT: It`s not about spinning it. It was slow. It`s not right.

HAMMER: All right, we got to wrap it up. Try to enjoy your holiday weekend. 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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