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SHOWBIZ TONIGHT

Pat Robertson: Ariel Sharon`s Illness the `Wrath of God`; Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley Share Backstage Insights; Google, Yahoo! Announce Downloadable Video Options

Aired January 6, 2006 - 19:00   ET

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


A.J. HAMMER, CO-HOST: I`m A.J. Hammer.
BROOKE ANDERSON, CO-HOST: And I`m Brooke Anderson. TV`s only live entertainment news show starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HAMMER (voice-over): On SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, Pat`s at it again. TV preacher Pat Robertson suggests Israeli Prime Minister Sharon got so sick because God is punishing him. Tonight, why even some of his supporters are not standing pat. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with the religion outrage.

Also tonight, the racial outrage over Wal-Mart. A giant mess for the retail giant after its web site links "Planet of the Apes" to African- American icons. How in the world could such a thing happen? What is Wal- Mart saying? SHOWBIZ TONIGHT goes looking for answers.

ANNOUNCER: This is "Dancing with the Stars."

HAMMER: Tonight, why America is going gaga over "Dancing with the Stars." One of TV`s strangest and most unexpected hits is back, with dance floor combos that will make you say, are you kidding me? SHOWBIZ TONIGHT reveals why "Dancing with the Stars" is all the rage.

BROOKE SHIELDS, ACTRESS: Hi, I`m Brooke shields. If it happened today it`s on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Hi, there, I`m Brooke Anderson, live in Hollywood.

HAMMER: I`m A.J. Hammer, live in New York City.

Tonight, the rage over Robertson. TV preacher Pat Robertson is getting hit left and right by the left and right for his outrageous comments about Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

As doctors struggled to keep Sharon alive, Robertson went on television and said it was the wrath of God that may have put Sharon in the hospital.

CNN`s Sumi Das is live tonight in San Francisco for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with the nationwide reaction -- Sumi.

SUMI DAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks very much, A.J.

Well, as people all over the world were praying for Sharon, Robertson`s words caused an uproar, and SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has the reaction.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: He is gravely, gravely ill.

DAS (voice-over): As TV stations from the United States to Israel kept a constant watch on the condition of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, what one TV preacher said about Sharon sent shock waves around the world.

PAT ROBERTSON, TELEVANGELIST: The book of Joel, the prophet Joel, makes it very clear that God has enmity against those who, quote, "divide my land."

DAS: On his "700 Club" show, Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson said why he thinks Sharon was hovering near death, suggesting that it`s a punishment from God for Sharon`s controversial decision to pull Israeli settlers out of the Gaza Strip last year.

ROBERTSON: Here, he`s at the point of death. He was dividing God`s land. And I would say, woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the E.U., the United Nations or the United States of America. God says, "This land belongs to me." You better leave it alone.

DAS: It didn`t take long before critics everywhere, religious, diplomatic, political circles, took to the airwaves to hammer Robertson. Israel`s ambassador to the U.S. tells CNN`s Wolf Blitzer, he`s appalled.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Such things are very outrageous.

DAS: Late-night TV comedians are taking their shots.

JIMMY KIMMEL, TALK SHOW HOST: You ever get the idea Pat Robertson is the only one who doesn`t know he`s going to hell?

DAS: And even President Bush and the White House, which has gotten key support from Robertson and his followers over the years, couldn`t keep quiet over Robertson`s latest shocker. Today, White House spokesman Trent Duffy said, quote, "Those comments are holy inappropriate and offensive and really don`t have a place in this or any other debate."

ABRAHAM FOXMAN, NATIONAL DIRECTOR, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: It`s sad. It`s a perversion of religion.

DAS: Abraham Foxman, national director of the Jewish activist group, the Anti-Defamation League, tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT that Robertson`s comments reeked of arrogance.

FOXMAN: For him to say this illness is justified, he should really die because he gave away God`s land, is very hurtful. It`s outrageous, and it`s so un-Christian for a man of God.

DAS: Robertson`s camp is defending his comments. His spokeswoman says, quote, "Robertson is simply reminding his viewers what the Bible has to say about efforts made to divide the land of Israel."

Robertson has been setting off these rhetorical firestorms for years. Last August, Robertson went on his show and called for the assassination of Venezuelan president and U.S. critic, Hugo Chavez.

ROBERTSON: I don`t know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we`re trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it.

DAS: And in 1992, he said "Feminism encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians."

Robertson, who ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 1988, is still an influential figure in the Christian broadcasting community. His "700 Club" TV program draws about 865,000 viewers a day.

BARRY LYNN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AMERICANS UNITED FOR SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE: It`s just appalling.

DAS: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT caught up with Minister Barry Lynn today. He`s the executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. He says it`s Robertson`s clout that makes his comments about Sharon so harmful.

LYNN: To many people in the world, Pat Robertson is the representative of Christianity throughout the United States. He`s the only person they know. So, when Pat Robertson speaks, it`s not taken as a joke. It`s taken as a serious comment from a major religious figure.

DAS: And while people all over the world pray for Sharon`s recovery...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bring blessing and healing to Ariel, son of Vera.

DAS: ... some are waiting to see how Robertson will recover from his latest inflammatory remarks.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DAS: Despite calls for an apology, so far, nothing from Robertson -- A.J.

HAMMER: Shame on him. Sumi, thanks very much. CNN`s Sumi Das, joining us live from San Francisco.

Well, what do you think about all this? We want to know. So get on the line for our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. Pat Robertson: should he apologize for saying God is punishing Ariel Sharon? I think you know my vote. You can vote at CNN.com/ShowbizTonight or send us your e- mail at ShowbizTonight@CNN.com if you`ve got more to say, and we`ll read some of your thoughts later in the show.

ANDERSON: NBC plans to acknowledge the death of John Spencer on the upcoming episode of "The West Wing." Today NBC said Spencer`s death will be mentioned just before the start of this Sunday`s episode.

Spencer died last month of a heart attack. There is still no word on how his death will be handled on the show itself.

HAMMER: Well, tonight, the music world is mourning a legend with an amazing voice. Grammy Award winning singer Lou Rawls died today, but the singer leaves a lasting legacy. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Sibila Vargas has more.

SIBILA VARGAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A.J., today fans gathered to pay their respects at the singer`s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Rawls died at Cedar Sinai Medical Center, where he was hospitalized last month for treatment of lung and brain cancer.

Rawls` trademark silky voice was instantly recognized, whether he was singing on stage or in a TV commercial.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(MUSIC)

VARGAS (voice-over): His velvet voice was unforgettable with songs like, "You`ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine."

(MUSIC)

VARGAS: Musical legend Lou Rawls was unmistakably one of R&B`s most gifted artists.

(MUSIC)

VARGAS: Born in Chicago, Rawls started out as a gospel singer, later switching to soul music. He went on to a successful career that spanned four decades, winning three dreams and selling over 40 million albums.

(MUSIC)

LOU RAWLS, SINGER: Actually, I`ve been to the movies as a real, you know, feature film for theaters.

VARGAS: The multitalented musician had small parts in several big budget films including "Blues Brothers 2000." He even lent his voice talents to "The Rug Rats Movie" in 1998.

RAWLS: I`m tired.

VARGAS: Rawls was also known for his tireless efforts to promote education. Instead of talking about it, he did something. In 1979, he began the annual telethon, the Lou Rawls Parade of Stars, now called An Evening of Stars. The event has raised over $200 million for the United Negro College Fund.

(MUSIC)

RAWLS: I say if they go to school and get an education, they`ll learn that sitting on the corner trying to think up things that are negative are obsolete. Because we now live in a high-tech society, and knowledge is the key. Education is the answer.

(MUSIC)

VARGAS: Rawls admitted being a smoker but quit 35 years ago. Despite battling both lung and brain cancer, Rawls remained upbeat, saying, "Don`t count me out, brother."

Back in 1994, we asked him how he would like to be remembered.

RAWLS: Somebody that took the problem in hand and tried to deal with it. Somebody tried to help somebody else help themselves because it helps me in return.

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VARGAS: Lou Rawls` last television appearance will air tomorrow might. The show, An Evening of Stars: A Tribute to Stevie Wonder, was taped back in September. It`s part of the annual telethon for the United Negro College Fund. He will be missed.

HAMMER: He certainly will. And he even hosted his own variety show back in 1969. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Sibila Vargas, thank you very much.

ANDERSON: Wal-Mart boxed into a corner. Tonight Wal-Mart is all apologies after its web site linked "Planet of the Apes" and an African- American icon. Coming up, the story of the retail giant`s gigantic mess.

HAMMER: Plus, I guess you could say that Martha Stewart is a retail giant in her own right, but tonight, there has been a court ruling that could have a major impact on her empire. We`ve got that coming up.

ANDERSON: And KISS is on our list. I asked Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley if they ever got tired of putting on all that makeup every day. The answer coming up in the interview you`ll see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

HAMMER: First tonight`s "Entertainment Weekly Great American Pop Culture Quiz." Who appeared on the inaugural cover of "People" magazine back in 1974? Was it Faye Dunaway, Goldie Hawn, Jacqueline Onassis or Mia Farrow? We`re coming straight back with the answer.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMMER: Once again, your Friday night "Entertainment Weekly Great American Pop Culture Quiz." Who appeared on the inaugural cover of "People" magazine back in 1974? Was it Faye Dunaway, Goldie Hawn, Jacqueline Onassis or Mia Farrow? The answer, D, Mia Farrow. The cover actually featured Farrow, as you see here, as Daisy Buchanan in the film "The Great Gatsby." "People`s" cover story was "Gatsby: The Year`s Next Big Movie."

ANDERSON: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, TV`s only live entertainment news show. I`m Brooke Anderson.

Tonight, a "SHOWBIZ Sitdown" with Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, the co-founders of the legendary group, KISS. Now, they`re known for their painted faces and over-the-top performances.

And now, they`re out with a new DVD, "Rock the Nation Live," which shows KISS on stage and off and takes you to sound checks and their dressing room. The group has been performing since the early `70s, and they told me they don`t care about reviews, that they`ve conquered the world.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL STANLEY, MUSICIAN: When we first started, we planned on taking over the world. We had this vision of world domination, but when you actually achieve it, it`s daunting, you know.

We really hoped for five years at best. When it became 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, when you reach a point where you`re doing this "KISS Rock the Nation" DVD, 30 years on, it`s really a testament to the fact that we are not recreating the past as much as really paving the way and continuing to stake our claim to the top of the mountain.

ANDERSON: This is from a D.C. concert last year. Why that concert, and was it a mix of classic KISS and newer songs?

GENE SIMMONS, MUSICIAN: We`ve been together longer than most countries have been around. And I mean that in the very nicest way.

Look, this could have been any concert on that tour. We`re having a ball. Every day we get up on that stage, there`s a sense of pride. Yes, there`s arrogance. Yes, there`s cockiness, but this is serious stuff. We take ourselves seriously because we know 20,000 people paid their hard- earned money to come and see us.

ANDERSON: Is it daunting? Is it intimidating to come back after, after -- when you take a break, to come back and know that the expectations are so extremely high?

SIMMONS: We are of America. America decides what it`s all about. The world speaks louder than one guy who wasn`t lucky with the girls growing up in school and decided to sit down and write for a living. We`re about them. We`re about getting up on stage and making sure we rock the house. And, of course, we`ll go back to our hotel for the encores.

STANLEY: When people come to see my house and it`s rather large, I say, this is the house that bad reviews built. And so be it. But the people speak volumes. And those are the people who have held us in this high lofty position for 30 years. And, guess what? We`re not leaving.

ANDERSON: Is there anyone out there that you just think is rock `n` roll and you really love to listen to them and you think they`ve got it?

SIMMONS: Arrogance and delusional self-belief is part of being a champion. There are a lot of little boys running around making a lot of little noise. We welcome everybody on that stage. We don`t care how long you`ve been around. The Stones, U2, big Elvis up from the ground, you come up, play with us. We`ll show you how to do it right.

ANDERSON: You wouldn`t go into public without the makeup on. Did you ever get sick of putting it on? I know I get sick of putting it on.

STANLEY: I woke up this morning and said, you`re looking damn good and I figured I`m just going to come in here looking like this. But the truth is that the image of KISS is so strong, why confuse it or dilute it? We always wanted to maintain that image so that no matter where you go to this day, around the world, if you see the four faces, those iconic images are burnt into everybody`s psyche. You know who KISS is.

ANDERSON: Do you think the music industry has changed, though?

STANLEY: Totally. I think the music industry is a place now that doesn`t nurture new acts. And if you don`t sell on your first album or if you don`t sell on your first single, they let you go. It`s a much tougher life out there.

And it`s also, it makes, with the media being what it is and MTV and all the music outlets, it means that bands around the world become much more similar, you know. And I don`t necessarily think that`s a good thing. It almost becomes incestuous. When everybody is, in a manner of speaking, mating with each other, you wind up with a whole lot of cross-eyed people.

ANDERSON: What`s been the highlight thus far of your career, the one thing you look back and think, "That was it. That was cool"?

SIMMONS: We`ve broken attendance records held by the Beatles and Elvis and all that stuff. By the way, if it sounds like we`re boasting, we`re proud. This humble stuff doesn`t fly. Either it`s true or it`s not.

STANLEY: He`s beginning to sound more and more like a wrestler. I swear. You know, I`m listening to this.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Very, very proud. And the new KISS DVD, "Rock the Nation Live," is in stores now.

HAMMER: This may very well be remembered as the week that television and the Internet truly came together at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Two of the Internet`s biggest sites, Google and Yahoo!, announced plans that they`re going to distribute TV through their sites. Well, the move by both companies is not the first news of TV coming to the Net, of course. Earlier this week, the Walt Disney Company announced plans to add content from its ESPN channel, ABC Sports, ABC Family and ABC News to the shows that it already sells on Apple`s iTunes.

Google plans to offer a pay-per-download video service juts like iTunes. And Yahoo! unveiled a new service that is going to allow televisions and cell phones to control its Web services.

Joining us to figure this all out from Washington, CNN`s business new anchor, Ali Velshi.

Nice to see you, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: A.J., good to se you. This week is going to be remembered as something, but when we`re talking to our grandkids, it may be remembered as the week where everybody decided everything`s going to be available everywhere. And maybe in a few years, we`ll know which ones are actually going to work, how you`re going to get your information.

But at the moment, everybody who offers content and every device that offers you some method of communication, they`re all trying to converge and allow you to get everything you want in one place.

HAMMER: Well, break it down for me as simply as you can about the specific announcements made, Google and Yahoo! For instance, one of my favorite television shows, "Everybody Hates Chris."

VELSHI: That`s right.

HAMMER: I want to be able to download that and watch it wherever the heck I want whenever I want. What do those services do for me?

VELSHI: There are two things going on right now in the world of carrying your entertainment around with you. One is the iPod kind of model where you can download whatever you want and listen to it, control it the way you want to control it, or TiVo if you like.

The other method of doing things is the idea of streaming, band width, allowing you to do the things that you do on your computer or watch on your TV on different devices.

Now, a few things are happening. No. 1, Google teaming up with Motorola so that new telephones coming out in the near future will have a Google button on them that allows you to use Google services on your phone.

Google also announcing it`s going to allow you to download video the way Apple is allowing you to download video onto your iPod device. So a competitive model, inexpensive, the shows that you`re talking about.

And then the third thing that`s happening, Yahoo! is trying to make the things that you like about Yahoo! available to you on your television set and on your -- at this point your mobile phone but pretty much anything, any device you use.

So these content companies are saying, we want you to be able to watch, search, surf, do whatever, send mail, photos, download music on any device you choose. And they`ve all thrown out these options that are going to allow people to do that.

What survives, what people actually use remains to be seen.

HAMMER: Massive convergence is here. Ali Velshi, thank you very much for helping us kind of sort through all this tonight.

ANDERSON: OK, will "Casanova" steal your heart at the movies? We will find out next in "Picks and Pans."

HAMMER: Plus, it was a smash hit that kind of came out of nowhere, and now "Dancing with the Stars" is back, and its dance card is full. What is the secret to its success? We`re going to look into it, coming up in a live report.

ANDERSON: And Wal-Mart in damage control mode tonight after its web site linked "Planet of the Apes" and movies about African-American icons. How the retail giant is handling a giant P.R. nightmare. Coming up on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMMER: It is time now for the "SHOWBIZ Guide," where throughout the week we help you decide where to spend your dollars on music, movies, DVDs and more.

Tonight, in "People Picks and Pans," Pierce Brosnan in "The Matador," Heath Ledger in "Casanova," and Ralph Fiennes in "The White Countess." Live here in New York to guide us through each one, "People" magazine film critic Leah Rozen.

Always a pleasure as we start the weekend together. So let`s decide what to go see.

Heath Ledger, of course, getting a lot of praise for "Brokeback Mountain" playing a gay cowboy. Slightly different role for him in "Casanova."

LEAH ROZEN, FILM CRITIC, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: He`s completely heterosexual in "Casanova," and he`s very good. This movie is just fun. It`s sort of a comic romp, starts off a little awkward. But then once it figures out where it`s going, it`s just one of those movies you sit back and you have a good time.

Sienna Miller`s lovely to look at, and Heath Ledger can swing a sword with authority.

HAMMER: All right. And -- I`m not even going to...

ROZEN: Don`t even go there.

HAMMER: Your critic`s choice this week, correct?

ROZEN: Yes. That`s my pick.

HAMMER: Well, then let`s move on to "The Matador." Pierce Brosnan back, not as 007. Will we 007 fans get a kick out of Pierce in this film?

ROZEN: I think you will, because he`s the exact opposite of 007. He`s a hit man, but he drinks way too much. He`s totally promiscuous, and he has the most hilarious foul mouth you have ever heard in a movie. And he walks around in a Speedo at one point.

This is essentially sort of a thriller, a comic thriller. And it`s -- again, it`s a movie that`s sort of a little off-center, but you`re going to enjoy it.

HAMMER: Rating on this film?

ROZEN: The rating of this film would be "R," deserved.

HAMMER: OK. Let`s move on to "The White Countess," the final Merchant Ivory film after Mel Merchant`s death last year. But it`s interesting, because Ralph Fiennes heads up a cast of two Redgraves and a Richardson. All in the family for this film.

ROZEN: Exactly. You have got Natasha Richardson as the star. You`ve got her mom, her real-life mom, Vanessa Redgrave, and Lynn Redgrave plays her aunt in the movie.

It`s set in China in Shanghai in the late 1930s. It`s sort of a romantic drama.

Pretty good, great costumes, great atmosphere, great acting. But in the middle of gets a little slow, but it`s got a humdinger of a finish. So a pretty good final film for the Merchant Ivory team.

HAMMER: And another period piece out there right now. This seems to be a big trend or am I -- just feeling that way? Just a lot of films...

ROZEN: They bring out the costumes at holiday time.

HAMMER: OK. So we`re going to make "The White Countess" a maybe. "The Matador," you liked it a lot.

ROZEN: "White Countess," if you like Merchant Ivory films, you`re going to like it.

HAMMER: OK. And "Casanova," the critic choice.

ROZEN: Absolutely.

HAMMER: And our critic Leah Rozen from "People" magazine. We appreciate you joining us here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

And as always, for more "Picks and Pans," you can get your copy of "People" magazine. It`s on newsstands now.

ANDERSON: Howard Stern is getting ready for lift-off. Coming up, we have the inside story on what he plans for his first day on Sirius Satellite Radio.

HAMMER: Plus, Nick Lachey is pointing fingers in the breakup of his marriage to Jessica Simpson. We`re going to tell you who`s getting the blame. That`s coming up next in "Hot Headlines."

ANDERSON: And a big court ruling that could have a major impact on Martha Stewart`s future. We`ll tell you what`s at stake. That`s coming up on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, for a Friday night. It is 31 minutes past the hour. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.

ANDERSON: I`m Brooke Anderson in Hollywood, and you are watching -- it`s the only one -- it`s TV`s only live entertainment news show.

HAMMER: Still on the way in the next half-hour, Brooke, big problems for Wal-Mart. If you`re a Wal-Mart customer and you headed to their Web site looking to buy, oh, maybe, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" or the "Planet of the Apes" DVD, you might have been shocked and dismayed to find where you wound up on the Web site. And this is bad news for a company that has had its fair share of negative publicity. We`ll look into that in a few minutes.

ANDERSON: Right. It`s pretty unbelievable what happened.

And also, A.J., you know the show "Dancing with the Stars," right? It exploded onto the TV landscape last summer. Well, now it`s back with season two. It premiered last night, huge ratings. Folks just can`t get enough of the cha-cha, and the waltz, and the rhumba. And coming up, we will have the secrets of its success.

HAMMER: What is the deal there?

(LAUGHTER)

But first, let`s get to tonight`s "Hot Headlines." SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Adrianna Costa joins us live from the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom.

ADRIANNA COSTA, CNN HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hello, A.J. OK, this is my favorite story of the day. "South Park" fans are soon going to be able to say, "Oh, my god, you killed Kenny" -- "called Kenny," excuse me. Here`s the story.

Cartman, Kenny and the rest of the gang are making their cell phone debut. Now, later this month, the content includes "South Park" voice mail, ring tones, and video games, of course. Comedy Central is also offering a cell phone sneak peak of the season "Chappelle`s Show." If you know anything about me, you know I love "South Park."

Moving on, Nick Lachey is about to speak about his breakup with Jessica Simpson. Lachey tells "Elle" magazine that he blames the split partly on the exposure from the reality show "Newlyweds" and the cameras that trailed them everywhere.

And that the house on the show -- they told People.com that the house is being put up on the market. Lachey also told "Elle" that he used to wear Simpson`s shoes as, quote, sort of a kinky thing. Wow. These boots certainly are made for walking.

And some controversial comments have Pat Robertson in a ministerial mire. The televangelist says Israel`s prime minister, Ariel Sharon, is being punished by God, for, quote, "dividing God`s land." The comments made after Sharon suffered a major stroke have sparked outrage from religious groups and the White House. A spokesman for President Bush calls the comments, quote, "wholly inappropriate and offensive."

And, A.J., those are tonight`s headlines. Back to you.

HAMMER: All right. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Adrianna Costa, thanks very much. You can catch Adrianna`s entertainment reports Monday through Friday between 6:00 and 10:00 a.m. on "ROBIN AND COMPANY" here on CNN Headline News.

Our story about Pat Robertson leads us once again to our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day." And it is: Pat Robertson, should he apologize for saying God is punishing Ariel Sharon? You can keep voting at CNN.com/showbiztonight. You can also write to us at showbiztonight@CNN.com. Your e-mails coming up at 55 past the hour.

ANDERSON: All right. Listen to this. America`s biggest retailer is ringing in the new year with a big snafu. Wal-Mart is apologizing today after its Web site directed buyers of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "Planet of the Apes" DVDs to consider titles with African-American themes. CNN`s Mary Snow is live tonight in the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom with all the details.

Hi, Mary.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Brooke. And that`s right. The snafu caused the retail giant to go into a public relations frenzy after Wal-Mart found out about the problem. It immediately shut down the part of its Web site that creates movie recommendations for its customers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW (voice-over): Wal-Mart`s Web site directed shoppers who were looking to buy "Planet of the Apes" or "Charlie and Chocolate Factory" DVDs to consider buying films with African-American themes. In the case of the cult TV classic, "Planet of the Apes," customers who clicked on that were routed to four other movies, all about famous black Americans, Martin Luther King, Jr., Tina Turner, boxer Jack Johnson, and actress Dorothy Dandridge.

DIANE BRADY, "BUSINESSWEEK": Here is a case where, clearly, they`re not racist, but they came off looking rather stupid putting "Planet of the Apes" next to African-American films. They were right to immediately come out and shut down that part of the site.

SNOW: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT went straight to Wal-Mart to get some answers, and they say they`re keeping the cross-selling system down until the problem is resolved. This idea of grouping is a popular function, used by other sites like Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. Plug in the name of a movie you want, and then the system comes up with the name of several other similar items you might like.

Wal-Mart, who told us they were heartsick and horrified that this happened, didn`t know how or when the problem arose. It seems accidental. Visitors who tried to buy copies of "The Polar Express" and "Home Alone" were also routed to DVDs with African-American themes. But for Wal-Mart, another headache.

BRADY: And I think Wal-Mart has become much more sensitized about its public relations image because it`s just simply had so much negative publicity in recent years.

SNOW: Some of that bad press came from last year`s controversial documentary called "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price." That followed former employees who claimed Wal-Mart treated them badly and paid them little.

ROBERT GREENWALD, DIRECTOR: If Wal-Mart`s not a monopoly, I don`t know what it is.

SNOW: Robert Greenwald produced and directed the film and told SHOWBIZ TONIGHT why he made the movie.

GREENWALD: I really was shocked. I mean, the thought that a corporation with $10 billion dollars in profit should not be taking care of its employees and therefore, every single one of us, every single taxpayer, is winding up paying for the Wal-Mart benefits that the corporation is not giving to their employees.

SNOW: Wal-Mart shot back, telling us that Greenwald, quote, "plays fast and loose with the facts." They threw their support behind a rival documentary, released around the same time, called, "Why Wal-Mart Works and Why That Drives Some People Crazy."

BRADY: They`ve had to battle a lot of bad press, everything from their labor relations to lawsuits that they face, over everything from alleged hazardous waste-dumping to overcharging customers for plastic bags. It seems like everybody`s against them.

SNOW: Still, Wal-Mart is a force to be reckoned with. It takes in more than $280 billion in sales each year. After the federal government, it employs the most Americans. It sells just about everything, and almost a third of all CD sales last year came from Wal-Mart. It`s probably why it gets exclusive deals with music stars.

When Garth Brooks wanted to release his greatest hits set last month, he went exclusively to Wal-Mart and its discount warehouse, Sam`s Club. Sales topped a million copies in just two weeks.

BRADY: I think being the biggest guy on the block certainly doesn`t help. If you`re the world`s biggest retailer, people are going to take potshots at you.

SNOW: "South Park" did. It went after Wal-Mart`s dominance in a 2004 episode.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at us. We all don`t like the Wal-Mart, but we can`t stop coming here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s like some mystical evil force.

SNOW: Wal-Mart even got the JibJab online treatment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Thank you for serving me. My house is full of crap now and it used to be empty.

SNOW: With so much bad press, can the number-one retailer stay on top of its game?

BRADY: I don`t think this is an invincible company. One thing that you`ve seen in recent years is people care very much about how companies operate. People act when they think that a company is against them, is against people like them. They`re not going to shop there.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: Wal-Mart now seems well aware that commerce and caring both matter in the pursuit of profit -- Brooke?

ANDERSON: All right, Mary. Thank you so much. CNN`s Mary Snow.

HAMMER: Howard Stern says he`s going to start off his show on Sirius satellite radio with some major confessions. Stern`s first show on Sirius happens on Monday. He told CNN`s Larry King how he plans to start off with a bang.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOWARD STERN, RADIO HOST: First day, we are doing a revelation show. Each one of us, each one of the major cast members, has agreed to reveal something about themselves that we`ve never revealed on the air. And that has to be -- it has to meet a certain standard.

LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Which is?

STERN: Which is we put a guy in charge. We each had to go into a confessional booth and confess our sin or secret or something that humiliated us or embarrassed us. And if it didn`t measure up, we had to go back and come up with something else.

KING: It had to be humiliating?

STERN: No, doesn`t have to be humiliating. Might be something that we didn`t want to share. Could be a secret.

KING: Disease. You might have a disease.

STERN: Could be a disease. Could be that dreaded disease that you have. I might get it, too. You don`t know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: Fans cannot wait. Stern also says he`s going to address those rumors that have been floating around about whether he and his girlfriend, the lovely Beth Ostrosky, got married over their holiday. I`m going to be there at the Sirius studios when Howard starts up his show on Monday. Make sure you watch for my interview with him on Monday night here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

And on Sirius this week, they have been airing, Brooke, the actual run-throughs that Howard and his crew have been putting their studio through. They`ve been doing their test paces.

ANDERSON: Oh, wonderful.

HAMMER: It`s giving us a real sense of Howard without the shackles of traditional radio. It has been absolutely riveting. I can`t way for Monday.

ANDERSON: Did Howard ever really have shackles, though, A.J.?

HAMMER: Well, yes, and that is exactly why he left terrestrial radio, because the FCC and the corporations were clamping down.

ANDERSON: So it`s a pretty big difference there. All right. We will wait and see how it goes. I`m sure a lot of people will be listening.

OK, moving on now, it is another legal setback for Martha Stewart. We`ll tell you how her legal battle is not going according to her recipe, coming up on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

HAMMER: And let`s get ready to rumble! "Dancing with the Stars" is proving it don`t mean a thing if it ain`t got that swing. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT shows you why this unexpected hit is out-stepping the competition.

ANDERSON: And the Jon Stewart dynasty. Jon Stewart is becoming one hot host. The comic gets ready to emcee the Academy Awards and, in between wisecracks, he reveals he`s very excited. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT shares his take on his upcoming date with Oscar.

HAMMER: First, a SHOWBIZ TONIGHT birthday shoutout, where we give fans a chance to wish their favorite stars a happy birthday. Tonight, it`s a birthday shoutout to British actor Rowan Atkinson, AKA Mr. Bean, celebrating his 51st birthday today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Young (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m Aloosh (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re from Holland, and we want to wish Rowan Atkinson -- we know him as Mr. Bean -- a very happy birthday.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Happy birthday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Happy birthday.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. It is TV`s only live entertainment news show. I`m Brooke Anderson.

Well, it was the biggest surprise hit of last summer. ABC`s "Dancing with the Stars" waltzed its way into the living rooms and the hearts of American viewers and climbed to number one in the ratings. Well, last night`s "Dancing" premiere proved those numbers were no fluke; 17.5 million people watched last night, including myself, 4 million more than when the series made its debut last June. The show also beat out the premiere of NBC`s must-see TV comedy lineup.

Joining us live here in Hollywood to talk about the dancing phenomenon, "TV Guide`s" Mary Murphy. Hi, Mary.

MARY MURPHY, "TV GUIDE": Hi, Brooke.

ANDERSON: All right. Let`s get down to it. Last summer, this show was like an addiction for some people, every single week. Why do you think it was such an unexpected hit?

MURPHY: I think it was an unexpected hit because what happened to me last night and happened to people last summer is what happened to millions of people. You kind of flipped the channel, you saw it. You said, "I want to watch this show."

And it`s not just the dancing. It`s, you know, hoping -- maybe somebody`s going to fall, and watching these incredible athletes, you know, try to dance their way through these numbers, and just loving every minute of it.

ANDERSON: Well, you and I were talking before the show. This was the first time I had watched the show, and I was a little bit skeptical about it, but I really got into it. And like you say, I might go on and watch more and more episodes.

But let me ask you this: Last summer, it was up against reruns. Now, here in January, this season, it`s going to have stiffer competition. So do you think the novelty with wear off, people will turn the channel and go to the new shows?

MURPHY: I don`t think so, because what they did is they added another element that we saw last night, which is a lot of humor. And we saw that with Master P. We saw that with Jerry Rice. We just saw humor and fun. And people are now invested, and they`ve added another show tonight, you know, for the voting. So I think it`s just going to build. I think it`s a surprise. I was shocked, and I`m sure NBC is even more shocked than we are.

ANDERSON: A lot of the contestants were taking that self-deprecating approach, which I think a lot of viewers might find endearing. Now, Mary, a lot of times it`s train-wreck TV, because, you know, these celebrities, it`s not their specialty. When you think about last night`s show, what really stood out to you as not-so-good dancing?

MURPHY: Well, I don`t want to put anybody down, but I think they were right when they said to Master P, "Step it up a little bit." And I`ll say one thing. I was just impressed with Nick Lachey`s little brother. He was great.

And I think George was right. When he was finished, he said, "I`m done here. I`m tired." So I think that`s part of the fun of it. I just think that ABC has a hit and NBC has to now worry about their Thursday night lineup one more time. Although, I have to say, "The Office" was sensational last night.

ANDERSON: And I have to agree with you. Drew Lachey could really do the cha-cha. Now, very quickly -- we only have a few moments left -- do you think it has similar appeal as, maybe, say, "American Idol"?

MURPHY: I think it does have similar appeal. And I think one of the things, actually, is that it`s fun to see the men make fun of themselves, like Jerry Rice. I think if Tatum O`Neal had danced badly, we might not be laughing quite as hard and might not want to see it as much. So I would say that this is just a tune that`s going to keep on playing.

ANDERSON: You`ve got to give them all A for effort. All right, Mary Murphy from "TV Guide," thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

MURPHY: Thank you.

ANDERSON: OK, Jon Stewart is gearing up for his date with Oscar. On the heels of the news that he`s hosting the Academy Awards, "The Daily Show" host tells his audience that he`s excited about the big gig.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW": I will say this: I don`t know a ton about movies other than I`m not very good in them.

(LAUGHTER)

But for a comedian, for a performer, being asked to host the Oscars is -- it feels in some ways like winning the Heisman. No guarantee of how you`re going to do in the bowl game...

(LAUGHTER)

... or in your career afterwards, but it`s something they can`t take away from you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Isn`t that the truth? OK, the Oscars will be broadcast live from Hollywood March 5th.

HAMMER: Tonight, Martha Stewart has lost a big battle. Hours ago, a federal appeals court upheld Martha Stewart`s conviction for lying to investigators about a stock sale. That`s, of course, the famous conviction that got her five months of prison, five months of house arrest, and a whole lot of bad publicity.

So what does it all mean for Martha Stewart, the image Martha Stewart, the brand? SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is on top of the story. And joining us from Washington, D.C., CNN`s business news anchor, Ali Velshi.

Simple as that, Ali. What does this mean for Martha?

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Probably not much. I mean, if anybody`s been able to handle her image, you know, a convicted felon being able to handle her image, Martha Stewart`s been able to do that. This is more about vindication, to see if they could get that conviction overturned. It didn`t work.

It`s not the end of the road. Martha Stewart could try and take it to the Supreme Court. No one really believes she`s going to or that the Supreme Court will be particularly interested in this.

In the end, she`s not finished with her sentence yet. When she is, after she finishes her probation, she`ll have been deemed to have served her time and be able to do pretty much anything that she would have been able to do prior to this conviction.

But this was an attempt to have that conviction overturned. In the end, because she`d served her time in prison and her time under house arrest, no particular impact on Martha Stewart`s life. It looks like she`s doing better than most people who never even went to jail, A.J.

HAMMER: Well, what about the impact, then, on her business because, obviously, she is the name brand. She is the figurehead of this company, has a lot of shareholders to answer to. What`s going to be the fallout here?

VELSHI: The fallout seems to have happened for Martha Stewart. The worst seems to be behind her. They lost a lot of employees. The share price suffered. And she is back in a role that most people say is very central and very influential. The elder statesman to her company, but she`s got a TV show, she`s got a radio channel on satellite, she`s got a lot of things going on.

She can`t -- there`s no rule particularly banning her from running her company again, but, at the moment, Martha Stewart seems to be on the road to a comeback. A year from now, we may know more about whether it succeeded, A.J.

HAMMER: Bottom line: Martha Stewart not going away. Ali Velshi, thanks for joining us tonight.

VELSHI: OK.

ANDERSON: Moving now to our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day." There is time for you to sound off. Pat Robertson: Should he apologize for saying God is punishing Ariel Sharon? Vote at CNN.com/showbiztonight or you can write us at showbiztonight@CNN.com. We are going to read some of your thoughts live, coming up next.

HAMMER: First, it`s the "Entertainment Weekly" must-list, five things "EW" says you have to check out this week. I definitely agree with this first one. See "Match Point" starring Scarlett Johansson and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers. Amazing movie. Woody Allen explores the dark side of love. It`s a suspenseful thriller.

Next, "EW" says to check out the "Simpsons Season 7," which is now out on DVD, including 25 classic episodes.

And then make sure you check out Mary J. Blige`s new song, "MJB Da MVP," also a favorite of executive producer Dave Levine from SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. It`s a look back through her years at the top of her game.

"EW" also says pick up a copy of the DVD "Disney Rarities," five decades of short films from the magic kingdom.

And finally, check out Beck`s latest album, "Guerolito." It`s a collection of remixes of his latest album, his last album, "Guero."

For more on the must-list, pick up your copy of "Entertainment Weekly." It`s on newsstands now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, where it`s now time for the best in late-night laughs in "Laughter Dark." These days, Felicity Huffman is well-known, of course, for her hit role on the hit show "Desperate Housewives." But when she first started out in New York City, she became known for something else, as she explains to David Letterman on last night`s "Late Show."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FELICITY HUFFMAN, ACTRESS: I`ve had a couple times where I -- I remember I finished a first series I did, a long, long time ago, and I was feeling pretty groovy, and back in the city, and I`m successful. And I was going out on the street. And I thought I might be recognized, so I put on my little skirt, and my shades, and I`ve got my walkman.

I`m walking down the street up Eight Avenue feeling pretty hot, you know, I can feel the credits rolling over my face.

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE SHOW": Oh, very nice.

HUFFMAN: I feel so hot, yes. And I feel this, you know, on my shoulder. And I go, "Oh, someone recognizes me." And I take off my shades and I go, "Yes?" And she goes, "You tucked your skirt into your panty hose," and I walking up Eighth Avenue with my butt like that.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: That will bring you right back down to Earth, right?

OK. We have been asking you to vote online on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day." Pat Robertson: Should he apologize for saying God is punishing Ariel Sharon? The vote so far, pretty wide gap here: 88 percent of you say, yes; 12 percent of you say no.

And we have received a lot of e-mails on this, tremendous response. Here`s some of them.

Rashon from Maryland writes, "A public religious figure should display some discretion. The guy gives Christians in the United States a bad name."

Blake says, "He has every right to make that statement. I may not agree with him, but I served my country so he could make that statement."

Keep voting at CNN.com/showbiztonight.

HAMMER: I said before: Shame on him.

Well, it`s time to see what`s playing on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on Monday. For that, we take a look at our "Showbiz Marquee" with the Marquee Guy.

MARQUEE GUY: Monday, Howard Stern extraterrestrial. The shock jock going live on satellite radio. And SHOWBIZ TONIGHT will be there. He`s uncensored, and he promises to be over-the-top. What outrageous stunts are up his sleeve? SHOWBIZ TONIGHT brings you all the surprises in the radio revolution.

Also Monday, proud Mary. Mary J. Blige joins us live to talk about her breakthrough new album and why fans are cheering, "Hail, Mary!" What`s the 411? There`s something about Mary, Monday.

This is the Marquee Guy, looking forward to meeting her so I may say, "Will you Mary me?"

HAMMER: Please don`t say that and embarrass us all.

ANDERSON: We may have a marriage proposal on our hands.

HAMMER: Just too late for that. Have a lovely weekend.

ANDERSON: All right, A.J. Have a great weekend. You, too.

That is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. Thanks, everyone, for watching. I`m Brooke Anderson.

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

END

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