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New Videogame Lets Players Shoot Mexican Immigrants; Mary Kay Letourneau: One Year Later

Aired May 4, 2006 - 19:00:00   ET


A.J. HAMMER, CNN ANCHOR: "Border Patrol," the shocking new video game that lets players shoot immigrants. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.
BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: And the real-life arrests of television criminals. I`m Brooke Anderson. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT starts right now.


HAMMER: On SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, their story, a media frenzy. It shocked the nation. Now, Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau one year later. From school time, to jail time, to family time. What they`re now telling their kids and what they`re telling the world. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has the revealing interview.

Real problems with "The Real World." Alcoholism, an abusive relationship and an eating disorder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anorexic. When she walked in the house, I thought she was going to break in half.

HAMMER: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT asks, what`s the message being sent to kids?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m too not ready for this house.

HAMMER: Do reality shows exploit their cast members?


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

ANDERSON: I`m Brooke Anderson. A.J., we`ve got to ask. How in the world does a reality show keep someone on when they have such serious issues to deal with like a devastating eating disorder?

HAMMER: Yes, this is a real crisis and it`s on "The Real World," MTV`s long-running reality show. Now this particular crisis revolves around a 24-year-old woman who has some very intense personal issues. But should she be on the show or is this a case of exploitation? SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Sibila Vargas joining us from Hollywood tonight. Sibila?

SIBILA VARGAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: A.J., when you look at Paula Meronek`s biography on, it says chaos seems to follow her everywhere she goes.

Well judging by some of the episodes we`ve seen this season, it seems "The Real World`s" house in Key West, Florida, is no exception. The question though that a lot of people are asking is should cameras be catching all the chaos?


VARGAS (voice-over): This is 24-year-old Paula. She`s one of the seven cast members on MTV`s 17th season of "The Real World." She`s caught in a downhill spiral.

PAULA MERONEK, CAST MEMBER, THE REAL WORLD: I`m supposed to be going to a doctor. Basically going to be letting me know that I`m crazy and that there`s a lot of things wrong.

VARGAS: An eating disorder, depression, and a violent past relationship.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Her boyfriend used to beat the (bleep) out of her for three years, put her in the hospital five times.

VARGAS: In the 10 episodes that have aired so far, Paula has been open about her past. She tells roommates that her former boyfriend was abusive, a subject she gets upset about mostly when the crew is drinking, which seems to be very often.

MERONEK: I take diet pills.

VARGAS: She`s also open about her eating disorder issues. She has a history of bulimia and diet pills.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anorexic -- when she walked in the house, I thought she was going to break in half.

VARGAS: But despite her willingness to talk about her problems, some people are worried. Should someone like Paula be cast on a popular T.V. show?

From what SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can tell, MTV and "The Real World" casting department did know about Paula`s problems. In a statement to "The New York Times," the show`s co-creator Jonathan Murray says, "Because she was so self-aware about it, and because she had off and on thought about something about them, we came to the conclusion that it was OK to put her in this show."

Paula herself said that she felt more out of control the longer she was in Key West, where the show was taped this season.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Paula needs professional help.

VARGAS: Almost right off the bat, Paula`s roommates suggested she try to get her problems under control. And it was MTV executives who paid for Paula to get professional help. In this week`s episode, they sent her to a doctor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think about your weight?

MERONEK: I think it`s fine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And how much do you weigh?

MERONEK: Like 100 pounds.


VARGAS: And Paula has said that MTV saved her life. She says she doesn`t know where she would be without the help and support she received while taping in Key West.

A.J. though, when you look at a show like that and you look at these people, sometimes you have to remind yourself that they are real people.

HAMMER: Yes, there`s a big question of ethics that is being raised in this case. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Sibila Vargas, thanks very much for that from Hollywood tonight.

A whole lot more to this story. And we have just the right people to talk about it. First, Irene McGee is in San Francisco. She`s a former "Real World" cast member. Now Irene ended up leaving the Seattle cast after another house mate hit her. Thanks for being with us, Irene.


HAMMER: Our pleasure. Also with us here in New York, Andrew Cohen who is a programming executive for Bravo. The network has its own popular reality shows, like "Project Runway" and "Top Chef." Thanks for being here as well, Andrew.


HAMMER: I want to start with you, Irene. As I mentioned, you`ve been a part of the show, Been in "The Real World" before. You did end up leaving. In Paula`s audition tape, she actually admitted to having bulimia and suffering from it. Was it any surprise to you that she became a part of the cast of the show?

MCGEE: No, not at all. That just says ratings. They want to make money.

HAMMER: So basically they were looking to exploit what they already knew to be a part of what she was bringing to the table here?

MCGEE: Absolutely, absolutely.

HAMMER: OK well Andrew, it`s no surprise. I mean, let`s be honest. The purpose of reality shows, as I mentioned, "Bravo" has their own. You`ve been involved in the casting process.

But the point is to exploit the characters, to exploit the story lines in order to make good T.V. That`s the whole idea.

COHEN: It`s a T.V. show.

HAMMER: You are trying to make compelling T.V. So when you are doing the casting process, it has to be a very fine line that you walk, I imagine.

COHEN: It is. For, I`m grateful because for the shows that we do on "Bravo," we are looking for people who are talented. We cast people who can cook for "Top Chef." We cast people who can make dresses for "Project Runway."

If they have great characters or if they are great characters, that`s all the better. But you need talent. For a show like "The Real World," they are looking for characters. They just want to put the right combination of people in a house. But make no mistake, whether they like the people that they are casting or not, these people go through psychological background tests. The lawyers vet them. So it`s not as though they are just thrown on television.

MCGEE: Well, but with all due respect, those psychological tests are also given so they can guarantee that there`s conflict and to pit them against one another. And then also as part of the talent, if you saw somebody that was talented that could sew a dress but wasn`t photogenic, they wouldn`t make your show.

COHEN: Um, have you seen "Project Runway?" We have a very interesting group of...

HAMMER: ... Not necessarily the prettiest people.

MCGEE: Well then that brings into another thing, too. Like why is this a pre-filtered whether somebody`s pretty or not? And what this is doing and what the situation with this girl on the reality show "The Real World" is doing is bringing us back to deconstructing what people look like again, which is really easy.

COHEN: Well, but I think that the point that`s being raised by her entire storyline or what`s going on with her is that she has a very poor self-image of her body.

And I would argue that kids who watch "The Real World," who are sitting at home watching this show, the struggle they are seeing this person go through is much more valuable and thought-provoking than watching Trishelle get drunk and screw around with a bunch of guys in a Las Vegas casino.

MCGEE: Yes, but you don`t really believe that.

COHEN: I absolutely do believe it.

MCGEE: No, it has no value. It`s not about bringing value to the people at home. You know that. It`s about bringing dollars. It`s about bringing eyeballs to the T.V. set. I mean, you are not in the business of altruism.

HAMMER: Irene, let me just bring you back to a second to, you know, the support that she did -- Paula did in fact receive on the show. Executives did pay for Paula to go see a doctor. Of course, some would say maybe that was just to enhance the story line.

MCGEE: A doctor who would be -- who would let them be seen on television.

HAMMER: Irene, hold on a second. The cast and crew raised their concerns early in the taping. Steps were taken to help her. So are you saying there`s no lack of support there? Because I believe...

MCGEE: Well, it`s fake support. I mean, it`s pseudo-support. When I was on "The Real World: Seattle," I was assaulted by another cast member.

HAMMER: And what was the support like for you?

MCGEE: Well, I left the show. They didn`t stop filming. They didn`t do anything. That was great television for them.

HAMMER: But did they come to your aid at all?

MCGEE: No, no, they just kept filming. They did nothing. And -- no, they did nothing. You are asking me, I`m telling you, that`s the answer. They did nothing.

Fifteen minutes later I got a page on my pager that said "Please return your microphone, thank you very much." It`s assault, it`s illegal. That`s all they care about, is getting that shot.

And we have a problem because right now we are focusing on the wrong thing. And what we need to be focusing on is how having a camera in your hand can allow you to act less than human. And that is what`s going on.

HAMMER: What about that aspect, Andrew. Because it is true that you know, people, reality T.V.`s been around for a while now. So people are doing things on camera that they might not ordinarily do.

COHEN: Look, I would argue that Paula, is her name, from "The Real World," was under better care having a group of people supporting her around her and people looking after her.

MCGEE: Oh my god.

COHEN: And knowing what she did for 24 hours a day than being in an abusive relationship somewhere in the middle of nowhere. I don`t know where she`s from.

HAMMER: And to be clear, she did say that being on the show probably saved her life because she was getting care that she wouldn`t have otherwise gotten.

MCGEE: No, you are doing exactly -- you guys are doing exactly what the media wants us to do, which is focus on like the here and now. We are going to analyze what`s going on with this girl.

But it`s really not about that, is it? That`s really -- what the question is, is why people want to be on television so badly that they will do anything to be a part of this coveted and celebrated space.

HAMMER: Well that is true. And Irene -- and I`ve got to interrupt you there, I appreciate your thought on that. I do have to wrap it there because are out of time. And you raise some good issues and it`s something that we`ll have to continue to pursue.

Andrew Cohen, thank you for joining me here in New York. Irene, I appreciate you joining us from San Francisco tonight.

MCGEE: Yes, check out "No One`s Listening," my show about media.

HAMMER: is where you can listen to Irene. Thanks very much.

ANDERSON: Now, we want to hear what you think about it. It is our "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" question of the day. Reality shows, do they exploit their cast members? Vote at Send us an e-mail, We`re going to read some of your thoughts later on in the program.

HAMMER: Well, Jon Bon Jovi opened up about guitarist Richie Sambora`s divorce. Why he calls Sambora his hero. "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" has the exclusive interview. That`s coming up.

ANDERSON: And the student/teacher affair that shocked the nation. And now they are married. Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau, the very first pictures of their home life and why they insist they are just like any other couple.

Plus it`s only a game, or is it?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You might have kids getting up and they`re killing Mexicans.


HAMMER: It`s called "Border Patrol," and it encourages players to shoot Mexicans crossing the American border. "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" gives you and shows you the game that is sparking an absolute outrage.


HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer. It`s time now for the little story we ran across today that made us say that`s ridiculous! I don`t even think I have to describe it.

Danny, can you just roll this little piece of tape here? Yes. You are seeing donkeys. You are seeing donkeys in wigs. You`re seeing a donkey in a baby carriage. There are donkeys on parade, even a donkey playing broom polo. Can we see the donkey playing bloom polo? I`m sure he`s coming up here somewhere.

This is all part of a Mexican tribute to the beast of burden. There are actually apparently prizes for the best-costumed donkey and the crowning of Miss Donkey has to take place. Perhaps it`s a cultural thing, but we personally think, that`s ridiculous!

ANDERSON: Yes, we do.

HAMMER: Dressing up animals no matter what kind of animals, for our own amusement, Brooke, is just not acceptable to me. There`s just something not right about it.

ANDERSON: You know, thousands of people flock to this festival, if you can believe it. And A.J., the donkeys looked miserable. And they are such hard workers. Is that the reward that they get?

HAMMER: I am protesting this.

ANDERSON: We`re protesting.

HAMMER: Well, once again this week, some of the members of the "Sopranos" seem to be putting the crime in crime family. See, two cast members of the HBO mob drama found themselves in some legal trouble this week. And SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has noticed that they aren`t the first actors on the show to get, as they say in the mob, pinched.



HAMMER (voice-over): It`s enough to make Tony Soprano go ballistic. The actors who played Tony`s favorite chef and Tony`s bodyguard ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Italian strongman.

HAMMER: ... are in some real-life trouble with the law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard you`re good with cops.

HAMMER: John Ventimiglia, who plays Artie the chef had his own run-in with the cops on this Brooklyn street this week. Officers allegedly saw him weaving in and out of traffic, and now he`s facing drunk driving and drug possession charges.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How could you do this to me?

HAMMER: His attorney says Ventimiglia, quote, "feels terrible and embarrassed."

LOUIS GROSS, ACTOR: Mrs. Soprano, good morning. I`m Perry Annunziata.

HAMMER: And the actor who plays Tony`s hot-headed bodyguard has also been pinched. Louis Gross is charged with criminal mischief after a woman claimed he broke into her home last month.

GROSS: My mom says I should count ten. But I never remember.

HAMMER: Gross says he`s innocent. And his attorney tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, quote, "his onscreen persona is not him, and people shouldn`t mistake the two. He is not the tough guy that people are claiming he is. No assumptions should be made about him because of the role he plays on TV."

Now, we don`t know if they are born under a bad sign, but SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has noticed that cast members of the hit crime drama seem to have more than their fair share of run-ins with the law.


HAMMER: Don`t believe us? Well, let`s take a look at the "Soprano" rap sheet. First up is Tony Soprano`s loser son, A.J.

ROBERT ILER, ACTOR: And you never give me any support in anything I want to do.

HAMMER: The actor who plays him, Robert Iler, pleaded guilty back in 2002 for mugging two other teens for $40.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you realize what could have happened to you if we didn`t have connections?

HAMMER: Connections or not, Iler got three years probation. Tony Sirico, who plays mob man Paulie Walnuts, reportedly has made his share of real-life shakedowns. The Smoking Gun Web site reported recently that long before becoming a Soprano, Sirico did some prison time in the 1970s.

And Lillo Brancato, Jr., who played a wannabe mobster on the show, is now sitting in a New York jail awaiting a trial on second-degree murder charges in the killing of an off-duty cop. He`s pleading not guilty.

Sarah Bunting of the TV fan site Television Without Pity tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT it`s odd to see these "Sopranos" actors get in so much real-life trouble with the law, especially when the guys in Tony Soprano`s gang rarely have problems with the cops.

SARAH BUNTING, TELEVISIONWITHOUTPITY.COM: On "The Sopranos," they don`t really have consequences for their behavior a lot of the time. They are killing people, they`re running illegal gambling parlors. And then for one of them to get arrested for something as prosaic as driving drunk or that A.J. gets arrested for allegedly mugging someone, it just seems -- I think it`s a little strange for us as viewers.

HAMMER: But what do fans think of it? Well, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT went to -- where else -- New York`s Little Italy to ask "Sopranos" fans if the star`s real-life crime dramas effect their enjoyment of the show?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, it doesn`t bother me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn`t affect me. It`s just a well-written show.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Makes it more interesting ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To watch, right?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m going to watch even harder next week.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As an actor myself, sometimes it bothers me that maybe they are not serious actors themselves, that they are on the show because they are really the real thing so they are not acting.

HAMMER: Still, at least one member of "The Sopranos" cast manages to keep his nose clean.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I could do that. No problem.

HAMMER: Steven Van Zandt, who plays Silvio, has managed to keep his pompadour out of the crime pages during "The Sopranos" run. Television Without Pity`s Sarah Bunting says that could be because of his other job in Bruce Springsteen`s band.

BUNTING: I think it`s because Bruce Springsteen got him an after- school job. And he stays out of trouble at the E Street Boys Club. But still, keep it together. We need you.

That`s true. Because we`d hate to add another man to "The Sopranos" rap sheet.


HAMMER: Oddly enough, Lillo Brancato, Jr., the ex-"Sopranos" cast member charged in that fatal cop shooting, made some news today at his court hearing in New York. He asked a judge in the case that he be tried separately from his co-defendant. He claims that he didn`t know that his co-defendant had a gun. The case has been adjourned until July 11.

ANDERSON: Tonight, the first pictures from the inside the home of what could be one of the bizarre families ever. You may remember Mary Kay Letourneau. She was the 34-year-old Seattle teacher who shocked the world by having an affair with a 13-year-old student. She spent seven years in prison for it.

But amazingly, the couple got married last year. So what`s life been like for these two? Lorenzo Benet is in Hollywood. He`s with "People" magazine and just interviewed Mary Kay and her husband Vili.

Lorenzo, thanks for being with us.


ANDERSON: Hi there. OK. I read the article. Found it fascinating. You spoke with them, went into their home. Mary Kay is now 44, Vili is 22. From what I read, the household seems to be a mess. They`ve got their two kids with them part of the time, her four kids from a former marriage are with them a lot under one roof. Is it total chaos around there?

BENET: Oh, just like any other family, with, I don`t know, a few kids and parents. No, it`s not a complete mess. But it`s, you know, they are really trying to bring some normalcy into their lives for their kids. And I think they are making a lot of progress that way.

I was very surprised to see that the young children are mixing with the older children. Mary`s kids from Alaska come down and visit. One has moved in; her oldest son, Steven. And he has a job, and he gets along with Vili. He gets along with the little girls. And...

ANDERSON: OK. But there`s only what, one year age difference between her oldest son and Vili. How does that work? Vili has said he`s uncomfortable showing affection to Mary Kay in front of them, right?

BENET: That`s true. No, and Vili is very honest about that. It`s been hard to adjust, especially with Mary`s older kids. The younger ones, it`s been a little easier.

But you know, Vili and Steve, you know, they live in the same house, you know, but they do lead their own separate lives. Vili is a husband and a father. Steve is a young man who has a job. He has a girlfriend. They lead their own lives. They have their own friends. They do sleep in the same house. And they get along, and they talk. But, that all said, it`s been an adjustment, especially for Vili.

ANDERSON: I`m sure it is a little bit awkward at times. How are these people surviving? Do they have jobs? I know that Mary Kay lost her teaching license. What are they doing for money?

BENET: Well, they aren`t working right now. Mary has a parole hurdle to climb over, and that is -- will be maybe completed in a few months, and she might be able to find work teaching adults, maybe legal work, something along those lines. Vili`s interested in maybe exploring being a tattoo artist. He`s also going to school.

Right now, they are pretty much living off proceeds they`ve received from televising their wedding last year.

ANDERSON: So do you really see this lasting, Lorenzo?

BENET: You know, one thing I learned after spending some time with them is that I think the relationship is very sincere. And I can see why they are attracted to each other, and I see how they are good for each other.

But you know, it`s going to be difficult. It`s going to be difficult. There is no question about it. But you know, I was...

ANDERSON: A lot of challenges.

BENET: They`re doing OK.

ANDERSON: All right. A lot of challenges facing them. Lorenzo Benet -- Benet, I`m sorry -- from Hollywood. Thanks so much for sharing your insight.

BENET: Thank you, Brooke.

ANDERSON: You can read more about Mary Kay Letourneau and her husband in this week`s "People" magazine. It is on sale tomorrow.

HAMMER: Coming up, star salaries. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT finds out who`s got the box office gold, and who`s pinching pennies.

ANDERSON: Plus, Border Patrol, the controversial videogame that encourages players to shoot Mexicans. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT shows you the game that`s sparking an outrage.

And we`ve also got this...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are times when I`m walking down the corridors, and I almost feel as if there`s something -- something around.


HAMMER: Supernatural neighbors haunting the residents of new condos, formerly insane asylums. Would you pay $3,000 a month to live in a madhouse? It`s the hottest real estate trend, if you don`t mind the haunted house, that is. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT goes ghost hunting.


ANDERSON: Tonight, working with the Donald. Bill Rancic was the very first "Apprentice," and he`s still hired by Donald Trump. I chatted with Bill to talk about how much his life has changed since "The Apprentice." He`s working with Trump on a project in Chicago and is still involved with the show. Rancic has also teamed up for a charity project with Ace Hardware to fix 10 community spots across the country.

Bill says there`s one more thing he`d like to do before branching out on his own.


BILL RANCIC, "THE APPRENTICE" WINNER: I think a great ending to this story would be for me to be able to do a project with Donald Trump as a partner, and kind of, you know, send me on my way and go out in style. And I think that would be a storybook ending to this whole "Apprentice" saga.


ANDERSON: Bill told me one important thing he learned from Trump is to think big.

HAMMER: Jon Bon Jovi opens up about guitarist Richie Sambora`s divorce. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has the exclusive interview, coming up.

ANDERSON: Also, mission illegal. Why Tom Cruise`s controversial purchase of an ultrasound machine could cause a big change in the law.

Plus, a controversial videogame.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You might have kids getting up there, and they`re killing Mexicans.


HAMMER: It`s called Border Patrol, encouraging players to shoot Mexicans crossing the American border. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT shows you the game that is sparking an outrage.


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

ANDERSON: I`m Brooke Anderson. A.J., tonight we`ve got the salaries of the stars. What Tom, Brad, Reese, Cameron, what they all make. I`m talking $15, $20, $25 million, sometimes $100 million for some of them.

HAMMER: Are they worth it, though?

ANDERSON: Are they worth it? We`re going to talk about these fat paychecks and if they`re going to take a nose dive.

HAMMER: Brooke, it is so nice having you here at the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT studio this week. Of course, I know you feel like you`re working in a nut house with this crew I have to put up with.

ANDERSON: At times.

HAMMER: But would you live in a nut house?

ANDERSON: I don`t think so, not for $3,000 grand a month.

HAMMER: Hot new real-estate trend, they`re turning these former insane asylums into condos. People are living in them, but they`re not the only residents there. Apparently, they`re haunted.

ANDERSON: People are just crazy about living...


HAMMER: All right, let`s move on. That`s coming up in just a moment.

First tonight, the immigration debate has certainly got everyone talking. Tonight, a twist to the story that has people absolutely furious and understandably. It`s a videogame in which players shoot Mexicans crossing the border. Here`s CNN`s Dan Simon for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The creators of a video game called "Border Patrol" won`t win any awards for graphics or creativity, but could take home a prize for bad taste.

(on camera): This isn`t some expensive game for the Xbox. It`s simple, free and on the Internet and, according to the Anti-Defamation League, dangerous.

JONATHAN BERNSTEIN, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: It puts in the mind of the player that they should be resorting to violence.

SIMON (voice-over): The objective? To shoot and kill Mexicans crossing into the U.S. The game`s targets? Mexican nationalists, drug smugglers and most outrageous, breeders, pregnant women running with children. The more you kill, the higher your score.

CRIS FRANCO, COMEDIAN/SATIRIST: You`re killing a pregnant woman, and if you can feel good about that, well, have at it.

SIMON: Sarcasm comes naturally to Latino comedian Cris Franco. All joking aside, though, Franco was concerned when we showed him the game.

FRANCO: What sort of makes it innocuous is sort of the thing that makes it so very dangerous, is that you might have kids getting up there and they`re killing Mexicans. You know? And now that`s a fun thing to do I gather, in our world. I think most people of conscience would not think this was a good way to spend your time.

SIMON: "Border Patrol" has become a showcase on hate group Web sites, alongside other games that target African-Americans, homosexuals and Jews. USC professor Peter Vorderer has written books about the aspects of video games on society.

PETER VORDERER, UNIV. OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: I don`t think that a game like this would attract anybody who is serious player, other than those who share that sentiment or attitude.

SIMON: Still, Vorderer says that certain children can be swayed by such violent images.

VORDERER: If somebody knows nothing, let`s say, about a specific ethnic group and the only way he or she learns about that ethnic group is through the media -- in this case, through a video game -- then this video game has a great potential of, you know, impacting that person`s view about this ethnic group.

SIMON: And that fits right in with the goals of the National Alliance, a white supremacist group. Shaun Walker calls himself the chairman and CEO. He says teenagers who might not read his books instead will buy one of its games.

SHAUN WALKER, WHITE SUPREMACIST: We gain several thousand new customers immediately that we wouldn`t have had contact with.

SIMON: Walker`s group is behind a game called "Ethnic Cleansing." The goal? To kill anybody who isn`t white. The National Alliance says it has fulfilled a niche for people who want their entertainment skewed toward their racist ideology.

WALKER: This allowed all the racially conscious white people that play video games to suddenly have a pro-white video game. So it was unique, and it`s proven to be successful.

SIMON: How successful, the group won`t say, but the game sells for $15. As for "Border Patrol," it`s unknown who created the game. But what some call entertainment, others are calling violent and racist propaganda.


HAMMER: It is outrageous, and there is nothing entertaining about it, if you ask me. That was CNN`s Dan Simon for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

ANDERSON: And they`re just getting more and more violent it seems.

OK, many others have said it. Now, "The Simple Life" star Nicole Richie finally admits she`s too thin. The rail-thin celebutante appears in a multi-page spread in the June issue of "Vanity Fair." Look at these pictures. The pictures really say it all.

Richie blames her severe weight loss in part on her break-up with then-fiance Adam Goldstein. She says she got stressed out and lost her appetite. She`s working with a nutritionist, a psychiatrist, and a personal trainer.

According to the report, Richie`s medical team characterizes her weight loss as in the realm of anorexia. Nicole told "Vanity Fair," quote, "I know I`m too thin right now, so I wouldn`t want any young girl looking at me and saying, `That`s what I want to look like.` I`m not happy with the way I look right now."

You can catch Nicole Richie`s interview and all the pictures in the June issue of "Vanity Fair" on newsstands next week.

HAMMER: It is time now for tonight`s "Hot Headlines." SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Sibila Vargas joining us once again from Hollywood -- Sibila?


Well, you probably remember the controversy when Tom Cruise announced that he bought an ultrasound machine when Katie Holmes was pregnant. Well, tonight it could lead to a new law in California. The state assembly has passed a bill that would ban the sale of ultrasound machines to anyone except licensed medical professionals. The California lawmaker introduced the bill because he was afraid Cruise`s fans would think it was OK to use the machines at home.

Well, speaking of bands, Snoop Dogg reportedly has been banned from British Airways. It all started with a brawl at London`s Heathrow Airport last week when Snoop and his entourage weren`t let into the first-class lounge. Snoop was arrested and later released on bail.

Well, "Star Wars" creator George Lucas is being immortalized as an action figure. Hasbro is introducing a limited-edition action figure of Lucas decked out as a storm trooper. Fans will have to show proof of purchase of five vintage "Star Wars" action figures to get the George Lucas storm trooper figurine.

Other big news for "Star Wars" fans tonight: The original trilogy of the films as they first appeared in theaters will be released in a new DVD series on September 11th.

And those are tonight`s "Hot Headlines."

A.J., you know, it`s one thing for an actor to get a figurine, but for a director that`s pretty cool.

HAMMER: Director, the creator, I think it`s only fitting. And, you know, it`s going to be worth a lot of money some day.

VARGAS: Yes, I`d like to have one.

HAMMER: All right, Sibila. Thanks very much. I`ll try to get you one. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Sibila Vargas in Hollywood.

ANDERSON: Earlier, we told you about real problems for cast members on MTV`s "The Real World." The show is being criticized because one of its cast members has an eating disorder, a drinking problem, depressing, and was in an abusive relationship.

So that leads us to our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day." We want to know what you think about it. Reality shows: Do they exploit their cast members?

Keep on voting, Write to us, Your e-mails are coming up in a bit.

HAMMER: Well, Jon Bon Jovi opened up to me about his bandmate`s very public and public and messy divorce. Bon Jovi tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT how Richie Sambora is doing, that is coming up.

ANDERSON: That`s right. Plus, the salaries of the stars. We`ll look into who makes what and why the biggest names in Hollywood may have to make do with less money. That`s next.

OK, we also have this...


DONNA CREAGH, OCTAGON RESIDENT: There are times when I`m walking down the corridors and I almost feel as if there`s something, something around.


HAMMER: Well, maybe that`s just what you get when you move into an old insane asylum. We`re going to look at the weirdest real estate trend we`ve ever heard of, coming up in just a bit.


ANDERSON: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m Brooke Anderson.

OK, time now for another story that made us say, "That`s ridiculous." There`s a trend in real estate right now. It seems people just aren`t satisfied with a good, old-fashioned haunted house anymore, so they`re moving into former insane asylums.

Yes, it`s true, and here`s CNN`s Allan Chernoff for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT to tell us about it.


ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It`s one of the most infamous locales in New York City, site of the nation`s first municipal lunatic asylum on Roosevelt Island just across from Manhattan.

Charles Dickens described it as having a listless, madhouse air. Journalist Nellie Bly exposed inhume conditions here. The building was abandoned for the past 50 years. And, legend has it, the site is haunted by former residents of the asylum.

So why would anyone want to live here, at a rent of $3,000 a month no less?

DONNA CREAGH, OCTAGON RESIDENT: Most people who know me think I`m kind of nuts anyway, so...

CHERNOFF: Donna Creagh has just committed herself to living in the former asylum, now renovated into the city`s newest high-end apartment complex, the Octagon.

CREAGH: It`s almost apropos that I found a building that used to be an insane asylum.

CHERNOFF (on camera): Old asylums are the latest trend in residential real estate. Yes, Americans appear to be mad about living in former mental institutions.

New Portland, the first 100 homes built on the side of the old Damish State Mental Hospital, are already sold. The builders brought in a psychic to bless the spirits who might still be hanging around.

In Traverse City, Michigan, there`s a waiting list for condos on the side of the northern Michigan asylum. And the Danvers Insane Asylum in Massachusetts, scene of the horror film "Session Nine," is slated for development into condos, as well.

No longer is there a stigma in calling an asylum home. For developers, it`s now a selling point.

BRUCE REDMAN BECKER, OCTAGONNYC.COM: These doors have an interesting resemblance to the madhouse bars that were on the windows. I think it`s just a coincidence.

CHERNOFF (voice-over): Maybe it`s just a coincidence that Roosevelt Island`s tram to Manhattan broke down on the very same day the Octagon opened for business. Maybe it`s just a coincidence that pets are acting strangely in the building.

BRENDA GUYER, OCTAGON RESIDENT: She absolutely refuses to walk up the stairs. I mean, we can drag her on her leash, and she just won`t do it. And I`ve never seen her have that behavior before.

CHERNOFF: Donna Creagh suspects she just may have supernatural neighbors.

CREAGH: There are times when I`m walking down the corridors and I almost feel as if there`s something, something around.

CHERNOFF: As skeptical journalists, we invited ghost hunters to find the Octagon`s old residents.

KATHERINE BELTRANI, LIGHOSTCHASERS.COM: ... very uncomfortable feeling when you`re walking into a building that is presumably haunted.

CHERNOFF (on camera): You feel that here?


CHERNOFF: What`s the sense?

BELTRANI: The sense is that something is following you, watching you as you`re walking.

CHERNOFF (voice-over): That would be your ghost-hunting team, Katherine.

In the 21st century, ghost-hunting is a high-tech affair. The searchers use digital cameras to capture what they call apparitions. Apparently, ghosts like to pose, even if we can`t see them with the naked eye. Then, the hunters uploaded their photos to a laptop computer.

BELTRANI: This is an orb. And over here, almost like a face is over here. It`s almost like a face. So we probably -- what you might have is more than one. So it looks like you might have multiple -- it looks like maybe three or four of them living with you.

CREAGH: As long as they`re friendly and bring their own beer, I`m cool with it.


CHERNOFF: In years past, you had to be crazy to live in one of these places. Now the developers brag you`d be crazy not to live here. Though with rent for the largest Octagon apartments at $6,500 a month, perhaps some of the new residents really deserve to be institutionalized.


ANDERSON: That was CNN`s Allan Chernoff for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

A.J., if I hear just a little creak or a noise, I get totally creeped out. I can`t imagine living in a former insane asylum.

HAMMER: Are you a believer though?

ANDERSON: Not really, no.

HAMMER: You`re skeptical about all of this, don`t think it`s possible?

ANDERSON: I am. Are you a believer?

HAMMER: Totally, absolutely.

ANDERSON: What? Is your house haunted?

HAMMER: We`ll talk about it after the show.


HAMMER: By the way, Brooke, today I had the good pleasure of sitting down with Jon Bon Jovi. Of course, one of the biggest stories out there right now is about Jon`s best friend and bandmate, Richie Sambora. Richie`s divorce with Heather Locklear has been widely publicized, and now Richie is linked to Denise Richards, whose messy divorce with Charlie Sheen is also tabloid fodder these days.

I asked Jon if dealing with the personal problems and issues like this when they come up interfere at all with their work as a band.


JON BON JOVI, MUSICIAN: I was more concerned that he broke his shoulder. And, obviously, you know, his private life is still his private life. And the circumstances here, as they relate to Ava, his daughter, his parents, and Heather are more what would concern me.

I have to tell you, with a broken shoulder in Japan, when I wanted to postpone these six stadium shows, he was the greatest soldier ever, compounded by the fact that the world knew that he was getting a divorce. And, you know, you`re hearing who she`s dating out there in California, and we`re thousands of miles away in Japan.

So Richie Sambora is my hero. And how this all plays out makes for great Hollywood gossip. But, you know, he`s just really concerned about his daughter, first and foremost, his parents second, and Heather third. And that`s truly the pecking order.


HAMMER: Jon being extraordinarily candid with me today. He is truly one of the nicest guys in rock `n` roll. It really goes to show you what a nice guy that he is and a caring guy, looking out for his bandmate, Richie Sambora.

All of this certainly makes him and his band deserving of their icon status. They are topping the country charts right now with the song "Who Says You Can`t Go Home?"

I`ve got to tell you: They`ve been doing this for more than 20 years now. There are certainly no signs of them slowing down. They`ve just added nine dates to their "Have a Nice Day" world tour, big arenas. Tomorrow, we`re going to have the rest of my interview with Jon Bon Jovi.

ANDERSON: So, have you ever wondered what kind of money all the biggest movie stars out there make? Well, the secret is out. Jim Carrey, Tom Cruise, Reese Witherspoon, they all make top dollar, but what makes them worth every single penny? That`s the subject of "Entertainment Weekly`s" cover story, featuring $100 million man Tom Cruise.

Joining me live here in New York to talk about it, Dade Hayes of "Entertainment Weekly." Dade, good to see you.


ANDERSON: Hi there. OK, on the cover, Tom Cruise. Is Tom Cruise really worth $100 million? Is that what he makes for a film?

HAYES: It was what he made on "War of the Worlds," so that`s one film that we took as an example. I mean, that`s his potential to earn. I mean, that`s what a lot of these stars get is on the back end when they participate in the profits of a successful film.

ANDERSON: They get a percentage of the gross.

HAYES: They get a percentage, so that`s the very richest tier which keeps getting richer. Now, that`s a different story as you move a little bit farther down.

ANDERSON: OK, well, let`s talk about some farther down, $25 million men. Here you`ve got Tom Hanks, who opens "The Da Vinci Code" very soon. You`ve also got Will Smith, Jim Carrey making $25 million. What makes these guys worth it?

HAYES: They are exportable worldwide brands. They can single- handedly open a movie, not just in America, but worldwide. I mean, you`re talking about a marketplace where now, you know, 50, 60, 70 countries are opening a movie on the same weekend.

So that`s tough to do. You see Will Smith and, you know, guys in this tier who are really able to do that. They`re consistent, and they deliver the goods.

ANDERSON: Got to keep that consistency there.

OK, these guys are really in the poorhouse. They`re struggling, Dade, right here, $20 million. Brad Pitt, Russell Crowe, Ben Stiller, Denzel Washington, Will Ferrell, Eddie Murphy. Explain to me how Ben Stiller and, say, Denzel and Brad have the same pay, totally different actors.

HAYES: Yes, $20 is where you start to see people who are either on their way to the penthouse or they`ve sort of capped out at that level. And let`s not shed any tears for these guys, by the way.


HAYES: But it is an interesting level where you`ve got consistent guys -- you know, Will Ferrell has delivered some good stuff -- but, you know, not necessarily breaking out into the mega-status of being able to open a movie around the world.

ANDERSON: Twenty million, not mega; $25 million, we would consider that mega.

HAYES: We`ve got to draw a line somewhere.

ANDERSON: That`s right. Let`s talk about the ladies now: $15 million paydays for Reese Witherspoon, Jodie Foster, Cameron Diaz. How can these women command such high salaries? It`s unbelievable.

HAYES: Right, romantic comedies, which is where a lot of the female stars make their money, are very inexpensive to produce, compared to the big, blockbuster action spectacles that the guys are in. So, you know, if they hit big -- and Julia Roberts is still the gold standard, I mean, certainly from her run in the 1990s. So all of these other stars who are kind of trying to emulate that, those movies are very economical and, if they hit, they hit big.

ANDERSON: On a whole, are stars` salaries coming down now, because production costs are rising, it seems?

HAYES: Right, production costs and marketing. Let`s not forget the huge fees it takes to advertise your movies around, you know, the world. And so, yes, costs are going up. And that middle tier, you know, those guys that you and I know who are great actors and are making $4, $5, $6 million -- again, boo hoo -- but they`re kind of hitting the ceiling a little bit.

ANDERSON: That`s right. And also interesting to me that Rachel McAdams, Scarlett Johansson, Jake Gyllenhaal, all around $4 or $5 million, are bargains, but we`re going to have to leave it there.

Dade Hayes, it was fun, from "Entertainment Weekly." Thanks so much.

HAYES: Thanks, Brooke.

ANDERSON: The "Entertainment Weekly" issue featuring star salaries and Tom Cruise on the cover is on newsstands now.

HAMMER: Well, throughout the show tonight, we`ve been asking you to vote online on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day." We`ve been asking: Reality shows: Do they exploit their cast members? I`m not really surprised by how the vote went tonight.

Let`s take a look: 86 percent of you say, yes, they do exploit the cast members; 14 percent of you say no.

Among the e-mails we`ve received, one from Heather in Florida who writes, "Reality stars sign up for the shows, so they know what they are getting into."

We also heard from Raquel in Florida who writes, "They want screwed-up people, because that`s what gets the audience`s attention. Civilized people would be boring to them."

And Donna in Massachusetts writes, "The cast members exploit themselves by going on those shows."

You can continue to vote by going online, And SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s coming right back.


ANDERSON: It is time now for a SHOWBIZ TONIGHT birthday shoutout. This is where we give fans a chance to wish their favorite stars a happy birthday.

Tonight, we`re going to send one out to N`Sync`s Lance Bass, who`s celebrating his 27th birthday today.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, my name is Laurel Noble, and I would like to wish Lance Bass a happy birthday. Your music is awesome, and you`re pretty good-looking, so have a good one.


HAMMER: That`s nice. Happy birthday, Lance.

It is time now to see what is coming up tomorrow on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. We`re going to get into the weekend. Here comes your "Showbiz Marquee."

Tomorrow, we will feature "Voices from the Frontline," the new album of rap music written by U.S. military personnel from Iraq. We`re going to talk to two of the troops, tomorrow on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

Also tomorrow, "American Idol," it isn`t just the most popular TV show in the country; it is definitely a full-fledged phenomenon. But why did it almost not make air? What you didn`t know about "American Idol" is what we`ll be getting into tomorrow on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

ANDERSON: That pitch got turned down several times.

HAMMER: Several times, hard to believe.

That is it for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. Thanks for watching. I`m A.J. Hammer.

ANDERSON: I`m Brooke Anderson. Have a great night, everybody. Stay tuned for more from CNN Headline News.


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