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SHOWBIZ TONIGHT

Anna Nicole`s Heartbreak; Whitney Houston Files for Divorce; Oh Britney Baby!; "Survivor" Host Discusses Show`s Controversial Turn

Aired September 13, 2006 - 19:00:00   ET

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


BROOKE ANDERSON, CO-HOST: Well, it`s finally happened. After all the rumors, Whitney Houston files for divorce from Bobby Brown. We`ve got the details.
I`m Brooke Anderson in Hollywood.

A.J. HAMMER, CO-HOST: And "Survivor" host Jeff Probst answers whether the show`s controversial decision to split teams by race is a daring idea or disgusting discrimination.

I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.

TV`s most provocative entertainment news show starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HAMMER (voice over): On SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, stunning new developments surrounding the mysterious death of Anna Nicole Smith`s young son.

Tonight, why his tragic death is now being called suspicious, what might have killed him. Startling news that someone else might have been there when he died. And why police are now saying a crime may have been committed.

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with the late-breaking developments.

Thin is not in. It`s out. The fashion world rocked by a decision to ban models who are too skinny.

Tonight, the ugly battle over beauty and body image.

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with the cat fight on the catwalk.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAMMER: Hello. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.

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

And we are tracking two big stories tonight. Late today, word that after 14 years of marriage that has made more headlines than we can count, Whitney Houston filed for divorce from Bobby Brown.

We`re going to have breaking details in just a moment.

HAMMER: But first, tonight another bombshell today about the mysterious death of Anna Nicole Smith`s son in her hospital room just days after she gave birth to a baby girl. Today this already strange story got even stranger with word of a mystery person who might have been in the room with them and talk that this could become a criminal case.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEX GOEN, FRIEND OF ANNA NICOLE SMITH: She was very, very emotional. She broke down many times.

HAMMER (voice over): A friend of Anna Nicole Smith`s confirming what many of us suspected: Anna Nicole is devastated. Her 20-year-old son Daniel mysteriously died Sunday while visiting his mother at this Bahamas hospital, where just days earlier she gave birth to a little girl. Now Anna Nicole`s friend Alex Goen tells CNN`s "LARRY KING LIVE" that Anna Nicole is going through an emotional roller-coaster ride of joy and heartbreak.

GOEN: The few times when she was coherent was when she talked about her baby girl. And she brightened up for a moment there, but very quickly started thinking about Daniel and broke down immediately afterwards.

HAMMER: Now SHOWBIZ TONIGHT brings you some key new details about Daniel`s death, including who else may have witnessed it and what did and did not cause it.

HARVEY LEVIN, TMZ.COM: I am told it is absolutely not a heart attack that took his life, but I cannot find out from them what it is that caused it.

HAMMER: TMZ.com`s Harvey Levin tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT he`s been in touch with authorities in the Bahamas about Daniel`s death. Levin says they know what may have killed Daniel but they are not saying anything until it`s official.

LEVIN: They say that any sudden death is suspicious. They do say they already have a preliminary cause of death. They are not prepared to say what that is, but they say, at least preliminarily, they know what took his life.

LARRY SUTTON, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: There are more and more reports coming out that perhaps it had something to do with drugs that may have been in his system. But still speculation, however. Friday morning, the official toxicology reports come out. And when that happens, everyone will know for sure what led to the death of the young man.

HAMMER: And the story took yet another strange turn as the Bahamas coroner told The Associated Press they are not ruling out possibility that criminal charges could be filed in the case. What`s more, Larry Sutton of "People" magazine tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT about a new question in the sad mystery: was there someone else in Anna Nicole`s hospital room when Daniel died?

SUTTON: The thing that`s new today is the revelation that there was a third person in the room when Daniel Smith died. Previously, we had been told it was just Anna Nicole Smith and her son. They are not telling us whether that person was a relative, or a friend, or a hospital worker. It`s still very much up in the air.

HAMMER: But while the mystery around Daniel`s death continues to swirl, the impact on Anna Nicole is almost impossible to imagine.

LEVIN: Whenever you think of Anna Nicole, this is a terrible tragedy. I mean, this is just unbelievable that somebody could give birth to a child and have a child die within a matter of days. It is stunning in every respect.

HAMMER: Daniel has been by Anna Nicole`s side all of her adult life. He is the product of Anna`s short-lived marriage when she was a teenager. "People" magazine`s Sutton says his magazine has talked to her ex-husband, Daniel`s father, who hadn`t seen his son since he was a toddler.

SUTTON: Daniel`s father told us that of course it was a shock. He said he got the word totally out of the blue, had no idea what was going on. But that`s kind of par for the course, because he really hadn`t been a part of the young man`s life for so many years.

HAMMER: But the one bright spot in this whole story is Anna`s new daughter, who already has a name.

SUTTON: The only good news that comes out of this whole story, of course, is the fact that her daughter Hannah (ph) is a healthy, happy baby.

HAMMER: And in the face of this tragedy, it appears that Anna and little Hannah (ph) may need each other.

GOEN: Her baby girl needs her right now, needs her to be strong. And I think -- I think she will be there.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAMMER: Such a terrible story. An attorney for Anna Nicole Smith is responding to those reports that Daniel Smith may have had antidepressants or other drugs in his system. He says, "It`s sheer speculation. It`s irresponsible speculation."

ANDERSON: Now the big news about Whitney Houston that we mentioned at the top of the show. After all the rumors of fighting, talk about drug use, Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown are calling it quits on their 14-year marriage.

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT cameras were there last night as Whitney Houston joined legendary music producer Clive Davis at a tribute to Johnny Mathis in Beverly Hills. Not surprising now that we know what we know now that Bobby Brown wasn`t there.

Joining us again with the very latest is our good friend Harvey Levin, the managing editor of entertainment news site TMZ.com. Harvey is in Glendale, California.

Hey there, Harvey.

LEVIN: Hi, Brooke.

ANDERSON: Hi there.

OK. Now, what do you know about this? Big surprise?

LEVIN: Not a big surprise. I mean, I think the big surprise is it lasted 14 years. I mean, they were both emotionally volatile people with lots of problems, and somehow they hung in.

Now, we are told that Bobby Brown has a very close relationship with the self-described video vixen named Karrine Steffans. And he stays with her when he is in L.A., she pays for his cell phone. But, you know, they say that -- or at least he says it`s not a physical relationship, but they have some bond there.

And I will tell you one other thing, that recently Bobby Brown said publicly his relationship was on the rocks and, as he put it, he needed "a new tenderoni."

ANDERSON: Well, you know, it has been a rocky relationship for so long. And as you mentioned, not too surprising that this has happened.

Bobby Brown is on the cover of "Vibe" magazine this month. And Harvey, he talks about his marriage there, and one of his quotes is, "Sometimes we get out of hand with the joking, but I would never lay a hand on Whitney to harm her. I could show you videotapes where she is kicking my butt" -- you know he uses a different word there -- "I`ve got footage, but nobody says nothing about men being beat up by their wives."

Why do you think he needed to address the issue of violence here? Is he being accused of something?

LEVIN: Well, there have -- there has been such craziness surrounding that marriage for years. And remember, there was a point where she had him arrested.

So, yes, there have been -- there`s been this kind of undertone of physical -- you know, physical force in the relationship. So it doesn`t surprise me that he said that.

But this relationship has had everything. It`s had -- it`s had, you know, physical altercations, it`s had emotional altercations, drug use, all sorts of issues. I mean, this has been a real reality show even without the cameras.

ANDERSON: Yes. And we`ve heard so many times before that they had broken up, they are back together again, and so on and so forth.

Would you be surprised, Harvey, if you heard tomorrow that Whitney was withdrawing the divorce proceedings, that she was going back on this?

LEVIN: Well, I`m not going to pretend to be Dr. Phil, but there have been a lot of people who have said this is the classic co-dependent relationship between two people who have all sorts of emotional needs. So, would that shock me? No.

ANDERSON: Well, they do have one daughter -- one daughter together, Bobbi Kristina, and we hope, for her sake, that it is all a very smooth process.

Harvey Levin, managing editor of the entertainment news site TMZ.com, thank you so much.

LEVIN: By, Brooke.

ANDERSON: Bye-bye.

OK. For the first time, the schoolteacher from Florida who grabbed worldwide headlines in 2004 because she had sex with a 14-year-old student over and over again -- well, she is speaking out.

Debra Lafave spoke with the "Today" show`s Matt Lauer, who asked her if she realized the consequences of what she was doing and if the relationship was anything more than just sex.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATT LAUER, HOST, "TODAY": Did you and this student have open conversations about the fact that you two might be getting into very dangerous territory?

DEBRA LAFAVE, HAD SEX WITH STUDENT: You know, there was very little conversation, to be honest with you. You know, looking back, he was 14. You know, what is there really to say to a 23-year-old?

LAUER: What did you have in common?

LAFAVE: Nothing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Lafave is under house arrest for three years. She`s apologized and says her bipolar disorder played a role.

You can see more of that interview on the "Today" show tomorrow.

And as you know, someone new joined the "Today" show family. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT was right there for Meredith Vieira`s first day on the job.

So, how did she do? More on that later on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

HAMMER: Britney Spears has another baby, but was it a dangerous birth? That`s coming up next.

We`ve also got this...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we realized maybe what we should do is have four groups. It is a social experiment on a level that we`ve never done before.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Tonight, more outrage over "Survivor`s" shocking decision to divide teams by race. Host Jeff Probst is here, and we`ll ask him the question that everyone is heated up about -- is this a daring idea or just disgusting discrimination?

HAMMER: And the fashion world rocked by a decision to ban models who are too skinny.

Tonight, the ugly battle over beauty and body image.

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has got the cat fight on the catwalk.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, TV`s most provocative entertainment news show.

I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.

It`s time now for a story that made us say, "That`s ridiculous!"

So, a bunch of newspapers are saying that the upcoming movie "Borat" has got the president of Kazakhstan so mad that it`s actually going to be a topic of discussion when he meets with President Bush. "Borat," if you don`t know, is a bumbling Kazakhstani reporter who`s played by Sasha Baron Cohen of HBO`s "Da Ali G Show."

It`s also reported that Kazakhstan is actually going to buy TV ads here in the U.S. to portray a better image of their country. But when we called the Kazakhstan Embassy today, they said the president will only be discussing serious issues with the president, not a movie.

And, as Borat would say, "You like?"

ANDERSON: I`m sure Sasha Baron Cohen is having a field day with this one, A.J.

HAMMER: Oh, my god. Still, we have to say, the president conferring over a comedian, Brooke, "That`s ridiculous!"

ANDERSON: Yes, it is, A.J.

All right. Moving now to Britney Spears.

She has done it again. "People" magazine reports that Britney gave birth to her second baby, another boy. He was delivered by C-section here in Los Angeles. And daddy Kevin Federline was at the hospital with her. But there are lots of questions floating around about whether or not Britney was healthy during the delivery.

Here with me in Hollywood is the answers is "People" magazine`s Los Angeles associate bureau chief, Mike Fleeman.

Hi, Mike.

MIKE FLEEMAN, ASSOCIATE BUREAU CHIEF, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: Hi.

ANDERSON: All right. So I`ve got to tell you, you know, Britney predicted to "People" magazine back in August that having her second baby would be a piece of cake. But there were rumors that there was some sort of complication which is why she had a C-section.

What can you tell us about that?

FLEEMAN: Well, the C-section was always planned. She had planned to have it about 10 days before her scheduled due date. So we haven`t heard anything about any major complications.

In fact, if there were, Kevin is hiding it very well. He has been at the hospital. He has been seen in the waiting room. He has been joking with people. He seems very relaxed.

If there is a problem, they are not letting on.

ANDERSON: And it`s a good sign that he seems relaxed. We do hope that she`s healthy and that the baby is healthy.

And, you know, it`s really interesting to me, Mike, that more than 24 hours, nearly 30 hours since the first report came in that Britney did have another baby, not a peep from her publicist, nothing on her Web site, no statement, nada, nothing.

Now, isn`t that a little bit unusual?

FLEEMAN: That`s very unusual. Of course, in this day and age we expect an official announcement when a celebrity has a baby. And when somebody like Tom Cruise doesn`t show his baby, people get a little bit suspicious.

This may have more to do with sort of the internal workings of Britney`s entourage. Her manager is out of the country and not readily reachable. There may be some communication problems. I don`t think they are trying to hide anything.

ANDERSON: Maybe an issue of timing here, because we are used to immediately getting that news.

FLEEMAN: We are. We are. And we have come to expect the official announcement and then something on the Web site. But I don`t think there is any scandal here.

ANDERSON: Well, let me talk to you about this. It`s been a couple of years since Britney has done anything professionally, yet there is still this incredible fascination with her. The paparazzi follow her around. She`s still one of the most searched-for celebrities on the Internet. Here we are talking about her.

Why this continued interest in Britney Spears?

FLEEMAN: She is one of those people who we have -- see, we feel like we have grown up with her. We have seen her grow up. We have an emotional link to her, and we have almost a stake in her life. So there is this continued fascination, and it keeps going.

Even though she hasn`t done much with her career much lately, Kevin has, and he is taking baby steps towards starting a career. And people are talking about that.

So, she is a person who I think many of us feel like we know. We`ve seen her grow up, we feel like we can almost identify with her, to the extent you can with somebody that famous.

ANDERSON: What do you think, very quickly, less than 10 seconds? Do you think she is going to have to reinvent herself to make a comeback?

FLEEMAN: I think she is very happy with the way she is.

ANDERSON: All right. Mike Fleeman, well said, from "People" magazine, associate bureau chief.

Thanks so much for joining us.

FLEEMAN: Thank you.

ANDERSON: And for more on Britney`s new baby, pick up a copy of "People" magazine. It is on newsstands Friday.

HAMMER: Well, the hits just keep on coming for former "American Idol" contestants. This fall alone, seven former "American Idol" winners or contestants or TV`s biggest reality show are releasing albums. If it`s not an album, it`s a Broadway show.

Constantine Maroulis from "Idol`s" season four has just made his debut on Broadway in "The Wedding Singer."

Constantine, it`s nice to see you on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

I have never gotten the pronunciation. It`s Maroulis?

CONSTANTINE MAROULIS, FMR. "AMERICAN IDOL" CONTESTANT: Maroulis.

HAMMER: Maroulis.

MAROULIS: That`s OK.

HAMMER: I apologize for that. I watched you on TV for all those months on "Idol" season four.

MAROULIS: Yes.

HAMMER: It`s amazing how big this thing continues to be. Last season alone, it`s biggest yet, 30 million people were watching it every week. Tens of millions watching it when you were on.

Did you ever feel overwhelmed by that? Because that`s a lot of people.

MAROULIS: It`s a lot of people. And I just tried to honestly approach it like it was any other job or play or gig that I did.

HAMMER: Yeah, but...

MAROULIS: If you get that 30 million thing in your head, you know, forget it. You`re just going -- you`re going to go cold right there on camera. You know?

So I tried not to think about that. But -- and it`s funny, because you`re really in a bubble when you`re on the show. You know?

HAMMER: Sure.

MAROULIS: And all these fantastic things are happening around you. But, you know, you`re really so concentrated week to week on that song that`s coming up. It`s when you step outside the show you`re like, "Wow, this was a big deal!"

HAMMER: Yes. You see how big it is.

And you probably remember quite vividly what it was like going through the audition process. I remember very distinctly when they stormed your -- your band playing over there in Brooklyn, I guess, at the time.

MAROULIS: Yes, it was in Brooklyn at the time.

HAMMER: And now they are having the "Idol" auditions for the next season, and we have all these people who are fantasizing what it would be like to actually be on the show. And everybody knows the odds not very good of actually getting on.

Now that you`ve actually been through it, did that fantasy you held when you were just auditioning, did that meet up with the reality, or was it even better?

MAROULIS: It was even better. It was even better.

Again, I tried to approach it -- you know, I had some experience. A lot of the kids that go on the show they have never even sung in front of people before. But I had been really working at the craft for, you know, well over 10 years, went to school, had done, you know, Broadway, tours, and been in big bands and all.

So it was -- when I -- when I stepped into that, you know, on that platform of craziness, I felt like I was -- I was ready for it.

HAMMER: You had the seasoning already.

MAROULIS: A little bit. A little bit.

HAMMER: And, of course, as we`re seeing here, there is a lot of glitz and glamour that goes on, you know, that we see on television. We saw that every week, we saw the performances every week. But what would really surprise us about the preparations for those performances that we never really heard about?

MAROULIS: I think, you know, really so much goes into it. I mean, for -- in order for the show to be number one, they have the most fantastic crew and team of producers. And everyone on the show is amazing. You know?

So there is so much that goes into it, so much work, just for one song each week, you know. And the breakdown of the way the song comes about, you know, and song selection and how we all, you know, fight over one song, or whatever, and then we break it down with the piano and then it goes to the director, and then they make the charts...

HAMMER: A much bigger scope than we ever were privy to.

MAROULIS: So much going on.

HAMMER: And now you`re on Broadway.

MAROULIS: Now -- yes.

HAMMER: You`re in "The Wedding Singer." Everybody knows the movie, of course. And you say the Broadway show is very close to what we see on the film.

You`ve been on stage before, as you mentioned. You`ve done Shakespeare, you`ve done "Jesus Christ Superstar," a whole range of different things. But man, this is Broadway.

MAROULIS: This is it.

HAMMER: The first time you stepped on that stage did it have that sort of overwhelming sensation like "AI," or even different because you see the people?

MAROULIS: Honestly, I felt like the stakes were even higher for me when I -- when I hit the Broadway stage. And I was so nervous that first night. My official opening was last Friday, but they did sneak me in a few nights before just so I could have a few runs at it.

HAMMER: Yes.

MAROULIS: Because being put into a show is the strangest experience, you know. There is a real science to it.

They have -- you know, you just go through the steps, and then they just throw you in there, no matter who you are. So, honestly, I was freaking out that first night. But it`s really one of the greatest feelings ever as a performer for me.

HAMMER: We`re all proud of you.

MAROULIS: Thank you. It`s a Broadway show.

HAMMER: That`s huge. Constantine Maroulis, I appreciate you joining us. Best of luck on the Broadway show.

MAROULIS: Thank you so much.

HAMMER: And you can see Constantine in "The Wedding Singer." It`s on Broadway in New York City through November 5th.

ANDERSON: Sean Penn speaks out. His emotional interview about his brother`s tragic death, that`s next.

HAMMER: And thin is not in. It`s out. Yes, the fashion world rocked by the decision to ban models who are too skinny, believe it or not.

Tonight we get into the ugly battle over beauty and body image. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has the cat fight on the catwalk.

Plus, we`ve got this...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we realize maybe what we should do is have four groups. It is a social experiment on a level that we`ve never done before.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Tonight, we`ve got more outrage over "Survivor`s" shocking decision to divide teams by race. Host Jeff Probst is here. We`re going to ask him the question that everyone is heated up about: is this a daring idea or is it just disgusting discrimination?

That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMMER: Coming up tomorrow, answer: The longest running jeopardy of all time. The question: Who is Ken Jennings? Well, he will be here tomorrow to tell us how he won 74 times on "Jeopardy" and all about his new book about the world of trivia.

ANDERSON: Sean Penn is speaking out about his brother`s tragic death. Chris Penn died suddenly in January. It was ruled accidental as a result of an enlarged heart and the effects of some medications. He was only 40 years old.

Sean tells CNN`s Larry King whether he knew about his brother`s health issues.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Did you know there were problems?

SEAN PENN, ACTOR: I knew the problem was weight. He had -- he had certainly been a fantastically self-abusing guy over periods of his life, but that wasn`t the case in the end. I mean, it was a natural death. But a natural death that was brought on, you know, by some hard living, but particularly weight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: You can see more of Sean Penn`s interview with Larry tomorrow night.

HAMMER: It was a big day at "Today," and I am right there at the "Today" show for Meredith Vieira`s very first day. How did she do? You`re going to find out coming up.

We`ve also got this...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we realized maybe what we should do is have four groups. It is a social experiment on a level that we`ve never done before.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Outrage over "Survivor`s" decision to divide teams by race. Host Jeff Probst is here. We`re going to ask him the question everyone wants to know: Is this a daring idea or just disgusting discrimination?

HAMMER: And the fashion world rocked by a decision to ban models who are too skinny. We`ve got the ugly battle over beauty and body image. It`s the cat fight on the catwalk coming up on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. It is 30 minutes past the hour. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.

ANDERSON: And I`m Brooke Anderson in Hollywood. This is TV`s most provocative entertainment news show.

HAMMER: Brooke, coming up, we`re going to be dealing with something that I was a little surprised to read about: the fact that in Spain, at the fashion shows, they`re saying, if you`re super-skinny models, you`re not walking our runway.

(CROSSTALK)

HAMMER: That`s a little bit shocking, because that`s what we`re accustomed to seeing at these fashion shows.

Well, guess what? There are members within the fashion community who are not happy about this at all. We`re going to speak somebody from one such modeling agency who is in a bit of an uproar about it, coming up in just a few minutes.

ANDERSON: Yes, I think it`s pretty refreshing that not all runway models have to be rail thin.

HAMMER: Me too.

ANDERSON: .or need to be rail thin. I am looking forward to that interview.

Also, A.J., you know of course that Dixie Chicks lead singer (INAUDIBLE) - pardon me - Natalie Maines, has had some choice words for President Bush in the past. Well, you`re not going to believe what she has said this time. I mean, I don`t even think Michael Moore would go this far, A.J. And it`s all called (ph) on film. We`re going to have that coming up.

HAMMER: But first, Brooke, tonight, the controversy surrounding "Survivor: Cook Islands" has been building for weeks. The decision by producers to separate teams by race, pitting Asians, blacks, Hispanics and whites all against each other shocked a lot of people. Tomorrow night, it all comes to a head as the 13th season of "Survivor" kicks off on CBS.

You know this guy - joining me in New York, the host of "Survivor," Jeff Probst.

It`s good to see you, Jeff.

JEFF PROBST, HOST, "SURVIVOR": Good to see you again, Mr. Hammer.

HAMMER: Let`s get right into this, shall we?

PROBST: Sure.

HAMMER: We understand the basic idea, that "Survivor" was answering its critics who said, not enough ethnic diversity.

PROBST: Right.

HAMMER: .on your show. That`s not cool. You guys decided, Well, we`re going to shake that up a little bit.

PROBST: Yes.

HAMMER: And you did. And then you made this decision to also pit races against each other.

Could you have anticipated that the uproar that ensued would have gotten as big as it has?

PROBST: No, I didn`t. I mean, I - I - you know, and just to be clear, we - when we were in the room casting the show, there was so much ethnic pride - that`s what was coming across, that we realized we`re missing a beat if we go right to integrating everybody. Let`s keep people separated; let that pride shine. Also force those groups to vote people off from their own ethnicity, which will complicate the game. Then see what happens.

And I understand the controversy and concern.

HAMMER: Well, yes, but - but to be clear, because originally, when - when you spoke with us about this, you know, it - it was being said that, you know, (INAUDIBLE), there have been complaints that you wanted to address.

PROBST: Right.

HAMMER: .about the fact that the show is not ethnically diverse.

PROBST: Yes.

HAMMER: That could have been simply accomplished by the casting process, it would seem to me.

PROBST: Absolutely, and that was the first step. I - I`m just making the point that the idea to separate actually came after we started meeting the people. And we believe there`s another beat here that`s worth talking about.

HAMMER: And - and obviously, there are a lot of people who believe differently, because.

PROBST: Yes.

HAMMER: ..we`ve seen the uproar that has happened. It has certainly shocked a lot of people.

And again, did it surprise you, or did it surprise the producers of the show, that it got this big?

PROBST: I - I think it surprised all of us, until we really thought about it. And then I think looking back, you - you know, you realize, no, it`s not surprising. It`s obviously a sensitive topic; I get that.

I also get the fact that we`re not a bunch of Harvard professors in a laboratory doing some experiment with credentials. We`re a reality show with a $1 million prize. So that`s yet another reason to be suspect.

And there`s a lot of things you have to be responsible with: the people you put on the show; how you edit the show; the situations you put them in. If we do it wrong, it would - it could be irresponsible. It could be - it could be a negative. If we do it right - and I think we did - I think it could be a positive. And it`s promoting a lot of discussion that we obviously need.

HAMMER: It`s - it`s promoting the show quite a bit, too, which is something I`ll get to in just a second.

But just tell me this: in that room where these discussion were going on, did at any point somebody raise their hand and say, Uh, hey wait a second here, maybe this isn`t such a good idea?

PROBST: Oh, we discussed it at length. And - and - and it went round and round and round, until we all felt comfortable. And we have a fairly diverse group of people in the room.

And then it goes to CBS, and CBS had to kick it around. And - and their answer back to us, This is obviously a delicate situation. Based on the last 12 seasons, we trust you guys to do this responsibly.

Now that`s an arbitrary - you know, it`s a subjective.

HAMMER: Yes.

PROBST: .point of view.

HAMMER: Sure is.

PROBST: .to say, what is - what is responsible? And I`m aware as the host - I`m a white guy. I got my own biases, some of which I`m probably not even aware of that are just inside me.

So all of it was fascinating. And when somebody comes up - you know, when it`s a guy that`s grandstanding - like, there`s been some people in New York that haven`t seen the show.

HAMMER: Right.

PROBST: .they`re objecting to the use of the word "tribe," which we`ve used for 13 seasons. Those guys I think - you know, you need to watch the show before you criticize it.

But A.J., when - when - you know, an African-American woman comes up to me on the street, or a Hispanic guy comes to me in a restaurant, which both happened, and say, Here`s my problem, I`m listening, going, OK. I get it. I get your concern.

HAMMER: Yes. Yes, because the truth is - and - and it`s real easy to point out, we have worked so hard to come so long, that we don`t even want to use, you know, the idea of - of dividing people.

PROBST: OK.

HAMMER: .by ethnicity at all. Your.

PROBST: But we`ve come so far, and yet most of my friends, which are white, sit around discussing this idea with me, and they`ll say, Well, you know, is the - is it Hispanic or Latino, I don`t want to say the wrong - you don`t want to say the wrong thing.

HAMMER: Right.

PROBST: .because you don`t want to be called a racist, because you`re not sure if even saying that makes you a racist, because you - you don`t have the guts to ask somebody, Should I say Hispanic? Latino? What is your origin?

HAMMER: Yes. No, I - I totally get that sparking the dialogue can definitely be seen as an upside to it. Whether it outweighs the other stuff, that - that`s not for me to say. It`s probably not for you to say, either.

PROBST: Definitely not for me to say.

HAMMER: But - but - but of course then there`s the concern that depending on how this plays out - and you`re right, we haven`t seen yet - even the NAACP has come out with a statement saying, We`re going to reserve judgment until we actually see the show.

PROBST: Which is fair.

HAMMER: Which is - which is certainly fair. But there is a concern that perhaps it will feed racial stereotypes that exist about all the four races.

PROBST: Yes.

HAMMER: .that are - are going against each other.

Are we going to see that happening, or are you concerned at all yourself that that`s going to .

PROBST: Well.

HAMMER: .take place?

PROBST: Well, I think we were all concerned, because we`re putting 20 people on the show. We put them on the show. So we`re already directly responsible for having a hand in this.

And now what`s going to happen? The worst nightmare is that you see people sitting around, fulfilling stereotypes and making slurs and doing all this stuff - whatever happens is the truth of what happened. That much I can tell you. We`re very sensitive to showing this as it went down.

I think if people watch they will be entertained, interested and maybe pleasantly surprised at how people can get along in - and while doing that, still pursuing $1 million.

HAMMER: Among other things to be concerned about, as if there wasn`t enough already, what about the notion that there are actually white supremacist groups now using this idea of your show, of "Survivor" this season, as propaganda in favor of white pride?

PROBST: Yes. That`s - well.

(CROSSTALK)

PROBST: I would never say the word "white pride" with "supremacist." That`s hate.

HAMMER: That`s how they`re billing it (INAUDIBLE)

(CROSSTALK)

PROBST: Yes, that`s how they`re billing it. But I just want to be clear: that`s hate. It`s ugly. It`s unfortunate. It has nothing to do with the intent of our show. It has I don`t think anything to do with the people on the show.

I think the real question is going to be, As these people are voted off - which is what happens on "Survivor" - that we ask them, How was the experience? Because I haven`t talked to them either. They get voted off, and they leave. I`m curios, as they watch the show, are they going to think, That was fair and representative; it was unfair; I didn`t like it; or, it was fantastic.

HAMMER: And somebody back there at CBS though - you may not be able to comment on this - but they probably were saying when all this unfolded, Hey, wait a second; we are getting a lot of attention of this. I mean, as I mentioned, and - and certainly it was very easy for people to quickly say, Publicity stunt.

PROBST: Well, publicity you`re always looking for. And you can`t deny this has - this has garnered a lot of attention for "Survivor."

HAMMER: But not the reason this was done?

PROBST: No. I - I mean, I don`t think you can separate it, because you are trying to get ratings. It`s .

HAMMER: Sure.

PROBST: .competitive television. And.

HAMMER: Well, that`s fair. That`s - that`s fair to say.

PROBST: But what I would say is, if all this hoopla surrounding this - if we don`t deliver, and we do a bad job, we - we should be dying.

HAMMER: Is it going to be.

PROBST: And we will be gone.

HAMMER: Is it going to be much ado about nothing when all is said and done?

PROBST: I think that`s up to an individual.

I`ve asked a lot of people this question: If you`re watching at home, and there`s somebody - there`s your ethnic group, but there`s nobody on that group you like, and there`s a guy on the other tribe that you really like but he`s a different ethnic group, who you gonna root for?

HAMMER: Right.

PROBST: And it`s interesting, because the answers are very vague.

HAMMER: Good point.

Jeff Probst, I - I appreciate you being so honest and candid with us about this. It`s a touchy subject.

PROBST: Yes, it is.

HAMMER: .indeed.

And of course, you can see what all the fuss is about on "Survivor: Cook Islands." It makes its premiere tomorrow night on CBS.

ANDERSON: And that leads us to the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day": "Segregated `Survivor`: Is it offensive to divide teams by race?" Keep voting, cnn.com/showbiztonight. Write to us: showbiztonight@cnn.com. We`re going to read some of your thoughts tomorrow.

(CROSSTALK)

HAMMER: A grandpa who likes grapes and raisins is going to jail for four months. Huh? Well, we`ll explain coming up next.

ANDERSON: Plus, super thin isn`t in, at least at one fashion show. We`ll tell you why one top-level show is banning stick-thin models from the runway. That`s ahead.

HAMMER: And you`re not going to believe what Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines is saying about President Bush this time. It`s all on film, and it`s coming up on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

ANDERSON: First, tonight`s "`Entertainment Weekly` Great American Pop Culture Quiz": "What was the name of the 1997 album that marked the first effort of rapper Sean Combs` alter ego Puff Daddy?" Remember Puff Daddy? Was it, "I`m the Man"; "Been Around the World"; "No Way Out"; or "Puffy`s House."

Think about it. We`re coming right back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Master, stand by to your break. And roll your break and effect black.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: So again, tonight`s "`Entertainment Weekly` Great American Pop Culture Quiz": "What was the name of the 1997 album that marked the first effort of rapper Sean Combs` alter ego Puffy Daddy?" Before Diddy was P. Diddy: "I`m the Man;" "Been Around the World"; "No Way Out"; or "Puffy`s House." The answer is C, "No Way Out."

Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, TV`s most provocative entertainment news show. I`m Brooke Anderson.

It`s time now for another story that made us say, "That`s Ridiculous!" And it really is.

This one comes from Germany, where a court has sentenced a grandfather to four months in jail for - get this - stealing grapes and raisins. Apparently the 63-year-old was a repeat offender. He said he couldn`t help himself, because he wanted to nibble on something sweet. The last time he stole two bags of raisins, and they were worth about $5.

HAMMER: Of course..

ANDERSON: A.J, four months in prison?

HAMMER: Grapes and raisins?

ANDERSON: That`s kind of harsh.

HAMMER: Brooke, did I hear you correctly?

ANDERSON: Yes.

HAMMER: Man, imagine if it was like a - a scone, or a baby rhubarb (ph)? Do they - do they.

(CROSSTALK)

ANDERSON: What kind of sentence would he get for that? I mean, he didn`t hurt anybody here. He just can`t resist..

HAMMER: A doughnut.

ANDERSON: .something sweet.

HAMMER: I mean, a baguette. I mean, oh, the things - I just.

ANDERSON: Eight months at least.

HAMMER: Oh my goodness. Throwing grandpa in jail for picking up a bag of raisins and some grapes because he was hungry? "That`s Ridiculous!"

Moving on now, imagine banning super-skinny models on the fashion runway forever. Well, that`s exactly what a top-level fashion show in Spain is doing. And it`s got the fashion industry in an absolutely tizzy, and I don`t throw that word around often.

The city of Madrid, hosting its very own Fashion Week next week, is actually turning away super-skinny models after protests that young girls and women were trying to copy their frighteningly frail looks. Now organizers of Madrid`s Fashion Week are saying they want to project an image of beauty. And it`s got some top modeling agencies fuming mad.

One person who is definitely not happy about this is Cathy Gould. She`s the North American director of New York`s Elite Model Management. And she joins us now.

I appreciate you being here.

CATHY GOULD, ELITE MODEL MANAGEMENT: Thank you.

HAMMER: So basically, what is at issue for you with this decision at the fashion show in Spain?

GOULD: Well, right now it`s not a huge issue for us. In Spain, it`s not a major fashion capital of the world. The shows are owned by the government of Spain, so what they`re trying to do is regulate the shows based on models` weight and fat content.

HAMMER: Why is that a bad thing though?

GOULD: Well, I think it`s a bad thing because it`s discrimination against models that are naturally thin and gazelle-like (ph) and really don`t have an eating disorder. And what it does is it really jeopardizes their career if this moves into other cities, like Milan and Paris.

HAMMER: One thing that has always sort of puzzled me, and I think it puzzles a lot of America people who doesn`t know the ins and outs of the modeling agencies and - and how that all works - why is it essentially that the models on the runways and the models we see in fashion magazines who are impossibly thin by normal standards - why are they representing these clothes? I`m sure the designers` market that they`re trying to reach is broader than just super-skinny people.

I`ve always wondered.

GOULD: Well, first of all, clothing looks a lot better on taller and thinner women. That`s - that`s the truth.

HAMMER: Right.

GOULD: And when you`re producing a fashion show, and you have this - this theatrical - if you go to the shows, you`ll see. It`s not like there were years ago. It`s theater` it`s drama.

HAMMER: Sure.

GOULD: The designers are artists; they want bigger than life. They want you to fantasize and dream.

And, you know, women look at these younger women and they`re tall and beautiful, and somewhere they want to wear the clothes and feel beautiful and fantasize.

HAMMER: Certainly though you can understand where there is concern, particularly when a message is being sent out, and - and particularly younger women are obsessing about being thin, because of the images that they see - and - and are working so hard at trying to maintain an impossible weight.

GOULD: Well, there`s a few issues here.

We have an issue of where this is happening in one country. It`s not really happening here that I`m aware of in the United States.

HAMMER: Well, we see these images here in the United States though.

GOULD: Well you see them, but you don`t really have an uproar here in the United States. And to blame a disease like anorexia and bulimia on the modeling industry is really not fair.

HAMMER: Do you think it contributes at all, the - the fact that, you know, we - we have these magazines with these ads - these women are really, really skinny. And young girls get - will very easily say, I want to look like that. We can`t deny that.

GOULD: No, you can`t deny that. But I don`t think the industry is to blame for it. I really don`t.

Because you can also look at a Victoria`s Secret catalogue and see a very sexy, healthy, beautiful woman. So there`s the other end of the spectrum.

HAMMER: Yes, I guess. There is - there is a point that - that is made, particularly by a lot of guests here, that one day, maybe we can see more representation of people who look like everyday people. I don`t know if that`s.

(CROSSTALK)

HAMMER: .if that`s in (ph) our immediate future.

GOULD: I - I think the whole thing about fashion is a fantasy. So what then do you fantasize about? You know, and young women want to live that lifestyle, and that`s why they look up to actresses and models, and even newscasters.

HAMMER: We do what we can. Cathy Gould, I appreciate your insight.

GOULD: Thank you.

HAMMER: Thanks so much.

GOULD: Thank you.

ANDERSON: OK. Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines may soon be coming under fire - some more fire from conservatives. A documentary called, "Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing" is making its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival. And in it, Maines reportedly has some strong words for President Bush.

The film follows the aftermath of when Maines said on stage that she was ashamed that the president is from Texas. Well, after that, President Bush told Tom Brokaw that the Dixie Chicks their mind, but freedom is a two-way street, and their feelings shouldn`t be hurt if people don`t want to buy their records when they speak out.

OK, so in the documentary, Maines seized that footage, and says - quote - "What a dumb (expletive)," and then looks into the camera as if addressing the president directly, and repeats, "You`re a dumb (expletive)."

Meredith Vieira officially replaced Katie Couric on the "Today" show this morning. For the most part, I`d say Meredith looked right at home. We knew that she would. But just like any other first day on the job, there were a coupe of bumps in the road.

And I was right there for it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(MUSIC)

HAMMER (voice-over): A new day, yes. And a bit of a nervous day for Meredith Vieira, as she began her $10 million a year gig.

MEREDITH VIEIRA, "TODAY" SHOW: I feel like it`s the first day of school and I`m sitting next to the cutest guy, you know what I mean? (INAUDIBLE)

HAMMER: But SHOWBIZ TONIGHT wants you to take a look at Meredith`s hand. She seemed to be holding on to Matt Lauer for dear life - a tight grip that seemed to last forever, til Matt shook her off.

VIEIRA: I`m so happy. I can`t tell you. I`m so excited.

HAMMER (on camera): For Meredith Vieira, hosting the "Today" show is a real wake-up call. Specifically, she`s got to wake up at 3:30 in the morning for her new gig.

(voice-over): It`s a gig that NBC has a lot riding on. In the ratings, "Today" has been on a 10-year winning streak, and is TV`s most profitable show.

And on the set of "The View," where Meredith spent nine years, the ladies said.

BARBARA WALTERS, "THE VIEW": I want to congratulate Meredith; her first day on that other show.

(CROSSTALK)

VIEIRA: Thank you so much. I want to go back to.

HAMMER: And today, instead of chatting it up with the ladies, there was a chat with "Meet the Press" host Tim Russert, grilling him about President Bush`s speech on the September 11 terrorist attacks, and the political response.

VIEIRA: Do they need a plan, do you think, heading into these elections?

TIM RUSSERT, "MEET THE PRESS": That`s the magical question; you have put your finger on it.

HAMMER: And as the morning wore on, Meredith kept on working to get her "Today" sea legs.

Watch what happens when she gets her very first chance to deliver the signature line of "Today."

MATT LAUER, "TODAY" CO-HOST: We want you to say it for the first time.

VIEIRA: Yes, I am.

LAUER: All right. Take it away.

VIEIRA: We`ll be back in a moment. But today - but first.

(LAUGHTER)

VIEIRA: But first I - but (INAUDIBLE), this is "Today" on NBC.

LAUER: We do.

HAMMER: So there were a few stumbles. But Meredith seemed to shake it right off, proving she won`t be abandoning the fun and candid personality that came through during her nine years on "The View."

VIEIRA: I`m going to be the broad in broadcasting.

HAMMER: And SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can tell you, this broad already has a big fan base.

HAMMER (on camera): What are you doing here this morning, Karen?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a momentous occasion; "Today" show is one of my favorites. And I just wanted to see how she did. She`s a real great, honest human being.

HAMMER: And what`s your assessment? How did she do?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Excellent.

HAMMER: What`s your review? How did she do?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought she did great.

HAMMER: Of course, Katie Couric was on this show for a long time. Do you think Meredith will do a better job as the host of the "Today" show?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, I think she`ll do a great job. I think she`ll do equally, and if not better job.

HAMMER (voice-over): Meredith Vieira wasn`t the only change NBC was showing off. The network also unveiled its newly renovated, futuristic set.

HAMMER (on camera): The temporary, summertime "Today" show studio is no more, as they`ve moved into their fancy new hi-def gigs.

LAUER: Yes, it`s going to take some getting used to. But - but I do like it.

HAMMER (voice-over): We guess the same can be said for Meredith.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAMMER: Nice going, Meredith.

The "Today" show, of course, not Meredith`s only gig. She`s going to continue as host of "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?" She says that she`s already gotten a bit of a head start on the season by taping 60 of the season`s 175 episodes.

ANDERSON: Busy lady.

OK, don`t forget: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is now on seven nights a week. We are bringing TV`s most provocative entertainment news show to your weekend, each and every weekend. Be sure to check us out, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT Saturday and Sunday and each and every night. That`s at 11 p.m. Eastern, 8 Pacific.

We`ve been asking you to vote on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day." And it is this: "Segregated `Survivor`: Is it offensive to divide teams by race?" Keep voting at cnn.com/showbiztonight. Send us an e-mail: showbiztonight@cnn.com. We`ll read some of your thoughts tomorrow.

Stay with us. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is coming right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go Camera 3, fade up music under. Stand by, A.J. Open his mike, and dissolve 2. Go.

HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York City. You`re watching TV`s most provocative entertainment news show.

And it`s time now to find out what is coming up on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT tomorrow. Here is your "SHOWBIZ Marquee."

And tomorrow, answer: The longest-running "Jeopardy!" champion of all time. Question: Who is Ken Jennings? If you don`t get that right, sorry. So sorry. Ken`s going to be with us tomorrow, and he`s going to tell us how he won 74 times on "Jeopardy!" He`ll also tell us all about his new book about the world of trivia.

Also tomorrow, Crystal Wren, the full-figured model, finding success in mainstream fashion, including a Dolce & Gabbana campaign. But it has been a long road; in fact at one point, she starved herself to fit the norm. Crystal Wren will tell us about it tomorrow on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

Brooke, I`m looking forward to hearing from her. Because they may be say fantasy - fashion should be a fantasy, but I believe designers and the fashion industry will have a great success if they put their clothes on people who look like everyday people. Call me crazy.

ANDERSON: Absolutely, and not those models where the images are totally unattainable. What does that do for anyone? It`s unhealthy. Bravo, Crystal Wren.

HAMMER: Nice going for her.

And that`s it for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. Thanks for watching. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.

ANDERSON: And I`m Brooke Anderson in Hollywood.

Glenn Beck is coming up next. That`s right after the latest headlines from CNN Headline News. Keep it right here.

END

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