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SHOWBIZ TONIGHT

Do Hollywood Scandals Sell Movies; Female Movie Stars Still Paid Less Than Men

Aired November 30, 2006 - 23:00:00   ET

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


A.J. HAMMER, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT ANCHOR: A huge music star does the unthinkable by dissing Oprah. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.
SIBILA VARGAS, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT ANCHOR: And why do Hollywood`s leading men still get paid more than Hollywood`s leading women? I`m Sibila Vargas in Hollywood. TV`s most provocative entertainment news show starts right now.

HAMMER: On SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, big stars, big controversies, big bucks. Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT says scandal sells. Britney behaving badly, Michael Richards` racist rant, Mel`s meltdown, even Danny Devito drunk? Are stars actually using their shocking bad behavior to promote their projects? It`s a revealing SHOWBIZ TONIGHT special report.

Split second splits, tonight, if you blinked, you missed them, the shortest celebrity marriages ever, Renee and Kenny, Carmen and Dennis, Pam Anderson and Kid Rock. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT investigates why these I dos turned into quick I don`ts.

VARGAS: Hello everyone, I`m Sibila Vargas in Hollywood.

HAMMER: I`m A.J. Hammer in New York. Get out your pen and paper because SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has for you the secret recipe for making big bucks in Hollywood. Take shocking scandal, add bad press and watch the negative publicity heat up.

VARGAS: That`s right A.J., it`s a formula we`ve seen quite often this week, from Danny Devito running his mouth on the View, to Britney Spears running around Hollywood with her new gal pals, Mel Gibson and Michael Richards, of course, running out of ways to say they`re sorry for their offensive rants. All have had their share of bad press. And here`s one thing SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can tell you, they, and their various projects, may actually be benefiting from it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No soup for you.

VARGAS (voice-over): That would be no sales for Seinfeld if some people get their way. Jessie Jackson and others offended by that infamous racist tirade by Seinfeld co-star Michael Richards want consumers to put the kabosh on Kramer.

They are calling for a boycott of the Seinfeld seventh season DVD, which recently went on sale.

REV. JESSE JACKSON, ACTIVIST: He stands to make money off of the Seinfeld seven, the season. So, it`s a way of saying we don`t want to pay Kramer for Christmas, given this conduct and this behavior.

VARGAS: But what if they threw a boycott and nobody came? SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can tell you a couple of DVD website say initial sales of the Seventh season seven DVD are up around 100 percent over the same time last year, when the previous season`s went on sale.

JO PIAZZA, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: It`s putting Seinfeld back in America`s consciousness. Now people are curious again and want to go back and see, oh, was Michael Richards racist when he was on Seinfeld?

VARGAS: Joe Piazza of the New York Daily News tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT that the outrage at Michael Richards may translate into a renewed Kramer curiosity, another case of scandals translating into big bucks.

PIAZZA: You used to try to get good press before you had a project coming out and now it seems that more and more people are using bad press to promote their projects, just because the bad press is what is going to slam them on the cover of magazines these days.

VARGAS: Danny Devito is learning that now. He sent tongues wagging with his appearance on the View when, while talking about his visit to the White House, he went on incomprehensible anti-Bush tirade, part of which ABC censored.

DANNY DEVITO, ACTOR: I was there during Clinton`s last stint. I didn`t go after, you know, numb (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

BARBARA WALTERS, THE VIEW: That`s the president.

VARGAS: Such astute political commentary won`t get Danny Devito on Meet the Press, but it is landing him on the front pages of newspapers, just days after his latest movie Deck the Halls hit movie theaters. In Hollywood, that kind of publicity is like an early Christmas gift.

PIAZZA: Was anyone talking about Danny Devito last week, or two weeks ago? Was anyone talking about Britney Spears before she filed for divorce and started partying every night. Now these names are on the tips of everyone`s tongue and I`m sure more people are going to go see Danny`s movie just because he was blitzed on the View.

VARGAS: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is telling you that no matter if you are Kramer or Danny or Britney, scandals sell. And that could help Mel Gibson. Just months after drunk driving arrest and anti-Semitic comments had Barbara Walters declaring a personal Gibson boycott.

WALTERS: I don`t think I want to see anymore Mel Gibson movies.

VARGAS: Gibson is out promoting his up-coming movie, Apacalypto. And get this, in the new Entertainment Weekly Gibson talks about his movie, while giving a shout out to Michael Richards. He said, quote, I felt like sending Michael Richards a note. I feel really badly for the guy. He was obviously in a state of stress. You don`t need to be inebriated to be bent out of shape, but my heart went out to the guy.

JILL BERNSTEIN, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Mel Gibson tells us that he feels a kinship with Michael Richards after what Richards has gone through.

VARGAS: So let`s tally up. You have Mel Gibson talking about Michael Richard`s offensive comments during an interview where Mel is promoting his own project, which is considered in danger because of Mel Gibson`s own offensive comments. Got that? The scandal machine may be confusing, but when managed well, the results can be simple success.

BERNSTEIN: Mel and Disney are handling this whole situation as shrewdly as possible.

VARGAS: And Britney Spears may be following that playbook. Sure her partying with Paris Hilton and Lindsey Lohan is getting Brit slammed in the media.

ROSIE O`DONNELL, THE VIEW: She got divorced. We had the confetti. We said welcome back, and now she`s hanging out with these two idiots.

VARGAS: But all the publicity may have an upside for the pop princess, who between reported benders is said to be working on a comeback album.

PIAZZA: At this point, no press is bad press for Britney Spears. Say what you will, say that she`s a bad mother for going out seven nights in a row, but on the same token, she`s on the cover of all the magazines and everyone is talking about her. When she comes out with an album in six months, everyone is going to be curious and everyone is going to want to buy that album.

VARGAS: Proof that the secret to selling well is being bad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VARGAS: And who can forget the reigning queen of very good bad press, Kate Moss. Last year, she was photographed by the Daily Mirror, apparently doing cocaine. Fast forward several well-managed months later, Kate Moss is named model of the year and is arguably more popular than before her scandal, A.J.

HAMMER: So yes, Sibila, being bad may, in fact, be good for business. Sometimes it`s planned, sometimes it`s simply a case of taking a mess and spinning into good PR.

With me tonight from Hollywood, a man who really knows how to take a public relations disaster and make the most of it, publicist to the stars Howard Bragman, founder of the Fifteen Minutes Public Relations Agency. Howard, it`s nice to see you.

HOWARD BRAGMAN, FOUNDER, FIFTEEN MINUTES PR: Good to be back, A.j. How are you?

HAMMER: All right. I`m good. I`m very good because everyone has been buzzing about this story today, the one that everybody is talking about, Danny Devito appearing a bit loopy on the View. And particularly here at SHOWBIZ TONIGHT we are buzzing about it because we were sitting right here in the studio with him just before he went out, as he called it, all night long with George Clooney. Ironically, Howard, I want you to listen to how our conversation went a couple days ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: And I`m sure you have seen a lot of weird stuff from different Hollywood actors over the time you`ve been involved. Fortunately we haven`t had to read a lot of weird stuff, if any, that I can think of about you or about your wife.

DEVITO: I have a good publicist.

HAMMER: Well they are always a big part of the equation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: He`s giving the publicist a plug. That`s kind of funny to me and now, of course, he`s on the front page. So can all of this publicity surrounding Danny Devito`s incident on the View possibly translate into box office dollars for his new flick?

BRAGMAN: It may help in some strange way, because sometimes the attention can get butts in seats. But the bottom line is, this was not a publicity stunt that was done. It was an accident. He was out a little late. He was having a good time. And he was embarrassed, but you know, much to his credit, he does have a great publicist, and he handled it with a lot of dignity. He wasn`t all over the pages making public apologies. He quietly called Barbara Walters, made his apology and it will go away. And his movie will live and die on the quality of the movie. It`s a family movie and this is not a good way to get parents to want to take their kids to movies.

HAMMER: No, but as we also just pointed out in our story, now people are talking about Danny Devito. Let`s move on to a situation clearly not as bad, you know, for Danny Devito as what happened to Michael Richards. That was just a big mess. Despite the aftermath of his racist tirade, as we just saw, the sales of the Seinfeld`s season seven DVDs have doubled, in some cases, since last year`s release, Howard. Now, conventional wisdom tells me just the opposite thing would have happened here. What`s going on?

BRAGMAN: It reminded people of how much they liked his character, and how much they disliked what the real Michael Richards had to say. It`s kind of Machiavellian thing. It wasn`t planned. And I think what we forget, A.J., is these are real people with real feelings. And he has to go home and he has friends and family, and I promise you Michael Richards is not having a good time with this. And this was not some really clever stunt to sell more DVDs. And if it was, it was ill conceived.

HAMMER: Yes, and it would have been the ultimate conspiracy theory. We have to talk about pop princess Britney Spears -- this is really the top story here -- dropping her husband, America falling in love with her all over again.

BRAGMAN: And her underwear.

HAMMER: That`s the thing, they fell in love with her for dropping K- Fed. At the same time, you know, there`s this backlash going on because she`s out partying and these almost pornographic photos are showing up of her everywhere. Now, I accept she wants to go out and party, but I`m sorry, this actually seems quite orchestrated to me. Is this any publicity is good publicity, Howard?

BRAGMAN: You know, A.J., I believe that the myth that all press is good press is the number one myth in Hollywood. It`s just not true. And what`s really sad about this, by giving the divorce, Britney had a real chance to redefine herself, and this went to the basics of what people used to think of her, and it reinforced the worst of her and not the best of her. But there`s one thing I`m really glad of, and I didn`t want to see Danny Devito without his underwear, so I think it was better with Britney.

HAMMER: Love Danny Devito. Nobody wanted to see that. Howard Bragman, thanks as always.

BRAGMAN: Thanks A.J.

VARGAS: Well now we want to here form you. It`s our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. Celebrity scandals, do stars use controversy to promote themselves? Vote at CNN.com/SHOWBIZTONIGHT. Send us an e-mail at SHOWBIZTONIGHT@CNN.com. And remember, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is the only entertainment news show that lets you express your opinion on video. Just look into your video camera or webcam and send us a piece of your mind via video e-mail. It`s really easy. Head to our website, CNN.com/SHOWBIZTONIGHT, to learn just how to do it. Then check out your video e-mails, only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

HAMMER: A huge music star doing the unthinkable, dissing Oprah. Will the sparks fly? That`s next.

VARGAS: And, why do Hollywood`s leading men still get paid more than Hollywood`s leading women? SHOWBIZ TONIGHT takes a look at the controversy over the highest paid female celebrities.

Plus, we`ve also got this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think conservatives are still cranky from the election. They pick a fight with an animated penguin. It doesn`t make any sense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: And why some people are not so happy with Happy Feet. What could possibly be controversial, even political, about cute, animated penguins? SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has the flap over these feathered film stars, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, TV`s most provocative entertainment news show. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York. It is time now for a story that made us say, that`s ridiculous. All right, we all now how special a baby`s first year is, right? All those precious once in a lifetime moments. So we can certainly understand taking a couple of polaroids, maybe sticking some of the shots in your wallet, up on the fridge, whatever. But parents spending $15,000 for a documentary about little Debbie or Danny, come on. There are actually companies that will create an original film about your newborn for thousands of dollars, which has some of us here at SHOWBIZ TONIGHT thinking maybe we`re in the wrong part of the TV business. Anyway, spending a bundle to tape your bundle of joy, that`s ridiculous.

Well, one of the biggest names in the music business has done the unthinkable, he`s taking on Oprah. In an interview with Elle Magazine, rapper 50 Cent is asked, if you had to spend the rest of your life as a woman, who would you be? Well he says Oprah. So far, so good, right? Take a look at what else 50 had to say about Oprah, "she started out with black women`s views, but has been catering to middle-aged white American women for so long that she`s become one herself. It`s even more exciting to the demographic of white American women she`s been aiming at to see that she has the exact same views that they have." Ouch. You can read more about 50 and his beef with Oprah in the January issue of Elle Magazine. It will be on news stands December 5th.

Well, a shocker tonight for one of Oprah`s good friends, Julia Roberts. She`s no longer the reigning queen and that`s not the only shocker. Some of the biggest box office actresses are still actually playing catch-up to leading men. I don`t understand that. It`s all part of this year`s list of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood, Reporter`s Women in Entertainment Power 100 issue.

Joining me tonight from Hollywood to reveal the surprising results, the Hollywood Reporter`s Christy Grosz. Hello, Christy.

CHRISTY GROSZ, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: Hi.

HAMMER: Let`s talk about Julia Roberts, because I`m a bit confused and dumbfounded. She dominated this list for four years. Am I missing something? I`ve been going through it. I don`t see her anywhere here. What`s going on?

GROSZ: Well, if she comes back from, you know, the stage where she was last year and earlier this year and decides that she wants to get back into show business, she can easily command that $20 million paycheck again. We just -- we decided that we would drop her off this year because she`s kept a pretty low profile and we try to look at the year in general.

HAMMER: Kind of staying off the radar and hasn`t taken a big pay check this year. So, I guess I can understand that. You see Nicole Kidman is here at the top of your list, about 16 million to 17 million per picture at this point. Now my question is, how has she earned her top place, when most of the recent films she`s done have really not been blockbuster hits. I would think there would be more of a correlation.

GROSZ: Well, honestly, all of these paychecks depend on the type of role that each of these women are going after, the type of movie, whether it a big blockbuster, or if it`s something that`s a little bit smaller, like Fur, which Nicole Kidman was in this year. These figures are based on a big budget, the very highest figure that an actress can earn for a particular movie. So this particular year, Nicole Kidman earned her highest payday for starring in Invasion, which comes out late next year, and, you know, that`s a big budget, big studio movie. And that`s why she`s able to command that higher figure than something that`s a smaller movie, like Fur, which she probably didn`t get paid more than a couple million dollars for.

HAMMER: All right, let`s move a little further down the list here. Now, out in the workplace, of course, generally speaking, lots of surveys say that women who take time off from work, if they want to have kids and stay with their kids, can be hurt financially. It`s just a matter of fact. We all know that, and I guess the same can be said in Hollywood. Which basically seems why Reece Witherspoon has to be a working mom to be on your list and to climb to the number spot, 15 million bucks.

GROSZ: Well, Reece Witherspoon is also a producer, so she`s -- I think that, yes, she has kids and, you know, a family, but she`s also somebody who is very committed to her career. Julia Roberts has been in the public eye, just for example, for probably half her life at this point and probably feels very comfortable that she can take a few years off and spend time with her family and her kids, whereas Reece Witherspoon, I don`t know that she necessarily doesn`t want to spend time with her kids, but she`s really hitting her stride as an actress and probably wants to be able to balance the two. I think it`s just a matter of personal choice.

HAMMER: Well, also in the 15 million dollar club, the next three on the list, all not having great years either, in terms of big box office success, Rene Zellweger, her last film was Cinderella Man, Drew Barrymore in Fever Pitch, Cameron Diaz in Her Shoes. No big paydays -- we are seeing big paydays without the big box office. What`s the justification here?

GROSZ: Well, I think that these are all very versatile actresses who choose their roles carefully. And certainly they are willing to take smaller roles for smaller paychecks. It`s just the matter of the project, really. It has little -- well it has something to do with the box office performance, obviously, but I don`t think that it`s the whole part of the equation.

HAMMER: Well, unfortunately, they are still not catching up to the men, which really makes me angry. Why is there such a disparity between what leading women and leading men can make?

GROSZ: Well, it is somewhat unfair, but I think that there is a perception that if there`s a woman in a lead role in a film, that that`s automatically a chick flick, which isn`t necessarily true. Certainly Halle Berry was in X-Men, and that`s marketed as an action movie, but you`ve got maybe something like Devil Wears Prada, which, I think, is breaking down door this year and showing that, you know, just because you have got two female lead characters, it can appeal outside of, you know, 50 percent of the population. So I think it`s more of a perception problem than anything.

HAMMER: Well, let`s start seeing parody for both men and women, financially. Christy Grosz from the Hollywood Reporter, I appreciate you joining us.

GROSZ: Thank you.

HAMMER: For more on Hollywood`s highest paid actresses, grab your copy of the Hollywood Reporter`s 15th annual Women in Entertainment Power 100 issue. It`s on news stands December 5th.

VARGAS: Time now for the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT Truth Squad, where our crack team of celebrity journalists gets to the bottom of Hollywood`s biggest mysteries. Tonight, is Eva Longoria engaged? SHOWBIZ TONIGHT went directly to the Desperate Housewives star`s publicist who is saying, yes, indeed she is. Here`s how it went down. Tony Parker, who plays basketball for the San Antonio Spurs, flew into Los Angeles last night, and surprised Eva at her home as she got off work. We hear the proposal was absolutely romantic.

The couple, who has been dating for two years, plans to get married in France this summer, in what they describe as, quote, a big, happy ceremony with lots of family and friends. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT sends Eva and Tony a big congratulations.

HAMMER: Today is Meth awareness day. Coming up, the painful story of a child star who struggled with the dangerous, addictive drug.

VARGAS: Split second splits. Tonight, if you blinked, you missed them, the shortest celebrity marriages ever. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT investigates why these I dos turned into quick I don`ts.

Plus, we`ve also got this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell me about it first, OK? So I know I`m walking into propaganda.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: I`m a little confused here, why are some people not so happy with Happy Feet? How can it be controversial? They are animated penguins. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has the flap over these feathered film stars.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMMER: It is time now for the SHOWBIZ staff picks. This is the stuff that the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT staff just absolutely loves this week, even cynical Albert, and we think you should check these out, too. ABC`s Boston Legal, one of my favorite shows, quirky, fun, it`s got a cast including Candice Bergen, James Spader and Bill Shatner. With that you never know what`s going to happen. Also, strongly consider seeing For Your Consideration. The guy who brought us Spinal Tap, Christopher Guest, reveals the absurdity over the Hollywood buzz that happens before Oscar nominations are announced each year.

Speaking of absurd, pop open the pop-up book of celebrity melt downs. This is a lot of fun. You get to relive your favorite stars going through, well, kind of crazy stuff, like Tom Cruise`s couch jumping, Michael Jackson`s baby dangling and even Paris Hilton`s triple X-rated video. You feel like you were there.

The SHOWBIZ TONIGHT staff is also loving Mashups. You know, that`s when they take a classic rock song and mix it up with, say, a really popular hip-hop track. Definitely a cool way for artists to reach a whole new audience.

And finally, Charlie Brown, Rudolph and Frosty. Even us grown up kids still love these holiday specials. Who doesn`t get all misty eyed when Frosty melts, or who hasn`t secretly has done the Peanuts dance to this song in the mirror? Well, I have anyway. Those are this week`s SHOWBIZ TONIGHT staff picks.

VARGAS: And coming up, why Ben Affleck has a much better appreciation now for working parents. He talks to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, next.

HAMMER: Split second splits. Tonight, if you blinked, you missed them, the shortest celebrity marriages ever. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT investigates why these I dos turned into quick I don`ts.

And we`ve also got this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just think conservatives are still cranky from the election. When they pick a fight with an animated penguin, it doesn`t make any sense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VARGAS: Why some people are not so happy with Happy Feet. What could possibly be controversial about cute, animated penguins? SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with the flap over these feathered film stars.

(NEWSBREAK)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

VARGAS: And I`m Sibila Vargas in Hollywood. This is TV`s most provocative entertainment news show.

Tonight, Ben Affleck is sending a shoutout to all of us working moms everywhere. He says, you know what, guys? He feels our pain. He`s a new dad and he`s going to be talking all about that coming up.

HAMMER: There`s a lot of working moms, Sibila, taking their kids to the No. 1 movie at the box office right now, "Happy Feet." Apparently, some people, including that Glenn Beck guy on Headline Prime, are upset about this movie. I don`t know. Happy animated penguins.

VARGAS: He`s picking on penguins!

HAMMER: What`s wrong with that? We`ll find out, coming up.

But first tonight, stars break up almost as fast as they hook up. The latest star breakup news is, of course, from Pam Anderson and Kid Rock. They`re getting divorced after four - that`s right, four - months of marriage, 116 days. I did the math myself. That`s an eternity compared to Britney Spears` 55-hour marriage to Jason Alexander.

So this got us thinking about the best blink-and-you`ll-miss-them marriages with stars.

Celebrity journalist Pat Lalama joining me now from Hollywood to give us the lowdown.

All right, Pat. Wind it up. Here we go.

PAT LALAMA, CELEBRITY JOURNALIST: I`m ready, baby (ph). I`m ready.

HAMMER: Now, of course, we got to start out by talking about the big star couple of the week breaking up, Kid Rock, Pam Anderson. Four ceremonies to kick off this wedded bliss. They were held all over the world, these ceremonies. The pictures were all over the press.

Four months later has arrived; they`re calling it quits. You would think with four ceremonies, Pat, we would have at least gotten through Christmas.

LALAMA: Well, you know what, A.J.? Let me put it - let me be profound today, OK?

HAMMER: Please.

LALAMA: You know, wasn`t it Shakespeare who said, Methinks thou doth protest too much? If you have to have four ceremonies, something`s wrong. Something smells. That`s my favorite term this year, as you know.

I mean, look, these people broke up, got back together. It was always stormy. She wasn`t - she - you know, I remember the articles, I love Tommy. I love Kid Rock. I love them both. Oh my goodness.

But she seems to have this ability with men to make them - I mean, he - he - he picked up from Detroit, something he said he`d never do, and came out to live with her. And now apparently he`s mad, he says. He doesn`t like her partying. He even called her a ho, I hear. Boy, people say nasty things when they`re married for four months, don`t they?

You know, I mean - I - look, let`s face it: I don`t these kinds of people are necessarily - necessarily equipped to determine what true commitment is. And there you go.

And it should probably go back to poor Tommy, who she raked over the coals on "LARRY KING" and said he was a horrible dad and gave her - you know, have her hepatitis, which I thought was just an unclassy thing to do to Tommy Lee. But, you know, these guys are just like the black widow. Man, they love her.

HAMMER: Well - well, by this standard, then, you would seem to be suggesting that people like Carmen Electra and Dennis Rodman might not know exactly what true love is. Of course, their marriage lasted only 10 days.

LALAMA: Ten days, yes.

HAMMER: It started in Vegas.

LALAMA: Yes.

HAMMER: You - you look at Tom and you look at Dennis and you kind of got to wonder, Was it ever really for real?

LALAMA: Well, here - here is the deal on that: you know, I - I was looking over my old notes today, and I had forgotten that on the affidavit, which he filed remember - he dumped her - he - his reasons for splitting was "unsound mind." The question was, did he mean his or hers?

HAMMER: His or hers? Exactly.

LALAMA: But you know what, A.J? He claims - I just read this today - he claims that she called him six months ago and said, I never should have left you; I`ve always been in love with you. I ask you, true or false?

HAMMER: Yes.

I want to get to a couple more of these real quickly. Lisa Marie Presley, Nicolas Cage, less than four months of marriage. Did the math on this one, too; just a fifth of the time she was married to Michael Jackson.

LALAMA: Well, that was - I was just going to say, I got two words for you: Michael Jackson. I mean, anyone who was married to Michael Jackson could you - you kind of wonder where they were emotionally.

I`m sorry, Lisa Marie. I think you`re great and I loved your dad, but apparently so did Nicolas Cage - was obsessed with Elvis. I mean, just loved his music. Maybe he thought he was marrying sort of like Elvis` - you know, the aura of Elvis. I don`t know.

HAMMER: Yes, I think that (INAUDIBLE)

LALAMA: All right. Let`s move on.

HAMMER: Renee Zellweger, Kenny Chesney. All the pictures that we saw, you would have thought it was the absolute storybook romance here.

LALAMA: Well, not - you know, come on. I - what - what she did when - when the papers were filed, she used the word fraud, and everybody freaked out, going, What, did he steal her credit cards? But all that means is that he - she`s claming he misrepresented himself as to, you know, what they - what their - what she should expect of him in the marriage.

Some say it could have been that she wanted kids and he later on said, No, I don`t. Some even started speculating he was gay. There are all kinds of things being floating around. Bottom line, they didn`t make it, and, you know, another one of those Hollywood sad stories.

HAMMER: Pat, is it just me, or - or does it seem that celebrities really get rid of their spouses almost as fast as they get rid of last season`s wardrobe? That - that seems to be what`s going on here.

LALAMA: Absolutely. They drop like flies, just like most of the pilots every season.

I mean, it`s just - you know, look, you know, they`re in a different world. I think they think they don`t have to abide by the same standards of commitment. And there`s all that temptation, and they fall for it every single time. It`s the same.

HAMMER: Pat Lalama, thanks as always. It`s good to see you.

LALAMA: OK.

VARGAS: Well, listen up, ladies: Ben Affleck says he understands what women - working mothers go through everyday now that he`s juggling fatherhood and a career.

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT caught up with the - with Ben at "GQ" magazine`s Men of the Year Party in Hollywood. This year`s selections also include Jay-Z, Leonardo DiCaprio and Will Ferrell.

Affleck says he`s in good company, and he talked to us about fatherhood in Hollywood.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN AFFLECK, ACTOR: I`ve definitely developed a greater appreciation for just, like, all the people that I`ve ever worked with who kind of, you know, who would say, like, Ah, I really can`t do that; I got to get home. The kids - or have that, like, kind of chafing at the end of the day or the weekend. And I really could never kind of identify with that or even really understand it. Or - and particularly with women, who I - who would say, Oh, I had a kid and I - you know, your kid`s six months old, and I would think of nothing of the fact that they were for 10 hours at the workplace.

Now I think, that must be really hard, you know? And - and I`ve been - I`m definitely much more impressed with the degree to which - you know, what an actual strain it is, particularly for women, trying to juggle work and - and raising children.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VARGAS: Thanks, the (ph) Ben.

For more "Men of the Year," pick up a copy of "GQ" magazine, on newsstands right now.

HAMMER: From Robert Downey Jr. to Keith Urban to "Clerks" star Jason Mewes, addictions and Hollywood seem to go hand in hand. In our continuing series "Prescription for Rehab," we`re talking about one drug that has overtaken not just Hollywood, but the entire nation: methamphetamine, also known as meth. The drug has become such a shocking phenomenon that President Bush has named today National Methamphetamine Awareness Day.

"Full House" star Jodie Sweetin is just one of the stars who was lucky enough to survive her addiction to meth. I had the chance to ask how she was exposed to the drug in the first place, and how it affected her life.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JODIE SWEETIN, ACTRESS: There are a lot of pressures and a lot of different things that sort of come with being a child star and - and growing up in this business that, you know, normal kids don`t have to deal with. And - and it does create, you know, certain issues and - and things like that. But, you know, I feel really fortunate that I`ve been able to come through to the other side and really sort of, you know, learn how to deal with those things and - and, you know, fortunately get another career started at - you know, at 24. Again, I`m really lucky.

HAMMER: You were really dealing with the very typical scenarios of - of hiding it from your family.

SWEETIN: Right.

HAMMER: You were hiding it from your - your husband, who was - was an L.A. - this was your husband at the time.

SWEETIN: Yes. Yes.

HAMMER: .who was an L.A. cop?

SWEETIN: Yes.

HAMMER: That has to have been like leading a double life, right?

SWEETIN: Yes, it was - yes, it was. I mean, it was - it was - you know, it was - it was hard. It was hard. But it`s - you know what? It`s a way for me now - I feel really fortunate that I get to speak about it. I`m actually doing a college tour and going around to different universities all over the country and - and speaking to - to college students about my, you know, dealings with the drug and - and how to come through on to the other side.

And I`m using it as something that, you know, I can help others with now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAMMER: Happily, Jodie Sweetin`s life is currently going real well, and she is hosting the Fuse TV show "Pants-Off, Dance-Off."

Everybody, of course, remembers Lucy Liu from the hit TV show "Ally McBeal." And, of course, she was one of "Charlie`s Angels." She starred in "Kill Bill."

And now for something completely different. Her new movie is called "Three Needles." It is powerful, it is quite intense and in it, Lucy plays Jin Ping, a black-market blood smuggler responsible for virtually entire villages in China becoming infected with HIV.

Lucy Liu joining me here in New York.

Some heady subject matter here, Lucy.

LUCY LIU, ACTRESS: Yes, very intense.

HAMMER: It - it is intense, and it is very eye-opening. I think people who see this film will be truly shocked to see what still goes on around the world, that I think a lot of people are not really aware of.

What - what about doing this film - or in doing this film, what was really eye-opening and shocking for you?

LIU: I think the things that were shocking to me the - is the - the regional misconceptions that are still going on today, in terms of what people think might get rid of AIDS and HIV or whatever it is they have. And I think the one thing that is really sad is that people are still not aware of AIDS and HIV in other parts of the world.

HAMMER: In fact, in some of these villages, and as it`s portrayed in the movie, they don`t know why they`re getting sick. They don`t know why they`re dying.

LIU: That`s right. They don`t know (ph).

HAMMER: And that that`s going on (ph).

LIU: It`s hard, because, if you think about big countries like China or even Africa, there are so many remote areas that are - they don`t have medical attention; they don`t have any - anything, you know, available to them. So I think that when you see a movie like this, it`s - it` s - it`s very jarring to think that we have so many things to available to us, and yet how do they not have any doctors even available to them, you know?

HAMMER: And here we are at December 1, World AIDS Day, and something that has really angered me - I`ve noticed more over the last seven years than ever before, with the advent of medicines and - and how things have progressed in the fight against AIDS - it has not become rather a backburner fight. People aren`t paying as much attention to it as they used to.

And I - I`m infuriated by that. I don`t know how you feel, but it`s.

LIU: Well, it`s really strange, because there was such a decrease in the percentage of AIDS and HIV. And now, there is an increase in that number. And I think that`s really unfortunate, because it`s something that can be really taken care of and handled if we continue to spread the awareness, and continue to make sure that it`s something that is a priority for us to - to - to educate people about it, you know?

And I think that the movie has a very personal touch, which also helps people to understand that is something that is not just in other countries; it`s actually here at home.

HAMMER: Oh, it`s right here. Absolutely. And I think that those come across well, and hopefully this will make people realize that and think quite a bit about it.

But let`s talk about something happy now, shall we?

LIU: OK.

HAMMER: Let`s move on.

Your birthday coming up on Saturday.

LIU: That`s right, my birthday is coming up.

HAMMER: Happy birthday to you.

LIU: Thank you. Thank you.

HAMMER: You know, I was - I - I - and you look at you; you look terrific.

LIU: Thanks.

HAMMER: And - and - and you always look terrific whenever we get to see you. Of course, some of your roles have truly demanded top physical shape.

LIU: Right.

HAMMER: You know, when you were in "Kill Bill," and when you were in "Charlie`s Angels."

Is that something - separate from doing the roles - is that a pressure that you have felt yourself, to - to look a certain way? Because so many actors and actresses in Hollywood feel that constant pressure to look and feel and - and appear, you know, being.

(CROSSTALK)

LIU: I think it`s really - it`s just sort of about how - you know, how you feel inside and - and that`s how it starts with, you know - I think in - in the mind, how you feel about yourself, and really not what you look like. And a lot of people were shocked when I cut my hair off, because they thought, it`s really important for you to have long hair, especially if you want people to think that you`re sexy or beautiful.

And I just thought, you know, I don`t really need to do that. I think I wanted to cut it because I wanted to cut it, you know? And - and for me, for my body, if I want to be a certain way, I - I do Pilates, or I`ll take - you know, in New York, you walk all the time. So you don`t think about it as much.

But I - I don`t know. I think it`s important to - to have a certain amount of happiness and security within yourself (INAUDIBLE).

HAMMER: Absolutely. It`s got to be in here.

LIU: Yes.

HAMMER: .it`s got to be in here.

LIU: Yes.

HAMMER: Well, happy birthday again.

LIU: Thank you.

HAMMER: .and congratulations for all the fine work you do with (ph) UNICEF as well.

LIU: Oh, thank so much.

HAMMER: Best of luck with this movie. It`s called "Three Needles," opening in New York and Los Angeles tomorrow.

Lucy Liu, thanks for being here.

LIU: Thank you.

VARGAS: Well, a lawsuit over guacamole? Holy moly! That made us say, "That`s Ridiculous!" We`ll dip into that one next.

HAMMER: Plus, holy moly, Jewel is here! We`re going to find out how Jewel is going a little bit country. That`s ahead in the interview you`ll see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

We`ll also have this:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLENN BECK, CNN HEADLINE NEWS HOST: Tell me about it first, OK? So I know I`m walking in to propaganda.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VARGAS: Controversy over the No. 1 in the country - a family movie no less. Is there something sinister afoot in "Happy Feet"? We`ll crack the case, coming up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Play your break. You can roll it, and effect black.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: .go 3, music under. Strand by, A.J. Open his mike. Pre-set Camera 1. Dissolve 1. Go.

HAMMER: Our fine director, Gnarls Wegman (ph), I thank you.

And welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, TV`s most provocative entertainment news show.

Time now for yet another story that made us say, "That`s Ridiculous!"

Listen to this: a woman is suing the Kraft Food Company because apparently their guacamole doesn`t taste - her word here - "avocadoey." She said that she made a three-layer dip - it just didn`t taste right.

Yes, the lawsuit is ridiculous of course. But this is a two-layer story, because it turns out, if you look closely at the label, the guacamole in question does contain less than 2 percent avocado. It`s mostly modified food starch, oil, corn syrup and green food coloring. Mmm, pass the chips.

Guacamole with hardly any avocado in it, and a woman suing over it? That is doubly ridiculous.

VARGAS: Well, the animated movie "Happy Feet" is a family film about a bunch of cute little dancing penguins. Certainly not something you think would start a controversy, or (INAUDIBLE) a conspiracy theory.

But could there be something more political afoot? Here`s CNN`s Jeanne Moos for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You know things are going downhill when dancing penguin causes a political flap.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re foisting this on my kids.

BECK: Tell me about it first, OK, so I know I`m walking into propaganda.

MOOS: Not everyone is happy with the blockbuster "Happy Feet." "Crappy Feet" one critic called it.

Some conservatives say it`s dark, disturbing environmental propaganda, pitting cute penguins against big, bad humans in the fishing industry.

BECK: In an animated version of "An Inconvenient Truth."

MOOS: But can you really compare Al Gore`s global-warming documentary to "Happy Feet"?

NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I half expected to see an animated version of Al Gore pop up.

MOOS: In Al Gore`s film, glaciers crack, but the only cracking in "Happy Feet" is caused by bad vocals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard an animal once do that but then they rolled him over. He was dead.

MOOS: There is no global warming in "Happy Feet," though the director readily admits to amplifying environmental themes. The penguins are starving because of over-fishing. Humans are called aliens.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you ever been abducted my aliens?

MOOS: Check out the six-pack holder around his neck.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is my sacred talisman.

MOOS: It ends up almost choking him to death.

(on camera): Even the "New York Times" describes the movie as "a view of hell as seen through the eyes and ears of creatures we foolishly, tragically call dumb."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yo, penguino, I`m the genius Ramon.

MOOS (voice-over): That`s the voice of Robin Williams, portraying one of the lead penguins. The movie has gotten rave reviews.

ERIC BOEHLERT, MEDIA MATTERS: I just think conservatives are, you know, still cranky from the election and they pick a fight with this animated penguin. It doesn`t make any sense.

MOOS: One critic even suggesting there`s a gay subtext. Mumbles is an outcast because he dances, but can`t sing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it just ain`t penguin, OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don`t ask me to change, pa, because I can`t.

MOOS: But don`t expect Mumbles to join the ranks of actual gay penguin couples.

"Happy Feet" defenders say he`s no different than Rudolph the Red- Nosed Reindeer.

ROBERT THOMPSON, SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY: Of the 50,000 things affecting America`s youth in negative ways today, I don`t think the penguin movie is probably on that 50,000.

MOOS: As for kids who have seen the movie...

(on camera): What`s the movie about?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Happy feet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love you. I love you.

MOOS (voice-over): ... "Happy Feet" seems to have gone to their heads.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show me what the penguins do.

MOOS: But those "Happy Feet" are stepping on conservative toes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VARGAS: So cute. That was CNN`s Jeanne Moos for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

HAMMER: You know, not everybody can walk into Nashville and become a star, especially someone with as much pop success as our next guest, Jewel. Jewel has sold more than 25 million albums - a huge hit on mainstream radio.

But she has been warmly embraced by the country community. She is the host of the upcoming season of USA Network`s "Nashville Star."

Jewel joining me now here in New York City, spreading a little holiday cheer.

Nice to see you, Jewel.

JEWEL, SINGER: Hi, how are you?

HAMMER: I`m really well.

You know, when you and I first met, something like 10 years ago, you were just at the start of this wild ride you`ve been on. People dream day and night about achieving what you`ve achieved: breaking into the business, having all the fame and the success.

And what I`ve always appreciated is that you basically have been able to hold on to your identity throughout all of the madness that surrounds you.

It`s not that easy to do, is it?

JEWEL: Well, I guess it depends on what you want. I`ve - I feel like I`ve been really blessed to be able to be a songwriter and a storyteller and be able to be in the mainstream at the same time, you know?

Should be an anomaly, and I - I guess it is many ways. But I - I just feel really blessed to have been able to be around 12 years later and - and still be accepted as a songwriter.

HAMMER: It does seem that part of the success you`ve had in keeping a good head on your shoulders has been getting the heck out of Los Angeles. Remember on your last - on your last album, you wrote on "Goodbye Alice in Wonderland," you`re singing about leaving L.A., and now you`re living in a small town in Texas.

Do you kind of look back and - now at L.A. and say, Well, thank goodness I`m out of there?

JEWEL: You know, I never actually really did live in L.A., but I`ve spent a lot of time there, obviously, just recording records and - you know, it just talks about fame and Hollywood as an idea.

But, yes, fame`s a trip, and I - I think, you know, because I`ve always wanted to try and have a long career, I`ve tried to stay away enough that I can stay curious and - and stay optimistic still and - and enjoy my job.

HAMMER: And you`ve done a good job of that, despite the fact you`re dating a - a big-time rodeo star. But you are living in a small town.

Is it difficult being two big-time stars in a small town to maintain your privacy? Do people basically leave you alone, or are you just kind of holed up on your ranch?

JEWEL: No, nobody really treats us that way. It`s pretty normal.

You know, we have a really normal life, and do chores at home. And I shop at Wal-Mart, and, you know, it`s - it`s not a - it`s really normal. Everybody in town treats us really normally. So it`s - it`s an - it`s just a nice little life.

HAMMER: It has to be nice, and it has to be nice to be able to sort of just live and exist quote - unquote - "normally," you know, despite all of the things that you`re exposed to and that you get to see.

And, of course, you`re going to be hosting "Nashville Star." That`s starting in January.

And - and I`m curious what kind of advice - the best piece of advice you could give an instant star, like the ones that these talent shows create. Because, again, going back to how grounded you`ve remained, it can be really tough when it comes on that fast and furious.

JEWEL: I`m such a fan of country music. You know, I grew up on a ranch in Alaska, and my dad`s a cowboy. I grew up, you know, writing country music my whole life. Loretta Lynn`s probably my all-time hero as a writer, especially.

So for me it`s just really exciting to be able to be around a show that`s trying to encourage songwriting and all-around talent. And the best thing about country music is they want you to be yourself and be authentic. And that`d be the only advice I could give somebody, is just to yourself, especially in country music. They just want you to be true to you, and they don`t want pretense or you to be a poseur, sort of.

HAMMER: Sure, and be full of cheer, like you were today. You were giving away Christmas trees for the holidays. How many trees?

JEWEL: Yes, actually, I`m here in New York; I teamed up with MasterCard. They`re giving away a free home, believe it or not. Just every time you use your MasterCard or your small business card - any - any one of your MasterCard, it automatically registers you in to - to maybe win a free home. And they`re giving away another free home at pricelist.com.

But it`s great. People should check it out.

HAMMER: Well, it`s good to see you, Jewel. Thanks for joining me tonight. I appreciate it.

JEWEL: Thank you.

HAMMER: As I mentioned, Jewel will be hosting "Nashville Star" on the USA Network beginning in January.

VARGAS: Well, last night, we asked you to vote on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day": "Britney Spears Out Partying: Is she damaging her image?" Seventy percent of you say yes; 30 percent of you say no.

Here are some e-mails we got:

Lynn from Colorado writes, "Seeing how Britney Spears is acting, she`s no better than her soon-to-be ex."

Ouch.

Sharnell from Kentucky, though, writes, "She`s a young mother and it`s her birthday weekend, so she has the right to party."

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT will be right back. Stick around.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stand by to break. And roll it, and effect black now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A.J., open his mike. Pre-set Camera 2. Dissolve. Hit it.

HAMMER: Let us now find out what`s coming up on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT tomorrow, as we get into the weekend.

He is one of the most respected actors of his generation. Talking about Leo DiCaprio. He will be here. He`s got a titanic role in the new dramatic thriller "A Blood Diamond." Of course, he`s become one of the busiest celebrity activists on the scene. Leo DiCaprio joins us tomorrow in the interview you`ll see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

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

VARGAS: And I`m Sibila Vargas in Hollywood. Good night, A.J.

Glenn Beck is next, right after the latest headlines from CNN Headline News.

END

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