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CNN NEWSROOM

Tornadoes Hopscotch Across Florida; President Bush Under Immense Pressure To Come Up With Rebound Strategy For U.S.-Led War In Iraq; Troops From Ethiopia Storm Across Somali border; Americans Search For Two Comrades In Remote Mountains Of Southeast China; Saddam Hussein Sentence Upheld

Aired December 26, 2006 - 14:00   ET

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


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Betty Nguyen, in for Kyra Phillips today.

Will Americans be taking cover from coast to coast? A wicked winter storm is taking shape, and we are keeping an eye on it in the severe weather center.

LEMON: And this. For legions of fans he was "The Godfather," but one man considered him a surrogate father. We'll have more on Al Sharpton's powerful connection to James Brown.

NGUYEN: Plus, two American climbers lost in some of Tibet's toughest terrain. Now friends travel halfway around the world to search for them.

We're tracking the story this hour in CNN's NEWSROOM.

LEMON: And we are following a building collapse in New York City. Let's take you there live. There's new information coming off the wires now.

Authorities -- this is according to The Associated Press -- authorities say one person is dead, two others injured after a building under construction in Manhattan suffered a partial collapse early this morning. According to the wires, it's an unoccupied tenement building. It's located at 280 West 113th Street, and fire official says it's a five-story tall building and some of its floors apparently gave way.

No more information immediately available on the victims. But again, one person is dead.

This is apparently at 113th Street, between Central Park West and 7th Avenue. A partial building collapse there trapping some folks. At least two people injured, and we are getting word that one person dead.

As soon as we get more information on this story, we will bring it to you live right here in the CNN NEWSROOM. NGUYEN: Well, they are picking up the pieces after a terrifying Christmas Day. Tornadoes that hopscotched across Florida left hundreds homeless but counting their blessings.

CNN's national correspondent, Susan Candiotti, is in the hard-hit town of San Antonio, which is near Tampa.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Betty.

Imagine, if you will, opening up Christmas presents when all of a sudden you are slammed by a tornado. That is what happened to a number of couples and their visiting relatives here in this retirement community.

This is the Vickers' home. Take a look at what it looks like on the outside here. All of this white stuff, it kind of looks like snow, doesn't it? But it's the fiberglass insulation that was blown apart when the storm blew through.

Sandy Vickers was cooking dinner for relatives who were going to come over later on when a storm changed everything.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SANDY VICKERS, SAN ANTONIO, FLORIDA: I had seen a funnel cloud -- a funnel -- the wind was blowing and it was whirling and it was coming right towards me. And I knew I was in its path, so I knew it was going to come in through the house and I just started running.

And at the time, I ran to the living room and I tried to get behind that wall. And I actually -- it was actually -- I could feel things hitting me and I jumped to take cover behind that wall. And then I was underneath all of that debris and that's where my husband found me.

PHIL VICKERS, SAN ANTONIO, FLORIDA: I came around the corner and I found her laying under this pile of debris right here. I mean, it just scared me to death.

S. VICKERS: It's just devastation. I mean, it's -- we -- we can't even imagine, you know, it even being put back together the way it was again. And it's just -- I just...

CANDIOTTI: This is your dream retirement home?

S. VICKERS: Yes, it was. But right now, it's just -- I -- it's -- it's just -- it's just hard to believe that all of this can just go back to the way it was and back to normal again. And it's just -- right now it's just, you know, I really -- you know, we really don't know where we are going from here right now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CANDIOTTI: Sandy and Phil Vickers are both retired Cincinnati police officers. They have been living here for about four years. On the job, they said they were always able to distance themselves from tragedy and help others. And now the tables have turned on them. People are coming to their aid, and they say it's a lot different. Now they are going through a devastating loss.

Back to you -- Betty.

NGUYEN: No doubt.

CNN's Susan Candiotti.

Thank you, Susan.

LEMON: You know what? It's amazing that people weren't hurt. Let's get the latest from Bonnie Schneider in our severe weather center.

(WEATHER REPORT)

LEMON: And we want to tell our viewers, when the weather becomes the news, you can become a CNN correspondent. If you see severe weather happening, send us an I-Report. Go to CNN.com and click on I- Report, or type in ireport@CNN.com on your cell phone and share your photos or your video.

Three years after he lost his freedom, Saddam Hussein is set to lose his life. An Iraqi appeals court today upheld the former president's death sentence for ordering a massacre in the town of Dujail in the early 1980s. Now, by law, the sentence has to be carried out within 30 days. Hussein's lawyers says the whole court is illegitimate and they are not surprised by the crazy ruling.

Well, the White House, not surprisingly, disagrees, calling the upheld sentence a milestone. And our Brianna Keilar is there with reaction.

What are you hearing, Brianna?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Betty, the White House deputy press secretary, Scott Stanzel, as you said, calling this an important milestone. He told reporters on Air Force Once on the way to Texas that Saddam Hussein has received due process and legal rights that he denied the Iraqi people for so long, so this is around important day for the Iraqi people.

Now, President Bush, as well as the first lady and her mother, touching down in Texas a short while ago for what for the president, at least, is very much a working vacation. He's under immense pressure to come up with a rebound strategy for the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

Thursday he will be meeting with his national security team in Texas, and a White House spokesperson tells us this is really an opportunity for him to consult with his advisers, that he's not going to be making a decision during this meeting. However, at this point signs -- there are signs that President Bush is leaning towards a short-term troop increase in Iraq to deal with that out-of-control sectarian violence there, but he's insisting that he hasn't made up his mind yet and that he's looking at all options.

This meeting on Thursday, this is going to be the second meeting with his national security team in a week. On Saturday, while at Camp David, he met with them, including his new defense secretary, Robert Gates, who was, of course, fresh off a three-day trip to Iraq, where he met with U.S. commanders on the ground, as well as Iraqi leaders. And Gates, as well as General Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, briefed President Bush.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was there. So was the president's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley. But exactly what they discussed, what they're talking about, we don't know at this point. The White House, Betty, being very tight-lipped about the details.

NGUYEN: Well, Brianna, there are a lot of meetings, and it's all leading up to the president's new Iraq policy speech which we're expecting to hear before the end of the year.

Any idea on a specific date when we might get that?

KEILAR: No, Betty. No idea on that specific date. The White House just telling us that it will be after January 1st.

And President Bush does arrive back here in Washington on New Year's Day. Of course, his State of the Union Address is on January 23rd. And a lot of people wondering if he's going to be giving this announcement talking about his revamped Iraq strategy before then. But at this point it's still unclear.

NGUYEN: All right. CNN's Brianna Keilar joining us live from Washington.

We thank you.

LEMON: Ethiopia beats back its Islamist militia in Somalia. Are the rebels retreating or regrouping for a new phase of attacks? An update on the Horn of Africa next in the CNN NEWSROOM.

NGUYEN: Plus, the haystack gets smaller, but finding two missing climbers in this terrain is still a daunting prospect. We are there as friends zero in on the last place anyone saw Christine and Charlie.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: Let's take you live to this developing story out of New York today. In fact, this is in Harlem.

You see all the emergency crews on the ground, and that's because there has been a partial building collapse. Let me tell you exactly where this is. This is at 280 West 113th Street. That's between Central Park and 7th Avenue.

What we know so far is at least two people have been injured, one person has been killed in this partial building collapse. Now, the building here has been under construction, and that may have led to it, although we don't have an exact cause just yet. But it's a five- story building; the third and fourth floors have collapsed. And at one point it did trap a worker.

Now, we're not sure if that worker was among the injured or if that worker was indeed the person who has been killed in this. A lot of information still coming in. And as you see in these live pictures, a lot of emergency crews still on the scene.

And, of course, we're going to follow this and bring you any new developments just as soon as we get them.

LEMON: Troops from Ethiopia have stormed across the Somali border, forcing back the Islamist fighters who control most of that country. Ethiopia says it's trying to defend Somalia's western-backed but outgunned government which has been relegated to one last stronghold in the south.

But CNN's Alphonso Van Marsh reports many worry this could become a wider regional conflict.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALPHONSO VAN MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The damage to Mogadishu airport is minimal but the psychological impact of Ethiopian jet attacks on Somali airfields is fueling fears of an escalating conflict in the Horn of Africa.

HAWA SHEIKHDON OMAR, MOGADISHU RESIDENT (through translator): Is this the kind of action meant for human beings? We have been fighting for the last 16 years and Ethiopia decides to do this? I cannot understand why.

VAN MARSH: The reason, Ethiopian officials say, is simple -- Ethiopia accuses Islamist militias controlling much of Somalia of bringing foreign fighters and weapons into that country. Ethiopia's foreign minister says they are supporting Somalia's transitional government. It is recognized by the United Nations but is struggling against the growing power of the Islamic Courts Union for control of Somalia.

Ethiopia says that the union's Islamic extremists also threaten Ethiopia and the region.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The moderates within the Islamic Courts Union have been held hostage by jihadist elements, including by those who have come from outside. Therefore, it's a very limited military operation that we have launched. It's not targeted against the people of Somalia.

VAN MARSH: But some Somalis who back the transitional government still don't like Ethiopian troops operating in their country. And the Islamic Courts Union is using this to garner support for their quest to set up a strict Islamic state in Somalia. UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We call on all Somalis to join us to continue with the fight. We are ready to fight until the last minute.

VAN MARSH: Islamic militias who earlier declared a "holy war" on Ethiopia say they are holding their own in the fighting, showing off documents and photos they say they took from Ethiopian troops they killed.

A recent United Nations report says 10 countries have been supplying arms and equipment to both sides of the conflict. That is leading experts to warn that the fighting could turn into a regional war.

Alphonso Van Marsh, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NGUYEN: Well, back here stateside, it's easier said than done. Just days from now, Democrats will have to deliver on Election Day promises.

That's ahead right here in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: There is plenty of rugged terrain but very few clues. Americans search for two comrades in the remote mountains of southeast China, but finding them can soon be a lost cause.

CNN's John Vause has this exclusive report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ted Callahan is leading what seems an almost hopeless expedition. He and 13 other experienced mountain climbers have fanned out across hundreds of square miles of rugged southwest China looking for two friends, Americans Christine Boskoff and Charlie Fowler.

TED CALLAHAN, SEARCH LEADER: We still have hope, but it's diminishing.

VAUSE: With the help of dozens of Chinese volunteers, some knocking door to door in villages, Callahan slowly pieced together where Christine and Charlie may have traveled.

CALLAHAN: We had people west of here, east of here and south of here. And they really tracked down every lead.

VAUSE: Everything has led the search teams here to the Genyan (ph) area. It's a half-day drive east of a small frontier town called Litang, where there was the last confirmed sighting of the two missing climbers. This past weekend came a possible breakthrough.

(on camera): Litang police now claim to have found luggage belonging to both Christine and Charlie. It was allegedly being held by a local man who works as a driver for tourists. Searchers are now assuming the bags were left unclaimed because the missing pair never made it back from the mountains.

(voice-over): The focus for rescuers is now on Yenda, a small village where the driver claims to have dropped the climbers off November 10th to be collected two weeks later. But they never returned.

No one knows how long they've been in trouble; at least a month, maybe more. Local mountain guide Pn Xiao Long says it would be almost impossible for anyone to survive. "There is a lot of reason for concern," he told me, "because the time has been so long."

Still, this against-the-odds search will continue for the next few days at least in one of the most remote and isolated places on earth.

John Vause, CNN, Sichuan Province, China.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Well, he was the hardest-working man in show business, "Soul Brother Number One," "Mr. Dynamite." Many nicknames. Only one, though, one James Brown.

The "Godfather of Soul" died on Christmas Day. He was 73. Among his last words, "I'm going away." And so he did. But his musical legacy won't go anywhere.

The seeds of soul, the foundations of funk, the roots of rap, he supplied them all. And we are remembering James Brown today.

In mourning and locked out, James Brown's partner Tomi Rae Hynie, kneeling at the padlocked gate to his South Carolina home. Brown's lawyer says probate issues prompted the lockout. He also says Brown and Hynie were never legally married. Hynie says she has a right to live in Brown's home with their young son and says they have nowhere else to go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOMI RAE HYNIE, BROWN'S PARTNER: I found out about it and I just didn't believe it was true. I just didn't believe it was true here.

I just lost my leg (ph). I lost my leg. I lost everything.

I mean, I don't know what I'm going to do. For 10 years, this man has taught me how to live and how to love and how to get through the hard times and how to forgive.

And, you know, he was not an easy man. He was a very hard man. But he was a man with a big heart.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: We'll have more on this after-death drama later on in the NEWSROOM.

James Brown was 73.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: Well, advertisers have found a new hot spot on your cell phone. That's right.

Darby Dunn is at the New York Stock Exchange with the latest on this story.

(BUSINESS REPORT)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Bombings and other attacks in the heart of Iraq. At least 46 people are dead. At least 20 of those were killed in a car bomb blast outside a major Sunni mosque in Baghdad. This is not the first time that mosque has been targeted by Shiite militias. Last month, it came under martyr fire after deadly bombings in Shiite Sadr City.

NGUYEN: Three years after he lost his freedom, Saddam Hussein is set to lose his life. An Iraqi appeals courts today upheld the former president's death sentence for ordering a massacre in the town of Dujail in the early 1980s. Now by law, the sentence has to be carried out within 30 days. Hussein's lawyers say the whole court is illegitimate and that they are not surprised by the quote, "crazy ruling.:

Well, the Dujail killings were Hussein's revenge for an attempt to kill him. CNN's Aneesh Raman reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): On July 8, 1982, Saddam Hussein drove into Dujail. Crowds running alongside his convoy, women rushing to kiss his hand, bellowing in forced joy. It was the sort of visit Saddam often orchestrated, showing he was a man of the people. But when offered a glass of water in one home, he declined, always fearful of attempts to poison him.

Saddam then spoke to a crowd from atop the local party headquarters about the war with Iran. He was about to find out just how courageous. On this road, six young men were preparing to ambush the dictator.

Mohammed Ali drove one of the shooters to the scene.

MOHAMMED ALI, DROVE CAR IN SHOOTING (through translator): Hassan (ph) came to me, I took him on my motorcycle. I remember he was carrying two pistols. We drove through orchards looking for other men, but we only saw two. Hassan shot with his pistol to give the group a sign to start shooting at Saddam.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): When the convoy reached the orchards, three gunmen started shooting at his convoy from the left side. Saddam's guards started shooting back.

RAMAN: Saddam escaped unhurt. And moments later, villagers desperately tried to prove their loyalty.

But Dujail knew its fate. Immediately, a dictator's vengeance descended upon the village. With icy calm, Saddam himself started interrogating terrified locals. No one's loyalty is taken for granted.

And in the ensuing weeks, thousands of innocent villagers, like Ali, who was 14 at the time, were thrown in jail, tortured, and many others executed. Dujail was destroyed.

Villagers show us barren land that once blossomed with orchards, where the rebel gunmen hid that fateful day.

Ali is lucky. He survived four years in prison. But he never knew what happened to his brothers. They were also imprisoned that day. And it was only after Saddam's fall that he learned the worst.

ALI: (through translator): I found a document signed by Saddam in 1985 to execute some of the jailed people who were in the prison. One hundred forty-nine people, including seven of my brothers, 34 of my relatives, and 118 people of my town, they are now forgotten. To god they have returned.

RAMAN: Photos of his brothers proudly hang on Ali's living room wall, casualties of state terror. In sheer numbers, Dujail was not nearly the worst of Saddam's atrocities, but that is of no consequence to the villagers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Saddam should be executed immediately for this because he killed and executed too many.

RAMAN: And now justice may finally come to Dujail, 23 years too late, but sooner than anyone here could have imagined.

Aneesh Raman, CNN, Dujail, Iraq.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: And what exactly is ailing Fidel Castro? A Spanish surgeon who's treating the sidelined Cuban president says he does not have cancer. He says Castro still faces a long recovery from intestinal surgery this summer, but is doing quote, "fantastically well with treatment." Castro hasn't been seen in public since the operation. He appeared thin and frail in a video released by the government.

Cutting calories to cut cancer? The risk of cancer? Ahead in the NEWSROOM, health news that could help men avoid the killer.

NGUYEN: Easier said than done. Just days from now Democrats will have to deliver on Election Day promises. That's ahead right here in the NEWSROOM.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, I'm Major John Wright (ph) in Mosul, Iraq and I would like to say hello to my wife Sandra and my three girls, Morgan, McKenzie and Caroline and all the good people at Franklin Parish down in Louisiana. Merry Christmas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, my name is Sergeant Bill Cooper (ph) with 242 stationed in Al-Asad, Iraq. I would like to say hi to my wife Jennifer, daughter Hannah Abigail and the rest of the family back home in St. Louis. Happy holidays.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: In jail without bail. Two men charged in a deadly mall shooting in Florida on Christmas eve. Jesse Ceaser is charged with killing another man at the Boynton Beach Mall Sunday afternoon. A shooting that sent last-minute shoppers just running for cover. And Fregens Daniel is charged with acting as an accessory. Police are still trying to figure out whether it was gang related. The mall did shut down after shooting, but reopened this morning.

LEMON: As if we need any more incentive to lose weight in the new year, a new study says men who drop a few pounds can lower their risk of prostate cancer. Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has more.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well it seems there's a bit of a double whammy when it comes to the association between prostate cancer and your weight. A new study coming out showing that in fact people who are overweight or obese do have an increased likelihood of developing prostate cancer and, more specifically, they have an increased likelihood of developing the most aggressive forms of prostate cancer.

Here's a couple of facts to start off with. First of all, prostate cancer in the United States is the third leading cause of cancer death in men, about 234,000 new cases. One in six men will get prostate cancer. one in 34 die from it. So it's a fairly benign disease.

There's been a lot of research done on this showing that there's an association between age, between ethnicity, between family history, between diet. All these things have an association with prostate cancer, but now new studies showing that, in fact, your body, your body mass index, also has an association.

Take a look at this -- increased body weight linked to the increase weight for aggressive cancer. That's the bad news. The good news is that men who lost at least 11 pounds reduced their risk by half.

OK, so you're watching and you're saying, OK, what does this mean for me? Where do I stand? I want to give you a couple of points of reference, while fully admitting that body mass index is not a perfect scale, but I want to give you some perspective.

If you're 5'10", you weight 180 pounds your BMI is just over 25. That classifies as overweight. Obese is a person who's 5'10", weights about 220 pounds. That's gives you a BMI of about 31 and that's considered obese.

Now, the research authors went on to say that it doesn't necessarily matter when you lose the weight, but if you never put on the weight in the first place, that is the most protective of all. Not ever gaining that weight to put you in the overweight or obese category is something that is very important.

And they also went to say they're not exactly sure why being overweight seems to increase your risk of prostate cancer but it might have to do with the fact that people who are overweight tend to have more insulin-like growth factors circulating in their bloodstream, which tends to fuel these tumors.

Bottom line, try and lose some weight if you can. Try not to gain it in the first place even better. Back to you.

NGUYEN: Schwarzenegger in surgery. Yes, three days after he broke his right leg on a ski slope, California's governor is on the operating table having screws and cables inserted to mend the bone. The procedure is expected to take less than two hours, after which Schwarzenegger will probably be hospitalized for three days and be on crutches for weeks.

Now, while he's under anesthesia, California's lieutenant governor, who ran against Schwarzenegger in the last election, is in charge.

LEMON: There's no need to wish Democrats a happy new year. Last month's midterm elections took care of that. Nor is there any need to wish anybody in Washington a busy new year.

CNN's Bob Franken looks ahead.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Right now Washington is so quiet. It's the holiday lull. But in Iraq, there is no lull. The violence continues, as U.S. leaders continue to look for ways out, sooner or later.

At Crawford, the president will huddle with his national security team as he tries to devise a new strategy on Iraq while trying to keep the old promise not to leave prematurely.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want our troops to know that while the coming year will bring change, one thing will not change, and that is our nation's support for you and the vital work you do to achieve a victory in Iraq.

FRANKEN: The president is actively considering a so-called surge in military units. The Democrats are about to take over control of Congress, who were elected in great part because their constituents want troops out of Iraq. They will need their own ideas because they can no longer simply criticize.

They will also be anxious to show they can get other things done. New Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her colleagues will try to jam through an agenda in the first 100 hours of business in the House that includes a new higher minimum wage -- good chance. Fully implemented the recommendations of the 9/11 commission -- fat chance.

Legislation that would authorize the federal government to negotiate prices with the drug companies for Medicare -- don't hold your breath, even with all of that talk of bipartisanship.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: We've made history. Now we have to make progress, and I look forward to working with the president to do just that.

FRANKEN: Meanwhile, there's no shortage of presidential candidates. John Edwards is expected to try and maximize attention by announcing his candidacy from hurricane-devastated New Orleans in what is generally a slow news week.

(on camera): It certainly won't be slow long, and 2007 promises to be much more than just a political preliminary to 2008.

Bob Franken, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NGUYEN: Severe weather is delaying holiday travelers, so let's get the latest now from Bonnie Schneider in our Severe Weather Center.

(WEATHER REPORT)

NGUYEN: All right, Bonnie, thank you for that.

And speaking of travelers, I want to take you live to California, Long Beach, in fact, where we are getting some pictures in right from KABC. You see that worker there, that ground crew worker dealing with the engine.

Let me tell what you happened here. This was in a JetBlue flight. It was an A-320 airliner. It apparently struck some birds on takeoff from the Long Beach Airport. It was preparing to return to the airfield because of some damage. And, in fact, it is back on the ground now, which is good news. But they had to burn off some fuel over the ocean before they were able to get back on the ground.

And here's the scary part. The plane was flying on one engine due to striking those birds, and the other was running idle. But, luckily, they are back on the ground and, as you can see, that ground crew worker there tending to the engine.

We don't know how many people were on board that flight and, as of now, we all not hearing anything about injuries -- Don.

LEMON: All right, Betty.

It is a time for reflection. This is the first day of Kwanzaa, a seven-day, non-religious holiday inspired by the black civil rights struggles of the 1960s. It is based on the African celebration of bringing in the harvest. Kwanzaa is built on seven principles from unity to responsibility and faith, and is marked by the lighting of candles each night.

NGUYEN: Straight ahead, entertainment news with Sibila Vargas of "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT." In fact, she joins me right now.

What's on tap?

SIBILA VARGAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, the passing of James Brown has people mourning, Betty, but there are already signs that there may be a battle over his estate. We will have that story coming up in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Oh, it still is funny today as it was back then. That was Eddie Murphy back in the day. Remember that -- he was saluting one of his idols, James Brown. Laughter then, tears now. And sadly the godfather of soul is dead at the age of 73.

NGUYEN: Yes, James Brown has left the stage but his legacy lives on. Entertainment correspondent Sibila Vargas joins us now. Hi there, Sibila

VARGAS: Hi, just a really sad day here in Hollywood and across the country people are still reacting to the death of James Brown. The 73-year-old performer's surprising death Christmas morning has his fans across the country looking for ways to pay tribute.

From Hollywood to Augusta, Georgia, fans creating shrines to the godfather of soul. Known as the hardest working man in show business, Brown was scheduled to start a concert tour tomorrow in Connecticut and perform at B.B King's blues club in New York City on New Years Eve.

His musical legacy is not only being felt by fans but musicians worldwide. The Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger and rapper Snoop Dogg are just two of the superstars who have been talking publicly about how much they will miss Brown and how his music impacted their careers. The careers are so many, I mean, the list is so long. Really does.

NGUYEN: Yes, Sibila. There are a lot of people though, as we know, who want to pay respects for Brown. Have they released any information as to what the plans are?

VARGAS: Well, not really but the singer's daughter and Reverend Al Sharpton will be releasing details a little later today. Sharpton will be speaking at the service.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REVEREND AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: I never had a father at home growing up. But I had James Brown. I had him personally and I had him with the world. James Brown was not just a guy that made a lot of hits. He changed culture for us. He made the common man matter. We lost more than an artist. We have lost a way of life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VARGAS: I have never seen him that emotional. I'm sure we will be seeing a lot more of this kind of emotion as Brown's funeral gets closer -- Betty.

NGUYEN: Definitely. Emotion from him and many other people. Sibila, there are stories circulating that Brown's family may not all be getting along right now.

VARGAS: Yes. There seems to be a battle brewing over the estate and the woman who was Brown's last partner. Tomi Rae Hynie, a backup dancer in Brown's band has a 5-year-old son by the singer.

Now, although Hynie and Brown were married in 2002, the Associated Press tells us that Brown's attorneys says that that marriage was invalid. They say that Hynie was still married to another man and that she and Brown never legally became husband and wife, even after Hynie annulled her earlier marriage.

In 2004, Brown pled guilty to a charge of domestic abuse after an incident with Hynie. The singer's will apparently calls for the estate to be divided among his four children.

Well, shifting gears tonight on "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT," the obsession with weight in Hollywood. Why it can be damaging to young women and why so many stars are starving themselves and putting themselves in danger.

Special report on TV's most provocative entertainment news show. "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT," 11:00 p.m. Eastern on Headline Prime. Back to you guys.

NGUYEN: All right, thank you Sibila. I just want to make this programming note. Al Sharpton, who just really loved James Brown dearly, will be in "THE SITUATION ROOM" today talking about the legacy, the life of James Brown, the man we all know and love.

LEMON: And you saw him there earlier.

NGUYEN: In tears.

LEMON; Yes, talking about, he didn't have a role model as a father as home and James Brown served as of that. And also, in honor of James Brown, he permed his hair, straightened his hair and did the same sort of hair as James.

NGUYEN: Well, James Brown lost his son and then Sharpton kind of just fell into that role. It was such a loving relationship between the two.

LEMON: We look forward to that today on "THE SITUATION ROOM."

Let's move on, we have more sad news to report to you today. If CBS was for a time the Tiffany Network, Frank Stanton was a jeweler. Stanton ran CBS from the 1946 to 1971, leading the network's move from radio into television, all the while making news a priority.

He personally oversaw the building of Black Rock, the network's Manhattan headquarters and he helped bring about the 1960 presidential debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon.

Frank Stanton died in his sleep on Christmas Eve at his home in Boston. He was 98 years old.

NGUYEN: We want to tell you about an anniversary of devastation. Two years after the cataclysmic Asian tsunami. Changes and challenges on the long road to recovery,. That is ahead right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

LEMON: A basketball team with a special bond. They score in silence. Their story straight ahead in the NEWSROOM as well.

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