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A.J.`s One-on-One with Tom Cruise; Tom Cruise-Matt Lauer Rematch; Poll Results on Jennifer Aniston`s Photo Shoot; "Saturday Night Live" Controversy Over Skit on Gov. Paterson

Aired December 15, 2008 - 23:00:00   ET


A.J. HAMMER, HOST: Now, on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, Tom Cruise`s brand new regrets and revelations. Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s headline making one-on-one interview with Tom Cruise.

(on camera): Are you enjoying talking about things you don`t ordinarily talk about?


You`ll hear what Tom tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT about his regrets on the same day he returned to the "Today" show for a Matt Lauer rematch. Tonight, what Tom revealed to Matt about their now-infamous showdown, and about Scientology, and about having another baby with Katie. From the "Today" show to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, the brand new blockbuster Tom Cruise interview everyone is talking about.

Tonight, was it really such a good idea for Jennifer Aniston to pose nude in GQ" magazine? Wait until you hear the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT poll of Jen`s naked spread.

And we`re taking your up your fired-up calls into the "Showbiz On Call" phone lines.

Plus, absolute outrage tonight over a startling "Saturday Night Live" skit making fun of the blind governor of New York.

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


Hello, I`m A.J. Hammer, broadcasting tonight and every night from New York City.

And tonight, Tom Cruise is telling me about what he really regrets. Tom opens up to me in the SHOWBIZ interview that is making big news. My one-on-one with Tom Cruise is coming up.

But first, Tom versus Matt. For the very first time since his explosive showdown with Matt Lauer that dramatically changed Tom`s imaged and not in a good way, Tom returned to the "Today" show this morning for round two.

Tom sat down with Matt for a no-holds-barred_, clear-the-air face-off, and nothing was off limits. From the "Today" show to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, there are big Tom Cruise developments to reveal to you tonight, and they`re all making big news right now.


(voice over): Who can forget the infamous interview when Tom Cruise called Matt Lauer a four letter word?

TOM CRUISE, ACTOR: Matt. Matt, you don`t even - you`re glib.

HAMMER: So this time around, were there fireworks? Did they duke it out? Ah, no.

MATT LAUER, HOST, THE "TODAY" SHOW: This is not a rematch. This is not "Rocky II."

CRUISE: You know, I learned a lesson. I think I learned a really good lesson.

KIM SERAFIN, SENIOR EDITOR, "IN TOUCH WEEKLY": It was interesting watching this interview this morning because they were definitely trying to make it clear to everyone watching that there were no hard feelings between them.

So it tells you that Tom obviously definitely wanted to clear the air because he`s on this mission to really promote his next movie and change his image.

HAMMER: One word to some of Matt and Tom`s latest interview - "chummy." They did everything in their power to show America they`re all good.

LAUER: People come up to me on the street and say, you must hate each other. There was no animosity. As a matter of fact, the end of the interview, we got up and shook hands and put our arms around each other and -

HAMMER: Back in 2005, Cruise made big news when he locked horns with Matt Lauer over the danger of antidepressants and psychiatry.

LAUER: The difference is -


CRUISE: Here is the problem, you don`t know the history of psychiatry. I do.

HAMMER: This time around, short of singing "Cumbaya," Tom and Matt did everything they could to clear the air. A repentant Cruise told Matt Lauer, he learned a lesson.

LAUER: Just curious, what was the reaction on your end to the last time we sat down?

CRUISE: You know, it`s not what I had intended. I thought in looking at myself, I thought that I came across arrogant. I felt that about myself. And that`s one of those things you go, "OK, I could have absolutely handled that better."

SERAFIN: The fact he came out and said, "I was arrogant. That`s not who I am," I think that was pretty upfront of him.

HAMMER: Cruise didn`t stop there. He also talked openly about Scientology, which had fueled his passionate debate against antidepressants in the first place.

LAUER: It`s my understanding you decided you don`t want to talk about Scientology anymore, which is fine -

CRUISE: No. That`s actually not true.


CRUISE: Because, I mean, it`s something - I have been a scientologist 25 years. When I`m discussing my, you know, humanitarian issues - but also when people are tuning in to hear about my movie and to hear about that, that`s what I`m here to talk about.

HAMMER: There`s no doubt Cruise is working hard to win back his fans. His interview with Matt Lauer today isn`t first time we have seen the softer, gentler version. Since he first started promoting his new movie, "Valkyrie," Cruise has been straight up about his regrets, especially one incident he`ll never live down.

He told Barbara Walters he pretty much regrets the whole Oprah couch jumping fiasco.

BARBARA WALTERS, TV HOST: What did you do that you regret?

HAMMER: Well, do you have a list?

WALTERS: Well, I could bring up some or you bring up some.

CRUISE: You bring them up.

WALTERS: All right. Jumping on couches.

CRUISE: You know, there`s things I could have handled better.

HAMMER: And HIS confessions don`t stop there. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT was one of Cruise`s stop on his confession tour. I sat down with him this weekend. He tells me it`s a relief to be able to clear the air about his past mistakes.

(on camera): Are you enjoying talking about things that you don`t ordinarily talk about more? Is that a good experience for you?

CRUISE: There`s the reality of something, you know, and then there`s the perception of something. And I think that it`s been a relief to be able to talk about stuff - yes, absolutely. For me, I wanted to talk about things.


HAMMER: Well, what you just saw was a small piece of my one-on-one with Tom who also opened up to me about him celebrating with his wife, Katie and much more. It is the interview you have got to see. It`s coming your way at 30 minutes past the hour.

But what about the interview he did this morning on the "Today" show, in round two of Tom versus Matt? Was Cruise in control?

Joining me tonight in New York is Ashleigh Banfield, who`s the host for "Banfield and Ford," and an anchor for "In Session." And in Hollywood, it`s Carlos Diaz, a correspondent for "Extra."

Plain and simple, Carlos Diaz, why don`t you begin. How did Tom Cruise do?

CARLOS DIAZ, CORRESPONDENT, "EXTRA": Tom did great. A-plus, plus, for Tom Cruise. First and foremost, he had better lighting. He looked better than he did back in the day. And secondly, come on, can we just get off Tom Cruise`s back? He`s one of the biggest stars in the world, and he admitted today on live television, "I was arrogant." I mean, what more does the guy need to say? I put it to you, A.J. when you talked to him, was he a jerk or was he a nice guy?

HAMMER: No, I have been saying all along to people who have been asking since I sat down with Tom, he was charming. He was engaging. And I don`t want to be so cynical to say it`s all just so he can win me back and win everybody back.


HAMMER: I think I was seeing the real deal. What do you think, Ashleigh, from what you saw of him this morning on the "Today" show, which is a lot of what I saw when I sat down with him? How did he do?

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, HOST, "BANFIELD AND FORD": Well, that disingenuousness seemed to be gone. I thought he was quite sincere. I think there`s nothing like a mea culpa and a comeback. Americans love it. So they`ll probably be thrilled with his performance.

And I also think Tom is smart. He knows he`s a commodity. He knows he`s everybody`s monkey at times and that he knows his minute actions will be under a magnifying glass so he was very careful not repeat any of that.

HAMMER: Or to put himself above it - you know what I`m saying?


DIAZ: Yes.

HAMMER: I think a lot of people feel like, "So what if they`re saying this or that about me. I`m so big, it doesn`t matter." I think Tom realizes maybe it does matter.

BANFIELD: Absolutely.

HAMMER: We also saw, of course, that the whole war of words began with Matt Lauer when Cruise sparred with Matt over psychiatry. Tom, of course, very famously calling Matt "glib." Let`s listen again to what Tom said on the "Today" show about that exchange.


CRUISE: Actually, you know, after looking at it, I really though thought - you know, it`s not what I had intended. I thought in looking at myself, I thought, man, that came across arrogant. You know, I felt about myself. And that`s one of those things, you go, "OK, I could have absolutely handled that better."


HAMMER: And when I spent time with Tom this weekend, and again, you`ll see that interview a little later on in the show, I can genuinely say he convinced me he really is not the arrogant guy that he was apologizing for there with Matt Lauer. Carlos, did he convince you?

DIAZ: He convinced me years ago. I didn`t need any convincing on the "Today" show. I have always said that Tom Cruise is one of the most honest people that you`re going to ever want to interview.

He`s not afraid of any question, and he brought it today. He didn`t just lie down for Matt Lauer. Matt Lauer began to talk about Scientology and Tom not talking about it anymore. Tom corrected him. He said, "No, hold on. I`m still going to talk about Scientology. I`m just going to do it in the right venue."

HAMMER: Yes, exactly right. He said when that when he`s here to entertain, that`s what he`s going to do, but there`s a time and place to talk about Scientology, which as we saw him admit to Matt Lauer, it`s still something that is an enormous part of his life. Ashleigh, is that something that people have been waiting for Tom Cruise to say?

BANFIELD: No. I think they waited on anything he had to say. He`s a blockbuster movie actor. He does blockbuster interviews with Barbara Walters and Matt and A.J. Hammer. And he also marries girls who are also almost half his age. So there`s something about Tom Cruise that made him very successful, and that`s the same thing that makes him a commodity. People want anything he has to say, so they were waiting on anything.

HAMMER: And we see him as this guy in control, but we saw a really nice, playful side to him that I think has gotten away from lot of people. I mean, look at him right there - he`s arm-wrestling with Matt Lauer. He was just kind of hanging out on the news set, which you`ll see a little later on on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

And obviously, they were showing there, there were no hard feelings. And as Matt even said when the interview was over a couple years ago after the sparring, they shook hands. Everything was OK. How important was it for Tom to come across as the playful, good guy, and as contrite and polite as possible?

This morning, they were showing there`s no hard feelings, and Matt said when the interview was over a couple years ago after the sparring, they shook hands. Everything was OK.

Carlos, how important was it for Tom to come across as that playful, good guy, and as contrite and as polite as possible?

DIAZ: This morning was the culmination of a great year for Tom Cruise. If you look back on this year, he has got a Golden Globe nomination for making fun, basically, of his intensity in "Tropic Thunder" as a different character. He went to a roast with Matt Lauer. This morning, he was arm- wrestling with Matt Lauer. He has seen the error of his ways and he`s had a year that has been amazing. This morning was just the best part of that year that he`s been having.

HAMMER: So then I guess the question is, as far as the public perception is concerned, is the slate clean? You know, is the Tom Cruise "Matt, you`re glib" interview, Ashleigh, now officially erased from the record books and everybody can just move on?

BANFIELD: I think people will move on. We certainly have a bit of a whiplash culture. We`re looking for the next couch jumping or the next great blockbuster. And I hope for Tom, it`s the next great blockbuster and not the former.

HAMMER: Ashleigh Banfield, Carlos Diaz. I thank you both.

All right. So what do you think? Here is our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day - "Tom Cruise Opening Up: Do you like him better now?" is where you vote. If you have more to say, E-mail us at

And I`ve got to say, Tom just blew me away when I sat down with him. He really seems to be working on his image.


(on camera): People just start hearing, you know, you`re being open about maybe some regrets you may have had in the past, and they`re seeing a different guy.


Coming up, my headline-making interview with Tom Cruise. I go one-on- one with Tom, and you have got to hear about what he says about his regrets and opening up about all the controversy surrounding him. That is on the way.

Breaking Madonna divorce news. She has struck a mega deal with his ex-husband Guy Ritchie. You won`t believe what the guy is getting. Let`s just say he`s definitely not going to be chowing down on ramen noodles any time soon. In fact, I`m thinking he may be able to buy the ramen noodle company.

And was it really such a good idea for Jennifer Aniston to pose nude in "GQ" magazine? Your fired-up reaction to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT poll and "Showbiz On Call" phone calls.

And now, the SHOWBIZ news ticker. More stories from the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT news room making news right now.

(CAPTION READS: Naomi Watts gives birth to second child (a boy) with Liev Schreiber. Denise Richards and Charlie Sheen`s daughters unhurt in an L.A. car accident.)



JASON SUDEIKIS, ACTOR (as Rod Blagojevich): Because if I don`t get this bailout, I swear to god, I will appoint some psycho (EXPLETIVE DELETED) who will tear this (EXPLETIVE DELETED) apart. Believe me, I will do it and you will not be happy.


HAMMER: That`s "Saturday Night Live`s" really funny skit under fire Illinois Rod Blagojevich going before Congress to ask for his own personal bailout.

Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer. Well, did you see this? Of course, the Illinois governor is in deep doo-doo, arrested for allegedly trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama`s Senate seat. As governor, of course, Blagojevich gets to appoint who takes over for Obama. So, on "SNL" they had Blagojevich come to Washington, saying he would play by the rules if he got some stuff in return. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Well, right off the bat, I can tell you a couple of these items are going to be difficult.

SUDEIKIS: Uh-huh. All right. What about an ambassadorship?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Excuse me - an ambassadorship?

SUDEIKIS: Yes, like, I don`t know - Turkey.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Governor, let`s be clear. You are not going to be named ambassador to Turkey. Right now, that`s one of our most sensitive diplomatic posts.

SUDEIKIS: Hey, relax. I`m actually not going to go there. It`s a no-show job.


HAMMER: All right. Let me just say this again - Governor Blagojevich allegedly tried to sell Obama`s vacant Senate seat. But if it turns out to be true, he would be just one of many people trying to cash in on Barack Obama`s superstar status. That`s right, Santa`s sleigh is going to be packed this year with Obama stuff.

Here`s CNN`s Susan Candiotti for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with the SHOWBIZ Obama watch.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): How about a cup of Obama Joe?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s really good.

CANDIOTTI: Or an Obama apron? A doggy coat, an American gothic Michelle and Barack Obama clock? Even if you have the audacity to hope you wear it - underwear. When it comes to Obama marketing, retailers seem to be offering every imaginable gift-giving tchotchke.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have never noticed a president with so much stuff before.

CANDIOTTI: A Christmas tree ornament for about $20. Framed photos of Obama as Superman street art. How about a mouse pad for a computer? A New Jersey coffee shop owner even figured out a steaming hot way to cash in on the Obama name.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s pretty neat. I like that. Ye, that`s pretty cool.

CANDIOTTI: Bruce Gil created his special Obama blend right after Election Day and said it`s been in stores and Internet sales are doing well.

(on camera): How much of a shelf life do you think this will have? One term, two terms?

BRUCE GIL, OWNER, LONGFELLOW`S COFFEE: I think this is going to be for two terms plus.

CANDIOTTI: Why do they call it the Obama blend? Well, the beans come from three of the best known coffee growing regions of the world and where Obama has a connection. His father, born in Kenya, and Indonesia and Hawaii, where Obama grew up. But how does this stuff taste? That`s what`s important?

(voice over): But not everyone is caught up in the spirit of giving or getting Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seems kind of silly to me.

CANDIOTTI (on camera): Have you considered sending a sample to the White House?

GIL: I would love to.


HAMMER: All right. Here is another idea. How about a cup of Joe Biden Joe, right? It makes perfect sense. Somebody get on that, please. That was CNN`s Susan Candiotti for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

All right, moving on, the "Showbiz On Call" phone lines have just been ringing nonstop. A lot of people calling in about Oprah`s shocking revelation that she`s 200 pounds and she`s not going to try to be thin anymore. Let me play one call from Rita in Ohio.


RITA, CALLER FROM OHIO: I`m calling in to tell Oprah that it doesn`t matter that she`s overweight. The only thing that we worry about is her health. Other than that, if she`s happy and she`s feeling fine, then we`re all happy with her. She`s beautiful, very smart, intelligent. Just be happy and quit worrying about your weight and live life.


HAMMER: I`m right there with you, Rita. Thank you for your call. We also heard from Barb calling in from Michigan who thinks this is all a publicity stunt.


BARB, CALLER FROM MICHIGAN: Oprah`s weight is her business, but I think for her to act like she`s doing it for the benefit of others is disingenuous at best. I think she`s plugging her weight confession, A, because it`s obvious, and B, she`s wanting to launch her new season with a, you know, weight-loss kickoff. And she`s just using it for the almighty dollar and to plug her show.


HAMMER: All right, Barb. We appreciate your side of it as well. You, too, can call us on "Showbiz On Call" to let us know what you think about this or really anything else that`s on your mind. That is why the phone lines are open 24 hours a day at 1-888-SBT-BUZZ; 1-888-728-2899. Call the number and leave a voicemail. Your call is played right here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

Your calls to "Showbiz On Call" are also now online right on our home page, and that is

Well, I definitely want to get your calls on Tom Cruise`s shocking return to the "Today" show. Coming up, my headline-making interview with Tom. You do not want to miss this.


CRUISE: I got to tell you, this is who I am, you know. And it`s something that - it`s been really nice to be able to communicate about those things.


HAMMER: Tom speaking out to me about his regrets and why he`s now opening up about his personal life in such a revealing way. That`s coming up in the interview you`ll see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

Also, brand new "Saturday Night Live" outrage. The show has been really funny recently with their political stuff, but they may have gone too far this time. "SNL" ripping into New York`s blind governor. The fired-up heated debate is on the way.

And Richie Rich - a brand new Madonna divorce settlement. Madonna breaks out a check and puts lots of zeroes in it. We`ll fill you in on the details, coming up next.

And now, the SHOWBIZ news ticker, more stories from the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT news room, making news right now.

(CAPTION READS: Miley Cyrus hired to play Texas law firm`s holiday party, could have earned $1 million. American Film Institute out with the year`s best movies: "The Dark Knight," "Frost/Nixon.")


HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer. And here are some more stories that are making news right now.

Breaking Madonna divorce news. Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has learned that Madonna has settled the financial part of the divorce from Guy Ritchie. Guy is going to get at least $75 million from her. Custody arrangements for the couples` children still need to be worked out.

A rare childhood video of Britney Spears. Casting director Matt Casella passed along a tape of 9-year-old Britney to at an open audition in Atlanta to "People" magazine. Check this out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How old are you, Britney?



HAMMER: Wow. Casella says there were more than 2,000 kids at that particular audition and that Britney and her mom waited hours for their shot, but he knew right then that Britney had what it takes.

Casella is sharing the Britney audition as part of the new ABC show called "Rediscovered." That premieres next week. And it seeks out people who wanted to be stars and gives them a second chance.

And Amy Poehler has said bye-bye to "Saturday Night Live" for good. Amy had a baby a couple of months ago and was back on the show last week doing her Hillary Clinton thing, but this Saturday is her last show.


AMY POEHLER, ACTRESS: This is my last show, and it has been an amazing experience to be here, being able to do over 140 shows with my friends and my family has been a dream come true. And from the bottom of my heart, I really -

FRED ARMISEN, ACTOR: $50 for the circus tickets.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: You`re in the shot. You`re in our shot.

ARMISEN: Sorry about that.

POEHLER: OK. So you`re still - just keep walking, I guess. Keep walking. Just keep walking. Yes, there you go. Just stop right there. That`s good. Now, there we go.

ARMISEN: I`m sorry?

POEHLER: You`re good where you are.

ARMISEN: Wonderful show.

POEHLER: Anyway, I would like to say thank you to everybody. I love you and I will miss all of you so much.


HAMMER: All right. In case you`re wondering what that guy was doing right in the middle of Amy Poehler`s good-bye, that was New York Governor Dave Paterson as played by Fred Armisen.

So "SNL" did this whole thing, ripping into the governor, making fun of his blindness. And tonight, there is coast-to-coast outrage about it. The fired up debate is coming up.

Also, my headline making one-on-one with Tom Cruise.


(on camera): People just start hearing - you know, you`re being open about maybe some regrets you may have had in the past. They`re seeing a different guy.


Tom has never opened up like this. You`ve got to hear what he told me about his regrets, talking about his personal life, and his controversies. That`s all coming up next.

And the startling reaction to Jennifer Aniston posing nude in "GQ" magazine. Was it a good idea? Well, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT viewers are all fired up. We`ve got the results of our poll and your "Showbiz On Call" phone calls on the way.




CRUISE: I got to tell you, this is who I am, you know. And it`s something that - it`s been really nice to be able to communicate about those things.


Now on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, my revealing, brand new one-on-one interview with Tom Cruise. Tom tells me all, including the new chapter in his personal life and the one big career risk that he doesn`t regret.

Jennifer Aniston`s nude photo shoot. Tonight, the great debate over whether she did the right thing. The SHOWBIZ TONIGHT poll you have got to hear about.

And we`re taking your fired up calls into the "Showbiz On Call" phone lines. The heat is on Jen`s naked ambition.

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


Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. It`s 30 minutes past the hour. I`m A.J. Hammer, broadcasting tonight and every night from New York City.

Tonight, the SHOWBIZ interview everybody will be talking about, my one-on-one with Tom Cruise. And I`ve got to tell you, Cruise really opened up to me about his regrets and wanting to put all the big controversies that have been hanging over his head behind him once and for all.

Tom seems to be on a mission to do that. This morning for the first time since his explosive showdown with Matt Lauer, Tom Cruise returned to the scene of the crime and he cleared the air with Lauer on the "Today" show. Tom told Matt he regretted his blow up on the show back in 2005 when he called Matt "glib," and they debated the effectiveness of antidepressants at the time.

Tom even admitted that he was, quote, "arrogant." Cruise also says that it will be up to his wife, Katie Holmes, as to whether or not they`ll have more children together in the future.

Tom also talked to me about Katie and how they celebrated the big news last week that Tom had been nominated for a Golden Globe for his supporting role in "Tropic Thunder."

Now, Tom is out promoting what may be his riskiest role yet, playing a man plotting to kill Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany. The film, "Valkyrie," was directed by "X Men" director Brian Singer who was right there with Tom as I began asking him about his Golden Globe nomination. Right now, my SHOWBIZ interview with Tom Cruise.


(on camera): Congratulations to you on the Golden Globe nomination. Never gets old, does it?

CRUISE: No. It was fun. It`s thrilling.


CRUISE: I did not expect it. I got to the theater and was like - what? That`s cool.

HAMMER: You`re not the kind of guy who seems to me needs validation through awards. But at the same time -

CRUISE: Now, listen, it`s always nice. Come on. It was really - it was a fun and exciting day.

HAMMER: Did you get to celebrate with Katie at all or were you on different ends of the planet?

CRUISE: You know, hugs and kisses.

HAMMER: You deserve it, and needless to say, the comedic turn in "Tropic Thunder" radically different, obviously, from what we see in "Valkyrie." This has been an enormous passion project for you. I mean, it looks like the passion for it has been coming out of your pores for all the years you`ve been working to get this thing done.

So here you are, you`ve made it then. But what was the driving force behind that passion, Tom?

CRUISE: I think the story. I`m pretty passionate about everything I do, even with Les Grossman(ph). You get a character in the story. When I read the story, I felt like - first of all, you kind of hear what the story is. And I know about the briefcase and the bomb. I knew a little bit about the story.

And when I read it, it was not what I expected. I thought here is this film that is a suspense thriller. The level of action and just as a movie movie, it surprised me. And I couldn`t stop turning the pages. I was like, what`s going to happen?

So as just a guy who loves movies, I hadn`t read anything like this. And then, on top of that is the fact that this is a true story. I thought that was - I didn`t know. I didn`t know this.

HAMMER: Yes, hearing that from a lot of people.

CRUISE: I didn`t know. When I sat down with Brian, he`s, you know - some of the stuff in this film, you think are movie conventions, and they`re not. That`s what happened. And even the dialogue in the film is taken from journals and letters of various resistance and stuff about themselves.

BRIAN SINGER, DIRECTOR, "VALKYRIE": The more time we lived in Germany, the more obsessed we were at maintaining authenticity while never losing our drive, never losing the focus of the thriller and the plot aspect of it. But to make sure that we honor Germans who actually do know the story very well.

HAMMER: Barbara Walters said about you not that long ago that you were among the few actors at your level who are willing to take risks with the different films that they take. I`m a big believer in taking risks. I think that`s what life is all about. Did you feel with this film that that`s what you were doing?

CRUISE: Well, yes. I knew that it was a story that hadn`t been told. And I mean, I want to entertain an audience. That`s the bottom line for me. I think when you, you know, look at the films that I have made - you know, you want that excitement. I think audiences like that. I like it when actors do that. And definitely - definitely a risk.

I find it to be, as I said, very suspenseful and interesting, this picture. So it wasn`t - you know, I didn`t think, this is going to be a massive risk. I didn`t think that.

HAMMER: Not so far out.

SINGER: All the roles Tom takes - if you really look at them, since "Taps" and then "Born on the Fourth of July" or "Magnolia" or even the character in "Rain Man."

CRUISE: "Interview with the Vampire."


SINGER: Hey, hey, you`re a playing a very risque character in here. This is, I think, less -

CRUISE: Less exploring.


There`s always a chance you`re going to fall on your face. And I think it`s -

SINGER: People see his movies after they`re out and they`re like, of course.

CRUISE: Even when I did "Mission" - when I started "Mission" - of course, when I did it people were like, "What? It was a TV series. What are you going to do? How are you going to figure it out?" And I think that there`s always - you can approach something with fear.

And you know, there`s - people think there`s so much at stake at times that they live in this being frightened of trying something or - And I just, as I said, I just love movies. And when at look at some, I go, "Oh, man, this is a cool story."

HAMMER: It`s seems, you know, you talk about people living with fear, but it seems like you`re approaching life right now from the opposite end. I mean, I have to tell you, man, people have said to me just meeting me on the street or riding into my show or calling in to us saying, "We love what we`re seeing from the public side of Tom Cruise right now. He`s talking out like never before. We`re seeing this raw side of him."

Are you enjoying talking about things you don`t ordinarily talk about more? Is that a good experience for you?


HAMMER: People just start hearing you`re being open about maybe some regrets you may have had in the past.


HAMMER: And they`re seeing a different guy.

CRUISE: I know. You know what? It`s something where when things go on, you kind of look at it - at stuff that is so far - there`s the reality of something, you know, and then there`s the perception of something. And I think that it`s been a relief to be able to talk about stuff.

Yes, absolutely. I mean, for me, I wanted to talk about things. And it`s - yes. I`ve got to tell you, I mean, this is who I am, you know. And it`s something that - it`s been really nice to be able to communicate about those things and discuss it openly, very much so.

HAMMER: I`ve got to say, I think it`s making a huge difference, at least from what -

CRUISE: Thank you, man. I appreciate that.


HAMMER: I`ve got to tell you, Tom seems genuinely interested in getting this stuff off his shoulders. He seemed actually relieved by it and was truly engaging. It was a great experience to deal with him. He scored some points in my book.

"Valkyrie" with Tom Cruise opens nationwide on Christmas Day. Well, we have been asking you to vote on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day - "Tom Cruise Opening Up: Do you like him better now?" Let us know at If you`ve got more to say, we have an E-mail address for that. It is

Well, just like everyone else, even Tom Cruise is weighing in on the almost unbelievable caught-on-tape moment when President Bush was no lame duck when he had to duck some shoes. Of course, we`re talking about President Bush ducking out of the way as not one but two, yes two shoes were thrown at him by a reporter in Iraq.

Now wait until you hear how Tom Cruise stepped into the shoes of a newscaster on this remarkable story.

Also ahead, the "Showbiz On Call" phone lines have been burning up with the raging debate over Jen Aniston`s nude photo shoot. Was it a bold statement or a shameless stunt?

Plus, the absolute outrage over a brand new "Saturday Night Live" skit making fun of the blind governor of New York. Stick around. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is coming right back.

And now, the SHOWBIZ news ticker, more stories from the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom making news right now.

(CAPTION READS: Actress Tara Reid has entered rehab according to rep. Cameron Diaz who plays Princess Fiona in "Shrek" movies, will not perform role on Broadway. "Shrek, The Musical" opened Sunday on Broadway.)



ARMISEN: It shows that unemployment in 2008 -

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Governor, it`s upside down.

ARMISEN: You bet it is.

HAMMER: Tonight, the brand new explosive controversy over "Saturday Night Live" star Fred Armisen impersonating the blind governor of New York.

Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York. Tonight, the outrage over a startling "Saturday Night Live" skit making fun of New York Governor David Paterson, who is blind.

Well, the governor struck back today in the great debate over whether "Saturday Night Live" went too far in making fun of his disability. You will hear from the governor himself.

Also, new tonight, was it really such a good idea for Jennifer Aniston to pose nude in "GQ" magazine? We`re taking your calls in to the "Showbiz On Call" phone lines. And wait until you hear the results of our poll about Jennifer`s naked ambition.

Joining me tonight from Hollywood is Carlos Diaz who is a correspondent for "Extra." And in New York is Ashleigh Banfield who is an anchor for "In Session."

And let`s begin with this "SNL" skit. I want to show you a bit of it. It`s Fred Armisen impersonating Gov. Paterson of New York. And I want to show you the part of the skit where Armisen is posing as Paterson and talking about replacing New York Senator Hillary Clinton. Let`s watch.


ARMISEN: They don`t have to be blind. I need someone with like, a gain in the arm or maybe giant gums with tiny teeth. Let`s get one of those in the senate.


HAMMER: All right. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has Governor Paterson`s reaction. We`re going to show you that in just a moment. Carlos, I want to get you in here first before we do that. Do you think the skit went just too far?

DIAZ: You know, you guys have had me on for the last few years now. This is the hardest thing you guys have asked me because the crowd went insane when he came out, onto the "SNL" news desk. I mean it was one of those things where the skit was funny that night.

Is it in bad taste? Yes. Is it bad to made fun of blind people? Yes. Was it funny? Yes. So it`s kind of like, you know, do you go with the masses and go, the crowd loved it so it must be funny?

HAMMER: Yes. And also it`s a bit different atmosphere. It`s kind of like - and I hear what you`re saying. When you`re in a comedy club and the comedian is up there, he may be saying the most off-the-wall things that you don`t agree with at all, but sometimes you laugh just because of the moment that you`re in. And as I mentioned -

DIAZ: And a lot of times, that`s why it`s funny because people are afraid to say it at times.

HAMMER: Well, Governor Paterson - I have to point out that he wasted no time speaking out this afternoon. He said, "You know, I can take a joke," but he also said poking fun at disabled people does have consequences. Watch exactly what he said.


GOV. DAVID PATERSON (D), GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK: I got a chance to see it and I can take a joke. I dished them out enough. And I can certainly really take them. But you know what? In the lower frequencies of societies, I don`t know that people know that the unemployment rate in the disabled community is 63 percent.

Only 10 percent of deaf people are working. I`m afraid that the third-grade depictions of individuals and the way they look and the way they move add to that negative environment.


HAMMER: All right. Those are some pretty sobering statistics there. Ashleigh, we know that "SNL" is known for crossing the line. But is this a line they should not have crossed?

BANFIELD: Yes, and I agree entirely with what Carlos said. I think that we were - and watched and I`m ashamed to admit this on the air tonight, but I laughed. And I think I laughed because Armisen`s impression was so spot on. That was funny because he was so accurate in his depiction.

The drug jokes - those were funny and appropriate. Overall though, in retrospect, yes, I do feel bad about this and I do think it went overboard. But that said, "SNL" is an equal opportunity offender. They go after everybody for everything. They went after McCain for being old. They`ve gone after Barney Frank for having a list, et cetera.


BANFIELD: Perhaps this one was just that much too far.

HAMMER: Well, interestingly, I was thinking about this afternoon, and it just came into my mind that if they were - if there was a deaf governor, would they have made fun of the way he talked?

For some reason, I don`t think so, so I don`t know. But we should also point out, as you did, there were elements of the skit that were laughable for whatever reason. Armisen poking fun, for instance, at the way Paterson was appointed governor of New York. Of course, he was lieutenant governor and he became governor after Eliot Spitzer resigned in the sex scandal involving a prostitute. Watch this part of the skit.


ARMISEN: I don`t know how many people remember this, but I was not supposed to be your governor. I kind of fell ass backwards into this about 10 months ago to a sex scandal that I was miraculously was not in the center of.

I mean, come on, I`m a blind man who loves cocaine, who is suddenly appointed governor of New York. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to a plot from a Richard Pryor movie.


HAMMER: All right. Carlos, to you on this - you know, they weren`t making fun of him being blind in that part of the skit. So is that still in bad taste or can we just look at that as funny?

DIAZ: You know, it all depends on the person as to whether they think it`s funny. And I can give you a quick example. I interviewed Seth MacFarland, the creator of "Family Guy." A few weeks ago, he told me that, you know, he did this thing with Marlee Matlin, who`s deaf and she calls movie phone, and she can`t speak in the movie phone very well.

And she heard about it and thought it was hilarious and she wanted to use her own voice. So they read it with her own voice. So it depends on whether you can take a joke or not.

HAMMER: Yes. I think it`s a subject worthy of a lot of discussion. And I have a feeling that people are having those conversations tonight.

Let`s move on to another story that`s new right now. It is Jennifer Aniston`s sexy nude photo in "GQ" magazine. Now, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT first brought you the controversy over these provocative photos of Jen wearing nothing but a tie.

Now take a look at his. In our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day, here is what we asked online and on air, "Jennifer Aniston`s Nude Photo Shoot: Was it a good idea?" Sixty-four percent said yes. Only 36 percent said no. Ashleigh, are you at all surprised by these results?

BANFIELD: I`m surprised by how good she looks at her age. Because we`re about the same age and I don`t look like that. And I couldn`t get a spread like that on a cover anywhere.

But, you know, here`s what`s great about Jennifer Aniston. She is light and fun enough to able to do a nude shot that`s not nude, and get it on a cover and get her name out just weeks before her movie comes out. That generates lots and lots of buzz. And her business is buzz, so good for her.

HAMMER: Carlos, I know how you feel about this photo, so I`m not going to ask you that same question. Our "Showbiz On Call" phone lines, however, have gone nuclear. I want to play for you what Katie from Oklahoma had to say about the shots.


KATIE, CALLER FROM OKLAHOMA: You know what? She looks good. She`s almost 40. I am very proud of her for posing on "GQ." And one, Angelina is the one who stole brad from Jennifer. So if anybody is at fault, it`s Angelina.


HAMMER: Carlos, isn`t it amazing people like Katie from Oklahoma always compare what Angelina is doing to what Jennifer is doing?

DIAZ: The question was about Jennifer and how she looks and is she looking good. And it`s like, and Angelina is pitiful. And this and that.


HAMMER: But this is so much of what we`re hearing, Carlos, always.

DIAZ: Yes. Yes, it`s always - you can`t separate the two. I mean, here, Jennifer Aniston does this amazingly sexy spread in "GQ." Yet, Angelina`s name gets brought up. How does that work? And I do want to point out that Ashleigh Banfield does look as good as the other two. So I just want to point that out.

BANFIELD: No. You`re not seeing me naked.

HAMMER: Hold on a second. I do want to get to one more call. Because there are those - there some who have called in who find Jennifer`s pictures to be just a PR stunt. Listen to this caller.


ANONYMOUS CALLER: Jennifer Aniston - with all her stupid interviews and PR stunts. The only reason that she`s even being talked about is because she`s the ex-wife Brad Pitt.


HAMMER: All right. Ashleigh, I only have 10 seconds but do you think that there are a lot of people who really genuinely only see Jennifer Aniston as an extension of Brad Pitt.

BANFIELD: Hell no.

HAMMER: Right.

BANFIELD: That`s all I`m going to say. She`s her own girl and she showed it on the cover.

HAMMER: And we will end it there. Ashleigh Banfield, Carlos Diaz, I thank you both. And go pose for that picture now, Ashleigh. All right.

Well, here`s another Hollywood story that`s making news right now. Could an Ellen DeGeneres and Britney Spears album actually be in the works? Ellen and Britney got into the holiday spirit with some Christmas duets with Ellen giving Britney some tips on harmonizing. Amazing.

And then, they took their show on the road singing carols around the neighborhood. And as the professionals that they are, Ellen and Britney hit the streets in full costume. Watch this.


HAMMER: All right. So these two probably won`t be recording a Christmas album anytime soon, but you can check Britney and Ellen`s excellent Christmas singing adventure on Tuesday`s show of the Ellen DeGeneres show.

All right. Have you seen the unbelievable moment caught on tape, guy throwing his shoes at President Bush`s head? It got everybody buzzing, even Tom Cruise. Wait until you see what Cruise has to say about it, coming up next.



MEREDITH VIEIRA, CO-HOST, THE "TODAY" SHOW: So did you hear about Bush, Tom, the president?

CRUISE: Yes. The president says he`s used to ducking questions. But on Sunday he had to duck two shoes thrown by an Iraqi TV reporter.


HAMMER: Hey, did you see this? Tom Cruise crashes the news segment on the "Today" show and puts his spin on the shoe throwing incident that has everyone around the world talking.

Tom didn`t do half bad, but I`m thinking he shouldn`t quit his day job. It pays a little better.

Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York. It is the absolutely wild moment during President Bush`s final visit to Iraq this weekend that`s giving while new meaning to the phrase, "parting shot."

Now, even if you`ve seen this video already, it is still so unbelievably shocking, you`ve got to check it out again.


The words were flying over the shoe-flying incident on "The View" this morning, too, as usual. Joy Behar and Elisabeth Hasslebeck were at the opposite ends the stick - opposite as two left shoes, in fact. Watch.


ELISABETH HASSELBECK, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": I thought it was Joy the whole time I`m watching this clip. I said, "How did you make it into that press conference?"

JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": I`m innocent. I`m innocent. It`s a form of protest that happens to be a slightly violent one. But that`s what we went to Iraq for, to create democracy. We have protests here, so mission accomplished.

SHERRI SHEPHERD, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": Well, I don`t want to see any of those secret service -

HASSELBECK: You think that`s a success?

BEHAR: No, I`m not saying that. I`m just it`s a protest. Even Bush said it. The thing I like about Bush in this is that he took it very easily. It must have reminded him of his drinking days at Yale, you know. It sounds like, "Hey, it`s nothing! Throw them." He didn`t even care.


HAMMER: That has to be a first for Joy Behar saying that she likes anything about President Bush. But of course, she still managed to get a swipe in there as well.

Well, on Friday, we asked you to vote on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day, and this is what we asked - "Jennifer Aniston`s Nude Photo Shoot: Was it a good idea?"

I`ve got to say I was a little surprised by this - 64 percent of you said yes; 36 percent of you said no. Got a lot of E-mails on it, too.

We heard from Lu in Wisconsin. Lu writes, "I think Jennifer Aniston`s photo shoot was a great idea. You go girl!"

We`ve got a lot more like that. We also heard from Karen in Arizona, however. She writes, "Hey, if you`ve got it, why not be proud of it? Jen is incredible and she is better off without Brad."

Well, we always appreciate you writing in to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. Send us your E-mail right now if you`ve got something to say.

That`s it for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. We thank you for watching. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.

And remember, you can always catch SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on the 11:00s - 11:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific and in the morning at 11:00 a.m. Eastern. I suppose I`ve got to try this, right?