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Michael Phelps` Marijuana Mess; Jennifer Hudson`s Stirring Super Bowl Performance; Jessica Simpson`s Weigh Issue Catches President Obama`s Attention; Britney to Cancel Comeback Tour?
Aired February 2, 2009 - 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, HOST: Now, on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, Michael`s marijuana mess. Tonight, Olympic superhero Michael Phelps in an Olympic-sized oops, caught on camera, smoking pot from a bong. Tonight, the fury over Phelps. Will he lose millions of dollars in endorsement deals? Or is this not a big deal?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIM SERAFIN, SENIOR EDITOR, "IN TOUCH WEEKLY": Of course, he is a role model to young kids, and that`s an issue. But - a lot of money standing on this.
HAMMER: Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with Michael Phelps swimming in scandal.
Brand-new, breaking developments in the Jessica Simpson weight outrage. Tonight, why Jessica`s weight gain has even caught the attention of President Barack Obama. Why in the world did the president comment on it?
Plus, the brand new horrible headlines about Simpson that will make you furious.
And startling Britney news. Tonight, is Britney Spears threatening to cancel her comeback tour just as it is supposed to start?
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, Michael`s marijuana mess. Michael Phelps has literally gone to pot. And the big question tonight is, will he literally pay for it big time? The Olympic swimming superhero with the squeaky clean image is now passionately apologizing after being caught on camera smoking from a bong.
But here`s the thing a lot of people were saying today - come on, he is 23 years old. So maybe he smoked some pot, big deal. Well I bet you that Phelps is praying the sponsors who put out millions of dollars, you know, probably his endorsements, are saying the same thing. Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with the late-breaking developments making big news right now.
(voice over): He is the golden boy of the Olympics, the new prince of Madison Avenue, and a superstar role model for millions. But for Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, some are wondering if all that is about to go up in smoke.
Thanks to an ill-advised photo that was reportedly taken at a party at the University of South Carolina and seen all over the world.
SERAFIN: The photo appears in the "News of the World" with Michael Phelps holding what appears to be a pipe, and what appears to be marijuana in the pipe, and what appears to be him smoking it.
HAMMER: Now, it appears that Phelps is trying to put out the controversy he sparked with his high jinks. He`s released a statement saying, quote, "I engaged in behavior which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment. I`m 23 years old, and despite the successes I have had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way, not in a manner that people have come to expect from me. For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public it will not happen again."
SERAFIN: It`s interesting that he kind of threw his age in there, in a way kind of saying, "Look, I am still a young kid. I know I have sort of done all these adult things. I broke the Olympic record. I have all these multimillion dollar endorsements. But don`t forget, at the end of the day, I`m still a young guy."
HAMMER: Yes, he is a young guy. But SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can tell you after his record eight-gold medal performance in this past summer`s Beijing Olympics, Michael Phelps has become a superstar. He`s used to sell everything from Visa credit cards to Kellogg`s cereals to Mazda and of course, Speedo swimwear.
SERAFIN: We`re talking about millions of dollars in endorsement deals.
HAMMER: "In Touch Weekly`s" Kim Serafin tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, there is no limit to Michael Phelps` appeal.
SERAFIN: He`s just such an all-around hero. I mean, he`s really had that crossover, not just in the world of sports but just in all of pop culture. And I think that is why this is such a shock to a lot of people.
HAMMER: Phelps` pot photo comes after a 2004 DUI arrest where he pled guilty to a lesser charge. Now, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is asking, are Michael Phelps` days as America`s golden boy coming to an end?
CONNOR KNIGHTON, CURRENT TV: It`s basically telling kids that you can win eight gold medals and still smoke pot.
HAMMER: Connor Knighton of Current TV tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT maybe Phelps can ride this out.
KNIGHTON: In his favor, it`s not a harder drug, you know. I think cocaine or heroin or something like that would have much more of an outcry than marijuana.
HAMMER: But then again, maybe not. In 2005, another British tabloid ran photos of model Kate Moss appearing to do cocaine. After initially losing a few endorsements, Moss bounced back.
SERAFIN: Where it looked like she was getting drugs, she immediately addressed it. It looked like it was going to be the end of her career. But she went into rehab, emerged and suddenly, had all these endorsements - endorsements that she didn`t have before she went into rehab.
HAMMER: And there are signs Phelps` career might also stay afloat.
SERAFIN: We know that a few of the companies that he endorses products for have already come out and said, "We`re standing by him."
KNIGHTON: Perhaps, he`ll pick up a whole - a new slew of sponsors - Bons(ph), Doriitos. He is a savvy businessman. Maybe this is all a plot.
HAMMER: But still, there is a limit to how often America will forgive its role models. And Phelps` golden boy reputation may not survive many more hits.
HAMMER: OK, so will there be any backlash with Michael Phelps` marijuana mishaps, with his doobie disaster, his bong blowup, his dope, dopiness?
CREW: OK, we get it. We get it.
HAMMER: All right. Should he be held accountable as a role model, or really, is this whole thing no big deal?
Well, joining me tonight in New York is the lovely Jane Velez- Mitchell. She, of course, is the host of "ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL" seen weekday nights, 7:00 p.m. Eastern right here on HLN.
And tonight, in Hollywood, the lovely Ken Baker, who is the executive news editor for "E! Entertainment."
Let`s dig in here, shall we? Michael Phelps was probably not banking on a cell phone photo of him smoking marijuana going public. Now, he has promised fans it is not going to happen again. And he chalked it up to all being youthful.
Jane Velez-Mitchell, of to you first. Apology accepted?
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST, "ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL": Absolutely. Apology accepted. I am far more disgusted, A.J., by the hypocrisy, and the chest-thumping and the moral posturing by all these critics. I wonder if any of them have ever smoked pot especially when they were 23.
I also think this whole notion of role model is totally bogus. Just because somebody is an excellent swimmer doesn`t automatically make them a beacon of moral virtue. And in fact, sets them up for failure. Because these kids are even more inclined to need to blow off steam, given the pressure cooker that they have been under and all the money they have been given.
So we set up a situation where they`re almost designed to fail. And then we totally condemn then when they do fail.
HAMMER: Ken Baker, are you right there with Jane? Or are we going to hear some chest-thumping?
KEN BAKER, EXECUTIVE NEWS EDITOR, "E! ENTERTAINMENT": Jane, I have to totally disagree with you. It sounds like you are endorsing the use of illegal drugs if you are under a lot of pressure. I mean, that is no way.
Now, whether or not as a society we should put these guys up on a pedestal - the fact is that we do and kids do. And I think that he is just plain being an idiot. He is been given this platform and he is just squandering it. And I think it`s a horrible thing.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I have to disagree with you about the word "platform." I think the problem lies in giving him millions and millions and millions of dollars in endorsement deals which is another totally bogus concept.
The idea that if I buy a certain credit card or a certain product that he is associated with, it is not going to make me an Olympic swimmer. So it`s a cynical concept from the get-go.
And throwing hundreds of millions at this kid because he is a good swimmer sets him up for the kind of problem he is in right now.
HAMMER: But Jane, doesn`t the Olympics stand for exactly what Ken is talking about? This is something that, you know, so many people try to achieve? And they`re watching these people that they, for better or worse, call their heroes. And perhaps they give those people something to live up to.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I am sick and tired of watching role model after role model fall off the pedestal and fail. And then the chest thumping begins. What we need to do is look at why these kids are failing and the kind of pressure they`re under.
If he is an addict, he needs to get treatment. That`s absolutely for sure. If he is not an addict, he did something that was dumb. Is it morally reprehensible. Well, you know what? Studies show that people are less likely to commit crime and to commit violence when they`re on pot as opposed to alcohol.
I am far more concerned by the DUI he got a couple years ago which actually put other people`s lives in danger. That is something that is far more morally reprehensible than smoking pot.
HAMMER: Jane, you know who is on your side? Whoopi Goldberg. Because you know, the ladies of "The View" had a lot to say about it this morning. And Whoopi thinks we need to give Phelps a break and says, like you, he is just a kid.
And then Whoopi goes on to give us a bit of TMI. Just watch Whoopi.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WHOOPI GOLDBERG, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": I hope you all are sitting down.
JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": Well we know -
GOLDBERG: I mean, I have to say, you know, I have smoked weed. I am sorry. I have - yes! Yes!
He is a big kid. And the statement that he said - you know, I was listening, "I did something that was not the smartest thing I could have done." He is being a kid. He made a mistake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAMMER: All right. So Ken, at least to that point, do you agree with Whoopi there that Michael Phelps, just a kid, made a mistake, maybe we should give him a pass based on at least that?
BAKER: I don`t know why everyone is on this kid thing. Even Michael Phelps - you know, he calls - he says, you know, "my youth." He references his age. He is 23, OK? He is not like a 14, 15-year-old kid who is making some mistakes. He is 23 years old.
I mean, when does that stop being an excuse? Look, I`m youthful compared to an 80-year-old. Am I going to make an excuse to do really dumb things in a public way?
I think no matter what he wants to do in his private life, he maybe should just do it in his room without any cameras around. Obviously, it`s bad judgment.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, that`s it. Just don`t get caught. It`s OK, as long as you don`t get caught, right, Ken?
BAKER: Well, no, no. I -
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t know about you I wouldn`t have wanted a camera following me when I was 23.
HAMMER: Listen, my opinion is, when you are put in a position of such power, maybe you just, you know, make more careful choices about how you behave. I mean, look at the millions he has made from Subway, Mazda, Speedo, Visa, AT & T - can we put up the Kellogg`s corn flakes cereal box? More than $100 million in his lifetime.
So Jane, separate from the youthful lack of judgment here, maybe there is a time - and I only have 10 seconds for you to just, you know, put the bong down.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think he should put the bong down. I think also society should put the endorsement deals down. They are truly bogus.
HAMMER: Well, we will see what happens. Ken Baker, Jane Velez-Mitchell, thank you both. And of course, you can catch "ISSUES" with my friend Jane Velez-Mitchell on HLN every weekday night, 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
All right. Let`s turn it over to you. What about those endorsement deals? "Michael Phelps` Pot Scandal: Should he lose his endorsements?" Please sound off on our question of the day at CNN.com/ShowbizTonight. Or E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coming up, brand-new developments in the Jessica Simpson great weight debate. Tonight, why the story has even attracted the attention of, are you ready for this, President Barack Obama. I will explain that.
Plus, the brand-new headlines that are just going to make you furious. That`s coming up.
And a surprise reunion from the Anna Nicole Smith trial. Larry Birkhead and little Dannielynn surprise the judge Larry Seidlin and it`s all caught on tape. We have the exclusive video you are not going to see anywhere else.
And Jennifer Hudson`s breathtaking performance at the Super Bowl. We have the amazing story of what went on backstage.
This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on HLN. Now the "SHOWBIZ News Ticker" - more stories from the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom making news right now.
(CAPTION READS: Alex Rodriguez finalizes his divorce, according to "E! Online." Gary Collins arrested on DUI charges.)
(FOOTAGE FROM JENNIFER HUDSON SINGING "THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER" AT THE SUPER BOWL)
HAMMER: Wow. Jennifer Hudson`s triumphant performance at the Super Bowl, singing "The Star-Spangled Banner." Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT reveals the inside story of what happened after Hudson finished.
Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York. Tonight, Jennifer Hudson`s super-return. Hudson`s Super Bowl performance was her first public appearance since of course the tragic murders of her mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew.
Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with the fascinating story of what happened backstage.
In New York tonight is Dawn Yanek who is the editor-at-large for "Life and Style Weekly." And in Hollywood, it`s Shaun Robinson - she`s the weekend co-anchor and correspondent for "Access Hollywood," and the author of this fantastic soon-to-be released book, "Exactly as I Am."
So there is no doubt, just watching her face, and I think we all felt it. You could tell Jennifer was a little bit anxious, a little bit nervous before she sang "The Star Spangled Banner" at the Super Bowl. But she gave that deep breath and then a performance to remember.
Shaun, this had to take tremendous courage, going out there singing after everything she has been through?
SHAUN ROBINSON, WEEKEND ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT, "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD": Yes, A.J. I don`t know how this woman does it. She is such a strength. And in my book that you mention - thank you very much - at the top of the show, she talks about getting some of her strength, her self-esteem, from her mom.
And it`s so interesting because she had to come from such a deep place to get out there in front of millions and millions of people, and she knew all eyes were on her. But I am telling you, she blew it out of the park.
And everybody just said she did a fantastic job and they really, really look up to her.
HAMMER: Yes, and one thing, Shaun, that I`ve always walked away from, every time I have sat down with Jennifer, and I`m sure you`ve got the same thing with her, is she has such a powerful inner strength that you really feel ...
HAMMER: ... when you are face to face. And her performance certainly exuded that. Let`s take a little more of a look at Jennifer`s riveting performance at the Super Bowl. Roll that.
(MORE FOOTAGE FROM JENNIFER HUDSON SINGING "THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER" AT THE SUPER BOWL)
HAMMER: Yes, not surprisingly, Hudson`s performance being compared to Whitney Houston`s rendition of the national anthem in 1991 at the Super Bowl. I actually like Hudson`s better. That`s just me.
Now, Whitney`s version was later released and became a hit single. Dawn, do you think Hudson should do the same?
DAWN YANEK, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, "LIFE AND STYLE WEEKLY": Oh, why not? Her performance was absolutely amazing last night. And her story is inspiring. I mean, this is a woman who went through unimaginable tragedy, who`s getting back in the swing of things. She`s putting one foot in front of another. There is just not a person out there who is not rooting for her, who does not want her to succeed.
And she has fans all over the place from her "Idol" days, from "Dream Girls." She has a new album out. So you know what? All the more power to her. I would certainly that. I would get that song.
HAMMER: Now, I`ve got to tell you. I have to fill you in on what happened after Hudson`s performance because I think his is so cool. Of course, she went backstage. She was with her producer, Ricky Minor. You may know his name because he`s musical director for "American Idol."
Now, Minor reveals Hudson asked him how she did, "How did I do?" And his response, "Touchdown!"" Good use of the word. Minor also reveals that Hudson`s two cell phones were lighting up like slot machines, friends all calling in, of course, to say great job.
And get this, Hudson got a text message from Jamie Foxx - Jamie, of course, was her co-star in "Dream Girls" saying that her singing was, quote, "amazing it brought tears to my eyes."
Shaun, all of this exactly what Hudson needed, wasn`t it?
ROBINSON: Absolutely. And also, her manager, Damian Smith, just talks about what a strength this woman has that is just something that is really special to Jennifer Hudson. Once again, she comes from a very strong family. And our hearts just bled for her when she went through this horrible tragedy.
ROBINSON: And so we were, of course, all rooting for her when she got up there on that stage on Sunday. And we know that she is on the comeback trail. And she has so much support from her friends and fans all around the world. This girl is going to be a superstar. There are going to be so many great things to come from her.
HAMMER: And we`re all collectively saying around the world today, "Right On, Jennifer."
HAMMER: I`m looking forward to seeing her at the Grammys this weekend. Dawn Yanek, Shaun Robinson, thank you both.
YANEK: Thank you.
ROBINSON: Thank you.
HAMMER: I`ve got to tell you, the "Showbiz On Call" phone lines have been ringing nonstop, a lot of people calling in about the Jessica Simpson weight debate. Jessica catching a lot of heat for photos that showed that she`s gained a little weight.
And there are people just rightfully outraged at all the criticism. Now, we got a call to "Showbiz On Call" from Mel in Oklahoma who said it is time for a reality check.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MEL, CALLER FROM OKLAHOMA: I cannot believe the response that people are calling in about Jessica Simpson and her weight, saying she is fat. She is a size 2. Only thing I could say is I wish I was Tony Romo in this situation.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HAMMER: All right. Thank you, Mel. We also heard from Linnetta calling in to "Showbiz On Call." Listen to this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
LINNETTA, CALLER: Just because she is famous does not mean that she has to be in a certain way or certain stand or whatever, because her life does not depend upon her weight or how she came (UNINTELLIGIBLE). It is her talent in singing. So I don`t know what is going on.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HAMMER: I don`t either, Linnetta and I do appreciate your call. You can call us at "Showbiz On Call," let us know what you think about this or anything else. The "Showbiz On Call" phone lines are always open. This is the number - 1-888-SBT-BUZZ; 1-888-728-2899. That`s where you can leave us a voicemail so we can play your calls right here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.
Also, your calls to "Showbiz On Call" are also now online on our homepage - CNN.com/ShowbizTonight.
Coming up, you won`t want to miss this. Why Jessica`s weight gain has even got the attention of President Obama. Yes, I`ll explain.
Plus, the brand new headlines about Jessica that are going to make you furious. That is on the way.
Plus, major Britney Spears news. Britney`s comeback tour scheduled to begin in just a couple weeks. So why is she threatening to cancel it? That is still to come.
And a surprise reunion from the Anna Nicole Smith trial. Larry Birkhead and little Dannielynn surprise Judge Larry Siedlin, all of it caught on tape. And we have the exclusive video you`re not going to see anywhere else. This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on HLN.
And now the "SHOWBIZ News Ticker" - more stories from the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom, making news right now.
(89.2 million viewers tune into the Super Bowl. Tucson TV station Super Bowl broadcast interrupted by pornographic material.)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will I finally get the big promotion?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Promotion? Not in your future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAMMER: That is definitely one of the funniest Super Bowl ads. And SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has the amazing story behind it.
Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York. Tonight, the remarkable story behind one of the most popular Super Bowl commercials. Everybody is talking about this Doritos Super Bowl ad with the snow globe.
It turns out two unemployed brothers from Indiana came up with the ad in a contest run by Doritos. Let us now take a look at their prize-winning commercial.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, man. What`s that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s my crystal ball.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks like a snow globe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it`s real. Here, watch. Free Doritos at the office today. I think that`s a yes!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Free Doritos.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will I finally get that big promotion?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Promotion - not in your future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAMMER: Well, on the "Today" show this morning, the brothers gave the story of how they ended up with the commercial on Super Bowl with no experience at all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two years ago, Doritos had this competition and we were in it then. And we were in the top five then, but we didn`t air during the Super Bowl. We had two years to think how can we do better?
And we came up with the idea two years ago when they said, "We`re going to give you $1 million if you take the number one spot."
We researched what it meant to get the number one spot on ad. And we tailored our commercial to what we thought would generate that kind of reaction from and audience.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAMMER: Well, the brothers say that they would look to be professional entertainers, maybe do some more ads, some movies - whatever comes their way.
Another Super Bowl ad getting a lot of buzz is the one I am about to show you featuring a young Bob Dylan and Will.i.am. Check this out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(FOOTAGE FROM PEPSI AD WITH WILL.I.AM AND BOB DYLAN)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every generation refreshes the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAMMER: That was definitely one of my favorites. Well, coming up, brand- new developments in the Jessica Simpson weight debate. Tonight, why the story has even attracted the attention of President Barack Obama. Yes, I`ll explain that.
Plus, the brand-new headlines that will make you furious. That is coming up.
Also, major Britney Spears` news. Britney`s comeback tour is scheduled to begin in just a few weeks. So why in the world is she threatening to cancel it? That is still to come.
Also, major controversy for the woman who just had octuplets. Now, she already has six kids at home. Octuplets that`s eight. Do the math - yes, 14 kids. Now, she reportedly wants millions to tell her story. And you are not going to believe who she wants the interview with.
This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on HLN. And now, the "SHOWBIZ News Ticker," more stories from the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom making news right now.
(CAPTION READS: "The Office" wins Directors Guild of America Award for best television comedy. Danny Boyle wins Directors Guild of America Award for "Slumdog Millionaire.")
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANNY BOYLE, DIRECTOR, "SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE": What was wonderful about the DGA is that they put your whole team on the nomination. So it is ready special. I was so excited.
HAMMER: Now, on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, the surprising connection between President Obama and the great Jessica Simpson weight debate. Tonight, why Jessica`s weight gain has even caught the attention of Barack Obama.
Also, brand new outrage over disgusting "New York Post" headlines that called Jessica Simpson fat. Does the paper owe Jessica an apology?
Plus, more of your fired-up calls to "Showbiz On Call."
Is Britney Spears really canceling her tour? Tonight, stunning news that Brit could can her entire comeback tour. Why would she threaten to do this?
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.
And tonight, brand-new breaking developments in the Jessica Simpson weight outrage. The horrible headlines attacking Jessica Simpson for her apparent weight gain and caught the attention of the leader of the free world - yes, President Barack Obama.
And the "New York Post" is at it again. I can`t believe this. They began the vicious attack of Simpson with an ugly cartoon. And now, they`re blasting her again with another ridiculous headline.
Now, their own loyal readers are slamming them for their disgusting attacks. And we are taking your calls into "Showbiz On Call." Our phone lines are burning up. We cannot believe the amazing passion over this.
And your suggestions on how to hit "The Post" where it hurts. Do I hear boycott, anyone?
Joining me tonight in New York is Ben Widdicombe, who is the celebrity editor of "StyleList.com." From Hollywood, it`s Shaun Robinson who is the weekend co-anchor and correspondent for "Access Hollywood."
Let us begin with the news that even President Obama is now aware of the great Simpson weight debate. I want to show you an interview that "Today" show host Matt Lauer did live with the president just before the Super Bowl began.
Lauer held up the cover of "Us Weekly" to show the president he was cropped out of his own family photo and replaced with Jessica Simpson. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT LAUER, HOST, THE "TODAY" SHOW: This is the current issue of "Us Weekly."
BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Right.
LAUER: And here`s a great picture ...
B. OBAMA: Oh, that`s so beautiful.
LAUER: ... of you and Michelle and your daughters. The reason I bring this up - I think it`s funny. It`s a great picture. But I want to show you the cover. Look what they did. They took you off the cover. They cut you out of it.
B. OBAMA: Yes. It`s a little hurtful.
LAUER: You got replaced by Jessica Simpson.
B. OBAMA: Who is in a weight battle apparently. Yes, oh, well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAMMER: I mean, things just get more and more surreal by the day, don`t they? Ben, off to you first. What does it say that "Us Magazine" actually cropped out the photo, excluding our president, President Obama, to make room for Jessica Simpson on the cover of the magazine?
BEN WIDDICOMBE, CELEBRITY EDITOR, "STYLELIST.COM": This really is a wonderful story. Well, of course, you know, it is women who buy the celebrity magazines and they want to read about Michelle and the kids more than they want to read about the president.
And you know, they`re also fascinated by Jessica Simpson. And for all of our hand-wringing on the subject, I think when a big star like Jessica either puts on a bit of weight or takes off some weight, it is legitimate for the entertainment media to want to cover it as a story because Americans want to talk about it. So I can understand why they did that.
HAMMER: Shaun Robinson, why do you think? The president even made aware of the fact that Jessica is dealing with a weight issue. It really shows what a big deal this has become.
ROBINSON: A.J., I`m telling you, this topic in particular gets me spitting mad. I tell you, if you tune into "Access Hollywood" tonight, you will see a number of the stars that we`ve interviewed, talking about this very issue, about Jessica Simpson, you know, being targeted because she put on a few pounds.
I`ve got to tell you, even Nick Lachey came to her defense. It is absolutely crazy. But you know what, A.J.? I think the bigger picture is - I have my new book "Exactly as I Am" coming out in April. And in the book, I talk to girls about the images that they see on television.
And I`ve got to tell you, when they see us saying - the media saying that Jessica Simpson is fat, that sends them the signal that I cannot be skinny enough.
ROBINSON: And so you have girls with these eating disorders because they see these images on television all the time. We`ve got to stop this. I hate this topic.
HAMMER: Yes. I am right there with you, Shaun. And we, of course, have been making a big deal of it, too. And I want to ask you more about something you write in your book in just a second.
But I want to get back to what is still happening because the headlines have gotten even more vicious. The "New York Post" has led the way with just these disgusting headlines.
Now, Saturday, the "New York Post" reporting on Jessica`s outfit at a concert, headlines the story with these words, "The fat lady sings. Jessica huge in Virginia."
First of all, shame on them. Second of all, Ben, I don`t know what is going on here. It`s almost to me as if the "New York Post" has this personal vendetta against Jessica because as I have said before on the show, I don`t see the upside to this.
WIDDICOMBE: Well, of course, the "New York Post" is famous for banging a drum to get attention and will say whatever provocative thing needs to, to move newspapers. And having worked in that newsroom, I can assure you, it is a very male environment over there.
But I think they got the tone wrong on this one, because it is offensive to a lot of women. And if they are trying to sell newspapers, they`re going about it the wrong way by alienating 50 percent of the population.
HAMMER: Yet at the same time, and this is perhaps the only silver lining here and the only thing I will give the "New York Post" credit for doing. The "New York Post`s" own readers are slamming the paper for making fun of Jessica in that awful editorial cartoon when the story first broke. And they`re actually printing some of these letters from the readers.
I want to read one from Aaron Haley in Chicago who writes, "It is sad that in a world where we are trying to teach women to be strong, beautiful and healthy, you are running trash like this. You have succeeded in making yourselves look like idiots."
Well said, Aaron. All right. Shaun, back to you and what you were saying from your new book, which is called, "Exactly as I Am." In the book you share some great advice from the likes of Alicia Keys and Jennifer Hudson for young girls who want to help build their self-esteem.
HAMMER: So what kind of damage do the "Post`s" unrelenting attacks do to girls? Because it keeps on coming - they haven`t stopped.
ROBINSON: It definitely keeps on coming. And it`s one thing to say that - OK, an outfit wasn`t flattering. And personally, maybe, you know, I have seen Jessica look fantastic. And maybe that was not the most flattering outfit.
But at the other side of this, A.J. - and I am so furious about this - these girls out here. I interviewed girls across the country about this very, very issue for my book. And they said when they see on television us - all of us saying that somebody is fat because they`re a size six. So they gained five pounds.
I`m telling you, these girls - they internalize that. And it is constantly telling them they are not good enough because they can never be skinny enough. One girl I interviewed for the book said there was a girl in her school who had anorexia. And they wanted to get tips from her because she was always so skinny.
Now, that is sending a very dangerous message. And we`ve got to do something about it. We`ve got to change our tone and our attitude and our language about this topic.
HAMMER: Yes. And this has certainly pushed a lot of buttons, not just people writing into the "New York Post."
The "Showbiz On Call" phone lines have been flooded with calls. I am not the only guy who is really ticked off about this. We are getting lots of calls from men, too. I want you to hear Anthony`s suggestion on exactly what should happen next. Roll that, Charles.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
ANTHONY, CALLER: I think that everybody that comes out with an article or a cartoon or anything of Jessica Simpson`s weight gain should have the same thing scrutinized in their lives.
We should go back, find pictures of them from when they were younger and what they looked like now. And let`s start poking fun at them. See how they like it.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HAMMER: Yes. Good idea, Anthony. Ben, what do you think?
WIDDICOMBE: Well, A.J., speaking as a former tabloid gossip columnist (UNINTELLIGIBLE) is probably 25 pounds heavier this time last year. I think it is a terrible idea. So no, Anthony. Let`s not do that.
HAMMER: Yes. Maybe it will teach somebody a lesson. All right. I want to play another call, this one from Shelly in Michigan. She called in to "Showbiz On Call." And she shared what I think is a very interesting idea with us. Listen to this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SHELLY, CALLER FROM MICHIGAN: I think maybe we ought to stop buying the papers and the magazines that put the stars down and say negative things. If we don`t buy them, then maybe they`ll stop acting that way.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HAMMER: Now, there`s a very good point. Shelly, appreciate that call. I think she is talking something along the lines of a boycott.
So Shaun, what do you think? Great idea if, you know, you think the newspapers and the magazines, places like the "New York Post" are continuing to print what you believe are outrageous headlines they should be boycotted?
ROBINSON: Well, I don`t want to point fingers at a particular newspaper or magazine, because A.J., the thing is, we all do it. We all say, "Oh, somebody. Let`s put on our skinny jeans." Or "That woman lost weight and she looks so great." We all have language that we need to change.
HAMMER: Yes. But Shaun, you will never make fun of somebody, mock them for their weight. There is a difference here. I truly believe that.
ROBINSON: Definitely not, but let`s be honest, because sometimes we have done the opposite. We have said, "Oh, looks like so and so gained a little bit of weight." And I am saying all of us have done that before. I think we all share some of the blame in the types of images that we are - that we are giving young girls in particular. Because we are constantly telling them that your body isn`t beautiful just the way it is if it is not a certain size.
HAMMER: Yes. Well, I`ve got to jump in and end it there. But Shaun, good points all. Ben Widdicombe, I appreciate you joining us as well - and Shaun Robinson. Thank you very much.
All right. I am hearing that Britney Spears has been talking about canceling her huge upcoming tour. Now, this is supposed to be part of her big comeback. So why would she threaten to do this? Wouldn`t it be a really bad move? Coming up next, the shocking story behind why Britney might call the tour off.
And Larry Birkhead and his daughter Dannielynn have a big surprise for Judge Larry Seidlin, the judge from the Anna Nicole Smith trial. You`ve got to see this exclusive reunion and emotional moment you don`t want to miss.
And the controversy behind the woman who had those octuplets. You know, she`s got 14 total kids. Get this - she reportedly wants to cash in big time. She wants millions to tell her story. You won`t believe who she wants to have interview her. This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on HLN.
And now the "SHOWBIZ News Ticker" - more stories from the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom making news right now.
(CAPTION READS: CBS orders new reality series where singles are put into arranged marriages. Smithsonian Institution (sic) wants Aretha Franklin`s Inauguration Day hat to put in an exhibit.)
(MUSIC VIDEO OF BRITNEY SPEARS` "WOMANIZER")
HAMMER: Uh-oh, Britney Spears` fans may not get to see her perform "Womanizer" or any her hits for that matter in concert. Tonight, is Britney thinking of canceling her much-anticipated comeback tour because of her kids?
Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.
And tonight, the shocking news that Britney Spears may actually want to pull the plug on her brand-new tour. It is scheduled to begin in a matter of days. But now, there are reports that if her two young sons can`t hit the road with her, she is pulling out.
Also new right now, the California woman who gave birth to octuplets last week and is also the mother of six other children now reportedly wants to cash in. Why she would love to sit down with Oprah Winfrey.
With me now, here in New York, is Dawn Yanek. She`s the editor-at- large for "Life and Style Weekly." And in Hollywood tonight is Ken Baker who is the executive news editor for "E!"
And let us begin with Britney Spears. Her the tour, called "The Circus" starring Britney Spears all set to kick off March 3rd. Louisiana - that`s where it`s supposed to be firing up.
And now, TMZ is reporting that if her ex, K-Fed, does not let her take the kids on the road with her, no tour for Britney.
Ken, do you really think Britney would actually pull the plug on this thing?
BAKER: Well, the good news for Britney fans is that "E! News" has confirmed that she is not canceling her tour, that the lawyers apparently are going to figure this out. So that is not a problem.
But I do think that this issue is really important to her and the kids. Honestly, I would say ever since the conservatorship took over last year, this has been her priority - is to get her life in order so she can be with her kids.
And I do think her kids are way more important to her than going on tour. She finally has her priorities straight.
HAMMER: Dawn, what do you think, though about the idea that Britney was talking of actually yanking the plug on such an important thing in her career, getting out there on tour, all because of the kids?
YANEK: Yes, I mean, I think Ken is absolutely right. I think what she is saying is, "My children are priority. I am getting my life back on track. I`m getting my career back on track. But what is most important is getting custody back of my children."
Now, I don`t know if she would have gone as far as to cancel the entire tour. But I think we might have seen her scale back some of the shows for sure.
HAMMER: And it is interesting to think about how far she has come, you know, given that she doesn`t even have custody of her two young sons at this point. Can Britney wanting her kids with her on tour sort of, as you said, really a sign of how far she has come since the big meltdown which was right at this time last year?
BAKER: Yes, yes. Within about the last week was the one-year anniversary of her being strapped to that gurney and being taken to the hospital against her will. I mean that was a very dramatic, very horrible time in her life. And now, look at her. She is rehearsing right now.
Today, she is right down the street here in Hollywood rehearsing to go on tour - on this worldwide tour. And she is in great shape. She has everything going for her that she didn`t have going for her then.
The only problem is, she doesn`t have the custody of her kids. She just has visitation. And I think that is the hole in her heart. That is the missing piece. And it does continue to cause her a lot of strife.
HAMMER: But it does bear keeping in perspective where she was a year ago versus now and how a year ago we wondered, could she ever get to this point. So good for you, Britney.
All right. Moving on, another huge story. This is new right now - the California woman who just gave birth to eight babies, octuplets. Turns out she is a single mom. She had six other babies, used a sperm donor and she lives with her parents.
Dawn, she reportedly wants - are you ready for this? $2 million for her story. A lot of people are saying, "Whoa, are you kidding me? But is there really anything wrong if she wants to cash in like this?
YANEK: Well, I`m sure she could use the help financially. But this story is so disturbing. It`s kind of like watching a train wreck. And it raises a whole slew of ethical questions - medical questions.
And really, if a network or a show is going to pay $2 million to have her on the air, I think that therapy and counseling should probably be a part of the package deal at this point.
HAMMER: Yes. And there are a lot of journalists who would never pay a single dollar for an interview.
HAMMER: And SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can tell you, not only is this mom of 14 - whoa - trying to sell the story, but apparently there is a battle going on between the big players, Oprah Winfrey, Katie Couric and Diane Sawyer, who all, of course, would like to have an exclusive sit-down with her just to find out, you know, how the heck do you do this? And what is it about?
But Ken, let me ask you this. Should Oprah and those others pass on doing this interview, knowing that this woman wants publicity and possibly a big pay day over it?
BAKER: Well, I would like to officially throw the "E! News" hat into the ring, but with the stipulation that she ties her tubes, OK? That is the only way we`ll talk to her.
No. You know what? Honestly, she has the right to tell her story. And anyone in the media who wishes to do so has the right to pay her whatever they want, whatever they think the value is of getting the story.
I have to tell you, people are fascinated. What was she thinking? Why is she doing this? Was this just some sort of, you know, dysfunctional result of some psychology - something wrong in her head?
BAKER: Or does she just love children? It just came out today she wants to be a TV expert on child care. Well, if she is not now, she better be after having to raise all these kids.
So, it`s interesting to find out what her motivation is. You know what? We may see her on camera and find out, wait she is actually not that crazy. She just exercised a little bit of poor judgment. Or look at her and say, "Gosh, she is a total loon." But we won`t know until we see the interview, and for that reason, it has value.
HAMMER: Dawn Yanek, Ken Baker, I thank you both.
And just a quick note on the Britney story, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT did reach out to reps for Britney Spears and Kevin Federline. But as of show time, we have not received a response.
All right. Now an exclusive, emotional reunion between the Judge Larry Seidlin, Larry Birkhead, and his daughter, the girl he had with the late Anna Nicole Smith, Dannielynn.
As you may remember, Judge Seidlin was the so-called "crying Florida judge" who presided over the battle for Anna Nicole Smith`s remains. Larry Birkhead fought to prove that he was, indeed the dad of Anna Nicole`s Dannielynn.
In an exclusive reunion on CNN`s "LARRY KING LIVE" which aired earlier tonight, Birkhead and Dannielynn surprised Seidlin. Now, this was the very first time Judge Seidlin, who is now retired, ever got to meet 2-year-old Dannielynn. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": We now have a surprise for you, Judge Larry. If he would come out now - there is Larry Birkhead and Dannielynn the baby.
JUDGE LARRY SEIDLIN, PRESIDING JUDGE IN THE ANNA NICOLE SMITH CASE: Oh, that`s beautiful.
KING: With the judge.
SEIDLIN: That`s my little girl. Dex(ph), come here. I`ve always ...
KING: Dex(ph), come here. Yes.
SEIDLIN: ... my daughter - come here, my little girl. This is my 8-year- old. You know, Larry, I didn`t get married until I was 50. Look at that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAMMER: That`s a pretty nice moment. Judge Seidlin never actually met Dannielynn during the trial over Anna Nicole`s body. He ended up granting Dannielynn`s court-appointed guardian custody of the body. Anna Nicole was then buried in the Bahamas alongside her son, Daniel, who, of course, died a few months earlier.
Anna Nicole died nearly two years ago on February 8th, of an accidental drug overdose.
Well, I`ve got to tell you, I think Bruce Springsteen`s Super Bowl performance totally rocked. Tonight, The Boss revealing one very big, brand-new regret. He`s actually calling it a mistake. You don`t want to miss this, coming up next. This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on HLN.
Now, the "SHOWBIZ News Ticker" - more stories from the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom, making news right now.
(CAPTION READS: "Taken" takes "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" out of the number one slot at the weekend box office. According to "Media by Numbers," January 2009 movie ticket sales hit $1 billion, a record.)
(FOOTAGE FROM BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN AND THE E STREET BAND`S PERFORMANCE AT THE SUPER BOWL)
HAMMER: All right, are you with me here? The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, gave what was definitely one of the best Super Bowl halftime shows ever, right? That, of course, "Glory Days."
Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer. And tonight, The Boss is actually backtracking and saying, well, there`s no glory in doing business with Wal-Mart.
See, Bruce set up a deal with Wal-Mart to exclusively sell his Greatest Hits CD. But now, he tells the "New York Times" that was a mistake. Some of Springsteen`s fans have been critical because he`s long been a supporter of worker`s rights. And Wal-Mart - well, they have been blasted in the past by some for its labor practices.
Here`s exactly what Bruce Springsteen is saying about this, quote, "We were in the middle of doing a lot of things, it kind of came down and, really, we didn`t vet it the way we usually do. We just dropped the ball on it. Given its - Wal-Mart`s - labor history, it was something that if we`d thought about it a little longer, we`d have done something different. It was a mistake. Our batting average is usually very good, but we missed that one. Fans will call you out on that stuff, as it should be."
Now, Wal-Mart responded by saying it will continue to sell Springsteen`s Greatest Hits and other albums and that it is proud of the jobs and career opportunities it provides to its associates.
Well, on Friday, we asked you to vote on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. And here`s what it was - Paris Hilton of course, coming out and saying all of her stupid comments, the way she acts, it`s just an act. We wanted to know if you believed her - "Paris Hilton: Is the "dumb blonde" thing just an act?: Well, 38 percent of you said yes; 62 percent said no.
A ton of calls came in on the "Showbiz On Call" phone lines on this. I want you to listen to Darlene calling into "Showbiz On Call" from New York.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DARLENE, CALLER FROM NEW YORK: Is the "dumb blonde thing" just an act? Well, frankly, I don`t think anybody is that good of an actor. No, it`s not an act. She`s as dumb as she looks.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HAMMER: All right. Thank you, Darlene. And remember, you too can call us at "Showbiz On Call" and let us know what you think about this or anything else that`s on your mind.
The "Showbiz On Call" phone lines are open all the time for that very reason at 1-888-SBT-BUZZ; 1-888-728-2899. Leave us a voicemail because we would love to play some of your calls right here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.
Well, that is it for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. Thank you so much for watching. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.
Now, Keep in mind you can always catch SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on the 11:00s. We are on at 11:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, and we`re on in the morning on 11:00 a.m. Eastern on HLN.