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Showbiz Tonight

Race Bias in Media Coverage of Missing Women?; Cheryl Hines Dishes on New Show

Aired March 17, 2006 - 19:00   ET


BROOKE ANDERSON, CO-HOST: I`m Brooke Anderson in New York City.
SIBILA VARGAS, CO-HOST: And I`m Sibila Vargas in Hollywood. TV`s only live entertainment news show starts right now.


ANDERSON (voice-over): On SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, horrible crimes, terrible stories involving young women. So, why do some like Natalee Holloway get more attention on television than others?

SHERI PARKS, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: Like everybody else, I call it the missing white woman syndrome.

ANDERSON: Tonight, the disturbing controversy, do the media treat crimes against white women differently than those of black women?

Plus, stars coming out to protest the war in Iraq. Tonight, Cindy Sheehan, who passionately opposed the war, right outside the president`s doorstep, is about to get some historic help from big-time celebrities. Cindy Sheehan live in the interview you`ll see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

And it`s Cruise versus Cartman.

TREY PARKER, CO-CREATOR: Anything that`s fun costs at least $8.

ANDERSON: Tonight, did Tom Cruise force "South Park" off the air because of his devotion to Scientology?

PARKER: Dad, Tom Cruise won`t come out of the closet.

ANDERSON: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT gets to the bottom of this "South Park" shocker.

TINY FEY, COMEDY WRITER/ACTOR: Hi, I`m Tina Fey, and if it happened today, it`s on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.


ANDERSON: Hi there, I`m Brooke Anderson, live in New York City.

VARGAS: And I`m Sibila Vargas, live in Hollywood.

Brooke, it`s been more than ten months since the shocking disappearance of Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway in Aruba and, sadly, the case is still not solved.

ANDERSON: That`s right, Sibila. And it surely hasn`t been for a lack of attention in the media, but here`s the question. Why do stories like Natalee Holloway, like Laci Peterson, like Chandra Levy get so up attention? Could it be in part because they`re white? Would the media have been so obsessed if they had been black women?

Tonight, we`re all over this raging controversy, beginning with CNN`s Tom Foreman for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Natalee Holloway, Lori Hacking, Taylor Biehl, the list goes on and on. When pretty white females are killed or disappear, media storms follow. So much so that critics have coined a phrase for it.

PARKS: Like everybody else, I call it the missing white woman syndrome.

FOREMAN: And professor of American studies Sheri Parks says it serves a purpose, uniting people to save a soul, reaffirming the community`s will to fight crime.

PARKS: And since we can`t solve all the problems, since we can`t save all the women, this woman becomes a symbol. That`s what happens to people. This woman becomes a symbol, and if we save her for a few days, we`re OK.

FOREMAN (on camera): So if that focuses public effort and police effort and somebody gets helped, what`s wrong with that?

PARKS: Well, what`s wrong with that is that we don`t care for everybody in the same way.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Think about California. When Laci Peterson, pregnant and beautiful, disappeared, a frenzy of national media coverage followed. It went on through the discovery of her body, the arrest, trial and conviction of her husband.

SHARON ROCHA, LACI PETERSON`S MOTHER: I love my daughter so much. I miss her every minute of every day.

FOREMAN: But near Philadelphia, when LaToyia Figueroa, pregnant, beautiful and black, disappeared last year, the case was barely noticed by the national media, despite all the efforts of family and fronts to draw coverage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not looking for a dead body. I`m looking for LaToyia. She`s alive. She`s out there somewhere. She needs our help. She`s coming home.

FOREMAN: Figueroa was found dead, her ex-boyfriend charged with murder. But that didn`t make much news, either. The Holloway case in Aruba dominated TV that summer.

(on camera) Still, this tendency to cover the murders of white women more than others is not necessarily all about pandering. The simple fact is, it is still comparatively rare for white women to be killed and, therefore, by definition, it could be called newsworthy.

(voice-over) And that`s what the debate comes down to. Media defenders say, after all, for each white woman who is murdered, 26 black men are killed. And media critics say, yes, that is exactly the point.


ANDERSON: That was CNN`s Tom Foreman for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

OK, here to talk about the media so-called missing white woman syndrome is the executive editor of "Chicago Defender", a newspaper that focuses on racial issues and the host of the "Rowland S. Martin Show" on Chicago`s WVON radio. Rowland Martin is live in Chicago for us.

Rowland, thank you for joining us for this "SHOWBIZ Newsmaker" interview.

ROWLAND S. MARTIN, HOST, WBON RADIO: How are you, Brooke? Happy to be here.

ANDERSON: I`m doing well, and I want to ask you, why do you think there is this perception that the national media tends to give more attention to those sensational stories that involve white women versus black women?

MARTIN: Well, I don`t think there`s a perception. There is reality. You cannot name one African-American woman who has had her story chronicled when it comes to national media.

When the "runaway bride," the exact same week, there weigh an African- American bride in New York two days away from her wedding, came up missing. The only time you heard her story were a couple of small stories, and Cynthia Tucker in the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution" wrote about it.

I think part of the problem is, frankly, you have mostly bookers in television, producers who are white and it`s a comfort zone. That`s what you know, that`s what you expect and so, you don`t leave that comfort zone to think about other types of stories.

ANDERSON: But really, isn`t there something more going on here? Let`s take a look at a couple of cases. Chandra Levy for instance. A U.S. Congressman was suspected in her disappearance.

Also, Natalee Holloway, we just saw a picture of her.

Isn`t this symbolic of a parent`s worst nightmare: your kid goes on vacation, maybe does something crazy, goes missing? Isn`t it the stories themselves? Isn`t there something to that?

Well, first of all, you mention two out of probably six or eight that were national stories. Your package said it best. You had LaToyia Figueroa, and you had Laci Peterson, exact type of stories. So why was one more compelling than the other? And so, I think you have to compare apples to apples.

And so clearly the case of a congressman involved, clearly this teen on vacation in Aruba, those are newsworthy. I think we have to examine again how to make decisions. Newsworthy decisions are subjective. I`m the editor of a newspaper. I run four newspapers, and so I may think something is a story. A person across the street may think it`s a non-story.

So you know its objective. If you compare apples to apples, you will see you`re not finding the stories highlighting African-American women, and that`s really what the comparison is.

I thought your package was a little wrong there where you got white women and black men. I understand that. But comparing missing women, that`s a whole different issue because it`s a vulnerable issue when women come up missing.

ANDERSON: OK, well, if what you`re saying is tree, Rowland, do you really think the media`s decisions are determined by what sells better to the public? Or is there really a racial bias there?

MARTIN: Well, I think part of it is what sells better, but again, it`s a matter of what my comfort zone is. When Selena was killed by her fan club president, I worked at the "Fort Worth Telegram". The editors initially didn`t want to send any reporters to Corpus Christi to cover that story. Luckily, we did. The next day, 70,000 people were at an impromptu memorial service.

I asked the white editor, I said, "Gary, let me ask you this question. If Garth Brooks had been shot and killed, we probably would have sent a planeload of reporters." Because we don`t know her in the mainstream, people said it`s a non-story. Because people assume that we know Garth Brooks, if that happened to him, it`s a major story. Again, it is perspective.

I think what has to happen is producers and bookers and editors, they have to step back and say, OK, let`s examine how we`re covering things. Let`s examine these stories.

As an editor, I am very conscious if I have a cover story and I have nothing but men who are (AUDIO GAP). I`m very conscious. I simply live in two worlds. I live in a white world; I live in a black world. The current commissioner said that in the 1960s and it`s still the case in 2006.

ANDERSON: Rowland, you talk about a white world and a black world. How can we effect change and make it where there aren`t those divisive lines?

MARTIN: Well, again, I think what we have to do is, as decision makers, step back and ask ourselves repeatedly who are the faces?

I`ll give you an example. As an African-American, I am often called to speak on black issues when it comes to television. But I can also talk about the economy. I can also talk about the war in Iraq, and so, we have to ask ourselves that question.

Women are typically not asked to speak on television about the economy. Typically, you`ll see white males. As decision makers, we have to step back and say, wait a minute, who are the people we`re putting out here? What is the face we`re putting on the stories? Let`s diversify the voices and the faces. That is how we`re going to achieve that.

I make a conscious decision, and that`s what it is, a conscious effort to do it.

ANDERSON: Rowland, we are going to have to leave it there, but thank you so much for joining us tonight and sharing your perspective with us. We appreciate it.

MARTIN: Thanks, Brooke. Glad to be here.

ANDERSON: Rowland Martin, executive editor of "Chicago Defender."

VARGAS: This weekend marks the third anniversary of the Iraq war, and to date, month are than 2,300 U.S. troops have died in the campaign. One of those was Cindy Sheehan`s son. She`s the anti-war activist who spent more than a month last year camped outside of President Bush`s Crawford, Texas, ranch.

Along with REM`s Michael Stipe and Susan Sarandon, Sheehan is taking part in a benefit concert to bring home the troops. Sheehan will join you live later on the show, but this leads us to our question of the day. War in Iraq: does celebrity activism influence your opinion? Vote at And send us your e-mail at We`ll read some of your thoughts later in the show.

ANDERSON: Up next, did Tom Cruise force "South Park" off the air because of his devotion to Scientology?

Plus, we`ve also got this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): It`s been hard to just get by. Here`s hoping the year 2006 turns out better than 2005.


VARGAS: Presidential parodies and much, much more. It`s outrageous and contagious "Viral Video," the funniest, oddest and most entertaining clips coming to an e-mail in-box near you. That`s still to come.

ANDERSON: And Cheryl Hines live. She`s heading back to college in her new series, "Campus Ladies." Think of it as "Desperate Housewives" meets "Animal House." Cheryl Hines, live in the interview you will see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. That`s in a bit.


ANDERSON: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m Brooke Anderson in New York City, and you are watching TV`s only live entertainment news show.

Tonight, is Tom Cruise taking on "South Park"? Today on the online blog, reports are flying that Cruise squashed an episode of the animated Comedy Central show. Cruise`s people insist that`s not true. But the whole thing is putting Cruise back in a familiar place, the center of the Hollywood rumor machine.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`ve never seen me very upset.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Is Tom Cruise upset at "South Park"?

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s on top of reports flying around that Cruise is so steamed at a recent "South Park" episode that mocked him...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s me, Tom Cruise.

ANDERSON: And the Church of Scientology of which Cruise is a member...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a scam on a global scale.

ANDERSON: ... that he reportedly used his clout to have the show yanked. It`s a complicated story, but SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has sorted it out for you.

Wednesday night, Comedy Central was set to repeat a "South Park" episode where an upset Cruise locks himself in the closet...


ANDERSON: ... of a boy he thinks is the reincarnation of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

PARKER: Dad, Tom Cruise won`t come out of the closet.

ANDERSON: As you can imagine, the show had quite a bit of fun with that one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Cruise, come out of the closet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I`m never coming out!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody here just wants to you come out of the closet, Tom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come out of the closet, Tom, you`re not fooling anyone.

ANDERSON: We counted. There were 39 closet jokes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It appears that John Travolta is also in the closet.

ANDERSON: Today, Hollywood was buzzing with rumors that Cruise demanded Comedy Central not repeat the episode. Now, how could he do that?

You see, "South Park" airs on Comedy Central, which is owned by Viacom, which also owns Paramount, the movie studio releasing Cruise`s "Mission Impossible: 3" this spring. According to the buzz, Cruise said if the episode wasn`t pulled, he wouldn`t do press for "MI: 3."

NADINE MENDOZA, "TV GUIDE": As many people have witnessed on camera, Tom Cruise is a very assertive, passionate and has a very aggressive personality. It probably wouldn`t surprise me if that`s, you know, if that was a tactic that he chose to take.

ANDERSON: Both Tom Cruise`s people and Comedy Central told SHOWBIZ TONIGHT it wasn`t Cruise who bumped the Scientology episode. Comedy Central says it instead wanted to air a show featuring Isaac Hayes and his character Chef.

ISAAC HAYES, SINGER/VOICE ACTOR: Check out my new confection. I call them Chef`s salty chocolate balls.

ANDERSON: Hayes, who`s also a Scientologist, quit the show this week for making fun of religion. Hmm, coincidence, right?

Tom Cruise`s rep tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT that Cruise has already been promoting "MI: 3."

PARKER: I`m not scared of you. Sue me!

ANDERSON: Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of "South Park", seem to have having a smile over this reported battle. Get a load of the statement they released to "Daily Variety" that reads, "So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for earth has just begun. Hail Xenu!!!"

So, what`s really rumor and what`s really true in the Tom Cruise versus "South Park" battle? Sorting out the real story could prove to be a "Mission Impossible."

TOM CRUISE, ACTOR: You`re never going to get what you want!


ANDERSON: And stay with SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. We`ve got a first look at "Mission Impossible: 3" with Cruise and new Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman. That is coming up.

VARGAS: Tonight, Cheryl Hines, the star of the hilarious HBO show, "Curb Your Enthusiasm". She`s a great actress, but now she`s getting behind the camera. Cheryl`s executive producing "Campus Ladies" on the Oxygen network.

The show is about two middle-aged housewives -- one divorced, the other a widow -- who decide to go back to college and live the good times they never had the first time around.

Cheryl Hines is here live with us in New York -- actually, you`re here in Hollywood.


VARGAS: For a "SHOWBIZ Sitdown." Thank you so much for joining us.

HINES: Thank you for having me.

VARGAS: Let`s talk about this show, because these women are not holding back. They`re drinking kegs.

HINES: yes.

VARGAS: They`re playing "Spin the Bottle."

HINES: They`re doing JELL-O shots.

VARGAS: JELL-O shots. Going to jail.

HINES: Yes, they -- they go to jail.

VARGAS: Like a fantasy show for middle-aged women? Is that your mission here?

HINES: Well, it just seems to work out that way. I mean, it`s a -- imagine if you were going to college for the first time now, and you didn`t know all the things that people know in college. It`s like, usually you go to college, you learn how to party. You learn if there are little cubes of JELL-O, they`re probably filled with alcohol.

VARGAS: But they don`t.

HINES: But they don`t. They don`t get any of it. You know, they go to keg parties with the sweatshirt with the kitten applique on it. But they`re ready to party. They`re open for everything. They want to do it all and try it all. And sometimes, they just get in a lot of trouble.

VARGAS: People really like the show. Women are responding like they`re been living vicariously through these women.

HINES: And not only women like the show, but men. It`s got a bit of a cult following, which is great, I mean, because it`s funny. You know, it`s just a really funny...

VARGAS: Well, let`s talk about the premise of the show, which you know, critics are loving. How did you guys come up with that?

HINES: Well, Christen Sussin and Carrie Aizley are stars and creators of the show. They...

VARGAS: They`re friends, right?

HINES: They`re friends of mine. We used to all perform together at the Groundlings Theater, where we did sketch comedy and improv. And so we would create different characters. And these two women came up with these characters.

And my husband, Paul Young, who`s also a producer, with Principato and Young, the producers on the show. They sat down and said, where can we put these women where it would be really funny? And they decided, well, what if they went to college? And so we put them in a freshman dorm.

VARGAS: Who would have thought it would work but does it. I mean, it is hysterical.

HINES: Yes, it`s great. I mean, well, the women that star in the show are just really great improvisers. The show is improvised.

VARGAS: Right.

HINES: The supporting cast are brilliant. And it`s -- and the show itself, you know, the writing of the story outlines, the women do a great job.

VARGAS: It`s sort of similar to "Curb Your Enthusiasm," right?


VARGAS: You guys, you improvise most of it. How does that work?

HINES: Well, usually, when you`re doing a sitcom, you get a script and every word or for the most part, is written. So, you know, if it`s a 30-minute sitcom, then it`s a 35-page script or something like that.

So, with a show like this, you get a story outline, so the women will sit down and write what`s going to happen in the show. But they won`t write the actual dialogue. So that`s left up to the actors.

VARGAS: Right. So it -- it`s a little tough, but at the same time, a lot of fun, I bet.

HINES: Exactly, exactly. There`s one aspect of it that`s easier and one that`s harder. So, it evens out.

VARGAS: It all works out.

HINES: It all works out.

VARGAS: Thank you so much for joining us.

HINES: Thank you.

VARGAS: All right. And "Campus Ladies" airs Sundays on the Oxygen network. Don`t miss it.

ANDERSON: Coming up, a star of a huge 80s TV show is arrested for drunk driving. We will tell you who it is, in a bit.

VARGAS: Also, stars come out to protest the war in Iraq. Tonight, anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan gets some historic help from some big names. Sheehan joins us live in the interview you`ll see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

Plus, we`ve also got this...




ANDERSON: Religious rappers, presidential parodies, all kinds of funny stuff. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT brings you more outrageous and contagious "Viral Videos" coming soon to an e-mail in-box near you. Stay with us.


VARGAS: Coming up on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT Monday, a dog, on a chase. Duane "Dog" Chapman is one of the most famous bounty hunters out there. We ride along as he catches the bad guys. Duane "Dog" Chapman, live on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT Monday.

ANDERSON: It is time to check out what`s new in entertainment in the "SHOWBIZ Guide." Tonight it`s "People`s Picks and Pans: New Movies." We will be talking about Natalie Portman`s "V for Vendetta," a new film with an all-star cast, "Thank You for Smoking." And a film by directing veteran Sydney Lumet, starring Vin Diesel, called "Find Me Guilty."

Joining me here in New York to take us through each one, "People" magazine film critic Leah Rozen. Nice to see you.


ANDERSON: I want to start with "V for Vendetta." Natalie Portman. The big buzz here, pun intended, is that she gets her head shaved during the film. Is that the only memorable part here or is it a solid thriller?

ROZEN: Well, let`s say, you know, she does better as a baldy than Demi Moore did in "G.I. Jane". It`s an OK thriller. I think this is the kind of movie 15-year-old boys are going to find "D for Deep." But the rest of us, it just, there`s less there than they would hope meets the eye.

ANDERSON: Futuristic, political.

ROZEN: Futurist political thriller, looks at questions of terrorism, but in the end, I mean, it is like -- it`s like trying to ride a speeding roller coaster while reading George Orwell`s "1984." Doesn`t quite work. I would say it`s OK, but I think a whole lot is being -- I don`t think it`s as flashy as they think it is.

ANDERSON: Well, let`s move to one I think you like. "Thank You for Smoking." You gave it 3 1/2 stars. All-star cast here. Aaron Eckhardt, Adrian Brody, Robert Duvall, Maria Bello, Katie Holmes. The list goes on and on and on.

ROZEN: I really like this movie. It`s a satire. It`s based on a novel by Chris Buckley. Aaron Eckhardt plays a lobbyist for a tobacco company, a job that is kind of hard to justify, but he does his darndest to do it. It`s a funny, smart, very savvy film. And I hope folks are going to go, because I think you`ll get a kick out of it.

ANDERSON: The satire`s clever there?

ROZEN: Very clever.

ANDERSON: OK, Vin Diesel, known for the lighter fare like "The Pacifier", like "XXX," but this film, "Find Me Guilty", is it a place where he can show off his acting chops?

ROZEN: Yes, and he does a good job. He sort of has gained weight. He wears a pretend fall, like he has no hair. This is a film based on a true-life story on this mafia trial that went on and on and on. Vin Diesel places Joey D. He defends himself, goes, "I`m a gagster, not a gangster." It`s pretty funny stuff.

ANDERSON: Drama or comedy?

ROZEN: Both drama and comedy, works both ways. It`s pretty funny stuff. Echoes of "The Sopranos", worth seeing.

ANDERSON: Interesting role for Vin Diesel.

Leah Rozen, as always, thank you so much for your reviews. We appreciate it.

And for more "People`s Picks and Pans," pick up a copy of "People" magazine. It`s on newsstands now.

VARGAS: Coming up, an historic, star studded concert. The purpose: bring the troops home from the war in Iraq. Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, who lost her son there, joins us live to talk about it.

Plus we`ve also got this.




ANDERSON: Presidential parodies and much more. It`s outrageous and contagious "Viral Videos," the funniest, oddest and most entertaining clips coming to an e-mail in-box near you still to come.

VARGAS: And "Mission Impossible: 3", a brand-new looked at the action packed picture. That`s coming op on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.



ANDERSON: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. It is 31 minutes past the hour. I`m Brooke Anderson in New York.

VARGAS: And I`m Sibila Vargas in Hollywood. You`re watching TV`s only live entertainment news show.

Well, tonight, it is one of the most anticipated movies coming out this summer, Brooke. "MI: 3," of course.

ANDERSON: Yes, it is.

VARGAS: Starring Tom Cruise and I know you love him and you also love Philip Seymour Hoffman, Oscar winner playing the villain this time.

ANDERSON: Very talented guys, and it has been a successfully franchise. Looking forward to that trailer.

Also, Sibila, everyone has heard of the "Viral Video", probably gotten them in their e-mail in-box. Coming up, we will show you some of the most outrageous and contagious viral videos.

But first, she`s a woman who knows how to grab the media`s attention and the spotlight: anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan. Now, some big celebrities have teamed up with her to mark the third anniversary of the Iraq war. Celebrities like REM`s Michael Stipe, actress Susan Sarandon and Chuck D.

She has gained worldwide notoriety after her son was killed in action. She camped outside President Bush`s Texas ranch to protest the war, and Cindy is joining us live now from New Orleans.

Cindy, welcome to you. First of all, these are some big names in the entertainment industry. Michael Stipe, Susan Sarandon. How in the world did you get involved with them? Did you approach them? Did they come to you? How did it work?

CINDY SHEEHAN, ANTIWAR ACTIVIST: Actually, the producers of the show invited me to speak at the event along with these other people. I won`t be singing or playing a musical instrument, but I`ll be speaking.

ANDERSON: OK, well...

SHEEHAN: And the person...

ANDERSON: Go ahead.

SHEEHAN: Go ahead. I was going to say, it`s really to promote a book, too, that I have a chapter in and an introduction, "10 Excellent Reasons Not to go to War". And another book by Anthony Arnot (ph) about exiting from Iraq.

ANDERSON: Well, Cindy, you`re on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, of course, because of this celebrity-packed concert you`re a part of. Do you think that by teaming one with these celebrities, you`re really going to change people`s minds or do you think that you`re preaching to the choir, so to speak?

SHEEHAN: Well, I think, almost everybody in America is on board with us. There`s only 33 percent approval rating for George Bush right now and his war in Iraq, but I think this will energize and help a new group of people to become active in the peace movement also, and that`s really what we`re trying to do now.

We have almost two-thirds of the population on board with us. We just need to get two-thirds of the population moving, and it`s so effective when you use people like this and music to build the movement and to get people active in the movement also.

ANDERSON: You have certainly gained a following. And, Cindy, we see these passionate images of you being -- of you protesting and then being dragged away by the cops, sometimes arrested. You`ve become an icon for the anti-war movement. The media swarms you like paparazzi swarm an A-list celebrity.

What do you say to the critics who think that what you`re doing and how you do it are over the top?

SHEEHAN: Well, what`s going on in Iraq is over the top. What the Bush administration has done to our country is over the top. And I think it needed somebody who was just as willing to be over the top on the other side to capture the attention of America and of the press.

We had an active anti-war movement before August when I went down to Crawford. But the press wasn`t really covering it, so I think it took somebody who was willing to do woo I`m doing, to get the attention of the media, and of the American people.

ANDERSON: Cindy, there`s an interesting poll out today regarding the war and how people have responded to it. It`s a CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll. And I want to take a look at some of the figures here.

Nearly nine in ten have prayed for those affected, half have displayed a yellow ribbon and half have cried because of the war. Now, when you hear these numbers, Cindy, do you want to just stand up and scream, "Finally, I`ve been vindicated"?

SHEEHAN: Well, I will do that when the troops come home. And these people who are praying and these people who are crying, they need to get out in the streets, and they need to write their congressmen and women. They need to write their senators. They need to put pressure on the government to get the troops home. And that`s when I will feel like my son`s death has some kind of meaning.

ANDERSON: We certainly sympathize and our deepest condolences go out to you, Cindy, of course. But there has been some backlash, some people criticizing what you have done. Is there anything you would have done differently with the media since you publicly began protesting the war?

SHEEHAN: You know, I don`t think so, because everything that`s happened has been spontaneous. So, I think everything that has happened has just called attention to the cause.

And like you said, the polls are just doing an about-face, and I think I would do everything exactly the same after my son was dead. Before my son was dead, I think I would have tried more actively to talk him out of going to Iraq. But we can`t bring Casey back, so hopefully, we can bring the rest of our soldiers back home alive.

ANDERSON: Cindy Sheehan, live from New Orleans. Thank you so much for your time this evening. We appreciate it.

SHEEHAN: Thank you, Brooke.

ANDERSON: And the Bring Them Home Now concert takes place this Monday here in New York City.

OK, so we have been asking you to vote on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. War in Iraq: does celebrity activism influence your opinion? Keep voting at Write us at Your e-mails are coming up a little bit later.

VARGAS: First, let`s get to tonight`s "Hot Headlines". Police say a "Dukes of Hazzard" star is hazardous driver. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT reports Tom Wopat, who played Luke Duke on the TV series has been arrested for drunk driving.

Wopat was collared, not by Rosco P. Coltrane but New Jersey police. This after hitting traffic cones and nearly running over police officers. Wopat was also cited for reckless driving.

Sheryl Crow is strong enough to hit the road. The singer, who had successful surgery for breast cancer last month, announced she`s proceeding with a North American tour. After her diagnosis, Crow postponed concerts for March and April, but now she`s expected to make up most of those dates, starting in June.

Tonight, Tom Cruise`s reps deny reports that he was forced Comedy Central to yank a rerun of the controversial "South Park" episode. The episode, which skewered Scientologist and raises questions about Cruise`s sexuality was supposed to air Wednesday night. Buzz was Cruise`s threatened not to do press for "MI: 3." unless the episode was pulled.

Comedy Central says it replaced instead with an episode featuring Isaac Hayes, a Scientologist, who recently quit the show.

This all comes for Cruise as the countdown for the release of "MI: 3". SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has a look at all the heart-pounding excitement in our "SHOWBIZ Showcase".

Ethan Hunt is back and this time he`s doing battle with Oscar-winner Philip Seymour Hoffman in a role like you`ve never seen him before. Let`s take a look.


ROBOTIC VOICE: Agent confirmed.

CRUISE: Stand by. On my mark.


PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN, ACTOR: You don`t have a wife and girlfriend.

CRUISE: Five, four, three.

HOFFMAN: Wherever she is, I`m going to find her.


HOFFMAN: I`m going to hurt her.


HOFFMAN: And then I`m going to kill you right in front of her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you not telling me?

CRUISE: Execute.



CRUISE: Do it.

Go, go, go, go, go!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s Hunt. I know it`s Hunt.


CRUISE: You`ll never get what you want!

HOFFMAN: You don`t think I`ll do it!


VARGAS: That looks good. "Mission Impossible: 3" explodes into theaters May 5 and is expected to kick off this summer`s blockbusters.

ANDERSON: Coming up on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, some rappers are focused on cash. Well, this emcee is focused on a dough of a different kind. Take a listen.




ANDERSON: "Lotsa Matzo" creating lots of buzz on the Web. We will have that, plus other "Viral Videos" that you`ve got to see.

Plus, a walkout to remember. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT takes you to the set of the compelling new movie about kids who made history. It`s the behind-the- scenes story you`ll see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.


ANDERSON: OK. We know you love them and tonight, we`ve got the best music video parodies from the Internet. We`re going to show you the wackiest songs that invading e-mail in-boxes around the globe, making them what are being called now "Viral Videos", and helping us tonight is Andrew Cohen of the Bravo Network where Monday you can catch "Outrageous and Contagious Viral Videos". Safe for your health.

ANDREW COHEN, BRAVO NETWORK: It`s fine, it`s fine.

ANDERSON: First I want to take a look at one of the most popular viral videos circulating out there. It`s about President Bush. Why don`t we take a look?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With hurricanes and terrorists, it`s been hard to just get by. Here`s hoping the year 2006 turns out better than 2005.



ANDERSON: All right, this one, I mean, it`s got the beat. They`ve got the voice down pat. It`s from the JibJab guys, creative guys.


ANDERSON: A lot of people heard of these, but who are they?

COHEN: They are two brothers who start add company in their garage in Brooklyn. They really hit it big with a parody that they did that became a big viral video around the time of the 2004 elections. With Bush and Kerry singing, "This Land is Your Land."

This was their follow-up. And I love the actor who`s doing George Bush`s voice sings it not in a great voice, like he really can`t sing. If George Bush singing that song, I think it`s great.

ANDERSON: It might sound like that.

COHEN: Exactly.

ANDERSON: And now another one from the JibJab guys, this one not about politics, but about religion. And I think it might become a Passover classic.

COHEN: Which we need.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every time I pull out something to eat for this week, I can`t do this. Because I`m Jewish and I can`t eat bread. Yes, my rabbi said, only matzo.



ANDERSON: I love the reference to "The Brady Bunch": "The Matzo Bunch".


ANDERSON: Hilarious. What do you think about this one?

COHEN: I love it. A Jewish rapper e-mailed this song to the JibJab guys and they loved it so much, that they created a cartoon around it. And we need a new Passover classic, much less a Passover rap. I mean, there are no Passover raps at this point.

ANDERSON: And this could be the one.

COHEN: It is; it`s it. Bring it to your Seder. Go to, watch it and that`s it.

ANDERSON: You`re hooked.

And the JibJab guys, of course, have created a lot of copycats. They say imitation is the best, most sincerest form of flattery. This next one from a different company. Hillary Clinton is featured. Here we go.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): I can`t wait I can`t wait till 2008 I can`t wait.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop touching me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re touching me.



ANDERSON: The fishnet pantyhose. The kick line.

COHEN: I love the fishnets. They`re really good. This, on the other hand, they took a voice of someone who really could sing, and they let Hillary really belt it out, which is funny.

ANDERSON: So there are many different ways that these videos are created.

COHEN: Absolutely. This comes from a company called FlowGo. And they`re great. They do a lot of similar political parodies that JibJab do. About a million people have seen this. And at "Viral Videos" on Bravo, we just try to find the best and put them all together. We don`t care where they come from as long as they`re great. And that`s hilarious.

ANDERSON: And I`m sure we will see that one come 2008 even more.

Andrew Cohen, we`ll leave it there. Thanks so much for joining us. It was a lot of fun.

And for more viral videos, just tune into "Courageous and Outrageous" -- I`m sorry, "Outrageous and Contagious Viral Videos". It`s a tongue twister, on Bravo Monday night.

Not very far from where I am right now, not long ago, Latino school children weren`t allowed to use bathrooms at lunchtime or speak Spanish in the classroom. Some students decided to do something about it. The rest is history.

Now the dramatic story is the subject of a new film by Edward James Olmos. I got to go behind the scenes of this compelling movie.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nine thousand Mexican-Americans who fought in the American civil war.

ALEXA VEGA, ACTRESS: Mr. Castro (ph) doesn`t say anything about Mexican-Americans.

VARGAS: Academic prejudices.

VEGA: It`s not right. Don`t people realize how we`re being treated?

VARGAS: And appalling school conditions.

VEGA: Let`s boycott.


VEGA: Why not?

VARGAS: Combined to create the dramatic and legendary 1968 school walkouts in Los Angeles that are hailed by many as the birth of the Chicano civil rights movement in America.


VARGAS: And SHOWBIZ TONIGHT was on the HBO "Walkout" set as the movie about the movement was being filmed. I got a revealing and personal take on the film from Oscar nominated director Edward James Olmos.

(on camera) This happened almost 40 years ago.


VARGAS: What is the importance of telling this story now?

OLMOS: Well, I think we can always learn so much from our past, and this is something that was very difficult to take when it happened. Not too many people outside of the people who were involved understand what happened.

VARGAS (voice-over): What happened is the tale of students at five East L.A. schools who banded together in protest, walking out of their classrooms, later getting arrested, jailed and later acquitted, making a huge statement in the process.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Walkout! Walkout! Walkout!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Walkout! Walkout! Walkout!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Walkout! Walkout! Walkout!

OLMOS: On the third day of the walkout, 22,000 kids joined them.

VARGAS (on camera): Wow.

OLMOS: Then there was over 20 high schools. That stopped a lot of people cold. And pretty soon, they had to stop and take a good look at it because it was out of control.

VARGAS (voice-over): Very much in control, Alexa Vega plays the lead role of high school student Paula Crisostomo, a role that showed the actress what strength is all about.

VEGA: Walkout.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Paula, what are you doing? Paula, get back in your seat, please.

VEGA: Walkout.

She was risking everything, on getting into college, her family, you know, being thrown in jail, to do these walkouts just for the Chicano rights. So I was meeting with her. I`m like, how at 17 years old do you figure out that you can do that? You know, there`s so many, you know, other kids out there, even adults, who cannot do that.

OLMOS: Action.

VARGAS: What the walkout did was change California schools. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has the facts. At the time of the walkouts, only 25 percent of Mexican-Americans graduated high school and only two percent went on to college.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two percent of Chicanos make it into college. Two percent. We got to change that.

VARGAS: The situation has changed for the better. The executive producer, Moctesuma Esparza, who based the movie on his real-life experiences, told me it`s still a fight.

MOCTESUMA, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: The tragedy is that today, that`s still true. That is, we are still underrepresented in college and college graduates and have a drop-out rate here in the city of Los Angeles of over 60 percent. So it is a story that was vital to us then and that is still extremely relevant today.


VARGAS: A real education. "Walkout" airs on HBO tomorrow.

ANDERSON: We`ve been asking to you vote online on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. War in Iraq: does celebrity activism influence your opinion? Apparently not. So far, the voting is very one-sided: 3 percent of you say yes; 97 percent of you say no, celebrity activism doesn`t influence your opinion.

Some of the e-mails we`ve received.

John from Texas says that "Celebrities are for entertainment. Their opinions on anything of importance are irrelevant to the `real` world. And I do not even listen."

And Victor from Colorado tends to agree: "I would like to think we as Americans have our own opinions and don`t let celebrities think for us."

You can keep voting: We`ll be right back. Stay with us.


ANDERSON: It is time to see what`s coming up on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, take a look at the "SHOWBIZ Marquee."

Monday, who let the Dog out? Dog the bounty hunter is here live. We`re going to meet the man who corners criminals and makes them beg for mercy. He`s about to unleash the new season of his hit show, and he`s giving a sneak peek to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

Also Monday, Hollywood smoke signals. Are teens being influenced by starlets who smoke? We will meet a young filmmaker who`s shedding a harsh light on lighting up and who`s taking aim at Tinseltown smokers. It`s the story you`ll see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

Thanks for watching everyone. Have a wonderful weekend. That is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m Brooke Anderson in New York.

VARGAS: Bye, Brooke. I`m Sibila Vargas in Hollywood. Stay tuned for the latest from CNN Headline News.