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Showbiz Tonight

Nation Mourns Over Virginia Tech Massacre; Stars Come Out With Stories of Depression

Aired April 17, 2007 - 23:00   ET


A.J. HAMMER, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT ANCHOR: We`ve got your first look at the very first prime time TV show ripped from the Anna Nicole Smith headlines. I`m A.J. Hammer.
BROOKE ANDERSON, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT ANCHOR: And is Paris Hilton heading to jail? I`m Brooke Anderson. We`re in New York, and TV`s most provocative entertainment news show starts right now.

HAMMER: On SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, the Virginia Tech massacre. Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with the powerful and emotional words from Hollywood`s biggest stars.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So sad. And once again, I think it`s about issues of gun control.


HAMMER: Plus, Hollywood and violence. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with the controversial, heated debate; is it time to tone down TV and movie violence?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it`s very safe to conclude that people are going to be influenced to behave violently based on what they`re seeing on TV.


HAMMER: Also, the surprising link between real-life violence and stars who get depressed.


ROSIE O`DONNELL, "THE VIEW": Columbine, which took me out at the knees, literally, where I thought I would never recover.


HAMMER: Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with celebrities who are openly battling depression. Is there actually something about being famous that contributes to it? It`s a SHOWBIZ TONIGHT special report.

ANDERSON: Hello, I`m Brooke Anderson in New York.

HAMMER: I`m A.J. Hammer. Tonight, Hollywood`s biggest stars join the nation in coping with the unthinkable aftermath of the Virginia Tech massacre.

ANDERSON: Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has this story covered on so many fronts, from what the stars are saying to the issue of Hollywood and violence and the incredible story of the student whose cell phone video of the massacre is still hard to believe. We`ll be speaking with him in just a moment.

All over television today, there were tears and fears, emotion and heartbreak, and SHOWBIZ TONIGHT brings you the images, the coverage and the issues that all of us cannot stop talking about.


ANDERSON (voice-over): Shock and horror give way to grief and reflection.

GEORGE W, BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is a day of sadness for our entire nation.

ANDERSON: Today the nation coped with the massive sorrow over the Virginia Tech massacre, as TV networks aired the somber memorial service for the victims of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are really no word that truly express the depth of sadness that we feel.

ANDERSON: The scope of the tragedy is even being felt in Hollywood.


ANDERSON: As the stars come straight to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT to echo what everyone is feeling right now.

OZZY OSBOURNE, SINGER: And, yet another school shooting. God, it`s sad, man. I mean, you don`t really -- I can`t understand it.

ANDERSON: Everyone is trying to understand. And SHOWBIZ TONIGHT goes from Virginia to Hollywood, bringing you the reaction to the tragedy that has saddened a nation. TV news stations went wall-to-wall with every conceivable detail about the tragedy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The shooter has been identified as 23-year-old Korean national Cho Sueng-Hui.

ANDERSON: The shooter`s family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a family that has lived here, by various accounts, for several years.

ANDERSON: And even his family`s mailman.

ROD WELLS, MAIL CARRIER: Every time I deliver packages to them, they`re always nice and smile.

MEREDITH VIEIRA, "THE TODAY SHOW": I`m Meredith Vieira, here alongside Matt Lauer on the campus of Virginia Tech university.

ANDERSON: All the morning news programs did their shows live from Blacksburg and the big three news anchors went live from there as well. On the night of the shooting, ABC News anchor Charlie Gibson monitored his signature sign off to reflect the pain of the day.

CHARLIE GIBSON, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: I`m Charlie Gibson. I wish I could say this has been a good day. It hasn`t.

ANDERSON: It`s a tragedy that resonates with everyone, including actress Jessica Biel, who shared her reaction with SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

JESSICA BIEL, ACTRESS: When I was at school at Tuft`s, I feels safe there. You know, you feel like well this is school. It`s a campus. My friends are here. It`s sort of a secure environment. And it`s just awful. It`s just awful for the families and for the people and everyone going through everything.

ANDERSON: The Virginia Tech shooting proved too close for comfort for network TV. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can tell you the Fox network has pulled this week`s episode of the crime drama Bones, which features a body found on a college campus. Fox tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, "out of sensitivity to the victims and families touched by this senseless tragedy, we felt the change was appropriate.

But you can`t always stop art from imitating life. In a shocking coincidence, just last week, an episode of the CBS action series "The Unit" depicted a Virginia school being taken over by gunmen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Too quiet. I don`t know if it`s Munich or Columbine in there.

ANDERSON: As expected, the Virginia Tech shooting has launched major debates on violence in Hollywood and gun control that are already being waged over the airwaves and on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

MELISSA CALDWELL, PARENTS TELEVISION COUNCIL: Let`s not let Hollywood off the hook. If they are selling media violence and people are consuming it, it only -- I think it`s very safe to conclude that people are going to be influenced to behave violently based on what they`re seeing on TV.

ANDERSON: But actress Julieanne Moore tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT the blame shouldn`t be pointed toward Hollywood.

JULIEANNE MOORE, ACTRESS: I feel that sometimes we go down a tangent by saying violence, TV, video games. Yes, but that`s not the problem. The real problem are the actual firearms.

ANDERSON: Such passionate debate and the shocking details of the shooting are things we`ll be seeing quite a lot of in the near future, as everybody tries to derive some sort of meaning from such a horrible event.

ZENOBIA HIKES, VIRGINIA VP FOR STUDENT AFFAIRS: We will eventually recover. But we will never, ever forget.


HAMMER: Well, as you just saw, and as the whole world has seen, the most dramatic video capturing the massacre was shot by a student, Jamal Albarghouti. Jamal used his cell phone to capture the video and has been telling his unbelievable story on television ever since. I spoke with Jamal earlier today from Blacksburg, Virginia.


HAMMER: You were on your way to speak with an advisor. You heard some shouting going on. What exactly was it that happened at that moment that made you say, I better stop and document this and record this?

JAMAL ALBARGHOUTI, VIRGINIA TECH STUDENT: Well, going back from my advise -- from where the -- the building, Hatten (ph) hall, where my advisor is, I had to pass by Norris. You know Norris is the building where the whole tragedy happened. And I saw some cops running. They didn`t know where they were running to. They were stopping just where I started taking the video from. And I saw them armed with guns and rifles.

That is when it came to me, something serious is happening and let`s document this.

HAMMER: So you see the cops running. There`s quite a bit of chaos that has begun. A lot of people at that point would say, you know what, I`m getting the heck out of here as fast as I can. Why did you decide to not only stay and shoot what was taking place, but actually get in a little closer?

ALBARGHOUTI: As you say, A.J., a lot of people would run away. Probably that`s the smart decision to make. But some would be curious enough to take the picture. And if you believe that the world should see what I took, it`s worth it to risk your life in order to get that picture. That`s what I think.

HAMMER: And I certainly believe it has given the kind of perspective that we rarely ever get to see. I`m curious, Jamal, as a result of having shot this incredible video footage on your cell phone camera, you`ve been thrust into the media spotlight. How has that been? What`s that been like?

ALBARGHOUTI: Well, it`s been terrible. First of all, I did enjoy it, but the circumstances in which many people have died is really one that you don`t want to get into the media through. My phone has not stopped ringing. I`ve been talking to correspondents or to channels all over the world, Europe, Asia, America, the Middle East. And it`s terrible.

I`ve been talking to people from countries I rarely hear of and now I`m talking to them.

HAMMER: And obviously, you`re doing this in the wake of such a horrific tragedy that you need to deal with and you need to grieve from. How are you doing right now emotionally?

ALBARGHOUTI: Well, you know, I`m trying to be as busy as I can so that I will forget what`s happening. The building just in front of me is the building where all of the families were waiting for any news from their family -- from the authorities about their families and relatives. You can`t imagine how tense the situation was in that building. Every five -- or every half an hour you would -- or every hour or every -- now and then, you would hear people starting to cry.

And they would be hugging each other. And you would know that they got the news you don`t want to hear. You would know that their relative was confirmed dead. For a long time after I got -- after I knew that the first girl we were waiting on news from died, I tried to avoid talking to any other person, because I didn`t want to give them that news. I didn`t want to tell them, I hope your friend is OK, but the friend we -- but Rema, my -- the one we were waiting on news for, she passed away.

I didn`t want to do that. It`s a really, really terrible situation in that building.


HAMMER: Well it goes without saying what Jamal is going through is traumatic. Craig Scott went through something very similar back in 1999. He was thrust into the media spotlight after his sister Rachael was killed during the Columbine high school massacre. He was in the school at the time. I spoke to him in Denver, Colorado and asked him what advice he would have for Jamal.


CRAIG SCOTT, COLUMBINE SURVIVOR: I know when a tragedy like that happens, it seems unimaginable, but we tried to find the good that could come out of it. The event itself is not good, but we were able to find a good that could come out of it. And we were able to do that by sharing my sister`s story, who she was a very kind, compassionate person. So I travel a lot in schools across the country trying to stop things like what happened at the -- in Virginia, and try to stop violence in schools by creating an atmosphere of kindness and compassion.


HAMMER: Craig Scott now travels around the country as a spokesperson for Rachael`s Challenge. It`s a group that helps to promote safety in schools and it`s named after his sister.

Coming up tomorrow, my full interview with Scott, who insists the violent images in entertainment do contribute to the plague of violence in America.

ANDERSON: I can imagine what he and his family went through and what everyone else is going through. As our coverage of the Virginia Tech massacre continues, we tackle that controversial question you just referred to: does Hollywood need to tone down the amount of violence we see on TV and in the movies? A heated debate at 30 past the hour.

Also this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was in this sort of dark place where everywhere I turned there was just more darkness.


HAMMER: Also, the surprising link between real life violence and stars who get depressed. Coming up tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with celebrities who are openly battling depression. It`s a special report.

ANDERSON: And your first look at the very first prime time TV show ripped from the Anna Nicole Smith headlines. Are there similarities? Yes, you can say that. That`s coming up. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT for Tuesday night is coming right back. Stay with us.


ANDERSON: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, TV`s most provocative entertainment news show. I`m Brooke Anderson in New York. Tonight, a special report, stars and depression. Today Rosie O`Donnell opened up again on "The View" about her struggle with depression. Seeing the horrific images of the Virginia Tech massacre brought up painful memories of the 1999 Columbine high school shootings, a shocking event that drove her into a terrible bout of depression.

But Rosie`s not alone. Tonight, we look at the growing number of stars who are opening up about their struggles with mental illness.


O`DONNELL: Somehow this one, I`m almost numb to it. I think here we go again.

ANDERSON: Rosie O`Donnell opening up on "The View" about watching the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech university unfolding on TV. For Rosie, seeing another school shooting was not only painful but scary too.

O`DONNELL: I`m shocked that, you know, Columbine, which took me out at the knees, literally, where I thought I would never recover and went on anti-depressants.

ANDERSON: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can tell you that like Rosie, many celebrities are now being very open and honest about their sometimes crippling battles with depression.

O`DONNELL: I had a child, like you do. I was your age with a baby and the concept of sending them away to school from the nest from the dangers that lurk out there.

ANDERSON: This isn`t the first time Rosie has talked about her problems. She recently dedicated an entire episode of "The View" to women and depression. When she revealed that Columbine shootings affected her so severely, she became depressed, Now takes anti-depressants, and even does this, inversion therapy.

O`DONNELL: Looks scary, but it`s not. It really does help.

HALLE BERRY, ACTRESS: We`re all human and we`re all trying to get this life right.

ANDERSON: She`s beautiful. She`s successful and would seem to have it all. But Halle Berry is yet another A-list celebrity to come clean about her battle with depression.

BERRY: And we all go through ups and downs. None of us are, you know, immune to it.

ANDERSON: Halle opened up to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, talking about her suicide attempt after her marriage to baseball star David Justice fell apart in 1997.

BERRY: I`m not ashamed of anything that`s happened in my past. I`m not ashamed of exposing it really. It does make me human and it connects me in a real way to other people. And that`s part of what this business is all about.

JUDY KURIANSKY, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: As a psychologist, I think it is really courageous and exceptionally helpful for the entire public, if a star like Halle Berry comes out and says, I`ve been depressed and for all the stars who have said I felt like killing myself. It makes those millions of people who have had those thoughts or who have even tried to do something, feel I`m not the only one, there is hope.

ANDERSON: If anybody knows the torture of depression, it`s Marie Osmond. Marie stole our hearts in 1976 when she starred in "The Donnie & Marie Show." But behind her beautiful smile and glamorous life, Marie says there was pain.

MARIE OSMOND, ACTRESS: I wore myself out trying to put on the smile. I would go home and fall apart. I would sob on my way home from work every day.

ANDERSON: Marie says she suffered sexual abuse as a child and had anorexia as a teen. Then, as an adult, she got the horrible news that her husband, Bryan, had a brain tumor. Her struggles didn`t end there. In 2001, Marie told Larry King about her battle with post partum depression.

OSMOND: This is supposed to be the most happy time of your life. This is what the world tells you. And you`re dying inside. You know, this is the thing that`s so difficult about having post partum depression.

ANDERSON: Just like marie, Brooke Shields also suffered from post partum depression after the birth of her first baby.

BROOKE SHIELDS, ACTRESS: I was in this sort of dark place where everywhere I turned there was just more darkness.

ANDERSON: Brooke tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT that anti-depressants helped her and now she`s helping other women with her book "Down Came The Rain."

SHIELDS: I felt the need to at least not just stand on any kind of a soapbox but just to say this is my story.

ANDERSON: Hollywood psychologist Dr. Robert Butterworth says celebrities like Brooke Shields help remove the stigma surrounding mental illness.

DR. ROBERT BUTTERWORTH, PSYCHOLOGIST: It made people think that there`s something that you can get and you can do something about it.

ANDERSON: Even former teen pop star Mandy Moore revealed she had to deal with bouts of depression, telling SHOWBIZ TONIGHT that at age 22 she found herself depressed for apparently no reason.

MANDY MOORE, SINGER: You know, I`m a pretty glass half full sort of girl, but everybody has their ups and downs. And the last year has been -- has been a bit of a big year for me.

BUTTERWORTH: Show business is a really tough business and you`re not just judged on your ability to read a script, but you`re judged on how you look, how you get across to other people. And, you know, for some people it`s just too much psychologically.


ANDERSON: Other celebrities to come out and say they have been depressed, "Today Show" host Meredith Vieira and "Scrubs" star Zach Braff. Doctors say when stars talk about mental illness it not only takes away shame and humiliation, but it also gives others the courage to face their problems too.

HAMMER: Well, Brooke, it was a shocking and dramatic scene surrounding Madonna`s visit to Africa. I`ve got the very latest on exactly why police were called out and why kids were actually throwing stones. We`ve also got this.


ANNA NICOLE SMITH, ACTRESS: Meet your new baby sister. Say hi, Ava.


ANDERSON: I`ve got your very first look at the very first prime time TV show ripped from the Anna Nicole Smith headlines. It`s got Anna, Daniel, Howard K. Stern, all the characters. We`ll show it to you next.

HAMMER: Also coming up, more on the tragic, horrific Virginia Tech massacre. On the way, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT asks the shocking question, does Hollywood need to tone down the amount of violence that we see on TV and in the movies? It`s a heated debate. That`s coming up at 30 past the hour.


HAMMER: Some drama during madonna`s back-to-Africa visit. Yesterday we told you that Madonna`s in Malawi again. She`s in the process of adopting a one-year-old orphan, David, from Malawi. Well, listen to this: today, when she went back to that orphanage, school children threw rocks at reporters` cars, and police apparently had to form a security ring around the building.

You see, they wanted her visit to be private. Well, Madonna did eventually invite some reporters inside. David`s biological father, who by the way has complained that he`s had trouble getting information about his son, was there too. Madonna brought along daughter Lourdes and husband Guy Ritchie for the trip.

ANDERSON: Now we`ve got your first look at the brand-new "Law & Order: Criminal Intent." It`s ripped right from the Anna Nicole Smith story. Here`s the info on the episode. A former-stripper-turned model mysteriously dies days after her young son does. Sounds familiar, right? Take a look at this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come give your momma kiss. Oh, how do I look?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Beautiful, like always.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come meet your new baby sister. Say hi, Ava.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, hey, you got a cold, sanitize.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Make sure Ava`s not blocked.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can we take your entrance again, Justin?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why? It was real. This is a reality show.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, I know it`s your show, honey, but this is Ava`s big TV debut. Let her shine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure, whatever you want, mom.


ANDERSON: So Anna named Lauraly (ph) here, her son Justin. There`s even a Howard K. Stern-like character. Anna is played by "Buffy the Vampire" star Kristy Swanson. Peter Bogdonavich (ph) also guest stars. Check out this Anna "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" on NBC May 8th.

HAMMER: Well Brooke, another prime time show is stealing a plot line from the headlines. A fictional Britney Spears making a hair-raising appearance on one of the most popular shows out there. That`s coming up.

ANDERSON: Also, A.J., is Britney`s sometimes pantyless partying pal Paris Hilton heading to jail? Could she be trading the simple life for the prison life. That explosive story straight ahead.

HAMMER: And more on the tragic, horrific Virginia Tech massacre. Coming up, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT asks the shocking question, does Hollywood need to tone down the amount of violence we see on TV and in the movies? A heated debate coming up next.




JESSICA BIEL, ACTRESS: We think that`s probably true to - to an extent. But when you do a see a lot of violence and you watch it on TV and you watch it in film, sure, you do become a little desensitized to it.


HAMMER: Actress Jessica Biel talking to me today about whether violent films and TV shows desensitize people to real violence.

Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. This is TV`s most provocative entertainment news hour. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.

ANDERSON: And I`m Brooke Anderson. Tonight, in the wake of the horrible tragedy at Virginia Tech, the shooting massacre of dozens of students by a lone gunman, identified as student Cho Seung-Hui, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is asking the provocative question: is it time for Hollywood to tone down the violence? While it is still not known what the gunman`s motive was, the violence in Virginia is once again provoking debates about violence in America, whether there should be stricter gun-control laws, and whether we have become desensitized to violence by the nonstop images we see on TV shows, in the movies and in video games.

HAMMER: And joining us tonight from Washington, D.C., Matthew Felling, media director for the Center for Media and Public Affairs.

Here in New York, developmental psychologist Cooper Lawrence.

And joining us from Hollywood tonight, investigative journalist Jane Velez-Mitchell, who is the author of the upcoming book, "Secrets Can Be Murder."

I appreciate you all being with us tonight.

And Matthew, let me start with you. Because as is wont to happen in the wake of any tragedy that unfolds before our nation, Hollywood reacts quickly. We learned today that Fox has pulled a scheduled episode of "Bones." They did it for good reason, too; in this particular episode that was pulled, a student is killed on campus.

Is it possible, Matthew - can we even deny that being bombarded by this level of violence in our - in our society desensitizes us to it?

MATTHEW FELLING, CENTER FOR MEDIA AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS: Well, not at all. And I`ve thought that Jessica Biel was striking on a physical level, but now I know that I really appreciate the way she thinks. I mean, we are desensitized to it - to violence to a certain degree in America. But much like that old proverb, where success has a thousand fathers, a tragedy, a nightmare like what we saw Blacksburg yesterday - which is not far at all from - from where I was raised, as a matter of fact - that has a thousand responsible factors as well. That has Internet, music, TV, Hollywood, parenting, mental health care. There`s a lot of different things that go in this, along with the signals, along with people maybe not putting together the dots beforehand.

Yes, the media and the violence of Hollywood plays a role in this cultural stew that we`re discussing now. But what else is there? The gun laws is what we`re talking about. And unfortunately, sometimes in America, it takes a drastic, dramatic event for this to cause social changes. And I think it will cause us to reevaluate what we`re doing. I don`t see Hollywood changing the way it goes.

I think maybe the - the legislation on the gun side will be one of the - one of the immediate - immediate shifts.

HAMMER: Yes, and I have a - another celebrity`s interesting reaction regarding gun laws and how they play into all this coming up in - in just a moment.

I mean, Jane - you know, we`re - we`re not for a moment here saying, what comes out of Hollywood, that hits us everyday, whether it`s on television, in the movies or videogames, that that is the reason that what occurred, occurred.

But, you know, as Matthew said, it is part of the stew, isn`t it?

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Of course. It`s part of our culture. You can`t watch murder, rape, shootings, sadism and cruelty forever and remain forever horrified.

So the next step is, you become emotionally numb. Then you become intellectually indifferent. And then you begin to accept it.

Well, it`s going on everywhere. It`s kind of group think. It must be OK. It`s not so much that somebody sees a specific movie, and then goes out and commits a specific crime based on that, although there was "The Matrix" defense, we have to remember. It`s the steady diet that we`re all getting of violence everywhere we turn that is turning us all emotionally numb.

HAMMER: Yes, I don`t think we can ignore the fact that there are crazy people who will go out and see a movie, or they`ll see something that happened on TV, violent or otherwise, and they - and they will copy it.

Cooper Lawrence, I`m going at you now to get the developmental psychologist`s perspective on all of this. Because as I say over and over, these images are nonstop. They are impossible to ignore. They`re coming at us everyday. They must desensitize us.

COOPER LAWRENCE, DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Let`s be clear what the word "desensitization" means in this context. You know, in a - in a psychology context, if you went to a psychologist because you were afraid of snakes, they would - you`d be around snakes enough until you`re no longer afraid.

It`s the same thing. You`re bombarded with an ideal or an image or whatever it is enough times, eventually, it`s sort of - it becomes innocuous. It`s something that doesn`t really affect you in the same way. So it`s really hard to distinguish when you should be afraid and when you shouldn`t.

And then the other half of it is, we`re talking about a situation where - you know, there`s something - there`s something called agrossegenic (ph) tendencies, which means somebody is born with the idea that aggression is where they go immediately. So then it`s reinforced by what happens, what they see in - in the media. They see it, and they go, `Ah, that`s what I`ve been thinking this whole time. And now it makes perfect sense to me.`


HAMMER: Go ahead.

FELLING: A.J. - yes. Well, I think one of the key questions here that we`re not going to answer, and - and psychologists and media scholars across the country are trying to figure out is, we`re talking about the media. Are we just talking about Hollywood? Are we just talking about entertainment? Or are we also talking about the car bombs that you see in Fallujah, or the violence that we see in - in Sudan. I mean, just the suggestion of violence might be enough for an unstable mind.

And I`m not satisfied with watering down media content for the - the most unstable of a personalities. Because if we are just going to give them that are unobjectionable or inoffensive or really not all that dramatic, it`s not going to leave with us a whole lot.

HAMMER: Yes, I would totally agree with that. You know, artistic expression has to continue, and information has to continue to flow in terms of the news that`s coming out of wherever it may be, Fallujah and otherwise.

Another actor I spoke with - say, Nicolas Cage - I was interviewing him for his upcoming movie, which is called "Next." Now, I just saw that movie. I`m not suggesting that the violence in that movie would have anything to do with anybody picking up a gun and going out and shooting somebody. But I have to tell you, I happen to see the film the very night that the tragedy unfolded at Virginia Tech.

I - I want you to listen to what Nick Cage had to say today when I asked him whether violent images do desensitize us to real violence. Take a look.


NICOLAS CAGE, ACTOR: There are two arguments on that. One is that desensitizes us, and the other is that it provides a place for people express that without doing it for real. Violence has been with us since we existed.


HAMMER: Yes, well, there`s no question about that. And - and - and he sort of touches on - on something that we were talking about and touching on a moment ago - you know, violence perhaps does have a place in the media, and it`s not all bad.

Jane, you buy that?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, of course.

I mean, you have to use violence to depict certain historical events accurately. You could not do an historically accurate depiction of the Holocaust without showing violence. In fact, people have been criticized when they try to sanitize the violence in the Holocaust. And of course, we have to see what`s really going on in Iraq, and we should see some of the real violence going on there.

What we are talking about here that`s offensive is the meaningless, gratuitous violence that does not educate, that does not inform, that does not take us to a higher place. It is like pornography.

HAMMER: Matthew.

FELLING: Yes, well, I think that - I think that that`s right.

I think that what we need in the media is -- I think - I`ll take it beyond gratuitous; I`ll take it to irresponsible. You know, if we see a cause and effect of somebody with a gun shooting somebody and that person getting slain, that`s cause and effect. But it`s those movies that we see, where, you know, there`s 30 guys with 30 machine guns, and they`re all just shooting each other, and nobody gets hurt, nobody really has any - any serious wounds that they take on. That`s the gratuitous thing that we`re looking at.

And at the end of the day - and I don`t want to sound like one of those cultural zealots - it does also have to do with how we - how we are media literate, and how we are raised to see the images on the screen, and realize that there is that filter. It is on the screen; it is not real life. And we really shouldn`t mistake the two for each other.

HAMMER: No, we have to remember that it comes down to how we process information, and how we process information comes down to how we are raised, how our parents treated us. It - there - there are so many factors at play there.

You know, whatever this discussion comes up, there are a couple of schools of thought. Of course, there are those who say it is absolutely ridiculous to suggest watching violence on TV, in the movies, playing them in videogames that are - are very violent actually breeds violence. I - I have spoken with many actors and actresses and people in the creative medium who said, `Not a chance of that.` I have spoken to videogame creators who say, `Not a chance of that.`

Now - now Cooper Lawrence, developmental psychologist, people also say there is a link. What is the truth here? Is there a scientific link? Is there actual evidence to suggest that it is true?

LAWRENCE: There`s 35 years of evidence.

The research is very clear on this. It says that repeated exposure to media violence desensitizes the viewer to actual violence. And, more than that, somebody that has these aggressoegenic cognitions that I was talking about earlier, it`s reinforced by seeing these media images over and over. And this isn`t my opinion; this is years and years of research. At least 35 years.

HAMMER: I also spoke with Julianne Moore. Julianne`s also starring in the movie "Next." And - and I asked her whether she thinks there is a direct link between violence we watch on TV, as we were just saying, and the movies, and - and real-life violence.

I want you to pay close attention to what she had to say.


JULIANNE MOORE, ACTRESS: You know, I mean, when - when these actual things occur - I mean, you know, we skirt - I - I - I feel that sometimes we kind of down a tangent by saying, `Oh, you know, violence, TV, videogames.`

Well, yeah, but that`s not the real problem. The real problem are the actual firearms.


HAMMER: We could go on with the firearm debate all - all night.

But is Julianne basically right here, Jane? You know, people who do simply blame and try to narrowly point a finger on TV and at movies and in the violence, they`re kind of missing the point.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: She has a good point, A.J. Obviously, TV shows don`t kill people; people with guns kill people. But we have to look at in the context of the culture that we`re living in. We are still living with a Wild West mentality in this country, where we glorify guns, where they are a glamorous symbol of masculinity. And that`s what we have to change.

What we need to do to guns is what we did to cigarettes: deglamorize them.

HAMMER: And at the risk of repeating myself, we have to talk about it to get it done.

I appreciate you all joining us tonight. Cooper Lawrence, Jane Velez-Mitchell, Matthew Felling, thanks for being here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.


LAWRENCE: My pleasure.

ANDERSON: We`ve been asking you to vote on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day": Hollywood - "Violence and Hollywood: Is it time to tone it down?"

Keep voting at And write to us at We`re going to read some of your e-mails tomorrow.

And you can now stay on top of the latest and most provocative entertainment news stories and find out what we`re working on by signing up for the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsletter. Go to our Web site,, and look at the left-hand side of the page where it says "Newsletter." Just click to sign up, and we will send you the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsletter everyday.

It`s a debate that has picked up steam since the Don Imus scandal. Is rap music partially to blame for sexism and racism? Hip hop mogul Russell Simons just took part in Oprah Winfrey`s town hall meeting about whether rap should clean up its - it act. And here`s next in the interview you`ll see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

HAMMER: He is so well-spoken on this subject.

Plus, Paris Hilton has a date - not the kind you may be thinking. Coming up, why she`s been ordered to appear in court. She`s got to show up, and she could be facing some jail time. That`s on the way.

ANDERSON: And the infamous Britney Spears head-shaving incident - well, it gets some play in primetime. We`re going to show you how "CSI: Miami" paid tribute to bald Britney, straight ahead.

UNDIENTIFIED MALE: Master, stand by to your break. Roll it now, and Cathy (ph) effect black.



MAYA ANGELOU, POET: I think that young black men and women in positions of power, and I include Mr. Simmons, Mr. Chappelle, Mr. Snoop Dogg - what are we doing to our children? I admire so many of the young men and women. They just (INAUDIBLE). They went off the road somewhere.


ANDERSON: That was poet Maya Angelou on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," calling on leaders and entertainment - entertainers in the rap and hip-hop community to take responsibility and stop promoting negative messages.

Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, TV`s most provocative entertainment news show. I`m Brooke Anders in New York.

Russell Simmons, the co-founder of Def Jam Records, was part of a two-day panel Winfrey hosted after fallout from Don - Don Imus` racist and sexist comments about the Rutgers women`s basketball teams. Russell was one of the early pioneers of hip hop, and is with me tonight in New York.

Russell is also the author of this new book. It`s about to be released. It`s called, "Do You? 12 Laws To Access the Power in You To Achieve" Success - "To Achieve Happiness and Success."

Russell, great to see you.


ANDERSON: All right. So you were on this panel, the Oprah Winfrey town hall debate, the meeting. And it reignited, you know, conversations that people have been having for years. Do rap and hip hop stars bear some responsibility for the messages, for the offensive language, demeaning terms that maybe people are picking up and using like it`s no big deal.

SIMMONS: Let me see this: we had the Hip Hop Summit, and the purpose of it - in fact, the subtitle, when you read the logo, it says, "Hip Hop Summit: Taking Back Responsibility." And each individual is responsible for what they say. We always inspire the audience to tell their truth.

Although I - I find some of what they say hurtful, I find the conditions from which they come hurtful as well. And I think it`s important that when we talk about cleaning up the lyrics, that we also talk about cleaning up the conditions of poverty and ignorance that promote the lyrics.

ANDERSON: Well, to that end, Russell, you know, in your book, you write about that.

SIMMONS: Yes. Yes.

ANDERSON: You know, the last chapter is entitled, "Spit Truth to Power." I - I do want to read something from it.

You say, "Instead of attacking rappers for expressing our reality, we should applaud them for forcing us to address the wounds of poverty and disenfranchisement that continue to fester in this country."

You know, I don`t think anybody would disagree about addressing poverty, and that`s really important. But I think a lot of people might say, `No, it`s more of the images of rappers throwing money at scantily women and - and - and for demeaning women, and - and saying negative things.`

SIMMONS: I - I agree that - that we live in a very misogynistic and sexist society. The fact that Snoop Dogg has taken a turn, it reminds you a lot of Hugh Hefner, or that what we see everyday that is sexist and - and the way that we treat women in the office and the clergyman and the firemen and the policemen, that sexism that they have is being reflected in these songs is deeply offensive to me.

But our society has to be looked at when we point to the poets. Whenever you choose the artist as scapegoats for your own behavior, when you don`t want them to speak because they remind you of your truth - it`s true that we`re sexist. It`s true that we have a - well, rappers almost never are racist; they do more to bring together - but violent. Our communities, there is a tremendous murder rate.


SIMMONS: But let me say it`s about the violence. I can`t believe that our violent rappers are - are nearly as violent as the horrible choices we vote for and support. In other words, our gangsta rappers could never be as violent or as gangsta as our government.


ANDERSON: I understand you`re saying it may be a reflection of society.

SIMMONS: And so.

ANDERSON: I mean, don`t you think some kids are trying to emulate these behavior maybe, in a sense?

SIMMONS: Well, today, all of the entertainment industry - you know, when we watch primetime news, we don`t get the good news, we get the bad news. When we watch 8:00 programming, what are the hot movies? What are those movies saying?

So the rappers are entertainers, and - and they are creative people. And they express sometimes things that make us uncomfortable. I want to address what - after the police came out, I remember years ago - I remember years ago, there was a tremendous backlash on rap, and the artists got in a lot of trouble for saying what they said. But right after those songs came out - there were two. It was "F the Police," and I think "Cop Killer" - the artists lost their record companies. Certainly Ice-T did.

But then the next thing in - which ensued was a dialogue between police and community all over the country.

ANDERSON: Mm-hmmm.

SIMMONS: We - when you watch the show "COPS," what do you see? Almost every call is a - is domestic violence. But yet we never discuss the misogyny that exists in - in some levels of our society. The violence that is going on but not talked about.

So I`m saying that the rappers can take greater responsibility. And that`s what the Hip Hop Summit, and that`s what my life`s work is dedicated to. Yes, we change the drug laws; yes, we registered millions of voters; yes, we put hundreds of millions dollars back in the education budget; yes, we had a Hip Hop Summit Saturday.

ANDERSON: You do a lot of great work. You do.

SIMMONS: .when 5,000 kids came out. I mean, artists came and educated the kids.

ANDERSON: Yes, and - and I want to say, when you pioneered hip hop it was very different from what we`re seeing today.

Ten seconds left, the violence in the images coming out of Hollywood. Very quickly, how can it all change?

SIMMONS: I think that Hollywood and the artists have a responsibility to tell the truth.


SIMMONS: And I think people who job it is to - to mentor them should mentor them, so that if they see more, they can say more.

ANDERSON: We`ll leave it there. Well said.

SIMMONS: Thank you.

ANDERSON: Russell Simmons, thank you so much.

SIMMONS: My pleasure.

ANDERSON: And your book, "Do You?" will be in stores April 24.

SIMMONS: Thank you.

HAMMER: Paris Hilton has a date - a court date, that is. Coming up, why she`s been ordered to appear in court and could be facing jail time.

ANDERSON: Plus, the infamous Britney Spears head-shaving incident gets play in primetime. We`re going to show you "CSI: Miami" paid tribute to bald Britney, straight ahead.

Stay with us.


HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, TV`s most provocative entertainment news show. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.

And it looks like we`re now going to have to wait a little while longer to find out if Paris Hilton is going to hitting the behind-bars scene. Today, Paris was ordered to appear in court on May 4 for her hearing on a probation-violation case. Prosecutors want to revoke her probation for driving with a suspended license, meaning that she could spend up to 90 days in jail. Oh we can dream.

Paris had 36 months probation after pleading no contest to an alcohol-related reckless driving charge. And then when she got pulled over for allegedly speeding, driving without her headlights on and driving with a suspended license, Paris` spokesman, she didn`t know her license was suspended.

Paris wasn`t in court today, but the judge does say she has to show up May 4.

ANDERSON: It`s a little nod to Britney Spears from a TV drama. We all remember the real-life drama when Britney Spears checked into rehab, checked right out again and then shaved off all of her hair at a salon in California. Well, on "CSI Miami" last night, it was sort of ripped-from- the-headlines meets ripped-from-the-hairlines.

The episode centered around an investigation at a rehab center favored by celebrities. At the very end of the episode, a hot young singer checks in, but not before shaving her head bald and staring blankly into a mirror. Unfortunately, the ending credits roll before we find out if her stay at rehab was successful. But in real life, Britney seems to be getting her act together.

And A.J., that is great news.

HAMMER: It is excellent news.

Well, yesterday, Brooke, we asked people to vote on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day." And here was the question: "Don Imus Fired: We it lead to censorship?"

The vote was kind of split down the middle: 54 percent of you saying "yes"; 46 percent of you saying "no."

We got a lot of e-mails on the topic, too. Here are a couple of them:

O`Shai, or O`Shai -- however you pronounce that -- from Ohio writes, "If Mr. Imus is not protected to state how he feels, then where is the protection for the rest of us?"

We also got an e-mail from Vince in Wisconsin. Vince writes, "The Don Imus remarks and the firing will likely result in emboldening those so inclined to attack free speech."

And we always appreciate you sending in your thoughts for the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day."

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

ANDERSON: Yes, we are. I`m Brooke Anderson. Thanks for watching, everyone.

"GLENN BECK" is coming up next, right after the latest headlines from CNN Headline News. Keep it right here.