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Showbiz Tonight

Britney`s Comeback Crisis: The VMA Disaster; Kanye, Others, Comment on Her On Stage Flop; Rosie Versus Barbara

Aired September 11, 2007 - 23:00   ET


A.J. HAMMER, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT ANCHOR: There`s a nasty Rosie O`Donnell/Barbara Walters battle brewing. Why Rosie is reportedly telling Barbara to retire. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.
BROOKE ANDERSON, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT ANCHOR: And Reese Witherspoon speaking out for the first time about her shocking divorce from Ryan Phillippe. How a parking lot helped her get through it. I`m Brooke Anderson in Hollywood. TV`s shows most provocative entertainment show starts right now.

HAMMER: On SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, the shocking Britney figure firestorm. Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT asks the controversial question, is it fair to criticize Britney Spears for her weight? Fine, knock her for her lousy lip-synching, her disastrous dancing. But if she were a man, would so many people be saying Spears should slim down? SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with a fired-up debate about weight, body image and Britney`s MTV meltdown.

A blockbuster Anna Nicole Smith event. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Brooke Anderson goes one on one with the woman whose new book claims that Larry Birkhead and Howard K. Stern were caught in a compromising and intimate position.


RITA COSBY, AUTHOR: We stand by our story today. We make no apologies.


HAMMER: Plus, Rita Cosby also responds to Birkhead`s shocking words on Larry King.


LARRY BIRKHEAD, FATHER OF DANNIELYNN: It`s defamatory. It`s false. It`s pure fiction.


HAMMER: Tonight, the no holds barred Anna Nicole interview that you`ll see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

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

ANDERSON: And I`m Brooke Anderson coming to you from Hollywood. All right, from coast to coast, Britney Spears has been facing harsh criticism for, let`s just face it, A.J., her just plain awful performance of "Give Me More" at the MTV Video Music Awards. But tonight, A.J., we are hearing criticism of the criticism.

HAMMER: And for good reason, Brooke. People are also taking shots at her weight. And they`re being really, really mean about it. So mean those fat cracks are making us cringe more than Britney`s performance did. Come on, now. Is it really fair? And now some people are saying enough with the Britney body bashing.


HAMMER: OK, most everyone agrees that Britney Spears stank up the place when she performed her new song "Give Me More" at the MTV Video Music Awards. The criticism of Britney`s sporadic lip-synching?

JO PIAZZA, "THE NEW YORK DAILEY NEWS": She wasn`t even trying. Her mouth wasn`t even moving.

HAMMER: That`s a fair point. Jokes about her bad dancing?

FRANGELA, COMEDY DUO: She was just shifting weight. It was like this.

HAMMER: That`s a clean hit as well. Even comments about her attire.

FRANGELA: She needed to kill that stylist, because whoever said that she was ready to come out in that two piece was wrong.

HAMMER: All part of the celebrity game. But SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can tell you it`s all the nasty cracks about Britney`s body that many consider out of bounds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stuffed into hot pants, jiggling like jell-o, sleepwalking through her song, a reviewer said.

HAMMER: We are hearing biting, over the top and just plain mean comments about Britney`s body.

ALICIA QUARLES, ASSOCIATED PRESS ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: The comments about Britney being fat have gotten extremely nasty.

HAMMER: Lard and clear, read the headline in the "New York Post." posted an unflattering image of Britney, and referred to what Perez calls Britney`s, quote, beer belly. Now, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can tell you there`s a backlash against the Britney backlash, with some saying you can pan her performance all you want, but back off Britney`s bod.

QUARLES: I think that when people say Britney Spears is fat, it`s really terrible.

HAMMER: Alicia Quarles from the Associated Press tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT the Britney body bashing has gotten out of hand.

QUARLES: Britney Spears has a little bit of meat on her bones. She`s not fat. So that criticism is pretty unwarranted.

HAMMER: Almost from the time Britney arrived on the scene in 1998, she had an image as the belly-baring young hottie with the rock-hard abs.

QUARLES: She built her whole career off of being sexy. I`m not saying that she was talentless, but she wasn`t a great singer. She was a great performer. She had a really nice body. So she could wear little clothes and we tuned in because Britney was sexy.

HAMMER: But even after almost ten years and two kids, Britney still faces tremendous scrutiny about her body, as do most other female stars. No entertainment news show has covered Hollywood`s pressure to be thin more than SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, and singer Nelly Furtado recently told SHOWBIZ TONIGHT she knows firsthand what that scrutiny feels like.

NELLY FURTADO, SINGER: There`s a lot of pressure to be thin. There`s a lot of pressure to be stick thin, because to look thin on camera, you have to be, like, five pounds under weight, under your healthy body weight. So there`s a lot of pressure.

HAMMER: But who`s to blame for that perfect body pressure that Britney is feeling right now? Journalist Pat Lalama tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, the culprit is sexism.

PAT LALAMA, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: If women made as much stink about men`s bodies as men do about women, men would stay in the fetal position and never get out of bad. I`ve had it with that kind of junk.

HAMMER: But on "The View," Elizabeth Hasselbeck say women bear some of the blame, too.

ELIZABETH HASSELBECK, "THE VIEW": I bet there`s not one man criticizing her for being fat right now. I bet it`s women. That`s sad that women turn on women and call each other fat when they`re not. She`s not fat. She just had two kids.

HAMMER: Sure, you can argue that if Britney had knocked it out of the park on the Video Music Awards, no one would be talking about her weight now. But she didn`t. So now we`re left with criticism that`s not only harmful to Britney`s ego, it might also be harmful to the national discussion on body image.


HAMMER: Or maybe it is a good thing to be discussing right now. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is indeed the only entertainment news show that covers Hollywood`s pressure to be thin like no other entertainment news show. And tonight we have two very fired-up guests who are ready to tear into what appears to be a disturbing double standard. Here with me tonight from Hollywood, the author of "Do I Look Fat in This," Jessica Weiner. In New York tonight, Steve Santagati. He wrote "The Manual."

Steve, Jessica, it`s good to see you both. I`ve made it pretty clear I`m not at all happy with what has been going on here. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT wanted to hear what some other people had to say. So we hit the streets of New York City to find out what they`re saying about the shape Brit is in. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that if she`s going to get back into performing and all of that, I think that she should have maybe done a few more exercises or hit the gym a few more times.


HAMMER: All right, Jessica Weiner, let me go to you. If this was Justin Timberlake who had gotten up on stage at the VMAs maybe a few pounds heavier than we`re used to seeing him, would we even be having this conversation right now?

JESSICA WEINER, AUTHOR, "DO I LOOK FAT IN THIS": No, it almost feels ridiculous, A.J., to be having this conversation. The fact that we would label Britney Spears as fat is absolutely ridiculous. And I would challenge any reviewer or critic out there who is running with these jokes to get in a bikini themselves and show us what their body looks like. This is ridiculous, and it doesn`t help us at all.

In fact, what it`s really doing, A.J., as you mentioned, is that it`s really harming our children, because this criticism of Britney`s body, it lands on a 19-year-old`s Facebook page. It lands on the playground of a fifth grader. And all of a sudden a five-year-old is wondering if she`s the size of Britney. This is how it starts.

STEVE SANTAGATI, AUTHOR, "THE MANUAL": A.j., forget the kids. If you have good parents, it`s not going to affect the kids. The kids shouldn`t be seeing this stuff if they`re young enough to be impressionable by it. The point is, as far as I`m concerned, and I`m pretty critical, I thought Britney looked great. Did I think her performance was good? No.

The other thing we have to look at is she is an entertainer. She put herself out there to say, hey, look, I`m in a bikini, check me out. So everybody`s going to have their opinion. And women, like Elizabeth Hasselbeck said, are much tougher on other women than men are.

HAMMER: Yes, but back to the point, Steve, of it being a double standard; if it were a guy, nobody would be lashing out at a guy. And guys -- no, guys put themselves out there with their image.

WEINER: That`s so not true, Steve. It would never be the same for a guy that it is for a woman.

SANTAGATI: It`s not the same. It`s a double standard. So what? what are you going to do? We all know that. Britney knew that 100 years ago.

WEINER: Wait a minute, we have to do something about it, Steve. To keep having this conversation is absolutely ridiculous. We have the power, as the media, to say something like we`re doing now. That`s what we need to do about it. You can`t keep kicking a dog while it`s down. What a horrible, inhumane message to be sending. If you want to call it entertainment, that`s ridiculous.

SANTAGATI: First of all, let me tell you something. If you want to go out in the public eye on a huge show and wear a bikini, then you`re going to be scrutinized. If you don`t think that`s going to happen, then you`re blind.

WEINER: You have to take into consideration what kind of mental state she`s in. Clearly we`re watching her in the state of a meltdown.

SANTAGATI: You`re right. Ready for this? I`m going agree with you on this. I don`t feel bad for her as Britney Spears. But on strictly a human level, we shouldn`t try to beat someone up while they`re down. Forget that she`s a celebrity for a minute. Would you do this to a girl if she was your friend, your neighbor, your co-worker? No --

WEINER: But we have to remember that celebrities are human beings. rMD+BO_rMDNM_Britney Spears was 14 when she came on the scene.

HAMMER: Steve, I think, to that point, you know, perhaps -- there is never an excuse for using mean language to describe anybody. But, Jessica, what do you think about the idea -- and I`m just floating this out there from the other side -- separate from the fact that people are saying mean things, that they absolutely shouldn`t be saying, you know, Britney is somebody who has put herself out there and sold herself based largely on her image and wearing sexy outfits and the belly showing and everything like that.

So is it almost understandable, given how society unfortunately can be, that this has happened?

WEINER: Well, here`s another element to that conversation, A.J. Britney was 14 -- and I can guarantee you as a 14-year-old, her ideas were not to put herself out there as a sex symbol. I would look at the people around her, her parents, Larry Rudolph in the beginning, the record executives. People made the image of Britney when she was a kid. So somebody else also has to bear responsibility.

Britney is a human being. She`s an adult. She`s a mother and she has her own self-responsibility. But we can`t sit and continue to point fingers at child stars who are struggling and really saying wait, you have to have some humanity here.

SANTAGATI: Why don`t you cut to the point. You ready for this? There`s a lot of money that hinges on making women obsessed about how heavy they are. And it`s women`s magazines, it`s products.

WEINER: I wouldn`t argue with that for one minute.

SANTAGATI: So why don`t you stop buying it? Why don`t you tell your magazines, we don`t want to see another story that we`re too skinny or we`re too heavy or I`ve got to look good in this? It`s your fault. If you buy this stuff, you`re supporting the system. You`re supporting the obsession.

WEINER: Steve, you have to understand you make a really good point, but when there is a kid out there who is hearing this from every angle and who is on Perez Hilton or is on MySpace and Facebook and they are hearing these stories reproduced over and over again, they need to have conversations like we`re having, albeit a debate, that they have informed information.

HAMMER: Not to mention, we`re talk, Steve, about the MTV audience here, which obviously serves teenagers worldwide. Unfortunately we are out of time. This is a debate that will certainly continue. Jessica Weiner, Steve Santagati --

SANTAGATI: I`ll be here.

HAMMER: Thanks for being with us.

WEINER: Thanks A.J.

ANDERSON: Now we want to hear from you. It is our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. Britney`s comeback catastrophe; is it fair to criticize her weight? Vote at Send us an e-mail. That is at

HAMMER: Yes, Brooke, got to tell you, I know Britney`s VMA performance was, in fact, pretty awful. Truly, for myself, I would like to see her bounce back.

ANDERSON: Me, too.

HAMMER: So Britney, if you`re out there, this is an appeal. I want you to pay attention, because I`ve got just the thing that you have to do right now to save your career with an expert panel lined up, fired up ready to go, with our SHOWBIZ special report, Britney`s comeback crisis. You won`t want to miss it at 30 past the hour.

HAMMER: A.J., get this, Rosie O`Donnell and Barbara Walters are battling it out, and it is ugly. Rosie really dissed Barbara, saying she should retire. I`m really surprised these two are going at it. We`ve got it coming up. Also this.


COSBY: Larry Birkhead may not be happy with the story, but we know it`s the truth and we stand by it 100 percent.


ANDERSON: Tonight, a blockbuster SHOWBIZ TONIGHT Anna Nicole Smith event. I go one on one with the author of a book which claims Larry Birkhead, the father of Anna Nicole Smith`s baby, and Howard K. Stern were caught in a compromising and intimate position. I`ve got the shocking interview you just can`t miss coming up.


ANDERSON: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, TV`s most provocative entertainment news show. I`m Brooke Anderson in Hollywood. Rosie O`Donnell strikes again. She`s been pretty quiet since she left "The View" this past May. But the controversial former co-host is back in action. She is throwing punches.

Who got punched right in the kisser? The one and only Barbara Walters. It`s all in Rosie`s mouthy new tell-all book about her scandal rocked year at "The View" called "Celebrity Detox." Joining me from Hollywood,`s editorial director Ken Baker and TV talent coach and former TV anchor Terry Anzur.

Terry, Ken, let`s get right to it. The "New York Post" printed excerpts of Rosie`s sensational new book. And I want to read to you what she said about Barbara Walters. Listen to this; "at some point a person gets tired. It`s inevitable. Barbara Walters is almost twice my age. At some point it becomes necessary to step back. Everyone has to go. Going is part of the gig."

Ken, talk about biting the hand that fed you. You know, from the get- go, Rosie has always had nothing but nice things to say about Barbara, and vice versa. So what was Rosie thinking?

KEN BAKER, USMAGAZINE.COM: I think Rosie has a flair for getting attention and selling her products. Look, we`re talking about it. She succeeded. She doesn`t have to be employed by Barbara Walters anymore. She knows she`s never going work for Barbara again, so she probably said hey, I`m going to go for it. I know that Ken Baker and Brooke and everyone are going to be on CNN Headline News, they`re going to be talking about it.

ANDERSON: Terry, weigh in. Do you think this was on Rosie`s part intentional to get attention for the book?

TERRY ANZUR, TV TALENT COACH: I think this was a big mistake on Rosie`s part. First of all, she needs to go back to third grade math, because she said Barbara Walters was twice her age. Well, Rosie`s 45, Barbara`s 77; do the math, figure it out. Barbara Walters is an icon. And it`s going to be her decision when it`s time to go, kind of like Dick Clark, the world`s oldest teenager.

Barbara Walters will decide when it`s her time to go. She was one of the pioneers for women in the broadcasting industry. There are a lot of women out there of all ages saying you go girl.

ANDERSON: Yes, she really paved the way for any woman pursuing a career in journalism. And Walters said that Rosie wrote her a really nice note, sent her an advanced copy of the book. So Barbara`s reaction to the book? She tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, quote, listen to this, "Rosie has written a very sad book, and I choose to remember the happier times we had and hope to have in the future."

Ken, is Barbara just being diplomatic in this statement? Does this really leave any question in your mind that their friendship is officially over?

BAKER: There`s an interesting dichotomy about "The View." When those women are on the round table discussing issues, it`s really honest. It`s very open. It`s what makes the show great. But whenever they`re off camera, everything`s so disingenuous. All their comments are very diplomatic, very measured, and obviously, Barbara can`t stand Rosie and vice versa. She just isn`t going to come out and say it.

And actually, Rosie just picked a bad target. Barbara Walters is a national treasure. She is a sacred cow. Attacking her is like attacking Princess Diana. You just don`t do it.

ANDERSON: She certainly is a living legend. Rosie admitted on her blog that Barbara`s feelings were hurt. Terry, nobody hurts Barbara`s feelings and gets away with it, do they?

ANZUR: There is nothing to be gained for Barbara Walters by getting down in the mud and wrestling with Rosie O`Donnell on this one. Taking the high road is exactly what you would expect her to do, even though she may be seething in private. Rosie is clearly trying to sell books here, and she picked the wrong target to go after.

When she fights with Donald Trump, great. He`s a big pinata sitting there waiting to be whacked. But Barbara Walters, you know, she talks to those celebrities before the Academy Awards and everybody loves her and opens their heart to her. Rosie picked the wrong target.

ANDERSON: Interestingly, another very admired television personality, Oprah Winfrey, got her hands on a copy of Rosie`s book, and she said she really enjoyed it. Quote, "I like the book very much. I thought Rosie in this book was so candid about what it`s like to live a life in front of other people."

It`s interesting that despite the fact that Rosie rips on Barbara Walters, and probably a few other celebrities, Oprah is still willing to endorse it. Ken, does this surprise you?

BAKER: It doesn`t surprise me because Oprah Winfrey is at the top of the Forbes celebrity list every year for a reason. She`s a very good business woman. And I would bet that she really wants the first interview with Rosie O`Donnell for her show. She knows it will get huge ratings. Of course she`s going to say nice things. Until she knows that she can`t book Rosie O`Donnell, she`s going to do everything she can to book her.

ANDERSON: Oprah certainly is a smart cookie. We have to end it there. Rosie has even blogged that she`s got to engage the deflector shields for all the criticism she`s received about this. Terry, Ken, thank you both.

And it`s important to note that Rosie`s people tell SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, quote, Rosie loves and adores Barbara Walters. She always has and always will.

HAMMER: Brooke, today the ladies of "The View" had a lot to say about another controversy. Boy, did they get fired up about what Kathy Griffin said about Jesus and religious. I think Kathy`s hysterical. I think people need to cut her a break on this. But she`s got a big time religious groups up in arms. That is next. Also this.


ANDERSON: OK, that`s Larry Birkhead`s side of the story. Are you calling him a liar?


ANDERSON: It`s the shocking allegation that`s got everybody talking. I go head to head with the woman whose new book claims that Larry Birkhead, the father of Anna Nicole Smith`s Dannielynn, and Howard K. Stern were caught in a compromising and intimate position. This could be one of the most controversial things I`ve ever covered. Stick around for my explosive interview straight ahead.

HAMMER: Truly unbelievable, Brooke. Can`t wait for that. Also unbelievable, Britney Spears` VMA nightmare. Coming up at 30 past the hour, I`m going to take a very special look and do a revealing special report; what Brit`s got to do ASAP to save her career. Britney`s comeback crisis.


ANDERSON: Tonight, a shocking religious controversy surrounding actress/comedian Kathy Griffin. OK, here`s what happened. Kathy won a creative arts Emmy this past weekend for her reality show "My Life on The D-List." So as part of her acceptance speech, she said, quote, "a lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus." Griffin then reportedly held up the award and said this is my god now.

The Catholic League is outraged over this, and they`re calling it, quote, "vulgar, in your face brand of hate speech." They`re also asking the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences to, quote, denounce Griffin`s obscene and blasphemous comments. This was a hot topic on "The View" today. The ladies really got fired up. Listen to this.


SHERRI SHEPHERD, "THE VIEW": I love Kathy, but I was trying to text her going, girl, you know you ain`t supposed to be saying nothing like that.

BARBARA WALTERS, "THE VIEW": What`s wrong with it?

SHEPHERD: I just felt like there`s some, you know -- there`s just a line that you shouldn`t cross. There`s a reverence for god that we should have.

WHOOPI GOLDBERG, "THE VIEW": If I`m to believe what people tell me about god, god knows everything. So god already knows what`s coming, you know?


GOLDBERG: He knew she was going to make the joke, and he went, you know what? You kill me, and kissed her on the hand.


ANDERSON: I do love Kathy Griffin, but that kind of comedy just doesn`t appeal to me. Both of them -- the E-channel, by the way, which taped the Creative Arts Emmy, says it will edit Griffin`s speech when it airs the show this Saturday.

HAMMER: Well, I`ll admit it, I`ve got a thing for Britney Spears. But Britney, the great entertainer, not Brit, the out of control mess. And I have got just the thing that Brit`s got to do right now to save her career after that VMA nightmare on MTV. A SHOWBIZ special report, Britney`s comeback crisis. It`s coming up next.

And Reese Witherspoon is speaking out for the first time about her stunning divorce from Ryan Phillippe. How a parking lot helped her get through the pain.

Also this --


COSBY: Larry Birkhead may not be happy with the story, but we know it`s the truth and we stand by it 100 percent.


ANDERSON: Tonight, I go one on one with the author of a book which claims Larry Birkhead, the father of Anna Nicole Smith`s baby, and Howard K. Stern were caught in a compromising and intimate position. I`ve got the stunning interview that you just can`t miss straight ahead. Stay with SHOWBIZ TONIGHT for a Tuesday night.



HAMMER: On SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, "Britney`s Comeback Crisis" after her abysmal performance at the VMAs. It`s time to play the blame game. What is responsible for her career tanking? Is it bad management? Too much partying? And is there anything Britney can do at this point to turn all around? Tonight a SHOWBIZ special report, "Britney`s Comeback Crisis."

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

ANDERSON: And I`m Brooke Anderson coming to you tonight from Hollywood. You`re watching TV`s most provocative entertainment news show.

HAMMER: Well, tonight the entire nation is abuzz over "Britney`s Comeback Crisis". So let me fill you in on the latest. First, of course, Britney`s less than perfect performance at the VMAs. It got pummeled by the press, putting her comeback in jeopardy. As if the disaster couldn`t get any worse, the paparazzi then captured Britney`s return to pantiless partying.

And then there`s more. While all this is going on, ex-hubby Kevin Federline threw a birthday party for their two sons in full view of the press, which really makes him look like the model parent, all the while their bitter custody battle continues.

Joining me for a SHOWBIZ special report, "Britney`s Comeback Crisis", in Atlanta, B.J. Bernstein, defense attorney and founder of, and in Hollywood, Howard Bragman, founder of Fifteen Minutes Public Relations. Joining us from New York tonight, Paul "Cubby" Bryant, Whoopi Goldberg`s co-host on the nationally syndicated morning radio show, "Wake Up With Whoopi".

I appreciate you all being here tonight. This VMA performance, as we well know by now, got Britney a whole bunch of bad publicity. Tonight, as we could also expect, a lot of finger-pointing going on.

Howard Bragman, PR guru, let`s go to you. Is it pretty clear, whoever is advising Britney right now, assuming there is someone giving her advice, didn`t sit down with her and explain how much was riding on this performance and no matter what came her way, she needed to rise above it all?

HOWARD BRAGMAN, FIFTEEN MINUTES PR: No, I never assume it`s the advisors because I know some of the people who are around her. They`re smart people. I assume that Britney`s not listening. And that`s -- all the time when a celebrity does something bad they say, what kind of advice is this person giving? My first assumption is, why isn`t this person listening? And I think it`s true in most of the cases.

HAMMER: What a roller coaster ride it`s been continuing with this very low dip.

Paul "Cubby" Bryant, let me go to you because I know you`ve spent time with Britney Spears since the beginning of her career. What do you think, does she have anybody to blame but herself here?

PAUL "CUBBY" BRYANT, SYNDICATED RADIO HOST: No, she should be blaming herself and only herself. This was a great opportunity, A.J., for her to say, look, I`m back, I still got it, and she came out flat. She should have known that she was going to be rusty when you spend 70 percent of your time partying and 30 percent of your time rehearsing. It should have been the other way around.

HAMMER: I know people are calling into your radio program talking to you and Whoopi about this. We`re hearing from people on the street. And also the stars are speaking out. I want to tell you something Kanye West told the media, in talking about MTV. Here`s what he said, quote, "They exploited Britney in helping her end her career. When Britney was on the VMAs, near the end, I felt so bad for her. I said, `Man, it`s a dirty game. This game will chew you up and spit you out.` "

I think Kanye has a good point. I think it`s kind of obvious it`s a tough business, but then again, there has to be some responsibility. There were reports going around that she was late to rehearsal. She was forgetting her lyrics. Howard Bragman, you know she is no novice at this. You would think she would know better.

BRAGMAN: You know, A.J., every mistake that she made on the VMAs, she`s made before. She chose the wrong material. She dressed inappropriately. She looked like she was buzzed out of her mind. And then to top it all off, she goes out afterwards and parties without panties. When you make the same mistake again and again, it`s a real issue. And it`s an issue that you have to confront. And you have to say why am I being self-destructive, and why am I not learning from these mistakes?

HAMMER: And talk about contrasting even events going on at the same time, while she`s flubbing that performance at the VMAs, while she was out partying pantiless once again, ex-hubby Kevin Federline, father of the year all of a sudden, was throwing this great birthday party for their two kids, balloons, ice cream cake, Britney`s mom and sister right there.

Let me go to you, B.J. Bernstein, this cannot be good for Britney and that nasty custody battle, can it?

B.J. BERNSTEIN, MY5TH.ORG: Certainly, can`t be good for her. Although, it`s not too late for her to turn it around. She now needs to have the same type of photo ops of instead of being at the parties, being with her kids, taking them out for ice cream, doing all the things that a parent does. And then possibly her lawyer has a shot. And sometimes as I find, the legal issues are maybe the one thing that gets her attention more than anything else.

HAMMER: B.J., there`s so much stuff, though, that`s piling up with this. You have the topless swimming on covers of magazines, all the partying that has continued. It doesn`t seem to me -- and tell me if you think I`m wrong -- she still doesn`t understand the consequences of her actions, and how it will affect her kids.

BERNSTEIN: I think you could be right. That`s part of it. Although one thing I will point out is, what she does on her time, in other words, if Kevin`s supposed to have the kids pursuant to the custody agreement, and then she chooses to go out and party on those nights when she doesn`t have the kids, then it`s harder to say that`s affecting the children. It`s what she does with the time when she has the kids. And that`s what`s crucial. If she`s giving them off to a nanny and then partying, that`s a problem.

HAMMER: And to keep making the money she has to sustain the career, to sustain the career, I imagine it would be really important for her to keep her fan base solidly in place.

Paul "Cubby" Bryant, let me go to you, as host of a major syndicated radio show, it seems to me, and you could tell me better being on the front line with her fans, that the fans may be turning their back on her right now. What do you think that Britney really needs to do at this point, from your perspective, to turn this thing around?

BRYANT: Well, I think she needs to maybe go away for a while, spend time being a mom, make that her full-time job and let her album and single do the talking. She has a new song called "Gimme More", which is doing pretty good on radio stations across the country. It`s getting a lot of requests. So there is still a huge fan base for her.

I haven`t heard the new album, but I heard it`s pretty decent. Who knows? It comes down to the music at the end of the day. If she can put out an album that really rocks, I think she`ll be OK.

HAMMER: Yeah, but image is such a part of it. After the VMAs to get caught partying pantiless, once again, Howard Bragman, that would probably make your head explode if she were your client. What do you think she`s got to do, at this point, do or die? I really feel it`s that way?

BRAGMAN: She`s got to listen to something other than her own instincts, which are not serving her well. When we talk about she has to be a better mother, she has to go away, she has to be quiet, she`s are not new ideas. We`ve been talking about Britney and she`s ideas for a year. And you don`t have to be a genius or a crisis manager to realize she needs to do this. The question is what`s it going to take to get to her and let her understand this?

HAMMER: Yeah, and it hasn`t taken a series of bad event after bad event. It just isn`t clicking. Howard, Paul "Cubby" Bryant, B.J. Bernstein, I appreciate you all being with us tonight.

BRYANT: Thank you.

BRAGMAN: Thanks, A.J.

ANDERSON: We`ve been asking you to vote on our question of the day. Britney`s comeback catastrophe. Is it fair to criticize her weight? Keep voting. and write to us, We`ll read some of your e-mails tomorrow.

HAMMER: Reese Witherspoon is now talking about her split from Ryan Phillippe. She hasn`t said much since they separated almost a year ago, but now Reese is talking about how much the breakup of their marriage affected her. It was pretty major. That`s coming up. Also this:


ANDERSON: OK, that`s Larry Birkhead`s side of the story. Are you calling him a liar?


ANDERSON: I go head to head with the woman whose new book claims Larry Birkhead and Howard K. Stern were caught in a compromising and intimate position. It`s the interview you`ll see only right here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

HAMMER: And here in New York and all over the country, a very solemn anniversary. Coming up, we`ll show you how everyone from the ladies of "The View" to Oprah Winfrey are remembering the victims of the September 11th attacks.


ANDERSON: Tonight for the first time the author of the controversial new book about Anna Nicole Smith is coming to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT to speak back directly to the uproar, and specifically to what Larry Birkhead said in his only extensive TV interview. And that was on CNN`s "Larry King Live".

Rita Cosby is the author of "Blonde Ambition: The Untold Story Behind Anna Nicole Smith`s Death", which makes explosive claims. I asked her about the two biggest claims in the book, that a sex videotape exists of Larry Birkhead and Howard K. Stern, and that Birkhead and Stern secretly worked out a deal in which Birkhead would get the baby, and Stern would become the executor of her estate.


ANDERSON (on camera): There are so many really shocking allegations that it`s hard to know where to begin. But I want to start with the most explosive, and that is that Larry Birkhead and Howard K. Stern, known as bitter rivals, fighting over everything, from Anna Nicole`s body to the baby, where actually, there`s a claim that they were actually lovers and caught in a compromising position on tape. You have admitted that you have not seen this purported tape. Did you have any qualms whatsoever in going with this?

RITA COSBY, AUTHOR, "BLONDE AMBITION": No, not because we knew our sources and we also knew other information. And because of that we felt strong, stand by our story today. Again, the people that we`re putting out there, one of the people who we put on record in the book is someone who saw it. This is a firsthand account. The other, nannies and former employees who spoke to officials. Again, these are people who don`t know each other. These are not people in collusion. This is not some master conspiracy. And that`s the defense on the whole book.


ANDERSON: How do you make these unsubstantiated claims, not seeing the tape?

COSBY: No, that`s a fair point. I will tell you, we felt confident based on what we have.

ANDERSON: This purported tape, where is it?

COSBY: We have a pretty good idea.

ANDERSON: You have a good idea?

COSBY: Uh-huh.

ANDERSON: But you haven`t seen it?

COSBY: No, I have not.

ANDERSON: Do you suspect you will see the purported tape?

COSBY: I possibly could.

ANDERSON: Well, you know, Larry Birkhead calls you a liar.

COSBY: Uh-huh. If you read my book, I think you`ll think otherwise about Larry Birkhead.

ANDERSON: Here`s what he said on "Larry King" about the claims in the book that he and Howard K. Stern were lovers and caught on a tape.


LARRY BIRKHEAD, FATHER OF ANNA NICOLE`S CHILD: That`s totally false. And it`s defamatory. It`s false. It`s pure fiction, again. And it`s something that, you know, I`ve heard the sources for that, and those sources are people that don`t -- that haven`t been in Anna`s life, much less -- and haven`t even met me.


ANDERSON: OK. One of those sources, he`s referring to, is a woman named Jackie Hatten (ph) who claims to have once been a really close friend of Anna Nicole Smith`s. Given that you haven`t seen personally this purported tape, no hesitations, whatsoever in going with what she told you?

COSBY: Well, we`re not just basing it on her, and that`s the important thing. It`s funny, if you look at Birkhead, everybody in my book is a whacko. Everybody is crazy. And that doesn`t just include Jackie Hatten (ph). That includes also a former L.A. County`s sheriff`s deputy. That includes, if you look at it, a lot of my stuff in the book is also from police sources. So, what? Are they whackos, too?

Larry Birkhead may not be happy with the story, but we know it`s the truth. And we stand by it 100 percent. We are sure of what we have and we`re also sure of what we put to the table in the whole book. Not just as Larry Birkhead would like us to focus on one part of the book, we`re comfortable with that, we`re comfortable with the whole book. Larry Birkhead has said the whole book is a bunch of lies.


ANDERSON: He says that it should be on the shelf next to the "Harry Potter" books.

COSBY: Uh-huh. Of course he would. Of course he would, you know? Of course he would. He`d like the American public to believe that this man who he was saying is a murderer, that could be behind the death of Anna Nicole Smith, who could be the death of Daniel Smith -- who you will remember, right now is the mother of his child and brother of his child -- this is what he was saying to people about these guys, about -- he was referring to Howard K. Stern.

ANDERSON: OK, I want to move now to another stunning claim in the book that Larry Birkhead and Howard K. Stern, known publicly as enemies, were actually cutting a deal for Birkhead to get custody of the baby, for Howard K. Stern to become executor of Anna Nicole`s estate. But listen to what Larry says. He again says not true.

COSBY: Uh-huh. Of course he does.


BIRKHEAD: There`s no secret deals. There`s no side deals. And what I decided to do was put my daughter`s best interests, you know, in mind, contrary to what Ms. Cosby says. And that is to stop all these fights, stop all these feuds. You know, Anna Nicole`s dead. Her son`s dead. I`m not going to die fighting people because of these crazy things that happened. I can`t change what happened in the past. I have my position. Howard has his position. And that`s the way that it is.


ANDERSON: OK. That`s Larry Birkhead`s side of the story. Are you calling him a liar?

COSBY: Uh-huh. I`m saying that what he`s saying is absolutely not true.

ANDERSON: Calling him a liar?

COSBY: And I can say based on the testimony from many, many people who are in the know. And I can also tell you Harvey Levin, who did that interview, even reported about TMZ about a secret deal back in February. This is not such a big surprise. What we have, though, is that we have corroborating information. We have L.A. County sheriff`s deputy who was assigned to detail, the security, next to him, and he was overhearing Howard K. Stern pitching these things, Brooke. Saying, I`ll give you your baby if you keep me as executor of the estate.

There was no mincing words with Mark Spear. He was clear on what he saw; he was clear on what he heard. This is a guy who was right there. We also have other corroborating information. And now Larry Birkhead all of a sudden wants the American public to say OK, this is the guy I accused of playing a role in all these deaths, doing all these things. And today he`s a nice guy. It is an awfully big change, despite the testimony and the facts and all the other things we have, the American public should go wait a minute. And a lot of journalists -- even during all this were saying, it still seems strange to us. Why are you talking to this guy? What is going on?

ANDERSON: Are you 100 percent confident that you will win in any of the legal challenges?

COSBY: Uh-huh.

ANDERSON: You will most likely face?

COSBY: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

ANDERSON: From this book?

COSBY: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Yep, we are. We absolutely are. We absolutely are.

ANDERSON: Do you have things to back up these claims that you call facts?

COSBY: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

ANDERSON: Other than just hearsay and the people who have said these things?

COSBY: We have a lot of information. That`s why I`m sitting here very confident today. We have a lot of information.

ANDERSON: Like what?

COSBY: I can`t disclose it now, but we feel very comfortable. I`ve been a journalist in this business for a long time. And we feel very comfortable and we sit here extremely comfortable today.

ANDERSON: We sit here, meaning you, and?

COSBY: Meaning me, and meaning everybody that put this book together. I personally feel very comfortable.


ANDERSON: Stern and his attorney, Lynn Wood, released a statement to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, saying that, "Mr. will file and aggressively pursue a libel case against Ms. Cosby and her publishers. All of the accusations in the published reports are false and defamatory."

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT also reached out to Jackie Hattan (ph), a source named in the book as a former friend of Anna Nicole Smith. She has not responded to our calls for comment.

Tomorrow, on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, part two of my powerful no holds barred interview with Rita Cosby. This time I ask her why she never interviewed Birkhead or Stern to get their side of the story. That`s tomorrow in the interview, you`ll see only right here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

For the first time Reese Witherspoon is opening up about her split from Ryan Phillippe. Last October, Reese and Ryan announced their breakup after seven years of marriage. In the new issue of "Elle" magazine, Reese says the split took her to some really difficult places emotionally.

She said, right around Christmas, she was sitting in a parking lot and felt like she just couldn`t get out of the car. And she says, reminding herself that so many other people deal with divorce really helped her pull herself together. Here`s what she said. Quote, "I thought, OK, half of the parking lot has dealt with this. More than half of the parking lot has dealt with this. OK, let`s make it a little bigger. Half of this city has dealt with this. OK, let`s make it a little bigger, half of this country. Until I finally got out of the car."

For more with Reese Witherspoon, you can pick up a copy of the October issue of "Elle" magazine on newsstands now in New York and L.A. and everywhere else next Tuesday.

And being newly single certainly has not slowed down Reese`s career. I sat down with Reese at the Toronto International Film Festival for her new film "Rendition." It is a powerful, powerful movie. I truly enjoyed it. In it, Reese plays the wife of an Egyptian-born man, who is being held at a secret detention facility for his suspected ties to terrorism. I had to ask Reese about her fears in the wake of September 11th and how she feels about the government`s use of torture.


REESE WITHERSPOON, ACTRESS: I think, you know, as American citizens, I think you have to be very aware of the things that are happening. Whether they`re legal or constitutional, but I think it`s important to be aware of what`s going on in the world. And, you know, how it makes you feel, like basically does it seem right? You know, those kind of ideas. And I think the film really raises a lot of those questions.

HAMMER: And the film is set against the backdrop of a lot of changes that were obviously put in place after September 11th. Here we are coming up on the sixth anniversary of 9/11. And that was an event that instilled a lot of fear in a lot of Americans, a fear that we`ve never lived with before. Is it something you live with on a day-to-day basis? I mean, you`re getting on planes all the time. You`re in big cities all the time. Do you think about that as part of your consciousness?

WITHERSPOON: Not particularly. I don`t think you can live your life like that. I think you can`t really be free in life if you`re too worried about those sorts of things. I think that was interesting to me about this part and character was playing a woman married to a Muslim man, and sort of that experience before -- married to a man before 9/11 and then having that experience of religious intolerance, and the idea of that affecting her life. It was really interesting to me.

HAMMER: Eye-opening.

WITHERSPOON: Yeah. Like a lot of experiences that, I guess, I wouldn`t normally think about in my day-to-day life.

HAMMER: There are a lot of prejudices that go on --


HAMMER: That we do not see particularly, you know, coming from the backgrounds that we come from.

WITHERSPOON: Yeah, it was good to sort of put a face on that, I think.


HAMMER: Particularly here on September 11th, I`m encouraging everyone to see this power movie. It will spark a lot of debate and make you think about things in a different way than you may have thought about them before. It`s called "Rendition." It will be in theaters October 19th.

ANDERSON: A.J., from "The View" to "Oprah" everybody is taking time today to remember the victims of 9/11, a horrible tragedy that touched so many.

Next, on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, we`ll show you how the ladies of "The View" marked day. Plus what Oprah told us this day means to her. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.


HAMMER: I just wanted to take a moment now, as everyone has done today, to remember this day six years ago. First let`s take a look at how the ladies of "The View" began their show.


WHOOPI GOLDBERG, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": Our world has literally changed, in one day, and we are trying to find the ways to really handle it, I guess, even after six years, you know?

JOY BAHAR, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": It`s very difficult.


BAHAR: It`s been a hard six years about it. And every year, it`s always a beautiful day. Today it`s raining, which I like. I`m glad it`s raining because when it`s beautiful like that, there`s something so ominous about it, that day.


HAMMER: And on "Oprah," today, children who lost a parent in the 9/11 attacks told their stories. And Oprah told SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, she hopes it won`t take another major disaster to bring the country together.


OPRAH WINFREY, "OPRAH WINFREY SHOW": I think even in the darkest moments, people were able to reach inside themselves and extend themselves, and give light to other people. That was a time where I think even though we were in this disastrous time, that we never really felt more connected as a country.


HAMMER: Oprah also told us that she thinks September 11th should be a national holiday of remembrance.

ANDERSON: Great idea.

Moving now to your responses to our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. Yesterday we asked you, Britney`s VMA disaster, is her career over? And 44 percent of you say yes; 56 percent of you say no. And here are some of the e-mails.

Jennifer from Texas writes: "I think people just want to see her fail. Britney don`t listen to the hype. You still have fans that want to see you succeed."

Patricia from Arizona thinks, "I think Britney needs to off of the stage for now and get herself some serious help before she self-destructs."

HAMMER: It is time now to see what is coming up on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

Tomorrow, there`s a new TV show called "Decision House," helping couples tackle problems from money issues to cheating. Well, we have the hosts right here, and they`ll weigh in on star couples, and what everybody can do to stay away from divorce court.

Also coming up tomorrow, my interview with Jake Gyllenhaal. He and Reese Witherspoon are starring in a new movie, a very powerful film called, "Rendition." It asks all sorts of questions about the government using torture as a tool to fight terrorism. I caught up with Jake at the Toronto Film Festival. What he told me is what you`ll hear tomorrow.

That is it for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. Thank you so much for watching. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.

ANDERSON: Have a great night everybody. I`m Brooke Anderson in Hollywood. "Glenn Beck" coming up next, right after the latest headlines from CNN "Headline News."