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Heath Ledger`s Life and Death; Latest Celebrity Doings
Aired January 25, 2008 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
A.J. HAMMER, HOST: Dennis Quaid`s emotional moment at Sundance over his new movie and his new babies.
I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.
BROOKE ANDERSON, HOST: And why Jessica Simpson is threatening to sue over a story that says her quarterback boyfriend dumped her.
I`m Brooke Anderson in Hollywood, TV`s most provocative entertainment news show starts right now.
HAMMER (voice over): On SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, the mysterious Mary-Kate Olsen connection to Heath Ledger.
Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with breaking new information about the phone calls to Mary-Kate made by the masseuse who found Heath`s body before she called 911.
JO PIAZZA, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Everyone is completely surprised that Mary-Kate Olsen is a player in this drama.
HAMMER: Tonight, what`s the real story behind the Heath and Mary-Kate connection? Police revealing for the first time that they will be questioning Mary-Kate.
Plus SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with brand new, dramatic and emotional reaction from Hollywood`s biggest stars devastated by Heath`s death.
Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with the latest fast-breaking developments and the mysterious Mary-Kate connection.
HAMMER: Hello, I`m A.J. Hammer broadcasting tonight and every night from New York City.
ANDERSON: Hi there, everyone, I`m Brooke Anderson coming to you from Hollywood.
And in just a moment, emotional tributes to Heath Ledger from some of Hollywood`s biggest stars.
HAMMER: But first, tonight, the mysterious Mary-Kate Olsen connection to Heath Ledger.
Today, for the very first time, Mary-Kate spoke out about Heath`s sudden, tragic death even as his family gathered here in New York City to make final arrangements for his funeral.
SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can now reveal that the masseuse who found Heath`s body actually called Mary-Kate four times after her horrifying discovery.
I can tell you that the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT news team has been investigating what really went on and tonight we can now share with you what we have learned.
HAMMER (voice over): The tragic death of 28-year-old actor Heath Ledger who was found dead in his New York City apartment has brought an outpouring of grief and sadness. The cause of Ledger`s death remains a mystery but new details are emerging about his final hours and many of those new details involved former child star Mary-Kate Olsen.
KATIE DARYL, TMZ TV: Mary-Kate Olsen`s name got thrown into this and it was definitely a mystery.
HAMMER: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is bringing you brand new details about Olsen`s link to Ledger. Why the masseuse who found Ledger`s body repeatedly called Olsen before dialing 911 and the real story about whether Mary-Kate Olsen will face police questions in Ledger`s death.
PIAZZA: Everyone has been completely surprised that Mary-Kate Olsen is a player in this drama.
HAMMER: So how do Mary-Kate and Heath even know each other? People.com is reporting they met in the summer of 2006 when Heath was living in a Hollywood hotel.
DAVID CAPLAN, PEOPLE MAGAZINE: Sources tell "People" that Mary-Kate and Heath Ledger were actually dating, casually dating, for about three months prior to his death. The two of them had a lot in common but a lot of what was uncommon was actually based on their enjoyment of the night life. They went out a lot to a lot of the same clubs downtown.
HAMMER: Now, for the first time since the tragedy, Olsen is responding to Heath`s death and in a statement to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, Olsen says, quote, "Heath was a friend. His death is a tragic loss. My thoughts are with his family during this very difficult time."
Something else Ledger and Olsen had in common was this woman, Diane Lee Wolozin, the masseuse who found Ledger lying in his bedroom two hours after his housekeeper says she saw Heath sleeping.
PIAZZA: The masseuse has worked with both Mary-Kate and Heath Ledger.
HAMMER: Jo Piazza of "The New York Daily News" tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, when Wolozin couldn`t wake up Ledger, she grabbed Ledger`s cell phone and called Olsen who was in California at the time.
PIAZZA: Mary-Kate`s bodyguard is an emergency medical technician. It makes sense that the masseuse would call Mary-Kate knowing that.
HAMMER: In fact, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can now reveal that in the first nine minutes after she found Ledger, Wolozin called Olsen three times, not twice as the police originally said.
The first call at 3:17 and lasted for 49 seconds. The second call at 3:20 lasted about 99 seconds. And the third call came at 3:24. That took about 21 seconds. Wolozin didn`t call 911 until 3:26 p.m., roughly 26 minutes after she first found him.
And now SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has learned from police that she then called Olsen a fourth time.
PIAZZA: It`s curious why she was calling Mary-Kate so consistently.
HAMMER: The paramedics arrived at the apartment at 3:33 p.m., three minutes later, they pronounced Ledger dead.
Still, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can tell you police aren`t that concerned about all those calls to Mary-Kate Olsen.
PIAZZA: Cops don`t seem to care so much about the phone calls. It does seem that he was already dead once the phone calls took place. The police know that people who work with celebrities are very protective of their clients and were just trying to protect their privacy.
HAMMER: With the headline "Heat is on Mary-Kate," the "New York Post" reported that the police want to interview Olsen but the NYPD called SHOWBIZ TONIGHT to say that story is, quote, "completely untrue" and that the cops have no plans to interview Olsen.
PIAZZA: At this point, they`re really focusing on the autopsy and the toxicology report and they`re not focusing so much on the phone calls made to Mary-Kate Olsen.
HAMMER (on camera): Meanwhile, Ledger`s family is saying a sad and private good-bye. There is the viewing here in New York but in the interest of maintaining some degree of privacy, Ledger`s publicist says the family will not be revealing any details about the funeral.
And I got to say, for one, I can`t blame them.
(Voice over) And while the family grieves, Ledger`s fans and the authorities continue to try to find some meaning in the loss of this talented star.
HAMMER: Well, even though the masseuse who found Ledger isn`t in trouble for calling Mary-Kate Olsen, she may soon face trouble for something else. She reportedly isn`t licensed.
Practicing massage without a license in New York is a felony.
And we can tell you that late on Friday, Ledger`s coffin was removed from the funeral home in New York on the way to private funeral services.
Well, despite what we have learned, there are still so many questions about Mary-Kate`s connection to Heath Ledger.
Joining us in New York tonight Ashleigh Banfield, host of Tru TV`s "Hollywood Heat," in Hollywood investigative journalist Jane Velez- Mitchell.
Jane, Ashleigh, thanks for being here. And as we just reported, the police told SHOWBIZ TONIGHT they don`t have any plans to question Mary-Kate. It`s still an active investigation, though.
So what I`m wondering, Ashleigh, is why wouldn`t they want to speak with the person who really was one of the first to hear about what happened to Heath even before 911 was called?
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, HOST, TRU TV`S "HOLLYWOOD HEAT": Well, my thought is it, it`s still open and down the road. It could happen but right now the key is who made the calls and what was the circumstance going on in that room? Mary-Kate is thousands of miles away. She has absolutely no idea what the circumstances were.
And I think what`s really key is when the calls were made, was Heath already dead? Because if he was already dead, then there`s really nothing nefarious there.
HAMMER: Yes, I guess it`s just a search for information that`s continuing at this point.
Jane, what do you think? Does it surprise you that the police at least at this point are saying they don`t have any plans to question Mary-Kate?
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: I think it`s worth one long distance phone call but at the end of the day police are not about clearing up every last little question that the public may have about this terrible tragedy. They are there to enforce the laws and catch criminals. And at this point, it doesn`t look like a crime was committed. They don`t believe there was foul play. They`re not investigating this as a possible homicide.
This appears to be a terribly tragic accident. And therefore, they are not conducting a criminal investigation. And as Ashleigh mentioned, there are reports that they believe that Heath Ledger was already dead at the time the first phone call went out to Mary-Kate so therefore she`s really not a key player in the events leading up to his death. She kind of enters the scene after he`s already deceased.
HAMMER: You know what, Jane? That`s a really important distinction you just made because there is such a hunger for information from the public and from the news media but you`re right. If it`s not a criminal investigation, they are not going to check every last detail. And I think that`s something that`s lost on quite a few people.
Another brand new piece of information that we uncovered today, it turns out as I just mentioned this masseuse was not actually licensed. Now, I know that nobody is at all suggesting that in any way the masseuse bears any responsibility here. Separate subject. But Ashleigh, this is serious stuff. Criminal felony charges could actually be filed against her for practicing without a license. Correct?
BANFIELD: Yes. And this is not tangential to this whole incident either, A.J., because think about it. To get a license to be a masseuse, you have to have some rudimentary medical skills. You have to know how to perform CPR, you have to know certain -- you know, certain things a masseuse who was licensed would know about Heath Ledger while she was setting up the massage table.
God forbid that young man died while she was setting up the massage table beside him. She might have actually been able to intervene and save his life. That may be a very serious situation.
HAMMER: Well, so much is also being made of the fact that the masseuse called Mary-Kate three times before calling 911. There was an additional call after it was already determined that -- after 911 had already been called and help was apparently on the way.
But Jane, help us understand why the masseuse may have reacted that way knowing, of course, that we all react differently in these times of crisis.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, A.J., this is where stardom can really backfire on an individual. Hollywood is really a state of mind and one of the key no- nos with any celebrity is calling the cops. You do not call the cops on a star because, with the average Joe, you call the cops, the police and the paramedics show up.
With a major star, you call the cops, the police, the paramedics, the paparazzi, the tabloids and the headlines show up. The next thing you know a publicist have to issue a statement denying this, that and the other and it`s a big (INAUDIBLE) so it`s an unspoken rule in Hollywood.
And as far as her not being licensed, well, you know, again, that`s the Hollywood system. Stars have entourages and those people are assigned roles, a personal trainer, personal assistant, masseuse, manager, and they may not be trained specifically for their assigned role, better they are qualified for their discretion and other qualities that are very valued in Hollywood.
So this is part of the whole Hollywood mentality and when a tragedy strikes, it can really backfire.
HAMMER: It is really interesting.
Ashleigh, is that pretty much your take on why the masseuse may have thought first, "Let me call somebody that I know and somebody that Heath knows before I actually call the authorities"?
BANFIELD: Well, all I can think of is that when Owen Wilson went through his tragedy that became a front-page story. Mortifyingly embarrassing for him and he`s having to live with that now.
What if it were the same circumstance? What if the masseuse thought maybe it`s an O.D.? Maybe there is a drug problem here? Maybe he`s alive and I`ve got to make sure that this doesn`t become a crisis or I will have destroyed his career.
HAMMER: It`s wild. This is a whole different set of rules and unfortunately that may have had some impact in his passing. We may never know.
Jane Velez-Mitchell, Ashleigh Banfield, thanks for being here.
BANFIELD: Thanks, A.J.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you, A.J.
ANDERSON: You know so many stars have really been affected by Heath Ledger`s death both as friends and as fans. We spoke to many of them at the Sundance Film Festival.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STANLEY TUCCI, ACTOR: Every time you saw that guy on the screen, you just wanted to watch him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Straight ahead, what the stars are saying about this tragedy, including a very emotional statement from Daniel Day Lewis, next.
HAMMER: Also Dennis Quaid getting all choked up at Sundance. A scene in his new movie actually reminded him of an ordeal that he and his wife went through when their newborn twins almost died. It is a very emotional moment and that is coming up.
ANDERSON: And here`s something that I really wondered about. Why in the world is Jessica Simpson threatening to sue over a story that she got dumped by her quarterback boyfriend? Tabloid prints this kind of silly stuff all the time. So why is Jessica so fighting mad about this one? We`ve got a fired up panel ready to go still to come right here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIEL DAY LEWIS, ACTOR: I`d already marveled at some of his work and had looked forward so much to seeing the work that he would do in the future so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: That was Daniel Day Lewis unexpectedly breaking down over the sudden and tragic death of Heath Ledger.
Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, TV`s most provocative entertainment news show. I`m Brooke Anderson in Hollywood.
And now it`s just a small part of Daniel Day Lewis`s touching and emotional tribute to Heath on Oprah Winfrey which we are about to play for you. You`ve got to see that. But Daniel is not the only star who`s really opening up and talking about Heath`s death.
With us tonight in Hollywood, founder of Fifteen Minutes PR and someone who worked with Heath, Howard Bragman, and in New York tonight, "Daily News" columnist Ben Widdicombe.
Ben, Howard, you know, we know Daniel Day Lewis as someone who is very reserved, very unemotional and private, and he was not even asked about Heath by Oprah. He brought it up himself and he pointed out that he didn`t even know Heath, yet he was so profoundly affected. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEWIS: I`m so -- Oprah, something I`ve -- I hope you don`t mind if I speak about this but there`s something I feel very unsettled at the moment, and I suppose it`s because I only just saw the news about Heath Ledger`s death. And.
OPRAH WINFREY, HOST, THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW": Oh, yes.
LEWIS: It just seems that -- it seems somehow strange to be talking about anything else. Not that there`s anything to say really except to express one`s regret and to.
WINFREY: Yes. Yes.
LEWIS: .and to say from the bottom of one`s heart to his family and to his friends that I`m sorry for their trouble. I didn`t know him. I have an impression, a strong impression I would have liked him very much as a man if I had. I`d already marveled at some of his work and had looked forward so much to seeing the work that he would do in the future so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Powerful words there from Daniel Day Lewis.
Howard, you knew Heath personally. What was it about him that would affect even somebody like Daniel Day Lewis who didn`t even know him?
HOWARD BRAGMAN, FIFTEEN MINUTES PUBLIC RELATIONS: You know, Daniel Day Lewis said you would have liked him. I think I would have liked him very much as a man. He would have. That`s the sad part. And you felt that. You felt the honesty. You know, there`s so many actors, Brooke, and you hang out with actors and I know a lot of actors, there`s so many of them that have trouble being authentic, and Heath was the opposite of that. He was truly authentic and you asked him a question, you get an honest answer.
Plus I think there`s an empathy. They`re the same kind of actors. They`re not movie tars. Any stardom is sort of a byproduct of the work they do on the screen. And I think he just expressed what so many people in this town felt for the profound loss of somebody who`d shown so much promise and what we`ll never see again on screen.
ANDERSON: Yes. And Heath was real and that was always refreshing to me.
I was actually at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah when the news broke that Heath had died and there was absolute shock. We spoke to a number of stars at Sundance who were deeply affected by the news.
Stanley Tucci shared some fond memories of Ledger both on screen and off.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TUCCI: I can only say he was a captivating person. The performance in "Brokeback Mountain" is beautiful. But every time you saw that guy on screen, you just wanted to watch him and it`s sad -- well, it`s just sad that he`s gone. Too young. Too young.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: So true.
Ben, you heard Stanley Tucci there, captivating. That really describes Heath, doesn`t it?
BEN WIDDICOMBE, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS COLUMNIST: It really does. And I think that, you know, you understand the difference between a good actor and a great actor when you consider the work of someone like Heath who really was able to reach through the screen and create that bond of empathy with the audience even with people he didn`t know like Lewis and like a lot of us at home.
He really was someone we wanted to see what he would do next not just within a role but also his next role because we knew that we were going to get something special every time.
ANDERSON: Yes. So much unfulfilled potential. What a waste, really. And you know, many times when we hear about stars dying, even when it is quite tragic, you talk about it for maybe a couple of days but still today Hollywood seems to be in an emotional shock about this. Not getting over it.
BRAGMAN: It`s really interesting because he was it. He was the next generation of greatness. He was our next Marlon Brando coming up. He was our male Meryl Streep, if you will. I mean this guy was a genius when it came to acting.
And isn`t it interesting, Brooke? The "Oprah" show was about the Oscars. The day of the nominations, they got overshadowed by his death, and again, when the show is aired, really, what we`re talking about is not the Oscar nominees that we`re on her show but Heath Ledger, and even Sundance where you were -- and I talked to so many people there. It was all about Heath.
BRAGMAN: And it was all about Heath all week with these major things happening.
ANDERSON: Absolutely. It`s a true testament to Heath and how well liked and how well respected he really was.
And Ben, certainly Heath was a huge Hollywood star but he didn`t live his life as a star. He just kind of went about his business, kept his personal life private.
Was that part of the allure of Heath Ledger?
WIDDICOMBE: I think a lot of people had respect for Heath because he didn`t seem to seek out the limelight. He wasn`t photographed going into this trendy L.A. nightclubs and hide every night like a lot of the young stars are.
He and his former fiancee Michelle Williams had a 2-year-old. They are both devoted to the child even though, of course, their relationship didn`t work out. And he was regarded as a very private person who valued his personal life and I think that nourished him as an actor, that he did have this private space that he would retreat to between roles, which enabled him to be so fresh and immerse himself in every different role that came along.
ANDERSON: Howard Bragman, Ben Widdicombe, thank you both.
BRAGMAN: Thanks, Brooke.
HAMMER: You know, it`s almost eerie now that Heath Ledger`s last role on film is the Joker in the upcoming "Batman" movie because this is a role Heath said really took a toll on him emotionally.
Well, coming up, the powerful impact that it had on his state of mind in real life and why the movie studio that made it may have a real problem on their hands.
ANDERSON: Also, Dennis Quaid gets all choked up at Sundance. A scene in his new film reminded him of the ordeal that he and his wife went through with their newborn twins. We`ve got that coming up.
HAMMER: And here`s something that I really wondered about. Why in the world is Jessica Simpson threatening to sue over a story that said she got dumped by her quarterback boyfriend? This is just bizarre to me because, you know, tabloids print this kind of stuff all the time. Why is it that Jessica is just so fighting mad about this one? We have a fired up panel and it`s still to come on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.
HAMMER: Checking out three big stories in Hollywood right now.
Dennis Quaid says life imitated art for him in his new movie. As you know, Quaid`s newborn twins nearly died when they got an overdose of blood thinner in the hospital. They`re fine now thankfully but at the premier of his movie "Smart People" at the Sundance Film Festival, Quaid said he gets choked up at the sight of him holding two healthy babies in the final scene because of what happened with his own babies.
Don Imus being sued for more than $4 million over something he said on his former radio show. A publisher bought ads on the show for a book by the late president Gerald Fold. Well, on the air, Imus called the ads cheesy and says publishers were waiting for Ford to die so that they could unload the books.
The publisher is suing for breech of contract, libel and malice.
Charlize Theron and Christopher Walken are this year`s Hasty Pudding Woman and Man of the Year. The awards are presented each year by Harvard`s Hasty Pudding Theatricals, that`s the nation`s oldest undergraduate drama troupe.
Theron and Walken will be celebrated at Harvard in February.
ANDERSON: Heath Ledger`s last role on film is as the Joker in the upcoming "Batman" movie. It`s the role that Heath said really took a toll on him.
Coming up, the powerful impact it had on his state of mind and why the movie studio may have a real problem on their hands.
HAMMER: So here`s a big head-scratcher. Tabloids are always saying that star couples have broken up even when it`s not true. So why is Jessica Simpson threatening to sue over a story that says she got dumped by her football star boyfriend?
ANDERSON: Hmm. And get your ear plugs ready because Paris Hilton has the mike. Just wait until you hear Paris sing karaoke. It`s a far cry from what we heard on her album, I can assure you that. We`ve got a fired up panel ready to go on this one straight ahead.
HAMMER: I am frightened already at the prospect of hearing more Paris Hilton music on the program tonight.
But first, I want you to know that you can stay on top of the most provocative entertainment news by checking out our daily SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsletter. We`d be happy to deliver it to you free of charge.
All you have to do is head over to CNN.com/showbiztonight. Click on the "Sign Up for Newsletter" link at the bottom of the page and we`ll dip it off to you.
SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is back after.
A.J. HAMMER, CNN CO-HOST: On "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT," a revealing look at Heath Ledger`s final completed movie. Tonight, "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" examines his disturbing role as the Joker in "Batman, The Dark Knight." What impact did the role have on his real state of mind during the last few weeks of his life? Plus, why the studio behind the movie may have a big problem on its hands. Tonight, "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" with the latest on the investigation into Heath Ledger`s shocking death.
Welcome back to "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT." It`s 30 minutes past the hour. I`m A.J. Hammer broadcasting tonight and every night from New York City.
BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN CO-HOST: And I`m Brooke Anderson coming to you tonight from Hollywood. This is TV`s most provocative entertainment news show.
OK. Right now let`s get you caught up on the latest surrounding Heath Ledger`s shocking death. New York City police say they will not question "Full House" star Mary-Kate Olsen. Ledger`s masseuse called her a few times before calling 911 when she found Heath`s. According to "People," Mary-Kate and Ledger had been dating. And in a statement to "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT," Mary-Kate speaks out for the first time saying, quote, "Keith was a friend. His death is a tragic loss. My thoughts are with his family during this very difficult time."
And a spokesperson for Ledger`s family says the funeral will be private and no plans for a public service. The family is heading to New York. There`s been talk that he will be buried in native Australia. But that`s unconfirmed.
HAMMER: We have heard so many disturbing stories about how Ledger may have been affected by playing the Joker in the next Batman movie, "The Dark Knight. And "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" can now tell you we have some brand new information on how his death is causing a very uncomfortable situation for all of those involved in the movie.
Joining me tonight in New York, anchor for Troop TV`s "Hollywood Heat," Ashleigh Banfield. Joining me, again in Hollywood, investigative journalist Jane Velez-Mitchell and the founder of Fifteen Minutes Public Relations, Howard Bragman.
Gang, thank you for being here tonight.
As we all know, the last big movie that Heath completed before his tragic death was the Batman sequel playing the dark, psychopathic Joker. It took a toll on Ledger in a big way. Listen to what he told "The New York Times." Quote, "Last week, I probably slept an average of two hours a night. I couldn`t stop thinking. My body was exhausted and my mind was still going"
He went on to say the prescription drugs didn`t help him at all. And this was an interview to the times back in the fall working on the film.
Jane, this role seemed to affect him in a major way.
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Absolutely, A.J. That often happens with actors, especially very serious actors like Heath Ledger. Remember, this is a man who made history with his portrayal of a gay cowboy in "Brokeback Mountain. So he takes these roles very serious and really inhabits the character. To inhabit the character, you have to discover qualities that you have in yourself that have commonalities with the character. And he`s playing a very evil, very dark character, a psychopath, a mass murder.
I spoke to an acting teacher who said an acting role is like a coat. When you leave the job you try to take off the coat but sometimes you can`t take it off and it kind of seeps into your psyche. If you combine that with other crises in your life, like going through a separation and not seeing his daughter, the cumulative affect can be devastating.
HAMMER: Yeah. Imagine what goes on in your mind when you have to be so immersed in something like that. My accountant says he goes home at night and he is thinking about numbers all the time. And when you have to get into such a demented character like the Joker, wow. We know jack Nicholson went through the same thing back in 1989 doing that first Batman movie.
Those in the know are now revealing that Heath Ledger takes the whole psychotic disturbing mental aspect of the Joker to a whole new level in this sequel. I want you take a look at Ledger in the role of Joker in "The Dark Knight."
Roll that, Charles.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: What do we got?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Nothing. No name. No other alias.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Clothing is custom.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Nothing in the pockets but knives and lint.
HEATH LEDGER, AS THE JOKER: Evening, commissioner. Why so mysterious?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAMMER: Now, that is just a small glimpse but we are seeing that his character is just spine chilling.
Ashleigh Banfield, I would have to think that the studio is worried here that everything about the film is going to be forever connected to Heath`s death.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, ANCHOR, "HOLLYWOOD HEAT": It`s a good thing and a bad thing. You know, first of all, the viral marketing has been going on for well over a year now, and although this is very sinister and disturbing, it`s also something that will stick with people. So they may be going to see this movie in the summer because of the death of Heath Ledger without any effort by the studio. Or the studio may be able to continue the marketing campaign hooked into his character and him, and say, look, we were not going to allow this death to dictate anything one way or the other about our campaign. We stuck with what we were doing and didn`t change it and didn`t exploit his death.
HAMMER: Well, going to be interesting to see how it unfolds because when you think about how multifaceted this is, another rough situation is the fact, that Ledger, obviously a central character in the movie and was going to be central in promoting it. You`re looking at the promotional poster for the film. Whose face on it? Not Batman. It is the Joker.
Howard Bragman, you do this for a living. How do you promote the movie at the same time remain sensitive to Heath Ledger`s death?
HOWARD BRAGMAN, FOUNDER, FIFTEEN MINUTES PUBLIC RELATIONS: You`re walking a tight rope, A.J. As you say, you`re trying to be sensitive to the fact that you lost one of the stars of the movie. At the same time, we are talking hundreds of millions of dollars invested, if not billions, invested in this franchise.
I talked to somebody at Warner Brothers today and they said, we have one thing on our side right now and it`s time. We are going to take sometime to see how the reaction is, to see what`s going on. We are going to be respectful to Heath and the family. We are not going to exploit it.
Let`s be realistic. Everybody in America`s going to know about the Batman movie. It wasn`t a small Indy under the radar. So they`re going to have a chance and if it`s a good movie, it makes a lot of money. If it isn`t, it won`t make a lot of money. And ultimately, Heath`s death will not have an impact on the box office, except curiosity.
But one thing is interesting. The early buzz is he was exquisite as the Joker and what everybody`s talking about in Hollywood.
HAMMER: I`ve been hearing about that myself and the various people I had the occasion to talk to over the past few days. What makes it more difficult, though, I have to believe, is the nature of the role. It is not as if the last big role was a romantic comedy. He is playing a psychopathic murderous villain. Look at the poster. It says not all jokes are funny.
Jane, it seems any promotion with Ledger does run the risk of being seen in poor taste if his face appears on it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, it is a tricky situation. I heard that clips feature him making references to death. That is the kind of thing that has to go. And you have to make sure in the promotional trailer there is no unintentional double cantons so that you have to feature other actors in this piece. And you have Christian Bail, Morgan Freeman.
There`s a lot of fabulous actors to feature more prominently. And I think it is difficult situation but it`s certainly not impossible. And Hollywood studios have been dealing with these kinds of situations for ages.
HAMMER: Howard Bragman mentions a tight rope at the studios. I`m also interested in seeing how the press is walking the tight rope, because when the movie is released in summer -- and Ashleigh Banfield, I`ll throw this out to you -- I`m concerned that a lot of the press is only going to focus on Ledger`s performance instead of on the movie itself. I`ll try to be balanced about it.
BANFIELD: A.J., you have to be honest about this. If the production from the get-go looked at Heath Ledger`s performance as the lynch pin as the success of the movie, that ain`t going to change. As everybody else has been reporting there are hundreds of millions of dollars at stake. I think they would be remiss to change things because of the death.
If they stay on target and course and stay on point, they can always wrap themselves in the belief that this was always what we planned and the death played no part in the marketing and no part in anything else. And we didn`t want to make a dime off the death. We wanted to make a dime off of his life.
HAMMER: So, Howard Bragman, to Ashleigh`s point, can you see an upside to the studio focusing on Heath?
BRAGMAN: Well, no. But the upside is the curiosity factor for the fans. And a lot of people will want to see his last fulfilled performance and so that`s probably not necessarily a bad thing. But the studio has to be careful not to be perceived as milking that, either. They are again on the tight rope.
In the end, the movie has a good early buzz. When we get in the press junket, the press asks about Heath and the actors will trained to say we loved Heath and this movie is a tribute to him, but we are here to talk about Batman. You`ll hear lines like that again and again in the junket. You`ll try to take it to Heath and the movie people are going to try to take it back to the Batman franchise. So it`s going to be an interesting little tug of war with the tight rope while that is happening.
HAMMER: I`m promising, on behalf of "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT," a great deal of responsibility.
Ashleigh Banfield, Jane Velez-Mitchell, Howard Bragman, I thank you for being with us tonight.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thanks, A.J.
BANFIELD: Thanks, A.J.
ANDERSON: A.J., we are going to stay on top of the Heath Ledger developments, but right now I want to move on to something a little lighter -- Paris Hilton. She had an album out. It was a total flop. If you did listen to it, it was probably clear that Paris wasn`t exactly the greatest singer.
Tonight, I have more cold, hard proof that Paris absolutely, positively cannot sing. You might want to grab your ear plugs, next.
HAMMER: I`m sorry, Brooke. I wasn`t listening. I had my ear plugs in. You`re just torturing us with this.
Another big Hollywood story right now, Jessica Simpson absolutely furious at one celebrity tabloid. In fact, she may even sue them and you`re not going to believe why. That is coming up next.
ANDERSON: A.J., you know, Tom Cruise taken a beaten recently about his family life and Scientology and people questioning his behavior. Some of the biggest stars have had it. They`re coming to his defense. I have a fired up panel ready to tear into all of this coming up next.
But first, the Screen Actors Guild Awards. The striking Writers Guild decided not to picket Sunday`s SAG Awards because of SAG`s strong support for the writers. Now one of the films nominated for the outstanding cast honor is "American Gangster." Terrific movie. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DENZEL WASHINGTON, ACTOR: Do you really think that putting me behind bars is going to change anything on them streets? Those dope fiends are going to shoot it. They`re going to steal from it. They`re going to die for it. Putting me in or out won`t change one thing.
RUSSELL CROW, ACTOR: Then that`s the way it is.
WASHINGTON: That`s just the way it is. So what we got, Richie? We got me and you sitting here.
CROW: I got possession, servicing, bribing a law enforcement officer. I got people who will testify you kill him in cold blood.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Denzel Washington and Russell Crow there. Their co-star Ruby Dee was nominated for best supporting female actor.
ANDERSON: Hey, welcome back to "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT," TV`s most provocative entertainment news show. I`m Brook Anderson.
Tonight, three other big stories that are new right now that we just got to talk about. First, we can hardly believe our ears -- Paris Hilton singing karaoke. Be warned, there were no backup singers, no synthesizers. We are still speechless.
Jessica Simpson blasting a magazine saying she was dumped by Dallas Cowboy`s Quarterback Tony Romo and threatening to sue. Her publicist telling "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" the story is a complete lie.
And Hollywood`s biggest stars, including Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, are coming to the defense of another one of Hollywood`s biggest stars, Tom Cruise. They say leave him and his Scientology beliefs alone.
With us in Hollywood, Kim Serafin, Editor, "In Touch Weekly, and also in Hollywood, Michael Yo, host from "E!" Entertainment radio.
Kim, Michael, I want to kick this off with Paris Hilton`s Karaoke catastrophe. But before we get to that, I want to show you a little bit of Paris singing in her music video for "Stars are Blind."
Charles, roll that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PARIS HILTON, HOSTEL HEIRESS: I don`t mind bending sometimes, just hanging here with you `cause I don`t find too many guys that treat me like you do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILTON: All right. Not too bad. But now I want you to brace yourself for Paris Hilton`s karaoke version of "Bette Davis Eyes." Ready?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILTON: She knows just what it takes to make a pro blush.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: That hurts my ears.
Michael, proof positive that she can`t sing and the album was smoke and mirrors?
MICHAEL YO, E ENTERTAINMENT RADIO: When most people do karaoke, they bring some girlfriends up and have some fun. But it looked like she was trying to sing. And that`s what made it so bad.
When you go into the studio to record an album, they have autotune and can make anybody sound like they can sing. And, man, I`ll tell you, yeah, smoke and mirrors was the album. She really cannot sing.
ANDERSON: Kim, your thoughts?
KIM SERAFIN, EDITOR, "IN TOUCH WEEKLY": Well, you know, I have to admit I have "Stars are Blind" on my iPod and it keeps me going on the treadmill at the gym. I have a feeling that "Bette Davis Eyes" would make me get off the treadmill, at least her version of it.
But, you know, she is doing this musical that`s coming out, "Repo! The Genetic Opera." It`s like a horror movie and a musical. And obviously, it`s going to be more of a horror movie than musical.
ANDERSON: Yeah, those are the key words, horror movie.
Michael, this could destroy her career, couldn`t it? Oh, wait a minute. She doesn`t have a career.
YO: Yes, exactly. Destroy a career? Come on, whatever.
ANDERSON: All right. Moving on now.
SERAFIN: I have to say, Paris, though, does make fun of herself more than anyone makes fun of her. Getting the Harvard Lampoon Award at Harvard. So she plays along. She can joke around with the best of them.
ANDERSON: She certainly can. She is self-deprecating. We`ll leave Paris alone for now. We want to move on because we love denials here at "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT." But this one, I have to tell you, it surprised us. Jessica Simpson denying an article in "OK" magazine that she and Dallas Cowboy`s Quarterback Tony Romo split up.
Her publicist tells "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT," quote, "That rag completely fabricated and made up this story. I have spoken to both Jeff and Tony and they`re completely secure in their relationship and won`t let this garbage get under their skin."
Michael, we usually get denials of a marriage break-up but not of a boyfriend break-up. What`s going on here?
YO: I don`t know what`s going on. Eva Longoria, Tony Parker, I understand "X-17" reported they could have been -- Tony was messing around on Eva. That`s a big deal but you`re not -- you`re hanging out for a couple of months and making a big deal of it?
I think Jessica Simpson, you have to remember, she is brilliant in marketing. She dated John Mayer. She hung out with Adam Lavine and now, with this Tony Romo thing, she has a country album coming out. She is dating a cowboy. She knows what she is doing. She`s not as dumb as everybody thinks.
ANDERSON: Kim, you know, she hasn`t had an easy time dating Tony Romo. The Dallas Cowboy fans have been after her and now this. It`s been pretty tough.
SERAFIN: Yeah. I was going to say, she gets treated much more unfairly than the other actors and models that date sports figures. We have something in "In Touch" this week about -- everyone from Victoria Beckham to Eva Longoria and none of them seem to get treated as badly and Jessica. I don`t know who Jessica is rooting for in the Super Bowl, but I would think she would be totally hoping that the Patriots lose because then the shift will got to did Gisele ruin Tom Brady`s chances, so.
ANDERSON: Right. Take some of the heat off of Jessica Simpson.
ANDERSON: OK, the next big story making big waves, some of Hollywood`s biggest stars defending Tom Cruise after he`s once again catching heat for his beliefs in the Church of Scientology. It started when a video featuring Tom became viral on the Internet. Now Bruce Willis, among others, telling people.com their feelings.
Bruce Willis saying this, quote, "There is no excuse for the ridicule that`s being shown to Tom Cruise in the media because of his faith. Mr. Cruise deserves and is entitled to the same religious tolerance that is afforded every other religion on earth."
Michael, what do you think? Has Tom Cruise been getting a raw deal?
YO: Yeah. I think, like Chris Crocker said with Britney Spears, leave Tom alone! He`s done nothing wrong to you guys.
Here`s the thing. If you don`t believe in his religion he`s preaching about Scientology, he is very passionate about it, just leave him alone. Don`t follow his religion. Don`t listen to what he has to say. You have that choice. People running around saying he is crazy. No, Britney Spears is crazy. Do not put Tom in that same boat, OK?
ANDERSON: Don`t put them in the same category. OK. We`ll leave it there for now.
Michael Yo, Kim Serafin, it was fun. Thanks for joining us.
YO: Thank you.
ANDERSON: All right, well, despite the stories, the scrutiny, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are making their Hollywood marriage work.
What about former "Beverly Hills 90210" star Tori Spelling? You know, her marriage, pretty controversial. Both she and her current husband dumped their spouses for each other. Next, I get Tori Spelling to spill secrets about how she makes her marriage work and if she believes there`s truly a reality show curse. You`re not going to want to miss this, next.
HAMMER: And if you don`t want to miss "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT," you can watch us any time you like. All you have to do is download our wonderful podcast, which is totally free. You`ll find the "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" podcast right there on our website. Mark it down, it`s cnn.com/showbiztonight. Make a little bookmark. You can also download it on iTunes by typing "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" right into that little iTunes search box. "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT," coming right back.
ANDERSON: Welcome back to "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT." I`m Brooke Anderson in Hollywood.
Now, the secrets of Tori Spelling`s marriage. Tory Spelling has come a long way from playing the virginal Donna Martin on "Beverly Hills 90210." She got married, left her husband for another guy she met while filming a movie. Got remarried, had a baby, a hit reality show on "E!" called "Tory and Dean in Love." And now there`s talk she`s pregnant again. So with all this going on, I had to ask her and her husband, Dean, how do they make their Hollywood marriage work and do they believe in the reality show curse? Jessica Simpson, Nick Lachey, Britney Spears, Kevin Federline, Whitney Houston, Bobby Brown -- all split up after doing a reality show.
DEAN MCDERMOTT, HUSBAND OF TORI SPELLING: ... to my attention.
TORI SPELLING, ACTRESS: After he signed on to do the show, I told him about it. It was too late to back out.
MCDERMOTT: The ink wasn`t even dry on the contract. She said, by the way.
ANDERSON: After he have made this decision.
SPELLING: FYI, for Dean`s information.
ANDERSON: Dean, what do you think about that? Were you apprehensive?
MCDERMOTT: Not at all. I was just, like, yeah, so what? You know? They`re not us. We`re the exception, not the rule.
ANDERSON: Going to beat the odds?
MCDERMOTT: Yeah, absolutely.
SPELLING: And my theory on it is these couples, they don`t spend that much time together and then thrown together on the reality show and they`re together 24 hours a day and they`re like, oh, I can`t stand you that much. Too much time with you. But our thing is we spend 24 hours a day together anyway. We do everything together.
MCDERMOTT: We can`t stand to be apart.
ANDERSON: With all of the pressures you guys face with your very busy schedules, how do you make your marriage work? Because it`s so difficult for so many people, not just in Hollywood, but beyond>
SPELLING: Uh-huh. We don`t work at it.
MCDERMOTT: We don`t work at it.
SPELLING: Maybe that`s the trick.
MCDERMOTT: It`s effortless. It`s so funny. It is very Jerry Maguire, but we complete each other.
SPELLING: We`ll have to think of a new term.
MCDERMOTT: We do, but I can`t. It is so true.
SPELLING: We need to have our own term.
MCDERMOTT: We are such partners in crime and we are on the same page with everything and, you know, we finish each other`s sentences and we already know what the other one is thinking. So we work really well together.
SPELLING: I`m the Bonnie to your Clyde?
ANDERSON: By the way, we tried to confirm Tori being pregnant but, A.J., nobody`s talking just yet.
HAMMER: Man, they are just too cute for words, I got to tell you. I actually mean that.
That`s it for "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT." I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.
ANDERSON: And I`m Brook Anderson in Hollywood. The latest from "CNN HEADLINE NEWS" coming up next. Keep it here.