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Showbiz Tonight

LA Official Backs Law to Curb Paparazzi; Amy Winehouse Grammys: Rewarded for Bad Behavior?

Aired February 12, 2008 - 23:00   ET


AJ HAMMER, CNN ANCHOR, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT: Is "American Idol" bad for music? I`m AJ Hammer in New York.
BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT: And why Hannah Montana star Miley Cyrus is being blasted for a sign in her new movie. I`m Brooke Anderson in Hollywood. TV`s most provocative entertainment news show starts right now.

HAMMER: On SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, should there be a leave Britney alone law. Tonight, a controversial new proposal to force the paparazzi to stay far away from Britney and other big stars. Good idea or, hey, isn`t this what stars sign up for when they get famous?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody has every right to any part of me or them that they want because I sold myself to you.


HAMMER: Tonight, a heated and explosive debate over the law that demands --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Leave Britney alone!


HAMMER: Oh, brother. Paris Hilton`s little brother is following in his sister`s footsteps, mug shot and all. Barron Hilton gets arrested for DUI and you are not going to believe how drunk he was according to police. Tonight, the Hilton sibling we never heard about, arrested at 18.

Outrage over Amy Winehouse. Should she have been banned from the Grammys? Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT asking -- is another star being rewarded for bad behavior?

Hello. I`m AJ Hammer broadcasting tonight and every night from New York City.

ANDERSON: Hi there, everyone. I`m Brooke Anderson coming to you from Hollywood. Tonight, the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT great debate. Is "American Idol" actually bad for music? Is the show helping make music worse?

Plus, is it absolutely outrageous that Amy Winehouse left rehab to sing about defying rehab and then win Grammys? We`ve got some fired up folks on both sides of all of this coming up.

HAMMER: But first, the great Britney debate. Should there be a leave Britney alone law that actually protects big stars like Britney Spears from having paparazzi cameras pushed in their face? Los Angeles City councilman Dennis Zine is the guy who proposed the law and Sheeraz Hasan is the founder of Hollywood.TV, but is part of the camera crowd that follows Britney`s every move. Their great debate coming up in just a moment, but first, some background.


HAMMER (voice-over): They follow Britney Spears every move. They pester her.


HAMMER: And sometimes, they even date her. It`s the paparazzi and SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can tell you they are getting out of control.

JO PIAZZA, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: The paparazzo have reached a whole new level of aggressiveness, the high speed car chases, coupled with surrounding her vehicle whenever she stops at red lights, is a danger not only to Britney but to other people.

HAMMER: And now Britney isn`t the only one who thinks the paparazzi are getting too close for comfort. One man is putting his foot down to swat away the swarm of paparazzi around celebrities like Britney.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Leave Britney alone!

HAMMER: No, not this guy, this guy. Los Angeles City councilman and former cop Dennis Zine. He proposed this LA ordinance that if passed, would create a personal safety zone between celebrities and the paparazzi. Call it the Britney law. Zine says it was this display that led him to act. An army of police cars, motorcycle cops, an ambulance and a helicopter all to take Britney Spears to the hospital when she was committed in January. And the LAPD said it was all necessary to keep the paparazzi away. The price tag? $25,000. The Screen Actors Guild is for the Britney law. LA`s police chief is not and we imagine the paparazzi would have a problem with it, as well.

PIAZZA: There`s a lot of issues surrounding this law.

HAMMER: Like, how can it be enforced? Would it violate the first amendment? And the biggest issue of all -- a buffer zone would kind of kill the romance between Britney and her boyfriend paparazzo Adnan Ghalib (ph).

PIAZZA: It`s kind of like the two of them being in a middle school dance and the nun putting the balloon in between the two of them.

HAMMER: Well, that would be Britney`s problem but the issue of pushy paparazzi in the streets is one that a lot of people are trying to solve before somebody gets hurt.


HAMMER: So, should there be a leave Britney alone law? Let`s get right to it. Joining us tonight from Hollywood Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis Zine is proposing the paparazzi restrictions, also Sheeraz Hasan, the founder of Hollywood.TV. I do appreciate you both being here tonight. Councilman Zine, I want to read part of what you proposed here. I`m going to read directly from your proposal. Quote a minimum personal zone, a clear space that would protect public safety on streets, sidewalks, access points to emergency care facilities, access to private businesses and homes and general orderly conduct when the paparazzi converge on an individual or location. Councilman, there is absolutely no doubt that the paparazzi have become overly aggressive with Britney Spears in particular, but a law?

COUNCILMAN DENNIS ZINE: Yes AJ, I`ll tell you why we need a law. Not only to protect the celebrities, to protect the general public. Someone goes out and gets a camera. All of a sudden they`re paparazzi, no credentials. They freelance out there creating chaos on the roads and we have a population in Los Angeles that`s fed up with it. We`re an entertainment capital. We`ve got celebrities all over Los Angeles from Malibu to Beverly Hills. We have an obligation to protect them, the general population and what the paparazzi have done has gotten out of control. They`re creating a hazard for everyone and when we have to spend $25,000 of taxpayers` money to escort an ambulance with Britney Spears to the hospital, we have gone over the top. It is their conduct, their lack of respect for people, the lack of respect for the law, 80 miles per hour down the streets, wrong side of the road, jumping out, swarming cars is what`s creating this. They have created this dilemma. We need to correct it and the way we`re going to correct it is by coming up with some sanctions, some laws to bring back a little sense of decorum and respectability. I don`t care if they take the photo. I don`t care if they do their job, but they have gotten out of control and the numbers keep growing. They`ll be up to 100 paparazzi at a site, up to 100 swarming a car. We can`t tolerate that in our city of the angels.

HAMMER: A lot of people are saying what you`re proposing makes a lot of sense. Sheeraz, let me flip it right over to you because your guys out right there with their cameras in the thick of all of the Britney madness every single day. What do you think is wrong with the councilman`s idea?

SHEERAZ HASAN, FOUNDER, HOLLYWOOD.TV: First of all I respect his decision but here`s the bottom line. It`s faster to become a millionaire being a paparazzi than playing the lottery. Your` saying yes to the 100 paparazzi. There is going to be 200, 300, even 400 if the media outlets are paying millions of dollars for a shot of Britney Spears or Angelina`s kids or whoever that demand is there. It`s a supply and demand. The entire entertainment industry makes billions of dollars on Hollywood. So you`ve got to remember, Britney Spears, you know, the Britney law which is great, yeah, you`re going to try and put some kind of hurdles there. The bottom line is, the reason why paparazzis go the extra mile is because they`re getting paid. If they`re not paid big money, trust me, people will not be sitting outside Britney Spears` house day and night, 24 hours a day. If a magazine is calling up and saying, we`ll pay you millions of dollars to get this shot, I don`t care what law is in place. People are going to do whatever it takes to get the shot. And the paparazzi are designing what you are seeing on your television or in your magazines. You might have a story of let`s just say Reese Witherspoon is pregnant. All of a sudden, the paparazzi gets a shot of Britney Spears having a car crash. Immediately, in a heart beat, that whole story of Reese Witherspoon will be eliminated and Britney the goes on the cover.

HAMMER: Sheeraz, let me get to the point, though. You know, you`re saying no matter what law`s in place, these shots are always going to be in demand. If the councilman`s proposal goes through, then these paparazzi will be breaking the law so are they going to break the law in order to get that shot? Knowing that they very well could be fined, thrown in jail, whatever?

HASAN: OK now if you`re going to fined, the paparazzi is no big deal. They`re going to make their money back on a good shot. So unless the law is really pushing it, then what I say is fair enough. Then number one, paparazzi can`t afford helicopters. They can`t afford 50 motor bikes, police everywhere, broadcasting this live. There`s a two-part blame here. You can say it`s the paparazzi, put a law in. But let me ask you a question, AJ, who is airing the content? Which magazines are paying? Which TV stations are airing it? The councilman has to say hold it a minute. It`s not just the paparazzi. It`s the whole entertainment industry because they`re the one that`s doing it. So it`s fine pointing fingers but the bottom line is, yes, I respect the law. Yes, it will be safe but it`s not going to stop. You got to remember, there are people around the world that want Britney. They want Paris. They want Lindsay. If there`s a demand for these stars, advertisers spend billions of dollars to get the shot to satisfy the audience so, yes, you can pass a law but there`s too much money involved for --

ZINE: OK. One of the problems let me say one of the problems is when someone dies as a result of this activity, then someone`s going to get sued. The entertainment industry will get sued, those magazines, those tabloids. And I respect people doing a job. But when they`re jeopardizing public safety, that is the issue. Public safety is in jeopardy and when a lawsuit takes place, they`re all going to be sued and maybe the million dollars will go pay the family of the departed. We look at Princess Di and what happened in that tragedy where the paparazzi were chasing this car. The car crashes. Princess Di dies. We don`t want that in this city and they need to police themselves. They`re not policing themselves and that`s the problem. Holy moly, the website come up with an idea. We`re not going to take photos from people who are involved in these type of incidents. We need the industry to come forward and start to discipline themselves because this law will only go so far but liability is going to extend to the industry. Liability`s going to extend to the tabloids. Liability is going to extend when someone is seriously injured or killed and believe me, with my 40 years in law enforcement, I can tell you, we are just waiting for someone to get injured seriously or killed as a result of this. Dennis Quaid trying to go to the hospital to visit his twins and he had to have a sheriff`s escort because the paparazzi were blocking him from going to the hospital to see his twins because the tragedy that happened to his twins. That`s outrageous conduct by the paparazzi. It`s not about anybody`s freedom or liberty.

HASAN: I understand. That might be outrageous. Who`s airing it? Who is buying the photograph?

HAMMER: Well, clearly, the industry has to respond.

HASAN: A magazine is going to call up and say I`m going to pay you $1 million if you can get me that shot of Dennis Quaid`s kids. Yes, you might have a law. They`re thinking of the million dollars and I understand it, you know, it going to be tough. There`s safety issues but at the end of the day, you are saying be away from a star. How is that going to happen?

ZINE: We have a respectable media in our city. We have media`s credentials. Like I said, all you have to do is go out and get a camera and now you`re a paparazzi with no rules, no regulations, procedures and you`re jeopardizing public safety. The chase that are taking place. They have got chases with absolute outrageous conduct. I know from experience in law enforcement someone`s going to get seriously injured or killed and then they are going to say why don`t we have a law to prevent this from happening? We can`t we have a law to prevent people from being accosted, from being stalked. All the time we see this happening in Hollywood, the entertainment capital of the world. We need to have a law and we need to have some conduct that is responsible and reasonable. The paparazzi are creating this situation, their disrespect for people, for property and the general public. They`re creating this issue.

HAMMER: Sheeraz.

HASAN: Let me ask you a question. That`s fair enough but the bottom line is, when Britney Spears was being followed and you`re saying all the paparazzi were to blame and they were breaking the laws. Let me ask you a question, if you were an ex-police officer, how come those paparazzi didn`t get arrested? Why didn`t they get stopped? You are beaming this live. (INAUDIBLE)

ZINE: There were three paparazzi who were arrested and taken to jail. And paparazzi have been arrested by the Los Angeles Police Department. I`m still a reserve with the police department. I still make arrests on behalf of the people of Los Angeles in addition to being a city council member. But I see outrageous this is. I don`t want to see a Princess Di situation occur in the city of Los Angeles and Dennis Quaid should be able to get to the hospital. Nicole Kidman -

HAMMER: Guys, I`m sorry I have to interrupt you. Councilman Zine, I have to get in here because we are out of time. Obviously, it`s a subject for continued debate and the proposal is now in the wheels of government, Dennis Zine, Sheeraz Hasan, I appreciate you joining us tonight.

ANDERSON: All I can say about the next story is -- oh brother. He`s one of the Hilton siblings we didn`t have to hear about every day, Paris` little brother. But those days are over. Guess what? Eighteen-year-old Barron Hilton got his first mug shot, everybody. I can hardly believe it. Those parents must be so proud. Why Paris` little brother is following in her footsteps, next.

HAMMER: Plus the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT great debates continue. Is "American Idol" bad for music? Is it glorified karaoke or is it a good platform for rising talent? SHOWBIZ TONIGHT talks with some of the biggest stars on the planet. We will be debating that coming up.

ANDERSON: Also, outrage over Amy Winehouse. This really has everybody riled up. Did her Grammy performance and the fact that she won so many awards set a terrible example? Is it just another case of stars being rewarded for bad behavior? I think it would be slim pickings if we only give out awards to stars who don`t mess up. We`ve got a fired up debate straight ahead.


HAMMER: Hey, thanks for spending some time with us here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, TV`s most provocative entertainment news show. I`m Brooke Anderson in Hollywood. And tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can tell you that, yet another Hilton has been arrested for allegedly driving under the influence. Paris Hilton, move over. Your kid brother`s been collared. In Hollywood tonight, Jane Velez-Mitchell, investigative journalist and author of the book, "Secrets Can Be Murder." Also in Hollywood, Kristen Dos Santos, columnist for E!Online "Watch with Kristen." Jane, Kristen, good to see you. Hey, here`s what we know right now. Paris Hilton`s 18-year-old brother Barron was arrested around 8:00 this morning, 8:04 to be exact according to the booking report that was in Malibu. TMZ reporting he had nearly double the legal limit of alcohol in his system. Kristen Dos Santos, you would think that after all Paris Hilton went through, ultimately going to jail, that something would have gotten through the heads of the Hiltons. Guess not, huh?

KRISTEN DOS SANTOS, E!ONLINE`S "WATCH WITH KRISTEN": I just think this is so insane. I mean, obviously, everyone heard of the program "Scared Straight." I don`t know what else it takes other than seeing your sister in complete shambles and spending two weeks in jail to get you to not do something like this. I mean, obviously, his parents are not really laying down the law. He`s only 18. He was driving at 8:30 in the morning in a brand new Mercedes and doing all kinds of crazy things. I mean, I really feel like this is something that obviously is running in the family. And someone needs to step in and sort of turn these kids around. You know? Jamie Lynne Spears obviously also going on sort of a -- veering off the path that she shouldn`t be going on and they should be learning from their older siblings, but they`re not and I think these kids are growing up so fast because of who their older siblings are.

ANDERSON: Maybe learning bad behavior.


ANDERSON: Paris Hilton was charged with alcohol-related reckless driving in 2006. Now we do have her kid brother, Barron. Jane, is it like Kristen says that, hey, this kind of behavior seems to run in the family?

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Well, I see it a little bit differently. I think Barron is actually learning from the experience of his older sister. Think about it. What message did society send? You plead no contest to alcohol-related reckless driving. You do a couple of weeks in jail and you emerge more famous than ever before. You appear on television. You become even more notorious and what do teenagers want more than anything else? Attention. So maybe he is following in the footsteps of his big sister precisely to get attention. The example he should be thinking of is Lane Garrison, the prison break star who had a similarly high blood alcohol level, who ended up killing a passenger in his car and is now doing hard time.

ANDERSON: Yeah. The danger he allegedly put himself and others in is terrible. And I do want to read you the statement that Paris and Barron`s father Rick Hilton released to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT earlier today. Quote I haven`t been contacted yet by either my son or the police. If what I have heard is true, it is very disturbing and I will have a lot to say. But it will be to my son not the media. Kristen, you know, you said -- the parents may not have been laying down the law with their kids. He sounds pretty upset. And you got to think that their parents have got to be beside themselves at this point.

DOS SANTOS: I think they`re beside themselves but I hate to say it. I think that they get into the attention of it all just as much as their kids do. I think Cathy Hilton is always out there. She was sort of pitching her own show. She wanted to do a reality show. I think that they get into this sort of public obsession, as well. And so, you know, more power to them if they do say what they are going to say in private, but I have a feeling we`re going to see statements from them. We`ve going to see - we`ve already seen a statement from Paris. She gave one to page six about how saddened she is by all of this. They really do tend to milk all of this for the attention, unfortunately.

ANDERSON: It is unfortunate. Kristen Dos Santos, Jane Velez-Mitchell. We`ll leave it there for now. Thank you both.

All right. Tonight, there is outrage over Amy Winehouse. This really has everybody riled up. Did her Grammy performance and the fact she won so many awards set a terrible example? Is it just another case of stars being rewarded for bad behavior? I think it`s slim pickings giving awards to stars who don`t mess up.

HAMMER: And that`s not all. We are debating in the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT great debate, "American Idol," is it bad for music, a glorified karaoke competition? SHOWBIZ TONIGHT talked to some of the biggest stars in the world. We are debating that. You won`t want to miss it coming up.

ANDERSON: And speaking of controversial singers, yep, Michael Jackson is back. OK, this may make you feel a little bit old. Believe it or not, it has been 25 years since "Thriller" came out and in rare interview, Michael has got something to say about it. That`s coming up. You do not want to miss this. Stay with us.


HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m AJ Hammer. Here are some more stories that are now right now. A trial has started in Los Angeles over the death of John Ritter. Ritter died of a tear in the aorta back in 2003. He was 54 years old. Ritter`s relatives are suing two doctors for $67 million saying they failed to warn him about the condition and didn`t order a chest X ray on the night he died.

Mel Gibson is being sued by the man who wrote "The Passion of the Christ." The writer says Gibson misled him into accepting a small payment for the script. Lawyers won`t say how much and didn`t pay him anymore when the movie became a blockbuster. The writer says Gibson said he would share profits with everyone who worked on the film because he considered it a personal gift to his Catholic religion.

"Consumer Reports" magazine is blasting Miley Cyrus for a scene in her new movie where is riding in a Range Rover without a seat belt on. The magazine says it was a perfect opportunity to influence teens to buckle up.

Tonight, there is outrage over Amy Winehouse. Did her Grammy performance and the fact that she won so many awards set a bad example? Is this just another case of stars being rewarded for bad behavior? Joy Behar (ph) at the "News" said that the Grammys are not a religious organization, still some provocative questions. We have got a fired-up debate straight ahead.

HAMMER: And that is not all we are debating in the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT great debate. I want to know, is "American Idol" bad for music? Is just some kind of glorified karaoke competition? We talked to the big stars to get their take on that and we`ll be debating it. We`re all fired to that coming up.

ANDERSON: And speaking of controversial singers, Michael Jackson is back. OK. This may make you feel a little old because believe it or not, it`s been 25 years since "Thriller" came out and in a rare interview, Michael has something to say about it. That`s coming up. You don`t want to miss that straight ahead.

HAMMER: But first I have a great idea. You can stay on top of the most provocative entertainment news stories with our daily SHOWBIZ TONIGHT news letter. Just head on over to Just click on sign up for newsletters, the link right there at the bottom of the page. That way, a brand new newsletter will show up in your e-mail inbox every single day. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is coming straight back.


JOHN McCAIN (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, thank you, voters of Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia for a clean sweep of the Potomac -- of the Chesapeake primary.


SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A clean sweep is right. Senator John McCain speaking to supporters in Alexandria, Virginia. I`m Susan Hendricks with your headline news, live election update. Let`s take a look now. CNN projects a clean sweep for him in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC. Let`s break down the numbers. McCain winning big with 68 percent in Washington, DC. Also, taking Maryland with 55 percent and Virginia, McCain with 50 percent over Huckabee`s 41 percent.

All right. Let`s talk about Obama now. A clean sweep for him, as well, in .DC, 75 percent of the vote. Also Obama taking Maryland, 59 percent over Hillary Clinton, 37 percent and Virginia winning that, as well, 64 percent with Clinton`s 35 percent and we should note this is the first time that -


AJ HAMMER, CNN ANCHOR, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT: On SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, a shocking Amy Winehouse Grammy controversy. You know Amy won a bunch of awards but tonight, there`s outrage that that sends a bad message. On top of it all, she popped out of a substance abuse rehab program to sing her hit song "Rehab" live on the show. Is there too much Winehouse whining or was this a stupid, stupid idea? Tonight, a fired up great debate.

And another showbiz great debate is "American Idol" good or bad for music? I mean for every Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, there are a whole bunch of flops. Tonight, the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT great debate, is "American Idol" good for music?

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

BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT: And I`m Brooke Anderson coming to you tonight from Hollywood. This is TV`s most provocative entertainment news show. Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can tell you that there is a brand new controversy over Amy Winehouse and her big wins at the Grammy awards. Singer Natalie Cole is slamming Winehouse`s multiple Grammy wins and says she shouldn`t be rewarded for her bad behavior. Winehouse won five awards on Sunday night. She even popped out of rehab to perform so tonight it`s a SHOWBIZ TONIGHT great debate. Is Amy Winehouse just another star being rewarded for bad behavior? With us again tonight in Los Angeles Jane Velez-Mitchell, investigative journalist and author of this book, "Secrets Can Be Murder." And Tanika Ray, correspondent for "Extra." Jane, Tanika, first you got to take a look at what Natalie Cole said. It really is unbelievable. She truly feels strongly about this. She said, quote to, we have to stop rewarding bad behavior. I`m sorry. I think the girl is talented, gifted, but it`s not right for her to be able to have her cake and eat it too. She needs to get herself together.

You know, Natalie definitely has a unique perspective on this because she herself has battled drug addiction.


ANDERSON: She`s gone to rehab, Jane, is Natalie right, Amy Winehouse being rewarded for bad behavior here?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: She is being rewarded for bad behavior and the dangerous part is that it could kill her. You don`t jump off an operating table in the middle of open heart surgery to sing at the Grammys and you don`t leaving another life-saving operation like rehab to sing at the Grammys. I`m not saying she shouldn`t have won the prizes, but she shouldn`t have performed especially a song like "Rehab" where she`s talking about I don`t want to go to rehab. This sends a horrible message and the adulation that she received is the last thing that she should be getting because she needs to learn humility.

TANIKA RAY, CORRESPONDENT, "EXTRA": Jane, you know how TV works, girl.


RAY: You know how TV works. You need ratings. I wouldn`t have watched the Grammys if Amy Winehouse wasn`t on. It was the best album of the year and she is not being rewarded for her behavior.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: (INAUDIBLE) This sends a terrible message to people suffering from addiction out here.

RAY: Her parents should be parents and save her life. It`s not the Grammys that are going to save her life.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Parents don`t save the life of addicts. Rehab save the lives of addicts and you know, even her people said when she was checking in that she was checking in to prepare for the Grammys so now that she`s swept the Grammys and gotten all this adulation, what incentive does she have to stay sober given that she was photographed just a couple of weeks ago apparently smoking crack?

RAY: You are really hyped up, Jane. Relax. It is not that deep.


RAY: When it comes down to it --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It is. Crack is serious.

RAY: Crack is very serious, but let`s think about the past winners for the Grammys. Artists are different brains. They`re different types of people. We would haven`t the brilliance of music if it weren`t for a couple of jacked up artists along the way. Let`s think about Whitney Houston. She loves crack no matter how whack it is. Ray Charles had a heroin addiction.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We have Jimi Hendrix. We`ve lost Janis Joplin. We`ve lost Jim Belushi and we should learn from those experiences and not reward this kind of behavior.

RAY: It has nothing to do with --

ANDERSON: There are a lot of people -- sorry, guys. I do want to jump in. There are a lot of people who agree with you, Tanika, that hey, Amy Winehouse, not the first person especially not the first music artist to have substance abuse issues, drug addiction problems. The ladies of "The View" were really all over this topic today including Joy Behar (ph). Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The drug thing? I really don`t think it has anything to do with the person`s music. I mean, if we judge people by their personal lives, you would never hear any music on the air. I went through the `60s. Every single one of them was on drugs. You would never listen to the Moody Blues, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones. You`d never listen to Frank Sinatra. He liked to booze it up. Come on.


ANDERSON: OK. It almost sounds like Joy is saying her private life is her private life as long as she comes out with good music. It`s OK for the public, Tanika. Does Joy have a point?

RAY: Yeah Joy does have a point. This is the thing. It is not about we don`t care what she`s doing in her private life. It`s about the Grammys have blinders on the music only and that`s all they`re responsible for.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tanika, I`m not saying she shouldn`t have won. I`m saying she shouldn`t have performed.

RAY: .amazing her music was and that`s all they rewarded her for. So to concentrate on all the other things is a little ridiculous right now, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to say private life is a private life but she has been making her private life public. She was photographed walking around in a bra.

RAY: She didn`t make it. She didn`t hire that camera crew.

VELEZ-MITCHELL She was walking around the streets of London in a bra. She was walking around the streets bloody. She was smoking apparently crack in front of a photographer.

ANDERSON: Hopefully she is continuing her substance abuse treatment. Jane, there are people who say that Amy Winehouse going through what she has been through and then getting up on stage and winning five out of six Grammys for which she was nominated does influence young people and make her a role model in a negative sense. Do you agree with that?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to clarify. I love her music. I think she should have won the awards. I don`t think she should have performed and gotten the adulation because it is the last thing she needs and it`s the last thing people battling with addiction out there need. Let me explain why. Because addiction is about being terminally unique, breaking all the rules. She should have been singing "My Way" because that`s the way she`s doing it. She is winning today but she won`t win at the end.

RAY: Here`s the thing Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: . catch up with her. She needs to be developing humility.

RAY: Here`s the thing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: . not the arrogance of breaking all the rules.

RAY: If you were listening to yesterday`s show. AJ and Jolie (ph), everybody agrees that she looked the most wide-eyed and sober that she had looked in a long time. I think this is going to inspire Amy to take her life in a better direction and seeing that she is being rewarded for the music and really understand what was behind Amy`s issues over the last couple years. She is really ill-equipped to deal with stardom and she`s made that very apparent.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know what?

RAY: She doesn`t (INAUDIBLE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s what artists do. (INAUDIBLE)

RAY: You are absolutely right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Addiction is cunning, powerful and baffling and it sits on your shoulders, especially something like crack, which is like the most fervent lover in the world.

RAY: You are right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Beckoning to you at all times, come back to me.

RAY: Jane?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: She needs to be protected from that.

ANDERSON: In that video, she was allegedly smoking crack. We do not know that for sure. I want to take -- I want to take a look at the performance "Rehab" for which she won a Grammy gold for that song. Take a look at it. Jane, I know what you are saying. You are happy that she won the award for her music, but do you agree with people who are saying it was in incredibly poor taste to perform this song and to seemingly be thumbing her nose at everybody?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Exactly. And she is making a mockery of the rehab process. That`s why rehab is becoming a joke. She could have turned it all around. At the end of singing the song, she could have said, you know what? I`m singing this song about I don`t want to go to rehab but I am in rehab because --

RAY: Why?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m an addict. I hit bottom. I apologize to all my fans and --

RAY: Come on.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: My message out there is don`t do drugs. Then she could have been a hero, gotten --

RAY: No, come on. It is not for her to be sober to be a hero for you or any of the kids out there. That`s a private pain that she`s going through. If she wants to publicly announce that she`s so sorry, I think that`s a little insincere.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Nothing about her life is private.

RAY: Well, that`s because the paparazzi -- think about it this way, Jane.


RAY: If the stars of the past had paparazzi at all times, it would have been private too, but we got to acknowledge Jimi Hendrix and all those greats from the `60s for just their music. Yeah, there`s that drug thing but we didn`t concentrate on it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tanika, you`re making my point. I don`t want her to become a Jimi Hendrix. I don`t want her to die. I want her to live and the way she`s going to live is by taking rehab seriously.

RAY: Jane, what does that have to do with the Grammys? (INAUDIBLE)

ANDERSON: I`m going to jump in there. We may all disagree on Amy Winehouse`s actions, her behavior, but I think we can all agree --

RAY: Go get sober, girl.

ANDERSON: We hope for her --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to be wrong. I want to be wrong. I hope she stays sober forever.

ANDERSON: Thank you both. We have been asking you to vote on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. It is this: Amy Winehouse, should she have been banned from the Grammys? Keep voting, tonight. E-mail us

Well, I really do hope Amy Winehouse gets her act together. She is super talented and so is Michael Jackson. I mean, we all know how big he was right before he started acting, well, bizarrely. Tonight, a rare Michael Jackson interview on the 25th anniversary of "Thriller." I feel old. You got to hear a stunning message for this fans. That`s next.

HAMMER: Brooke, you are not old.

And I bet "American Idol" would love to have Michael Jackson on their show. Of course, he`s done a lot of good for the music business, obviously. But tonight, there`s a raging question, is "Idol" good for music? We`re going to put that question -- we did put it to the stars. Wait until you hear their very passionate answers. That great debate coming up next.

ANDERSON: AJ, I think talk show host Montel Williams is very passionate and very inspiring about his emotional and physical battle with multiple sclerosis. I get him to really open up about his struggle. Got to stick around for that, straight ahead.


HAMMER: Sanjia (ph), ladies and gentlemen, who can forget that guy? He turned out certainly to be a memorable character, a singing star however, not so much. Tonight, the great SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "American Idol" debate. Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. This is TV`s most provocative entertainment news show. I`m AJ Hammer in New York. So, yeah, yeah. We know. "American Idol" has pumped out some pseudo stars year after year after year, but I got to tell you, for every success from that show, there`s somebody else stinking the place up. And SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has been asking the biggest stars in Hollywood is "American Idol" bad for music? Let`s get to our great debate. Joining me tonight from Los Angeles, entertainment journalist Mary Murphy. Also with us once again eonline columnist, Kristen Desantos (ph). Ladies, all right, I appreciate your being here. We know "American Idol" one of the most popular shows in television history and we know the winners all go on to become at least for a time household names. Some continue to be, but we also know that a lot of them are manufactured stars. Mary Murphy, to you first, is "American Idol" good or bad for music?

MARY MURPHY: "American Idol" is definitely good for music. I have interviewed almost all the families of the last three years of "American Idol" and these people come from families who have been in music forever but their music stays in their local community. "American Idol" has opened up music to an egalitarian process to democracy. It`s given people who would have never had a chance to be a star, Chris Daltry`s (ph) grandfather told me that he taught his son how to pick a guitar on the front porch and that`s where they all said that "American Idol" started and now he is a super star.

HAMMER: Mary Murphy, you want me to go out wave my "American Idol" flag, egalitarian, democratic. All right. Kristen Desantos, what do you think? Because a lot of people say it`s kind of lowered the standard in what we have come to expect from music.

KRISTEN DESANTOS: I`m sorry. I have to respectfully disagree with Mary. I understand this is an amazing success story for a lot of the winners. But I have to say that a lot of the music is just down right cheesy. I mean, who didn`t want to just throw themselves out of a window when Kelly Clarkson`s "A Moment Like This" was playing in every elevator and drugstore and radio station. These are very sort of prefab just very generic songs. There isn`t really anyone who`s come out to break out of that box. Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, obviously phenomenal talents but I think that they are sort of the exception to the rule and really if you are a phenomenal talent, get an agent, work hard and you`re going to make it anyway. I think "American Idol" is not necessarily good for music but it is great for television. It`s very good TV watching.

HAMMER: There`s no question about that. You know, we`re not the only ones having this debate. There are a lot of stars that have been arguing about whether "Idol" is bad for music and SHOWBIZ TONIGHT had the opportunity to speak with a lot of them at the Grammys. I want you to watch what they had to say. Roll that Charles.


TOM HIGGENSON, PLAIN WHITE T`S: I don`t think any artist right now is having a hard time selling music. People just aren`t going out there to buy CDs anymore and I definitely think that "American Idol" is one way of at least getting people out to the store to buy something. You know what I mean? It`s at least getting people excited about music and supporting it. So I mean, there`s part of it that are a little bit fake or a little bit cheesy, but I think in all, you can`t really get too mad about it.

TIA CARRIERE: "American Idol" is a fun sort of, you know, gladiator show but as far as -- it`s a very, very glorified karaoke show. I`m a killer karaoke artist. But, you know, it`s above and beyond that. It`s, you know, people sitting at home in their home studios being creative and giving from their heart and not for, you know and it`s an entertainment show which really has nothing to do with their individual qualities.


HAMMER: Mary Murphy, can you argue with Tia Carriere? She`s saying "American Idol" is glorified karaoke?

MURPHY: I can sort of argue with her, because if it`s glorified karaoke, the lead act at the Grammys was Carrie Underwood. So obviously they don`t think she is glorified karaoke. I don`t agree with her. I think actually it has given people who have wonderful talent an opportunity to at least showcase their talents. Look at Fantasia Berina (ph). I mean she`s starring on Broadway in "The Color Purple." Look at Jennifer Hudson. She became, you know, an Oscar winner because of her work so I would say that some of it is that people didn`t go through that process. They don`t quite understand it and they`re a little bit jealous.

HAMMER: But I think the argument on the other side, Mary and Kristen this goes back to what you were saying earlier, that perhaps it has maybe given us more mediocrity in music and lowered the standards of what should be considered great music. Kristin?

DESANTOS: I absolutely agree. The number one comment that we hear Simon say in every episode, there`s someone who he says, you know, I could hear that on any cruise ship in America. I can hear that in any karaoke bar in America and I think that Simon obviously is so key to that show`s success because it`s not that the talent is necessarily all that great. Even when they`re bad, we tune in to wait to see what he`s going to say to them.

HAMMER: Mary, what about that? What about lowering the standard? It certainly isn`t the -- a lot of it is not the great music that we sort of all grew up on.

MURPHY: Yes. And I could absolutely hear what you`re saying but the truth is when he says you sound like karaoke, they don`t pass them through. They don`t pass the karaoke singers through. What happens is they pass the best singers through and they refine it and they teach them and they learn and I have to say that I do believe "American Idol" has reenergized the music world of America.

HAMMER: It is and I have to wrap it there because we are out of time. Mary Murphy, Kristen Desantos. I thank you both.

ANDERSON: Say what you want about Michael Jackson`s personal life, but I got to say when it comes to pop music, well, Michael was definitely the king of pop. He`s influenced so many people. And can you believe it? It`s been 25 years since "Thriller" came out and in a very rare interview, Michael hasn`t been around much since his acquittal on child molestation charges, he`s thanking his fans for the success of his album.


MICHAEL JACKSON It`s hard to believe that 25 years ago Quincy Jones and I embarked on an album named "Thriller." To be able to say that "Thriller" still holds the record as the biggest selling album of all time is just mind blowing. I have, you my fans, throughout the world to thank for this achievement.

There`s so much more to come from Michael Jackson. My passion for music has never stopped. And for those who don`t know, I`ve been in the studio recording "Thriller 25th Anniversary Album" with a lot of surprise guests. It`s my hope that "Thriller" continues to live on for each new generation to discover and thank you, the fans. I love you from the bottom of my heart. And I hope to see you very soon. I love you. God bless.


ANDERSON: Good to hear from Michael. I remember being so frightened by all of those ghoulish characters in the music video. Here it is (INAUDIBLE) top of his game then. He has sold more than 750 million albums worldwide and a special 25th anniversary edition of "Thriller" is out now with appearances from Kanye West and from Fergie.

All right. I can`t believe this. Montel Williams has been on the air, his talk show has lasted 17 seasons. That`s truly amazing in this wacky competitive world of television. But tonight he is opening up about his courageous battle with multiple sclerosis. That`s next.


ANDERSON: And welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m Brooke Anderson in Hollywood. Talk show host Montel Williams` emotional battle with multiple sclerosis. You know, Montel`s show has been on the air for 17 years. This year is actually his last which is an amazing thing in this unstable world of television, 17 years. Not only is Montel a fighter when it comes to work, when I sat down with him he really opened up like never before about his dramatic fight with this frightening, unpredictable brain and spinal cord disease.


MONTEL WILLIAMS: It is a battle. It is an every day struggle. But that`s what I`m trying to tell people. You know, everybody thinks things are secrets or it comes in a little -- you have to go dig up a root and rub it on your body and jump upside down on your head. No just do the basic and simple things. It took me about six years of that, eight years of diagnosis to start to realize this. I will tell you. You know, I have bad days like everybody has a bad day, but my bad days are far less than they used to be before I started this program. Now, I wake up and it`s almost a joke to even consider the days that I used to have. I used to wake up sometimes my legs would be on so much fire that I couldn`t put my feet on the floor. No, I haven`t gotten rid of the pain. I have not cured myself, but what I have done is I`ve made it so manageable that I get up every day smiling, rather than get up every day crying. If it can work for me, what can it do for anybody?


ANDERSON: That guy`s pretty inspiring. You can read more of his amazing story in his brand new autobiography, "Living Well, 21 Days to Transform Your Life, Super Charge Your Health and Feel Spectacular." It`s out now.

On Monday we asked you to vote on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. It was this: McCartney-Mills divorce battle, does Heather deserve a big piece of Paul`s fortune? Totally one-sided here, only 9 percent of you said yes she does. That means 91 percent of you say she doesn`t deserve a big chunk of cash. Here are some of the e-mails we received.

Phil is no Heather fan. This is a chronic example of a greedy woman who perceives her own value as extraordinary. But Janet says, as much as I may not care for Heather, she still deserves a good bit of Paul`s money. He did marry her without a pre-nup.

HAMMER: I got to tell you, Brooke, that`s one battle that`s going to get a lot uglier before it gets any nicer, to be sure. Well, that is it for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. Thank you so much for watching. I`m AJ Hammer in New York.

ANDERSON: I`m Brooke Anderson in Hollywood. We have got the latest from CNN headline news coming up next. Stay with us.