Return to Transcripts main page

Showbiz Tonight

Why John Travolta may be Forced to Relive His Son`s Tragic Death; Would Oprah Make a Good Senator?; The Barack Obama Video Game; The Barack Obama and "L.A. Law" Connection

Aired January 27, 2009 - 23:00   ET


A. J. HAMMER, CO-HOST: Now, on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, brand-new and explosive developments in the alleged extortion plot against John Travolta. Tonight, why the FBI is offering help.


ASHLAN GORSE, "E! NEWS CORRESPONDENT": the Travoltas as a family are not going to stand for anyone trying to make money off of this horrible situation. They are going to fight tooth and nail.


HAMMER: Tonight, why John Travolta may be forced to relive that terrible night his young son died in the Bahamas. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with the late- breaking and disturbing new developments.

Would Oprah Winfrey make a good U.S. Senator? Tonight, the great debate after the impeached governor of Illinois reveals he considered Oprah for President Obama`s vacant Senate seat. And why he is now claiming Oprah is more influential than all 100 senators combined.

Plus, the video game that lets you be President Barack Obama.

TV`s most provocative entertainment news show starts right now.


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

BROOKE ANDERSON, Co-Host: Hi there, everyone. I`m Brooke Anderson coming to you from Hollywood.

And tonight, is the John Travolta extortion case in the Bahamas about to become a federal case in the U.S.?

HAMMER: Brooke, it`s been another day of nonstop and fast-moving, breaking news in the Travolta extortion plot. And SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, of course, is on top of every single development - mystery phone calls, mysterious documents. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT learning what role the FBI may play in the investigation of the plot, apparently tied to the sudden and heartbreaking death of Travolta`s 16-year-old son in the Bahamas.

So tonight, from the Bahamas to Hollywood, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is bringing you the very latest making news right now.


(voice over): John Travolta and Kelly Preston may be mourning the loss of their teenaged son Jett. But through their grief, it appears Travolta is gearing up for a fight against those who allegedly tried to use the teen`s death to extort money from the movie star.

GORSE: The Travoltas as a family are not going to stand for anyone trying to make money off of this horrible situation. They`re going to fight tooth and nail.

HAMMER: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can tell you, Travolta reportedly is expected to be a witness against the two people charged in the extortion case, Attorney and ex-Bahamas Senator Pleasant Bridgewater and Tarino Lightbourne, the Bahamian paramedic who rushed Jett Travolta to the hospital the night he died from a seizure.

He recently talked to ABC`s "Good Morning America" about his encounter with Travolta on that heartbreaking night.

TARINO LIGHTBOURNE, PARAMEDIC: I saw him leaned over, hugged his son. Kissed him. Tell him he loved him. Tell him "I did everything I could." He then turned to me - gave me a hug and say, "You guys did a wonderful job."

HAMMER: After Jett`s death, police believe someone contacted the Travoltas and allegedly tried to extort $25 million from them.

GORSE: The police are now investigating that, you know, these documented phone calls that took place between Bridgewater and Travolta`s lawyers.

HAMMER: Police reportedly believe Bridgewater told Travolta`s attorneys that the paramedic Lightbourne claimed to have documents that could be damaging to the Travoltas. Police say it was then that Travolta`s attorneys filed a complaint of attempted extortion and Lightbourne and Bridgewater were charged. Both suspects say they`re innocent.

Some reports indicate the Bahamas police have brought in the FBI to help them examine those taped phone calls. But a law enforcement source tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT the FBI has not been asked to assist in the investigation although the agency has offered to help.

Meanwhile, there is news involving the third person questioned in the case, former Tourism Minister and Travolta family friend, Obie Wilchcombe.

GORSE: As far as Obie is concerned, he is pretty much free and clear.

HAMMER: "E! News Online" reporting that Wilchcombe, who was questioned but never charged in the case, does not appear to be a suspect. Wilchcombe has insisted that he had no part in any plot.

The Travoltas have not said anything publicly about the case, but their attorneys are making it clear they intend to make life difficult for anyone who may have tried to profit from their pain.


HAMMER: So even with the new developments today in the shocking case, there are still so many unanswered questions. Let us jump right into it now.

Joining me tonight in New York, it`s Ashleigh Banfield who is an anchor for "In Session." Also in New York tonight is Ben Widdicombe who`s the celebrity editor of ""

So we learned today that John Travolta could actually be called in as a witness to testify against at least two of the people who have been charged in this sickening case.

Ashleigh, I`m thinking how awful. This would mean if he testified, Travolta would have to publicly relive this whole terrible tragedy, wouldn`t it?

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, ANCHOR, "IN SESSION": Sadly, yes. And that`s what the criminal justice system at least here in America is all about. Victims often have to get on the stand and deal with it. And that is a lot of times what leads to plea agreements because that can be terribly traumatizing and a lot of impetus for prosecutors to offer deals.

HAMMER: And think about it - in addition to the initial tragedy to his son Jett dying, Travolta would have to publicly relive the tragedy by testifying. And this is all on top of the fact that he is now dealing with really what is a terribly disgusting possibility somebody may have tried to capitalize on his pain.

Ben, it really does not get any worse than this?

BEN WIDDICOMBE, CELEBRITY EDITOR, "STYLELIST.COM": A.J., I can`t imagine a worse human experience than losing a child. And then to have someone try to use that for their financial gain and make $25 million out of it is really hard to swallow.

I think that what the alleged extortionists have done here is really corner a bear. And the Travolta family is now focusing their anger and their pain in this new fight. So I think they really picked the wrong fight at the wrong time.

HAMMER: Well, as you just heard, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has learned the FBI has offered to help Bahamian authorities in their investigation of this alleged extortion. They weren`t asked to help. But, as I said, they offered their help.

So Ashleigh, fill us in. What kind of help could the FBI actually offer if the Bahamian officials said, "You know what? We could use your help. Please jump in."

BANFIELD: Well, the FBI in America includes some of the best crime fighters in the world. And they have some of the best skills like forensic skills and voice analysis, perhaps. Not only that, they`ve got some of the top talents.

So it just might be that the Commonwealth of the Bahamas does not have the kind of, you know, crime-fighting smarts that they might require to sleuth through all of this.

Not only that, but you know what, A.J.? We`ve got two jurisdictions here. Phone calls were made in the U.S. or at least received in the U.S. from phone calls made in the Bahamas. Then you`ve got yourself a case possibly even in the U.S.

HAMMER: Perhaps preemptively they`re considering the fact that they may in fact have a role in this investigation?

BANFIELD: It could be, but it could also be that they`re just very, very helpful, especially when a prominent American citizen is at the base of it.

HAMMER: I wanted to ask you about that. Is that the case, the fact that - hey, this is John Travolta we`re talking about one of the best-known and highest-paid actors in our country? Could that be why the FBI is jumping in?

BANFIELD: It could be. It could play a little bit into it. Let me just tell you this. When a citizen of the United States is involved, the FBI can get involved. But especially when a prominent citizen is involved, they may be more inclined to do so.

HAMMER: All right. Well, as we know, authorities say that this extortion plot centered around some mysterious documents. We have no idea what they are. But whatever is in those documents, police say the alleged extortion included that $25 million price tag.

Now, Ben, what we know of John Travolta - he would never give in to something like that. It just seems inconceivable.

WIDDICOMBE: Well, it does seem inconceivable. All we know is it is a document; it`s not a photograph. And we also know that whatever is in it is not going to embarrass John Travolta. He has decided to say and fight, and he is not paying any money to hush this up. So we will probably find out in the fullness of time, in the court case, what is in this document. But Travolta is not scared. He`s fighting.

HAMMER: Well, one of the sources of information may be some phone conversations that were taped. Because there have been reports at the Bahamian police have obtained the conversations in connection with this whole alleged extortion plot.

Ashleigh, if the tapes exist, given how the Bahamian justice system works, would the tapes possibly be played publicly in court?

BANFIELD: Well, if this all goes to trial, yes, because that was I think the key evidence in the case. And you can`t just talk about evidence, you have to present evidence.

Now, A.J., the key there was if it goes to trial. My thought is that this is the kind of thing that prosecutors in the Bahamas would very much want to plea out only because of the sensitive nature it. It just depends on how intransigent the defendants might be.

HAMMER: And Travolta and his family, as we know, have not been seen publicly since the whole tragedy has unfolded.

Ben, has there been anything to indicate that they may end their, you know, obviously well-understood seclusion, or perhaps this terrible case may keep them in seclusion even longer at this point?

WIDDICOMBE: Well, all we`ve heard from the Travoltas since the tragedy happened is that they released a public statement, thanking people for their support. I believe that this case will bring them out of seclusion and that they will come out to fight their corner very vigorously. So I think this will give them some focus and we will see them back, yes.

HAMMER: Ashleigh, any benefit to them doing that if they`re not legally required to do it?

BANFIELD: I just don`t know if I can answer that. You know what? To each his own. If they have a public relations situation on their hand, then yes. And my thought here, they`re victims. That`s all they`re going to be at this point, and everybody sides with them.

HAMMER: Let the laws do what they`re supposed to do and people in charge do what they`re supposed to do and do it well. Ashleigh Banfield and Ben Widdicombe, thanks, guys.

ANDERSON: Hey, A.J., what if Oprah Winfrey became a United States senator?

HAMMER: Yes, what about that, Brooke? What a fascinating question. And this, of course is coming after the impeached governor of Illinois said he considered Oprah for President Obama`s Senate seat.


SEN. ROD BLAGOJEVICH (D-IL): Oprah has bully pulpit that`s worldwide. And she actually has more influence than U.S. Senators combined - all 100 of them.


HAMMER: So what do you think? Could that possibly be? Is Oprah really more influential than all 100 United States senators? And what kind of senator would Oprah be? We`ve got the great Oprah debate, coming up.

ANDERSON: Also in the "SHOWBIZ Obama Watch," a computer video game that lets you be President Obama. You have got to see this. It`s unbelievable.

HAMMER: And one of these guys is going to be doing the mambo and the foxtrot on the new season of "Dancing With The Stars." So who is it going to be? Donny Osmond or Kevin Federline.

ANDERSON: And now, the "SHOWBIZ News Ticker" - more stories from the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom making news right now.

(CAPTION READS: David Beckham sued by paparazzo who claims Beckham and his bodyguard beat him up. Bruce Springsteen announces world tour starting in San Jose, California April 1.



HAMMER: "Thriller" could be coming to Broadway. Yes, producers acquired the rights for a stage version of Michael Jackson`s iconic music video.

Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York. And of course, here in the city is big news that "Thriller" could be coming to Broadway. But perhaps no one is more excited about the idea than Kelly Ripa.

Now, she joked on "Live with Regis and Kelly" this morning that she wants to audition to be a zombie dancer. And she might just have what it takes. Watch this.


KELLY RIPA, CO-HOST, "LIVE WITH REGIS AND KELLY": I wish we had the music because it would be better if (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

REGIS PHILBIN, CO-HOST, "LIVE WITH REGIS AND KELLY": You need any stinking music.

RIPA (dancing): OK. Five, six, seven, eight. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.

PHILBIN: There you go. There you go.


HAMMER: Look at Kelly go. That is pretty impressive. By the way, so far, there is no word on when the Broadway version of "Thriller" could hit the stage or if Kelly will be included. We will keep you posted.

ANDERSON: It is time now for the "SHOWBIZ Obama Watch." Tonight, President Obama gets the "Mad" magazine treatment. "Mad" magazine`s new Obama cover spoofs the new president`s first 100 minutes in office as he tries to deal with the economy, with the war, with the help of Pepto Bismol, aspirin and cigarettes.

Also tonight, in the "SHOWBIZ Obama Watch" - playing President Obama. So what is it like to be commander-in-chief? Well, you can find out, thanks to a new video game that lets you play the president.

Here is CNN`s Kareen Wynter for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.


KAREEN WYNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): There can be only one president at a time. But anyone who has ever wondered how they may handle the responsibilities of occupying the Oval Office may finally get their chance.

"Commander-in-Chief," a new video game for the PC, allows gamers to take on the role of the U.S. President.

PAUL LOMBARDI, CEO INTERACTIVE GAMING SOFTWARE: You`ll be wearing President Obama`s shoes and dealing with all of the issues.

WYNTER: Paul Lombardi, CEO of Interactive Gaming Software which publishes "Commander-in-Chief" says players are faced with everyday challenges similar to those facing the leader of the free world.

LOMBARDI: Being bipartisan, handling natural disasters properly - you are actually picking your own cabinet from the beginning and that`s very important.

WINTER: Like any president, players will have to balance a hectic schedule while making crucial decisions on issues like the economy, the environment, and foreign policy.

They can also declare war, which only Congress can do in real life.

(on camera): You can also schedule regular meetings with other heads of states which helps maintain strong foreign relationships.

(voice over): All of this impacts the presidential approval rating, a number gamers should try to keep high if they want to succeed.

STEVEN ROSS, HISTORY PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: I think this is a great thing for getting people really hooked in politics.

WYNTER: Steven Ross, professor of history at the University of Southern California says the challenges players are confronted with in "Commander- in-Chief," blur the line between politics and entertainment.

ROSS: Well, I think people playing this game are going to learn more than just what it means to be president. I think they`re going to learn what it means to deal with political life in America and political life internationally.


ANDERSON: And that was CNN`s Kareen Wynter for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

HAMMER: Well, on Monday we told you about Brad Pitt complaining about the price of fame. And we asked you to vote on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day - "Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie: Do you think they deserve more privacy?" Here is how that went: 65 percent of you said yes; 35 percent no.

Now, Brooke, the "showbiz on call" phones - I`ve got to tell you, they`ve gone into near meltdown with people calling in about this very subject.

ANDERSON: You`re right, A.J. We`ve got a call in to "Showbiz On Call" from Shawn in Alabama who says the paparazzi definitely cross the line.


SHAWN, CALLER FROM ALABAMA: I believe that he deserves privacy in his personal life because that`s exactly what it is, a "personal" life. Now, the paparazzi chasing him to his house and stuff like that. No, I don`t believe that should be allowed for anybody.

I believe all the stars have a right to privacy in their own homes and around their own homes in going about their personal life.


ANDERSON: Thank you for that, Shawn. And we also heard from Janet calling in to "Showbiz On Call." She says stars know what they`re getting into and should just deal with it.


JANET, CALLER: Celebrities whine and complain about how much attention they get. They don`t have to go on television and dish about their personal life. And yes, they`re followed by the paparazzi (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Welcome to the spotlight.


ANDERSON: Thank you for that, Janet. And we got a call at "Showbiz On Call" from Rose who says Brad`s complaint is justified.


ROSE, CALLER: He has every right to complain. He didn`t ask to be harassed. I mean, just because you are famous doesn`t give anyone the right to harass you and your family. So absolutely I agree with him.


ANDERSON: We appreciate your call, Rose. Call us at "Showbiz On Call," let us know what you think about this or anything else that is on your mind.

HAMMER: And "Showbiz On Call" phone lines are open all the time - 1-888- SBT-BUZZ; that`s 1-888-728-2899. Leave us a voicemail. We will play some of your calls right here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

And your calls to "Showbiz On Call" are also now online right on our homepage. Mark it down -

So Brooke, what if Oprah Winfrey, of all people, became a senator?

ANDERSON: Yes, everybody is talking about this, A.J., after the governor of Illinois revealed that he considered Oprah for President Obama`s Senate seat. So tonight we are asking - would she be a good senator?

And is she really more powerful than all 100 United States senators combined like the governor said? The brand-new great Oprah debate, coming up.

HAMMER: Also wait until you hear this. The incredible offer Harry Potter star Radcliffe has for Malia and Sasha Obama. He is such a cool guy. You will not believe this.

ANDERSON: And one of these guys is going to be doing the mambo and the foxtrot on the new season of "Dancing With The Stars." So will it be Donny Osmond, or will it be Kevin Federline? Stay tuned.

HAMMER: I know who I think I hope it will be. And now, the "SHOWBIZ News Ticker" - more stories from the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom making news right now.

(CAPTION READS: Rosie O`Donnell abandons blog; will focus on an arts school in New York`s theater district. Daniel Craig to star in Steven Spielberg`s "The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn.")


ANDERSON: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m Brooke Anderson in Hollywood with some more stories that are new right now.

Mickey Rourke is getting tons of praise for his Oscar-nominated comeback performance in "The Wrestler." And now, he may jump into the ring for real.

At the SAG Awards, Rourke said he wants to fight in the WWE`s "Wrestle Mania Match" in Houston in April. Now, Rourke knows how to handle himself in the ring. He was a professional boxer for years after he disappeared from the Hollywood scene.

HAMMER: Now, Jennifer Aniston opens up about turning 40. Aniston`s going to turn the big 4-0 on February 11. I`ve got to tell you, I think she looks fantastic. Now, she`s also starring in a bunch of new movies; the latest is called, "He`s Just Not Into You."

And when we caught up with Jennifer, we just had to ask, what`s it like for her to turn 40.


ANISTON: For me, I don`t really feel anything different except that you, whoever - there are people who say, "Wow, you`ve got the big 4-0 coming up." I don`t know. I personally feel better than I ever felt. Better than I ever did in my 20s, for sure - 30s.

And you know, so if this is what it means to be 40, I think it`s fantastic. And every wise, wonderful, amazing person, man and woman that I know that`s 40 or above has - is just - and they really do mean it, they just say it just gets better.

If I was able to really enjoy what I had at 30, well, it took me 10 years, 15 years - whenever great things started happening to me, I wish I had the wisdom to know to enjoy it more than do.


HAMMER: Hey, good for her. I think Jennifer has a terrific attitude about turning 40. "He`s Just Not Into You" is in theaters on February 6. In addition to Aniston, it`s got a great cast. Ben Affleck is in this thing, so is Drew Barrymore and Scarlett Johansson.

And I also have to tell you about a SHOWBIZ special report you do now want to miss. We`re teaming up with the fabulous "More" magazine. We`re taking a revealing look at women turning 40 in Hollywood. That is tomorrow, Wednesday right here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

ANDERSON: Hey, A.J., a question for you. What if Oprah Winfrey became a United States senator?

HAMMER: That is an interesting question, Brooke. And this, of course, coming after the governor of Illinois` said he was considering her for President Obama Senate seat.


BLAGOJEVICH: Oprah has a bully pulpit that`s worldwide. And she has actually more influence than U.S. senators combined - all 100 of them.


HAMMER: So what do you think? Is that true? Is Oprah more powerful than 100 politicians? And what kind of senator would Oprah Winfrey be? We are debating it, coming up.

ANDERSON: Also, was Blair Underwood`s character on "L.A. Law" based on Barack Obama? And since that show started in `80s, how could that be possible? Blair sets the record straight, coming up in the interview you`ll see only right here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

HAMMER: Plus, I`ve got to tell you SHOWBIZ TONIGHT viewers come to the defense of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Wait until you hear what people are saying.

But first, I need to tell you, you can stay on top of the most provocative entertainment news by being a subscriber to the daily SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsletter. Head on over to and click on that "sign up for newsletter" link. We keep it at the bottom of the page. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is coming straight back.



BLAGOJEVICH: Oprah has a bully pulpit that`s worldwide. And she actually has more influence than U.S. Senators combined - all 100 of them.


HAMMER: Now, on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, the fired-up debate over whether Oprah Winfrey would make a good U.S. senator. Tonight, the could-be-removed governor of Illinois reveals he considered Oprah for President Obama`s Senate seat. But would Oprah do a good job? And why is Rod Blagojevich claiming that Oprah has got more influence than all 100 senators combined?

The Barack Obama-"L.A. Law" connection? Tonight, "L.A. Law" star Blair Underwood is here to set the record straight once and for all. Was his character on this huge `80s show really based on Obama?

TV`s most provocative entertainment news show continues right now.


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

ANDERSON: And I`m Brooke Anderson coming to you from Hollywood.

And tonight, here`s a wild question for you - is Oprah Winfrey more influential than the entire United States Senate?

HAMMER: Well, Brooke, yes, she is. At least according to this guy, the Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. In his first primetime interview, Blagojevich reveals to CNN`s Larry King that Oprah`s influence was the number one reason he wanted her to replace Barack Obama in the Senate.

So, what kind of senator would Oprah make? She can make us read books. She gives away cars. And of course, she has more money than some small countries. But is that a good enough resume to help make the laws of the land?

Also new right now, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT viewers coming to the defense of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. It`s the brand-new debate about protecting Brad and Angelina`s privacy.

And with me tonight is Ashleigh Banfield. She`s an anchor for "In Session." In Hollywood is Roshumba Williams. She`s a model and author of this - "The Complete Idiot`s Guide to Being a Model." Thanks for being here, guys.

Now, Blagojevich is facing impeachment, as we know, for allegedly trying to sell the Illinois Senate seat left open by President Obama. Now, Blagojevich denies that, but he is not denying that he had a plan for a bigger ace in the hole, trying to get the most powerful woman in showbiz to give up her day job and head to Washington. Blagojevich explains this plan to CNN`s Larry King. Listen.


BLAGOJEVICH: I was thinking - trying to think outside the box. The idea came to me from a friend who suggested Oprah. It wasn`t my idea. Among the things we talked about, you know, the unlikelihood that she would be interested in it because Oprah has a bully pulpit that`s worldwide. And she actually has more influence than U.S. senators combined - all 100 of them.

But she was so instrumental in electing Barack Obama president that she`d be a tremendous force to push through his agenda.


HAMMER: OK. With all due respect to the power of Oprah, Oprah Winfrey more influential than the entire U.S. Senate? Ashley, what do you think? Do you agree?

BANFIELD: Let me think. Well, she doesn`t have the ability to declare war or stop or start a war in Iraq. She doesn`t have ability to, say, pursue a $750 billion stimulus package. You get where I`m going?


BANFIELD: That said, she does have the ability to influence perhaps to vote for Barack Obama, so that is a lot of power. She is very friendly with Barack Obama. So she`s got some power but I just don`t think she has the kind of power that we all think she has.

HAMMER: Let me go off to Roshumba Williams with this question, because, Roshumba, I have seen you on "The Oprah Show."


HAMMER: I know you`ve known her for some time now. What do you think? You know, does she have more influence than the entire Senate? Come on.

WILLIAMS: Well, you know what? I wouldn`t say that exactly. I don`t know. But the fact that she personally single-handedly got us to vote for Barack Obama and he is the first African-American president of the United States, that is huge.

Also the fact that she does have a successful multibillion dollar company with Harpo Productions is a huge thing. And she has initiatives that are hugely successful throughout the world with education, human rights, women`s rights. She gets us to read, watch our weight and do all of these things. So why not?

And I think it`s time for us to start thinking outside of the box in the fact that Oprah influences a lot of people around the world.

HAMMER: Oh, yes.

WILLIAMS: And she is very transparent which, in my opinion, would fit in really, really well with the new Barack Obama administration.

HAMMER: Yes, everybody is looking for transparency.

WILLIAMS: Transparency of government.


WILLIAMS: Because it`s not working the way that things are going right now. A.J., look at it.

HAMMER: Nobody denies her influence. Absolutely, I agree, and the fact that she is a woman who really wants to help all people all over the world.

WILLIAMS: Absolutely.

HAMMER: Now, she was as shocked as anyone to find out what Blagojevich was thinking. She found out only when her friend, an XM Satellite radio host ...

WILLIAMS: Gayle King, yes.

HAMMER: ... Gayle King broke that news to her. And on Gayle`s show, she and Oprah sort of agreed that Sen. Oprah could in fact make a huge impact. Let`s listen to what happened here.


GAYLE KING, RADIO HOST AND OPRAH WINFREY`S BEST FRIEND: Can you imagine if someone had approached and said, "Oprah, the governor would like to discuss you taking Sen. Barack Obama`s seat. Are you interested?" You would have said?

OPRAH WINFREY, HOST, "THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW": Absolutely not. I would say where would I fit it in with my day job, my midday job, my night job, my radio job.

G. KING: But I am sort of flattered that people think that you could be senator?

WINFREY: I think I could be senator too. I`m just not interested.


HAMMER: All right. So Oprah says she thinks she could be senator, acknowledging she does have a big-time influence with her bully pulpit as the governor put it. But Roshumba, let me go back to you. The question SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is asking, separate from her obvious influence, and I think you answered a bit of this, but would Oprah make a good United States senator in your opinion?

WILLIAMS: Absolutely. I think people listen to her. She has made such an impact throughout the world. I mean, look at education. She has a school in South Africa. She`s dedicated to education. Barack Obama is dedicated to education.

She is transparent. There is nothing we don`t know about Oprah. And she influences people to change their lives for the better.


WILLIAMS: And also, she is a smart businesswoman. If you look at government today, our economy is in the toilet. People are losing jobs left and right. We have two wars going on. We need to think outside of the box. And I think that Oprah would be a great choice because she is successful at what she does and she has a lot of influence, not only in the United States, but throughout the world.

HAMMER: Roshumba, all good points. And I think, you know, maybe you should start a petition. Who knows what will end up happening there.

Let`s move on. Another big story making news right now - the brand- new debate over Brad and Angelina`s privacy. Now, Brad just told "Newsweek" magazine about how much he dislikes having to answer all those personal questions everybody is firing at him all the time saying it is not what he signed up for.

A lot of people believe, "Hey, Brad, you know what? For all the money you make, suck it up." Well, we asked in our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day on-air and online - "Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie: Do you think they deserve more privacy?" And you guys sided with Brad - 65 percent said yes; 35 percent no.

Ashleigh, you surprised at these results?

BANFIELD: Well - yes and no. I think what people say is one thing. What people do is another. I would be surprised at that majority if they didn`t at least glance at the "People" magazine cover with the babies, with the brand-new twins, the exclusive, what, $15 million or so photograph exclusive or "Hello" magazine which got that exclusive. People like this stuff.


BANFIELD: They say that they don`t. They want to be good people, but they look to consume this kind of material. So it is a little hard to gauge the reality of that poll.

HAMMER: Yes, there`s a real guilty pleasure involved with it for a lot of people, I think.


HAMMER: And Brad, obviously, by far, one of the biggest stars in the world, and of course, half of one of Hollywood`s hottest couples. And that is why Lisa from Nevada called in to "Showbiz On Call" to say she has no sympathy for Brad`s privacy, please. Listen.


LISA, CALLER FROM NEVADA: Regarding Brad Pitt, he is ridiculous. Are you kidding me? This is what he signed up for. When you make movies, you make money, this is what you signed up for. Get a 9:00 to 5:00 job then.


HAMMER: All right. Thank you for your call, Lisa. Let`s move on to Gloria from Maryland who dialed up "Showbiz On Call" to say, "Forget it, Brad. We want every single detail of your private life."


GLORIA, CALLER FROM MARYLAND: I think that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie should give us some more. We just love reading and buying magazines and talking about them. Give us more. We want more.


HAMMER: We want more. You heard Gloria. More and more. And there lots of people out there who want to know every move Brad, Angelina and of course their adorable clan of kids make. So Roshumba, does Brad just have to suck it up and tell all whether he likes it or not? These are the people buying the movie tickets and, you know, paying attention.

WILLIAMS: A.J., I don`t think so. I think that is very, very unfair. Because this is not only about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. This is about six innocent, vulnerable children. They have to live through this as well. And I think there needs to be a fine line drawn between what should be public and what should be private.


WILLIAMS: We`re living in a day and age where people are so crazy for celebrity that they would actually steal information to actually extort money from someone like John Travolta and Kelly Preston. It`s awful.

HAMMER: It`s a constant battle, Roshumba. I`m afraid I have to jump in and end it there. It is a constant battle.


HAMMER: And a lot of people say it comes with the territory. Ashleigh Banfield, Roshumba Williams, thanks to you both.

What do you think? Our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day is this - "Oprah Winfrey: Would she be a good U.S. senator? Go to to vote. Or E-mail

ANDERSON: Hey, A.J. Did you happen to watch the TV show "L.A. Law.".

HAMMER: Of course, I did, Brooke. Everybody watched. I was a huge fan of the show.

ANDERSON: Well, hey, do you remember Blair Underwood`s character, Jonathan Rollins?

HAMMER: Of course. He was terrific in the role.

ANDERSON: He was. And tonight, A.J., Blair is right here to set the record straight. Was his character based on Barack Obama?


BLAIR UNDERWOOD, ACTOR: I said, "You know, I`m Barack Obama and I am the first black president of the Harvard Law Review."


ANDERSON: Well, how could that be? How could Underwood`s character have anything to do with Obama? The show started in the `80s. Next, Underwood is here to settle this once and for all. It is the interview you will see only right here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

HAMMER: And you won`t believe the incredible offer "Harry Potter" star Daniel Radcliffe has for President Obama`s girls, Sasha and Malia. Wow!

ANDERSON: Also, big, huge, "Dancing With The Stars" news - Donny Osmond, Kevin Federline. Who is in? Who is out?

HAMMER: And now, the "SHOWBIZ News Ticker" - more stories from the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom making news right now.

(CAPTION READS: ABC leads nominees fro Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) awards. ABC`s GLAAD nominees: "Ugly Betty," "Desperate Housewives.")



UNDERWOOD: I remember walking up to this guy, this real tall, skinny guy with big ears. And he said, "You know, I`m Barack Obama and I am the first black president of the Harvard Law Review."


ANDERSON: Tonight, the great mystery solved. Did Blair Underwood model his character on "L.A. Law" after Barack Obama? Blair is here to set the record straight.

Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m Brooke Anderson in Hollywood. Tonight, the "SHOWBIZ Obama Watch." SHOWBIZ TONIGHT answers a 20-year-old question. Did Blair Underwood, who starred on one of the most popular TV shows of the 80s and 90s, "L.A. Law," use Barack Obama as inspiration for his character?

On the show, Underwood played a hot-shot lawyer who was the first black president of the Harvard Law Review just like Barack Obama.

Today, Underwood narrates the very first documentary about President Obama. It`s called "President Barack Obama: The Man and His Journey." I spoke with Blair Underwood and the film`s creator, Maria Arita. And I began by asking Blair whether the urban legend was true or false.


UNDERWOOD: No, that would be false. But that is one of those very coincidental dynamics that happen in life some times. Yes, there were a few things. The fact that my character Jonathan Rollins on "L.A. Law" was from Harvard - Harvard graduate, and the fact that he was, as you said, president of the Harvard Law Review.

ANDERSON: Yes. And it was back in the early `90s. So you know, a lot of people didn`t know about Barack Obama, of course, back then.

In this documentary, you describe the moment that you first met a young Barack Obama at a Harvard speaking event. And it happened while you were still playing this character on "L.A. Law." Let`s watch how you describe that moment.


UNDERWOOD: I remember meeting this guy - it was a tall, skinny guy. And he said something about, "I know on the show you are the president of the Harvard Law Review." And he said, "Well I`m the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. So basically, you are me."


ANDERSON (on camera): Blair, when Barack Obama told you, "Hey, you are playing me," how did you react? What did you say to him?

UNDERWOOD: Well, first of all, I went into actor mode which is research mode, so I started picking his brain in terms of, "OK. What is it like being at Harvard? What is it like being this person, this president of Harvard Law Review?"

And really, how ironic is that, Brooke, when he said, "I am the first black president" dot, dot, dot, "of the Harvard Law Review," to, you know, to, you know, almost 19, almost 20 years later - to actually be that president of the United States. But no, I went into research mode automatically.

ANDERSON: Exactly. OK. So you just jumped right in there. Well, Maria, as director and producer of this film, did you know about Blair`s connection to Barack Obama?

MARIA ARITA, CREATOR AND DIRECTOR, "PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: THE MAN AND HIS JOURNEY": I absolutely did not. When I interviewed him that day, it blindsided me. So it was a nice little surprise. And I told him, "Go ahead. Keep talking. Tell me more, tell me more." It was very interesting.

And it`s kind of providential like a lot of the things that happened throughout the making of this film where they just happened. And you thought, "Wow, this just really needed to be done, didn`t it?"

ANDERSON: How fortuitous for you. And Blair, you played that role nearly 20 years ago. So when you saw Barack Obama emerge as a presidential candidate, did you realize that that was the same skinny guy?

UNDERWOOD: You know what? Initially, I have to say, I`ll be honest - I did not, actually. I found out by way of an article that the "New York Times" was doing on him. I think he had mentioned about something about that. So they contacted me about a comment. And then it hit me. I said, "Oh, my god. That`s that guy. That`s that tall, skinny guy."

ANDERSON: Brought back memories.

UNDERWOOD: Yes, I was going to say. That was 20 years ago. It was almost 20 years ago.

ANDERSON: Yes, a long time ago. Well, Maria, it is obvious that, you know, you put a lot of hard work into making this film and it released on Inauguration Day. Were you at all worried that Obama might not win the presidency and people would go, "I don`t want that DVD."

ARITA: You know, I actually wasn`t worried about it. I had always had hope from the day he gave his keynote address at the DNC in 2004, and I told my co-anchor, "You know, I think this guy - I think we`ve got something here. I think he is going to run for president in 2008 and I think he`s got a really good shot at it."

And everybody kind of laughed at me. And then, when my mother, who is a staunch conservative Republican, capital "C," walked into the door one day and said, "I don`t like what they`re doing to Barack Obama. I`m going to vote for him."

She is a Latina. Then I said that`s it. That`s - I`ve got to do this. But our, our investors, many of our supporters who were Republican and Democrat, they had concerns. But -

ANDERSON: They did.

ARITA: They quickly got over it.

ANDERSON: And you moved forward. And it`s a great thing that you did. And Blair, just like you, a lot of stars supported Obama publicly. I was at the SAG Awards over the weekend and asked a lot of celebrities if they thought that star support for Obama would help or hurt him now that he is president. Watch this.


SALLY FIELD, ACTRESS: Celebrities are really just citizens. And they are passionate citizens that the press recognizes them and calls them out and says speak for about President Obama. But I think they are just citizens hoping and praying that their country will heal and move on.

SEAN PENN, ACTOR: I think everybody`s support helps. And everybody`s challenge helps, you know, alternately, when necessary.


ANDERSON: Blair, do you agree with Sean Penn and Sally Field that, "Hey, this is a good thing."

UNDERWOOD: I have to say both. I mean, first of all, celebrities are citizens, so we do have a voice. But having said that, I really have to agree with Sally Field that he is really so above and beyond what a celebrity can do.

He is the leader of the free world, and he got there from the very grassroots movement. And you know. the majority of this country voted him into office and they believe in him.

And to see this kind of enthusiasm across the globe for our president is very exciting to see. So, you know, I think it will be OK without the celebrity support. He`s got the support of everyday men and women, which is great.

ANDERSON: Congratulations, Blair Underwood, Maria Arita, nice talking to you both. Thanks.

ARITA: Thanks for having us.

UNDERWOOD: Brooke, thank you very much.


ANDERSON: And if you want to see more, you can pick up the entire documentary featuring Blair Underwood and created and directed by Maria Arita, "President Obama: The Man and His Journey" in stores now.

HAMMER: All right. Now, onto a really special treat for President Obama`s daughters, Sasha and Malia. "Harry Potter" star Daniel Radcliffe tells the "Daily Beast" Web site that he would love to invite Sasha and Malia for a private tour of the "Harry Potter" set.

He`s a good guy. Radcliffe is a big fan of President Obama saying he is both Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy.

Sasha and Malia have already met some of their favorite stars - Miley Cyrus and The Jonas Brothers. So I`m thinking, it doesn`t really hurt to have your dad as president, right?

ANDERSON: Yes. No, it doesn`t. Hey, A.J., Sasha and Malia`s parents danced so well on inauguration night. I bet that they`d do really well on "Dancing With The Stars," too.

I`ve got brand-new details of who might end up on the new season of the ABC show. Donny Osmond slips up big time and reveals whether he is in or out. And Kevin Federline, Britney Spears` ex, will he hit the dance floor? Next.

And now, the "SHOWBIZ News Ticker" - more stories from the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom making news right now.

(CAPTION READS: "Law and Order: SVU" star Mariska Hargitay returns to work after suffering collapsed lung. NYC`s legendary Apollo Theater celebrates 75th anniversary of Amateur Night this Wednesday.)


HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer.

ANDERSON: And I`m Brooke Anderson with some more stories that are making news right now.

HAMMER: Yes. Uh-oh. I think Donny Osmond may have made a big oops. Now, Donny was on "The Bonnie Hunt Show" today. And he as asked if he would ever be on "Dancing With The Stars." You know, his sister Marie did the show. And even though the new season of the ABC show doesn`t start until March, Donny dished.


BONNIE HUNT, HOST, "THE BONNIE HUNT SHOW": Would you do it? Would you do the show, "Dancing With The Stars," Donny?

DONNY OSMOND, SINGER AND ACTOR: I guess I`m making an announcement.


HUNT: Yes.

D. OSMOND: I would say I`m seriously considering it. Let`s think I will.


I guess I just let the cat out of the bag.

M. OSMOND: But this is a deal.

D. OSMOND: And the reason why is that I can`t let my sister upstage me. Besides, who do you think taught her how to dance? It`s going to be very difficult because I`m going to be doing Vegas on top of doing "Dancing With The Stars."

M. OSMOND: I think it`s going to be fabulous to watch you on that show. We`re going to love it.

HUNT: Yes, but you`re a natural born performer.

M. OSMOND: I just want to see him in stretchy pants. Well, apparently, you didn`t see him backstage.


HAMMER: Oh, stretchy pants. OK.

ANDERSON: He will be very entertaining.

HAMMER: I`m sure.

ANDERSON: All right. So Donny Osmond may be on "Dancing With The Stars." Well, as for Kevin Federline, he`s not putting on his dancing shoes. K- Fed`s rep tells "" he is not doing the eighth season of the show.

Britney spears` ex probably would have done pretty well, though. He began his career as a backup dancer and actually toured with Brit a few years ago.

As A.J. just mentioned, the new season of "Dancing With The Stars" starts in March.

HAMMER: Well, on Monday, we asked you to vote on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. It was this - "Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie: Do you think they deserve more privacy?" Look at how the voting went here - 65 percent of you said yes, give them some more privacy. But 35 percent of you said no.

I want to read a couple of E-mails that we got. One from Natalie in Florida who writes that Brad and Angelina`s kids should be left alone. Here`s what she says, "I think that their kids be off-limits to the media because they have no control over the mistakes that their parents have made."

And Kelly from New York writes, It is ridiculous that Angie and Brad expect any privacy after all they`ve done to keep themselves in the public and parading their children in public, they have forfeited the right for privacy."

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

ANDERSON: And I`m Brooke Anderson in Hollywood. Remember, you can catch SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on the 11:00s - 11:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, and in the morning - 11:00 a.m. Eastern on HLN.