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Showbiz Tonight

The Jessica Simpson Weight Debate Continues; Travolta`s Trauma; Paris Says Dumb Blond Thing is Just an Act; Elisabeth Hasselbeck`s Bombshell Announcement

Aired January 29, 2009 - 23:00   ET


A.J. HAMMER, CO-HOST: Now, on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, the great Jessica Simpson weight debate. Tonight, the brand-new, over-the-top outrage over pictures of Jessica showing she has gained a few pounds. The horrible headlines, the controversial cartoons, the disgusting blogs.


JESSICA WIENER, SELF-ESTEEM EXPERT: Hearing somebody call Jessica Simpson fat, it`s beyond ridiculous to respond to.


HAMMER: Tonight, the great weight debate and why a surprising number of people are actually saying it`s OK to criticize Jessica`s weight gain.

Tonight, Travolta`s trauma. Arrests in the alleged extortion plot involving the tragic death of John Travolta`s teenage son. Tonight, how Travolta may have to relive that horrible night his son died. And how will he deal with talking about the tragedy when he goes out to promote his brand-new movies?

Tonight, Paris Hilton`s brand-new claim that the dumb blond thing is just an act. Are you kidding me?

TV`s most provocative entertainment news show starts now.


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

BROOKE ANDERSON, CO-HOST: Hi there, everyone. I am Brooke Anderson coming to you from Hollywood. And tonight, the Simpson weight outrage.

HAMMER: Yes. I can tell you flat out that SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has rarely gotten the kind of passionate, emotional response we are getting to the great debate over Jessica Simpson gaining some weight with both women and men from coast to coast. There is brand-new outrage tonight over the reactions to a picture of Jessica, which included downright, disgusting and insulting jokes about her.

But get this, there are actually a lot of people who are saying Simpson deserves to be criticized. Well, tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT remains ahead of the curve on this explosive story, which is making big news right now.


(voice over): Remember the days when Jessica Simpson`s biggest controversy was about her choice in tuna?

JESSICA SIMPSON, ACTRESS AND SINGER: I know it`s tuna, but it says chicken by the sea. Is that stupid?

HAMMER: Well, forget the great Jessica Simpson tuna controversy. All of America is talking about the great Jessica Simpson chili controversy. Pictures of a slightly heavier Simpson performing at a Florida chili cook off have ignited a red-hot buzz all over the country.

Three of`s five top stories are Jessica-related.

KIM SERAFIN, SENIOR EDITOR, "IN TOUCH WEEKLY": This has taken on a life of its own. This picture has been everywhere. Bloggers are blogging about it. People are talking about it. Entertainment shows are talking about it.


HAMMER: Yes, this WKIS video of that Florida concert seems to confirm that Jessica has put on a couple pounds. But her apparently weight gain has inspired a ton of headlines that some say go over the line. Like TMZ`s "This is How She Rolls." Or this "New York Post" cartoon that features an exaggerated Simpson caricature dumping her boyfriend, Dallas Cowboy Tony Romo, for Ronald McDonald.

EMME: Well, it`s not OK, obviously.

HAMMER: Former plus-size model Emme and self-esteem expert Jessica Wiener could barely contain their anger when I talked to them on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

EMME: It`s a wrong message. We need to be lifted up. How about if the tables were turned on men.

WIENER: Hearing somebody call somebody like Jessica Simpson being called fat is beyond ridiculous to respond to.

HAMMER: Even Jessica Simpson`s sister Ashlee is joining the outrage, writing on her MySpace blog, quote, "I am completely disgusted by the headlines concerning my sister`s weight. How can we expect teenage girls to love and respect themselves in an environment where we criticize a size two figure?"

SERAFIN: We always talk about actresses, whether they gained some weight or whether they`ve lost some weight. But Jessica definitely seems to have inspired a lot of people to really come forward and say, "Enough is enough. This is ridiculous."

HAMMER: Indeed, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can tell you, Jessica Simpson is not the first star to face ridicule because of her weight. Jennifer Love Hewitt was cruelly mocked by some gossip sites that posted bikini photos where she appeared to be heavier.

The same thing happened to talk show host Tyra Banks and she memorably answered her critics on her talk sow.



HAMMER: But SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is asking, why has this latest round of what "People" magazine is calling body-bullying, struck such a chord?

SERAFIN: The one thing that we really remember about her is the Daisy Duke days in the "Dukes of Hazard." She got herself into amazing shape.

HAMMER: "In Touch Weekly`s" Kim Serafin tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, memories of the hard body Jessica Simpson had during her "Dukes Of Hazard Days" may make her current appearance a bit jarring for some. Still Serafin says that`s no excuse for the shots some people are taking at Simpson.

SERAFIN: To kind of go off on her this way because she looks a little curvier than she looked when she played Daisy Duke really seems ridiculous. And it really seems to have ignited a fire among people.

HAMMER: Just last year, Simpson told "People" magazine just how happy she is with her relationship with Romo, and that when she is happy, she doesn`t have to worry about her weight. But even if she is not worrying about it, others are.

SERAFIN: It seems like she has sort of taken her life and her career in a different way. And it`s, I think, unfair. And a lot of people are thinking that it`s unfair that she is really getting blamed for it.


HAMMER: So is the attack on Jessica Simpson`s waistline fair game or is it out of control?

Well, joining me tonight in New York, Carolina Bermudez who`s a senior editor for "In Touch Weekly." Also joining me tonight from Hollywood is Tanika Ray, who is a correspondent for "Extra."

So let`s take another look at that photo of Jessica Simpson that`s got everybody talking and it`s got me saying, so what? Now, clearly, she`s gained a little weight. You can see that in this before and after. Here is Jessica when she was promoting the "Dukes of Hazard" back in 2005, as well as Jessica performing at that chili cook off.

Carolina, why has this struck such a chord? I`m talking men, women - everybody has something to say about this.

CAROLINA BERMUDEZ, SENIOR EDITOR, "IN TOUCH WEEKLY": Well, A.J., because everything that has been written about her or said about her since that picture at the press has mean-spirited. It`s been cruel and uncalled for. We all have mothers. We have sisters. We have aunts. We have people.

And for her to have gained a little bit of weight, that isn`t the issue here. It was an unflattering outfit - I can understand that. And I probably would not step out of the house with that either. But to attack her because she gained a little bit of weight, it`s really cruel and unfair.

HAMMER: I am there with you. Let`s take a look at some of that mean- spiritedness. Because soon after the photo hit the Internet, well, here is some of the headlines that started flying around. One from, "Jessica Simpson Packs on Pounds., "Jessica Simpson Packs it in for Tony Romo." from Florida, "Is Jessica Simpson Fat?"

Tanika, what is going on here? Why are people being so nasty? What is the possible upside to this?

TANIKA RAY, CORRESPONDENT, "EXTRA": There is no upside. This is the most ridiculous story. I think the media was all hyped up with the inauguration last week. And I`ve got to tell you, it`s a slow news week and maybe that`s why they are hyped up on it.

I`m right there with Tyra and Ashlee Simpson and Emme. It`s ridiculous. She looks fantastic. Yes, she gained a couple of pounds. Who cares? She`s still one of the most gorgeous women in America. She`s still is incredibly talented, making a lot of money these days.

So the upside of it is nothing. I know - you know, with Jennifer Love Hewitt, she ended up losing weight because of all the criticism. I wish Jessica would come out and say, "Kiss my fat bleep," because it would a lot of disservice to people.

It is ridiculous and I hope that it goes away soon. But I have to tell, she`s a strong girl and she knows how to take criticism well. She was spotted in the airport today and she just ignored it. And the people were saying, "What about the weight thing?" And she says, "Whatever." It doesn`t bother her.

HAMMER: Good for her. I`m glad to hear that. And you brought up an interesting point. And it`s really ironic when you think about the hypes that we have achieved as nation with the good feelings and sort of what we rose to at the Inauguration last week. And now, it`s like down to the lowest common denominator with this thing.

RAY: Absolutely.

HAMMER: Now, we do know Jessica got an awful lot of attention for her figure when she played Daisy Duke in the "Dukes of Hazard" movie. And she got the same thing in that music video she shot, we`re looking at for "These Boots are Made for Walking."

Carolina, a lot of people are saying part of her brand is her looks, and that her brand has now been compromised. Does that in any way justify this?

BERMUDEZ: Absolutely not. There is no justification. Give me a break. Jessica Simpson, first and foremost, is a singer, OK? She then became a reality star. Her singing voice is not affected by her gaining a couple pounds.

Now, let it be known that when she did the Daisy Duke movie, she was also on a restrictive diet. She worked out every day for something like three, four hours a day. When you go back to your normal life or when you do change as Jessica has changed - she`s gone back to the country music thing - you are going to go back to your old eating habits. And you know what? She is embracing her voluptuousness just as much she embraced the skinny Jessica. And that`s what I`m applauding her for.

HAMMER: See, I agree with you all of this, but there are a lot of people who would say, "OK. Yes, she is really a singer first." But you know, we are in the image-obsessed culture now.

Tanika, what do you think? Is it really possible for people to separate the two?

RAY: No, I think celebrity criticism is a sport these days. And "Us" magazine and "In Touch" is sort of like their cheat-sheet. It`s just what we do as a nation, unfortunately. And I hope that the pendulum swings the other way. And we start picking people up and supporting them.

You know, there is no place that this can go that is good. I hope that after we talk about this today and we debate this out and hash this out, it goes away by next week, and we are on to Super Bowl news because this is ridiculous.

HAMMER: I am right there with you. You want to hear what I think what I think is just a crazy part of the story. Rumors started flying around that this whole thing - listen to this - it`s funny when I even say it - it was a calculated move by Jessica. These were the rumors flying around. She was playing to shop her weight story to the magazines.

Well, today, her father, Joe Simpson told SHOWBIZ TONIGHT that is a bunch of BS. I`m not surprised.

But Carolina, was that very suggestion outrageous? Because to me, it`s the height of cynicism.

BERMUDEZ: Oh, my gosh. This is just getting to a ridiculous proportion now. I mean, we know Joe Simpson very well. I know him very well. And he has done some things that people have maybe thought were a little suspect in the past.

But to subject your daughter and your client - because he is her manager - to this type of criticism, it`s not a calculated PR move. You know what? Let the girl be who she is.


BERMUDEZ: And I look at her and I say a lot of girls should look at themselves and look at her and say, "Wow, I feel great about myself. She looks great and I look great, too."

HAMMER: And I think a lot of people will be looking to her for strength as this thing kind of peters out in the near future.


HAMMER: Carolina Bermudez, Tanika Ray, thank you both.

Now, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT viewers are all fired-up when they are calling into our "Showbiz On Call" phone lines, sending us lots of E-mails, thousands of people telling us it`s OK to criticize Simpson for gaining weight.

OK. Why would they say that? You don`t want to miss it. It`s the great Jessica Simpson weight debate. It`s coming up a little later on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

And now, we`d like to hear from you for our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. You tell us - "Jessica Simpson`s Weight Gain: Is it wrong to criticize her?" You can vote at You can also E- mail us at

ANDERSON: Coming up, John Travolta`s trauma.

HAMMER: Yes, Brooke. This alleged extortion plot against Travolta is just horrifying. And now, John may be forced to relive that awful night when his teenage son died.

And how is he going to deal with talking about this tragedy because you know it`s going to come up when he goes out to promote his brand-new movies? That is on the way.

ANDERSON: Plus, big-time news over at "The View." I will tell you about Elisabeth Hasselbeck`s bombshell announcement on "The View" today about her future and why there may soon be an empty seat to fill.

Also, the search for Sasha and Malia look-alikes.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have gotten several calls for look-alikes. What little girl doesn`t want to emulate the first kids?


HAMMER: In the "SHOWBIZ Obama Watch," why modeling agencies are getting calls for Sasha and Malia. Is it smart marketing or tackiness?

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

(CAPTION READS: Writer sues Disney, claiming the company stole his idea for "Hannah Montana." "American Idol`s" David Cook and David Archuleta announce spring tours.)



BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: I am saying when it comes to the weather, folks in Washington don`t seem to be able to handle things.


ANDERSON: President Barack Obama telling Washington to toughen up after most of the city shut down yesterday. That hardly ever happens in Chicago.

Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m Brooke Anderson in Hollywood. Time for the "SHOWBIZ Obama Watch." Tonight a snow day for the Obamas. President Obama says D.C. needs some of Chicago`s toughness when it comes to dealing with the weather.

Yesterday, Malia and Sasha got a snow day, and lots of other schools had a two-hour delay. But President Obama wondered, why? Because of a little ice and snow?


B. OBAMA: As my children pointed out, in Chicago, school is never canceled. In fact, my 7-year-old pointed out that you would go outside for recess.



ANDERSON: He is right. Chicago public schools have not had a snow day since 1999. Welcome to Washington, Sasha and Malia.

And you know, snow days are not the only thing that`s new for Sasha and Malia now that they`ve moved to Washington.

Tonight, just like Malia and Sasha, there is a high demand in the modeling industry for girls that look just like the first daughters. Global branding experts say the first daughters have a marketable image. But is using look-alikes to sell products crossing the line?

Here`s CNN`s Deborah Feyerick for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): When it comes to fashion, there`s nothing like a powerful brand to boost sales - especially if that brand is a dynamic first family.

MARLENE WALLACH, WILHELMINA TEENS AND KIDS: We have gotten several calls for look-alikes.

FEYERICK: Marlene Wallach is president of Wilhelmina Kids and Teens.

WALLACH: It`s a trend because what little girl doesn`t want to emulate the first kids?

FEYERICK: The modeling agency represents 6-year-old Ariel Bins (ph), who recently scored big in a Benetton ad.

(on camera): Is that Tyra Banks?


FEYERICK (voice-over): She then scored as a first daughter look-alike to faux Obama Mama Tyra Banks in September`s "Harper Bazaar."

(on camera): This could really open up a lot of possibility for your daughter for other different ad campaigns.

DAWN CROOKS, ARIEL`S MOTHER: I think it will and I hope it does.

FEYERICK (voice over): Unlike a Bush twins or Chelsea Clinton, global branding experts say the appeal of the Obama girls is unique and infinitely marketable.

DAVID ROGERS, GLOBAL BRANDING EXPERT: Marketers are finally waking up to it. You know, black is beautiful. It`s just going to become part of the fabric of the fashion imagery of pop culture, which is a great thing.

FEYERICK: After the first kids appeared in their J. Crew outfits Inauguration Day, the company`s Web site got so many hits, it crashed. But when a toy company recently tried selling unauthorized Sasha and Malia dolls, First Lady Michelle Obama`s office called it inappropriate. Still, many companies believe the look-alike effect will rub off.

WALLACH: You know, if all these young `tweens are aspiring to be these girls, I would assume that that`s their intention.

FEYERICK (on camera): And often that works. That`s what they (UNINTELLIGIBLE) ...

WALLACH: And often that works.

FEYERICK (voice-over): Which will likely mean more work for kids like Ariel Bins (ph).

CROOKS: I actually have a go-see for you guys to go to right now.


CROOKS: It`s for Saks. They`re looking for size six girls.


ANDERSON: That was CNN`s Deborah Feyerick for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. Some branding experts say that there is a fine line between positive marketing and tackiness. The feeling is because of Obamas, there will be an increase in the number of African-American models in fashion magazines and ad campaigns, taking diversity to an even higher level.

HAMMER: Man, it`s nothing but a good thing.

All right, Brooke. So the "Showbiz On Call" phone lines have just been burning up. Lot`s of people are calling in all about the Jessica Simpson weight controversy. I, for, one think it is just outrageous Jessica is getting slammed for putting on a few pounds.


HAMMER: And it seems a lot of SHOWBIZ TONIGHT viewers agree.

ANDERSON: They do, A.J. We got a call in to "Showbiz On Call" from Mary in Michigan. Listen to this -


MARY, CALLER FROM MICHIGAN: I am very angry that they are poking fun of Jessica Simpson. She has made a comeback. She is trying to do good. Why do we always put down people who are doing good instead of praising them?


ANDERSON: Thank you for your call, Mary. And we also heard from Linda calling in to "Showbiz On Call" from Iowa.


LINDA, CALLER FROM IOWA: I think it`s OK for healthy criticism, or for criticism. But I think it`s time for a change for women`s image. And I think Jessica Simpson looks great. And it`s time for a change finally to have a normal woman to show the young people what a normal, healthy young woman looks like.


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

HAMMER: We keep the "Showbiz On Call" open all the time at 1-888-SBT-BUZZ; 1-888-728-2899. Leave a voicemail so we can play your call on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

And your calls to "Showbiz On Call" now online on our homepage,

So, Brooke, we have been getting so many calls on this, really an overwhelming response.

Yes, it`s true. People are really fired-up.


EMME: She worked very, very hard to be so thin. That`s unrealistic. This is a more real Jessica Simpson. Welcome world, here she is.


ANDERSON: Well said, Emme. So now we are asking, why has this struck such a chord with so many people? And what about the surprising number of people that say it`s OK to criticize Jessica`s weight? The great weight debate, coming up.

HAMMER: Plus, John Travolta`s trauma. Why John may be forced to relive that awful night when his teenage died. And how is he going to deal with talking about the tragedy when he goes out soon to promote his brand-new movies?

ANDERSON: And Paris Hilton says the whole dumb blond thing is just an act. OK, does anyone think Paris has that much acting talent?

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

(CAPTION READS: Bob Dylan`s "Blowin` in the Wind" to be used in ads for U.K. grocery store chain. `80s star Belinda Carlisle signs on with NutriSystem.)


HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I am A.J. Hammer in New York.

ANDERSON: And I am Brooke Anderson in Hollywood. And tonight, Paris Hilton says the dumb blond thing is just an act. Seriously?

Paris was in London to launch her new reality show, "Paris Hilton`s British Best Friend." We`ll get to that in a minute.

But while she was there, she appeared on a British morning show and sad that she made up the dumb blond image for her first reality show "The Simple Life," and it just kind of became her schtick.

She said it was hard to play that character when it`s not who she is. Paris said, quote, "I just say jokes but they think I am serious, which I think is funny, and I think I kind of play up the image sometimes because whatever, it`s just entertainment."

HAMMER: Yes. All right. Whatever you say, Paris. Let`s talk about this "Paris Hilton`s Best Friend" British show. Paris there, looking for a best friend right there in London. That`s after the American version of the show ran on MTV.

Now, she says London is one of favorite cities in the world. So naturally she thought she needed a best friend there, too. And she says it`s hard to choose a best friend through eliminating people on a reality show.


PARIS HILTON, REALITY SHOW STAR: I hated that, actually. It was really hard for me. And I hate confrontation. And just doing the eliminations was probably the worst part about it. Because it`s hard, you know.

The first episode was not as hard because I did not know the people. But it gets harder as you become friends with them and you have to let them go one by one.


ANDERSON: But wait. If you can believe it, there is more. Paris Hilton also took some time out of her busy schedule to give us all some tips on flirting.

HAMMER: Oh, good.



HILTON: I think it`s always good to look someone in the eye and just to give cute smiles, and bat your eyelashes. It`s just all about being girly and sweet.


HAMMER: I`ve got to say, if the ditzy blond thing is just an act like Paris says, I am thinking we should all go out and rent "The Hottie and the Nottie."

ANDERSON: No. Please, no.

HAMMER: We`ve got - yes. No, we`ve got to do it as soon as possible, Brooke, because Paris obviously is a much better actress than she gets credit for. There you have it.

ANDERSON: Maybe so.

HAMMER: All right. Let`s move on, shall we? We`ve been getting a tremendous response to Jessica Simpson being criticized for putting on a couple pounds. Come on.

ANDERSON: Yes. People are really fired up, really passionate about this.


WIENER: Hearing somebody call someone like Jessica Simpson fat is beyond ridiculous to respond to.


ANDERSON: Tonight, we are asking, why has this struck such a chord with so many people? Plus, the surprising number of people who say it`s OK to criticize Jessica`s weight. That`s coming up.

HAMMER: Plus, John Travolta`s trauma. Why John may be forced to relive that awful night when his teenage son died. And how is he going to deal with talking about the tragedy when he has to go out and promote his new movies?

ANDERSON: And big news over at "The View." I have Elisabeth`s Hasselbeck`s bombshell announcement on "The View" today about her future and why there may soon be an empty seat to fill.

HAMMER: Now, keep in mind you can always stay on top of the most provocative entertainment news by subscribing to our daily SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsletter. To do that, just to You click on that "sign up for newsletter" link at the bottom of the page, fill out your information, and we will send it to you. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is coming right back.



EMME: She worked very, very hard to be so thin. That`s unrealistic. This is a more real Jessica Simpson. Welcome world, here she is.


HAMMER: Now, on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, the great Jessica Simpson weight debate. Tonight, brand-new outrage over the reactions to pictures showing Jessica putting on a few pounds. But why are a surprising number of people actually saying, "Hey, it`s OK to criticize Jessica for her weight gain." Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with a fired-up debate over Jessica Simpson`s weight.

The Travolta trauma. Tonight, arrests in the alleged $25 million John Travolta extortion plot. Will Travolta have to relive the awful night his son died? And will he be able to get back to work?

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


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

ANDERSON: And I am Brooke Anderson, coming to you from Hollywood.

And tonight, the Jessica Simpson weight debate.

HAMMER: It continues, Brooke. Tonight, the outrageous suggestion that it is OK to criticize Jessica Simpson for gaining weight. Now, there is brand-new outrage over the horrible headlines about Jessica`s weight gain, which I`ve got to say have been downright nasty if you ask me.

And there is a shocking twist to this story tonight, believe it or not. There are a surprising number of people that are actually saying it`s OK to criticize Jessica`s weight gain.

The SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on call phone lines have been jammed all day. Calls coming in from our viewers, and we`re play them for you right here and right now as we uncover why this has struck such a chord.

Joining me tonight, Ashleigh Banfield, who is an anchor with Legal Network, "In Session." Also in New York, Steven Smith who is a host for "Fuse TV." And from Hollywood, Tanika Ray who is a correspondent for "Extra."

So gang, this all began when these brand new photos and the video of a - I like to say curvier Jessica Simpson surfaced on the Internet, then in the newspapers and magazines. So we asked in our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day on air and online this - "Jessica Simpson`s Weight Gain: Is it wrong to criticize her? I was a little surprised, and here`s why - 82 percent said yes, it is wrong to criticize her. But 18 percent said no. They don`t think it`s wrong. I`m having a hard time understanding that.

Ashleigh, over to you first. Do you agree that it`s OK to criticize Jessica for this?

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, ANCHOR, "IN SESSION": All right. I`m going to go out to the limb here and I know this is going to make a lot of people upset. But I will be one of those 18 percenters, and it`s for this reason.

And by the way, I used to be 180 pounds and 190 pounds, so I can say this. If you set yourself up and market your business using your booty, then you set yourself up for criticism.

Yes, she`s a singer. Yes, she`s an actress. But she markets her product with her butt. And if it gets big, she has to understand there will be criticism. But it needs to be in a good decorum, I believe. Maybe that`s where some of the criticism should be, that it`s rude some of the things being said, not constructive.

HAMMER: Well, that`s the huge problem that I have with it. It`s not in any proper context at all. It`s just people making fun of her. Tanika, what do you think?

RAY: Yes. You know, it`s a really sad situation. People love - we love to build Jessica up when she was this silly blond girl that did not know if it was chicken or tuna. And for some reason, they love to tear Jessica Simpson down.

When it comes to it, yes, she is marketing on her booty. Ashleigh, you`re absolutely right. But I feel so bad for all those young girls looking at those pictures and then the news is saying, "She went from this to this," like it`s the worst thing in the world.

And there are girls all over this country that are three times the size of that. They`re healthy and they are trying to live functional lives and trying to understand their own body images. And if they are looking at Jessica Simpson and she is a size six or eight, and they saying, "Oh, my god. The worst thing the world," it`s just not going to do very great things for their self-esteem.


RAY: So that`s the worst thing for me. I just feel bad for all the kids out there.

HAMMER: Yes. I don`t see it productive, saying about it at all.

RAY: No.

HAMMER: Regardless of what people want to say. I just don`t - it doesn`t make sense to me.

RAY: It`s horrible.

HAMMER: And we are hearing both sides of the coins from not just women, but from men as well. The "Showbiz On Call" phone lines literally flooded. The calls keep coming in. I want to play one from a guy named Robert in Nevada. Robert called in to "Showbiz On Call" and he says we can`t have it both ways. Listen to this.


ROBERT, CALLER FROM NEVADA: When Jessica Simpson looked so great, they all raved about it. No one talked about her weight. And now, suddenly, she gained two pounds and we can`t mock her? Of course we can. We raved about her when she was nice. It works both ways, my friend.


HAMMER: All right. Robert, I do appreciate your call. But again, I don`t really get the logic of that argument. Steven, maybe you can help me out, because I, for one, don`t think that it is ever OK to mock someone because of their weight.

STEVEN SMITH, HOST, "FUSE TV": Yes, you can`t have a double standard when somebody is known, as they say, for her butt or booty, which I`m thrilled two women say on television. I think it`s kind of obnoxious that people are criticizing her.

I used to be a middle school teacher years ago. And I remember a 14- year-old girl saying to me, "Do I look fat?" And what shocked me was every woman says this. And now, you have someone who is a size two and you`re criticizing her for gaining a couple of pounds?

I say good for her. You know, go ahead and eat. I mean, who knows what she`s eating. And when she did "Dukes of Hazard" and when was marketing herself as that body, she was contractually obligated to do that.

Look at somebody like Christian Bale - Christian Bale who did "The Machinist" lost so much weight. Then he gained a whole bunch of weight to play "Batman." He`s "Batman" for crying out loud. People didn`t say, "Oh, my god. He gained so much weight. Christian Bale is huge."

And I think there`s a double standard when it comes to men and women. And I believe what Tanika said. I feel bad for the kids. How are girls going to react when they say, "Oh, my god. Jessica Simpson is fat? I must be, too."

HAMMER: Well, that`s a very good reason why that 14-year-old middle school girl was asking if she is fat, because she sees things like this.

Now, back to your point, though, I think it`s safe to say that our caller Robert there was talking about when Jessica Simpson was starring in the movie, "The Dukes of Hazard." So we went into the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT archives to uncover an interview with Jessica. And you have to watch what she said when she was asked what her training was like for this. Check this out.


JESSICA SIMPSON, ACTRESS AND SINGER: Two hours a day, sometimes 2 1/2 hours a day, a ton of cardio, and lots - you know, everything from doing jump ropes to sprints to, you know, lifting weights. I just had to really get into tiptop physical shape.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any secrets out there. Have you discovered any workout secrets that you want to pass along?

SIMPSON: Work out secrets? Get a trainer.


HAMMER: Listen to that right there. She worked out 2 1/2 hours a day with a trainer for that body. And Ashleigh, that was for a movie, a contractual obligation, as Steven said. So is it fair then that Jessica has to live up to that standard in her every day life even though she`s a star?

BANFIELD: A.J., what troubles me about this is not that she`s gained weight. It`s that she lost so much to sell a product. That is what`s hurting girls all over this country. I myself work in a public role and feel fat every day because of the beautiful pictures I`m seeing plastered over billboards and at the supermarket tabloids.

What offends me is how skinny girls are trying to be to market things, instead of looking -well, I think Jessica looks great right now. I would like for her to be getting into her Daisy Duke shorts, how she looks now.

HAMMER: Yes. Tanika, I mean, do you think it`s in any way fair though to hold her up to that standard?

RAY: I don`t. But you know, she did market herself that way. The problem is, it was more of a fashion crime than a crime of her body. I just feel like that belt - it pushed everything in. High-waisted jeans make everybody look fat.

It was just the wrong wardrobe choice more than anything. And we don`t have to keep her to that standard. She is in love. There is a thing called body building now, fatism, weightism - all that stuff that`s going on. It always happens with women, cute young girls.

And I think it`s more that people would like for them to live up to the fantasy. And they are real people. And Jessica has got to be real. And she was killing herself to look that skinny in "Dukes of Hazard." This is probably more her normal body size.

HAMMER: Yes. And you mentioned the wardrobe and a lot of people suggest, at least in that photo that we have been seeing, the camera angle doesn`t help things either.

RAY: No.

HAMMER: Point a camera at me differently and I`m going to look a lot different. Now, I want to play another call. Marie from California - she phoned into "Showbiz On Call" reminding us that Jessica Simpson had her critics when she portrayed Daisy Duke, too, as we`ve been talking about. Listen.


MARIE, CALLER FROM CALIFORNIA: Everybody`s talking about the media`s responsibility with Jessica Simpson`s pictures. What about her responsibility with the images she put out when she was in shape for the "Dukes of Hazard" movie and images that she portrayed for the young children. It goes both ways.


HAMMER: All right. So fair point. Steven, back to you. Is it fair that Jessica Simpson has to put up with the bad as well as the good when it comes to people criticizing her?

SMITH: I mean, if they`re criticizing her for what she did for "The Dukes of Hazard." She signed a deal for a job, and as Ashleigh can tell you from working in television, sometimes you have to sign an agreement saying you have to look a certain way.

And I just think it`s really offensive that people do that. But in order for her to have that role, they could have gone to someone else. I think what is important to say is how much she had to work out to get that. I mean, 2 1/2 hours a day with a trainer - she could not do it on her own. That`s superhuman. And she chose to make her self do that. But she also chose to be part of a movie that was successful, except they had Johnny Knoxville in it, but that`s not her fault.

HAMMER: Yes. Exactly. Ashleigh Banfield, I mean, everything that they`re saying right there is playing into exactly the point that you brought up.

BANFIELD: You reap what you sow. Look, nobody pushed her into that movie. She signed a deal and decided to get that skinny. And anybody else -

SMITH: It`s all for the job.

BANFIELD: And you know what else? She is also a singer. Sheryl Crow doesn`t market her songs with her body. She`s an actress.

SMITH: What? Are you high? Of course she does.

BANFIELD: Kate Winslet does not market her movies with her body.

SMITH: She dated Lance Armstrong.

BANFIELD: Not nearly the way - not nearly with the come-hither look.

HAMMER: Gang -

RAY: Sheryl crow is not known as a sexpot.

HAMMER: We`re opening a whole new can of worms. But I`ve got to end it right there. Ashleigh Banfield, Steven Smith, Tanika Ray, I do thank you all for being here tonight.

All right. We`ve got to hear from you now. What do you think? We have been asking you to vote on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day which is - "Jessica Simpson`s Weight Gain: Is it wrong to criticize her?" You can keep voting at If you`ve got more to say, well, please, by all means E-mail us at

And we also want you to call us at "Showbiz On Call." That way, you can let us know exactly what you think about the whole Jessica Simpson weight debate, or really, Brooke, anything else that`s on people`s minds.

ANDERSON: That`s right. We want you to know the "Showbiz On Call" phone lines are open all the time. Give us a ring, 1-888-SBT-BUZZ; 1-888-728- 2899. Leave a voicemail. We`ll play some of your calls right here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

HAMMER: Hey, A.J. The Travolta family has gone through so much with the tragic death of their son, the alleged $25 million extortion plot -

HAMMER: Yes. Of course, they have, Brooke. And tonight, the unthinkable - they may have to relive their son`s death all over again. Wow.

ANDERSON: Well, it`s terrible. And coming up, I`ve got those brand-new details. Plus, John Travolta has some new films coming out. Will he be able to get back to work and promote them? And how will he handle all those questions about what he and his family is going through?

HAMMER: Big, big, big news on "The View." Today, Elisabeth Hasselbeck makes a bombshell announcement about her future. But will there be an empty chair to fill at the table soon?

ANDERSON: And brand-new Heath Ledger development surrounding his death. Why Heath`s daughter, Matilda, may be about to get millions of dollars.

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

(CAPTION READS: Patrick Swayze is denying reports that he`s stopped treatment for pancreatic cancer. Joaquin Phoenix rep denies claims that Phoenix rap career is one big hoax.)


ANDERSON: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I am Brooke Anderson in Hollywood.

Tonight, John Travolta`s trauma. While two arrests have been made in the extortion case, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can now reveal that trauma is far from over. Travolta may have to publicly relive his nightmare, not only at a possible trial, but when he goes out soon to promote his two brand-new movies.

With me now from New York tonight, Dr. Judy Kuriansky, who is a clinical psychologist. And here in Hollywood is Howard Bragman. He`s the founder of Fifteen Minutes Public Relations and the author of this fantastic new book "Where is My 15 Minutes?"

OK. Dr. Judy, Howard, so far, two people are charged in the Bahamas with plotting to get Travolta to pay them $25 million for a potentially worthless document connected to the tragic death of his teenage son.

Dr. Judy, if this goes to trial, and he has to testify, how traumatic will that be for him to basically have to relive this still on-going nightmare?

DR. JUDY KURIANSKY, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Brooke, it`s going to be very traumatic for him and for his wife, Kelly, and for their daughter - for all of them. But there is one positive side to this, and that is when you are so depressed and upset about the death of a child, and under those circumstances, and the self blame and the if-onlys, that when you can get angry at someone - it has been an accident. But when you can get angry at those people who are trying to take advantage of you, that helps with his emotions. That can help purge some of the sadness, so in that way it can be slightly healthy.

ANDERSON: Maybe an outlet for those emotions.

KURIANSKY: Yes, exactly.

ANDERSON: Good point. Well, Howard, what do you think? Do you get the sense that John Travolta wants to avoid the public drama and the trauma that a trial could bring?

HOWARD BRAGMAN, FOUNDER, FIFTEEN MINUTES PUBLIC RELATIONS: Brooke, John Travolta loves his privacy as we know. He doesn`t live in Hollywood most of the time, and we don`t see him around a lot of times.

But people close to John are telling me that he is very angry about this, and he wants justice. And privacy be damned, if you will, he`s going to testify. He`s going to do what he needs to do to make sure that justice comes to this people who did horrible emotional harm to his damage at their most vulnerable time.

And I really support him in this. It was a horrible thing to do when a family going through this kind of tragedy. And we all want justice, and it`s very courageous of him.

ANDERSON: Yes. It is. It`s alleged at this point. But if it is true - it is - you are right, it`s horrible. It`s dreadful and hopefully justice will be served.

Howard I wanted to stay with you for a minute, because John Travolta also faces another big challenge - promoting his two brand-new movies set to open this year, including "Old Dogs" which stars his wife Kelly Preston and 8-year-old daughter Ella. Are you hearing, Howard, that John is planning to go ahead with movie promotions?

BRAGMAN: Yes. well, we will start promoting these movies. I believe "Pelham" comes out in June and "Old Dogs" comes out in Thanksgiving. And the guess is - and then there haven`t been any commitments made. But the guess is John will come out and do one interview one, as we call them, catharsis interview, and that will be with a Larry King or a Diane Sawyer or an Oprah Winfrey and really talk about the whole experience, and Kelly will probably join him.

And then when he does the junkets and he`s talking about the movie, they will be more respectful when they ask about Jett and what happened. He will say, "I really talked about that. I want to focus on the movie."

And I think the media is going to respect him at this point. As much as they want to get into that, I think they love John. They`re going to respect him and let him do his job in supporting the movies. And he will be smart to get it out of the way by doing that one interview, Brooke.

ANDERSON: Yes. And I hope you`re right. I hope everybody will be respectful of John what he and his family have gone through. And as you mention, Howard, the first movie that he will be promoting is the remake of the `74 film, "The Taking of Pelham 123," due out in June.

Dr. Judy, is that enough time to heal before having to face the media and answer those inevitable questions about the death of his son?

KURIANSKY: You know what, Brooke? He is never going to ever really, truly heal from this. He was very close to Jett. And any parent who has lost a child knows how traumatic that is. You always think, "I should go before my child should go."

Three months is very little amount of time. I respect what Howard said that he`s (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a catharsis interview. But I think being able to talk about this often is very healthy for him and also for many people who are his fans who would want to hear from him. And you would want to heal with him and to hear how he is dealing with it so that they can learn from that, too.

ANDERSON: Yes, maybe he can be an inspiration ...


ANDERSON: ... for others who have gone through this, who are going through a similar sort of thing. It`s got to be very, very difficult. Dr. Judy Kuriansky, Howard Bragman, good to see you both, thanks.

HAMMER: New right now, some big news over on "The View" today that could mean an empty seat at the table.


WHOOPI GOLDBERG, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": Before we go on, we have breaking news that we need to share with you right now. Who`s got the information? I believe it`s you, Elisabeth.

ELISABETH HASSELBECK, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": I`ve got the information. Yes, this is maybe not world news, but I am pregnant again, so I figured -


I am due in August.


HASSELBECK: I will try to pop this one out before we leave, Barbara.


WALTERS: The first time that you got pregnant -


WALTERS: We said you were doing it for the ratings.


WALTERS: The second time we said you were doing it because Gracie wanted a little brother.


WALTERS: This is on your own. Totally. We were thoroughly happy with the surprise of it. I didn`t even know for two months. I was walking around. I kept saying, "It`s election night. It`s election night." I was tired. I was nauseous. I thought I was worn out from the whole procedure. No, I was knocked up and didn`t realize it.


HAMMER: How about that? Congratulations, Elisabeth. Now, she said the baby is due in August. Elisabeth and football husband Tim Hasselbeck, who most recently played for the Arizona Cardinals, have two other kids together, 3-year-old Gracie, who she mentioned, 15-month-old Taylor. Elisabeth and Tim got married back in 2002.

ANDERSON: Ah, wonderful news for them. All right. Coming up, brand-new developments surrounding the death of Heath Ledger. Why his daughter Matilda may be about to come into millions of dollars. I`ve got that next.

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

(CAPTION READS: NBC`s "The Office" snags post-Super Bowl slot; will air one-hour episode. Reports: Susan Sarandon joins George Clooney on a final "ER" episode.)


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

And tonight, there`s a settlement in the lawsuit involving Heath Ledger`s $10 million life insurance policy. No word on the terms of the confidential settlement. But Ledger`s daughter, Matilda, is the policy beneficiary.

The attorney who sued on Matilda`s behalf reportedly wants to be named as her guardian. Now, the lawyer sued the ReliaStar Life Insurance Company after he died claiming the company refused to pay out because they wanted to make sure that Ledger`s death wasn`t a suicide.

Well, a coroner did rule that Ledger died last January from an accidental prescription drug overdose.

ANDERSON: Renee Zellweger is opening up about the ridiculously cold weather she had to deal with while filming her new film, "New in Town." Renee co-stars with Harry Connick, Jr. in the movie about a Miami executive who relocates to Minnesota where it`s pretty darn cold.

They didn`t shoot the film in Minnesota, though. They shot it in Canada where it was freezing with a capital F. So on this morning`s "Live with Regis and Kelly," Renee revealed the special words everybody came up with for the weird weather-related stuff that happened on the set.


RENEE ZELLWEGER, ACTRESS: We had to make up a whole new language to describe some of the phenomena that would occur during the day.


ZELLWEGER: Who knew? Never mind - anything that is exposed starts to die within about, you know, two minutes, so you can`t get exposed.


ZELLWEGER: And you`re dropping body parts on the sidewalk. Yes, it`s true. But you`d be talking to somebody and you know when your lip gets frozen and you can`t tell that your nose is running.

PHILBIN: Little icicle comes down?

ZELLWEGER: Yes, with a new name - nosticles(ph). We call them nosticles(ph).

RIPA: Nosticles(ph)?

ZELLWEGER: I love Harry Connick (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Lashticles(ph) - those were hot.

RIPA: Lashticles(ph)?

ZELLWEGER: Yes. Because you know, when the wind is strong and your eyes start tearing up ...

PHILBIN: Yes, sure.

ZELLWEGER: Tears run down the side of your face. Your eyelashes adhere to each other and seize shut like a little Venus flytrap.

PHILBIN: My gosh.

ZELLWEGER: I know. That`s really hot.


HAMMER: Yes. Nosticle(ph). I kind of like that one. I don`t see that happening, though.

All right. We`ve been asking you to vote on our question of the day. It is - "Jessica Simpson`s Weight Gain: Is it wrong to criticize her?" Right now, the vote looks like this - 88 percent say yes and 12 percent no.

Among the E-mails - one from Amy in Texas who writes, "What message does it send to young girls if a beautiful celebrity like Jessica Simpson is judged by her weight?"

But Kevin from Georgia says, "She has made a career off of her looks so, yes, she can be criticized."

Keep voting at

That is it for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.

ANDERSON: Thanks for watching. I`m Brooke Anderson in Hollywood. 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.