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SHOWBIZ TONIGHT

New `Star Wars` Trailer Released; Leno Given Permission to Do Jackson Jokes; Interview With Kelsey Grammer

Aired March 11, 2005 - 19:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


A.J. HAMMER, CO-HOST: A "Star Wars" shocker.
KARYN BRYANT, CO-HOST: And a super soul songstress, live. I`m Karyn Bryant.

HAMMER: And I`m A.J. Hammer. This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ve been waiting for you, Obi Wan. We meet again at last.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRYANT: Keep your kids far, far away? The next "Star Wars" will be unlike any other. We`ll tell you how.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELSEY GRAMMER, "KELSEY GRAMMER PRESENTS": I kind of bracket the show a little bit, sneak in once and a while.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: Grammar lesson. He`s back on TV, but no, he`s not playing Frasier. A SHOWBIZ sit-down with Kelsey Grammer.

BRYANT: Plus, a Knight to remember. Bringing four decades of chart- topping soul to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, Gladys Knight, live.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVIE WONDER: This is not my business, but it`s my fun.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: Wonder-ful fashion. Stevie Wonder`s wife launches her own clothing line, and he`s really feeling it.

BRYANT: And kissed off. An apprentice can`t cut it with KISS`s lead singer. And then, well, you know.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, "THE APPRENTICE": You`re fired.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRYANT: The latest castoff, live.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAMUEL L. JACKSON: Hi. I`m Samuel L. Jackson. If it happened today, it`s on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: Hello. I`m A.J. Hammer, and you`re at the top of the show.

BRYANT: I`m Karyn Bryant. We`re live with you from Headline Prime studios in New York City for the next hour.

HAMMER: Well, the force is with us again. Let the hyperspace hype begin.

BRYANT: Yes. Tonight`s the night moviegoers will get to see the brand-new trailer preview for the final "Star Wars" movie. It`s called "Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith." It is now in theaters. And George Lucas is revealing some more of what to expect. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s David Haffenreffer is here now to smick (ph) us in -- David.

DAVID HAFFENREFFER, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT: Yes, some good stuff here, A.J. and Karyn. Certainly, `Star Wars" fans have always hungered for any little taste that they can get of an upcoming "Star Wars" movie. Tonight, they are feasting. Not only is there a new trailer out today, but the man himself, George Lucas, is speaking out about one bit way this film will be different from all the others.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Learn to know the dark side of the force and you will achieve a power greater than any Jedi.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAFFENREFFER (voice-over): We`re seeing the full force of the next "Star Wars" movie. The trailer for the full marketing force of the next "Star Wars" movie. The trailer for "Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith" premiered on Fox`s "The O.C." It hits theaters tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the final movie.

HAFFENREFFER: And boy, is it different. In a "60 Minutes" interview airing Sunday, "Star Wars" creator George Lucas tells Lesley Stahl if you`re going to see his new movie, leave the little kids at home."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE LUCAS, "STAR WARS": My feeling is it`ll probably be a PG-13, so it`ll be the first "Star Wars" that`s a PG-13.

LESLEY STAHL, "60 MINUTES": And you won`t fight that?

LUCAS: Uh-uh.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAFFENREFFER: Lucas goes on to say, quote, "I don`t think I would take a 5 or 6-year-old to this. The film is much more dark, more emotional. It`s much more of a tragedy."

In the final installment, Anakin Skywalker, the adorable little boy we met in "The Phantom Menace," completes his transformation into the heavy- breathing bad guy, Darth Vader. For the kid-friendly "Star Wars" franchise, a PG-13 rating for "Sith" would be almost shocking, but probably not shocking enough to hurt the movie`s bottom line.

MARTIN GROVE, "HOLLYWOOD REPORTER": This is a big battle film, and so the battle scenes undoubtedly are violent and more intense than they might have been before. But nonetheless, I don`t think that PG-13 is going to make any difference in terms of the business this picture does.

HAFFENREFFER: Anakin`s not the only "Star Wars" character to meet a bad fate in "Sith." Samuel L. Jackson, who plays Mace Windu, let SHOWBIZ TONIGHT in on a secret: His character will be killed off. While talking to our A.J. Hammer about his next movie, "In My Country," which opens today, Jackson revealed that Mace will go out in a blaze of glory.

HAMMER: Now that`s it in the can, can you give us a little insight?

SAMUEL L. JACKSON, "MACE WINDU": George said, you know, all the Jedi have to die, except for the four that were in the first one. And the most important Jedi I can kill in this one will be you. So naturally, you`ll have to do something that`s pretty spectacular. I`m not going to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) sleep, so I got my wish.

HAFFENREFFER: It`s likely that Lucas will get his wish that "Revenge of the Sith" will be a huge box office smash.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

Boy, it`s hard to believe the original "Star Wars" film came out in 1977. "Revenge of the Sith" is due out in May -- Karyn.

BRYANT: I am goofy with excitement over that! Thanks, David.

Well, case closed. For now, the FBI is no longer looking into the killing of rapper Notorious B.I.G. Among theories the bureau had been looking into, the possibility that a rogue Los Angeles police officer and rap mogul Marion "Suge" Knight had been involved. Biggie, whose real name was Chris Wallace, was gunned down in Los Angeles in 1997. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT confirmed today, though, that the LAPD`s investigation into his murder is still open.

HAMMER: Well, court was not in session at the Michael Jackson trial today, so we weren`t seeing MJ in his PJs, but there was still big news in the case. Let`s get an update now from "Celebrity Justice`s" Pat Lalama, who`s joining us live from Burbank, California. Pat, walk us through the day.

PAT LALAMA, "CELEBRITY JUSTICE": Hey, listen, there was really a lot going on in sight of the fact that there wasn`t actually court. But you know what? Let`s first start out with the events of yesterday, which you mentioned, the PJ business. And you know what? There was a certain talk show host who was originally banned from talking about the case, who decided that he was going to have a little fun with it last night. You know who you mean. Jay Leno. I think you`ve got some tape. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: It`s the "Tonight" show with Jay Leno!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LALAMA: All right. Leave it to Jay Leno. Now, you also know he had his own court issues to deal with in the fact that the court said, Hey, you cannot make any more jokes about Michael Jackson. Well, hey, that`s a 1st Amendment issue. They took it to the court, and they finally ruled, OK, you know what? You can talk about the case, but you can`t make specific references to things you know first-hand about. This is going to get really, really interesting.

Now, in the meantime, we heard the pundits for Jackson talk yesterday about the fact that this man had true back problems, that this was not a fraud. He made nothing up. He was in severe pain. But we heard about three or four different ideas about how the pain occurred. Yet still, we did notice that Mr. Jackson was able to turn around at one point and wave to the crowd. So who really knows? All we know is that today, he didn`t need an excuse not to come to court.

Let`s talk about the motions real fast. Defense wanted to take the jury to Neverland to prove it was not the panacea of pedophilia. The judge said no on that one. However, for the defense, they wanted to be able to tell the jury that the mother of the accuser used some of that hard-earned money not for her son but for elective surgery. The judge said, Oh, only if you can prove it. And a couple of other motions. They`ll be back in court on Monday. Who knows what could happen.

HAMMER: OK, Pat. Pat, thanks very much. Pat Lalama of "Celebrity Justice" live in Burbank tonight -- Karyn.

BRYANT: Time for "SHOWBIZ Shorts," a look at more stories making news tonight. Tara Reid isn`t too happy this evening. She sued the developers of a Las Vegas condominium project today for an ad it placed last month. Reid alleges that her reputation was hurt because the ad read, "Dear Tara Reid, come let it all hang out." It is an apparent reference to her accidental breast-popping incident at P. Diddy`s 35th birthday last year. The condo company`s publicist tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT no comment.

Groovy, baby! Heather Graham -- you know her, of course, from "Austin powers" and also "Scrub. She has signed onto a new ABC pilot. It is called "Emily`s Reasons Why Not." It`s a comedy about a self-help author.

More "SHOWBIZ Shorts" coming up throughout the show.

HAMMER: Well, if you`ve been missing Kelsey Grammer since "Frasier" ended, we`ve got some good news for you tonight. He`s got a new TV show. It`s called "Kelsey Grammer Presents: The Sketch Show," and it debuts this weekend. Kelsey talked about that and a whole lot more with SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Brooke Anderson, who joins us now live from Hollywood with more - - Brooke.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROOKE ANDERSON, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT: "Frasier" ended just last May. It hasn`t even been a year, and here you are, back on television. Has it been work, work, work, or did you get a break in there at all?

GRAMMER: Oh, actually, I`ve been on a significant break, and I intend to remain on a significant break. This show is not Kelsey Grammer`s next series. It`s called "Kelsey Grammer Presents" because that`s pretty much what I do. I kind of bracket the show a little bit. I sneak in once in a while and lay in a little -- you know, a familiar face.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

I`m sorry to do this from a hospital bed, but, I`m in for a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of elective surgery. Anyway, I didn`t want to miss a opportunity to introduce you to our latest comedy. I like to call it simply "The Sketch Show." Very kind of you (UNINTELLIGIBLE) So you have worked here long?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t work here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: You`re getting a sponge bath in one of the sketches. Did you ever crack up, or was it, One take, we`re going to nail this, or did you laugh and have to keep going and going before you got it?

GRAMMER: Oh, I cracked up on that all the time. No, I -- he`s so funny. That face of his is so funny, and all the activity under the bed, I thought, Oh, dear. This could be read in any number of ways. So that one, no, I did laugh quite a bit there. But sponge bath -- isn`t that a great word? I haven`t used the word in so long, I mean, so I was thrilled to say it.

ANDERSON: Kelsey, you have a family. You have very young children. You have this successful career that just keeps going and going and going. You`re like the Energizer bunny. How do you do it? How do you balance -- what is your daily schedule like?

GRAMMER: Mostly right now, I`m really just staying at home. I`m going to school with my little girl and, you know, introducing her to a new -- a new school because we just recently moved and so -- helping to put the house together. I`m taking care of the family. It`s not as rigorous as one might think, or as hectic as one might think.

ANDERSON: Do your children watch? Do they get to see what Daddy does every day?

GRAMMER: Oh, sure. Yes. Yes. Mason (ph) -- my daughter, Mason, 3 years old now. She knows I`m on television. My son is 6 months old. He doesn`t know I`m in the room yet.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAMMER: Kelsey told SHOWBIZ TONIGHT that acting is a ridiculous career and rarely successful but that he wouldn`t discourage his own children from doing it. "Kelsey Grammer Presents" premiers Sunday night on Fox.

BRYANT: Now on to Thursday TV. Coming up, a Thursday throw-down in our "SHOWBIZ Showdown." It`s Mark Burnett versus Mark Burnett, as "Survivor" takes on "The Apprentice."

HAMMER: And Boy George says Madonna is a chameleon but doesn`t have good karma. That, Michael Jackson, and more on "Star Wars" in our "Buzz Bench."

BRYANT: Now tonight`s "Entertainment Weekly" "Great American Pop Culture Quiz." Which former child star is portrayed in the 2003 hit musical "Avenue Q"? We will be right back with the answer.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMMER: Welcome back. So again, today`s "Entertainment Weekly" pop culture quiz. Which former child star is portrayed in the 2003 hit musical "Avenue Q"? The answer is Gary Coleman.

BRYANT: It is 13 past the hour, time now for the "SHOWBIZ Showdown." "The Apprentice" and "Survivor," the two shows both produced by Mark Burnett, dominate Thursday nights in the reality TV war. But last night, once again, "Survivor: Palau" got higher ratings than "The Apprentice," and it has actually been that way all season long. Which leads to our "SHOWBIZ Showdown" hot topic tonight. "The Apprentice" versus "Survivor": Which is a better show?

Joining us live, Neil Rosen, who`s the entertainment critic for cable news station NY1. Neil says "The Apprentice" is the better reality show. Also with us, Jeremy Helligar, who is "Entertainment Weekly`s" senior editor. He says "Survivor" is better.

Jeremy, I`m going to start with you. Tell me why this show rules?

JEREMY HELLIGAR, "ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY": Repeat after me, kids. It`s all about the drama. You watch "The Apprentice," and you know that the worst thing that`s going to happen is someone will hear "You`re fired" at the very end. But you watch "Survivor" and you see people getting skinnier. These people are struggling to survive. There`s just this inherent drama that people really eat up and that just makes it great television.

BRYANT: OK, Neil, and why do you think "The Apprentice" is the better program?

NEIL ROSEN, ENTERTAINMENT CRITIC, NY1 NEWS: Well, I`m totally bored with "Survivor" at this particular point. What makes "The Apprentice" work is the challenges. How many times on "Survivor" are you going to see people run under a stick and then swim in the water and get a piece of a jigsaw puzzle and put it together? It`s the same thing week after -- season after season.

On "The Apprentice," the challenges are different: who can build the better miniature golf course, who can design and market a flavor of ice cream, who could run the Hard Rock Cafe or Planet Hollywood restaurant better? I don`t think they`ve ever repeated a challenge on "The Apprentice," except for something with Donny Deutsch once. But other than that, it`s always something different. On "Survivor," other than the first season, which was brilliant, and the all-star "Survivor," where they brought back some of the favorite characters, I don`t really care about any of these people. On "Apprentice"...

HELLIGAR: "Survivor," though, is like great football.

BRYANT: OK...

HELLIGAR: It`s a great sport.

BRYANT: Jeremy, I want to -- I want to talk about this, though. You mentioned that -- you said, you know, it`s more dramatic. There`s more to lose. There`s a camera crew filming everything. I don`t really believe that these people are in life-and-death situations. How can you -- how can you honestly, truly say that?

HELLIGAR: That may be true, but you look at it and you see the people are physically changing as the season progresses.

BRYANT: Sure. They are changing.

HELLIGAR: You know, people are getting thinner because...

BRYANT: So you watch it as...

HELLIGAR: ... they have to fight for food. I mean, that`s like -- that`s like "Lost."

BRYANT: You just like...

HELLIGAR: It`s like "Lost."

BRYANT: ... bikinis, is all -- is really what I`m getting at!

(LAUGHTER)

HELLIGAR: And you know what else? The thing about "The Apprentice" is that we all have 9-to-5 jobs. Watching it is almost being like at work. I mean...

(CROSSTALK)

ROSEN: Oh, that`s not true at all.

HELLIGAR: ... we all go through that every day.

ROSEN: What makes "The Apprentice" work is Donald Trump. He`s the constant. Jeff Probst is just kind of like a moderator, and he just -- Donald Trump is a character...

HELLIGAR: Yes, but...

ROSEN: ... and I want to see what Donald Trump...

HELLIGAR: He`s amazing.

ROSEN: -- can do. I want to see what that woman...

HELLIGAR: Donald Trump is amazing...

(CROSSTALK)

ROSEN: ... and I want to see what George is going to do.

HELLIGAR: Donald is amazing, but the drama is so manufactured, with the -- the music...

ROSEN: Oh, and there`s no music...

HELLIGAR: ... who`s going to get fired?

ROSEN: ... on "Survivor"?

HELLIGAR: But "Survivor" just has that real inherent drama. Hey, that`s why "Lost" is a top 10 show.

ROSEN: No. Well, "Lost" is a very good show, but that`s a whole other argument.

BRYANT: Neil...

ROSEN: But "Survivor," the challenges really bore me. It doesn`t matter who the contestants are on "The Apprentice," it`s the challenges that are interesting and it`s what goes on in the boardroom that`s interesting.

HELLIGAR: Oh, but it`s like being at work.

BRYANT: OK, guys...

HELLIGAR: It`s like working a 9-to-5 job.

BRYANT: Question for you...

ROSEN: Really? Do you design ice cream flavors at work or...

(CROSSTALK)

HELLIGAR: That`s so boring! That`s even more boring than...

BRYANT: OK, guys...

(CROSSTALK)

BRYANT: Hold on a second. Neil, who do you think has more to lose if, in fact, they do lose a challenge, the guys on "The Apprentice" or the players on "Survivor"?

ROSEN: Probably the players on "Survivor" have more to lose because "The Apprentice" people -- I think they go for a higher caliber of contestant. It`s a different type of contestant. They go for more physical -- physically-inclined people on "Survivor."

BRYANT: Right.

ROSEN: I think "The Apprentice" people, if they get fired and they have a tremendous -- look at Omarosa.

BRYANT: Right.

ROSEN: Omarosa, you know, turned her being fired into, like, a major thing.

BRYANT: Yes. She did. OK.

ROSEN: Do you really know any of the recent cast members...

(CROSSTALK)

BRYANT: Guys, I got tell you, we have to wrap this up. I`m actually a big fan of "The Contender," so what you are going to do with that?

(CROSSTALK)

BRYANT: Neil Rosen of -- yes, it is -- entertainment critic of NY1 news, thank you for joining us. And Jeremy Helligar of "Entertainment Weekly," senior editor, thank you for joining us, as well.

We want to know your thoughts at home. "The Apprentice" -- is it a better show than "Survivor"? You can vote at cnn.com/showbiztonight. Or if you want to tell us more, e-mail us at showbiz-tonight@cnn.com. We`ll share some of what you had to say later in the show.

HAMMER: Well, Bruce Willis fans, get ready. Your favorite action star is back in a rock-`em, sock-`em role. Willis stars in "Hostage," which opens today, and it`s not your typical kidnapping thriller because everyone in it is held hostage at one time or another. One of Willis` co- stars, Ben Foster, told SHOWBIZ TONIGHT that working with Bruce was like a dream come true.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN FOSTER, "HOSTAGE": Working with Bruce is a dream. And he certainly had a huge influence on me as a young man, watching the "Die Hard" series. Everybody wanted to be John McClane. He`s just the coolest dude you`ve ever seen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: "Hostage" also features the film debut of Willis` 16-year-old daughter, Rumer. Now, last night, Willis was here live with us on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT and said Rumer didn`t get the role just because she`s his daughter, she actually had to audition for it.

BRYANT: Another Thursday, another firing. The latest "Apprentice" castoff faces the music from some big names in the music business, and then the Donald. He is going to join us live.

HAMMER: And she`s catching the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT train to Georgia. Soul superstar Gladys Knight joining us live.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMMER: Time for more "SHOWBIZ Shorts." Extended life? Today`s "Hollywood Reporter` says "ER" is about to be renewed for two more seasons. The hospital drama is doing well for NBC on Thursdays this year. The show first premiered back in 1994. Showtime for the Apollo. Tom Hanks and Ron Howard will be part of the 35th anniversary celebration of the Apollo 13 space mission. It`s also the 10th anniversary of the movie Hanks starred in and Howard directed about it. The event will take place on March 22.

More "SHOWBIZ Shorts" are coming up throughout the show -- Karyn.

BRYANT: She is a legend. She`s an icon. She`s Gladys Knight. Who doesn`t love "Midnight Train to Georgia"? And now Gladys is going gospel. Joining us live from Georgia -- Atlanta, to be exact -- is the one and only Gladys Knight. Gladys, thank you. Welcome.

GLADYS KNIGHT, "ONE VOICE": Oh, thank you for having me.

BRYANT: What a terrific voice you have!

KNIGHT: Thank you.

BRYANT: My goodness!

KNIGHT: Thank you.

BRYANT: Just -- just excellent. So I want to talk to you about your new project. It is with a gospel choir.

KNIGHT: Yes.

BRYANT: They are called the Saints Unified Voices. Tell me how you put this together.

KNIGHT: Well, I was approached by some members of my church, some -- and -- and to do a special fireside (ph). That`s where we share our testimonies and the gospel. And I told them, I sing a little bit better than I speak, so I`d like to do some music. They said, Oh, that`s great. Matter of fact, you should put a choir together. I said, A choir? They said, yes. And I just put the word out, and I got 100 people responding and we ended up with a 100-voice choir. And they started clamoring, after we did the fireside, for this music. Where do we get it? We want to have it. And that inspired me to just put it down on disk, and here it is, "One Voice."

BRYANT: Great. And you`ve also made an effort to include a lot of multi-cultural voices within your choir, right?

KNIGHT: Absolutely. Well, I looked at the choir one day. You know, I`m a member of the Church of Jesus Chris of Latter Day Saints, and they have not had an imagery for being multi-cultural.

BRYANT: Sure.

KNIGHT: And I looked at my choir one day, it wasn`t like I sent out a memo saying, I want some Asians and some Polynesians and...

BRYANT: But you found them.

KNIGHT: You know, they were just there. And I said, You know, this is how it should be, and that`s what inspired me to name this "One Voice" because the gospel actually is for everyone.

BRYANT: Great. OK, well, you know, you`ve worked with Randy Jackson on albums. And we remember last season, you worked on "American Idol" and you...

KNIGHT: Yes, I did.

BRYANT: ... judged it. Are you following the show this year? Are you still a fan of the show?

KNIGHT: Yes, I`m still a fan of the show because it`s something I`ve always wanted to do. It`s helped young people to get on their way in this industry, you know, give them honest criticism. So I really enjoyed it.

BRYANT: Yes. And you know, it`s tough to judge the young kids. I mean, you`ve been doing this since you were 4 years old.

KNIGHT: Yes.

BRYANT: I would imagine, you know, you have a lot of sage advice, if you could really sit down with them.

KNIGHT: Yes. I would love to do that. Hopefully, one day, I`m praying that I will have a school. And I just want to pass on all this information I`ve collected for 56 years.

BRYANT: Right.

KNIGHT: You know, I think it can be valuable to some young person who really wants to listen.

BRYANT: Sure. Sure.

KNIGHT: You know?

BRYANT: So are you still doing the show in Vegas? And if so, you know, can we get some tickets, because you know...

KNIGHT: Yes, come on out and see me!

(LAUGHTER)

KNIGHT: I`m doing the Flamingo five nights a week, Tuesday through Saturday, and we`re having an awesome time, an awesome time. We`ve been the No. 1 show for most of the time we`ve been there. And I`m just having a ball. Just awesome.

BRYANT: That`s great. OK, so once again, it`s called the Saints Unified Voices, the SUV choir...

KNIGHT: Yes.

BRYANT: ... for those -- Gladys Knight, thank you for joining us. You`re just terrific and...

KNIGHT: It`s been my pleasure.

BRYANT: Absolutely. Now...

KNIGHT: Come and see us at the restaurant. We`re right here near CNN.

BRYANT: Oh, OK.

(CROSSTALK)

KNIGHT: ... Gladys and Ron, chicken and waffles.

BRYANT: Oh, I love chicken and waffles!

(CROSSTALK)

BRYANT: Don`t get me started. Thank you, Gladys. And Gladys Knight and the Saints Unified Voices "One Voice" is in stores now.

HAMMER: I do a mean "Midnight Train" karaoke.

Well, one of Gladys Knight`s friends, Stevie Wonder, is branching out. His wife has signed, sealed and delivered a brand-new clothing line. We`ll ask them both about it.

BRYANT: And Boy George has some harsh words for Madonna. Find out what he had to say. Our "Buzz Bench" is buzzing.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMMER: Stevie Wonder`s style. How the singer struck a chord at his wife`s first fashion show.

BRYANT: John gone. He got fired from "The Apprentice" last night, and he`s live on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC ROBERTS: Hi, I`m Eric Roberts. If it happened today, it`s on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. It`s 30 minutes past the hour. I`m A.J. Hammer.

BRYANT: And I`m Karyn Bryant.

Here are tonight`s hot headlines.

HAMMER: Federal case closed. The FBI has closed its investigation into the killing of rap star Notorious B.I.G. without coming to any conclusions. The LAPD`s investigation is still open.

BRYANT: The jokes can go on. Today, the judge in the Michael Jackson case said Jay Leno can make Jackson jokes in his monologues, as long as he doesn`t talk about what he personally knows about the case.

Well, may the Force be with you, if you`re old enough. "Star Wars" creator George Lucas says "Episode Three: Revenge of the Sith" isn`t for little kids. The trailer hits theaters tonight.

HAMMER: Well, we have this just in to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. NBC today pulled the plug on the "Jane Pauley Show." The former "Dateline" host went into the bigtime talk arena, but ratings were less than stellar. And once Martha Stewart`s deal with NBC came about, there were talk Pauley`s days were numbered. Pauley issued a statement moments ago, saying it was a chance of a lifetime. No word yet on what she`ll do next.

BRYANT: We have been asking you to vote on tonight`s SHOWBIZ showdown question of the day. Is "The Apprentice" a better show than "Survivor"? Keep voting at cnn.com/showbiztonight, and send us your e-mails at showbiztonight@cnn.com. We`ll share some of what you had to say at 55 past the hour.

HAMMER: Well, one man who probably has a strong opinion of our question of the day, John Gafford. The Donald sent him packing on "The Apprentice" last night. He seemed to start off as one of the more unassuming, likable members of the cast, but, you know, something happened over the last two shows. That good guy was nowhere to be seen.

Here are some of the highlights.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS, "THE APPRENTICE," NBC)

JOHN GAFFORD: Why don`t we do this the easy way? One of you guys gets giggly and says, No, no, no, you know, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on the radio, but I don`t know anything about anything. And (UNINTELLIGIBLE), (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

Let`s put my big hat back on, stick my feather back in it. Time to pimp some girls.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was that a story to butter me up?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not at all. I decided I (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are you here?

GAFFORD: Stephanie has a purpose. She`s basically, she`s a fluffer. Basically, that`s what she did. But she was a fluffer for Jay. Keep him entertained until we needed him happy.

DONALD TRUMP: John, you`re fired.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

HAMMER: Da-da-da-da-da-da-dah.

John Gafford`s joining us live.

GAFFORD: How are you?

HAMMER: Time to pimp some girls, John. Have you just been digging yourself out of the hole all day long?

GAFFORD: You know what? The funny thing about that is, is, that was actually a comment that was made by one of the girls and merely repeated by me.

All day long I`ve been defending myself and my stance on sexism, obviously, and, at the end of the day, you`re watch an entertaining game show, and, in order to create the bad guy getting his at the end, so the, you know, the audience can cheer, you have to create that. And the funny thing is, my biggest supporter throughout the day has actually been Erin, who made the comments. You know, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) offended, it was, we were just joking around.

HAMMER: Well, the fact is, John, you know, in order for them to cut all of this together, they had to have the material to work with.

GAFFORD: Absolutely.

HAMMER: And you gave it to them, man.

GAFFORD: Absolutely.

HAMMER: On a plate.

GAFFORD: You know what? When they`re cutting this together, they have three elements they work with. They work with comments, responses, and after-the-fact interviews, and they cut them together to create dialogue. You know, all I can say about last night`s show is two things. Number one, it does not reflect my value set whatsoever...

HAMMER: OK.

GAFFORD: ... and number two, it was extremely entertaining to watch.

HAMMER: Moving on, then...

GAFFORD: Absolutely.

HAMMER: ... -your task last night, you were supposed to put together this telethon involving some big-name music stars like the Barenaked Ladies and Gene Simmons. What went wrong?

GAFFORD: Well, you know what? I don`t really think anything went wrong. We both raised a lot of money for a great charity, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. But at the end of the day, the other team just dreamed a little bigger. We actually got killed by one bid, which was a week-long experience with little Kim. So, you know, that one bid really, really killed us.

HAMMER: It actually did seem like good ideas on both sides.

GAFFORD: Absolutely.

HAMMER: And even Donald himself said that. And then at the end, he said, you know, kind of, he said You screwed me. But in the board room -- and tell me about this scene...

GAFFORD: Sure.

HAMMER: ... and I know board rooms actually go on for much longer than what we see...

GAFFORD: Absolutely, (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

HAMMER: ... it looked like Chris was going to get it. Did you actually feel that way?

GAFFORD: No, you know, to be honest with you, I knew I was going to get fired the second we told (UNINTELLIGIBLE) we lost. All right, you know, when you step up into a leadership role, and you consistently put your neck out, when it goes south, you`re going to lose. So I knew I was going to get fired from the second (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

HAMMER: All right. Which one can you learned about that man, Donald Trump, that surprised you along the way?

GAFFORD: You know, the one thing I learned about Donald Trump that surprised me was how absolutely charismatic he is. I don`t think, you know, obviously, on television, he comes across as almost a character. But, in person, Mr. Trump is one of the most charismatic people you`ve ever met.

HAMMER: Yes, we see that, we see that all the time.

GAFFORD: Go and (UNINTELLIGIBLE), go and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) with him, like we went to the 21 Club after we won my first task...

HAMMER: It`s unbelievable, (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

GAFFORD: ... it`s like going out with Elvis. It`s really amazing.

HAMMER: Best of luck with whatever you`re doing next.

GAFFORD: Thank you so much.

HAMMER: John Gafford from "The Apprentice."

GAFFORD: Pleasure to be here.

HAMMER: Thanks for stopping by.

Karyn, back to you.

BRYANT: Time for more SHOWBIZ shorts.

Richard Hatch says it`s not his fault. The IRS is after him for paying taxes on a million dollars he won on "Survivor." Today Hatch said he didn`t pay the taxes because he thought CBS was going to. And he thinks the IRS is using him as a scapegoat.

Paul Newman`s blue, blue eyes are focused on retirement. Today, the 80-year-old actor said he`ll do one last movie and call it quits. He hinted that it might be a long-rumored reunion with Robert Redford.

HAMMER: Well, it certainly takes a lot to put on a fashion show, but one new designer got a bit of help from an unlikely source.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HAMMER (voice-over): It might look like just another fashion show, but this one`s special. The designer`s name is Kai Milla, and her husband, Stevie Wonder.

STEVE WONDER: I think she`s incredibly talented, and she`s got a very sweet spirit.

HAMMER: This is Kai Milla`s very first fashion show. But worried? No way. She`s got the talent for design.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very easy flow.

HAMMER: The eye for style.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Effortless, glamour-type look.

HAMMER: And the advice of her husband on her side. Yes, you heard right. Stevie helped pick out the fabrics.

WONDER: I like the way it feels. And so when she would bring things to me and ask me, like, How do you think that feels? How do you think this feels? And how does that feel? And that -- I think that she has naturally her way of picking out the warmest velvets and the coolest silks against the skin, and it`s a good thing. You know, this is not my business, but it`s my fun.

KAI MILLA: That`s true. You know, I have to tell you that a lot of the texture came from Steven. I know when we first met, he -- you remember, you sort of gave me this challenge of closing my eyes and then listening and feeling? So I did that. And it`s incredible, if you do that, you can really pick up a lot of stuff around you, and what things feels like, and what feels good on a woman`s body.

HAMMER: And for Stevie, her designs go a lot deeper than meets the eye.

WONDER: I think in those different textures that I`ve been able to feel, I think there`s true love in that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAMMER: Kai Milla says she designed her fashion line with a specific type of woman in mind, kind of a modern-day Jackie Onassis. Kind of like my friend Karyn.

BRYANT: Oh, yes. Jackie -- well, she would sport the pillbox hat, though.

HAMMER: It would be a little bit (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

BRYANT: Oh, have to work on one of those.

Oh, Boy. Boy George is mad at Madonna, and he`s not shy about saying why. We`ll take it to the buzz bench coming up.

HAMMER: Plus, get animated. "Robots" opened today. Should you plunk down the cash? We`ll find out, "People"`s picks and pans coming up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHAWN PYFROM: I`ve got all kinds of music in there, everything from, like, Ray Charles to Radiohead, Incubus. Right now, in my CD player is the Police.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMMER: I like the music. It`s got a buzz to it.

BRYANT: Yes, yes.

HAMMER: It is time now for the buzz bench. This is where we chat about the events that people are buzzing about. And we have lots to work with tonight. Michael Jackson in his PJs, the new "Star Wars," and Boy George`s issue with Madonna.

BRYANT: Joining us on the buzz bench, Lola Ogunnaike from "The New York Times," comedian and radio personality Frank DeCaro, and SHOWBIZ TONIGHT contributor Julia Boorstin, who covers the entertainment industry for "Fortune" magazine.

Let`s jump right in. I want to talk about Michael Jackson and the pajamas. What`s your take on that?

JULIA BOORSTIN, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Wacko Jacko. This is about as low as he has ever gone. I mean, we`ve seen crazy things from Michael Jackson before. But this is the most serious day potentially, the most serious day of his whole life, in terms of this trial. He shows up, and he has to steal the attention. He totally messed everything up, and any chance that the jury wasn`t going to think he was totally guilty is totally gone.

LOLA OGUNNAIKE, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": But I think that was part of his strategy. I think he wanted to distract from this damning testimony. So he`s, like, I`d rather look like a fashion victim than a pervert. And that`s why he showed up in these pajamas.

(CROSSTALK)

FRANK DECARO, COMEDIAN: But a fashion victim (UNINTELLIGIBLE), where was Joan and Melissa when you need them, you know what I mean?

(CROSSTALK)

DECARO: No, really, because I think they should be on Court TV instead of the TV Guide Channel, because, you know, I mean, those pajamas and Martha Stewart`s poncho are...

(CROSSTALK)

DECARO: ... way better than anything (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

(CROSSTALK)

BOORSTIN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that he`s crazy. I mean, he`s showing that he can`t even be taken seriously.

BRYANT: Do you think he`s going for an insanity plea here or something?

BOORSTIN: Well, I don`t even know if he`s sane enough to be trying to go for an insanity plea. I think he`s just totally lost his marbles.

BRYANT: Well, I do, what I don`t understand is how you don`t have time to find some slacks. I mean, that, to me, was what...

(CROSSTALK)

OGUNNAIKE: He hurt his back, so he couldn`t bend down to pull up his slacks. So he sort of just rolled out of bed or something like that.

HAMMER: I`m sure he has lots of people to help him with things like that.

(CROSSTALK)

BOORSTIN: But what I think is great is that, you know, the hair`s matted, he`s got on the pajamas, but he has time to put on lipstick.

(CROSSTALK)

DECARO: Margo Kidder, and, you know, and Anne Heche are going to call him up and say, Dude, you`re going a little far here, OK? You know, it`s a bit much.

HAMMER: All right. Well...

BRYANT: Moving on.

HAMMER: ... let`s move on, shall we? The "Star Wars" trailer for the brand-new and final "Star Wars" episode is going to be in theaters. It`s starting in theaters this weekend. And we`re hearing that the movie may get a PENTAGON-13 rating. You might not be able to bring the little ones, Frank.

DECARO: That`s what they`re saying. George Lucas is saying that the movie is dark. I don`t think it`s dark so much as it is dense. I, like, watched that trailer, like, three times now. I have no idea what I`m looking at.

(CROSSTALK)

BRYANT: What do you mean, you don`t know what you`re looking at?

(CROSSTALK)

BRYANT: Anakin goes to the Dark Side, that`s all you need to know.

DECARO: Yes, that`s the part I get. But there`s other stuff going on that I just look at and I`m confused.

BRYANT: (UNINTELLIGIBLE), you`ve got the emperor coming. I mean, you have the (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

BOORSTIN: Well, why would he be, why he would be messing with a good thing? I mean, he`s...

BRYANT: What`s missing?

BOORSTIN: ... he`s -- it`s worked five times. He`s got PENTAGON ratings, five times, and it`s gotten lots of people into theaters. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) if it`s darker, if it`s scarier, maybe it`s not going to be such a hit.

(CROSSTALK)

BOORSTIN: ... just go over the top and just make it rated R film...

(CROSSTALK)

OGUNNAIKE: ... C3pio going crazy.

(CROSSTALK)

DECARO: Get Tarantino to do this one, I would rather do that...

(CROSSTALK)

DECARO: ... I`m telling you.

OGUNNAIKE: You know, Bill, Anakin or something.

(CROSSTALK)

BRYANT: I don`t think it`s going to matter...

(CROSSTALK)

HAMMER: Yes, the fact is, people are going to...

(CROSSTALK)

HAMMER: ... going to go to the theater...

(CROSSTALK)

HAMMER: ... it`s going to be hugely successful.

(CROSSTALK)

BOORSTIN: It`s not going to matter at all.

DECARO: And it`s got to be better than those last two. I know it`s bad to say that, but the last one, what he said about...

BOORSTIN: And think about the 5- and 6-year-olds who are going to miss out. I mean, I remember watching some of the "Star Wars" when I was that age, and I think, you know...

(CROSSTALK)

BOORSTIN: Well, they see today, they see, like, rated R movies, and it`s fine. I mean...

(CROSSTALK)

DECARO: Darth Tater is the best thing.

(CROSSTALK)

DECARO: Yes, the -- when Mr. Potato Head dressed like Darth Vader, that`s the best thing to come out of this movie.

BRYANT: OK, well, I want to move on to Madonna and Boy George. They`re having a little bit of a tiff, Lola. Boy George is mad at Madonna because he says the fact that she`s into Kaballah, that is a religion that looks down upon gay (UNINTELLIGIBLE) homosexually, and that she has at times kissed women, and is she being a complete (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

OGUNNAIKE: He thinks she`s being a complete hypocrite. But this is Boy George`s whole M.O. He likes to go after people. He went after Elton John a few years ago because Elton John teamed up with Eminem for the Grammys. Him and Rupert Everett hate each other.

And now, you know, it`s Madonna. And he also took out his former boss, Rosie O`Donnell. He called her a Pottery Barn lesbian. And it`s sort of, like, OK, what is that supposed to mean? Like, are Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, like, Crate and Barrel lesbians? And, like, is Melissa Etheridge and k.d. lang, are those, like, Home Depot lesbians?

DECARO: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) naturally, yes, they are...

(CROSSTALK)

DECARO: ... vouch for that, they are.

BOORSTIN: And who is he to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to, excuse me, to determine who is more gay or any less gay? It`s kind of, like...

BOORSTIN: But it`s like he`s just looking for the attention. Any time he falls out of the public`s view, he just comes up with someone else to get angry at and someone else to pick at. And I think he`s just trying to get attention for his new clothing line that`s coming out.

(CROSSTALK)

BOORSTIN: I mean, no one would care about him anyways, so he might as well...

(CROSSTALK)

DECARO: ... Elton John has been saying, ever since the rude, vile pigs incident, I mean, it`s, like, Elton John has been foaming at the mouth (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Now, Boy George has got all this vitriol. Why can`t we all just get along...

(CROSSTALK)

HAMMER: Have a lovely weekend, buzz bench.

BRYANT: Well, thank you for joining us. Julia Boorstin of "Fortune" magazine, and also, of course, of SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. We`ve got Frank DeCaro, radio personality and comedian, and Lola Ogunnaike of "The New York Times." Thank you for joining us here on the buzz bench.

HAMMER: All right, guys.

Well, Ewan McGregor has a new movie out. He`s one of the voices in "Robots," and his appearance on Leno last night can be described as whimsical. You`ll see for yourself coming up in laughter dark.

BRYANT: Kevin Costner also has a new movie in theaters today. We`ll find out whether there`s a downside to "The Upside of Anger," coming up in "People"`s picks and pans.

HAMMER: Now, it`s time for tonight`s birthday shoutout. Johnny Knoxville, remember all those crazy stunts he did on MTV`s "Jackass"? Well, he turns 35 years old today. Shoutout from pop star Brie Larson.

BRIE LARSON: Hey, Johnny Knoxville, it`s Brie Larson. We met once. I don`t know if you remember me. But I want to wish you a happy birthday. And I loved you in "Walking Tall."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMMER: It is time now for "People" magazine`s movie picks and pans, "Hostage," "Robots," and "The Upside of Anger" are out in theaters today. But should you check them out this weekend?

Joining us now from "People" magazine, movie critic Leah Rozen.

Thanks for stopping by, Leah.

LEAH ROZEN, MOVIE CRITIC, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: You`re welcome.

HAMMER: What about this new Bruce Willis flick that`s out?

ROZEN: Well, are you Bruce Willis fans? If you`re a Bruce Willis fan, you`ll probably like it, because it`s Bruce as you know and love him. But it`s not a especially a great movie in any way. It`s generic, it`s formulaic, it`s Bruce Willis, police chief, has to save a hostage situation, and then his own family is taken hostage. It`s pretty much been there, done that.

HAMMER: But it`s a plot within a plot kind of a thing. It seems like a very interesting premise.

ROZEN: OK premise that they then throw way too many subplots at. And, you know, you can tell times have changed a little bit for Bruce in terms of a star. You know, in the old days, with Bruce Willis movies, they would blow up entire huge buildings.

HAMMER: Right.

ROZEN: Now we`re looking at one house.

HAMMER: OK.

ROZEN: You know, the budgets are coming down.

HAMMER: Big fancy house, though.

ROZEN: Big fancy house.

HAMMER: Let`s move on to "Robots," which has plenty of celebrity voices, Robin Williams among the top of the list.

ROZEN: Greg Kinnear, Ewan McGregor. This is a new animated film from the same folks who did "Ice Age" and children`s author William Joyce, also is the production designer. It`s about a bunch (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- a robot inventor, young robot inventor, goes to the big robot city. Looks cool, less filling.

HAMMER: Great family movie?

ROZEN: Adults are not going to be as thrilled as you were at, say, "Shrek." Kids are going to love it because kids love every movie they see.

HAMMER: And the effects are great.

All right, well, Kevin Costner back on the big screen. He described to us on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT the other day his character as being like a St. Bernard that goes around from backyard to backyard looking for food.

ROZEN: This is a good movie. "Upside of Anger" only opens in L.A. and New York this weekend, then it goes wider. But this is a terrific movie. Made for adults, funny, smart. Joan Allen plays a woman whose husband, presumably he disappears one day, presumably he`s left her. Kevin Costner`s next-door neighbor, he puts the moves on her. She is so angry at her ex-husband, sort of things get. But very funny, and Costner`s great. He plays an ex-ball player. He should always play baseball players in movies. When he plays ball players, "Bull Durham," "Field of Dreams," good movie.

HAMMER: It works. OK, great. We always appreciate your insight, Leah. Leah Rozen from "People" magazine. And, of course, for more picks and pans, you can check out this week`s "People" magazine, which is on newsstands everywhere.

BRYANT: So there`s this giant inflatable ball, and Kelly Ripa decides to, well, you`ll just have to see it for yourself. That is coming up in talk of the day.

And there`s still time for you to sound off in tonight`s SHOWBIZ showdown question of the day. "The Apprentice," is it a better show than "Survivor"? You can vote at cnn.com/showbiztonight, or e-mail us what`s on your mind, showbiztonight@cnn.com. We`ll read some of your thoughts next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRYANT: They have been talking all day, and we`ve been listening. Now, as we do every night on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, the best from today`s talk shows.

HAMMER: Well, if there was ever any doubt that Kelly Ripa is a kid at heart, that doubt should be gone now, after today`s "Live with Regis and Kelly."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LIVE WITH REGIS AND KELLY")

KELLY RIPA, HOST: I`ll be right in.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go. She knows she -- It takes no training whatsoever.

REGIS PHILBIN, HOST: How you doing in there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ready to roll?

RIPA: This is the greatest toy ever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get it ready to be (UNINTELLIGIBLE) push from the other side.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.

PHILBIN: Where is she?

RIPA: I`m right here, my big man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: You got to believe Regis wishes he had a giant pin and he could have just popped that thing with her in there.

Time now to get your laugh on in laughter dark. As we do every night, it`s what I was thinking...

BRYANT: OK.

HAMMER: ... we bring you the late night laughs you just might have missed.

BRYANT: "Robots" star Ewan McGregor stopped by the "Tonight" show last night and brought a few props along for kicks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "TONIGHT WITH JAY LENO")

EWAN MCGREGOR: What dogs like to do on fire hydrants, (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

JAY LENO, HOST: Now, what you are doing? Look, let`s -- You know something, you know, something?

(CROSSTALK)

LENO: Fortunately, I am more immature than you are, so...

MCGREGOR: Are you talking to me?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRYANT: Throughout the show, we`ve been asking you to vote on our SHOWBIZ showdown question of the day. Is "The Apprentice" a better show than "Survivor"? Let`s take a look at how the vote is going to far. Well, it looks like we have more "Survivor" fans out there, 44 percent of you say "The Apprentice" is the better show, 56 percent of you say "Survivor" is better.

And we also got this e-mail. Sharon from Hillsboro, Oregon, agrees that "Survivor" is more realistic. "`The Apprentice` is an ego trip and boring."

Now, remember, you can continue to vote at cnn.com/showbiztonight.

HAMMER: Well, it is time to find out what`s playing on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT next week. Let`s take a look at the SHOWBIZ marquee.

ANNOUNCER: Playing Monday, we play and go bowling with Ciara. You`ll be on pins and needles for this one. We spared no expense sending A.J. and Ciara out on the town. That`s just how we roll here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. Ciara`s debut record puts her in a whole new league. Life in the fast lane with Ciara. Get the picture, get the frame, Monday on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

Also Monday, U2 gets its due. A big night for Bono and the boys, as they`re inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT rocks. We`re they`re live, Monday.

Playing Tuesday. John Stamos live. He was Uncle Jesse before the Olsen twins were cool. Now, he`s back with a brand-new, cool show. And he`s on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, Tuesday. Cool.

BRYANT: A.J., can you bowl?

HAMMER: I can bowl. And I actually came up with a bowling song. You`ll have to watch next week to hear it.

HAMMER: Really? Oh, we`ll have to watch. I can`t be here. I think I have to watch.

That`s it for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. We`ll see you back here Monday. I`ll show up. "NANCY GRACE" is next, right after the very latest from Headline News.

HAMMER: Now, before we go, we want to say goodbye and good luck to CNN financial editor Myron Kandel, one of the nicest men in the world...

BRYANT: Love him.

HAMMER: ... who`s retiring after 25 years here at CNN. Myron, we wish you all the best.

BRYANT: Bravo.

HAMMER: Have a nice weekend.

END


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