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Story Behind Plot to Kidnap David Letterman`s Son

Aired March 18, 2005 - 19:00:00   ET


A.J. HAMMER, CO-HOST: The story behind the plot to kidnap David Letterman`s son.
KARYN BRYANT, CO-HOST: And a starry night in Vegas, Sin City packed with A-listers. I`m Karyn Bryant.

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

BRYANT: Tonight, new details about the Letterman kidnap plot, how a Montana man planned to take Letterman`s son and why. The latest, live.

HAMMER: Vegas, baby! Why Drew Barrymore, Matt Damon and Jennifer Aniston hit Vegas. And why Brad Pitt was on stage with Angelina Jolie. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT was there.




BRYANT: You know the voice, now meet the man. From "Stuttering John" to the "Tonight" show, what it`s like to be John Melendez. John lets SHOWBIZ TONIGHT into his life.

HAMMER: Monty Python looks for the Holy Grail on Broadway. We`ll tell you what brought them back together.

BRYANT: 50 Cent gets game. We`ve got your early look at 50`s "Bulletproof" video game and other hip-hop stars who are grabbing the controls.


50 CENT, HIP HOP ARTIST: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I`m 50 Cent. And if it happened today, it`s on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT tonight. (UNINTELLIGIBLE)


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: Tonight, new and frightening details behind the story of the man accused of plotting to kidnap David Letterman`s son.

BRYANT: "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s" David Haffenreffer is live tonight outside the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York, where Letterman tapes "The Late Show" -- David.

DAVID HAFFENREFFER, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT: Karyn and A.J., this afternoon, some -- a press conference, rather, held by Teton County officials to give new details of the plot. It seems the man who was accused of planning to kidnap 16-month-old Harry Joseph Letterman had a checkered past that included allegations of not only stalking but even kidnapping a former girlfriend.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) (voice-over): Ex-con Kelly Frank was arrested Sunday and charged yesterday with hatching a plot to kidnap Letterman`s only child and nanny. Frank was a handyman who was hired to paint buildings on Letterman`s 2,700-acre ranch in Teton County, Montana. Police say Frank had keys to Letterman`s house and even found out what room the baby slept in. Officials say he planned on capturing the boy and nanny, then leave a ransom note demanding $5 million.

JOE COBLE, TETON COUNTY ATTORNEY: He intended to have the nanny be the caretaker for his -- for Mr. Letterman`s son while they were held in captivity.

HAFFENREFFER: He was never able to go through with the plan. It was foiled after a friend of Frank`s went to the cops, saying he was approached to be an accomplice. It`s unclear where Letterman was yesterday when the charges were filed. Letterman`s been out of sight since Wednesday, but late yesterday, he and Regina Lasko, his girlfriend, who`s also the child`s mother, released a statement thanking law enforcement officials for unraveling the plot. "The Late Show" has preempted most of this week due to CBS`s coverage of the NCAA championship.

(END VIDEOTAPE) And tonight, Kelly Frank sits in a Montana jail on a $600,000 bail. His next court appearance is set for Tuesday, March 22. A.J., back to you.

HAMMER: Thanks very much, David. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s David Haffenreffer, live in New York City -- Karyn.

BRYANT: "Star Wars" news tonight, as some of the biggest stars in the world hit Sin City. They`re gambling that movie theater owners will think they`ve got the hottest flicks coming down the pike, and they`re doing it at the annual ShoWest convention. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Brooke Anderson is just back from Vegas, and she joins us live now in Hollywood -- Brooke.

BROOKE ANDERSON, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT: Hi, Karyn. ShoWest is a trade show. It`s where Hollywood studios highlight their summer movies for theater owners and exhibitors. They preview the upcoming films, trying to drum up excitement and anticipation. But this year, one movie that needed no help at all, "Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) (voice-over): The force was with George Lucas in Sin City. The "Star Wars" creator previewed his upcoming final Jedi adventure, "Revenge of the Sith." And SHOWBIZ TONIGHT was there when he also picked up, what else, the Showest Galactic Achievement Award.

(on camera): Congratulations, Galactic Achievement Award winner. That`s just brand-new. They made up this award just for you.

GEORGE LUCAS, "STAR WARS": Well, yes, it`s a way of acknowledging that all six films are basically one film and that they`re sort of celebrating the whole saga of "Star Wars," rather than just episode three.

ANDERSON (voice-over): I had to go one step further and ask him to give up some secret info behind the Sith. (on camera): How dark is this film? Many people are thinking it may not get a PG rating.

LUCAS: It`s got more heads rolling, more arms getting cut off, more people getting cut in half, so it`s a little bit more intense.

ANDERSON (voice-over): And intense was the buzz around , AKA Anakin Skywalker, who was named Male Star of Tomorrow.

(on camera): Male Star of Tomorrow -- what does that mean to you?


ANDERSON: But aren`t you a star today, too?

CHRISTENSEN: Apparently not. Apparently, it`s tomorrow.

ANDERSON: You`ve got to wait?

CHRISTENSEN: Wait until the clock strikes 12:00.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Hours before 12:00, Matt Damon picked up Male Star of the Year for 2004`s "The Bourne Supremacy" and "Ocean`s 12." I asked him about the last time he was here.

MATT DAMON, MALE STAR OF THE YEAR: I got Male Star of Tomorrow, you know, like, seven years ago. I don`t know where it is.

ANDERSON: So this is, like, the sequel?

DAMON: Yes. Exactly.


DAMON: They gave me Male Star of Tomorrow, so the next day, I came back and everybody was gone. Seven years later, I get the other one.

ANDERSON (voice-over): But ShoWest isn`t just for the boys. One of "Charlie`s Angels," Drew Barrymore, at the ripe age of, 30 was honored for a Distinguished Decade of Achievement in Film. Jessica Biel was named Female Star of Tomorrow, and "Along Came Polly`s" Jennifer Aniston was awarded Female Star of the Year.

JENNIFER ANISTON, FEMALE STAR OF THE YEAR: I love what I do. I have a great time. We work with amazing people.

ANDERSON: We did not see Jen and Brad together, but earlier in the day, at the Fox presentation, Pitt did hit the stage with Angelina Jolie to introduce a preview of their summer film, "Mr. And Mrs. Smith." But in the end, all that the stars wanted was more "Star Wars."

DAMON: I also wanted to say thank you to George Lucas and just let you know that I`m available for seven, eight, and nine.


ANDERSON: George Lucas told me there will not be a seventh, eighth or ninth "Star Wars" movie. Sorry, Matt. But "Star Wars" fans, we`ve got some big news about what Lucas is planning to do with the re-release of the original movies. I`ll have details on that and I`ll have more of my interview with Lucas later on in the show -- Karyn.

BRYANT: Thank you, Brooke Anderson in Los Angeles.

HAMMER: Well, it`s time for "SHOWBIZ Shorts," a look at other stories that are making news tonight. More awards could be coming "Ray`s" way. The movie has seven nominations for tomorrow`s NAACP Image Awards. Jamie Foxx is again nominated for Best Actor. Usher leads the music category with five nominations. And the awards will be airing on March 25. Changes in the works for another awards show. Today we learned that the Emmys could look a little bit different this year. Some writing and directed awards may be handed out early, and the award for Best Reality Series might be included in the main ceremony. Industry guilds and the TV networks have to approve the changes.

BRYANT: Drinking, dancing, disco? In celebration of Marc Jacobs`s dazzling new LA digs, it was a celebrity lovefest last night. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT got the invite, and we`re taking you to the party that brought all of Hollywood to a halt.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love Marc Jacobs. He`s an incredible guy, and he has an incredible sense of history.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s one of my favorite designers.

SELMA BLAIR: He`s very civic-minded. He`s a loving person, so talented, so -- so prolific with his creations.

BRYANT (voice-over): And he created a party that Amber Voletta (ph), Mischa Barton (ph), Caroline Murphy (ph), Hilary and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and Chis Kattan just had to attend.

TORI SPELLING: For years, it`s been, like, I wish they had a store here. I mean, when I get to New York, I can`t wait to go to the Marc Jacobs boutique.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think, you know, LA is missing out as far as -- as far as all the great fashion and -- so it`s really wonderful to have great designers like this in LA. It`s really important.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m so happy that he`s finally come to LA. It`s about time.

BRYANT: The hordes that showed up had to fight their way into the party.

MARILYN MANSON: Yes, we had a military escort. I really did. A few pedestrians were injured, but that`s, well, my fault. Got to break some eggs to make an omelet.

BRYANT: Even Marc Jacobs was impressed with the turnout.

MARC JACOBS, FASHION DESIGNER: I still can`t believe all these people came out with a store with my name on it, you know? It just, like, blows my mind.


BRYANT: The Marc Jacobs party benefited the Film Foundation. Marc himself donated $100,000.

HAMMER: Well, Martha Stewart isn`t wasting any time getting back on TV. You may have heard she`s going to star in her own version of "The Apprentice." But is it a good idea? Well, that`s the debate coming up in our "SHOWBIZ Showdown."

BRYANT: Plus, a Monty Python musical opens on Broadway. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has your front row seat for "Spamalot." That`s coming up. Now tonight`s "Entertainment Weekly" "Great American Pop Culture Quiz." Who played the pain-obsessed dentist in the 1986 film version of "Little Shop of Horrors?" Was it John Goodman, Steve Martin, Nathan Lane or Jeff Daniels? We`ll be right back with the answer.


BRYANT: Welcome back. So again, tonight`s "Entertainment Weekly" "Great American Pop Culture Quiz." Who played the pain-obsessed dentist in the 1986 film version of "Little Shop of Horrors?" Was it John Goodman, Steve Martin, Nathan Lane or Jeff Daniels? The answer is B for brilliant. It is Steve Martin.

HAMMER: It is 12 minutes past the hour and time for our Friday night "SHOWBIZ Showdown," and it`s all about Martha Stewart. Well, now that the domestic diva is out of prison, she, of course, is trying to reinvigorate the media empire that bears her name. And she`s even signed on with Mark Burnett and Donald Trump to have a reality show based on "The Apprentice" series. But is that a smart move? So tonight`s hot topic, "The Apprentice, Martha Stewart," is it a good idea?

Joining us live in New York, attorney John Lawrence Allen, who has been closely following the Martha saga. He says, No, "The Apprentice, Martha Stewart" not a good idea, and SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Julia Boorstin, who covers the entertainment industry for "Fortune" magazine, says, Yes, "The Apprentice, Martha Stewart" is a good idea. So Julia, let`s start with you. Why is it a good thing?

JULIA BOORSTIN, "FORTUNE": Well, America is obsessed with Martha Stewart. We love learning about her. We love learning about how she survived in prison. And I think this is a fantastic way for people to actually get to know her. Martha`s challenge is now is to convince people that she`s is a real person and that everything that she went through going to prison is actually legit. And now people are going to want to see how she thinks, how she runs this brilliant business of hers and what she`s going to do next. And this is a fantastic way for her to show people a little insight into her mind and her life.

HAMMER: Well, counsel, you disagree. Why is this a bad thing?

JOHN LAWRENCE ALLEN, ATTORNEY: I think the show`s going to start off with very large numbers, but I think what`s going to happen is as people get to see who Martha really is, the image of the stoic, very demanding, very perfectionistic type of person I don`t think is going to play well to the audience. Secondly, it`s a risk for not only Martha, but for NBC to try to do a clone of "The Apprentice" show. Is Martha going to be soft? Is she going to be tough? If she`s tough, I think she`s going to start losing the audience after the show airs for a while. I think the numbers will start big, but I think they`re going to fall off when people see the real Martha Stewart.

HAMMER: Julia, let`s talk about her personality for a moment because, yes, if she doesn`t take on sort of that tough image, the one that she`s trying to shed, it`s going to be a little less interesting to the viewers.

BOORSTIN: Well, I actually think that Martha isn`t trying to be softer, she`s trying to be more real. Her decision to go to prison wasn`t to show that she was a nice girl, it was to show that she was a normal, regular woman. She`s owning up to her actions, and she was being a real person and really human. And so I think that this show isn`t going to be about Martha showing that she`s stoic and that she`s really tough, it`s going to show that she`s fair and she`s real. And I think that this show`s going to give her an opportunity to do that. I also think that it`s not that big of a risk from NBC`s perspective because they know that they will get those big numbers up front, and I think that people will come back, intrigued to see how Martha does play and how she runs her business. I think that she`ll be attracting a very different kind of viewer than Donald Trump did.

ALLEN: Well, you know, running a business is a lot different than doing a television show. And let`s not forget that Martha committed a felony to cover up an infraction. You know, a traffic ticket was what she really was responsible for, and she ended up going to prison for committing a felony. And I think the image that she has is tarnished, starting with the show, and...

BOORSTIN: It`s tarnished, but America loves these resurrections. America loves her more because she did go off to prison.

ALLEN: They love a comeback story, and I think the show`s going to start with big numbers, but then after that, if they really see how Martha runs things -- and I don`t know her personally, but the buzz on her is she`s very, very domineering, she`s extremely perfectionistic, she`s very controlling. And I think that if the audience see the way she acts -- the way she allegedly acts in her real life...

BOORSTIN: But what about her creative energy? I mean, I think that this is a country that`s obsessed with nesting. And I mean, look at the success of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy." I think that this show`s going to be probably a lot more similar to that in terms of looking at the way that she believes things should be done creatively in the house and the home with cooking, et cetera. And people are going to be curious, you know, what her approach is to that. I`m she`s really going to be taking people into her home and showing them the way -- not just the way she runs the business, but also the way she approaches these creative challenges.

ALLEN: I really don`t...

HAMMER: John? John, I know you want to jump in there. We got to end it there, though. We`re out of time.


HAMMER: And I appreciate you both chiming in on the subject. The discussion will continue. We appreciate you both joining us tonight for the "SHOWBIZ Showdown." John Lawrence Allen, attorney, and SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Julia Boorstin, who also covers the entertainment industry for "Fortune" magazine. Appreciate you being on the show.

And now, of course, we would like to know your thoughts. Our hot topic debate leads to the "SHOWBIZ Showdown" question of the day. "The Apprentice, Martha Stewart": Is it a good idea? What do you think? Take the poll by going to, or send us an e-mail at And we`ll share some of what you had to say later in the show.

BRYANT: You may not know his name, but you probably know his voice. The announcer for the "Tonight" show invites us along for the ride and shows us what it`s like to be him. That`s coming up.

HAMMER: Plus, is the new "Star Wars" movie a chick flick? we get some secrets from George Lucas. That`s coming up.


HAMMER: They`ve 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. It`s bad school photo day on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."


ELLEN DEGENERES, HOST: What happened is, we were sent a bad school photo of a cute little boy named Joseph Grutadaria (ph) or something like that. And this is the photo his mom sent in.


DEGENERES: Yes. And so after that, we said, well, we have to have a tournament for sure because everybody must have a bad school photo. And if you don`t, let me remind you about a little thing called denial.


DEGENERES: So here`s another we got today. This is Mikey from Marietta, Georgia.


DEGENERES: I think that other little kid could have been crying on his, too. Let`s see his. Look at that.



HAMMER: I think I had the poofy hair in mine. I bet yours was really cute, though.

BRYANT: Well, I don`t know. You`d have to ask my mom. Well, you might remember him as "Stuttering John" from "The Howard Stern Show." Well, he lost the stutter and gained a job as the announcer on the "Tonight" show with jay Leno. Does this sound familiar?


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


BRYANT: Yup, that`s the classic John Melendez two-finger salute. But SHOWBIZ TONIGHT got to see a little bit more of John. We spent the day with him in LA, and we`re giving you an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at what it`s like to be John Melendez.


MELENDEZ: You know, television adds about 200 pounds. I look like a big Jabba the Hutt half the time, so I try and jog every day. Already after only three minutes, 22 calories burned. I`ve burned off about one asparagus spear so far. My beautiful wife, Suzanna (ph). Suzanna. She`s everything to me. Without her, I`d still be -- I`d still be -- I`d still be -- I`d still be stuttering. It`s off to the "Tonight" show with Jay Leno! All right! We`re ready to go!

Working at the Stern show was fun, and I just -- you know, but we didn`t know if Howard was leaving, who knew it was going to happen? So when I -- so this opportunity came up, I was, like, Oh, my God. The problem is, I -- you know, I`m a stutterer. They don`t want to make fun of stutterers and have the announcer be someone stuttering, as funny as it might be. And I had to go and -- you know, and do a bunch of announcements and show them that I could do that, you know, without, you know, stuttering.

There is a warm-up that you do that really helps me to get, you know, the voice. There we go. From sunny Burbank, California, it`s the "Tonight" show with Jay Leno! How was that? There`s the man himself, actual size. The treadmill was (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Now, look at that, my name on the door. This is the sheet I get every day. This is the announce. This is who`s on tonight -- Steve Irwin, Sandra Oh, and then Joss Stone. Hello, tour people! I`m the announcer of the "Tonight" show. It`s the "Tonight" show with Jay Leno! I look skinnier in person, don`t I? Now let`s get some in and out (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Go ahead, tell him how much you love me.


MELENDEZ: See that? See, every day, I come in here and eat because we always have this just incredibly enlightening conversation, like we`re having now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So today, I think (UNINTELLIGIBLE), I think you should give the old two-finger salute.

MELENDEZ: You know, Jay (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I`m so happy about it because he says, you know, Say hello to John Melendez. So you know, it`s a weird thing, like, when you say, Hey, say hello to John Melendez, you don`t want to go -- you know, you don`t want to go -- however you do it, it looks stupid, like, you know -- so I was doing this for a while, until every (UNINTELLIGIBLE) goofing me about it, so now I`m -- and now I`m doing this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please say hello to John Melendez!

MELENDEZ: See, now, you don`t want to do -- you don`t want to do that because some people aren`t into peace. Too goofy. Too cool. Now we`ll go down to my dressing room. You know, I come in here -- see, they have the -- these are the clothes I`ll be, like, wearing tonight. Hey, look. Look. I mean, this just amazing. I would never in -- this is a Prada suit. I would never buy this! This is the same makeup room that Johnny Carson used to get his hair done.

It`s the "Tonight" show with Jay Leno, feature Kevin Eubanks and the "Tonight" show band! And I`m John Melendez! Tonight, Jay welcomes "The Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin. From "Sideways," Sandra Oh, the music of Joss Stone. Now here`s Jay Leno!

JAY LENO, HOST: Say hello to John Melendez.


BRYANT: John told SHOWBIZ TONIGHT he spent a lot of time Googling waving techniques but still does not feel completely happy with his two- finger wave -

A.J. HAMMER: Are you going to figure out something to do with the fingers for our show?


HAMMER: Never mind.

BRYANT: I`ve got a couple ideas.

HAMMER: Which modern actress would be best with the silver bracelets and the "golden lasso of truth"? The creator of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is bringing "Wonder Woman" to the big screen, and we`re going to bring that to the "Buzz Bench," coming up.

BRYANT: Plus, in the old days, if you had a quarter, you could play a video game. Nowadays, 50 cent is in the video game. My, how times have changed! Your look at hip-hop games, coming up.



HAMMER: Bright on Broadway, a big buzz on the Great White Way. Monty Python`s "Spamalot," the curtain goes up and stars come out.

BRYANT: And "Star wars," we track down creator George Lucas and get firsthand secrets about the last "Star Wars" movie.

GEORGE LUCAS: I`m George Lucas. If it happened today, it`s on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

BRYANT: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. It`s 30 minutes past the hour. I`m Karyn Bryant and I`ve got everything under control.

HAMMER: It`s Friday night and we`re excited. I`m AJ Hammer. Here are tonight`s hot headlines.

BRYANT: More details about this afternoon about the alleged plot to kidnap David Letterman`s son. The Montana Teton County Sheriff`s office said today that Kelly Frank, the man charged with coming up with the idea, wanted to kidnapped Harry Letterman`s nanny, too, so she would take care of the little boy.

HAMMER: They won the west. ShoWest crowned Matt Damon male star of 2004. "The Bourne Supremacy" and "Oceans Twelve," Drew Barrymore was honored for a distinguished decade of achievement in film. ShoWest is a yearly get together for movie business types.

BRYANT: We`ve been asking you to vote on tonight`s showbiz showdown question of the day, "The Apprentice Martha Stewart," is it a good idea? Keep on voting at and send your e-mails to We`ll share some of what you had to say at 55 past the hour.

HAMMER: We have more "Star Wars" news for you right now. In just two months, the final chapter in the "Star Wars" saga will hit theaters. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Brooke Anderson is back with us live from Hollywood. She had the chance to chat with George Lucas at the ShoWest convention in Las Vegas and Brooke, I understand there`s some 3-D news about "Star Wars."

BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There is indeed AJ, "Star Wars" in 3-D. George Lucas, who`s always ahead of the game when it comes to special effects, announced he`ll remaster and re-release all the "Star Wars" movie in 3-D. The first one should be ready in time for "Stars Wars" 30th anniversary in 2007. He wowed the crowd by unveiling the latest in technology that converts any 2-D movie to 3-D, and now about episode 3, his latest film, I spoke with Lucas in Las Vegas about that and this chapter in his life. He told me "The Revenge of the Sith" may have movie goers reaching for their hankies.


GEORGE LUCAS, "STAR WARS" DIRECTOR: It`s a much more emotional film. It`s a tear jerker. Most women that have seen it so far have been crying at the end, so that`s a good thing for me. But it`s very different.

ANDERSON: Are you worried or do you even think about the critics and what they are going to say because this is it, the culmination?

LUCAS: The critics never liked my movies at all. They sort of liked "American Graffiti" and that was about it. So you know, I`m not too worried about that.

ANDERSON: That hasn`t stopped you?

LUCAS: No, I mean, you don`t think about that part.

ANDERSON: Are you sad that "Star Wars" is coming to an end?

LUCAS: No, I`m happy. You know, I`m very happy that I was able to finish it and start something you know is going to go on for 10 years, you hope that you can accomplish it and complete it. So I`ve done that part which is great.


ANDERSON: AJ, Lucas told me he`s now looking forward to making smaller, more experimental films, films he says people don`t really go see, but you can imagine millions will go see "Revenge of the Sith" when it is released May 19th. Back to you.

HAMMER: Thanks a lot Brooke, interesting to hear that he`s ready to move on. It`s SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Brooke Anderson, live in Los Angeles and I know, Karyn, you are marking the days off on your calendar.

BRYANT: Yeah. I`m going to have to find a midnight showing, it`s that crucial to me.

Well, "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" goes Broadway. Last night was the star-studded opening night for "Spamalot" the musical. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s David Haffenreffer was there and joins us live again from the heart of New York City. David.

DAVID HAFFENREFFER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Karyn. It was the first time in seven years that the surviving Python members were all together on the same stage and of course it all goes back to that 1975 film, "The Holy Grail."


HAFFENREFFER (voice-over): They`re a silly, rumpled group of knights on a quest for the Holy Grail. They ride around on pretend horses while knocking coconuts together and often break into spontaneous song. That`s why it`s no surprise that the Holy Grail has come to Broadway.

In the musical, "Frazier`s" David Hyde Pierce performs many Python fans favorite scenes. Including Sir Robin, not-quite-so-brave-as Sir Lancelot, played in the movie by Python member Eric Idle. It was his idea to take the show to Broadway. You must feel like you`ve just given birth.

ERIC IDLE: Oh no, no, no, there`s quite a lot of difference between that feeling, I can assure you. Wait a minute, no, no, no.

HAFFENREFFER: And you can give him credit for the musical`s witty lyrics.

IDLE: I`d just like to invite some chaps from Britain.

HAFFENREFFER: All five surviving members of Monty Python were there to watch their movie come to life on Broadway. John Cleese, who played Sir Lancelot in the movie, was thrilled.

JOHN CLEESE: The music, the songs the lyrics are tremendously clever even for someone as deaf as myself.

HAFFENREFFER: Hank Azaria plays Lancelot in the musical. Are you a big Python fan?

HANK AZARIA: I`m such a huge fan that it`s actually hard for me to stand here right now. I`m like one of those geeky, trying not to repeat every line to you and drive you insane.

HAFFENREFFER: Insane, with a silliness only "Spamalot" can deliver.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s the kind of extraordinary joy about the silliness of it that makes us feel better in the world that we live in at the moment.


HAFFENREFFER: And the reviews on last night`s performance are in, and they`re not so bad. "USA Today" gave the musical three out of four stars, calling it some of the funniest antics to be introduced on Broadway since "The Producers". The "New York Times" Karyn, called it quote, resplendently silly. I think we might have a hit on our hands.

BRYANT: Absolutely, David Haffenreffer reporting, thank you very much.

HAMER: It is time for more showbiz shorts. The Back Street Boys, Black-Eyed Peas, Lauren Hill and Wycliffe Jean all took the stage today. They performed in Malaysia at the Force of Nature concert. All proceeds from the event went to long-term tsunami relief.

And more tsunami fund-raising tonight. In the hood, 100 celebrities, including Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx have signed a racing car hood. The NASCAR item will be auctioned off on eBay over the next 10 days starting today. The money is going to operation USA. That`s an organization that responds to national disasters.

BRYANT: Hilary, you`ve got mail and it`s coming from the land of the "Lord of the Rings." What is it? Our buzz bench knows.

HAMMER: And speaking of rings, it`s "The Ring 2" but will it ring up registers at the box office? A look at films opening this weekend, people`s picks and pans coming up.


TONY HALE: I`m Tony Hale and I`m wearing Hugo Boss, because (INAUDIBLE) Hugo Boss nice, nice, (INAUDIBLE) Hugo Boss fashion show and it fits me, which is always a plus because after your 30s, your metabolism stops, and you always look (INAUDIBLE) a little pudgy.



BRYANT: Time for tonight`s buzz bench, where the big stories of the day take center stage. Tonight, George Lucas` teary-eyed "Star Wars," Buffy`s" creator looks for the next Wonder Woman and Hilary Swank`s getting a long distance decision.

HAMMER: Joining us on the buzz bench tonight, "Time" magazine`s Christopher John Farley, "Entertainment Weekly`s" Jessica Shaw and radio show host Frank Decaro. Going to start with you tonight, Frank, for Friday, George Lucas talking about a tear jerker for this last "Star Wars." Are you going to bring the tissue box to the movies?

FRANK DECARO, RADIO HOST: Oh, I`m going to bring several boxes of tissues. He says it`s going to be "Titanic" in space. Does that mean it`s going to be a disaster? What does it mean? It used to be such a nice movie about a girl with cinnamon rolls on her head in space and it was like this (INAUDIBLE) and now it`s so sort of bogged down in all this other stuff.

JESSICA SHAW: But if (INAUDIBLE) drowns, I`m a happy person. That would work well.

CHRISTOPHER JOHN FARLEY, TIME MAGAZINE: If you`re going to copy popular movies, why not copy like the "Lord of the Rings?" How about Hobbits with light sabers. I would see that.

BRYANT: It`s hobbitesque? C`mon.

SHAW: The problem is that George Lucas has decided this movie is going to be PG-13, which is such a horrible idea. Who are the people going to see this movie? They`re not you (INAUDIBLE). It`s the 10-year-olds and 12-year-olds.

BRYANT: Their parents will still take them. I just think with the tearjerker thing - he said it`s going to be like.


BRYANT: But he said it`s going to have more romance and it`s going to be a tragedy is what he said.

DECARO: It better have more of something because those last two were (INAUDIBLE).


HAMMER: Are you a "Star Wars" fan, Christopher?

FARLEY: I am a "Star Wars" fan. But I think that romance is not going to jerk tears from kids. Kids cry when you take away their Playstation. They don`t cry when a romance doesn`t work out on screen.

HAMMER: I love that George Lucas is very satisfied no matter what the critics say. He said he made exactly the movie that he wanted to make and he`s ready to move on.

SHAW: That`s what you say when all the critics hate your last two movies.


SHAW: And he needs money so.

BRYANT: Things are hard over there at the ranch. So Jessica, I want to move on, Josh Whedon, who is the creator of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," is thinking, is signed on to do a "Wonder Woman" movie now. OK, so this has been in the works for a longtime, but now it looks like it`s actually going to happen. Who would you cast as "Wonder Woman?

SHAW: Oh, well, first of all, I just think Josh Whedon is such a perfect choice. He (INAUDIBLE) but he doesn`t take himself too seriously. I was thinking for a while, who would be a great "Wonder Woman" and I thought, well, Jennifer Connelly. She`s really pretty. She sort of looks like her, Jennifer Garner, (INAUDIBLE) Jennifer Garner, totally screwed it up for herself by being Electra, so I`ve come to a decision. I think you.


SHAW: Personally, I can see you with the magic lasso.

BRYANT: You`ve seen me. that would be great.

FARLEY: Electra was a bomb, "Cat Woman" was a bomb, but I think this is going to work because "Wonder Woman" has that magic lasso to force people to tell the truth. So they have a perfect super-villain, for her, major league baseball. Mark McGwire (INAUDIBLE). I would watch that.

DECARO: She has the best accessories in superherodom (INAUDIBLE) those bracelets (INAUDIBLE).


BRYANT: There was talk years ago that it was going to be Sandra Bullock.

HAMMER: I`m thinking Kirstie Alley.


BRYANT: We`ll see. But I think it`s going to be exciting. Hopefully it will work out.

DECARO: (INAUDIBLE) Kim Bassinger and Sandra Bullock? I think younger.

BRYANT: Angelina Jolie would have been good if she hadn`t already done Lara Croft.

SHAW: A lot of these actresses have already sort of dipped in that well and don`t want to go there.

FARLEY: Who`s throwing around Kim Bassinger`s name? Maybe only Kim Bassinger (INAUDIBLE) throwing her name (INAUDIBLE).

HAMMER: One name that could wind up in the hat is Oscar winner Hilary Swank. Let`s segue on Christopher talking about the fact that she brought an apple into New Zealand. You don`t do that. They don`t have bugs in New Zealand because people aren`t allowed to bring in the apple. She got fined $150. She wrote a letter say I don`t want to pay it, now waiting for the response, by mail.

FARLEY: This story kind of confused me because she seemed too smart to make the mistake of bringing fresh fruit into New Zealand, so I think that maybe Annette Bening was behind it. That`s my theory. If you see her get caught next time with a load of kumquats, you know that Annette Bening is up to something. She`s trying to lay the groundwork for the next Oscars and eliminate the competition. That`s my theory.

SHAW: It almost got her in jail. Don`t you kind of feel like, pay the $150, honey?

HAMMER: She was going to spend thousands to send lawyers over to fight it, but she sent this letter.

DECARO: You just carry chocolate bars in your purse like a normal person and then you don`t have to worry about it.


BRYANT: It is sort of silly, the whole thing, the putting it in the mail, making her wait. I don`t understand why you couldn`t just call her and tell her what the deal is.


SHAW: Is the suspense not killing you?

HAMMER: That`s going to be a rap for the buzz bench for tonight. Have a nice weekend everybody and thanks for pitching in. Of course we have "Time" magazine`s Christopher John Farley, "Entertainment Weekly"`s Jessica Shaw and radio host extraordinaire Frank Decaro.

BRYANT: All right. Well, Woody Allen`s new movie is out this weekend. And "The Ring" sequel is out too. Should you see them? You`ll find out in "People`s" picks and pans next.

HAMMER: And hip-hoppers are hopping on the videogame bandwagon. 50 Cent tells us why he`s cashing in. That`s in the game room.

Now it`s time for tonight`s birthday shout-out. Dana Owens -- you know her as Queen Latifah - she turns 35 years old today. The shout out comes from "NYPD Blue`s" star, (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m just saying happy birthday. Enjoy your time. Have a fabulous day. Wear like fancy clothes and dripping with diamonds and have a cake and maybe a cute boy, too.


BRYANT: Time now for "People" magazine`s movie picks and pans. "The Ring 2," "Ice Princess," and "Melinda and Melinda" are out in theaters today. Should you check them out? Well, joining us from "People" magazine is movie critic Leah Rozen. Leah, we want to start with "The Ring 2." Is it any good?

LEAH ROZEN, MOVIE CRITIC, PEOPLE MAGAZINE: Ring a ding ding or ring a ding dong, sort of in between. This one they pretty much jettisoned the video that will kill you which was the big plot point last time. Mostly it`s just that ghostly the girl Samara coming after Naomi Watts` son. So there`s some visually very strong scenes. They have the same Japanese director who did the original (INAUDIBLE), the Japanese film that the first ring was based on. He`s directed this. Some visually strong stuff, but I would say halfway through, it kind of loses steam and it`s not a movie that`s going to make you yell out loud.

BRYANT: Because I saw the first one in a packed theater where people were screaming at Naomi. Don`t go there. Don`t do this.

ROZEN: It`s always like, excuse me. It`s danger. Why are you heading directly to it? And she does it again this time.


ROZEN: If you`re a hard-core horror fan, you loved the first one, go. But if you`re not someone that goes to horror films, there`s no reason to make the special trip.

BRYANT: All right. What about "Ice Princess?"

ROZEN: "Ice Princess," yes, a teenage girl, a high school senior has to decide between Harvard and competitive ice skating.

BRYANT: But it`s got Joan Cusack.

ROZEN: Who`s always fun. And it has Kim Cattrall as the sort of ice skating coach. Michelle Trachtenberg plays the young girl. It starts off smart, and then it kind of gets dumber, you know? It`s like skate blades, it gets duller over time.

BRYANT: OK. Moving on to "Melinda and Melinda." Woody Allen is back this time with Will Ferrell.

ROZEN: This movie is sort of a party trick of a movie. It`s two movies in one. He tells the same story twice, once through a lens of tragedy, once through a lens of comedy. And you`re just kind of going, yeah, but why? Radha Mitchell plays the same character in both movies although one she`s sort of neurotic, one she`s kind of funny. Will Ferrell is doing the Woody Allen kind of character. The movie keeps toggling between the two.

BRYANT: Some funny moments though?

ROZEN: There`s some funny moments. There`s some comedy lines, but it just -- Woody Allen used to hit them out of the park every time this is a double at best.

BRYANT: All right. Well, thank you Leah Rozen and of course more picks and pans, you can check out this week`s "People" magazine at newsstands everywhere.

Some major hip-hop "playahs" have become major players. See what 50 and Snoop are up to in the game room.

HAMMER: And there`s still time for you to sound off in tonight`s showbiz showdown question of the day. "The Apprentice Martha Stewart" a good idea? Vote at or if you`d like to email us what`s on your mind you can HYPERLINK "" is the address and we`ll read some of your thoughts next.


BRYANT: Well, he says he`s a pimp and 50 Cent is definitely a player - - of video games. And he`s stepping "out da club" for a minute to bring us one of his own.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Grand Theft Auto can`t compete with me. I tell you, this is going to be the hottest thing on the street baby.


BRYANT: You`re looking at 50 Cent`s upcoming new video game, "Bulletproof." It hits stores later this year but 50 gave SHOWBIZ TONIGHT this early look. 50 was as giddy as a kid in a candy shop when he sat down with SHOWBIZ TONIGHT and raved about "Bulletproof" and his character`s (INAUDIBLE) -type moves.


50 CENT: They got those moves fresh from me. You know that`s what I do you know what I mean? I try not to let everybody know my little secrets you know. What I mean, when I kick somebody right in the head if they start talking to me the wrong way.


BRYANT: 50 also tells us he`s recording several brand new tracks just for the game. But 50 won`t have the hip-hop videogame arena all to himself this year. Snoop Dog is joining the fray. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT got an early peek at his upcoming title. It`s called "Fear and Respect." Snoop`s working on the game with "Boyz in the Hood" director John Singelton.

You can thank "Def Jam Vendetta" for the current batch of hip-hop games. "Vendetta" featured a roster of real-life hip-hoppers like Method Man and Ludacris beating the living "rap" out of each other. It was a smash-mouth smash-hit, selling more than a million copies and showing rappers that the profitable video game industry is an ideal way to -- in hip-hop terms -- "get that paper."


JONAH WEINER, BLENDER MAGAZINE: What drives a lot of rappers is this kind of ceaseless entrepreneurial spirit. Having a successful recording career isn`t enough. You`ve also got to have an energy drink now. You`ve also got to have a clothing line now and so it stands to reason that video games are the next territory that they want to conquer.


BRYANT: And how`s 50 going to conquer opponents at his own game?


50 CENT: I`m going to make a special code in my game so I can beat everybody.


BRYANT: 50 won`t roll by himself in his game. reports that Dr. Dre may also appear.

HAMMER: We`ve been asking you to vote online on our showbiz showdown question of the day. "The Apprentice Martha Stewart" -- is it a good idea? Here are the results. 34 percent of you say yes, it`s a good idea, but 66 percent of you say no, bad idea. We`ve been getting e-mails, too like one from Jason in Beverly Hills. He says it`s a great idea. "The Apprentice" will help Martha regain her status as a TV celebrity and a home making icon. Keep voting by going to Send us your e-mail at

BRYANT: Well, thankfully the marquee man just flew in from the coast and boy are his arms tired. Let`s see what he`s got playing on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on Monday.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Join us as Ozzy gives us a lesson in family values. No, not that Ozzy. Hold on to your hats, kids, Sharon and Ozzy are taking over SHOWBIZ TONIGHT studios. Get out of the way. The Osbournes, live Monday!

She`s an ice princess who feels frozen out by her classmates. So how does she fix that? Physics? No cold shoulder from the stars. Michelle Trachtenberg and Joan Cusack skate onto SHOWBIZ TONIGHT Monday!


HAMMER: Nancy Grace is next right after the very latest from HEADLINE NEWS.


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