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Stars party at "Time" magazines "100 Most Influential People" celebration. Jane Fonda makes her first film appearance in 15 years and says she`s much more comfortable working than ever before in her life. The network morning show ratings wars are heating up. Why is ABC`s "Good Morning America" even with NBC`s "Today" show for the first time in years?

Aired April 19, 2005 - 19:00   ET


KARYN BRYANT, CO-HOST: Stars galore at the "Time" magazine party.
A.J. HAMMER, CO-HOST: And Jane Fonda in the "SHOWBIZ Sitdown." I`m A.J. Hammer.

BRYANT: I`m Karyn Bryant. This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

HAMMER: From Jay-Z to Melissa Etheridge, it`s the "who`s who" party of the year. It`s "Time`s" most influential people, and SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is right there live.

BRYANT: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is also with Nicole Kidman tonight for the premiere of her new movie, "The Interpreter."

HAMMER: Jane Fonda in the "SHOWBIZ Showdown" on her first movie in 15 years.


JANE FONDA, "MONSTER-IN-LAW": I wanted to see what it was like to be back.


HAMMER: Jane Fonda on "Monster In-Law," her memoir, and working with J.Lo.

BRYANT: Their sound is called "popera," an international group with a big "American Idol" connection. Tonight, meet the men of Il Divo.

HAMMER: Teri Hatcher. Her style is anything but desperate. Tonight, how you can get her look, in "Tuesday In Style."


TAYLOR DAYNE: Hi. I`m Taylor Dayne. And if it happened today, it`s on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.


BRYANT: Hello. I am Karyn Bryant -- voice a little scratchy today. Hello. I`m Karyn Bryant. You are at the top of the show.

HAMMER: I`m A.J. Hammer. We are live with you from Headline Prime studios in New York City for the next hour.

BRYANT: It`s the "who`s who" party of the year, and it`s happening right now. At "Time" magazine, they are throwing a big bash to celebrate its special issue naming what it calls "The 100 Most Influential People."

HAMMER: And we are on party patrol. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s David Haffenreffer is live on the red carpet in New York City -- David.

DAVID HAFFENREFFER, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT: A.J. and Karyn, a star-studded event here tonight as "Time" magazine celebrates its "100 Most Influential People" issue tonight, and as I mentioned, a star-studded event. We are expecting Melissa Etheridge at any moment here tonight, and we will bring you her live when she arrives.

We are also waiting for other stars to arrive, as well. The Colombian singer Juanes just down the line here from us now, as the other celebrities begin to arrive here. Time Warner chairman Dick Parsons right there on your screen, making his way toward the elevator here at the Time Warner Center, again as other stars are arriving. Nicole Kidman expected, Sean Penn, as well tonight, Robin Wright-Penn, Sean Penn`s wife, expected, as well. And there goes Mr. Parsons, saying, Nice work for CNN in the process.

So we will certainly have all this for you throughout the entire program tonight, as the stars continue to roll in. Back to you in the studio.

HAMMER: All right, David Haffenreffer, live in New York City. We`ll talk to you in a bit.

The star of the new Fox sitcom, "Stacked," will be back on the racks and doing a little venting. Pam Anderson is getting candid in the upcoming issue of "Jane" magazine. She tells "Jane" that her distaste for people who wear fur goes beyond ethical reasons. She says simply, "They just make people look fat and ugly and smell like a wet dog if they`re in the rain." She even attacked the furriers, saying, quote, "Every season, they put propaganda everywhere that fur is taking off again. And they give free coats to idiots like Jennifer Lopez and people who will wear them, like Puff Daddy." And on plastic surgery, Pam says she thinks she`s done with it.

For more with Pam Anderson, join us tomorrow when we visit Pam on the set of "Stacked."

BRYANT: Clay Aiken might be idolized now, but it wasn`t always that way. Appearing today on the "Dr. Phil" show, the former "American Idol" finalist and pop star revealed he was a target of bullies while growing up. And today he spoke with kids about how he dealt with it.


PHIL MCGRAW, HOST: You say in your book, When I was young, I was teased by other kids like it was their job.

CLAY AIKEN, "AMERICAN IDOL": I think it was, sometimes. They would have been rich if they had gotten paid for it, too. Look at that dork on the -- oh, there`s another right one right there.


AIKEN: There was a long time where I didn`t want to -- I didn`t want to sing because I thought, Oh, people are going to pick on me now, if I`m the singing kid, you know? And you know, and to be honest with you, some people did. Some people kind of started to pick on me because I sang and I was in the musicals or the plays and I was the only -- when I was in 9th grade, I was the only boy in choir, the only guy in choir in my entire high school. And so people picked on me for that. And so people didn`t stop picking on me because I found something that I was good at.

MCGRAW: Right.

AIKEN: They stopped picking on me when I found something that I was good at and I was proud of what I was doing.


BRYANT: Aiken says although he was a victim of bullying, his friends and family kept him grounded.

HAMMER: Time now for "SHOWBIZ Shorts," a look at more stories that are making news tonight. David Arquette and Courteney Cox Arquette released a statement today concerning pictures of their daughter`s christening that have been making the rounds on the Internet. The statement says, quote, "Although we are public figures, we do have a right to privacy. The photos from our daughter`s christening are being distributed without our consent. Anyone publishing these photos will be in copyright infringement and liable to legal action."

Well, "The Simpsons" and pope. We learned today that a "Simpsons" episode in which Bart goes to a Catholic school was postponed for fear of offending Catholics in the aftermath of the pope`s death. The show was supposed to run last Sunday but has been pushed back to May 15.

And today, German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected as the new pope, and he will take the name Pope Benedict XVI.

BRYANT: Tonight, a "SHOWBIZ Showdown" with Jane Fonda. After 15 years, Fonda is set to return to the big screen in "Monster-in-Law." SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Sibila Vargas sat down with Fonda, and she joins us now live from Hollywood. Hey, Sibila.

SIBILA VARGAS, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT: Hey, Karyn. That`s right. Jane Fonda is one busy lady. She just published her memoirs, "My Life So Far," and she`s starring in a new film opposite Jennifer Lopez. I sat down with Fonda to talk about publishing here secrets, handling celebrity and privacy and her comeback role in "Monster-in-Law."


First of all, welcome back.


VARGAS: How does it feel to be back?

FONDA: It feels good. It was good. I liked playing the character a lot. And it`s a fun movie, and I`m glad people are responding so well.

VARGAS: You seemed like you had a lot of fun with Viola.

FONDA: I did. Yes.

VARGAS: What was it about this character that made you bring her so alive?

FONDA: Well, she`s just an outrageous, you know, swing-for-the- fences, over-the-top character. You know, I kind of knew how to do it because I spent 10 years with Ted Turner, a very open-the-top kind of character, and yet very lovable. And I don`t know, he just kind of opened me up to the possibility of how to play her without realizing it. He hasn`t heard me say this, but it`s true.

VARGAS: You`ve been, you know, talking about so many things that are just that -- you maybe had bottled up. What was it about -- why now? Why did you decide to put it all out there now?

FONDA: You talking about, Why did I write my memoirs?

VARGAS: Yes. Why now? Why did you feel that now`s the time?

FONDA: What, I`m supposed to wait longer? I may be dead in seven years. I have no idea. I was -- when I was 62, I was single, and I realized that I had a story to tell. You know, it was at the point where I could stand back and see an arc to my life and a through-line, that if I told it fully and honestly, would be helpful to people.

I had to really go back and not just do, This is what I did and this is what I did, but why did I do it and what does that mean for other women? And that was helpful.

VARGAS: And where are you now in your life?

FONDA: The truth? I`ve never been happier. I feel -- I feel complete. I feel full. I feel at peace. And that`s why I wanted to do a movie again, because I was very different 15 years ago when I did my last movie and I wanted to see what it was like to be back, if it was still as much agony as it had been before, or whether there could be some joy involved. And then this character came along that was unlike anything I`d ever done and just beckoned to me. She beckoned to me.

VARGAS: And you did a fabulous job.

FONDA: Thank you!

VARGAS: And you got to work with Jennifer Lopez. It sort of seems to me that you share something in common. You guys have done things in private life that have come back to sort of haunt you in your celebrity life.

FONDA: I think when you decide that you`re going to go into the entertainment business, especially these days, you have to know what that entails. You know, you can`t have it all. You can`t have fame and fortune and privilege and also be expected to be left alone. It just doesn`t work that way. You pay a price. And you decide if you want to do that or not. And if you decide to do it, then you have to take responsibility for your private life, and you have to try to be a role model.

VARGAS: Seeing you on the screen again, it`s almost as if you had never left. How -- did you learn something about your own talent?

FONDA: I learned that I was right to feel that I was a different person. I learned that where I`m at now makes it so much easier to get up in the morning and look forward to going to work. Maybe it`s just because she was such a fun character to play, but none of the fear was there. None of the anguish was there. I really liked being a supporting actress. I liked not having to come to work every day. You know, I just -- I liked having the pressure off.


VARGAS: Fonda also told me that while she`s having a great time with her family, she`d love to do more off-the-wall comedic roles like her character, Viola, really crazy. "Monster-in-Law" opens in theaters May 13. Karyn, back to you.

BRYANT: All right. Thank you, Sibila Vargas.

Now, we are actually on the move again, going back to David Haffenreffer. He is, of course, at the "Time" "100 Most Influential People" party here in New York City, and I believe he is with Melissa Etheridge. Hey, there, David.

HAFFENREFFER: We are with Melissa Etheridge, Karyn. And Martha Stewart just walked in herself, garnering her own share of flashbulbs and whatnot. But joining us, as you mentioned, is Melissa Etheridge here tonight.

Congratulations. And it`s nice to see you.

Melissa ETHERIDGE, "TIME" 100 HONOREE: Thank you so much. It`s a pleasure to be seen.

HAFFENREFFER: Tell me a little bit about what it means to you to be picked for this particular list.

ETHERIDGE: There is so much involved in the honor of this. Not only have I myself read "Time" magazine as an adult, but when I was a child, my mother would subscribe to it, and it was my first glimpse of the rest of the world internationally. And to be turned around and having this magazine say that of all the whole wide world, that I did something to be in the same room with some of the people that are in there, I`m just so incredibly honored.

HAFFENREFFER: Lisa Marie Presley wrote the article on you in this particular issue. I just wanted to read something quickly to you out of it. "She never sold out, paired up with an ex-hot producer or took of her clothes to sell records. She just writes incredible songs and sings and plays her guts out." Your reaction?

ETHERIDGE: Thanks! You know, I`ve always tried to just be me. That`s been my -- that`s been the way that I`ve done things all my career. I`ve decided to follow my truth and what it was and be myself, and it has been very rewarding.

HAFFENREFFER: I haven`t seen you since the Grammys. Of course, the world probably has not seen you since the Grammys, that stunning performance following five months of treatment for breast cancer. How are you?

ETHERIDGE: I`m fine. I`m cancer-free. I`m done with the treatments and done with chemotherapy and done with radiation. I`m on tamoxifen every day for three years or something and -- great. I`m feeling great. I`m fine.

HAFFENREFFER: People are looking at you and seeing you as a great source of strength, other people who are battling cancer at this time. This is a new role for you also.

ETHERIDGE: Yes, it is, and it`s something, of course, that you never think that you`re going to take on. I hope that I have and can walk through this and with this, as I have done before, with truth and strength.

HAFFENREFFER: You are performing tonight. Can you tell us what you`re going to perform?

ETHERIDGE: Well, it`s kind after mixed crowd. It`s not my normal, you know, Melissa Etheridge fan base. So I thought I`d do "Come to My Window," maybe they might know that song, and a couple others. I thought I would do another Janis Joplin song, not "Piece of My Heart," but sometimes I like to do "Me and Bobby McGee," which is fun.

HAFFENREFFER: Well, we are thrilled that you spoke with us. Thank you very much. And have a lot of fun up there tonight.

ETHERIDGE: Thank you very much.

HAFFENREFFER: Not only Melissa Etheridge performing there tonight, also Juanes, who just walked by a moment ago, Jon Stewart also going to be addressing the crowd, as well. That`s it for now. We`ll have more updates for you throughout the program tonight. Back to you.

BRYANT: All right, thank you, David Haffenreffer, at the "Time" 100 party in New York City.

HAMMER: Well, if you`re a morning person, the networks are scrambling for your attention, and there could be a big change in the air. We`re taking a look at the morning show wars. That`s coming up in "SHOWBIZ In Depth."

BRYANT: Plus, we`ll take you to the premiere of Nicole Kidman`s new movie, "The Interpreter."

HAMMER: Time now for tonight`s "Entertainment Weekly Great American Pop Culture Quiz." Which author has sold millions of books but was actually on welfare for about a year while writing her first one, Toni Morrison, Jhumpa Lahiri, J.K. Rowling, Anne Rice? Which is it? we`ll be back with the answer in a minute.


HAMMER: Welcome back. Once again, tonight`s "Entertainment Weekly Great American Pop Culture Quiz." Which author has sold millions of books but was actually on welfare for about a year while writing her first one? Was it Toni Morrison, Jhumpa Lahiri, J.K. Rowling or Anne Rice? Well, there is expected to be a 10.8 million first run of her brand-new book, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blooded Prince." So the answer is C, J.K. Rowling.

BRYANT: We have this story just in, a big shake-up just a short time ago on NBC`s "Today" show. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has just confirmed that executive producer Tom Touchet was removed from his job today. This comes as "Good Morning America" has been breathing down the "Today" show`s neck in the ratings, which leads us to tonight`s "SHOWBIZ In Depth," the morning show TV wars.

ABC`s "Good Morning America" has been eating into "Today`s" lead, averaging just over five million viewers a day. And twice in the past couple of weeks, "GMA" actually beat "Today." But "Today" is still the top dog, averaging just over six million viewers and making a ton of money for NBC. "Broadcasting and Cable" magazine estimates "Today" accounts for almost half -- that is right, half -- of NBC`s profits. And don`t forget about "The Early Show" on CBS, with around three million viewers. That`s the best it`s done in a long time, and it`s growing.

So let`s get into the trenches now and talk about the all-out ratings battle. In Los Angeles, we have Christopher Lisotta from "Television Week." News blogger Brian Stelter of joins us from Baltimore. And here in New York, we have Michael Burgi, editor of "Mediaweek." Thanks for joining me, gentlemen.

And I want to start with you, Brian. What do you think of Mr. Touchet being let go?

BRIAN STELTER, TVNEWSER.COM: Well, it was clear that he didn`t have Jeff Zucker`s magic touch as executive producer of "Today." But what`s more interesting is where do they go from here? They`ve seen a little bit of challenge from "Good Morning America" as the ratings war continues. And what changes will they make in the future now to try to combat that? That`s what we`re going to see going down the line.

BRYANT: OK, well, Michael, I want to ask you, why do you think it is that "Good Morning America" is on the rise?

MICHAEL BURGI, "MEDIAWEEK": Well, I think a lot of it has to do with what`s happening in primetime with the networks. NBC`s lost 15 percentage of its audience season-to-date in primetime, ABC is up about 15 percent. And I think when people turn off their TVs, you know, at 11:00 o`clock and go to bed, or if they watch the local news, the next morning, they turn it on and it`s ABC. And I think that`s definitely having an impact on "Good Morning America`s" ratings.

BRYANT: Christopher, you would concur?

CHRISTOPHER LISOTTA, "TELEVISION WEEK": I would. I think what`s really interesting is, if you think about it, in the spring, NBC and the "Today" show really used the last couple episodes of "Friends." You know, they milked that for weeks on end. The same with "Frasier." And if you look at this season, "Good Morning America" has so much more to promote in terms of both "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives." People want to watch those shows because they want to see the behind-the-scenes of those shows. So the advantage that NBC had last season, ABC has the advantage this season in terms of the water cooler shows that everyone`s talking about. And that`s translating to ratings in the morning.

BRYANT: Brian, what about the idea, though, that it`s just a personality-driven show? The same way some people like Dave and some people like Jay, some people might like Katie, some people might like Diane.

STELTER: I this it absolutely comes down to the relationships that you see on air. I was telling my mom I was going to talk about the morning shows today, and she pointed out she watches Diane Sawyer and "Good Morning America" just because she likes Charlie Gibson. And that`s a habit she`s had for years. It`s very hard to change those habits. And so Katie, Matt, Al and Ann are really the most valuable assets that NBC News has. They got to keep them around.

BRYANT: Michael, you look like you want to pipe in on that?

BURGI: Well, I was going to just say that, you know, Katie has also had a couple of negative appearances in the tabloids lately. And you know, a lot of people are reading the tabs these days, and who knows, maybe there`s just kind of a halo effect on her perception in America`s living rooms.

STELTER: Well, absolutely. Katie Couric is no longer the golden girl that she used to be.

BURGI: Right.

STELTER: And I think that`s having an impact.


LISOTTA: But I think there`s a cycle, though, to these things. And think just like NBC may be in a natural cycle in terms of primetime, it may be the same in terms of the morning shows, as well. I mean, ABC seems to be in ascendancy, their chemistry on "GMA" with Robin Roberts and the others just really hot right now.

BRYANT: All right, well, gentlemen...

LISOTTA: And I think you can`t beat those kind of things.

BRYANT: All right, we`re actually going to continue, so stay where you are. We will be back with more "SHOWBIZ In Depth" in just a moment.

And still ahead, meet the men of Il Divo. We`ll find out about their popera sound and their "American Idol" connection. That`s coming up.


BRYANT: In case you are just joining us, we continue our "SHOWBIZ In Depth" discussion, the morning show TV wars. ABC`s "Good Morning America" has been eating into "Today`s" lead, averaging just over five million viewers a day, and twice in the past couple of weeks, "Good Morning America" actually beat "Today.

Joining us to talk, in Los Angeles, we have Christopher Lisotta from "Television Week," news blogger Brian Stelter of joins us from Baltimore, and here in New York, we have Michael Burgi, editor of "Mediaweek."

Now, Michael, I want to ask you, who is the CBS morning show hurting?

BURGI: You know, I don`t think that they`re hurting either. It seems that ratings are pretty solid in this day part, in the morning day part. I don`t -- it`s not clear who they`re taking a chunk of viewers away from because you look at -- you know, "Good Morning America" and "The Early Show" are both up. The "Today" show is down, but gain, I think it has more to do with what`s going on in primetime.

BRYANT: Brian, do you have any comments on this?

STELTER: Well, there`s a whole other element, too, besides the three network shows. The cable news morning shows have also have inroads...


STELTER: ... especially on Fox News. "Fox and Friends" has had ratings that have grown quite a lot. So I think there`s a lot of audience out there in the morning on the go that wants to watch these shows.

BRYANT: Right. Yes, well, we certainly prefer "American Morning" here but, you know, that`s...

STELTER: Of course.

BRYANT: That`s just us.


BRYANT: So Christopher, with Mr. Touchet leaving the program, what kind of changes do you expect to see over at the "Today" show?

LISOTTA: Well, "Today" show`s always been a very forward-thinking show. They were the first show to go outside. You know, they were very aggressive about using live musical acts, which, of course, ABC has been doing to pretty good effect most recently with Mariah Carey.

I would -- you know, the "where the -- the whole thing they did in terms of Mat, you know, "Where`s Matt Lauer" I would expect the person who is going to come in will be trying to innovate and invigorate, which is something you have to do in such a highly competitive market and which is just the nature of television because if you don`t keep innovating and sort of developing a new kind of show, you`ll get stale, especially a show where people are going to watch you five times a week.

BURGI: Well, I`ve heard that Jeff Zucker has been hanging out at the "Today" show offices a lot more lately, so I think he...

LISOTTA: And of course, that`s where he started.


BRYANT: Well, and for those who don`t know, Jeff Zucker, pretty -- pretty much the top dog over at NBC.

LISOTTA: But also, that`s where...

BURGI: Right. And he put them on the map.

LISOTTA: ... he started his career.

BRYANT: Right. In news. OK, well, guys, thank you very much for joining us -- Christopher Lisotta, Brian Stelter and Michael Burgi.

Now we want to know your thoughts at home. It`s our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. Morning TV wars: Can the "Today" show be defeated? You can vote at, or if you want to tell us more, e- mail us at We`ll share some of what you had to say later in the show.

HAMMER: Time now for "The Show`s Biz," news from the business side of entertainment. Well, there`s no winner yet, but there`s a single. Today the "American Idol" finalists released "When You Tell Me That You Love Me." A portion of the profits will go to the American Red Cross disaster relief fund.

Time is money for Jay-Z -- literally. Today in New York, Jay-Z announced a series of 100 watches that he helped design for watchmaker Audemars Piguet. They`re going to sell for between $2,300 and $6,900 a pop, with a portion of those proceeds also going to charity.

Well, it could be a whole new genre, pop plus opera. It equals popera. The group is Il Divo. Simon Cowell is pushing them big-time, and we`re going to meet them coming up.

BRYANT: Plus royal pressure. Will Prince Albert ever leave the bachelor life? We`ll take that to the "Buzz Bench" coming up.

HAMMER: Now tonight`s "Birthday Shoutout." "Star Wars" actor Hayden Christiansen turns 24 today, and the shoutout comes from co-star Samuel L. Jackson.






KARYN BRYANT, CNN ANCHOR, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT: Time for a party. It`s "Time" magazine`s 100 most influential people. It`s happening right now and we`re there live.

AJ HAMMER, CNN ANCHOR, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT: And Simon`s singers, a bunch of guys who were really tight with an AMERICAN IDOL judge. A showbiz sit- down about Il Divo (ph).

IL DIVO: Hi, we`re Il Divo. If it happened today, it`s on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

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

BRYANT: I`m Karyn Bryant. Here are tonight`s hot headlines.

HAMMER: Pam and Jane. Here`s a first look at Pamela Anderson in the new "Jane" magazine. In the issue on news stands next week, she talks about boyfriends, plastic surgery and called Jennifer Lopez and Puff Daddy quote, idiots for wearing fur.

BRYANT: Tonight, time for the stars. "Time" magazine, part of the same company that pays our bills here. It`s celebrating its 100 most influential people of 2005. The guest list is full of movers and shakers from politics, business and entertainment.

HAMMER: And you saw some of the stars showing up on the red carpet as what I tried to say, pretty impressive guest list there at the party tonight.

BRYANT: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s David Haffenreffer is hanging out on the red carpet in New York City with the stars. Hey, there, David.

DAVID HAFFENREFFER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As you saw moments ago, Melissa Etheridge arrived. Martha Stewart is in the house. Matt Lauer just walked by a moment ago and joining us now is Gayle King. She is editor at large of "Oprah" magazine and it is nice to have you.

GAYLE KING, EDITOR AT LARGE, O MAGAZINE: David, I know it`s one of your favorite things. I looked on the subscription list. I didn`t see your name, but I know Lara is probably there.

HAFFENREFFER: My wife, Lara, OK. Tell me about what you`re doing here.

KING: Oprah is one of the honorees tonight and you look at the people that are on the list and I just wanted to be here to celebrate Oprah and everybody else. It`s an amazing list when you see the people `time? has put together.

HAFFENREFFER: It is an amazing list and we have that list right here.

KING: I wanted to come and hobnob.

HAFFENREFFER: Yes, in addition to Oprah, of course, we`ve got other big names, Jay-Z, Steve Jobs, the man behind the iPod, can`t thank him enough, Johnny Depp, Clint Eastwood, Jamie Foxx. Are the people upstairs who you`re hoping to sort of rub shoulders with?

KING: Is Jamie here?


KING: It`s the type of thing David that anybody on that list, if you said, who would I like to have at a dinner party? You could throw a dart and pick five people and anybody on that list, and it would be a great time. So it`s an honor really to be here.

HAFFENREFFER: And why isn`t Oprah here? We need her here.

KING: Well, David, she has a little thing called a show and a magazine and she`s in Chicago and she`s working. She`s working.

HAFFENREFFER: Gayle King, thank you so much for being with us tonight. Have fun upstairs.

KING: I will. I will.

HAFFENREFFER: We have been reporting that Tom Touchet, the executive producer of the TODAY show, has been removed from his position. As I mentioned, Matt Lauer just walked by here a moment ago. We had an opportunity to ask him about that very subject.


HAFFENREFFER: It`s been reported that Tom Touchet has been removed as EP of the TODAY show. Any reaction? Can you confirm it?

MATT LAUER, TODAY: Um, you know, I`ve been in this business for 25 years now, and all I`ll say is I don`t know that I`ve met a classier guy than Tom. I mean that, truly. He is a delight to work with and, you know, I`m going to miss him greatly.

HAFFENREFFER: Thank you very much.


HAFFENREFFER: That is about the nicest way to confirm a news story that I`ve ever heard in this business. We`re continuing to wait for more celebs as they continue to roll in here at the "Time" magazine 100 most influentials party. Back to you in the studio.

BRYANT: Thank you, David Haffenreffer. It has been a very busy day in the big apple. Just a few minutes ago, the premiere of Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn`s new thriller "The Interpreter." It kicked off in New York. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT was there as the stars made their way through all the paparazzi.


NICOLE KIDMAN, "THE INTERPRETER": (INAUDIBLE) Sean Penn and I loved the fact that it was a thriller, a political thriller that was smart, and I got to be a woman who said clever things.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How was shooting in the U.N.?

KIDMAN: It was lucky we got it. Because I don`t think it would have been the same if we didn`t have the authenticity of the U.N. behind this film.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It must have been such a learning experience, playing an interpreter, learning about the U.N.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How would you describe it?

KIDMAN: I`m sorry, they`re so distracting me. Shh, too loud.


BRYANT: Nicole Kidman stars as a United Nations interpreter trying to thwart an assassination attempt of a foreign leader. As Nicole just mentioned, the film was shot on location at the U.N. here in New York. It`s the first time ever a movie was shot on location at the United Nations. `the Interpreter? hits theaters this Friday.

HAMMER: And in New York last night, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT was the first to take you to the premiere of Ashton Kutcher`s new movie, "A Lot Like Love." And we caught up with his co-star Amanda Peet on the red carpet, but Ashton strolled in fashionably late amid all the media frenzy along with girlfriend Demi Moore.


HAFFENREFFER: What do you think of the scene?

ASHTON KUTCHER: It`s frightening. I don`t know why everyone has to yell.

HAFFENREFFER: It`s warm. It`s springtime in New York.

KUTCHER: But why are we yelling? Let`s use the indoor voices.

HAFFENREFFER: How about another star you would like to work with in an upcoming project?

KUTCHER: I always wanted to work with was Paul Newman, but I heard he just like quit, like he retired, so I`m like (INAUDIBLE) I`m like sitting here going, wait a second, what the hell happened to Paul Newman? So now I`ve got to figure something else out.

HAFFENREFFER: This is like the film. Where were you six years ago when he was still working?

KUTCHER: I should have gone after it right in. I was in Iowa sweeping cheerios, so I don`t know.

HAFFENREFFER: Well, in the film, Ashton and Amanda play an unlikely couple who take seven years to fall in love. Although you won`t be seeing Ashton with Paul Newman anytime soon, you can get plenty of Ashton Kutcher on the silver screen. Both his films, "Guess Who" and "A Lot Like Love" will be in theaters this weekend.

BRYANT: It is time for the legal lowdown, a look at celebrities and their legal happenings. "Rush Hour" star in a rush. We learned today that actor and comedian Chris Tucker was arrested for speeding last Sunday in Georgia. He allegedly was pushing 120 on the speedometer. Tucker was released and in a statement today, Tucker says he`s sorry and that he was just trying to get to church on time.

Wanted woman, a New York judge has issued an arrest warrant for Natasha Lyonne. The "American Pie" actress showed up late to court yesterday but then left. She was scheduled to answer charges of trespassing and allegedly threatening to molest her neighbor`s dog. Her publicist told us today, quote, no comment.

HAMMER: Well, Il Divo is becoming one of the most wanted music acts and coming up, we`ve got a showbiz sit-down with Il Divo. They`re going to tell us which one of them is really the male diva.

BRYANT: Well, no divas on our buzz bench tonight. Of course Toure has the night off, but they will chat about a prince and his legacy. It is a royal issue.

HAMMER: We`ve been asking you to vote on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day, morning TV wars, can the TODAY show be defeated? We`d like you to continue to vote at Send us your e-mails at and we`ll share some of what you have to say at 55 past the hour.

HAMMER: Let`s go. Time for the "buzz bench," where we chat about today`s hot topics and tonight, it`s morning TV, the TV wars, a Monday night TV punt and a royal.

BRYANT: On the "buzz bench" tonight, VH1 classic host Amy Scott, "Newsweek`s" Devin Gordon and "New York" magazine`s Sarah Bernard. The first topic, as we just told you moments ago, Tom Touchet was replaced as executive producer over at the TODAY and the morning network news race has been heating up. NBC`s TODAY show has been in the number one spot for a number of years, but ABC`s GOOD MORNING AMERICA is rapidly gaining on it and the early show on CBS is also making some headway. So what do you think of these wars Sarah?

SARAH BERNARD, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Some of it is just cyclical, I got to say. It`s been the Katie and Matt show for so long, I think it`s almost like the Coke and Pepsi thing -- sometimes you just want a change. And the chemistry between Diane and Charlie obviously is fantastic, but a lot of it and I think this is really interesting, a lot of it is just the nighttime. CBS? Excuse me, ABC`s primetime stuff has gotten so much better. And that really -- I think people called it, is it the remote control factor, whatever you go to sleep watching, when you wake up in the morning, there it is. And I think that has a lot to do with it.

DEVIN GORDON, NEWSWEEK: Also advertising. If 30 million people are watching DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES and you can say, here`s what`s going to be on GMA tomorrow morning and nobody`s watching whatever is on NBC this season, that makes a big difference. That`s a big deal.

AMY SCOTT, NEWSWEEK: This is true, but it`s a shame, because who started a lot of these things that are now getting all these ratings? I mean the concert events were started by the TODAY show. The where in the world is Matt?


SCOTT: And I don`t know about you guys, but I for one, I love Diane Sawyer, I love her, but she`s -- I`ve known her as a serious journalist for many years, and now she`s interviewing --

BERNARD: She can really flip both ways.

BRYANT: They also have Robin Roberts who, today we read that she`s actually getting promoted and she`s even going to be doing more and she`s very likable as well.

HAMMER: And of course, Charlie and Diane, that was only supposed to be temporary. How many years ago was that?

GORDON: I`ll tell you who`s really licking their chops over this is the DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES agents, because they`re saying ?

BERNARD: They`re taking credit.

GORDON: We were able to ? our presence, our power on SUNDAY NIGHT was able to get the executive producer of the TODAY show fired. Let`s get our actress more money. That`s the way the ripple effect in this stuff works.

BERNARD: (INAUDIBLE) wants a bigger car again.

SCOTT: If all else fails, I think Al should regain the weight.

HAMMER: That would be quite a gimmick Amy. It really would. Big changes in morning TV and big changes in football, Monday night football. The theme that we hear every Monday night on ABC is going to be heard elsewhere. You`re going to have to pay for it now because yesterday, Disney, which owns ABC says that it`s moving Monday night football to its sports cable network, ESPN. That`s going to begin in 2006. Monday night football will have been on the air on ABC for 36 seasons. What do you make of all this?

GORDON: I know that there was big news this morning involving the pope or something like that, but the big news in my world was Monday night football moving to ESPN. I mean this is a huge thing. I grew up on Monday night football being on ABC and it`s going to be?

HAMMER: But does it matter to you?

GORDON: Yes, it does, especially if Al Michaels and John Madden don`t go with them.

BRYANT: Why do you care what channel it`s going to be on?

GORDON: It just matters. Monday night football on ABC is just a big deal. It`s a big deal to the players. It feels exciting. It`s on national television. It`s just difficult.

HAMMER: My big point for all of this, I have family in small-town, farm town Ohio, who don`t have satellite. They don`t have cable and they`ve big football fans.

BRYANT: They`ll have to go to the bar. I`m with you on this one Devin. I`m a huge fan, and actually it doesn`t matter where the Patriots are playing, because they always do well, but I do love Al and John and I hope that the talent over at ESPN is up to par.

GORDON: I`m sure that there`s some rational business decision behind this for ABC, but they`re losing three huge hours of programming on Sunday night and they just gave to a rival network, NBC, a big rival to their best night which is Sunday, with DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES.


BRYANT: We`re going to move on to topic number three, after the recent death of Monaco`s Prince Rainer, his son, Prince Albert, assumed the throne, but he doesn`t have any children and basically there could be no heirs to the throne and so now the call has gone out, Amy --

SCOTT: That`s (INAUDIBLE) story.

BRYANT: A baby mama basically is what they`re looking for.

SCOTT: His posse is out checking out well-bred women and offering them discreet opportunities to marry Prince Albert under the stipulation they give him two to three sons and he gives them, what is it $100 million, some of mom`s jewelry and the title "princess."

BERNARD: That`s a pretty big reason to do it, some of Prince Grace`s nice necklaces. I think some might be calling.


GORDON: For $100 million, call me, man.

BRYANT: I don`t think you`ll be able to provide certain things. We`ve got to wrap it up with that guys. Thanks very much Amy, Devin and Sarah for joining us on the buzz bunch tonight.

HAMMER: Well, the late night hosts find humor in a scary sea cruise.

BRYANT: And Il Divo sings the song of a diva. Can they pull it off? It`s a "showbiz sit down."


HAMMER: It is time now for another "showbiz sit down," this time with Il Divo. AMERICAN IDOL judge Simon Cowell is really known for his harsh criticism, but you might be surprised to learn that when Il Divo, a young group of young men, auditioned for him for the very first time, they were instant hits.


SIMON COWELL, CREATOR, IL DIVO: This kind of music is going to become more popular in the next few years, because I think people are beginning to appreciate great voices again. I met these four guys, one from Switzerland, one from Spain, one from France and one from America. We introduced them, and we said this is what we would like to do. We would like to make this music popular al over the world. Let`s just match fabulous songs with great voices and these guys have a lot of charisma and thank God it worked.


HAMMER: Well, I had the chance to sit down with Il Divo, a self- described pop opera quartet. We spoke about their unique style of music and of course, the man who`s working on making them famous, Simon Cowell.


HAMMER: You`ve all achieved varying levels of success and good success in your individual careers wherever you happen to live. Why do this? Why leave that behind for really what is essentially an experiment?

DAVID MILLER, IL DIVO: Well, I mean for myself, it really was a question of timing. If you had come to me 10 years ago while I was still trying to climb up the opera ladder and present this to me, I`m not so sure I would have jumped on it as readily, but it`s to the point now we`re all in our 30s. I think it`s just a question of perfect timing.

URS BUHLER, IL DIVO: A chance like this to do such a high profile project, let me call it, the way you can start already on such a level like launching the CD and all these TV shows in the states and everything, that is just a once in a lifetime chance. If you don`t grab it, that`s not coming along again.

HAMMER: You were the only guy who knew who Simon Cowell was going into this project. You didn`t even know he was attached to it until you were far along in the process. He does consider you guys to be his finest achievement. He`s said that. That seems like it`s a lot to live up to now.

CARLOS MARIN, IL DIVO: Yeah, he said always that he`s very proud of us, and we`re like his little kids, so he`s like our dad, well, he was the inventor of this project so, yeah, yeah, we`re very proud of it.

HAMMER: You don`t call him dad, do you?

MARIN: No, no.

HAMMER: Were you prepared for the grueling schedule of traveling around and being on television all over the country?

BUHLER: In a pop world, you can be the best band in the world. If nobody knows you, you won`t have any (INAUDIBLE) and you won`t sell any CDs.

HAMMER: Have you seen a big change since appearing on the OPRAH WINFREY SHOW? Have you realized that you`ve gone from oh, those guys, to Il Divo for a lot of people?

SEBASTIEN IZAMBARD, IL DIVO: I have to say, it was quite funny for me. I don`t know any of these shows, so you arrive there, you have no pressure, you get there, and you have such fun, a good time there.

HAMMER: Were you familiar with "Unbreak My Heart" before you went into the studio to record it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. It`s hard to get away from the version.

MILLER: We found as we were singing it in the studio, a lot of Toni Braxton ? isn`t what coming out of our voice, which isn`t necessarily natural to us coming from our opera world and so when we made the decision to put it into Spanish and see how that works, a whole other color just started coming through our voices.

HAMMER: Il Divo, if I have this correct, the literal translation is "male diva."


HAMMER: OK, so it`s the divine. It`s not diva in the way we know diva to be, but do you guys now understand --

MILLER: It is and it`s not.

HAMMER: Who is the diva of the bunch?

HAMMER: I get the feeling they have done that before. I was actually wondering if anybody along these interviews you`ve been doing, anybody has suggest you do a remake of the song "Whip It." But it`s a really bad joke. Are you the only one who gets that reference?

MILLER: I`m the only who gets that.

MILLER: Potted plants on your head.

HAMMER: Any message you would like to deliver, individually, collectively.

BUHLER: I`m very proud of the work we`ve done so far and let`s keep up that level of it.


HAMMER: True sincerity. Incidentally, Simon Cowell said once that he heard these guys, he pretty much signed them on his label on the spot. Il Divo has sold over 3 million reports worldwide, and if you want to get your own copy of their self-titled CD, it`s in music stores today.

BRYANT: There`s still time to sound off on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day, morning TV wars, can the TODAY show be defeated? Vote at


BRYANT: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. We`re now going to go live again to David Haffenreffer. He is at the "Time" 100 most influential people party in New York.

HAFFENREFFER: "Time" magazine Karyn, celebrating its 100 most influentials tonight at a party here at Time Warner Center, Columbus Circle, New York City. Donald Trump and his lovely wife Alani (ph) are joining us now here as they make their way into the party. It`s nice to see you both.

ALANI TRUMP: It`s nice to see you too.

HAFFENREFFER: Martha Stewart here, you wrote the article in "Time" magazine for her. Was that a natural fit?

DONALD TRUMP: Well, I think it was a natural fit. She`s a friend of mine and she`s a very brave woman and when the head of "Time" magazine asked me to do it, I was very happy about that. So I hope they like it.

HAMMER: Mark Burnett also upstairs as well. You, Mark Burnett and Martha Stewart now have something in common.

TRUMP: We do have something in common. That`s the great success of THE APPRENTICE and I have no doubt that when Martha does the show, it`s going to be also tremendously successful.

HAFFENREFFER: You`re not worried at all about her show stealing viewers from your show.

TRUMP: It`s going to be awfully tough to beat my show, if you look back at the numbers, but I hope that it does. I would be very honored if it did. But I guess it`s going to be pretty tough.

HAFFENREFFER: What is the secret to keeping the reality genre fresh today?

TRUMP: I think change and making little tweaks like we`re doing. We`re just starting now APPRENTICE four and we have an unbelievable cast. We have some little tweaking that we`ve done that I think it makes it even more interesting. The ratings say don`t do too much, because people love it and it`s been right through the roof. So we`re really happy with that.

HAFFENREFFER: It is great to see you both. Have fun upstairs. It`s a pleasure seeing you both. And that is, of course, the Donald and his wife here at the "Time" magazine 100 most influentials. Back to you in the studio.

HAMMER: Thanks very much David Haffenreffer, nice job tonight, live in New York City at the `time? party.

Well, time now to get your laugh on in "laughter dark." As we do every night of course, we bring you the late night laugh you might have missed. Jay Leno also rocked the boat with his take on the wave on the TONIGHT show.


JAY LENO: And a freak wave hit a cruise ship over the weekend. Did you see that? Have you ever seen a freak wave? That`s very frightening. That`s very scary.


BRYANT: Tonight Jay welcomes (INAUDIBLE) Misha (ph) Barton and one of our favorite guests on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, director Kevin Smith.

We`ve been asking you to vote online on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day, morning TV wars, can the TODAY show be defeated? The vote so far, 73 percent of you said yes, it can be defeated, 27 percent of you said no, NBC`s TODAY show cannot be defeated. And you`re also sending e-mails our way. Debbie from Chester, Virginia says it can be defeated. I stopped watching the TODAY show because the anchors are so biased. And you can continue to vote at

HAMMER: Well, it is time now to take a look at what`s playing on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT tomorrow Karyn.

BRYANT: Let`s take look with the showbiz marquee guy. Take it away.

ANNOUNCER: He`s able to build tall buildings in a single bond. It`s super-Donald. You just saw him live on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT and we get to be Donald Trump`s apprentice for the day and get a show and tell from his first apprentice, Bill, tomorrow on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

You know, they say you shouldn`t judge a book by its cover, but how about Pam Anderson, a bookstore`s cover girl? We pay a visit to Pam`s new show "Stacked." She`s booked tomorrow on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. This is the marquee guy. Pam, you like guys who read books? Here`s a secret. I`m a bookworm.

HAMMER: I don`t think he`s getting a date.

BRYANT: I don`t think so. Well, that is it for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT tonight. We will see you here tomorrow.

HAMMER: Now earlier in the show tonight, we promised a look at Terri Hatcher`s style, but we couldn`t get to that because of the breaking news about NBC and the TODAY show. We will bring you that on Thursday. Nancy Grace is coming up next after the very latest from headline news.



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