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SHOWBIZ TONIGHT

Interviews with Lionel Richie, Senator John McCain

Aired May 27, 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, HEADLINE NEWS HOST: We say hello to Lionel Richie.
KARYN BRYANT, HEADLINE NEWS HOST: And this year`s TV winners and losers. I`m Karyn Bryant.

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

BRYANT: Tonight, "Capitol Punishment?" One of the most powerful congressmen in Washington takes on "Law & Order." And goes after executive producer Dick Wolf. But is Tom DeLay just crying wolf?

HAMMER: Also, "Keeping the Faith." John McCain`s "Faith of My Fathers" -- his gripping story as a prisoner of war during Vietnam. Senator John McCain tells his story to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

BRYANT: And "Mad Hot Ballroom." It`s one hot movie, and can these kids dance. Kids? Ballroom dancing? Yes, and it`s all true! SHOWBIZ TONIGHT does some fancy dancing tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GABRIELLE UNION, ENTERTAINER: What`s up? It`s you`re girl Gabrielle Union and if it happened today, it`s on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: Hello, I`m A.J. Hammer. Welcome to the start of the holiday weekend. This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT and you`re at the top of the show.

BRYANT: I`m Karyn Bryant. You`re watching TV`s only live nightly entertainment news program.

HAMMER: Well, tonight in Hollywood and Washington, it seems every Tom, Dick and Harry is talking about the spat between Tom and Dick.

BRYANT: Well, the Dick is Dick Wolf, executive producer of "Law & Order, Criminal Intent." The Tom is House Majority Leader Republican Congressman Tom DeLay. And tonight, it`s turning into a case of law and disorder.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That would have gotten his name in the papers.

BRYANT: Tom DeLay`s name is all over the papers today because the House majority leader is in a major spat with the popular TV show. DeLay, one of the most powerful Republican leaders in Washington is incensed about Wednesday`s season finale of NBC`s "Law & Order, Criminal Intent." In that episode, detectives are investigating killings of two federal judges. They think the suspects may be right wing extremists leading the Detective Alex Heems (ph) to utter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe we should put out an APB for somebody in a Tom DeLay t-shirt.

BRYANT: DeLay responded without delay. Within hours DeLay fired off a complaint to NBC chief Jeff Zucker saying quote, "this manipulation of my name and trivialization of the sensitive issue of judicial security represents a reckless disregard for the suffering initiated by recent tragedies and a great disservice to public discourse."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tom DeLay has done nothing wrong?

BRYANT: The whole flap touched of quite a bit of public discourse as everyone debated whether the "Law & Order" crack was a clean hit or a cheap shot.

HOWARD KURTZ, MEDIA CRITIC, "WASHINGTON POST": Look, the comment was over the top and probably not something the program would have said about a Democrat.

DANIELLE STEIN, ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR, "RADAR": It makes me think that Tom DeLay doesn`t watch "Law & Order" because this is pretty par for the course for them. They`re constantly basing storylines on news and political stories and they`re constantly taking jibes at people. It is pretty even-handed, right, left.

BRYANT: That`s exactly the point NBC is trying to make. In a statement, the network told SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, quote, "this isolated piece of gritty `cop talk` was neither a political comment nor an accusation. It`s not unusual for "Law & Order" to mention real names in its fictional stories. We`re confident in our viewers` ability to distinguish between the two."

But the king of the "Law & Order" empire, Dick Wolf was less diplomatic in his response to DeLay. He fired back, quote, "I do congratulate Congressman DeLay for switching the spotlight from his own problems to an episode of a TV show."

The problems Wolf`s talking about include a number of ethics violations DeLay has been accused of in recent weeks. As we learned in 1992 when Vice President Quayle attacked Murphy Brown for having a child out of wedlock, a battle between Washington and Hollywood can have political ramifications.

KURTZ: What Tom DeLay is trying to do by complaining about it is score some points with his base that doesn`t like those awful Hollywood liberals.

BRYANT: But there are those who think that after all is said and done, it is just a TV show.

STEIN: There are tons of very loyal fans of "Law & Order" from both the right and the left. Very few people will see "Law & Order" as the villain in this situation.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRYANT: More than 14 million people watched Wednesday`s episode of "Criminal Intent," but DeLay did not. He found out about the name check from his wife.

HAMMER: Well, this is certainly not the first TV show they`ve put on the story ripped from the headlines. Tonight, on our showbiz showdown, is Tom DeLay overreacting? Or does he have every right to be mad?

On the left, joining us live from Hollywood, Ross Crystal, the syndicated radio host for "Showbiz Express." And on the right, live from Washington, D.C., welcome back Blanquita Cullum, the host of "Radio America." And Ross, I`m going to start with you. What do you think of all this?

ROSS CRYSTAL, RADIO HOST, "SHOWBIZ EXPRESS": I talked about it this morning on my broadcast on our flagship KFWB here in Los Angeles. And I said, you know what? It`s a mater of taste. And it may have offended. It may have made some people laugh, some people chuckle, and some people very angry. It`s a matter of taste. That`s up to the viewer to decide. Was it wrong of the show? Was it wrong of NBC? Certainly not. I don`t think it was anything calculated by the network. Certainly not. Or the writers. I think it was part of the show and it`s artistic freedom. That`s the bottom line.

HAMMER: Blanquita, my guess is you were sharing a different view with your listeners today.

BLANQUITA CULLUM, HOST, "RADIO AMERICA": Gosh darn, A.J., you`ve just got it right when you`ve got it right. The funny thing is, though, when people are watching that show, now they know that there`s not one conservative that looks at the content of the writing. If they had one editor or one script writer who was a conservative, they probably would not have shown that episode.

Now, of course he`s got a right to be upset. That`s his good name. And obviously, the writers of "Law & Order" don`t remember the red states and how many people voted conservative. They have it in a Hollywood mind- set that everyone will take it with a tongue and a cheek and kind of laugh about it. But now we know, the cat`s out of the bag, we know where they fall. And we understand the people that are involved in the show are clearly just liberals.

CRYSTAL: You see, Blanquita is getting too involved in it. First of all, it`s fiction. Is it a show ripped from the headlines, as you said, A.J., but it`s a matter of fiction. Not only that if you watched the show -- did you see the episode, Blanquita?

CULLUM: No, I did not. But I`m seeing it now. And I`m seeing clips of it.

CRYSTAL: Now, now, now, wait, wait, wait, wait. You`re really not seeing it now. I did see the entire episode when it aired on Wednesday. And I will tell you, if you watch the show, what Catherine Irbe (ph) did, she was being true to her character. So as they wrote this, in fact, somewhere in the lines, yeah, she was going out to I think she was going out to Howard Beach. That`s by the water. She said, I`ll get my clam diggers. She didn`t want to go out there. In other words, she was being true to her character.

CULLUM: You know what? It may be that a writer wrote it to be true to her character, but they decided they were going to use somebody`s good name to be untrue to his character. They figured it was OK to put his name with a serial killer and talk about right wing extremists. Because everyone knows if you`re a conservative that you`re a right wing extremist. I thank God that Tom DeLay has the gravitas and the people that surround him to stand up and say, you can use that if you want to and they can put your name on it, but don`t use my good name and that`s what Tom DeLay said and a lot ...

CRYSTAL: He`s a public figure, A, B, he is in the headlines right now. And C, would you be as angry if it were on Leno or Letterman in a joke?

HAMMER: That`s a good point.

CULLUM: There`s a difference.

HAMMER: Hold on a second. Explain what the difference is. Because you know, the fact of the matter is, you know, both sides of talk radio are saying what the other side would view, or members of the other wide would view as disparaging remarks all the time. You know, whether it be character assassination or otherwise. Yet those characters in question are not going after you guys.

CULLUM: No, but I`ll tell you something, A.J. The difference is on talk radio, we have an open mike and we have an open phone where people can call in. And if you didn`t like what I said but, you would have an opportunity to call up and tell me to my face. You would be able to tell my audience what you think. And you know what, you`re right, comedy stretches the limit and that`s the way comedy is. But when you take it in a vein that people are going to say, yeah, right, you know how radical those conservatives are. Yeah, he`s a public figure, but he equally has as much a right as anybody to stand up and say, not with my good name you don`t.

HAMMER: Ross?

CRYSTAL: He`s entitled to say what he`s saying and to be offended, but was the network wrong? What does he want, does he want an apology? I would say that Dick Wolf would be foolish in doing that. And you know what? Dick Wolf has said this before, he`s said, you know, "Law & Order" offends on both sides. They offend equally to Democrats as they do Republicans.

CULLUM: So let me ask you a question, would you be upset then if they had a pedophile or a child murder and they put Teddy Kennedy`s picture on a T-shirt that said, don`t drive with me over Chappaquiddick. Would you Democrats be out there saying don`t you dare refer to Teddy Kennedy like that, how insulting? Of course you would.

CRYSTAL: I don`t know. You know what, Blanquita, I`d have to be in the writing meeting.

CULLUM: You`re hedging. You`re hedging, you`re hedging. Double standard.

HAMMER: Let Ross answer quickly and we`ve got to wrap it up.

CRYSTAL: Two things. I`m not hedging. What`s happened here is that DeLay has -- by talking about this, and I`m just amazed this has become something. We`ve taken the news of the day away from what Tom DeLay is really all about. You want to blog, write me at ross...

CULLUM: What Tom DeLay is all about ...

HAMMER: We appreciate you joining us Ross Crystal and Blanquita Cullum. We`re out of time. And of course, people are going to be talking about this over their barbecues all weekend long. Thanks for joining us, guys.

Karyn?

BRYANT: Time for the legal lowdown. A look at stories making news in the legal world of entertainment. Well, they are done. In a surprise move, both sides rested their cases today in the Michael Jackson child molestation trial. The announcement came after the prosecution played a videotape interview with the accuser that offered a graphic account of what he says Jackson did to him. The jury could get the case next week.

Lindsay Lohan`s dad is going to jail, and he may not be getting out any time soon. A Long Island, New York, judge today sentenced Michael Lohan to 1 1/3 to 4 years for assault and driving while intoxicated. The charges stem from when Lohan attacked his brother-in-law in 2004 and from a drunk driving accident earlier this year.

HAMMER: Well, he spent five years as a POW in Vietnam. Now, his story is a compelling TV movie. Senator John McCain is going to tell SHOWBIZ TONIGHT the chilling story in a bit.

BRYANT: Also, we have the TV season report card. Think about the shows you love to watch and you want to hear whether they were a winner or a loser. That`s coming up next.

HAMMER: And, he`s no loser. In fact, he`s had the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT team dancing on the ceiling all day long. And I`m telling the truth there. You`ll be dancing, too, when Lionel Richie joins us coming up a little later on.

BRYANT: Now, tonight`s "Entertainment Weekly`s" great American pop culture quiz.

In a movie version of "On the Town" which role was played by an original cast member of the theatrical version? Was it Alice Pearce, Gene Kelly, Jules Munshin or Ann Miller. We`ll be right back with the answer.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRYANT: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. Once again, tonight`s "Entertainment Weekly" great American pop culture quiz -- in the movie version of "On the Town," which role was played by an original cast member of the theatrical version? Was it Alice Pearce, Gene Kelly, Jules Munshin, or Ann Miller? The answer is "A: Alice Pearce."

HAMMER: Some sad news tonight out of Hollywood where they`re mourning the death of actor Eddie Albert. We learned late today the star of the "Green Acres" TV show died of pneumonia at his California home yesterday. He was 99 years old. Albert is best known as Oliver Douglas, the city- slicker farmer who took his glamorous wife Lisa, played by Eva Gabor, from Park Avenue to Hooterville. Albert was nominated for academy awards as supporting actor in the movies "Roman Holiday" and "the Heartbreak Kid."

BRYANT: Well, if you love TV, you know that the TV season that just ended this week had plenty to love and hate. It`s been an explosive season, with dramatic turnarounds in ratings and in trends. "Entertainment Weekly" magazine is out today with a big breakdown of winners and losers. Joining us live here in New York is "Entertainment Weekly`s" Jennifer Armstrong. Jennifer, was this the year that the scripted drama came back?

JENNIFER ARMSTRONG, "ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY": This was a huge year for scripted dramas, particularly on ABC. "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost" did amazing -- they were just phenomenal successes that broke through. Huge buzz. And everyone in the TV business is really excited to see these kinds of shows doing so well when we`ve had such a glut of reality programming for the last few years.

BRYANT: And certainly some of those scripted dramas, take, for example, "Grey`s Anatomy" realty lucked out from having such a great lead from "Desperate Housewives."

ARMSTRONG: I mean, you cannot underestimate the power of the show. It was huge. "Housewives" did amazing things for this network and amazing things for "Grey`s Anatomy" which is a great show but would never have broken out the way it did without such a phenomenal lead-in.

BRYANT: So would you say then that ABC definitely was the leader this year in the season?

ARMSTRONG: Well, technically speaking actually, CBS came out on top again. They have nothing but solid programming. They know exactly who they are and what they`re doing. And they once again came out on top. But ABC was the clear breakthrough kind of winner. They came up from number four last season to number two this season right behind CBS.

BRYANT: And with winners come losers. Who was the biggest loser this year?

ARMSTRONG: Well, it was a tough year for NBC. They fell from number two last year to number four this year. And it really had a lot to do with losing "Friends." They really, really missed "Friends" this year, I think even more than they expected to. "Joey" did OK in its slot. But it was nothing compared to the years and years of success they had with "Friends." And they just could not recover. Success breeds success. And unfortunately, failure breeds more failure. And nothing really broke through this year on NBC.

BRYANT: Well, let`s talk about a success story over at Fox. Obviously, "American Idol" has just done great things for that network.

ARMSTRONG: "American Idol," it is amazing that this thing keeps going on and on and on. You would think you would see a falloff. You only see it going up and up. And they had all of these scandals this year. No problem. Still going strong. Everybody gets out of the way of this thing. It was the number one show on television this season, number one and number three, because it airs two different nights. But just unbelievable success.

BRYANT: OK, in the last 30 seconds here, your top three shows you`re looking forward to in the fall?

ARMSTRONG: Well, it is interesting to see how those ABC hits will do. I think they`re all going to go up next season. First of all, "Grey`s Anatomy," "Desperate Houswives" and "Lost." And also really looking forward to the Chris Rock sitcom on UPN. They`re really trying to stake a claim in the comedy arena with that on Thursday nights where NBC used to dominate. And also, "My Name is Earl" on NBC. They`re really trying to make a different unique comedy there and break through on Tuesdays.

BRYANT: Well, we`ll just have to wait and see. Jennifer Armstrong of "Entertainment Weekly," thank you for joining us.

ARMSTRONG: Thank you.

BRYANT: And you can read more about this season`s winners and losers in the new issue of "Entertainment Weekly." It`s on newsstands now.

If you watch ...

HAMMER: TV -- Oh, you can take it Karyn.

BRYANT: I`ll take it from here. If you watched a lot of TV this past week, then you couldn`t miss all the season finales. And of course, we want to know your thoughts. Our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. TV season finales, did they leave you satisfied? You can vote at cnn.com/showbiztonight. Or if you want to tell us more, e-mail us at showbiztonight@cnn.com. We`ll share some of what you have to say later in the show.

A.J.?

HAMMER: I`m just trying to move things along because of the holiday. Nothing like that. Well it`s time now for the showbiz guide and perhaps this will help you this holiday weekend. Of course, throughout the week we help you decide where to best spend your dollars on music, movies, DVDs and more. Tonight "People Magazine`s" picks and pans of new movies. "Madagascar" and "The Longest Yard" are in theaters today, but should you check them out?

Joining us here in New York City, live of course, "People Magazine" movie critic Leah Rozen. Nice to see you and the question is, can these movies possibly chip away at "Revenge of the Sith." Because these are the only two out there that have a threat of doing that.

LEAH ROZEN, "PEOPLE MAGAZINE": Well, yeah, I think they can simply because those who really care about "Star Wars" already went their first and second time. So those people are looking for something new to see.

HAMMER: Last night Chris Rock told us he had a blast playing a zebra in "Madagascar." How is this movie?

ROZEN: I`m glad he did. It`s OK. It`s pretty good. Kids really like it. I should say the review that counts is my five and a half year old nephew. He announced, I loved it! And he laughed the entire time. As an adult, the story`s a little weak, the animation is terrific. It`s a bunch of animals. They`re in the zoo. They escape. They end up out in the wilds of Madagascar where they actually have trouble coping. So a lot of it`s very funny. You get the sense with film these days, with these animated films, they`re so busy doing the pop culture references doing the jokes the grown-ups will get, that you kind of go, but what about the magic for the kids?

HAMMER: Well, let`s move on to our next film "The Longest Yard" and see if there`s any magic here for Burt Reynolds, Adam Sandler, of course the big New York City premiere had a lot of hype here in New York this week. How is the film?

ROZEN: The film is very mediocre. This is a remake of a 1974 film. There`s no crying need to remake it. They`ve have sort of really softened the edges on it. Adam Sandler, you know, when has someone gone so far with so little talent?

HAMMER: Aw. Leah.

ROZEN: This doesn`t turn around -- I`m sorry to say it, but it`s true. He`s the average guy making average movies. And that`s what this is. I`m guessing it will be very popular, but there`s just not a whole lot of wit, not a whole lot of charm going on here.

HAMMER: How about Burt?

ROZEN: Burt? Burt was better the first time, I`m just going to be polite and say that.

HAMMER: But the first one was a good movie, right? Maybe that`s a good rental.

ROZEN: First one was a fun movie.

HAMMER: Alright, Leah. Have a good weekend. Thank you for joining us.

ROZEN: You`re welcome.

HAMMER: And of course, for more picks and pans you can check out this week`s "People Magazine." The issue is on newsstands everywhere.

Now all this week, cnn.com coming attractions has been taking a poll asking which summer movie are you more interested in seeing? "Star Wars Episode III, Revenge of the Sith," "War of the Worlds," or "Batman Begins" were the choices. And SHOWBIZ TONIGHT have the final results. So if you have been voting, here`s what happened. A good chunk of you say -- in fact 60 percent, "Star Wars Episode III, Revenge of the Sith" is the movie you are most interested in seeing. Twenty eight percent of you said "War of the Worlds" and 13% said "Batman Begins."

BRYANT: We are cooking with Oprah`s official chef. Some sizzling summer recipes you`ll want to make as we begin the unofficial start of summer.

HAMMER: And he`s one of the most popular members of Congress, but did you know about his survival as a POW? Senator John McCain will tell us about it coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMMER: If you`re like me and looking to feast like a superstar this Memorial Day weekend, who better to turn to for ideas than Oprah Winfrey`s personal chef?

BRYANT: CNN`s Holly Firfer dishes with him for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ART SMITH, OPRAH`S CHEF: This is show business. Show business is about making it pretty.

HOLLY FIRFER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Chef Art Smith is personal chef to Oprah and has cooked for many of Hollywood`s A-listers.

SMITH: When you walk the red carpet, you`ve got to look beautiful. You don`t want to feel like that heaviness when you eat foods and stuff.

FIRFER: Chef Smith says you don`t have to be a star to eat like one. Just keep it simple. For example, just a drop of porcini mushroom oil with a touch of lemon instead prevents you from adding too many extra calories or fat but you won`t sacrifice flavor.

SMITH: Roasting is a great healthy way to cook. And one that I have used for years cooking for celebrities.

FIRFER: A favorite dish among the jet set is steamed clam and mussel dish with artichokes in a wine and pepper sauce which you can whip up in minutes.

SMITH: Time is money. You want to make sure that you can get them something delicious and nutritious as quickly as possible.

FIRFER: You can make that happen by using foods that are in season.

SMITH: We have wonderful organic farmers. You`re able to go and serve it and say, guess what I found at the market and they grew it just for you. They love that. I`m telling you, that`s better than anything. That`s better than bling. That`s better than everything.

FIRFER: But you don`t have to be the queen of talk to eat like royalty.

SMITH: The good life (unintelligible) and part of living life beautifully is eating beautifully.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAMMER: You can catch more celebrity tips on HOUSE CALL with CNN senior medical correspondent, our friend, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. That happens tomorrow morning, actually. And once again on Sunday morning at 8:30 a.m. Eastern on CNN.

BRYANT: Imagine spending five brutal years as a POW. Well, John McCain did. And now he`s telling his story in a moo movie. The senator joins SHOWBIZ TONIGHT next.

HAMMER: And from the classroom to the ballroom. Dancing. These kids can sure cut a rug. And now it`s an amazing new movie. Their real life story is coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

HAMMER: Tonight, he`s won battles in Congress. Now Senator John McCain talks about his emotional on the field battles coming to the TV screen.

BRYANT: And running with SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, Lionel Ritchie`s got us partying all night long. And he says, hello.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY WINKLER: Hi, I`m Henry Winkler and it happened today, it`s on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRYANT: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. It is 31 minutes past the hour. I`m Karyn Bryant.

HAMMER: I`m A.J. Hammer. Here are some of the top headlines.

Trial surprise. Both sides have rested their case in Michael Jackson`s child molestation trial. The defense decided not to present a rebuttal shortly after the prosecution played a tape where the accuser graphically described the alleged crimes. Closing arguments could begin as early as Wednesday.

BRYANT: House Majority Leader Tom DeLay says he was slurred by NBC`s "Law & Order: Criminal Intent." When a Federal judge is killed on the show, a cop says quote, maybe we should put out an APB for somebody in a Tom DeLay T-shirt. Dick Wolf, who runs the show, says DeLay is moving the spotlight away from his own troubles.

HAMMER: Leave it to Donald Trump to make friends at NBC. Now he wants to make as much money as "Friends." The star of "The Apprentice" says NBC big wigs would not come up with that $2 million an episode he demanded. He didn`t say how much he will be getting next season.

Well, "The Apprentice" and your other favorite shows have all wrapped up for the season. So how did they do? That`s our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. TV season finales, did they leave you satisfied? We`d like you to keep voting by going to cnn.com/showbiztonight. And as always, if there`s more you want to tell us, you can, simply by sending us an e-mail at showbiztonight@cnn.com is the address and we will share some of what you had to say in about 21 minutes.

BRYANT: As we begin to honor our armed forces this Memorial Day weekend, tonight we bring you a showbiz sit down with Senator John McCain. The decorated veteran survived five and half years in a North Vietnamese POW camp during the Vietnam war and now his incredible story is being told in a new A&E network movie called "Faith of My Fathers." Senator McCain, I`ve got to know what was it like the very first time you watched the film based on your own real life experiences?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Well, there was some obviously very uncomfortable moments that brought back some bad memories. But overall it brought back wonderful memories of the brave men that I had the opportunity of serving with, that save -- literally saved my life and were my source of sustenance and courage when I failed. And I was privileged to observe a thousand acts of courage and compassion and love. And I`ll always remember them with that in mind.

BRYANT: Well, senator, if you will sit with us, we`re going to take a look at a clip of "Faith of My Fathers." It airs on A&E this Monday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have provided information about your military unit. The names of the men in your squadron, can you repeat them for us?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That would be OK, I guess. Starr, Greg; McGee, Davis; Aterly, Brown; Ringo, Wood.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRYANT: I read that you were particularly moved when you saw the scene of how your father reacted to news of what had happened to you in Vietnam. Can you tell me about that?

MCCAIN: Well, I had the greatest love and respect for my dad and I knew in some ways it was tougher on him than it was on me because I knew what was going on and he didn`t. And one point many years later he had to order the bombing of Hanoi knowing that I was there. That`s pretty tough on a father.

BRYANT: The last time that "Saving Private Ryan" was aired on television, there was a lot of talk about whether the film should be cleaned up with the language, with some of the violence. I want to know your thoughts on showing a war film. I mean, is it better to show the real, hard truth, or should war pictures be sanitized a little?

MCCAIN: It`s funny you mentioned that, because I did an introduction to it when it was shown on television. And in my introduction, I said, some of the scenes in this film are very graphic and very tough and very difficult. But they need to be shown because it is a true depiction of the service and sacrifice of these brave young Americans that we call our greatest generation. So I don`t think there should be gratuitous language -- and by the way, there`s none in this film -- or gratuitous violence, but you`ve got to point -- the reason why we avoid wars is because they`re so terrible. And to romanticize them in any way and not show how horrible it is in many aspects I think doesn`t prepare people for how difficult a decision it is to make to take this nation into war.

BRYANT: This is based on your experience, Vietnam 30-plus years ago. Is it too soon to do a story on 9/11, to do a film on the war in Iraq?

MCCAIN: I think it`s too soon to do a definitive film on the war in Iraq. I might wait a year or two on 9/11 because we still haven`t accumulated all of the elements of how it happened and why it happened and who was behind it. As you know, we still haven`t captured a lot of those people. But in the war in Iraq, I think you`ve got to wait a period of time, maybe four or five years after a war is over before you can really get an objective view. Now I`m not saying you should wait that long. But it`s always historically it`s at least five or 10 years later before you get an object objective dispassionate view of a conflict.

BRYANT: What will we find out about you? Obviously, a very public figure. What will we find out about you through the course of watching this film?

MCCAIN: A young man who had a pretty wild life at times as a midshipmen and young pilot.

BRYANT: Oh, yeah? It is fleet week here in New York, so...

MCCAIN: A young man who was late in maturing, let me put it that way. I didn`t break every rule at the Naval Academy, but most of them. A person who showed strengths and weaknesses. I succeeded in some ways and I failed in others. And I was dependent on others, not myself, for whatever strength and courage that I may have shown under difficult circumstances. And the greatest thing one can do with one`s life is to serve a cause greater than themselves.

BRYANT: Now, that sounds very reminiscent of something I might hear at, let`s say, a political convention with, let`s say, a potential presidential candidate.

MCCAIN: I hope not Karyn. I hope that this film is viewed for what it is and that`s an incredible experience that I had and privileged to know some of the great heroes that were far better than I was and that we take it at that. I would hate to have this viewed as some kind of political vehicle. If I want to do that, I think I could do a lot of other things. I think it would diminish those people I served with if this was some kind of political vehicle.

BRYANT: All right. Well thank you very much, Senator McCain. And again, the film is "Faith of My Fathers" on A&E.

MCCAIN: Thanks Karyn.

HAMMER: It will be one beautiful night in Bangkok, Thailand, this Monday at the 54th annual Miss Universe pageant. For the very first time in nine years, Miss Indonesia will be competing. That country has boycotted the pageant because of the swimsuit category. Indonesia has the world`s largest Muslim population and some religious leaders there think it is offensive to share bare skin to an international audience. So instead of a two-piece suit, Miss Indonesia will wear a one-piece. Contestants also donated $250,000 to a hospital in Phuket, Thailand. That area was ravaged of course by the tsunami this past December.

Lionel Ritchie`s smooth sounds just make us want to get up and dance. He`s going to tell us his secret for cranking out his 30 years of hits.

BRYANT: And these kids aren`t dancing on the ceiling, but they are ballroom dancing. Yes, we are not lying. We`re going to tell you all about that. So don`t step away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALICIA KEYS: I`m wearing Chanel this evening. And I love the train on it. I love the lace on it. I think it`s delicate but sophisticated and I think it fits.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. It`s the film taking the country by storm. The documentary about dance -- ballroom dancing for 11- year-olds. "Mad Hot Ballroom" is a story told by a group of kids from New York City public schools who learn how to meringue, tango and do the foxtrot so they can enter a competition. While they start out somewhat reluctant, by the end of the film they are surprised how the experience affects them. CNN`s pop culture correspondent Toure got to spend time with the kids and teachers who helped inspire it all.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOURE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "Mad Hot Ballroom" is a look inside ballroom dancing classes like this one at PS-115 in upper Manhattan. In the class, they learn a number of dances, including the swing, meringue, the tango. What is the value of teaching ballroom dancing?

RODNEY LOPEZ, BALLROOM DANCE TEACHER: Ballroom dancing is just an alternative for kids to sort of explore their creative side and to get to learn how to be with another human being in a social sort of setting.

JATNNA TORIBIO, STUDENT: It is very different and very dramatic and very -- I think I changed in my personality. I became very mature.

MARILYN AGRELO, PRODUCER/DIRECTOR: (INAUDIBLE) It takes you back to when you felt that way. Our minds were blown all the time by what these kids really are thinking.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Women overall, judging by scientific research, are the more advanced civilization.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: Girls always think they`re awesome and everything and they`re the best.

TOURE: The movie follows three schools into a ballroom dancing competition. Some of the best moments in the film are when the school you`ve been rooting for loses.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We brought five of the kids up to Park City for the festival and one little girl from the Tribeca team was upset. I said, Tara, what`s wrong? And she said, I just feel that loss all over again.

TOURE: But even if they lose, the ballroom dancing class is still everyone`s favorite part of the day.

LOPEZ: There`s a ballroom culture that`s developing in this school and what happens is that the younger kids see the accomplishments of the older kids. Now the fourth graders and the fifth graders who are coming up say, well, wait a minute, we know our big brothers or older friends have experienced this. We want to experience that, too.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAMMER: The film is great fun. "Mad Hot Ballroom" is now in theaters in select cities around the country.

BRYANT: You know the songs, "Easy" "Still," "Endless Love" just to name a few. They`re all Lionel Ritchie hits. His fans got to hear those songs and more as he put on a concert at Cipriani`s in New York City to help raise money to revitalize lower Manhattan. And of course, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT got the up close and personal invite.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRYANT (voice-over): Lionel Ritchie. He`s sold more than 100 million albums. He`s won five Grammies, an Oscar and a Golden Globe since going solo in 1982. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT was right there with Lionel as he prepared to hit New York City fans with his signature sound.

LIONEL RITCHIE: What I try to write about are real events. There will always be an easy like Sunday morning. There will always be an endless love. There will always be an all night long. In other words, those are phrases that will always be there. They`re not fadded. They`re not hip. They`re just timeless words. And so if I`ve connected with the public with those timeless words and then they got married to it, that will help, or they went to college on it or fell in love.

BRYANT: Which is why Lionel himself is in love with playing the older stuff, no matter how many times he goes on stage.

RITCHIE: You know why? Because the audience knows them probably better than I do and remembers every word. So it`s more like an evening of reminiscing more than anything. I think people look at these songs. They know exactly where they were. And basically, that`s what it brings back, all the wonderful memories.

BRYANT: So we wanted to know Lionel`s secret. How do you write songs that stand the test of time? Is it magic?

RITCHIE: Some days it`s magical. It`s two day or a day and a half. The sketch of it is done in about 20 minutes. But after that, misery comes in to find the rest of the lyrics. So that can be about two weeks at the most sometimes and sometimes it comes very fast.

"All Night Long" was the longest song ever and that was about two months. I just couldn`t find the ending to save my -- I couldn`t find all night long to save my life. I had everything, the verses, the middle part, the (INAUDIBLE), all the stuff. I just did not have all night long. I just did not have that. It took me forever to find it. And finally one night, the heavens opened up and came through.

The wonderful thing about song writing, it`s a humbling experience because as soon as you make a point and say, I`m writing it. Terrible lyrics, terrible lyrics and terrible melodies. When I nail it, it`s done. I know exactly what it is supposed to be. I know exactly what it sounds like. It is magical. I wish I knew how to explain it to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRYANT: Lionel tells us that he is about halfway through writing a brand new album. He also wants to go out on tour. He says he should be ready for that in about six months. A.J., everybody in the studio dancing today.

HAMMER: We had a whole conga line going on with the crew here.

BRYANT: Camera guys everywhere working it out.

HAMMER: All night long, I`m not ashamed to admit it, my prom theme. Prom season is coming up and it just made me a little reminiscent while we were looking at Lionel.

BRYANT: Very nice. Well, making dreams come true, that`s what Ellen does for rap star Nelly. That`s coming up in top of the day.

HAMMER: And of course, still time for you to sound off in our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. Those TV season finales, did they leave you as satisfied as your weekend barbecue will? Perhaps some snapper on the grill. Vote by going to cnn.com/showbiztonight or mail us what`s on your mind, showbiztonight@cnn.com is our address. Coming up next, we`re going to read some of your thoughts live.

BRYANT: But first, the must list. Five things "Entertainment Weekly" says you`ve just got to do this week. See "Layer Cake." ES says Daniel Craig serves up a slice of great acting in this film noir. Another must see, "Team America World Police." This animated flick is un-PC and new on DVD. Check out Ben Folds "Songs for Silverman." E.W. says it`s a sure that you`ll find a song for you.

Next, jump into your car, floor to it the nearest movie theater to check out "Crash." And finally "Entertainment Weekly" recommends getting face-to-face with a pit bull in Mark Joseph`s new book "American Pit Bull." For more of the must list, pick up "Entertainment Weekly." It`s on news stands now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

BRYANT: On the "Ellen Degeneres Show," Ellen makes a dream come true for rap star Nelly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NELLY: My first job was at McDonald`s. But my first job that actually paid better was UPS and that`s the one I like to say I took pride in because that was like $9 an hour. I thought I was the man. I was like $22, $23 an hour when you put the suit on. The suit was a goal though.

ELLEN DEGENERES: And you never made it to that goal. That`s a shame.

NELLY: Never made it to the...

DEGENERES: We like to see dreams come true. We don`t want to let you down. All right. Nelly come on out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: On Monday Ellen, Matt Lauer, Lee Ann Womack and Ludacris stop by.

BRYANT: Throughout the show, we`ve been asking you to vote online on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. TV season finales, did they leave you satisfied? Let`s take a look at how the vote is going so far. 47 percent of you say yes. You are satisfied, 53 percent of you say no, you weren`t. Pretty close call tonight.

You`ve also been sending your e-mails. Joe from Texas says "shows like LOST and DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES ruined their season finales. I was bored. But Karyn from New York was all smiles. I would have to say yes. I can`t wait until LOST and GILMORE GIRLS start up again.

Now Tony is writing that finales should answer questions and leave you wanting more. LOST, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, 24 and VERONICA MARSH (ph) did just that. Now remember, you can continue to vote at cnn.com/showbiztonight.

HAMMER: Were you voting during a commercial break?

BRYANT: No I wasn`t.

HAMMER: It was spelled like you spell your name.

BRYANT: It was but 24 was fantastic.

HAMMER: Time now to see what`s playing on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on Monday.

BRYANT: Let`s take a look at the showbiz marquee. Take it away, marquee guy.

ANNOUNCER: Costanza. He was Seinfeld`s neighbor who sometimes got under everyone`s skin. Now he wants to get under your pillow, not that there`s anything wrong with that. Jason Alexander, reminiscing about Seinfeld and reviewing whether the tooth fairy really exists. Jason Alexander, Monday.

And let us entertain you. Movies, music, books, so much to do, so little time to do it. Well, actually, there`s plenty of time, the whole summer. We`ve got your must see, can`t miss summer guide, Monday. It`s the marquee guy. And do I look like a guy who would steer you wrong?

HAMMER: Marquee guy`s going to be working on his tan this weekend.

BRYANT: He says, do I look like a guy? Who is the guy? We never get to see the guy. Anyway, that`s it for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m Karyn Bryant.

HAMMER: Have an enjoyable holiday weekend. I`m A.J. Hammer.

(NEWS BREAK)

END


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