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Rapper`s Comments on Race Fuel Nationwide Debate; At Movie Premiere, Talk is of Katrina; TV Special Predicted Disaster
Aired September 8, 2005 - 19:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KARYN BRYANT, CO-HOST: I`m Karyn Bryant.
A.J. HAMMER, CO-HOST: I`m A.J. Hammer. TV`s only live entertainment news show starts right now.
HAMMER (voice-over): On SHOWBIZ TONIGHT race and the hurricane aftermath.
KANYE WEST, RAPPER: George Bush doesn`t care about black people.
HAMMER: Tonight, new and powerful reaction to Kanye West`s comments, from other artists, as a former presidential candidate also raises the race issue.
BRYANT (voice-over): What they knew and when they knew it. President Bush says no one anticipated New Orleans` levees breaking. But tonight, the startling "National Geographic" show that predicted what happened, would happen. Tonight, the documentary that was so frightening and so on the mark.
HAMMER: Rescuing the pets. Tonight, the heartbreak of man separated from his best friend. Plus, a dramatic rescue operation you won`t want to miss.
BRYANT: Hello, I`m Karyn Bryant.
HAMMER: I`m A.J. Hammer.
Tonight the Katrina race debate flares up once again. Kanye West flamed those fans during his outburst on the NBC hurricane telethon, claiming that race was in fact a factor in the slow response to the Katrina disaster.
BRYANT: Today, new developments as more and more stars are speaking out. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Brooke Anderson is live tonight in Hollywood with the latest.
What`s up, Brooke?
BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Karyn, A.J., rapper Kanye West sparked a big debate with seven strong words spoken live on NBC, his comments so loaded that the peacock network decided not to replay them in the West Coast edition of their Katrina relief telethon -- relief telethon, excuse me.
Tonight the debate on racism and Katrina is continuing with increased fury and emotion.
WEST: George Bush doesn`t care about black people.
ANDERSON (voice-over): That one sentence, the sharp words that brought a passionate debate to the surface. Rapper Kanye West, presenting at NBC`s live telecast of its Concert for Hurricane Relief last Friday, ditched his scripted comments and dug into something deeper.
WEST: I hate the way they portray us in the media. We see a black family that says they`re looting. You see a white family, it says they`re looking for food.
With the set up the way America is set up to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off as slow as possible, I mean, this is -- Red Cross is doing everything they can. We already realize a lot of the people that could help are at war right now fighting another way. And they`ve given them permission to go down and shoot us.
ANDERSON: He told us how he really felt and brought to the forefront one of the most heated and loaded issues to come out of the Katrina catastrophe, whether race played a part in the disaster relief efforts following Katrina`s devastation.
It`s been the water cooler discussion for days in offices and homes around the country. It was a concern echoed again by DNC chairman Howard Dean just yesterday.
HOWARD DEAN, DNC CHAIR: Skin color, age and economics played a significant role in who survived and who did not.
ANDERSON: And last night in Los Angeles, at the Lady of Soul Awards, Hollywood weighed in on this divisive issue.
Brian McKnight told SHOWBIZ TONIGHT he applauds Kanye for speaking out.
BRIAN MCKNIGHT, SINGER: And I think that if that`s the way he feels, I support him in what he has to say. And I truly believe if this happened someplace else, Beverly Hills, let`s say, probably something else -- things might have been handled a little differently.
ANDERSON: Actor John Legend says Kanye`s comments came from the heart.
JOHN LEGEND, ACTOR: The government was slow in getting in there. And it clearly shows that our president continues to -- he fails to lead us in a way that I think is right for this country.
ANDERSON: Singer Eric Benet said Kanye touched on something very real.
ERIC BENET, SINGER: There`s definitely an emotion of anger that I think many people, including myself, experience with why? You know, there were so many things that did not need -- you know, you can never prepare enough for a tragedy like this, but there was so much preparation that wasn`t done.
ANDERSON: "Saturday Night Live`s" Finesse Mitchell told us Kanye`s words were very necessary.
FINESSE MITCHELL, ACTOR: I`m so glad somebody said something. You know, to just bring some attention to what`s going on.
ANDERSON: And the attention was focused on Kanye last night as he performed at a party in New York. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT was there.
But even though reporters tried to get him talking, Kanye`s attention was focused only on singing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the first time on "Ellen," Kanye West.
ANDERSON: But Kanye will address the issue again. This promo ran on the Ellen DeGeneres talk show today.
ELLEN DEGENERES, TALK SHOW HOST: Let`s talk about what everything is talking about now.
WEST: If I can have the opportunity to talk, don`t ask me to talk if you don`t want me to be sincere.
ANDERSON: And Kanye will be talking more to Oprah. He`ll appear on her show tomorrow.
And Karyn, A.J., experts today from both sides of the aisle warned be careful when playing the race card. As Howard Dean said, we just saw in the piece, economics and age also were a huge factor in who was left behind. So this is a discussion that you can be sure will continue in the days, weeks, and even months ahead.
Back to you.
BRYANT: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Brooke Anderson live in Hollywood, thank you.
In fact, it`s going to continue right now. Was race a factor in how the victims of Hurricane Katrina were treated? Tonight in our "SHOWBIZ In- Depth," we take on that burning question.
Joining us live from Sacramento, California, Mark Williams, talk show host for KFBK Radio. And live from Washington, D.C., Morris Reid, a Democratic strategist and business brand expert and managing director of Westin Rinehart, which is a public affairs firm.
Thank you, gentlemen, both for joining me tonight.
Mark, I want to start with you. The blunt question: was race a factor, either consciously or subconsciously in the speed of the initial response?
MARK WILLIAMS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: No. I fail to see how anybody can draw that conclusion against these idiots in Hollywood who like spouting off without knowing what they`re talked about.
What caused the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was exactly what everybody has known for 40 years would cause the aftermath. The disastrous conditions that prevailed that destroyed the infrastructure over an area the size of Great Britain and a couple of hundred thousand people who have been so trained in being passive, expecting the government to do absolutely everything for them, that they didn`t have the necessary brains and common sense to get out of the way of a Cat 5 hurricane.
And then after it hit them, stood on the sidewalk of the convention center expiring while reporters were coming and going, some of them, I understand, even in taxi cabs.
MORRIS REID, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Mark, that is -- that`s just sickening.
WILLIAMS: The problems after Hurricane Katrina have been -- have been predicted for more that 40 years.
And when this is over, there`s going to be no shortage of government officials and administrators and bureaucrats to put up against a pock- marked wall.
But to drag race into this is not only disingenuous, but it also is to say -- and this is an incredibly racist remark I hear coming from these people...
BRYANT: Mark, I`ve got to be honest with you.
WILLIAMS: ... that the overwhelming majority of victims are black, because blacks are too stupid to get out of the way of a hurricane? I don`t think so.
BRYANT: Excuse me.
REID: Who said that, mark? I mean, that is atrocious what you`re saying.
First of all, these are our American -- our fellow American citizens who pay their taxes. These people, the government should have been there; they should have had a plan in place. They knew what was going on, but they didn`t have a plan in place. And that`s not just the federal, but it`s the local and state, as well.
I`ve got to tell you I`m very proud of Kanye West. It took a 28-year- old rap artist, a pop culture figure, to get America talking about a real issue. If it wasn`t for Kanye West, we wouldn`t be talking about this. Jesse Jackson didn`t do it.
WILLIAMS: Kanye West is a...
BRYANT: Mark, mark, Mark, please, a little respect. Mark, thank you very much.
REID: Kanye spoke his mind, and I am disappointed that you would call him an idiot. This is a man who is speaking his mind and speaking the truth and speaking passionately about what he has to say.
WILLIAMS: He`s worse than an idiot. He`s worse than an idiot.
BRYANT: And by the way that idiot has the No. 1-selling record in the country right now, Mark. I will tell you that.
REID: Mark, you can`t be dismissive by calling him...
BRYANT: Listen, guys, guys, guys. Obviously, this is extremely heated. Morris, I want to give you a chance. I want -- I want to talk to you about this idea that some people are throwing around, that because the mayor is a black man, because there are black politicians in New Orleans, that they should have done a better job.
Morris, what do you think of that? Do you think there`s any truth to the idea that leadership has let down their own people?
REID: I think that leadership -- it`s not -- Ray Nagin represents black folks and white folks. The real issue here is that we don`t understand classism in our society. If you have the means, whether you`re black or white, you got out of New Orleans, so we`re talking, really, from a class situation. It`s uncomfortable to talk about class, because race has to seep in there.
So Ray Nagin, not only did he and the governor and the president let down black people, he also let down white people. So I think that there`s enough blame to spread around here. And it`s not about idiots. It`s about the fact that our government did not do an adequate job.
WILLIAMS: I will tell you the only role that race plays in this is that the American black population has been the prototype for an entire race of people being turned into a group of dependants of the government.
And these people you saw at the convention center, the people who were trapped there, trapped -- I`m using that word very loosely -- are screaming, "We want help, we want help" for four or five days. Yet they didn`t bother even trying to help themselves.
Unfortunately, in this country, the Democrat party, the same party that fought a civil war to keep slaves, filibustered 100 years to prevent the implementation of civil rights, has now completed the reenslavement of blacks by turning them into passive, totally dependent economically and for the simple common sense to walk out of the way of a hurricane on the government. That`s unconscionable.
REID: Mark, what you are saying -- Mark, what you are saying...
WILLIAMS: And racists like this rap guy, who don`t know the first thing about what George Bush thinks about anybody, rap our otherwise, this guy is a Klansman in black face.
BRYANT: Well, I can tell you one thing, Mark. Kanye West knows -- Kanye West knows what he feels. He sees these images on television. He sees mostly black people looking at a bad situation. They happen to be mostly poor.
And yes that city is 70 percent black and yes many of them are poor. But I think that what Kanye West was saying, he was very emotional and he`s voicing what a lot of people are seeing.
It looks like, had the people in the dome been white people in twin sets and pearls, he kind of feels like they probably would have gotten a little help a little bit sooner -- Morris.
REID: More to the point is that you`re not -- hold on a second. The fact of the matter is that it is un-American what you`re saying. When people are in need, this is the basic thing, you help your neighbor.
My grandmother at home in Akron, Ohio, is watching this. I would step up and help my neighbor because I was taught to do that. You are so outrageous and so -- I mean, I`m afraid that you shouldn`t be an American, because you`re being so outrageous.
WILLIAMS: Now you`re defending the looters, right?
REID: I`m not defending the looters. But what you are doing is...
WILLIAMS: Let`s talk about looters.
REID: Let`s talk about looting for a second. If you`re looking for food...
BRYANT: Morris, finish your thought, Morris.
REID: Mark, if you`re looking for food, it is not looting. If you are taking a DVD, absolutely that`s looting. That`s looting. But if you`re looking for food, just as a lot of white folks were doing, that is not looting. Just as African-Americans were looking for food.
So the fact of the matter is, if you`re stealing, yes, but if you`re in a desperate situation, that company, that store is going to write it off anyway. If you need food, you should be able to do that because it`s a desperate situation. So it`s not about looting, but survival.
BRYANT: All right, guys. That is it for now. And obviously, this is going to continue, continue to raise -- I do thank you both, though, for your opinions, for vocalizing them tonight. Morris Reid, Democratic strategist, and Mark Williams, radio talk show host for KFBK.
REID: Mark, you`re completely out of touch in Sacramento.
HAMMER: A little out of touch, indeed, perhaps.
We want to hear from you on this. I have a feeling we`re pushing the right buttons tonight. So get on your computer to let us know what you think about our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. Katrina telethons: are they the proper place for stars to voice opinions, as Kanye West did? You can vote at CNN.com/ShowbizTonight. If you want to e-mail us more, ShowbizTonight@CNN.com is our address. We`re going to share your thoughts later in the show.
There are still many, many dogs and cats left stranded throughout the Gulf Coast. We`re going to have an update on the efforts to rescue pets and return them to their owners, coming up later on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.
BRYANT: Plus, Katrina is the main topic of conversation everywhere, including big movie premieres. Jennifer Lopez and Morgan freeman weigh in on the disaster, next.
HAMMER: And, a now-chilling documentary about New Orleans` vulnerability to a major hurricane. It predicted what could happen and it got it right. It`s an unbelievable story. It`s coming up later on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.
HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer.
Tonight the devastation of Hurricane Katrina seems to be overshadows just about everything Hollywood is doing. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT found that out firsthand when we went to the New York City premiere of Jennifer Lopez` movie, "An Unfinished Life."
SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s David Haffenreffer was right there, and he`s live with us tonight. Got to spend a little time with J. Lo?
DAVID HAFFENREFFER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Indeed, we did, and everybody was talking about Katrina last night and today. It`s yet another sign of how much life has changed since Hurricane Katrina struck and the priorities of the nation.
At the premiere of "An Unfinished Life," celebrities shared their very emotional and candid thoughts about the devastation and what they`re doing to help.
HAFFENREFFER (voice-over): ... and all were on the red carpet. You could say the premiere was like many others, except on this night they told me there was only one thing on their minds: Katrina.
JENNIFER LOPEZ, ACTRESS/SINGER: I have such a mix of emotions that come over me, it`s hard to articulate. Sadness, tragedy, hopefulness.
MORGAN FREEMAN, ACTOR: Almost too much to take, because you need to get up and run down there and do something.
CAMRYN MANHEIM, ACTRESS: It`s an ongoing discussion on how we can help, the best we can do.
HAFFENREFFER (on camera): And Hollywood isn`t just sympathizing with those who have lost so much along the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina; they`re getting involved on the scene. They`re sending in donations, helping out.
LOPEZ: I don`t know any American can sit at home and watch CNN and not want to do that.
HAFFENREFFER (voice-over): Jennifer Lopez told me she`s doing her part, helping out with her own special charity that focuses on the little victims of Katrina, the children.
LOPEZ: One of the things that occurred to me, it was like, what about the children?
HAFFENREFFER: I caught up with her after the premiere to talk more about her work with the Children`s Health Fund, an organization that provides free health care to the nation`s children most in need.
LOPEZ: One of the things that they do need down there desperately is healthcare. There`s going to be all the infectious diseases, and dysentery. And the people who are going to be affected the most are the weak, elderly and the children.
HAFFENREFFER: Morgan Freeman also told me it`s impossible for him to sit on the sidelines, and that`s why he`s using the web to make a difference.
FREEMAN: We`ve set up an on-line auction, so it`s CharityFolks.com, some really terrific stuff, terrific people.
HAFFENREFFER: Make a bid on things like premiere passes, luxury cruises, original artwork, and best of all, a chance to meet a Hollywood A- lister. All proceeds go to the Red Cross.
Camryn Manheim has also been doing her part to help Katrina survivors.
MANHEIM: AOL has been getting money from all of their members, and we`re doing a lot -- we`re doing public service announcements with them and sending money. And I feel like that`s the best I can do right now.
HAFFENREFFER: And getting the word out is a big part of that, but Lopez thinks it`s not just celebrities who are doing incredible work when it comes to helping Katrina survivors.
LOPEZ: One of the most pleasing things that we`ve seen from this is how Americans and people all over the world have pulled together in this time of crisis. And to me that`s been one of the most moving things about what has happened.
HAFFENREFFER: And if you want to learn more about Jennifer Lopez` charity, log on to ChildrensHealthFund.org -- Karyn.
BRYANT: Thank you very much, David Haffenreffer.
Well, tonight, a starting TV show that has everyone talking reveals that the disaster in New Orleans should not have come as a surprise to anyone.
While President Bush said, quote, "I don`t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees," well, it turns out a TV special predicted that months before Hurricane Katrina all but destroyed the city. The special flat-out said that New Orleans was living on borrowed time, so why didn`t anyone listen?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Few cities in the world stand to suffer more from just one major blow than New Orleans.
BRYANT (voice-over): Eerily prescient words from the past about the danger New Orleans faces from a hurricane. The "National Geographic Explorer" TV special, "Violent Earth," featured a doomsday scenario of what a major hurricane could do to New Orleans, the doomsday scenario that turned out to be frighteningly accurate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Visions of a storm surge through Bourbon Street.
BRYANT: That television special, which aired dozens of times, illustrated with graphic detail the main reason why New Orleans was always considered likely to one day suffer catastrophic hurricane damage: the fact that most of the city lies under sea level, protected on all sides by vulnerable levees that keep out the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain. Watch as the pictures basically predict the future.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Its Achilles` heel is a densely populated region that lies below sea level. Locals call it the bowl. When a big storm strikes the Big Easy, it likely will fill the bowl. A storm surge bursts over the levees, has nowhere to go; the city becomes a lake.
BRYANT: Almost word for word, that is exactly what happened. Even though Hurricane Katrina technically missed New Orleans, storm surges caused major levee failures.
And what did the special predict about the ensuing floods?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These floodwaters are rendered toxic by sewage, chemical waste and infested with disease.
BRYANT: Again, Katrina proved "National Geographic" right. New Orleans is now under floodwater brimming with raw sewage, dead bodies, spilled fuel and industrial waste.
The most shocking thing is that "National Geographic" was by no means the only media outlet to predict the tragedy that befell New Orleans.
DR. STEVE LYONS, THE WEATHER CHANNEL: It wasn`t at all a secret that it was going to be a very, very bad scenario.
BRYANT: A few years ago The Weather Channel made a list of the cities most vulnerable to a catastrophic hurricane. New Orleans topped the list.
LYONS: We have a very surge-prone area that is vulnerable to a strong hurricane like a Category 4 or Category 5 with a high population and a lot of water that can kill people.
BRYANT: There were lots of predictions that New Orleans` time would one day come, but as we sadly know, those predictions were not heeded.
LYONS: I think a lot of people get complacent. They watch hurricanes go by. There are near misses. And they think, "Well, I went through this hurricane." They didn`t; it missed them. And so they think it`s not going to directly hit them and they`ll be safe. Or they think the levee system will hold up, when even though they`re told it won`t.
BRYANT: TV programs weren`t the only ones warning that New Orleans was vulnerable. In 2001, the Federal Emergency Management Agency listed a hurricane strike on New Orleans as one of the top three most likely catastrophes to hit the United States.
HAMMER: It`s an unfortunate decision that TV networks have to make in the Katrina aftermath: whether or not to show dead bodies. We`re going to look into that, coming up.
BRYANT: Plus, you probably remember Hardy Jackson. His story of losing his wife drove a reporter to tears. Tonight, we have an update on how he`s doing.
HAMMER: And, more images that are difficult to watch: all the pets left stranded. Coming up, the upside. The effort to rescue them and reunite them with their owners.
HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.
While the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is certainly dominating the news, there are some other stories that we`re following, as well. So let`s go back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Brooke Anderson, joining us live once again in Hollywood -- Brooke.
ANDERSON: Hi there, A.J. Well, tonight, getting ready for a softer side of Martha Stewart. On this morning`s "Today Show", in her first live interview since snipping off that ankle bracelet last week, Stewart said you can expect to see a totally different side of her in a new daytime talk show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTHA STEWART, FOUNDER, MARTHA STEWART LIVING OMNIMEDIA: I can be more spontaneous and more relaxed, but now I have the opportunity to interact with an audience and with guests in a much freer atmosphere.
(END VIDEO CLIP0
ANDERSON: "Martha" premieres on Monday.
Richard Hatch survived the jungles of Borneo, but will he survive the wrath of the government? The winner of the first season of "Survivor" was indicted in Rhode Island today on 10 counts, including tax evasion. The indictment alleges that Hatch failed to report nearly $1.5 million in income. This is including his $1 million winnings from the show in 2000.
And the stars were out in full force in New York last night for "InStyle`s" "Clothes We Love" fashion show. Kyra Sedgwick, Liam Neeson, Denis Leary, Gail King (ph) and others showed up to take a look at over 100 fall styles from 60 designers. "InStyle" magazine is owned by Time Warner, just like us.
And those are other stories making news. A.J., back to you in New York.
HAMMER: Thanks very much, Brooke. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Brooke Anderson, live in Hollywood.
We`re going to be getting back to our coverage of Hurricane Katrina. Tonight, the government has made a request that actually could affect what everybody is seeing on TV. It could affect the images that we`re putting on TV. And we`re going to be dealing with that, going live to one of our CNN reporters to talk about it, coming up next.
BRYANT: Plus, in these difficult days, of course good news is always welcome. A.J., you and I are both dog owners.
BRYANT: We know the tragedy of missing our pets. Well, tonight, we`re going to have some stories of rescuing the pets. A happy reunion coming up on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.
HAMMER: Difficult for me to watch those stories.
BRYANT: I know.
HAMMER: But here`s another touching story we have on the way. His story of losing his wife certainly touched hearts everywhere. Tonight, we`ve got an update for you on where Hardy Jackson is living and we`ll tell you how he`s doing, as well. That`s coming up just ahead on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.
THOMAS ROBERTS, CNN HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT continues in one minute. Hi, everybody. I`m Thomas Roberts with your "Headline Prime Newsbreak."
The southeast is bracing for another powerful storm. Ophelia became a hurricane this afternoon with 75 mile-an-hour winds. Right now, it`s stationary off Cape Canaveral, Florida, and may head northeast away from land. But forecasters say it could double back.
New Orleans officials are desperately concerned about as many as 15,000 people still in the city who face mounting health risks. Rescue workers are searching thousands of homes to persuade them to leave.
And officials are very worried that fires could increase. There were more blazes today after 11 fires broke out yesterday, including several at historically black Dillard University.
The vice president visited the region to inspect damage and evaluate the efforts. He stopped at the beleaguered convention center, saw the levee repair effort firsthand, and also toured Mississippi.
And after just one day, FEMA is changing its plan to distribute debit cards to hurricane victims. Only evacuees in the Houston area will get the cards. Others can sign up for the post office boxes and get checks in the mail.
That`s the news for now. Thanks for joining us. I`m Thomas Roberts. Back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.
HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. It is 31 minutes past the hour now. I`m A.J. Hammer.
BRYANT: I`m Karyn Bryant. You`re watching TV`s only live entertainment news show.
And tonight, still to come on the show, Hardy Jackson -- A.J., you may remember -- this was one of the most unbelievable stories, when the hurricane had first struck. There was a reporter on the ground talking to this man who lost his wife.
And she broke down, he broke down. It really is the most moving story, in my opinion. And we`re going to get an update on how Hardy is doing.
HAMMER: So many heart-wrenching stories coming from the Gulf Coast region.
And from all of the tragedy, we do have occasionally moments of light. Tonight, we`re going to continue taking a look at some of the rescue efforts for the pets that have been left behind, including one very emotional reunion.
BRYANT: Oh, boy.
HAMMER: So definitely stick around for that.
But first, tonight, a heated debate over whether news organizations should be showing dead bodies in their coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. As the floodwaters recede, there could possibly be thousands of dead people lining the streets.
Today, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, known as FEMA, asked the press not to show dead bodies. Always a tough call for news organizations and reporters. How graphic is too graphic?
Joining us live tonight, CNN correspondent Rick Sanchez. He`s been covering the hurricane, live now from the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport just outside of New Orleans.
Rick, in your experience of covering this disaster, have you had to make some hard decisions yourself about not showing some of the more graphic things that you`ve come across?
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sure. And in consort with some of the officials in Atlanta, we`ve had plenty of conversations.
Look, A.J., when I first got here, I was taken aback by all the bodies that I had seen, most of them floating facedown, I should add, in the waters. And we took some pictures of those bodies from afar, but then, the other day, I came across one in particular that really stood out.
It was sitting right in the median of a town square. And the water had receded, so there were still waters around it, but because it was in the median, it seemed to be elevated. And unlike the other bodies, that most were face down, and you really couldn`t see anything but the backs of their heads, this body was different. It was almost statuesque.
He was face-up. And he was almost staring up at the sky. It was a unique picture, but it told the reality of that moment, because there were people walking around. There were people wading. There were people in boats that were going by, but it stood right there. And many of them seemed to ignore it, because they`d known it`d been there for a couple days.
That was a tough decision, tough call, because it stood out, it was so different from the other bodies. So I got on the horn with the mother ship at CNN headquarters in Atlanta and I had some conversations with people who are paid to make these decisions. And in the end, we decided to go with it.
We went with it because it truly showed the reality of what was going here, and that`s the bottom line. Of course, we were careful to show it from afar. We were also careful not to have an identity on the person, and we were also careful not to show his head or his face.
We shot it in such a way so you could see it, but you still could see just how prominent it was. And I think it was important to let people see that.
HAMMER: Well, Rick, one of the realities that I mentioned that we`re certainly going to be facing over the coming weeks, the thousands, inevitably thousands of dead bodies that are going to appear as the floodwaters recede.
Are we in danger of sanitizing the story? As hard as it is to look at dead bodies, do they need to be shown to convey the gravity of what`s going on?
SANCHEZ: Look, it`s all about how you handled it, how you do it, how much of a thought process you put into it. You can`t just go in and start shooting dead bodies and putting them in your stories for the effect of having dead bodies.
They have to convey something. There has to be a reason why you`re showing these bodies.
Should you sanitize the news? I believe you should not. I think people are grownups, and they should be able to make up their own decisions as to how they`re affected viscerally by a story like this.
Because, first, if you can affect them viscerally, then you`ll get them thinking about what`s going on, questions about, for example, how their local, or state, or federal governments are handling this disaster.
So it`s almost an entree. It`s a way of getting people to think. And in the end, that`s probably one of the most important things that we can do in this business.
HAMMER: Well, I can`t imagine having to see firsthand all that you`ve had to see. CNN`s Rick Sanchez, thanks for joining us live from New Orleans.
BRYANT: One of the personal stories from the hurricane aftermath that has really struck a chord is Hardy Jackson`s ordeal, who -- Hardy`s wife was killed in Hurricane Katrina. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT showed you the dramatic story, as Hardy broke down during a television interview, which left the reporter speaking to him also in tears.
Tonight, a SHOWBIZ TONIGHT follow-up, what has happened to Hardy since then. Here is CNN`s Tony Harris for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.
TONY HARRIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His face is etched into our collective memory.
JENNIFER MAYERLE, REPORTER, WKRG NEWS 5: Who was at your house with you?
HARDY JACKSON, HURRICANE SURVIVOR: My wife.
MAYERLE: Where is she now?
JACKSON: I can`t find her body. She`s gone.
HARRIS: And so is Hardy Jackson`s story.
JACKSON: I hold her hand as tightly as I could, and she told me, "You can`t hold me."
HARRIS: Before the true nightmare of New Orleans was known, Katrina devastated Biloxi, Mississippi, and made Hardy Jackson`s anguish one of the indelible images of this disaster.
JACKSON: Everybody that sees me now walk up to me, oh, with tears in their eyes, oh, and sobbing in their heart.
HARRIS: Today, Hardy Jackson is trying to fulfill the promise he made to Toni, his wife of 29 years, to take care of their three children and three grandchildren. But it has been a struggle in so many ways.
This is the only picture that remains of Toni and Hardy together.
JACKSON: That was my wife. That was my best friend. That was my mama.
HARRIS: Jackson`s sister, Sharon, and her husband in an Atlanta suburb are trying to stabilize the family, but a small three-bedroom house is now home for 10 people, including the seven newcomers, family members who survived a horrible ordeal and have nowhere else to go.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I just thank God. I thank God for them being safe.
HARRIS: Food, clothing and shelter will bridge the short-term crisis, but coming to terms with the shambles Katrina made of Hardy`s life will take a very long time.
JACKSON: It was a knock of death, doom, doom, doom, doom. I said, "Well, Babe, it don`t look good. It don`t look good."
I said, "Baby, please don`t let go. Please don`t let go." Nobody around to help. Nobody. Just me and her. And she said, "Hardy," she said, "let go. You can`t hold me."
Oh, I said, "Please, baby, don`t say that." I said, "We`ll save you. Please, babe, don`t leave me." She said, "Take care of them kids, and take care of them grandkids." She looked at my eyes just like I`m looking into your eyes, man, and let go.
And she went back to the north, man, that water, man, took her back. I didn`t see, man, somewhere.
HARRIS: Hardy Jackson made a promise to his wife to take care of the kids and the grandkids. It`s a promise he plans to keep. He just needs some help to get started.
BRYANT: That was CNN`s Tony Harris reporting for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.
Well, R&B legend Fats Domino was rescued from New Orleans just over a week ago. And soon, he`ll perform in a benefit concert to help other victims.
Today, we learned Domino is among the star-studded lineup for a benefit concert September 20th at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Other performers include the great Elton John, Rod Stewart, and Stevie Nicks. The concert is called "From the Big Apple to the Big Easy." Tickets go on sale at Ticketmaster on Tuesday, September 13th.
HAMMER: Well, coming up, we`re going to speak with a celebrity who witnessed horrific destruction in the Indonesian tsunami firsthand, and he`s now on the ground on the Gulf Coast. And he`s leading up a special relief effort there. We`re going to hear from musician and radio show host John Tesh, live from Biloxi, Mississippi.
BRYANT: And it is the heart-breaking stories of the hurricane victims who can`t speak for themselves, the abandoned pets. Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT takes you to the dangerous flood-ravaged waters in New Orleans as volunteers desperately try to reunite pets with their worried owners.
BRYANT: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m Karyn Bryant.
I got to tell you: I have two of the most adorable, sweet puppy dogs in the world, so I know firsthand that you just cannot overstate how strong the emotional bond is between pet and pet owner. And we have seen countless images of people refusing to evacuate their destroyed homes without their pets. And that has got stars like Rebecca Romijn upset.
SHOWBIZ TONIGHT caught up with her at the "Elle" magazine 21st birthday party in New York City last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REBECCA ROMIJN, MODEL: God, on top of all these people who have lost everything, they now have to deal with the tragedy of leaving their beloved pets behind? Well, yes, I mean, they`re every much as part of all these families as anyone else is and they get left behind. It`s just too much. All of it is just too tragic, you know?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRYANT: Well, CNN`s Adaora Udoji rode along with an animal rescue team conducting a painstaking search for left-behind pets.
ADAORA UDOJI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pat Bosman`s (ph) living one nightmare after another. Her city`s flooded. Now, she`s franticly searching emergency animal shelters for her two dogs.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, that`s not him. That`s not him.
UDOJI: On New Orleans` water-logged streets, you can hear the dogs for miles. They`re trapped, on boats, roofs, porches, surrounded by black and putrid water.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One block that way is General Persian (ph).
UDOJI: But the cavalry, led by Louisiana`s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, has teams from as far away as Boston tracking them down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have a address on the list. It`s a Forette Street address, Forette Vet Clinic.
UDOJI: Chief Craig Warren sent his four teams out with inflatable rafts armed with a handful of hundreds of addresses pet owners have called in. The work`s hot and painstaking for this volunteer San Diego team we followed.
The first dog we see, a Labrador mix, is not on their list, so they keep going. The dog follows us four blocks to the team`s first address, where they find nothing. So they pick the dog up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, oh, good boy.
UDOJI: The lucky Labrador turns out to be a female. The next dog doesn`t come so easily. The team says he`s scared and hungry. The situation escalates quickly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The little terrier didn`t want to go.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, no. And sometimes you just can`t get them.
UDOJI: But they keep going because they do save so many animals. The teams rescued two dozen this day, which are sent 50 miles north to the Lamar-Dixon Center, where, every day, hundreds of people come looking, some, like this man, forced to leave his pet when he was evacuated. It`s a sweet reunion.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Daddy came and got you, huh, boy? I think he`s happy, too.
UDOJI (on-screen): Who do you think is happier, him or you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Both. Probably both.
UDOJI (voice-over): So far, 600 animals have rolled in, dogs, cats, pigs, surprisingly most in good shape, say animal workers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s a very long day. We start -- we`re out of here by 7:00, and we don`t go home until after midnight.
UDOJI: Louisiana`s director expects more than 2,000 animals. That`s more pets, more horses, more mules. They can barely keep up.
LAURA MALONEY, DIRECTOR, LOUISIANA ASPCA: We have 50 trucks going in. We could use, you know, a hundred, really.
UDOJI: The rescued Labrador from earlier comes in on one of them. Like all animals, she`s photographed, checked, then decontaminated. So dehydrated, she laps up her shower, all stations fully manned.
MELANIE PARKER, PET SEARCH VOLUNTEER: I`m volunteering to help the animals.
UDOJI (on-screen): Why?
PARKER: Because it`s a fun thing to do and to help save them.
UDOJI (voice-over): Dozens of volunteers are caring for the animals, feeding them from tons of donated pet food, but a crushed Pat Bosman (ph) doesn`t find her dogs here.
(on-screen): You must be a little disappointed.
BOSMAN: Yes, but I hope there are no issues.
UDOJI: She`s moves on, driven by faith her family pets will be found.
BRYANT: That was CNN`s Adaora Udoji, for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.
And if you need help locating your lost pet, or if you`d like to adopt one, head over to Petfinder.com.
HAMMER: Well, after the Indonesian tsunami, John Tesh didn`t waste a moment of time getting his entire family over there to help out in the relief effort. The same is true in the wake of Katrina. We`re going to speak with John, coming up live next here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.
HAMMER: John Tesh has witnessed the horrific force of Mother Nature before. The musician and host of the John Tesh Radio Show was on the ground in Sri Lanka helping out with the relief efforts there in the wake of the devastating Indonesian tsunami back in December.
Well, this time, he`s part of a fundraising effort called Radio Relief. And John joins me now, live from Biloxi, Mississippi.
John, I appreciate you being with us. I understand you took a helicopter ride from Gulfport over to Biloxi to be with us tonight. A lot of people have been making the obvious comparisons between this event and the tsunami. You`ve seen them both. In your mind, is it a valid comparison?
JOHN TESH, MUSICIAN: Well, I wasn`t in Banda Aceh, but I was definitely in Sri Lanka in Southeast Asia, right there on the shores of the Indian Ocean, with my wife, Connie, and the rest of my family.
And I can tell you that, from the air and from being here, this is just much worse. Not only, as many of these areas endured 160 mile-an-hour winds, but also the 25-foot tidal surge. So I`ve never seen anything like this, including the tsunami.
HAMMER: What were some of the most startling images that you`ve seen since you`ve gotten down to Mississippi?
TESH: I must tell you, they are also the most heart-warming images, and that is people who have -- these three people from a church rented a van. And then they put together some money. And they bought 20,000 water bottles. And they drove all the way from Phoenix to Gulfport just to hand out water.
There were police officers in Philadelphia who have just gotten -- they just got in their cruisers and started driving. And they came to a town where they could help.
There are many, many stories like that, where people are just leaving their lives come and help these people who have lost theirs.
HAMMER: Including yourself. And I understand you actually tried to load up a Learjet with supplies and bring it down there. You eventually made it down there, but you weren`t able to fly the supplies in yourself?
TESH: Yes, in fact, we worked with Operation Blessing. And there wasn`t a way for us to get everything on the plane and also distribute at the same time. So we found a way to donate money to the hospital and have them do it.
And what we`re trying to do with our radio program, which you mentioned earlier, is we`re trying to find areas like Long Beach, Mississippi, which not a lot of people are talking about, and also Slidell, Louisiana, and have our radio listeners adopt these areas and actually do things, like raise money for books in the elementary schools, or even, you know, send lumber that way.
HAMMER: And you mentioned not a lot of people being aware of certain parts of Mississippi, and that`s where you`ve been spending your time. Is that by design?
Because obviously, in the media, a lot of the attention has been focused on New Orleans. Are you intentionally spending your time there in Mississippi? And will you stay there?
TESH: Yes, definitely. And when my wife and I talked about this -- and she`s now hosting the radio show from Los Angeles -- and I came here, and we`re both interacting, and trying to get people -- trying to get attention to especially these two cities, because, I mean, just to be frank, these guys, they admit to us that they haven`t seen the federal government yet.
So I think there`s so much focus and, rightly so, there`s so much focus on New Orleans right now, with those horrific events there, but a lot of these folks feel like they`ve been abandoned. And what`s happened is that faith-based organizations have really come to their rescue. A lot of churches have banded together to come and give them food.
HAMMER: And you`re obviously there doing quite a bit. But from what you`ve seen, from your perspective, John, what`s not being done that should be done at this time by the government?
TESH: Yes, it`s a good question. I mean, there`s just so much rebuilding that has to be done.
I just spoke with two doctors here, too. They really need counseling. These people have post-traumatic syndrome big time. There need to be counselors coming in here. And a lot of these areas just need to be leveled.
And, also, think about this: 30,000 trees just in this area were uprooted. And that means that all of the infrastructure came up with it, you know, all of the cabling, a lot of the street lights, and all of that stuff.
I mean, anybody who`s watching this needs to find a way to connect to a private mission -- their private mission to these areas, the underserved areas. And that means, if you`re an attorney, or if you`re a builder, or you`re a counselor, you can help out.
HAMMER: John, you`ve got your white hat on there, but I`m going to ask you to put your old reporter`s hat on from the old days for a second. Can you point out some of the scene behind you and show us exactly what you see?
TESH: Well, I mean, this actually looks like somebody`s house that just got emptied. And this house right here is one of the better-looking houses that I`ve ever seen in the last 24 hours.
Mostly what you see along the Gulf Coast here -- when we go back up on our helicopter here -- what you see is, from a mile to a mile-and-a-half in, it looks like somebody took their forearm and just cleaned it out. All it is, is matchsticks.
So this is someone`s belongings. And a lot of these folks, including people in these houses, have decided just to leave this town and find another place to live, rather than to have to deal with rebuilding it. And I know you`re hearing those stories from New Orleans, as well.
HAMMER: And, John, I know that you`re the kind of a guy who`s not just there trying to raise money, but you`re also getting your hands dirty and getting involved firsthand. And also, people can head over to your web site, Tesh.com. And you`re also selling one of your CDs with proceeds going fully to the relief effort.
Can you tell me in 10 seconds about that?
TESH: Yes. People who click on Tesh.com can do that. They can get involved in many different ways. And we also want to talk about on our radio show and on the web site how people can adopt these particular two towns.
HAMMER: John Tesh, thanks for all you`re doing, and thanks for joining us on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.
TESH: Thank you for all you`re doing. We appreciate it.
BRYANT: Throughout the show, we`ve been asking you to vote online in our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day." Katrina telethons: Are they the proper place for starts to voice opinions?
Let`s take a look at how the vote is going. So far, 29 percent of you say, yes, they are the proper place for stars to voice opinions; 71 percent say, no, they`re not.
We`ve gotten some e-mail.
HAMMER: And we heard from John in Toronto, Canada, who writes, "I believe that, under the circumstances, a telethon is an appropriate place for stars to voice their opinions."
We also heard from Cynthia in New Mexico, who disagrees. She says, "No, celebrities should realize that, while they are begging the public to contribute, it is not appropriate to voice divisive comments."
You can continue to vote by going to CNN.com/showbiztonight.
BRYANT: Well, it`s time for a little levity. As we reported earlier in the show, rapper Kanye West`s remarks about President Bush on last Friday`s Katrina telethon NBC telethon never made it, well, west of the Mississippi. The peacock network edited it for the West Coast.
HAMMER: So, in tonight`s "Laughter Dark," "The Daily Show`s" Jon Stewart highlights the moment that NBC censored.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW": Most celebrities moved right along to anger, like this moment from NBC`s benefit telethon, where Mike Myers was hilariously mismatched with rapper Kanye West. See if you can figure out which one of them went off-script.
MIKE MYERS, COMEDIAN: The destruction of the spirit of the people of southern Louisiana and Mississippi may end up being the most tragic loss of all.
KANYE WEST, RAPPER: George Bush doesn`t care about black people.
STEWART: Um, "Schwing? Schwing?"
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRYANT: Talk about an uncomfortable situation, Mike Myers.
HAMMER: Yes, Mike Myers just looked a little frozen in his tracks. Of course, so many relief efforts yet to come. A lot of benefit concerts yet to come, including the major one that will happening on all the major broadcast networks tomorrow night. It will be interesting to see what`s said. Of course, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT will have live coverage of those.
BRYANT: Indeed. Well...
HAMMER: That is it for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer.
BRYANT: And I`m Karyn Bryant. Stay tuned for the latest from CNN Headline News.