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Media Prepares to Cover Rita; Couple Shares Emotional Story of Survival

Aired September 23, 2005 - 19:00:00   ET


A.J. HAMMER, CO-HOST: I`m A.J. Hammer.
KARYN BRYANT, CO-HOST: And I`m Karyn Bryant. TV`s only live entertainment news show starts right now.


BRYANT (voice-over): On SHOWBIZ TONIGHT Rita roars into the Gulf Coast. The scramble to cover the story, the mad rush to safety, the horrific video of a fiery deathtrap that killed dozens of sick and elderly people fleeing for their lives.

HAMMER: Also...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I actually was thinking that they would just come and find our bodies.

HAMMER: One couple`s amazing story of survival. How they relied on their love to cheat death as Hurricane Katrina closed in on them and how they captured their ordeal on video. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with a love story that will inspire you.

BRYANT: And tonight, Bon Jovi reveals why he gave Oprah a $1 million check to help the victims of Katrina.

BON JOVI, SINGER: Forget about race, class. This is about people helping people.

BRYANT: It`s the interview you`ll see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

DORIS ROBERTS, ACTRESS: Hi, I`m Doris Roberts. And if it happened today, it`s on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.


HAMMER: Hello, I`m A.J. Hammer.

BRYANT: And I`m Karyn Bryant.

Tonight, the nation holds its breath as Hurricane Rita comes oh, so close. She`s expected to make landfall in the gulf early tomorrow. In Rita`s crosshairs tonight: Texas and Louisiana.

HAMMER: And of course, the question everyone is asking, will this be another Katrina? Today, minute-by-minute, hour-by hour, the drama builds, the tension almost unbearable.

Our David Haffenreffer is on hurricane watch tonight in the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom.

DAVID HAFFENREFFER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Karyn and A.J., as Hurricane Rita draws closer and closer to the Gulf Coast, it`s priority one for local residents to get organized, get safe and get out of town. And even though Rita`s intensity was downgraded just a bit today, for the media, priority one is to bring viewers the very latest.


JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Rita has been weakening pretty dramatically here today.

HAFFENREFFER (voice-over): Hurricane Rita may have lost some of her bite, but she was still the star attraction of news coverage today as the effort to escape the storm led to a painful tragedy.

KYRA PHILLIPS, HOST, "LIVE FROM": Disaster for a busload of people trying to escape Hurricane Rita.

HAFFENREFFER: This fiery scene is what we woke up to this morning. On a Texas highway, a bus carrying nursing home evacuees caught fire and was covered live on the morning shows.

MILES O`BRIEN, CO-HOST, "AMERICAN MORNING": And in the midst of all of this, take a look at this live picture now, just coming in to us from the Dallas area. We`re just hoping that the -- everybody got out in time.

HAFFENREFFER: They didn`t and some two dozen people were killed in the fire.

And each passing hour brought another new development related to Rita. In New Orleans, rain from the storm re-opened a wound left by its predecessor, Hurricane Katrina.

DARYN KAGAN, HOST, "LIVE TODAY": These are the first pictures we`re getting from New Orleans from the lower ninth ward.

PHILLIPS: Water overwhelms or overtops a newly patched levee.

HAFFENREFFER: Just this morning, news shows were abuzz in fears that Rita might be the second blow of devastating one-two punch of Category 4 storms to hit the U.S. But that started changing early this afternoon as Rita shifted gears and news networks scrambled to follow suit.

PHILLIPS: Our understanding is Hurricane Rita becoming a Category 3. Is that right, Jacqui?

JERAS: Yes, that`s right, Kyra, a Category 3 hurricane. I`m going to walk over to the wall here. I just got my graphic updated. A hundred and twenty-five miles per hour winds right now. So it has weakened.

HAFFENREFFER: But of course, we won`t know Rita`s strength for sure until it comes ashore Saturday morning.

For days, networks have been hitting the Rita story hard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From NBC News, this is a special edition of "Today."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From ABC news, this is a special edition of "Good Morning America: Hurricane Rita, State of Emergency."

HAFFENREFFER: But even if the storm weakens, don`t expect the networks to weaken their coverage.

BOB THOMPSON, POP CULTURE PROFESSOR, SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY: I think what`s basically happening here is we are still so much in the grip of the last hurricane that the next big hurricane, especially one that`s in the same region, is going to be big news whether it`s a Category 5 or a Category 1.

HAFFENREFFER: No matter how strong Rita turns out to be, President Bush certainly isn`t downgrading his attention to Rita. After weeks of getting hammered for his response to Katrina, the president took pains to show TV viewers that he`s on top of things for this latest hurricane.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m going down to San Antonio to see the pre-positioned assets.

HAFFENREFFER: With reporters in tow, the president visited FEMA headquarters today and announced plans to visit search-and-rescue workers in Texas. That prompted one reporter to press the president on a key question someplace

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, what can you do going down to the hurricane zone? Won`t you get in the way, Mr. President?

BUSH: One thing I won`t do is get in the way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What could you actually do? I mean, isn`t there a risk of you and your entourage getting in the way?

BUSH: No, there will be no risk of me getting in the way, I promise you. We`re going to make sure that we`re not in the way of the operation.

HAFFENREFFER: It was all a moot point. Just hours after that exchange, the president cancelled his plans to go to Texas. Instead, he`ll monitor the situation from a Colorado military center.

But people trying to flee the path of the hurricane aren`t changing their travel plans. Many of the three million Texas and Louisiana residents ordered to evacuate continue to jam highways, leaving behind just about everyone but the reporters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This town, Port Arthur`s, largely a ghost town.

HAFFENREFFER: Reporters staying behind to cover a story which may or may not become the storm of the century.

THOMPSON: This is sort of the debut of the next hurricane after Katrina, and everybody`s seeing if it`s going to be as bad.

HAFFENREFFER: We`ll learn the answer to that very, very soon.


HAFFENREFFER: How soon? Well, the latest projections show Hurricane Rita making landfall sometimes early Saturday, and you know people will be tuning in to stay informed -- A.J.

HAMMER: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s David Haffenreffer, thank you very much.

Well, we`ve been seeing the wall-to-wall coverage on TV all day long. It`s certainly all the talk on radio as Hurricane Rita bears down.

Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT brings you the talk of Texas. Live tonight from Dallas, Mark Davis, talk show host on News Talk 820, WBAB, and in San Antonio, Joe Pags, talk show host on News Radio 1200, WOIA.

Mark, I want to start with you. Of course, a big issue after Katrina had hit, a lot of talk about the preparedness of the government in advance of the hurricane. What are your listeners saying this time around about Rita? Is the government of Texas more prepared?

MARK DAVIS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, it -- yes. Now, it`s impossible to go back in a time tunnel and see if Texas would be as well prepared without what everyone calls the lessons of Katrina.

There`s a certain Texas pride that`s kicking in, saying that we would have done well anyway, that our governor would have been better than Governor Blanco, that our mayors along the Gulf Coast would not have experienced the nightmares of Mayor Nagin. It is, of course, impossible to know that that`s true.

But I will tell you that some callers that I took were a little weary of hearing that the only reason that we`re doing this well is because of the so-called lessons of Katrina.

HAMMER: You guys were already all set.

Joe, are you hearing similar things from your listeners in San Antonio?

JOE "PAGS" PAGLIARULO, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Actually, a quick correction. It`s WOAI, a little something there.

HAMMER: I apologize for that. WOAI.


We are hearing similar things. People are a little tired of hearing about the Katrina effect. But I mean, truth be told, I think that we really are seeing sort of a -- an overabundance of mayors on television. I`m sure that Mark knows that the Galveston mayor has been on TV almost 24/7. The Mayor of Houston has been on television 24/7.

And if this is, in fact, the Katrina effect or the lessons of Katrina, I say good. I`m glad that that`s the deal.

But by the way, you guys already know this. Mark already knows this. The people of Texas, of course, have already opened their arms and opened their hearts to the evacuees of Katrina. This isn`t new for us. I don`t think that we`ve stood up and took notice because of Katrina.

But 2.7 million people evacuating, the biggest evacuation in Texas history, you have to say, OK, Katrina caused some of that, without a doubt.

HAMMER: Well, I want to deal a bit with that evacuation issue because certainly, some of the lasting memories and some of the lasting pictures that we will have from the evacuation of the Houston area, these giant traffic jams that went on for hours and went on for miles and went on for days.

Just this afternoon, Jack Cafferty in "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer slamming the preparedness for this evacuation. Mark, what are your listeners saying about these pictures that we`re seeing right here?

DAVIS: Well, I heard from some people who had experienced this firsthand, and if there`s one thing that everyone should really try to rein in, it is rushing to prematurely praise or prematurely condemn that what`s going on. Because I looked at the southbound lanes of I-45, which everybody said would be open for northbound -- let`s get everybody northbound, and that didn`t happen for a better part of the day.

I learned from a couple of callers who had spoken to state troopers that one of the reasons that was hard to do is the occasional, maybe more than occasional, renegade Texan would pop on southbound because he was somewhere north and "I`m going to go to Houston and get my dog. I`m going to go to get to Houston, get my family. I`m going to go to Houston and pick up my wife`s tennis bracelet." And you can`t put a gazillion people northbound if there are even seven cars coming southbound. So maybe we all need to tape the brakes a little bit on that.

HAMMER: It does have to be a measured response. It will be interesting to see the fallout of all that.

Joe, I want to ask you about our president. Recent polls are showing President Bush`s approval rating going down even after he made his speech in Louisiana in the aftermath of Katrina. A lot of people voicing great dissatisfaction with his response to that hurricane.


HAMMER: Texas, of course, his state. He`s already been in and out of your town. Do you think listeners think he`s turning things around?

PAGLIARULO: I don`t know that they`re really worried about the president, to be perfectly honest with you. I think that the concern right now is how do you take care of all these millions of people who are evacuated, some of them evacuating from places that really turns out they can go back to now, like Corpus Christi?

They`re also concerned about 500 miles of this contra highway, this contra-flow highway, which is, you know, all lanes going north or all lanes going west. That didn`t happen for a good 36 hours after what some of my listeners say they expected that it would have happened. I think they`re worried about the fact that they`ve run out of gas and they`re out of water on the side of the highway.

DAVIS: A.J., can I give you one thing on the president...

HAMMER: Yes. Chime in. I`ve got less than 30 seconds.

DAVIS: I`ll tell you one thing that`s driving people nuts is the kind of questions that they badgered the president with today. "If you go down there, sir, aren`t you going to get in the way?" It`s like darned if you do, darned if you don`t.

PAGLIARULO: I heard that question.

DAVIS: If he goes down there or if he doesn`t go down there.

PAGLIARULO: I thought that was ridiculous. I thought the president`s response to it was intelligent.


PAGLIARULO: But I`ll tell you this. People do notice the fact that he`s being much more prevalent, if for nothing else than morale. He`s stepping up now the way a lot of people said he should have for Katrina. Do we -- do we, you know, damn him for doing that? Probably not. He`s doing better this time, certainly.

HAMMER: All right, guys. Well, I want to thank you both for keeping your finger on the pulse of what`s happening in Texas and thanks for letting us know what your listeners are saying. Mark Davis and Joe Pags. Thanks for being with us on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

And while talk radio listeners debate whether or not the Gulf Coast is ready for Hurricane Rita, dramatic scenes of preparations and evacuations have been playing out all over television.

Last time, many became outraged after watching the coverage of Katrina, so what about this time? That leads us to our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. Hurricane Rita: from what you have watched, were the preparations enough? If you`d like to vote, the URL is If you`d like to e-mail us more on the subject, is our address. We`re going to read some of your thoughts later on in the show.

BRYANT: Stevie Wonder has a very special musical message for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and we`ve got an exclusive next.

HAMMER: Plus, we`ve got an amazing story of survival that just may bring you to tears. It`s a couple that narrowly escaped death during Hurricane Katrina, and it was caught on tape. That`s still to come.

BRYANT: And a first look at the Jetblue pilot who made a spectacular emergency landing while his passengers watched the scary drama unfold on TV.

And also, an actor who was on that flight somehow finds humor during the heart-stopping flight. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is back after this.


BRYANT: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m Karyn Bryant.

Tonight, a Stevie Wonder exclusive. Just this afternoon on CNN`s "LIVE FROM," the R&B superstar dedicated his new single, "Shelter from the Rain," to hurricane relief. He said he wrote it when he was coping with the death of his brother and the illness of his first wife, but he felt the message was appropriate for Hurricane Katrina victims.


STEVIE WONDER, MUSICIAN: It is my joy to give to you from the pain I was experiencing of the joy that God gave me through the song that I wrote in my time of adversity and inspiration. You know, your pain is my sorrow. Your joy is my happiness.


BRYANT: Stevie Wonder debuted the song exclusively on CNN. Take a listen.




BRYANT: "Shelter from the Rain" will be available for download starting September 27. The CD single of "Shelter from the Rain" will be available October 18.

HAMMER: From an emotional song to an emotional story now. Tonight, as Hurricane Rita pounds through the Gulf Coast, an inspirational love story of Hurricane Katrina survival. It`s the tale of a Biloxi, Mississippi, couple who wouldn`t be separated by the storm, no matter how awful things got, even as they were just inches from drowning. And amazingly, they caught it all on tape.

Here is CNN`s Mike Schulder for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.


MIKE SCHULDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This was the view from Harry and Linda Sanders` back deck in Biloxi, the day before Katrina came.

HARRY SANDERS, HURRICANE SURVIVOR: Sunday, 1 p.m. Storm`s coming.

SCHULDER: And this was the view the next morning when it was too late to escape.

H. SANDERS: The levee`s on my back deck. I hate to see it.

I started taking videos of the water coming up and told my wife that, I said, "We, I think we need to move up to the upper level in our house." I said, "Things are not looking real good."

LINDA SANDERS, HURRICANE SURVIVOR: I put on my wedding band and I grabbed my rosary, and I went upstairs. And he kept telling me I was going to be safe. We were going to be OK and we were going to get through this.

H. SANDERS: The next thing, the water was pouring into the house.

SCHULDER: The winds of Katrina blew the waters of Biloxi Bay into the Sanders` house with such force, they ripped apart the walls of the entire first floor right down to the studs. Harry shot this video from the top of the stairs.

H. SANDERS: We was trapped, with no way in, no way out. She were just about to pass out at one point, and I just grabbed her and I threatened her to stay with me. Stay with me. You got to stay alert. You just can`t -- this is not time to break down. We got to keep our wits.

SCHULDER: Linda manages to reach 911. It was not a call for help.

L. SANDERS: When I called 911, I figured somebody just needed to know where we were. And I actually was thinking that they would just come and find our bodies, because we weren`t going to be there anymore.

H. SANDERS: And I had some life jackets stored in an upstairs space, an attic space.

L. SANDERS: He said, "We need to put them on now." He said, "Now is the time."

H. SANDERS: I put two on her and one on me.

SCHULDER: Life jackets on, Harry and Linda Sanders then confronted their very worst fear, that the rising waters would carry them away from each other.

L. SANDERS: He decided that we needed -- if we got into the water, that we could not be separated. And that was a fear. I didn`t want to go into that water alone and not ever see him again.

H. SANDERS: We took the sheets off the bed and tied them together. And then, we tied one on her end and one on my end.

L. SANDERS: And then he thought about it a minute and he thought and he said, "No, the sheet is too heavy when he gets wet." He thought it would make us sink. So he`s sitting there again and he`s looking at the Venetian blinds that we had up there, what was left of them, and they had the triple cord. And they`re really -- and he just jerked it off the wall.

SCHULDER: Harry pulled out his knife and cut the cord.

L. SANDERS: Having owned boats for years, he`s great at tying knots. And he tied me. With the life jacket on, he tied the rope to me and then, he tied it to himself. And we just waited and not knowing if we were going to go into that water or not.

SCHULDER: There was a third member of the Sanders family who was with them on the second floor. Her name is Magnolia Blossom.

L. SANDERS: That dog is our child. I mean, she just is our, our whole life. But I need him and I didn`t want to lose both of them. And I just couldn`t bear the thought of losing Harry.

H. SANDERS: I had a bag around my neck I was going to stick my dog in. And she said, if you go down, just let her go. I said, "No."

L. SANDERS: I wanted him...

H. SANDERS: No way. No way.

SCHULDER: With so many homes around them collapsing, Harry and Linda sat by the window, tied to each other, holding Magnolia, ready to jump. It never came to that.

H. SANDERS: Finally, you could se the water start going out and I told her at that time, "I think we`re going to be OK. I think we`re going to be OK."

SCHULDER: After more than four hours of watching the water rise, the water receded. Their house drained. The Sanders walked out, including Magnolia.

After they told us their story during a visit to New York, the Sanders took in another memorable walk.

L. SANDERS: Oh, Harry.

SCHULDER: In Central Park.

L. SANDERS: This is so beautiful.

SCHULDER: One couple with a bond Katrina could not break.

L. SANDERS: I love you so much.

H. SANDERS: We`re going to be fine.

L. SANDERS: I know we are. Together we`ll be fine.


HAMMER: Quite a story, amazing to see it from their perspective. That was CNN`s Mike Schulder reporting for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

Now, coming up next, another emotional hurricane story involving one of our own. Tonight, CNN`s Suzanne Malveaux takes a trip back to see what`s left of her childhood in New Orleans.

Bryant: Also, Bon Jovi opens its heart and checkbook. You`ll hear what inspired the band to send $1 million to hurricane relief. It`s the interview you`ll see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

Hammer: Plus, coming up in the "SHOWBIZ Guide," a review of new movies opening today. Stick around.


BRYANT: Time for the "SHOWBIZ Guide," where we help you decide where to spend your dollars on movies, music, DVDs and more. Tonight, we`ve got "People" magazine`s "Picks and Pans: New Movies." "A History of Violence," "Flightplan" and "Roll Bounce" are out. We`ve got Leah Rozen of "People" magazine joining us.

Let`s talk about "A History of Violence." Why should I go see this movie this weekend?

LEAH ROZEN, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: Because this is one of the best movies of the year. I mean, this is everything you want in a movie. It`s directed by David Cronenberg, stars Maria Bello and Viggo Mortensen.

They are a happily married, very attractive couple with two kids in a small town and suddenly, it turns out he may not be who he claims he is.

This is a movie, though, works on all kinds of levels. It`s satisfying just to sort of -- this great thriller. But it`s also in many ways kind of a meditation on violence in America and movie conventions.

It`s just -- this is one of the met movies of the year. Great performances. Great direction. Love this move.

BRYANT: I love to see you smile. And it`s equally appealing to men and women you think?

ROZEN: Oh, yes. I mean, adults.


ROZEN: Don`t take the kids. It has an "R" rating for a reason, and violence is in the title for a reason.

BRYANT: All right. Well, let`s talk about "Flightplan." Jodie Foster, she had success with "Panic Room." A similar theme of a mom and a child in peril.

ROZEN: Exactly. Her child suddenly disappears on this huge plane on a transatlantic flight. Was the kid kidnapped? Did the kid ever exist?

But it`s just -- this is basically a pretty dopey movie with a really good actress doing her best to keep it aloft for as long as she can. But when they come in with the big plot twist about three quarters of the way through, you just go, how dumb does Hollywood think I am?

BRYANT: Pretty dumb, I guess. Let`s talk about "Roll Bounce." This one, you think, has some heart to it, right?

ROZEN: It`s a very sweet -- it`s a really warm-hearted film for teenagers and, say, 12, 13-year-olds. It`s about roller disco in the late `70s.


ROZEN: Bow-Wow plays a young kid who`s got some real smooth moves and a very nice widowed father played by Chi McBride. Very sweet film directed by Malcolm Lee, Spike`s cousin.

BRYANT: All right. Well, there you go. I guess "A History of Violence" has the vote for Ms. Rozen this week.

ROZEN: You bet.

BRYANT: Thanks for joining us. For more "Picks and Pans" check out the new issue of "People" magazine, on newsstands now.

HAMMER: Well, coming up, as Hurricane Rita slams into the Gulf Coast, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT takes you behind the scenes of the National Hurricane Center. We`re going to show you the overwhelming job they have of keeping you informed.

BRYANT: Plus, Jon Bon Jovi stuns Oprah Winfrey with a special gift to the Katrina victims. What inspired him to do it? It`s an interview you`ll see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT next.

HAMMER: And miracle in the sky. Your first look at the pilot who safely landed a Jetblue plane with broken landing gear. And we`re also going to hear from an actor aboard that plane who thought that she wasn`t going to make it off alive. That`s coming up on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.


SOPHIA CHOI, ANCHOR: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT continues in just a minute. I`m Sophia Choi with your HEADLINE PRIME NEWSBREAK.

Hurricane Rita is about 120 miles off the coast of Galveston, Texas at this hour. And while it has lost some strength, forecasters say Rita is still expected to come ashore between Galveston and the Texas/Louisiana border as a dangerous Category 3 hurricane early Saturday.

In New Orleans, wind and rain from the storm have now breached two of the city`s levees. Water is six to seven inches deep in parts of the impoverished Ninth Ward. The Army Corps of Engineers is on the scene of the biggest breach with loads of dirt and rocks.

And President Bush is no longer going to San Antonio, Texas, to visit the search-and-rescue workers there. The White House says the president scrapped his plans because he did not want to slow down the relief efforts there. Instead, he`s heading directly to Colorado to monitor the storm`s progress from the U.S. Northern Command. That`s the news for now. I`m Sophia Choi. Now back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

KARYN BRYANT, ANCHOR: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. It`s 31 minutes past the hour. I`m Karyn Bryant.

A.J. HAMMER, ANCHOR: I`m A.J. Hammer. You`re watching TV`s only live entertainment news show.

BRYANT: A lot of entertainment news still to come this hour. Jon Bon Jovi and guitarist Richie Sambora stopped by. I talked to them earlier today. They gave $1 million to Oprah Winfrey for Katrina relief. Such great guys, with really heartfelt emotions about the whole Katrina relief effort, so we`re going to hear from them. They`re just terrific guys.

OK, also, we`re going to go along for a ride with CNN White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux. Unfortunately, her home town in New Orleans devastated. The area where she grew up absolutely wiped out. The cameras were along and it`s a tearful and emotional journey. We`re going to see that in just a few minutes.

BRYANT: Well, all of that and more still on the way but first let`s get to tonight`s hot headlines. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s David Haffenreffer joins us live from the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT news room. Hi David.

DAVID HAFFENREFFER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi Karyn. Tonight, the media is being urged to leave re-flooded areas of New Orleans. Rita`s wind and rain breached a pair of levees pouring thousands of gallons of water back into neighborhoods two neighborhoods in the big easy. They had just been pumped dry. Mayor Ray Nagin warned news crews it`s not safe to stay.

Rosie O`Donnell is offering a solution to pay for Katrina`s destruction. She wants America`s richest to fork over the dough. On her blog tonight, Rosie writes numbers one through 100 on the just released Forbes 400 richest Americans list should each pay $1 billion. She calls it the emergency hurricane humanity tax. Rosie even suggesting former president Jimmy Carter appoint someone to manage that money.

A New Jersey couple is heeding that call for generosity and donating some of their new found wealth. Harold Lerner (ph) and his wife Helen are the recent winners of the 258 Mega Millions jackpot. The Lerners say they plan to give some of their winnings to help Katrina evacuees.

And those are your hot headlines tonight. A.J., back to you.

HAMMER: All right. David Haffenreffer, thank you very much.

Well, we`ve been asking you to vote on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. Hurricane Rita, from what you`ve watched, were the preparations enough? You can continue to vote at if you`ve got more to say, we want to hear from you too. You can write to us at We`re going to read some of your e-mails at 55 past the hour.

BRYANT: It`s an interview you`ll only see only here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. Rock royalty Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora share their thoughts on Hurricane Katrina. Their band, Bon Jovi, just presented Oprah Winfrey with a check for $1 million. The money will go to her Angel Network to help victims of Katrina. Jon and Richie stopped by SHOWBIZ TONIGHT today and I asked them about their donation.


BRYANT: What made you give that money for Katrina relief?

JON BON JOVI, SINGER: Anytime you can do something good, we try to do it. And this was the first and only time that we`ve ever let it be known publicly that we`ve done something like this, but in light of her coverage of the aftermath of Katrina and the human element that she reported on, I was so moved. And there`s 335,000 people displaced in Louisiana.

There`s these kind of tragedies, you have to lead by example. You have to know that actions mean more than words. We always get involved in a telethon or performance kind of thing, but it`s -- you know, in this instance, it wasn`t to, you know, share with the world for the sake of patting ourselves on the back in the sense of here`s my money, put yours up, too. Do something, whatever you can afford to do. And forget about race, class. This is about people helping people.

BRYANT: Would you say the same, Richie?

RICHIE SAMBORA, MUSICIAN: Absolutely. That coverage was better than the news coverage that I saw. You know, as Jon said, I think that what we`re trying to do here is just, like, lead by example and make it almost hip to give.

BRYANT: Do you believe that it is the celebrities` responsibility to do this because you have such influence.

BON JOVI: It`s not that. You know ...

SAMBORA: Not necessarily.

BON JOVI: Let me go back and digress. This isn`t the first time we`ve done this kind of thing and, for instance, in Philadelphia where I`m partner in this football team, the reason why we`re so successful is because of our community efforts. If it`s building houses or playgrounds, the idea here is that people are in need.

The system, like it or not, is broken and it`s the private sector that`s going to make a difference right now. And there are those who can lead with dollars and have the opportunity to stand in front of the camera and preach about this. We`re not the heroes.

It`s the average guy who spends his whole Thanksgiving in the soup kitchen serving those less fortunate than he. What we do needn`t be celebrated. But what we`re trying to do is make the idea that volunteerism is hip. That, to me, is reason enough for me to come out and do press.

Talking about another rock `n` roll record and another thing, been there, done that. It`s a great record, hope you like it. But there`s other things going on, too. And in light of what`s happening as of late with the hurricanes, for example, people are out there in dire need of help.

BRYANT: Where do you think the money is best spent?

BON JOVI: Well, and honestly, when we did have the discussion prior to writing that check, we knew that letting Oprah Winfrey store that check, you know that money`s going to be spent well. Ain`t nobody going to get that -- you know, she`s got to make sure it gets to the source.

There are people who need it. Now I`m saying that what happened in Louisiana and on the Gulf coast is obviously tragic, we could walk right down the street here and find the same kind of needy folk.

BRYANT: So, if you guys had the ear of the president, policymakers, that sort of thing, what would you tell them would be step one to stop this abject poverty that is rampant in America?

BON JOVI: The truth of the matter is, is both sides of the aisle can argue this until they`re blue in the face. The Republicans standpoint is there will be tax cuts so you can buy consumer goods to keep the economy going.

The Democratic standpoint is there`s bigger government but there`s more social services. Both arguments are valid. Of course, I know what side of the aisle I`m on but I`m not here to talk politics. That`s really not the issue. The issue here at hand is what can you do for your neighbor.


BRYANT: Bon Jovi`s help isn`t stopping with that million dollar check. Money that would have been spent on their next music video will instead be used to build four losses for Habitat for Humanity. Their brand-new album, "Have a Nice Day, is in stores now.

HAMMER: The hero behind this week`s amazing JetBlue emergency landing revealed. The "New York Daily News" put him on the cover today, the headline, "Capt. Cool." The pilot steered all 140 passengers to safety, among them several Hollywood stars. "Hustle & Flows" Taryn Manning gave us her account of the ordeal, right here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.


TARYN MANNING, ACTRESS: So, I felt the way I`ve never felt and I hope to never feel again. I mean, it`s just kind of the ultimate fear and also, your life sort of -- you sort start thinking about everyone you love and I actually wrote a note to my mom and my brother and my boyfriend, just in case. And -- I don`t know. I was thinking about my little dog and, I don`t know. It was just -- it was hard and I just feel so lucky to be here today.


HAMMER: And soap star Tuc Watkins from "One Life to Live" told he his story earlier today on "The View" with the ladies there.


TUC WATKINS, ACTOR: The pilot came on and said, one minute prior to landing I`m going to tell you to a brace and at that point, when that happened, he came on he said, brace, brace, brace. So everyone assumed the position and the woman sitting next to me was visibly shaken and I said, what`s your name?

She said Melissa. I said, my name`s Tuck. And I said, here`s what I think is going to happen. I didn`t mention that I was on "One Life to Live." That seems inappropriate.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You didn`t drag out an 8 by 10? I know you want an autograph ...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Especially one called "One Life to Live."


HAMMER: Well, Watkins later explained that he talked his way through the crisis with his in-flight neighbor always remaining optimistic.

BRYANT: Jon Stewart reviews song lyrics with the almighty to clear up a little misunderstanding. That is coming up in laughter dark.

HAMMER: Also, the face of weather, what goes on inside the National Hurricane Center. Forecasters are working around the clock to track the storm and SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has your look.

BRYANT: Going home to the Crescent City. CNN White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux revisits her childhood town to see what Katrina left behind. She takes cameras with her. That`s next.


BRYANT: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m Karyn Bryant. As Hurricane Rita takes her turn on the Gulf Coast tonight, flood waters are rising again in New Orleans. For many people, it will be long time before they return to their homes to see if they`re still standing. CNN White House Correspondent Suzanne Malveaux revisited her roots in New Orleans. She took the cameras along to her childhood town to see what Katrina left behind.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Bourbon Street, French Quarter, it was all about Mardi Gras. It was all about my family taking me to see the big floats and the parades. I remember my uncle in the Zulu float throwing down beads, the balloons and coconuts and everything. As a child, it was such a place of wonderment.

(on camera): We`re going to my grandmother`s house, 3936 Progress Street. So much of my childhood was spent here with all of my cousins, my brothers and sisters, my grandparents. Hot, lazy summers. This was a, this is a beautiful place. It`s empty and it`s quiet.

And there are some things that are pretty much the same. It`s kind of comforting.

We`re looking for my cousin`s house. There were seven brothers who grew up together. They lived together in this one house. Their parents had died when they were pretty young. And they`re on St. Anthony Street.

My cousin Vernon, he`s an artist and his studio`s inside here, and the one thing he`s really worried about his paintings, whether or not his paintings actually survived all this.

The bedroom, it looks like the water got to be about up to here. All of this was in water. This is his art studio. This is my cousin`s studio. This is his life work. Oh. Oh. This is covered in mold. Oh. Many of these paintings he does and he models them after the relatives, our cousins, brothers and sisters. He takes their photos and then he paints for the church. You see the theme, though? It`s Christ. It`s the Black Church. It`s a very common theme that runs through his work.

This is our family. This is me. This is my sister. That`s my niece. I think this is a picture of me. You know, they`re photos and that`s really sad. But we`re all alive. I don`t know what to do. I have no idea what to do. I should try to bring something back. I could take one, maybe just one. OK.

There is one place left I have to see, one of Vernon`s works that can`t be moved is inside a church just a couple blocks away. It survived. The mural survived.

This church was the only place that we found that was above water that was dry, that was safe and that was standing. The significance of this church for me is that my mother couldn`t attend during the time of segregation this beautiful place of worship, and many years later, my cousin Vernon, the artist, painted this mural behind me in the church. He painted Mary and the Eight Angels of Innocence, each one of them to represent a different ethnic group, and in recognizing our family and our own heritage, he painted my mother`s daughters, me and my sister, on this mural.

(voice over): Our family was lucky. We all came out safe and alive from this hurricane experience, and, in some ways, I guess the angels were looking after us.


BRYANT: That was CNN`s Suzanne Malveaux reporting for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

HAMMER: Right now and probably for the past few days you`ve been tracking the progress of Hurricane Rita on your television, and you probably heard the National Hurricane Center mentioned repeatedly. So how exactly does the Hurricane Center juggle the overwhelming job tracking the storms, and also working with the media to make sure that viewers know what`s really going on. Well joining us from the National Hurricane Center in Miami to help us sort it all out is Ed Rappaport. You`ve kind of become an unlikely TV star, albeit it for unfortunate reason through all this. Millions of people are seeing you every day. Who knew? How about that?

ED RAPPAPORT, THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: Yes. Well the most important issue, of course, is making sure that the information gets out, and so we`re very grateful for the media`s role as well.

HAMMER: It`s a daunting job that you have. It`s an exceptionally busy time. Of course it is hurricane season in addition to the storms we`re dealing with right now, you get dozens of requests from the media, constantly, everybody`s calling you asking you for information and asking you to appear. I know we had a very finite window of time to work with you guys. How do you manage all of this?

RAPPAPORT: Well we dedicate several people to the various functions. We have a very talented hurricane forecast staff and support staff as well. And then we have others who are constantly communicating with our emergency manager partners, and then some of us who are doing the media interviews, too.

HAMMER: How many people in all are working there in the Hurricane Center?

RAPPAPORT: We have a staff of about 40 people, and we bring in some extras in circumstances like this from the weather service -- National Weather Service, which is our parent organization.

HAMMER: And how much time are you actually appearing on television every single day. Because I`m seeing your face an awful lot in many different places.

RAPPAPORT: I`m sure more than you would like. At this point, with hurricane approaching landfall, I`m taking half the day and Director Max Mayfield is taking the other half. So from about 6:00 this morning until about 7:00 and he`ll from 7:00 until landfall tomorrow morning.

HAMMER: And not surprisingly, Ed, you sound a little tired. I`m wondering in a situation like this, do you ever actually get to go home, or do you have bunks set up and you`re sleeping at the Hurricane Center?

RAPPAPORT: Well we do have that available to us, and, yes, we do get tired, but it`s very important we`re here and are able to communicate the message, and we`re very pleased with how the evacuations have gone. Getting people away from the coast. Historically, most people lost their lives due to storm surge, as we saw in Katrina, and the more people we can get away from the coast, the better we`ll be.

HAMMER: Well we appreciate you filling us in on how everything works where you are, Ed, and continued good work. And I do hope you get some rest, when you have the time. Ed Rappaport joining us from the National Hurricane Center in Florida.

BRYANT: Changing pace just a bit, in tonight`s Laughter Dark, the Daily Show`s Jon Stewart has a little discussion with the man upstairs about mother nature`s wild ways.


JON STEWART, HOST, THE DAILY SHOW: I have just a quick thing I want to say to the almighty. What part of God bless America don`t you get?


How many times do we have to go over this? God bless America. From the mountains to the prairies to -- the whole (EXPLETIVE DELETED) thing. Bless. The song is not God flatten or drown, fill with water. What do you want from us? We already have almost as many churches as strip clubs. What else do you need?



BRYANT: Definitely the way a lot of people are feeling these days.

And on "THE TONIGHT SHOW, "Jay Leno commends the JetBlue pilot who safely landed the troubled Airbus earlier this week. Apparently, that pilot got some help from the governor. Check it out.


JAY LENO, TONIGHT SHOW: Well, you all saw that on the news. Everybody landed -- hey, how about a nice hand for that pilot bringing that plane down safely.


LENO: A pretty amazing story. Amazing story. He kept the front end of that plane in the exact center of the runway. Experts say they haven`t seen a nose follow a white line like that since Kate Moss was at the Grammys. It was unbelievable. Right down the center.

I tell you, everybody was there. The police chief was there. Our new mayor was -- even Governor Schwarzenegger. Did you see him? He isn`t being called a hero today for what he did with the plane. Did you see that? Did you see what Governor Schwarzenegger did with the plane? He`s being called a hero. Take a look. Take a look. Here, watch

See, there it is. Watch what happens. Watch what Schwarzenegger does. Look, there he is, there! There`s the governor! Yes! Look, he`s doing, Yah! Yah! Yes!


HAMMER: Once again, the late-night show is bringing us the angles that we don`t see, ordinarily.

There is still time for you to sound off in our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day, which is, "Hurricane Rita, from what you have watched, were the preparations enough?" You can vote by going to You can also write us at We`re going to read some of your e-mails live, next.


HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT where it is now time for a SHOWBIZ short, a look at another story that is making news tonight. Jerry Seinfeld, along with Paul Simon, will be performing at the concert for autism speaks. It will take place in Los Angeles this weekend. The fundraiser benefits research on autism, of course a serious developmental disorder affecting children. Former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw will emcee the event.

BRYANT: We have been asking you on to vote online on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. "Hurricane Rita: from what you have watched, were the preparations enough?" The vote so far is pretty close, 48 percent of you say yes they were. And 52 percent of you say, no they weren`t.

We`ve gotten e-mails.

Victoria from Alabama was sad that, "there was not enough gas for people to get out of town. Still I watch TV and see that people are still having that problem."

Although, CC from Michigan writes, "that the preparations were much better than they were for Katrina, maybe they should have had only one city at a time evacuate rather than all of the Texas cities on the coast at once."

Well, you can keep voting at

HAMMER: And that`s is it for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer.

BRYANT: And I`m Karyn Bryant.

As Hurricane Rita bears down on the Gulf Coast tonight, the efforts continue to help those devastated by Hurricane Katrina are ongoing.

HAMMER: We`re going to leave you tonight with the music of the Goo Goo Dolls and the unforgettable images of Katrina -- all part of a new public service announcement for the CNN help center.

BRYANT: Goodnight. And stay tuned for the latest from CNN Headline News.


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