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SHOWBIZ TONIGHT

Showbiz Tonight for November 30, 2005, CNNHN

Aired November 30, 2005 - 19:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


A.J. HAMMER, CO-HOST: I`m A.J. Hammer, live in New York.
BROOKS ANDERSON, CO-HOST: I`m Brooke Anderson, live in Hollywood. And TV`s only live entertainment news show starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HAMMER (voice-over): On SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, Hollywood and Iraq. President Bush`s major move today to turn the tide of public opinion, but will it change the minds of some of Hollywood`s biggest stars? Tonight, what the stars have been telling us about the war, in the story you`ll see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

The straight story on gay movie roles.

PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN, ACTOR: The rest of the evening, she`ll be snoring (ph).

HAMMER: Tonight, a "SHOWBIZ Special Report," why Hollywood`s biggest stars are playing gay characters.

"The Biggest Loser."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get up!

HAMMER: He lost the most and won the prize. Tonight, Matt Hoover`s amazing story of how he lost 157 pounds. Matt is here, live, in the interview you`ll see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

LORAINE BRACCO, ACTRESS: Hi. I`m Loraine Bracco. If it happened today, it`s on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAMMER: Hello, I`m A.J. Hammer, live in New York.

ANDERSON: Hi there. I`m Brooke Anderson, live in Hollywood.

Tonight, President Bush on the offensive about Iraq. But can he change the minds of some of his biggest critics in Hollywood?

The president today delivered a major speech to reassure Americans there is a solid plan to end the war in Iraq. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has been speaking to some of Hollywood`s biggest stars about Iraq, and we have found that, like most Americans, it is a topic that stirs emotions, passion and, sometimes, outrage.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON (voice-over): With criticism mounting against the war in Iraq, President Bush took to the airwaves and spoke out, asking the American people for the patience.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And it`s worth the time, and it`s worth the effort. Because Iraqis and Americans share a common enemy. And when that enemy is defeated in Iraq, Americans will be safer here at home.

ANDERSON: But with more than 2,100 U.S. troops dead, and nearly 16,000 wounded since the March 2003 invasion, polls show patience is not something many Americans don`t have. Count some Hollywood A-listers among them.

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has spent the last couple months talking with the stars about their sentiments on the Iraq war. And many stars aren`t happy. Here`s Bette Midler.

BETTE MIDLER, ENTERTAINER: I find the level of deception fascinating. I find the level of defense fascinating. I find the whole thing so unbelievable.

ANDERSON: Musician Carlos Santana spoke out in an interview with SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

CARLOS SANTANA, MUSICIAN: It`s very insulting to me as a human being that we only count Americans. We don`t count the children and women and men who died over there also. So that`s not fair.

ANDERSON: Jake Gyllenhaal, who plays a Marine fighting in the first Gulf War in the movie "Jarhead," told SHOWBIZ TONIGHT he had a lot of judgments before making the movie, but now, that`s all changed.

JAKE GYLLENHAAL, ACTOR: I just think about the guys over there, and I think about what an extraordinary job they`re doing. Like and just to think of myself over there for real, I question whether or not I could handle it.

ANDERSON: Oscar winner Jamie Foxx questioned the war.

JAMIE FOXX, ACTOR: I don`t think what we`re doing, like right now, the going back and forth with each other, is really helping the situation. You know, what`s the end game?

ANDERSON: And George Clooney, whose new movie, "Syriana," tackles American foreign policy in the Gulf region, told us it`s all about one thing.

GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR: You know, so the truth is, is it about oil? Of course it`s about oil. It`s always been about oil.

ANDERSON: Actress Blythe Danner went one step further. She told us she thinks this is the saddest time in American history.

BLYTHE DANNER, ACTRESS: All I do is think about our girls and boys and all the innocent people, lives that have been massacred and killed in Iraq. And all I do every day is pray that this is over soon.

ANDERSON: For or against the war, does Hollywood influence public opinion? SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has the pulse of the people with CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider.

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I don`t think the fact that Americans as a whole have become antiwar is a tribute to Hollywood`s influence. I think Americans think for themselves. Hollywood came to that conclusion very quickly, because Hollywood`s disposition is to be liberal and to be antiwar.

ANDERSON: But Oscar winner Tim Robbins told SHOWBIZ TONIGHT an outspoken Hollywood is effective.

TIM ROBBINS, ACTOR: I think everyone should have a right to express their opinion and do so in whatever venue they can. And if I have access to the media, and I do, I think that`s my right as an American.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: In a CNN poll taken earlier this month, the majority of Americans, 63 percent, said they disapprove of how the president is handling Iraq. And only a quarter said they think the U.S. will definitely win the war. We`ll have to see if those numbers change after today`s speech.

HAMMER: Well, tonight, Tom Cruise grabs the spotlight in China, along with a stranger`s cell phone. Yes, Cruise is in Shanghai, where he`s just wrapped up scenes for the new "Mission: Impossible" film. And at a press conference, a reporter pulled out a cell phone, and Cruise insisted on talking to the person on the other end of the line.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM CRUISE, ACTOR: (speaking foreign language) How are you? You`re good? Are you working?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: Can you imagine? Those were the Chinese words for "thank you" and "hello" that you were hearing Tom say there. A translator did step in and helped Tom ask the woman whether she would get engaged soon. When the woman said that she was married, Tom told the translator to wish her happiness.

As for Tom`s own engagement to Katie Holmes, well, he said they haven`t set an exact date, but the wedding will happen sometime next summer or fall.

Well, tonight, a new survey is revealing the best paid actresses in Hollywood. "The Hollywood Reporter" today released its annual list of who gets paid what. The numbers are truly eye-opening.

Joining us live tonight for a Hollywood -- in Hollywood for a "SHOWBIZ Newsmaker" interview, Christy Grosz from "The Hollywood Reporter."

Thanks for being with us, Christy.

CHRISTY GROSZ, "HOLLYWOOD REPORTER": Thank you.

HAMMER: Everybody talks about Julia Roberts and her million-dollar smile. But I guess we could star calling it a $20 million smile. She`s No. 1 on your list. What makes her worth $20 million a flick?

GROSZ: Well, the interesting thing about Julia Roberts is that she has a star quality, I think, that a lot of other actresses don`t have, in that she can get people into movie theaters to see her movies, and that`s what makes her earn a premium in the industry.

HAMMER: And I suppose the same would apply to Nicole Kidman. She`s No. 2 on your list. She`s getting $16 million to $17 million a picture. But the truth is, her last few flicks, "The Interpreter," "Stepford Wives," last summer`s "Bewitched," weren`t really hits. So why does Nicole Kidman make so much money?

GROSZ: Well, you know, she is also a great actress. And I think that she`s got a good reputation. But you know, our list is based on the previous year and previous deals that have already been put together. So I mean, it could be that their price will go down for next year`s list, but I don`t think that anyone doubts that Nicole Kidman is worth that amount of money.

HAMMER: OK. Then let`s move on, further down the line, tied for No. 3, you have Reese Witherspoon and Drew Barrymore making $15 million each.

Next on the list, Renee Zellweger, Angelina Jolie and Cameron Diaz. They`re all making in the $10 to $15 million movie range. Which of these three actresses would you say best bring out the audiences to the big opening weekends of their movies?

GROSZ: Well, I think if you look at the last year, Angelina Jolie is obviously the one who`s done that. But it`s hard to say. I mean, I think that if you look at the list, Julia Roberts is still the only one that has a tried and true box office record.

HAMMER: Really, it`s almost a guarantee when Julia`s in a film that people are going to show up on the opening weekend.

Somebody that has not been so much a guarantee lately, although certainly in the news an awful lot, Jennifer Aniston. She`s tenth on your list, $9 million a picture. She was in the press a lot lately, among other things, talking about her new movie, "Derailed." It tanked at the box office. She`s got two more flicks coming up, "Rumor Has It" and "The Break Up."

Now, the question is, of course, if those fail, can she continue to make that kind of money, not that she`s hurting for money these days, I`m sure?

GROSZ: Yes. Well, I think it`s -- I think this is kind of her time to prove herself. She`s been able to get a lot of roles and really do a lot of stuff in the last year or so. And now it`s all coming to fruition.

Certainly, if all three of these movies don`t do well, then there is a possibility that she won`t be earning as much. But I think, based on the amount of money she`s getting from "Friends" residuals, she`s going to be just fine.

HAMMER: Sure. And I`m sure besides the monetary amount that she commands, she wants to see "Rumor Has It" and "The Break Up" do well anyway.

Christy Grosz from "The Hollywood Reporter," thanks for joining us tonight.

GROSZ: Thank you.

ANDERSON: George Clooney helps someone get out of jail. We`ll tell you how he did it, coming up.

HAMMER: Plus, the straight story on gay acting. Coming up, a "SHOWBIZ Special Report" on why so many actors are gravitating toward gay movie roles.

ANDERSON: And he`s one of the biggest producers in Hollywood, behind movies like "Cinderella Man" and "A Beautiful Mind." Hollywood heavyweight Brian Grazer joins us, live, ahead in the interview you`ll see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

But first, tonight`s "Entertainment Weekly Great American Pop Culture Quiz." Thomas Crown steals a painting by what famous artist in the 1999 version of "The Thomas Crown Affair"? Was it Renoir, Rembrandt, Manet or Monet? We`ll be right back with the answer.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: So again, tonight`s "Entertainment Weekly Great American Pop Culture Quiz. Thomas Crown steals a painting by what famous artist in the 1999 version of "The Thomas Crown Affair"? Renoir, Rembrandt, Manet or Monet? The answer is, D, Monet.

HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer.

Tonight, a prisoner gets out of jail early, and he has George Clooney to thank for it.

That`s right. According to "People" magazine, the actor wrote letters to the king of Morocco on behalf of someone who was held in connection with a drug investigation. In these letters, Clooney talked up the beauty of Morocco. His latest movie, "Syriana," was partially filmed there. And he invited his royal highness to the film`s premiere.

The prisoner was released two weeks ago. Clooney tells "People" that the king should be commended for being fair. For more on this story, you can check out "People" magazine on newsstands this Friday.

ANDERSON: Tonight in a "SHOWBIZ Sitdown," Brian Grazer. He has produced some of Hollywood`s biggest movies, including Oscar winners like "Apollo 13" and "A Beautiful Mind." Grazer is also the mind behind such acclaimed TV series "Arrested Development" and "24."

In a new Sundance channel series, "Iconoclasts," Brian Grazer interviews another icon, Viacom mogul Sumner Redstone. Brian Grazer is live with us tonight, here in Hollywood.

Brian, welcome.

BRIAN GRAZER, PRODUCER: Welcome to you. Thank you for having me on.

ANDERSON: Of course. Of course. Now, in "Iconoclast," big names interview other big names. You`ve got Renee Zellweger interviewing CNN`s Christiane Amanpour. You sit down with Sumner Redstone. What was it like being the interviewer rather than the interviewee?

GRAZER: Oh, my God. Well, it was hard. I was -- I can`t get around this word. I was somewhat intimidated even though I know Sumner, and I`ve known him for quite awhile. I was a little -- I was anxious. A little nervous.

ANDERSON: In the time that you spent with him, what was the most fascinating or the most surprising thing you learned about him?

GRAZER: Well, there are a few things. One is Sumner has been going - - traveling around the world and been doing business in -- around the world for probably 30 -- at least 30 years. And recently, at least 15 years in China.

And I learned that he -- there are no barriers for Sumner in terms of a creative vision or economic vision for Viacom because of his unlimited travels overseas. And particularly, as I said, to China, where he`s become kind of a rock star, I guess.

ANDERSON: He is quite a successful businessman, of course.

GRAZER: Yes, he`s phenomenally successful and really makes no judgments of other -- of third worlds or any other countries. And I think the -- that and the ability to understand their currencies and how entertainment works in transfer, for example, their BET or their MTV or any of their cable shows, I think you can see how the vision works throughout the world. So that`s kind of -- I learned that.

ANDERSON: Wow. Well, Brian, it is fascinating. I do want to talk about you a little bit, as well.

GRAZER: OK.

ANDERSON: Since 1978, you have been involved in, what, more than 80 movies and television shows. What is the one thing that you`re the most proud of?

GRAZER: I was -- the symbol of critical success that is offered by winning the Oscar for "A Beautiful Mind." And that, married to the objective of "A Beautiful Mind" which was, for me, to help destigmatize mental disability. So both of those things were accomplished by having produced that movie. So that was the movie that kind of did it for me.

ANDERSON: And from movies to television. As we mentioned, you were behind "Arrested Development," one of the most critically acclaimed TV shows out there, won an Emmy for best comedy. And then, Brian, it gets cancelled. How do you make sense of that?

GRAZER: I don`t know. It`s -- it`s just the art form itself, maybe. I don`t know. There`s some sort of food chain. But I think we`ll get it picked up by some other network, possibly. You never know.

But going back to your original question, it`s hard to know, you know, how the life of a series or a movie can -- can go. So have hope that it will stay on the air.

ANDERSON: Well, is that in the works, moving to, possibly, another network, another home?

GRAZER: It`s -- yes. It`s in the works. I`m hoping it`s in the works.

ANDERSON: What can you tell us about that?

GRAZER: I can`t tell you anything other than I`m hoping it works out in the way that we want it to. But I`m optimistic, Brooke.

ANDERSON: Well, I didn`t mean to put you on the spot there.

GRAZER: That`s OK.

ANDERSON: And I don`t want to put you on the spot here. But before the show, you told me you brought something really cool from the set of the upcoming movie that you produced, highly anticipated movie, "The Da Vinci Code."

GRAZER: Well, I brought it, but I kept it concealed in my bag. It`s a really -- it was just a one of a kind prop that was a cross that was used in the movie that we just wrapped, "The Da Vinci Code," three weeks ago.

We`re now -- actually have the movie finished, and we`re editing it. We have a rough cut. And it`s very -- really quite a thriller. It`s intense and it`s thrilling. And I think people will be -- will be certainly very excited. It has some combustability to it, I guess.

ANDERSON: Was there any -- were you intimidating at all making this film? It was from such an explosive novel, such a popular novel by Dan Brown.

GRAZER: Yes, I mean, we`ve never actually embraced or had the opportunity to make a literary phenomenon, which -- which "The Da Vinci Code" is, and Dan Brown, of course, wrote it. Sony made the movie.

It`s just that every choice we wanted to make, we wanted to make it be exactly parallel to the book, to either the book or the book`s intention. By the casting, by one American, really, which is Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou as Sophie. Sir Ian McKellen, of course, from England. And Jean Reno from France.

We wanted to make sure that every cast member was not only the right actor, but someone from the original country. And once again, the -- every intention of the book, it was followed as Dan Brown was on the set most of the time.

ANDERSON: Well, I look forward to that, Brian. Thank you so much for being here. And I`ll have to check out that cross after the show, maybe.

GRAZER: I`ll show it to you. And I was glad to interview Sumner. It was terrific.

ANDERSON: I bet it was. And that "Iconoclast" special featuring Brian Grazer and Sumner Redstone airs tomorrow on the Sundance Channel.

HAMMER: Well, a dog known as the world`s ugliest dog recently went to that great doggie heaven in the sky, I`m sorry to report. Since then, the dog`s owner has been overwhelmed by the response to her pet`s passing.

Here is CNN`s Jeanne Moos for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There`s one less dog at Susie Lockheed`s house. An empty dog bed, an empty dog bowl, and an owner who feels empty. Crying one minute, laughing the next.

SUSIE LOCKHEED, SAM`S OWNER: Really, it`s almost like a world leader has passed away. I`m overwhelmed.

MOOS: If looks could kill, Sam would have been a mass murder. Named world`s ugliest dog at California`s Sonoma-Marin Fair.

LOCKHEED: 2003, 2004, 2005.

MOOS (on camera): It is the ugliest dog.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was the ugliest dog. He passed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s not very nice.

MOOS: It was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He died. He won it three years in a row.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let`s say I didn`t like the way you look. Well, would I say you`re the ugliest woman in the world?

MOOS: I hope not to my face.

(voice-over) But Sam`s ugliness won him fans worldwide. When he died, put to sleep, it was in his owner`s arms.

LOCKHEED: From the moment of life to the moment of death, he had the exact same look in his eyes, because he always kind of looked like death warmed over.

MOOS: But there was nothing warmed over about Susie and Sam`s relationship. Susie took him in from a shelter when he was 9 and considered unadoptable. He slept in her bed. Now she`s been sleeping with his favorite toy.

LOCKHEED: People are going to think I`m a nut, Jeanne. There was some joking going around on the Internet about having him taxidermied for the Smithsonian Institution. But he`s actually being cremated.

MOOS: Sam`s oak box will join her five other cremated pets.

In the wake of his death, Sam`s web site has gotten at many as six million hits in one day. Condolence cards and e-mails like this one, slugged "Ugly is only skin deep," have poured in from all over the world.

LOCKHEED: Someone made this for Sam. This really chokes me up because -- oh, God, I miss my dog.

MOOS: At a fan web site, Sam has been given angel wings.

LOCKHEED: Oh, God.

MOOS: Sam was almost 15. What finally got him...

(on camera) heart failure.

He probably looked in the mirror.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He looked in the mirror.

MOOS (voice-over): Susie thinks Sam`s gift was to make people laugh. If she ever wants to hear Sam, all she has to do is dial her own phone.

LOCKHEED: Please leave a message at the sound of the growl.

MOOS: Though Sam didn`t make it through the holidays, you can catch him in his Santa`s outfit, representing December 2006. Just be careful where you put the ugliest dog calendar. Don`t want to ruin your dog`s appetite.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAMMER: For the record, I think Sam was beautiful. That was CNN`s Jeanne Moos for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

Well, Ellen celebrates 25 years in standup by sitting down with another famous person who reveals a secret crush on her. That`s coming up next in "Talk of the Day."

ANDERSON: I think Sam was beautiful, too.

Plus, a "SHOWBIZ Special Report": why so many movie stars are playing gay characters and the impact it`s having on their careers. That`s also coming up.

HAMMER: And he walked away richer and thinner. "The Biggest Loser" winner, Matt Hoover, joins us live, coming up in the interview you`ll see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

ANDERSON: But first, a SHOWBIZ TONIGHT birthday shout out, and this is where we give fans a chance to wish their favorite stars a happy birthday. Tonight, a birthday shout out to Clay Aiken. He is celebrating his 26th today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, my name is Taylor Gold (ph). And I would just like to wish Clay Aiken a happy birthday. I loved you on "American Idol." Have a happy birthday.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: It`s time now for "Talk of the Day." On "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," Ellen celebrated her 25th anniversary in the comedy business. One of her long-time comedian friends, David Spade, stopped by to reminisce about work and his little crush on Ellen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID SPADE, COMEDIAN: That was fun, the Dallas Improv. And they all know I had a crush on you. We used to do some of these gigs together. She was a headliner, so she`s, like, the high roller with a bigger condo. And I had to share one with some clown.

And but we -- I would go over there to watch -- you had HBO, which was sweet in yours.

ELLEN DEGENERES, ACTRESS: Yes.

SPADE: And you had really white teeth. That was before teeth whiteners, everyone. She had them naturally, which is rare. And -- and I had a big crush on her, then I got the news. But you know, we -- we stayed friends.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: I imagine you did. And you might remember that in the mid- `90s, Ellen`s character announced she was gay on her TV sitcom "Ellen." Millions of people would later discover Ellen was, in fact, gay in real life, as well. Apparently, David Spade was one of them.

HAMMER: Well, from Philip Seymour Hoffman to Cillian Murphy. Tonight, why more actors are playing gay movie roles. That`s next in a "SHOWBIZ Special Report."

ANDERSON: Plus, how Michael Ealy went from waiting tables to starring as an FBI agent in a new miniseries. Michael Ealy is here live, coming up in the interview you`ll see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

HAMMER: And, he lost a lot of weight and gained a lot of money. "The Biggest Loser," Matt Hoover, joins us live to tell us how he did it, coming up on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT continues in just one minute. I`m Susan Hendricks with your "Headline Prime Newsbreak."

A wild ride in Southern California has landed three robbery suspects in custody. The trio led police on a high-speed chase today after allegedly robbing a house in Lake Los Angeles. At one point during the chase, one of the suspects jumped out of the car. The action ended two hours later when the final two surrendered.

Boston`s murder rate is on the upswing. So far this year, there have been 66 homicides. That matches a 10-year high for the city. But compared to other large U.S. cities, Boston still has a relatively low rate of violent crime.

And finally, who would you say is the most fascinating person of the year? ABC News and Barbara Walters says it`s Camilla Parker Bowles. Prince Charles` long-time love and now wife beat out Tom Cruise and also Condoleezza Rice. Walters gave Camilla props for her patience and loyalty to her husband.

And that is the news for now. Good to have you with us. I`m Susan Hendricks. Now back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. It is 31 minutes past the hour. I`m A.J. Hammer live in New York.

ANDERSON: I`m Brooke Anderson in Hollywood. And you`re watching TV`s only live entertainment news show.

HAMMER: Well, Brooke, I sat there riveted in front of my television last night, in case what you wondering what I was doing last night, by the stories, by the emotion, by the discipline of all of the participants in "The Biggest Loser." It was their series of season finale last night.

The goal of the participants: to lose the most weight. The winner not only accomplished that goal, but walked away with $250,000.

ANDERSON: Wow.

HAMMER: We`ll meet him, coming up in just a couple of minutes.

ANDERSON: You really get involved in their struggles, their victories. I`m really looking forward to that, A.J.

Also, A.J., now more than ever actors are taking on roles in which they play gay characters. For example, Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal in the upcoming film "Brokeback Mountain." Coming up, a special report on how these roles are impacting their careers.

But first, here are tonight`s "Hot Headlines."

A star has been swiped. Gregory Peck`s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame has been stolen. Today, honorary Hollywood Mayor Johnny Grant unveiled the replacement star and said, if the original is returned, he`ll forget the whole thing. Peck, the Oscar-winning actor, probably best known for his role in 1962`s "To Kill a Mockingbird," died in 2003.

"The Apprentice" is heading west. NBC announced today that the sixth season of the Donald Trump reality show will be shot in southern California. The first five seasons have all been New York-based. And in other Trump news, he`s going to be introducing a brand new vodka. But the Donald himself says he doesn`t even drink.

And star baby news. We learned today that "Law & Order" star Mariska Hargitay is pregnant. It`s the first child for her and husband Peter Herman, whom she met on set of the NBC drama.

And those are tonight`s "Hot Headlines" -- A.J.?

HAMMER: OK, Brooke, it is time now for a SHOWBIZ TONIGHT special report: Gay characters in the movies, and how big-name actors are lining up to play them. As we`re heading into the winter when a lot of the studios are releasing their Oscar hopefuls, we`re also seeing a parade of popular actors landing in roles as gay characters, parts that may land them in the Oscar-winner`s circle.

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s David Haffenreffer live in New York with more -- David?

DAVID HAFFENREFFER, CNN HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: A.J., not too long ago, many actors had shied away from playing gay roles because they were worried about either getting typecast or facing some kind of backlash. Those days, though, are long gone.

In fact, if you look at the movies out today, it appears that playing gay characters is not only widely accepted, it may be a good way for an actor to win great reviews or maybe even more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HAFFENREFFER (voice-over): A lot of people are interested in the business of "Brokeback Mountain." The movie, starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, is generating Oscar buzz and a lot of attention for its explicit portrayal of two cowboys and their secret, gay love affair. Jake Gyllenhaal tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, while filming "Brokeback Mountain," he wasn`t thinking about how people would react.

JAKE GYLLENHAAL, ACTOR: If you knew how people were going to respond to the film while you were making it, then I don`t think you`d be able to make it.

HAFFENREFFER: "Brokeback Mountain" is the most high-profile of a parade of films this fall that star big-name actors playing gay or transgender characters.

DAMON ROMINE, GLAAD: This really is a historic time for film and for gay, lesbian, and bisexual, transgender representation in film, as well.

FELICITY HUFFMAN, ACTRESS (in character): After my operation, not even a gynecologist will be able to detect anything out of the ordinary about my body. I will be a woman.

HAFFENREFFER: "Desperate Housewives" star Felicity Huffman is winning raves for "Transamerica," in which she plays a man about to have a sex change operation to become a woman.

HUFFMAN: I`m proud to represent the transgender community in the small way that I have.

HAFFENREFFER: Huffman sat down with SHOWBIZ TONIGHT to talk about her unique transformation into a very unique character.

HUFFMAN: I mean, she just represents one individual in a broad spectrum of people, like any group. So I`m proud, and I hope that the transgender community approves.

PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN, ACTOR (in character): Couldn`t bear the thought of losing you so soon.

HAFFENREFFER: Meanwhile, Philip Seymour Hoffman is considered a near shoe-in for an Oscar nomination for "Capote," in which he plays gay author Truman Capote.

And then there`s Irish actor Cillian Murphy, who plays a cross-dresser in "Breakfast on Pluto." With all of these movies and all of these memorable characters, some are saying acting gay is the new way for an actor to stretch his way to an Oscar.

CARYN JAMES, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": A lot of them are Oscar-based roles, because they`re acting with a capital A, acting in a very overt way, so that you can see the stretch, especially if you have actors who are known as straight actors. For instance, Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams just had a child together. He can play a character in "Brokeback Mountain," and it`s that much clearer that he`s stretching to play somebody unlike himself.

HAFFENREFFER: What`s behind this glut of gay-oriented prestige roles? Let`s go from 2005, 20 years back to 1985.

WILLIAM HURT, ACTOR (in character): If you`ve got the keys to that door, I will gladly follow.

HAFFENREFFER: William Hurt plays a gay prisoner in "Kiss of the Spider Woman" and wins an Oscar. Nine years later, Tom Hanks wins an Oscar for playing a gay lawyer in Philadelphia. But it`s not just the Oscar hardware that attracts actors and audiences to these roles.

GYLLENHAAL: I fell in love with the story. I thought it was a beautiful love story. Whether or not it was about two guys or it was about a guy and a girl, to me the idea behind it was what was most powerful. That was the thing that was more powerful to me than the idea of them being in a gay relationship.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAFFENREFFER: And there are more high-profile movies with high- profile gay characters out there or about to come out. They include the movie versions of the Broadway hits "Rent" and "The Producers" -- A.J.?

HAMMER: All right, David, thanks so much. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s David Haffenreffer in New York.

Well, tonight, another "Showbiz Sitdown." This time, it`s with actor Michael Ealy. You know him from, among other films, "Barbershop" and the Hallmark Oprah Winfrey special "Their Eyes were Watching God."

Well, now, he`s starring in a new Showtime miniseries called "Sleeper Cell." Ealy plays an FBI agent and a practicing Muslim under deep cover with a terrorist sleeper cell in California. He must stop the terrorists before they carry out a massive attack on the U.S.

Michael Ealy, joining us live tonight in New York city. It`s nice to have you here. Quite a powerful show.

MICHAEL EALY, ACTOR: Yes.

HAMMER: It just kind of knocks you over.

EALY: Yes, and that`s good entertainment.

HAMMER: And your dealing with some timely issues here, naturally, speaking of terrorists. Certainly, while you were filming this, we have some things going on, like the war in Iraq, a constant terror threat. Where these things that you guys were talking about and were sort of on your mind, as you were filming this series?

EALY: Yes. I mean, it was one of those situations where -- I remember, for example, the night of the London train bombing. We were filming on a bridge in Los Angeles. And, you know, someone made an announcement, "They just bombed some trains in London."

And everybody just got quiet. Everybody just got real quiet. And I remember driving home that night and thinking the timeliness of this show is so important. And it`s really happening. And we can ignore it if we want to, but it`s really happening.

HAMMER: And, certainly, it was motivated by what has happened in the country, particularly September 11th. Were it not for 9/11, perhaps this would never have come about, this particular project. Where were you on September 11th?

EALY: I was here in New York. I was living here in New York. And I was in my apartment. And I was just as terrified as everybody else. I mean, I didn`t know if I was going to ever get off of the island of Manhattan. I didn`t know if they were going to go for the bridges or anything else next.

HAMMER: Something else that you guys, perhaps, were talking about during the filming of the series?

EALY: Yes. I mean, there`s a lot of topical issues in this show, so...

HAMMER: And one thing that`s quite striking is the fact that you are not dealing with what we may think of as stereotypical terrorists. You have a blonde, blue-eyed American. You have a Frenchman. Why did they decide to do this sort of against type?

EALY: Well, I think, you know, the creators wanted to kind of make the show more real and less escapist, you know. They wanted to try to make it as real as possible, so they based all of the guys on real terrorists that exist around the world.

And so they -- I think my character is the only fictional character. And he`s the one that you kind of hope wins and so forth and so on. But it`s very, very timely. And these guys are -- you know, at some point, we have to look at everybody as a possible terrorist. And I hate to say that.

HAMMER: It`s really eye-opening in that way. It could be the person sitting next to you, you know, on the bus or walking down the street.

EALY: It could be the guy who`s teaching your 16-year-old daughter how to drive. I saw a bus today in New York with a slogan from the LAPD: "If you see something, say something." And that`s kind of what we`re trying to say, as well. If you see something strange, be aware and say something.

HAMMER: Another one of the stereotypes it addresses is that of -- there are a lot of bad stereotypes about the religion of Islam.

EALY: Yes.

HAMMER: And this shows the good and the bad. Was that something, I assume, they were trying to get out here?

EALY: Yes. I mean, you know, this show is multifaceted in many ways. And one way is that you have the war on terror, which is my character as an FBI agent fighting against these terrorists. And then you have the war within Islam, which is my character, who is a Muslim and believes in true Islam, fighting the extremists, who have bastardized his faith.

HAMMER: Well, it sounds like it gave you guys a lot to talk about and think about while you were filming it. And presumably people will walk away talking about it, as well.

Michael Ealy, we appreciate you joining us on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

EALY: Thank you very much.

HAMMER: Thanks for being here. "Sleeper Cell" will make its premiere on Sunday, December 4th, on Showtime.

ANDERSON: Coming up, he lost more than 150 pounds, nearly half of his body weight. And that gained him $250,000. "The Biggest Loser" winner, Matt Hoover, and his amazing weight loss story, live, in the interview you`ll see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, next.

Plus, what do a potato chip and Jay Leno have in common? Well, apparently a lot, according to one "Tonight Show" viewer. See what we`re talking about, coming up in "Laughter Dark."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m Brooke Anderson, live in Hollywood.

Tonight, an idea about cable that could someday change what you see on TV. The head of the FCC says he thinks cable companies should let people buy single channels, a la carte, instead of packages of channels. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin says that would let parents keep out stations they don`t want their kids watching. Martin`s stance could end up pushing Congress to make cable companies offer a la carte pricing. But a research firm says that`s unlikely, and the head of the Commerce Committee says he would rather work out a voluntary system.

Now we want to hear from you. It is the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day." Cable TV: Would you rather pay for only the channels you want? Keep voting at CNN.com/showbiztonight. And write us at showbiztonight@CNN.com. Your e-mails are coming up at 55 past the hour.

HAMMER: Tonight, an amazing and inspiring weight loss story. Matt Hoover used to be a championship wrester, but ballooned to 340 pounds. Matt succeeded in losing almost half of his weight, 157 pounds, by focusing strictly on exercise and eating right.

Well, last night, he was crowned the biggest loser on NBC`s popular reality show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are the biggest loser! Yes!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: Joining me now for a showbiz newsmaker interview, Matt Hoover, the biggest loser. But a big winner, $250,000. Congratulations on the weight loss and congratulations on the loot.

MATT HOOVER, "BIGGEST LOSER" WINNER: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thanks for having me.

HAMMER: Well, let`s throw up this before-and-after picture right here. And take a look. Now, when you first started out with the show, you were at 340 pounds. That`s the picture we see on the left. And this was last night, I guess.

HOOVER: Yes.

HAMMER: When you see that, are you just amazed at what you`ve accomplished? You know, I have to be honest, it looks like two different people.

HOOVER: It does. And, you know, besides the physical appearance, there`s an emotional and an inside transformation that took place that I can`t even begin to explain. So it is two different people.

You know, a lot of people lose weight and say, "You know, I lost weight, but I`m still the same person." I`m not. I am a completely different person. And...

HAMMER: A lot of people do say that. They feel like a small person in a fat person`s body.

(CROSSTALK)

HOOVER: It`s because you`re holding on -- yes, you`re trying to hold on to some of your old past. And, for me, I had to let go of everything and have a new lifestyle and a new look. And I`m happy. I love it.

HAMMER: And the look, one of your accomplishments. How you feel emotionally, one of your accomplishments. Certainly, your health a big part of it. And the money, as well. But was is the single most important accomplishment? And I should also point out you announced on the show last night nine months sober, as a result of this.

HOOVER: Yes, that might have been my biggest accomplishment, is I`ve battled alcoholism since I was a young kid. And for me to be sober for nine months -- and now I have the accountability of millions of people.

HAMMER: Oh, yes.

HOOVER: So now it`s like, hey, it`s going to be tough to go back to that. And I`m happy. That was probably my biggest accomplishment, was kicking that, and getting my life back, and being able to go on, and have goals, and dreams of things that I thought were buried. And it`s a great feeling.

HAMMER: And it wasn`t accomplished through extreme measures. It was accomplished through diet and through exercise. Give me an example of, before this whole "Biggest Loser" thing happened, when you would go out and indulge in a big meal or bring food home, what would that meal consist of?

HOOVER: Well, the biggest thing was, every Thursday night, there`s a little, local watering hole, two dollars, all you can eat wings. I could eat 80 buffalo wings in a sitting.

HAMMER: Oh, man. And that was a regular thing for you?

HOOVER: And still walk. And a couple pitchers of beer. That was every week.

Now, you wouldn`t catch me doing that. You know, now it`s chicken breast, fish, lean meats, vegetables, good, clean eating that fills me up and gives me energy. And now I eat because I`m hungry, my body needs to, not because I`m happy or sad. So it`s a big difference.

HAMMER: Well, that brings up an interesting point for a lot of people who try to diet. You know, food is a form of addiction. It is an addiction. Do you feel that you have beaten that?

HOOVER: I have, but it`s also one of those things that, once you see yourself, you see a picture like that, where you see your old self, you know how easy it was to do that. So you have to make sure that you`re doing everything.

For me, exercise is my outlet now. I love to go work out and get that energy out. But it is an addiction. A lot of people have a tough time kicking that.

And it`s such an easy thing, too, because it`s everywhere. You can`t walk down the street without seeing a Mickey D`s or something like that. And so it`s easy when you`re feeling sad or tired, "Man, I could use some energy. Well, let`s go throw down a couple Big Macs." Well, then you feel worse. So you keep eating. It`s just this vicious cycle where you continue to do things that are putting you -- making you miserable.

HAMMER: You won $250,000.

HOOVER: I did.

HAMMER: What the heck are you going to do with the money?

HOOVER: I`m going to get out of debt. You know, I`m going to be debt-free. You know, I`ve got myself a little boat picked out so that I can water ski in the summer times. And I`m going to invest the rest. You know, when it gets right down to it, it`s really not that much money. What I got for my new health is worth way more than what they are going to give me as a check.

HAMMER: Well, congratulations to you. Best of luck. And congratulations, not only on what you`ve done for yourself, but I`m sure you`ve inspired a lot of people around the country.

HOOVER: Thank you.

HAMMER: So thanks so much, Matt Hoover, for joining us on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

HOOVER: Thanks a lot.

ANDERSON: What a terrific story. Good for Matt.

Well, now it is time for "Laughter Dark," SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s favorite moments from late-night TV. On "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno, Jay shows some items that fans think look just like him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": Now, these are things that people think look like me. I don`t think they look like me, like this one here.

(LAUGHTER)

Do you think that looks like me? I don`t think it does.

This is a -- this woman sent me this. This is a potato chip she thinks looks like me.

(LAUGHTER)

Here`s a rather handsome woman that looks like me.

(LAUGHTER)

Good looking girl, huh?

(LAUGHTER)

Now, I`ve seen this one before. Anybody go to Rubio`s? That`s like the Spanish me.

(LAUGHTER)

OK. See me in the dog`s ear?

(LAUGHTER)

Me either.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: That`s incredible. I have to say, some of those items do look like Jay.

And also, on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," a correspondent checks in on New Jersey`s search for a new state slogan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICHARD CODEY (D), NEW JERSEY: We paid a marketing firm $280,000 to come up with a slogan, which was, "New Jersey: We`ll win you over."

JASON JONES, CONTRIBUTOR, "DAILY SHOW": I love it.

CODEY: I don`t like it. It starts from a negative connotation. It reminded me of when I was single and I would ask a girl out. And she`d turn me down. And I would say to her, well...

JONES: OK, wait, so you`re not the gay governor?

CODEY: No.

JONES: OK. Well, these are useless then.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The slogan for our state isn`t something that really serves the state residents.

JONES: How about this one? "New Jersey: Maybe a nice dinner and a walk on the beach will change your mind."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. That won`t work.

JONES: "New Jersey: This ring comes off."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t think so.

JONES: OK, how about this one? "New Jersey: Aww."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: See, I think that would get me to go to the Garden State, personally.

Well, there is still time for you to sound off in our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day," which is: Cable TV: Would you rather pay for only the channels you want? You can vote by going to the website, CNN.com/showbiztonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

We have been asking you to vote online on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day." Cable TV: Would you rather pay for only the channels you want?

It`s a landslide. You want it a la carte: 90 percent of you say, yes, you would rather pay for only the channels you want; 10 percent of you say, no. If you would like, you can continue to vote by going to CNN.com/showbiztonight.

ANDERSON: It is time to see what`s playing on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT tomorrow. So, for that, let`s take a look at the "Showbiz Marquee." Marquee Guy, what`s cooking for tomorrow?

MARQUEE GUY: Tomorrow, Paula Abdul live. She`s bringing along the best and worst of "American Idol," Kelly, Justin, Carrie, and those trying to sing just like them and failing. Oy, my ears. Paula Abdul tells us all about it -- straight up, of course -- live, tomorrow.

Prince singing "Purple Rain." And tomorrow, the daytime queen, Oprah, hits the great white way with "The Color Purple." SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is right there live, as Oprah opens her very important play tomorrow.

This is the Marquee Guy. And don`t you think purple is a very regal color for me? Well, you would if you could see me.

HAMMER: It`s lovely on you, Marquee Guy. That is it for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.

ANDERSON: And I`m Brooke Anderson in Hollywood. Stay tuned for the latest from CNN Headline News.

END

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