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Stern`s Satellite Show Debuts; "Brokeback Mountain" Generates Controversy, Oscar Buzz; Hilary Swank, Chad Lowe to Separate; Mary J. Blige Opens Up about Dark Past, New Album

Aired January 9, 2006 - 19:00:00   ET


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


HAMMER (voice-over): On SHOWBIZ TONIGHT...

HOWARD STERN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: What this represents this morning is the potential to do anything we want.

HAMMER: The unsinkable Howard Stern. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is right there as the shock jock rocks the airwaves for the first time on satellite radio. Tonight, a Stern warning. It was not rated PG, and we`ve got it all.

Tonight, getting bashed over "Brokeback Mountain." A theater pulls the gay cowboy movie. One of the country`s most famous movie critics under attack by gay activists. Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on the raging cowboy controversy that just won`t go away.

The ladies who lunch are out, and TV`s wonder-women are in.

GLENN CLOSE, ACTRESS: Excuse me, I`m done talking to you.

HAMMER: We`ve got a Golden Globes battle to end all battles. Geena vs. Kyra. Arquette vs. Close. It`s a SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "gold rush," with the powerful battle among women in power as our special countdown to the globes gets going tonight.

EDIE FALCO, ACTRESS: Hi, I`m Edie Falco. If it happened today, it`s on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.


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

HAMMER: And I`m A.J. Hammer live in New York City.

Brooke, we have a big Hollywood marriage break up tonight that all of America`s going to be talking about. In fact, when we heard it first this afternoon, we couldn`t believe it. We`ve got more on that in just a moment.

But first tonight, Stern returns. Hey now. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT was right there as the self-proclaiming King of All Media, Howard Stern, made radio history. Today he debuted his very first live broadcast on pay satellite radio. And, of course, because the FCC can`t control satellite radio at this point, it was R-rated raucous radio, to say the least.

So I went down to the Sirius Satellite headquarters in New York City to check it out for myself.


GEORGE TAKEI, ANNOUNCER: This is the maiden voyage of Howard Stern`s satellite radio show.

HAMMER (voice-over): Stern`s first show on Sirius Satellite Radio. He says the day is a monumental one.

STERN: I feel that this is the culmination of a dream for me.

HAMMER: A dream, because he says he`s finally free from the grips of the FCC and all their hefty fines for his lewd antics. I was there today as Stern`s maiden show hit the airways.

(on camera) We`ve been running a tall this morning. On terrestrial radio, $6.2 billion worth of fines would have been levied so far.

STERN: That`s correct. Isn`t this glorious? I mean, why should anyone have to be censored?

HAMMER (voice-over): And on satellite, where the FCC can`t touch him, he isn`t censored. And yes, the "F" bombs were flying.

STERN: I love satellite.

HAMMER: He`s got lots of little tricks up his sleeve. Stern has promised everything from stripper polls to live sex on his new show.

STERN: We`ve set our own limits.

HAMMER: And he has lots of other inventive programming in store, like a show called "Meet the Sterns," featuring his parents, who will chat about memories of Stern`s childhood.

He`s even created his very own interpretation of ABC`s "The View."

STERN: You know "The View," with Star Jones, Barbara Walters. Boring, same thing every day. We went out and got four crack whores. Real crack whores. We have working crack whores. And they come in and deal with the same exact topics from that day`s show, except a crack whore view.

HAMMER: And, he has signed on "Star Trekker" George Takei to be his new announcer.

TAKEI: And now, the Howard Stern show.

HAMMER: Surprisingly, Stern will also have his very own full coverage news team, called Howard 100 News. They`re the ones in those attractive yellow jackets. They`ll be covering all Stern news all the time.

I had the chance to catch up with one of his new reporters, Penny Crone.

(on camera) Give me an idea of the kind of a story we might here on Howard 100 News.

PENNY CRONE, HOWARD 100 NEWS REPORTER: Whether he had a nose job, did he get married to Beth, what is he doing with all his money? And if he`s making that much money, why doesn`t he get a nose job if he doesn`t have one?

HAMMER: It`s just after 7 a.m. I`m here at the Sirius national headquarters in New York City, where just about every major media outlet in the country has come out to cover Howard Stern`s first day on the air. But this whole thing is not just about generating big buzz; it`s about generating big bucks.

(voice-over) Stern`s deal could be worth up to $500 million over the next five years.

STERN: Sirius announced I think about a week ago that they went over the 3.3 million mark.


Stern: Which is awesome for us, because it means, like, our fans are actually signing up.

HAMMER: And because he`s boosted subscribers so dramatically and so quickly, he got a hefty little bonus, more than $220 million worth of stock. Stock he was supposed to get at the end of his contract in 2010.

But Stern says he`s still concerned about losing some of his diehard radio listeners.

STERN: Am I going to have everyone with me? No, I don`t think that I`m going to have every one of my listeners. But I had to trade this incredible ability to hit a button and reach millions and millions of people instantly for the opportunity to build that.

HAMMER: But reporters didn`t want to know about just his new show. The topic of his girlfriend, Beth O., came up and whether rumors were true that the two of them got hitched.

STERN: The truth is I am not married. I did not get married in Mexico. That was not...

QUIVERS: Did you get engaged?

STERN: I didn`t get engaged.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to get engaged?

STERN: No. We have no plans.

HAMMER: Looks like Stern`s only serious big plans for the future are with Sirius, and that future looks bright.

STERN: We can go anywhere we want. As George Takei said so brilliantly, to go where -- what is it?

TAKEI: To boldly go where no one has gone before.


HAMMER: And if you`re a little bit tired of all the hype and all the press, Howard said that after that press conference today, no more press for a long time.

Coming up a bit later in the show, I sit down with George Takei to talk about his role on Howard Stern`s new show. Plus, George reveals to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT why he recently decided to let the world know that he`s gay.

And now we want to hear from you for our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. What do you think? Howard Stern, is he worth $500 million? You can vote at Also e-mail us at if you have more to say. We`ll read some of your thoughts later in the show.

ANDERSON: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s on top of the "Brokeback" backlash. The movie "Brokeback Mountain" is gaining steam at the box office. After initially opening in limited theaters, the movie, a love story between two gay cowboys, is playing in more and more theaters each week. But there is one theater that has refused to show it.

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Sibila Vargas joins us live with more.

Hi, Sibila.


This year`s biggest love story is gaining steam in the race to Oscar gold, but it`s also gaining something else, controversy. "Brokeback Mountain," a story about two cowboys who fall in love, is being hailed by critics and audiences alike. But if you`re a movie fan living in Utah, there`s one movie theater where you won`t be able to see it.


HEATH LEDGER, ACTOR: This thing grabs hold of us again in the wrong place, and the wrong time. And we`re dead.

VARGAS (voice-over): Just hours before the buzz-iest movie in America was supposed to open at this Salt Lake City megaplex, "Brokeback Mountain" was suddenly pulled.

The gay love story, starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, is creating quite a stir with critics. It took in best director, best picture and best actor at last night`s New York Film Critics Circle Awards and is also nominated for seven Golden Globes.

The director of the film, Ang Lee, told SHOWBIZ TONIGHT he`s excited about the way the film has been embraced by audiences.

ANG LEE, DIRECTOR: I`m so happy that people receive it so warmly. I think the culture of society is in the mood. And the film maker was a little early. We were in the mood two years ago, wanting to make those movies. Now here are the movies. And it`s a great please to see that connect with society.

VARGAS: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT was there to break the news to Lee about that Utah theater which pulled the plug on his movie. The director simply shrugged it off.

LEE: It`s just one. I thought it was going to be hundreds. I`m very surprised they really want to show the movie, by and large. It`s a movie - - it`s a movie about love. And go check it out, and -- and decide later on, and give it a shot.

VARGAS: And it`s looking like audiences are giving "Brokeback Mountain" more than a shot. In just four weeks since opening, in just under 300 theaters, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can tell you the movie has recouped most of its modest budget.

GITESH PANDYA, BOXOFFICEGURU.COM: "Brokeback Mountain" is doing exceptionally well in the box office, despite very limited theaters playing the film.

It`s a movie which cost about $14 million to produce, and so far it`s grossed over $22 million with less than 500 theaters. And if it goes on to win the Golden Globe for best picture and gets some major Oscar nominations, this is a movie that could gross over $100 million just from North America.

VARGAS: And even some critics` criticism could be playing to the movie`s success. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on top of another controversy surrounding the movie, and it all centers on this review by Gene Shalit on Thursday`s "Today Show."

GENE SHALIT, MOVIE CRITIC, NBC`S "THE TODAY SHOW": Jack, who strikes me as a sexual predator, tracks Ennis down and coaxes him into sporadic trysts.

VARGAS: Shalit`s words created a firestorm. GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, demanded an apology, calling Shalit`s review "bizarre." They say, quote, "It seems highly doubtful that Shalit would similarly claim that `Titanic`s` Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) was a `sexual predator` because he was pursuing a romantic relationship with Rose (Kate Winslet)."

Still, negative criticism can go a long way in the race to the Oscars.

PANDYA: Gene Shalit has comments that are getting some controversy stirring, however, that could be a good thing for "Brokeback Mountain," because at a time when there are so many contenders going after so few awards, any attention your film can get is a good thing.

VARGAS: And just today, nationally syndicated columnist Liz Smith writes, quote, "One must gasp at Shalit`s `Today Show` review." Smith shoots down Shalit`s assessment of Gyllenhaal`s predatory roles, saying, quote, "I don`t think sending a postcard saying, `Want to get together?` after several years apart translates into predatory coaxing."

So, with all the media and critical attention "Brokeback Mountain" is receiving, how does it shake out with Oscar voters?

PANDYA: It`s a good thing to have media attention and even some controversy around a film, because it sets your film apart from all the other contenders out there looking for big Oscar gold.


VARGAS: And the New York Film Critics Circle Awards gave Reese Witherspoon the best actress award for her starring role in "Walk the Line." And Maria Bellow and William Hurt won best supporting actress and actor for their roles in "A History of Violence."

Brook, back to you.

ANDERSON: We are getting into the thick of awards season.

VARGAS: We sure are.

ANDERSON: Sibila Vargas, thanks so much.

HAMMER: Coming up on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, Hilary Swank and Chad Lowe are splitting up. Find out what they told SHOWBIZ TONIGHT about their marriage.

ANDERSON: And the gold rush is on. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT takes a look at television`s powerful women duking it out for the Golden Globe.

HAMMER: No more drama in this singer`s life, just a top-selling album, an acting role and a few words for women everywhere. Mary J. Blige, coming up live in the interview you`ll see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

ANDERSON: But first, tonight`s "Entertainment Weekly Great American Pop Culture Quiz." Which 1970 movie ends with the line, "I was cursed (sic), all right?" "A Clockwork Orange," "Cabaret," "One Flew Over the Cuckoo`s Nest" or "Marathon Man"? We`ll be right back with your answer.


ANDERSON: So again, tonight`s "Entertainment Weekly Great American Pop Culture Quiz." Which 1970 movie ends with the line, "I was cured, all right?" "A Clockwork Orange," "Cabaret," "One Flew Over the Cuckoo`s Nest" or "Marathon Man"? The answer is A, "A Clockwork Orange."

HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, TV`s only live entertainment news show. I`m A.J. Hammer.

Startling news tonight as Oscar-winning actress Hilary Swank and husband Chad Lowe announced their separation. This afternoon, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT got this statement from Swank`s manager, Troy Nanken: "Hilary and Chad have decided to separate, but they are hopeful they`ll be able to get through this tough time."

The couple has been married for eight years and recently talked about having children. The really news seems to carry over the past year of back-to-back breakups back in 2005, particularly around the holidays.

Joining us live in New York to talk about this, clinical psychologist and relationship expert, Dr. Judy Kuriansky.

Always a pleasure to see you.


HAMMER: Audible gasps throughout the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom this afternoon when word came in on this. So of course, Brad and Jen broke up last January. Mike Myers split up with his wife just a few weeks ago in December. And now we have this, Chad and Hilary.

What is the deal with this time of year? And I can`t imagine it`s unique to Hollywood.

KURIANSKY: No. It`s actually not. It has a syndrome name. It`s post-holiday blues, just like the pre-holiday blues. And this is a time after the holidays, some people put off breaking up or announcing it, because they want to go through the holiday and have things calm. It`s enough stress. And then after the holiday is over, it`s time for a new year.

People are also -- real people are making assessments about their life, and looking at, "Well, I want to be happier." That`s a typical new year`s resolution. And so then, that leads them to say, "Well, am I happy with this person?" So people need to be aware of this time of year as the post-holiday blues.

HAMMER: Seems to make a lot of sense, seems to be pretty logical.

Another thing that was going on with Chad and Hilary, sort of similar to Brad and Jen, who had their Plan B production company together.


HAMMER: These guys had accomplished films together. People may remember they produced a Charades program on television. Working together not always a good thing and particularly having a company together, I imagine.

KURIANSKY: Not always a good thing. People can fall in love because they have these erotic, exotic ideas, and that gets very sensuous. And people get turned on. And then it breaks you up, because if it`s not successful, Accomplice didn`t really accomplish...

HAMMER: All that much.

KURIANSKY: ... all that much. But did some things. But if it`s not successful, then you blame the other person, you start to argue, you feel that you`re not successful, and that spills over to not really caring about the person, and arguments over all kinds of things.

So while it can make you or totally break you to work together. You have to really be careful about it.

HAMMER: Well, we were very saddened to hear the news here at SHOWBIZ TONIGHT about Chad and Hilary today. And we appreciate getting a little insight into why this all happens, particularly at this time of year.

Dr. Judy Kuriansky, thanks for joining us.

ANDERSON: It is time now for a "SHOWBIZ Sitdown" with R&B singer Mary J. Blige, who has just had a week really fit for the history books. The three-time Grammy Award winner is now out with her seventh album. It`s called "The Breakthrough," and it`s already gone platinum. First week sales were extremely strong, scoring Mary the best opening week for an R&B solo artist in Soundscan history.

And Mary J. Blige, she`s joining us now. Congratulations on all of this.


ANDERSON: One point five million copies and counting. It was released right before the holidays. So a pretty good Christmas gift.

BLIGE: Really, really nice.

ANDERSON: You must be feeling really terrific right now.

BLIGE: I feel really, really good. I mean, I put a lot of work into it. I`m just so happy that the fans are happy and pleased with, you know, the product. And I just -- I put a lot of everything into it, you know.

ANDERSON: How long did it take you to put it together?

BLIGE: It took about a year. I started last November, and we finished August. And, you know, here it is. You know, I`m just glad, like I said, I`m happy the fans are happy. And you know, that`s...

ANDERSON: Fans have really responded.


ANDERSON: And Mary, I want to ask you, you have been very open about -- you`ve had a tough road.

BLIGE: Right.

ANDERSON: And you`ve been very candid about your battles with drugs, with alcohol. You`ve had bad relationships in the past. How did you turn your life around?

BLIGE: Well, you know, what happened was I was able to -- I was actually pulled out of the environment that was causing me to sink and not love myself, like myself and spiral into abusive behavior.

And when you`re pulled out of your environment, you`re actually able to see what kind of environment you were in, and what kind of people you were dealing with. And you`re actually dealing with yourself, because if you hate yourself, you`re only going to, I believe, draw to you people that hate themselves and want to spin out of control with you.

So you know, I mean, I have to really, like, credit my husband for, you know, being my friend at the time. He wasn`t my husband, but being my friend enough to challenge me to step out and see the truth, and that`s what happened. I was able to see it for myself.

And when you`re able to see things, you can change it, you know. When you can`t see it, you don`t even know you need help, you know.

ANDERSON: Totally clean now?

BLIGE: Totally clean. I mean, you know, I occasionally have a glass of wine. I`m not going to say...

ANDERSON: Of course.

BLIGE: I celebrate, but I do not do any drugs anymore. And you know, I`m just trying to keep my mind focused on positive things, although it was hard. But at the end of the day, that`s where I want my head to be.

ANDERSON: And the music seems to be focused on positive things and encouraging women. These song titles, some of them: "Enough Crying," "Going to Break Through," "Good Woman Down."

BLIGE: Right.

ANDERSON: What is the message you want to convey here?

BLIGE: The message I want to convey, you know, is the fact that no matter how hard it gets for women, for men, whoever, don`t give up. You know, I mean, so many people counted me out. So many people said, "She`s done, it`s over." And I will not count myself out.

You know, I went into the studio saying that, you know, I`m going to make my fans happy and I`m going to make a product that they can always remember me by.

And you know, the message is, you`re the good woman that they can`t hold down, regardless of if you`ve been abused, left with a bunch of children, you`ve been on drugs. You can get -- you can do it. You just have to believe you can do it, you know.

ANDERSON: It`s not insurmountable; it`s not impossible. And you are known for really empowering women, encouraging them to have a good image. Here at SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, we`ve done stories on the critics who say women in R&B and hip-hop are portrayed in a negative way, sometimes in a degrading manner. What do you think about that?

BLIGE: I mean, I believe it`s, you know, it`s true. You turn on the television and you see a lot of, you know, just nudity and 50 million women in bathing suits, or you know, just with their bodies just loosely out. But at the end of the day, you don`t know what their stories are and what causes them to have to make -- feel that they have to make a living that way. So you know, I don`t judge them.

But, you know, I just feel like we -- I was in a place where I had to learn to love myself. You know, I wasn`t nude in all my videos, but I was doing other things that were abusive and, you know, negative towards myself.

So I mean, at the end of the day, you just have to really figure out - - or, you have to get in a place where you can see your environment. If you can`t see it yourself, you`re not going to change it, you know.

ANDERSON: Well, what strides you have made. Congratulations...

BLIGE: Thank you.

ANDERSON: ... on all you have done, including this album.

BLIGE: Thank you.

ANDERSON: Mary J. Blige, thank you so much.

BLIGE: You`re welcome.

ANDERSON: And the CD is called "The Breakthrough." It is in stores now.

HAMMER: Ahead on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, Matt Lauer`s mystery surgery and Katie Couric`s worth. "The Today Show" anchors are making news.

ANDERSON: Smooth singer Harry Belafonte has some sharp words for the president. Why Belafonte`s turning Bush`s favorite catch-phrases against him.

HAMMER: Plus, Howard Stern`s announcer has an announcement of his own. George Takei tells us why he went public with his sexuality. It`s interview you`ll see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.


ANDERSON: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m Brooke Anderson.

Well, Andy Rooney has some advice for CBS in its quest for Katie Couric, and it`s this: save your money.

For weeks, rumors have been swirling that CBS is offering Couric at least $20 million to woo her from NBC`s "Today Show" to "The CBS Evening News." But on CNN`s "LARRY KING LIVE," Rooney said that money could be put to better use.


ANDY ROONEY, CBS COMMENTATOR: I say, take that $20 million, you could buy 40 reporters, 40 new reporters. You could give them each $250,000. I mean, there are hundreds of reporters who would jump at getting -- so take that $20 billion, don`t give it to Katie. Give it a bunch of reporters and make CBS News the best news report in the world.

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Have them everywhere.

ROONEY: Have them everyone. Open up the bureaus we used to have in Buenos Aires, and Warsaw, Poland. We used to have them everywhere. Open those up again with that $20 million. Katie will be all right without it.


ANDERSON: Couric`s contract expires in May, and so far she`s remained tightlipped about her future plans.

HAMMER: And for fans of "The Today Show," an answer to "Where in the world is Matt Lauer?" Last Thursday, Katie Couric revealed that Lauer had to take the day off for a little surgery, but she didn`t elaborate with any details, which of course, prompted some to wonder and worry a bit.

But today, Matt`s medical mystery was solved.



MATT LAUER, CO-HOST, NBC`s "THE TODAY SHOW": I had a little wrist surgery. I`m OK.

COURIC: You`re a leftie, so this is going to be a problem.

LAUER: It`s a bummer. You have to write everything for me.

AL ROKER, CO-HOST, NBC`S "THE TODAY SHOW": And you`ll have to peel his grapes.

COURIC: I already put -- I already put hand cream on his right hand this morning for him.


HAMMER: We reached out for some more details and an NBC rep says that Lauer had surgery on a torn ligament from a prior injury, and that he`s going to need to wear that cast for about six weeks.

ANDERSON: Another injury, the Terminator takes a fall. We`ll tell you about Governor Schwarzenegger`s accident.

HAMMER: And now that he`s Howard Stern`s announcer, George Takei is no stranger to controversy. Takei tells us which political feud forced him to go public with his homosexuality, in the interview you`ll see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

ANDERSON: Plus he`s 6`4", well educated and a doctor. So what`s he doing on TV`s "The Bachelor"? Travis Stork tells us in a "SHOWBIZ Sitdown."

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT will be right back. Please stay with us.


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

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

HAMMER: Brooke, you remember Mr. Sulu?


HAMMER: Well, actor George Takei, who played that role in the "Star Trek" series and many of the movies, has a new gig. People who tuned into Howard Stern`s brand-new radio show today heard that George Takei, somebody the butt of many Howard Stern jokes over the years, is now officially the announcer for the Howard Stern radio program. So I have a chance to sit down with George and find out how he got that gig. Plus, George revealed something very personal about himself recently. We`re going to find out exactly why he did that, coming up right here.

ANDERSON: I wonder what George has thought about being the butt of those jokes all those years.

HAMMER: We`ll find out.

ANDERSON: Looking forward to that, A.J.

And also, we`re going to be talking powerful actresses in Hollywood. Some very strong women have been nominated for Golden Globes on the TV drama side, including Patricia Arquette, Glenn Close, Kyra Sedgwick, Polly Walker, Geena Davis. And roles are changing in Hollywood. We`re going to talk about why and also why these women are strong examples of that.

But first, we`re going to take a look at tonight`s "Hot Headlines". And for that, we got to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Sibila Vargas. She joins us live again from Hollywood.

Hey, Sibila.

VARGAS: Hey, Brooke. Well, tonight, stunning words from singer and activist Harry Belafonte, who`s calling President Bush a tyrant and a terrorist. Belafonte is a Unicef goodwill ambassador. His comments came during a trip to Venezuela where he led a delegation of Americans to meet President Hugo Chavez.


HARRY BELAFONTE, MUSICIAN: And no matter what the greatest tyrant in the world, the greatest terrorist in the world, George W. Bush, says, we`re here to tell you, not hundreds, not thousands, but millions of the American people, millions support your revolution, support your ideas. And we are expressing our solidarity with you.


VARGAS: Tough words.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was back at work today after a minor motorcycle accident. A spokeswoman says Schwarzenegger and his 12- year-old sol were on a motorcycle yesterday afternoon when they collided with a car at a low speed. Schwarzenegger got 15 stitches to treat a cut lip. He and his son were treated for other minor cuts and bruises at a hospital and were released shortly thereafter.

Well, Howard Stern`s days of getting bleeped are officially over. Stern debuted on Sirius satellite radio this morning. He denied rumors that he and his girlfriend, Beth Ostrosky, got married, and also took some shots at free radio and the FCC, of course. Stern promises everything from stripper poles to live sex on his new show. Live sex.

Well, those are tonight`s very, very, very, very "Hot Headlines."

ANDERSON: Very, very hot. Getting more and more outrageous.


VARGAS: Absolutely.

ANDERSON: OK, Sibila Vargas, thank you so much.

And that leads us again tonight to the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day," where you can sound off. Howard Stern: Is he worth $500 million? Keep voting at and please write us at Your thoughts are coming up at 55 past the hour.

HAMMER: Well, whether or not you believe that he`s worth all that cash, the king of all media certainly has gone where no man has gone before. And he began his travels this morning with the same old crew and one new addition. George Takei is the new announcer for the Stern show. And earlier today, he stopped by for another "Showbiz Sitdown."


HAMMER: Now, you introduced me this morning when I was posing my question to Howard, but, you know, I know you have your exclusive deal with him. Would you introduce me right now? Do you mind looking to camera?


HAMMER: I can`t argue with that.


George Takei himself. It was chaos this morning, but so much fun and crazy there at Sirius.

TAKEI: It was absolute madness. I mean, you know, I got the script last night, so I was, you know, working on it through the night. And then this morning, I arrived there, and pages start going and new things start being handed to me. Other things, unexpected things, are happening, but that`s what gives it that energy. Everything is spontaneous. Everything is, you know, at that moment.

HAMMER: Well, you say you just got the script last night. Quite frankly, you just got the job. It came out of nowhere.

TAKEI: That`s right.


HAMMER: Tell me how this came about?

TAKEI: Well, the day after New Years, the phone rang at home. I picked it up. And it was Gary Dell`Abate...

HAMMER: Who is Howard`s producer, Baba Booey.

TAKEI: ... who`s his producer. And I knew that. And my loins were literally girded.


And then he said, "We`re not being recorded," because they`ve done that to me.

HAMMER: They have done that. And to be sure, you have been on his show and the butt of many jokes over the years. So that, really, is my next question. You know, Howard Stern certainly has had lots of fun at your expense. Why do this job?

TAKEI: Because, you know, what Howard represents -- yes, he`s teased me a little bit...

HAMMER: No, a lot.

TAKEI: A lot. But he also represents something venturesome, adventurous, and something that`s important in America society.

HAMMER: And it certainly has been an intense couple of months for you. You made news of your own back in the fall. You came out publicly as a gay man in our sixties. And I was just curious about that decision and why, at this stage of life, did you decide to go ahead and make that announcement?

TAKEI: Well, I`ve been out with my family and friends. So, you know, we`ve been very -- and I`ve been with my partner for 18 years. So we`ve been very comfortable about that. But at the same time, being a professional actor and having, you know, this public career, it`s -- it was, I thought, prudent to not toot the horn on that.

However, last year, something momentous happened in California. The California legislature passed a same-sex marriage bill, unthinkable at another time, you know, that that be even discussed in the California Assembly. But they passed it.

And all that was required for that to become the law of the state was one signature: the signature of the governor. And I was almost confident that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was going to sign it, because, when he ran for office, he made all these moderate statements saying, you know, I work in the motion picture industry.


TAKEI: I have a lot of people that I work with that are gay. I am very comfortable with them, and I have no problems. And having heard him say that, I thought, "It is going to happen in California."

HAMMER: Right, no problem, he`ll sign it through.

TAKEI: He played to the narrowest, most reactionary segment of his base. He vetoed the bill. And I knew then that I had to speak out on that. But for me to speak out, my voice had to be authentic, had to have credibility. And that`s when I spoke to the press for the first time.


HAMMER: Good for George. Got angry, did something about it. And of course, you can hear George Takei as the new announcer on the Howard Stern show, weekdays on Sirius satellite radio.

ANDERSON: An emotional evening for friends and fans of "West Wing" actor John Spencer, whose fatal heart attack last month shocked millions. "The West Wing" aired the first new episode since Spencer`s death. In it, Spencer`s character, Leo McGarry, who`s running for vice president, is prepping for a debate. Martin Sheen prefaced the episode with a tribute to Spencer.


MARTIN SHEEN, ACTOR: Good evening. On December 16th, we lost our dear friend and colleague, John Spencer. Through our shock and grief, we can think of no more fitting memorial to this wonderful man, this extraordinary actor, than to share with you, beginning the tonight, the last few months on his work here on "The West Wing."

Johnny, it seems we hardly knew you. We love you, and we miss you.


ANDERSON: He is missed by many. Spencer will appear on four more episodes of "The West Wing." NBC hasn`t yet said how his death will be handled by the show`s storyline.

HAMMER: The Golden Globe nominations came at a bittersweet time for one nominee. Maria Bello says it was a good news-bad news kind of day for her. And she`ll tell us why, coming up.

ANDERSON: Plus, the Golden Globe nominees for best actress in a TV drama have one very powerful thing in common. We`ll tell you what it is, coming up in our "Gold Rush" series.

HAMMER: And can a doctor from Nashville find the prescription for love on a reality show? The new "Bachelor" tells us why he almost didn`t do the show, coming up in the interview you`ll see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.


ANDERSON: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. It is TV`s only live entertainment news show. I`m Brooke Anderson.

And now our Golden Globe coverage continues with an in-depth look at the best performance by an actress in a television series drama category. And it`s the year of powerful women. We are bracing ourselves for a powerful battle between women in power. Let`s go now to another strong woman, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Sibila Vargas. She is joining us live here in Hollywood with the story.

Hi, Sibila.

VARGAS: Hi, my fellow strong woman.

Well, this year`s actress in a TV drama category is a competitive one. And let me tell you, there are no wimps here. All the actresses were nominated for roles of power and strength, many of them new roles, and also by actresses with distinguished resumes.


PATRICIA ARQUETTE, ACTRESS, "MEDIUM": I`ve seen this woman before, last night, actually.

VARGAS (voice-over): Patricia Arquette solves cases with her extrasensory power in NBC`s "Medium."

GLENN CLOSE, ACTRESS, "THE SHIELD": Just come by the Parmington station (ph) and ask for the new captain.

VARGAS: Glenn Close stars in "The Shield" as the tough captain who takes over the precinct.

KYRA SEDGWICK, ACTRESS, "THE CLOSER": So the longer you stall, the closer you get to a lethal injection. How`s that for a deal?

VARGAS: Kyra Sedgwick is a CIA-trained interrogator in "The Closer."

POLLY WALKER, ACTRESS, "ROME": We must be first.

VARGAS: Don`t forget Polly Walker. She plays a shadow ruler in HBO`s "Rome."

GEENA DAVIS, ACTRESS, "COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF": I have a vice president to confirm, my first executive order to sign, and a country to run. Those are big deals.

VARGAS: And then there`s Geena Davis, tough as nails as first female president in "Commander-in-Chief." In this year`s best actress in a TV drama category, all powerful women, powerful roles, and getting powerful acclaim from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT went to "Newsweek`s" Devin Gordon to find why there are no wimps here.

DEVIN GORDON, SENIOR WRITER, "NEWSWEEK": You got a lot of tough women in this part. And it`s not like some of the "Sopranos" characters that we`ve seen get nominated in the past where those characters were sort of interesting for their flaws. I think that that just represents what people want to see on television. They want to see characters with depth, but they don`t want to see too much weakness and too much sadness.

VARGAS: No weakness this year. Just moments ago, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT spoke to Geena Davis on the set of "Commander-in-Chief" about all the buzz.

DAVIS: We`re thrilled. You know, we`re very, very happy. It`s pretty special to be on so briefly and then be nominated.

VARGAS: And that`s another startling trend. Three of these shows are brand new. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT spoke with "TV Guide`s" Ali Gazan about the changing roles for women.

ALI GAZAN, "TV GUIDE": With these new roles, Hollywood`s really reflecting what`s going on in the world. Today, you have women who are in high-profile, powerful positions. And though they might not be the president of United States yet, they are in really high levels of government. They`re, you know, running police forces and whatnot, but they`re also doing all these things at home. And so I think they`re just really trying to give a more overall, complete picture what women`s lives are really like today.

VARGAS: And something viewers want to see. Kyra Sedgwick told SHOWBIZ TONIGHT she thinks women can relate to her powerful role.

SEDGWICK: She is struggling against tough odds in her workplace and against tough odds in her workplace and against tough odds in, you know, how it -- how hard it is to be a single woman with a career and try to have some kind of personal life.

I mean, I just feel like she encompasses everything. And I think people love her, because I think they love to see themselves in a character. And I think they really see a lot of themselves in her.

VARGAS: And even in "Rome," Polly Walker told SHOWBIZ TONIGHT women can relate to her cunning character, too.

WALKER: They have the same sort of issues and things. And they have gyms, you know, that women would go to and sort of rituals that women would do. They do. They pluck their eyebrows. They shaved their legs. They colored their hair. They did everything that we do, how modern it all was, really. What a civilized, sophisticated system they had.

VARGAS: Polly Walker game to "Rome" as a distinguished theater actress. And Glenn Close, Patricia Arquette, Geena Davis, and Kyra Sedgwick were all stars on the big screen, another distinction making this year`s race a tough battle.

GORDON: You`re getting some real high-powered talent. And I think that`s also part of why you`re seeing these characters come to the forefront, because the only way these actresses are even going to do a TV show, because they have such good film careers, is that they`re getting good characters to really sink their teeth into on television.


VARGAS: And Geena Davis told us today that most of her experience is, of course, in film. And the nominations are always good news for the box office. And that she`s hoping that nominations for "Commander-in-Chief" will bring more viewers to that show.

Brooke, back to you.

ANDERSON: All right, Sibila. Thank you so much. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Sibila Vargas.

And in our "Gold Rush" coverage tomorrow, we`ll take an in-depth look at the best actor in a television series, musical or comedy, category in our special quirky comedy rules segment.

OK. Some strong women have been nominated for Golden Globes in the film category, as well. Maria Bello is nominated as best dramatic actress for her role in "A History of Violence."

Now, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT caught up with Bello and found out where she was when she found out she was nominated.


MARIO BELLO, ACTRESS, "A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE": I was on my couch. I was on my couch. I had done the ACLU benefit the night before. And Tookie Williams was put to death the night before. It was a very emotional night in Los Angeles, I`m sure all over the country.

And I was up most of the night. And then my mother calls, 5:00 a.m. She`s like, "Put on the thing. The Golden Globe things are coming on." So it was funny. It was a bittersweet day. I was devastated about Tookie Williams, and then at the same time I went, "Well, you know, I got nominated for an award. I`m real proud."


ANDERSON: Bello`s competition on Golden Globe night is an a-list of strong women in Hollywood. Also nominated in her category, Felicity Huffman for "Transamerica," Charlize Theron for "North Country," Gwyneth Paltrow for "Proof," and Ziyi Zhang for "Memoirs of a Geisha."

HAMMER: Tonight, ABC fires up yet another season of "The Bachelor." This time, it`s with a guy named Travis Stork. Let`s get to know Travis, shall we?

He`s six-feet, four-inches tall. He graduated magna cum laude from Duke University. And Travis is a doctor. So why hasn`t Travis found love? We`re about to find that out, as Travis, "The Bachelor" himself, Stork joins us here in New York.

It`s nice to see you. Congratulations on being the "Bachelor," I guess.

TRAVIS STORK, "THE BACHELOR": Well, thanks for having me.

HAMMER: But look at your credentials, man, the doctor, all these schools. You got your M.D. from University of Virginia. Is that correct?


HAMMER: So why the heck are you going on a reality TV show to find love?

STORK: It wasn`t planned that way. It`s a completely random circumstance. I was at dinner. And this is maybe a month before I left for Paris. And one of the casting directors was in town, came over. We had a nice, long conversation, at the end of which I said, "Thanks, but no thanks. I don`t think this is for me."

And one thing led to the next. My sister got wind of it. My friends got wind of it. And they all said, "Travis, you have to do this." And the reason has more to do, I think, with timing. You know, when you`re in medical training for the better part of the last decade, your focus is on your medical training. Your focus...

HAMMER: It takes up a little bit of your schedule?

STORK: It does. And, you know, most people, I think, understand that. But you`re not focused on dating.


STORK: And in the back of your mind, I think I`ve always felt that, when the timing was right, I`d meet the right person.

HAMMER: So this wasn`t about, "Oh, God, I got to hook up with a mate, so let me get on a reality show."

STORK: Not at all.

HAMMER: Now, have you been watching "The Bachelor" in season`s past?



HAMMER: So you had no idea what you were getting yourself into?

STORK: I just -- I put a lot of faith in my sister and my friends, because there are a lot of closet "Bachelor"-watchers amongst the male population.


STORK: The ones who are married or have significant others actually would come out and say, "Travis, I`ve actually seen every episode." And they all encouraged me to go take the chance. And I think knowing that they supported me really helped me to take that leap. And I get to go to Paris.

HAMMER: And you mentioned, as you just said, it is in Paris this season, which is a nice new, little twist. Now, what was the strangest thing you found about looking for love and dating all of these women? I guess, when you were out in college and in medical school, you didn`t get to date a whole heck of a lot. So now you`re dating all these women in Paris. What was the strangest part of all that?

STORK: I think the most difficult part is early on, when you`re meeting so many different personalities, so many different women. And it gets very difficult to -- first of all, you`ve got to remember everyone`s name.


STORK: Which is a challenge in and of itself.

HAMMER: No name tags.

STORK: But just being willing to listen and give everyone a fair chance. And that`s not something you have to do in a normal dating situation, where you go out with one person. You get to know them. At the end of the date, you decide, "Well, are we going to go on another date or not?" So the circumstance is totally different.

But, at the same time, being in France was the perfect setting, because I think we all showed up with all this energy, this excitement. And I think that`ll play out, because it really -- it was such an amazing experience. And the dates -- from the very first date I went on, I kept saying, "This is a dream date." And then I`d go on the next date, "Wait, this is an even better date." And then the next date, "How is this happening?" It was just unbelievable.

HAMMER: All right. So it sounds like it put you on the right path. I know you`re not allowed to tell us how it all worked out. Can you tell me if you are in fact, today, January 9th, in love?

STORK: You know, people...

HAMMER: No, that`s a yes or no question. Yes or no?

STORK: ... people, including all my best friends are like, "Come on, Travis, and what`s her name?" This is what my friends know. This is what everyone who`s around me on a daily basis knows. I am very happy, and I did meet someone special.

HAMMER: Well, we`re happy for you. And it sounds like you`re happy that you did it.

STORK: I am happy.

HAMMER: And we appreciate you dropping by to tell us about it.

STORK: Thanks for having me.

HAMMER: No problem. And you can catch the very first episode of "The Bachelor" in Paris tonight on ABC.

ANDERSON: And there is still time for you to sound off in the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day." Howard Stern: Is he worth $500 million? Vote at We`ll be right back.


HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, where we`ve been asking you to vote online on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day." Howard Stern: Is he worth $500 million?

Here`s the vote so far: 30 percent of you say yes; 70 percent no. Among the e-mails we`ve received, one from Ronald in Texas. He writes, "I don`t think much of him as a person or care for his filthy mouth. I sure don`t know why he is getting half a billion dollars."

We also heard from Lenn in Pennsylvania. He writes, "How can you place a value on laughter? He`s not worth $500 million. Howard Stern is priceless."

Keep voting at

ANDERSON: OK. It`s time to see what`s playing on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT tomorrow. So, Marquee Guy, take it away.

MARQUEE GUY: Tomorrow, Julia Roberts. She`s been seeing double at home, busy taking care of the twins. But she`s coming out of mommy land and will appear in public with none other than George Clooney. Are you kidding me? SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, with a story on why this pretty woman is walking down the street, tomorrow.

Also tomorrow, you know Ben Stein. He played the teacher in "Ferris Bueller`s Day Off." Well, we`re reinventing the Ferris wheel and will have him on tomorrow. Ben Stein, live, with some big, breaking, Ferris news. This is the Marquee Guy, taking roll. Bueller? Bueller? Hammer? Hammer? Anderson? Anderson?

HAMMER: Anderson? (INAUDIBLE) Oh, that`s you.

ANDERSON: It didn`t go, did it? You weren`t drooling like the kids in the class on film, were you?

HAMMER: No, I was not.

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

ANDERSON: And I`m Brooke Anderson. Please stay tuned for the latest from CNN Headline News.


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