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Actor Chris Penn Found Dead; Critics Call "American Idol" Discriminatory; Channel Names Confusing to Public
Aired January 25, 2006 - 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.
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, a stunning Sundance tragedy. Tonight, the mysterious death of Sean Penn`s younger brother, Chris, on the night before the premiere of his new movie. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is the only entertainment news show live at Sundance with the late-breaking details.
Plus, the controversy surrounding this Jesus Christ superstar. Tonight, Kanye West shocks the music world by appearing as Jesus Christ on the cover of "Rolling Stone" magazine. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is all over this raging religious battle and reveals Kanye`s long-guarded secret addiction.
SIMON COWELL, JUDGE, FOX`S "AMERICAN IDOL": I`m not saying that to be rude.
I`m not being rude. Without being rude...
HAMMER: Well, Simon, a lot of people beg to differ. Tonight, "American Idol" anger. Has the show gotten too mean?
COWELL: I almost imagine you in a dress when you sing.
HAMMER: Is it discriminating against gays, overweight people and people of color? SHOWBIZ TONIGHT investigates this "Idol" controversy.
ROSIE O`DONNELL, COMEDIAN: Hi, I`m Rosie O`Donnell. If it happened today, it`s on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.
ANDERSON: Hello, I`m Brooke Anderson, live, in Park City, Utah, for the Sundance Film Festival.
HAMMER: I`m A.J. Hammer, live, in New York City.
ANDERSON: All right. Our coverage begins tonight here at Sundance, where the mysterious death of actor Chris Penn, brother of Sean Penn, has shocked the festival. In fact, right now, just blocks away from where I am, his movie is premiering here at the festival. All of Hollywood and Sundance is talking about the 40-year-old actor who many remember from "Reservoir Dogs" and also dancing alongside Kevin Bacon in "Footloose."
SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has been covering this story all day long, and right now we bring you the very latest developments on this startling story.
CHRIS PENN, ACTOR: I don`t know who`s got...
ANDERSON (voice-over): Chris Penn may be best known for his role in Quentin Tarantino`s "Reservoir Dogs," but last night the character actor was found dead in his bed in his California condominium.
Distraught friends and family were there as Penn`s body was taken to the morgue. Actor Martin Sheen was even there, a family friend. He left discreetly through the back door with Penn`s mother.
It`s clear this is a hard time for the family. They said in a statement, quote, "The Penn family would appreciate the media`s respect of their privacy during this difficult time."
PENN: Instead of busting our (expletive deleted) digging a hole in there, we`ll just use this.
ANDERSON: And ironically, his death came just 24 hours before his latest film, "The Darwin Awards," was slated to premiere here at the Sundance Film Festival at the Apple Theater (ph).
PENN: No, not the truck!
ANDERSON: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT obtained a promotional tape provided from the film`s producer and on it, Chris Penn jokes about his own fate, playing off the movie`s survival of the fittest theme.
PENN: I would like to think of myself as going forward in motion, but maybe I am backward. I may be a dinosaur, I may be.
ANDERSON: And today, Penn`s death is the talk of the Sundance Film Festival.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought what a shame, and I hope that it was natural causes and nothing that was sinister.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was pretty shocked. It`s pretty tragic.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s very sad. Our hearts go out to his family.
ANDERSON: Chris Penn went into acting like his more famous brother, Sean, and has a formidable list of credits to his name, including the 1992 Quentin Tarantino drama "Reservoir Dogs," where he played Nice Guy Eddie Cabot.
PENN: Who`s got the stones, please?
ANDERSON: He played alongside Kevin Bacon in "Footloose" and starred with his brother in the movie "At Close Range."
His older brother also played an important role in helping him combat his addiction to cocaine and alcohol in the late `80s. In an interview with "The New York Times," he said, quote, "Sean helped me get my life back on track."
ANDERSON: And here is the very latest. As of air time, Penn`s body is now at the L.A. coroner`s office undergoing an autopsy. As of the beginning of the show, the cause of death had not been released, but we can tell you that the autopsy is being handled as an accident rather than a natural death. Because, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has learned, he was suffering from an illness before his death and because of his past history of drug use. We will bring you updates on this story as they arrive.
OK, SHOWBIZ at Sundance, the schedule continues. Coming up, I will talk with Robert Downey Jr. and Rosie O`Donnell about their new movies they have premiering here at Sundance. And we will also get a sneak peek into their private lives.
Remember, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is the only live entertainment news show live at Sundance all week long. We bring you breaking news. We bring you one-on-one interviews with the biggest stars, and we give you an inside look at the fascinating stories behind the scenes.
HAMMER: Saw that little clip of Rosie O`Donnell right at the top of the show. She looks terrific. Very much looking forward to that.
Well, certainly, not a week goes by without another controversy surrounding "American Idol." And tonight, America`s biggest show is once again under fire.
FOX`s fan favorite has always stirred the pot with all those outrageous and insulting comments that come from the judges table. It`s just part of the show`s appeal. But now, there are actually some civil liberties groups that are saying "Idol" has finally crossed the line.
SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Sibila Vargas, live in Hollywood with that story. What`s going on now, Sibila?
SIBILA VARGAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you know, last night`s "American Idol" was No. 1 in the ratings again. But today some are singing a different number, A.J. Several groups are making very serious accusations about America`s top-rated show, alleging that is antigay, discriminates against overweight people and encourages negative racial stereotypes.
But others say not so fast. "American Idol" is an all-inclusive show providing equal opportunities for potential stars.
COWELL: I`m not being rude.
RANDY JACKSON, JUDGE, FOX`S "AMERICAN IDOL": Without being rude.
COWELL: I`m not being rude, but you are an appallingly bad singer. I don`t mean that rudely.
VARGAS (voice-over): He said he didn`t mean it but some civil rights groups aren`t buying it. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is monitoring the anger and outrage over repeated remarks on "American Idol" that some groups say are just plain discriminatory and flat out unacceptable.
Check out this Cowell comment from last night`s show.
COWELL: It`s going to sound odd, but I almost imagine you in a dress.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not into drag.
VARGAS: And what about this doozy?
COWELL: You look like the Incredible Hulk`s wife.
VARGAS: Some are crying that the show is antigay. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, GLAAD, have voiced concerns, saying they`ve "spoken with FOX and have entered into what we hope will be a productive, ongoing conversation about the show`s representation and discussion of sexual orientation and gender expression."
On ABC`s "The View," all the controversy was the talk of the morning.
MEREDITH VIEIRA, CO-HOST, ABC`S "THE VIEW": It`s when they go beyond criticizing their singing to criticizing their gender and all of that, which is what they`ve been doing.
BARBARA WALTERS, CO-HOST, ABC`S "THE VIEW": Do you think this is too much to impressionable young people?
VARGAS: It`s that message that has angered the Congress of Racial Equality, or CORE. Niger Innis, the group`s national spokesman, came to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with his concerns.
NIGER INNIS, NATIONAL SPOKESMAN, CORE: "American Idol" is a reflection of the entertainment culture in general. And to that extent it suffers from the same promotion of stereotypes of some of the worst characters from the African-American community.
VARGAS: And comments like this one outraged another -- yes, another - - group.
PAULA ABDUL, JUDGE: Well, it says you here you think you could be bigger than J. Lo and Janet.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can be.
COWELL: In a way, she is.
VARGAS: The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance is not laughing. Board member Marilyn Wann told SHOWBIZ TONIGHT that some comments are hurtful.
MARILYN WANN, BOARD MEMBER, NAAFA: It`s no surprise to me "American Idol" is acting on all of the same prejudices that saturate our culture right now. And I`m one person, and we`re one organization that say enough, that we disagree.
VARGAS: Bus American`s No. 1 show, with tens of millions of people watching each episode, has turned out stars of all shapes and sizes. Stars that don`t necessarily fit your typical pop star mode.
And CORE`s Niger Innis agrees.
INNIS: When you look at the winners that have come from "American Idol," such as Ruben Studdard, such as Fantasia, they certainly are African-American and more than that, they`re positive role models for the African-American community.
VARGAS: And many argue, "American Idol" has opened lots of doors for people of all races, weights and sexual orientation. They say that`s part of the show`s success. People can identify with it.
COWELL: I`m just being honest, you know.
VARGAS: And that brutal honesty is what some say is part of the show`s success. Mary Murphy of "TV Guide" agrees.
MARY MURPHY, "TV GUIDE": We`re all waiting, sitting on the edge of our chair: what is Simon going to say? This is a show that the key ingredient of why people watch is to see Simon insult people. He doesn`t hold back, but he certainly doesn`t pick on one any one group.
VARGAS: And SHOWBIZ TONIGHT contacted FOX for reaction on all of this controversy just a short time ago. The network said no comment.
Now, "American Idol" faced controversy right off the bat in this season`s very first episode. Twin contestants Derrell and Terrell Brittenum were jailed for allegedly using false identification to buy a car last summer.
Well now, they are out on bond, and they say they have been kicked off "American Idol." Guess what? SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has confirmed that they`ve been offered a record contract with So So Def Records. So A.J., it looks like their 15 minutes of fame has already paid off.
HAMMER: That is fantastic. You`ve got to love America, Sibila.
VARGAS: I`m telling you, only on "American Idol." You know? It`s so powerful.
HAMMER: Well, thank you very much for that report. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Sibila Vargas in Hollywood.
We want to know what think about all of this. For our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day, we`re asking, American Idol judges, are they being unfairly criticized? You can vote by going to CNN.com/SHOWBIZTonight. If you`ve got more to say, we want to hear from you, too. Our e-mail address is SHOWBIZTonight@CNN.com. We`ll read some of your thoughts later in the program.
ANDERSON: Well, Pink does some criticizing in her new video. In tonight`s "SHOWBIZ Showcase," SHOWBIZ TONIGHT shows you the first look at her new song. It`s called "Stupid Girls." In the video, she takes aim at what she calls superficial pop culture and the effect it is having on young girls` images. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: A lot of interesting titles here. "Stupid Girls" is off Pink`s fourth album, "I`m Not Dead," out in April.
HAMMER: Well, we`re going to turn to a guy who`s already at the top of the charts, Brooke, because we`re not going to see Pink on the charts for a couple of months. A "Rolling Stone" religious controversy. Why one group says that a picture of Kanye West posing as Jesus is just wrong and racist, as well. That`s coming up.
ANDERSON: Plus, our special SHOWBIZ at Sundance coverage continues with Robert Downey Jr. Find out which big pop star had a pivotal role in making his new movie. That`s coming up next.
HAMMER: Also, it is time to learn your ABCs of TV. The WB, ESPN, CNN. Well, tonight, come to the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT school of channel names. We promise it`s going to be a lot more fun than regular school. That`s next.
ANDERSON: But first, tonight`s "Entertainment Weekly Great American Pop Culture Quiz." What instrument did Claudia Salinger play on TV`s "Party of Five"? A violin, a piano, an oboe or a trumpet? Think about it, and we will be right back with your answer. Stay with us.
ANDERSON: So again, tonight`s "Entertainment Weekly Great American Pop Culture Quiz." What musical instrument did Claudia Salinger play on TV`s "Party of Five"? A violin, a piano, an oboe or a trumpet? The FOX show about a family of five orphaned siblings ran from 1994 to 2000. Lacey Chabert played Claudia, and she played the violin. The answer is "A."
HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York. You are watching TV`s only live entertainment news show.
Well, as we reported yesterday, the end is near for the WB and UPN. They`re going away to make room for the CW. Now, it`s getting a bit hard with all these changes to keep up with all of these channels. So we ask, "What`s in a TV name, really?" Apparently a lot of letters to remember.
Here comes CNN`s Jeanne Moos for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Our TV diet consists of alphabet soup, CBS, MSNBC, ESPN. We don`t just span the alphabet, we C- SPAN it. Now just what we need, a new network.
LES MOONVES, HEAD OF CBS: It will be called the CW network.
MOOS: "C" for CBS, combined with "W" for Warner Brothers.
MOONVES: We couldn`t call it the "WC" for obvious reasons.
MOOS: You can bet water closet wouldn`t hold water with the marketing department. The new network means the demise of two old ones, the WB and UPN. Not that anyone knows that UPN means.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Urban Programming Network.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It used to be UPS.
MOOS: Actually, it`s United Paramount Network, or was. But even the simplest initials.
(on camera) How about CBS?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, dear.
MOOS (voice-over): Are meaningless to many.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Central Broadcasting System.
MOOS: If they don`t know the Columbia Broadcasting System, how could they know...
(on camera) MSNBC.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have no idea.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Monty Service (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Systems?
MOOS: ... soft.
(voice-over) The name everyone did know was BET. Even white people knew it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Black Entertainment?
MOOS: Black Entertainment Television. But the meaning of ESPN was a mystery.
(on camera) ESPN.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ESPN. I don`t know what the hell that means.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I watch it, because my husband has clickitis. You can translate for me.
MOOS: That would be Entertainment and Sports Programming Network.
(voice-over) Who remembers that CNBC once meant Consumer News Business Channel? Or VH1 is Video Hits One.
And now there aren`t just initials for networks. There are initials for shows. "CSI" on CBS.
(on camera) "CSI." Crime...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Crime Station Inventions."
MOOS (voice-over): From "CSI" to QVC.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Queer Vacationing in Cancun.
MOOS: Forgive him. He has no TV.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t know that, but that`s the shopping station! OK, who is Q?
(on camera) Quality Value Convenience. Also Quickly Vanishing Cash.
(voice-over) But how could anyone get this wrong?
(on camera) I work for this one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, the Clinton News Network.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Central News? I don`t know.
MOOS: In the early days of CNN, people always thought I was from Christian News Network.
(voice-over) Or even Chicken Noodle News. At least Cable News Network is easier than ESPN.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Extra Special Pornography Network.
MOOS: With all the initial confusion, no wonder MSNBC is said to be thinking of letting the "MS" get swallowed up.
HAMMER: Suddenly, I feel like my head`s going to explode. I am still A.J., and that was CNN`s J.M., Jeanne Moos for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.
Well, J.A., Jennifer Aniston is heading to the Oscars. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said today that the actress will make her first appearance as an Oscar presenter during the upcoming awards show. The 78th annual Academy Awards will air on ABC on Sunday, March 5, and of course, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT will be right there.
ANDERSON: Well, Robert Downey Jr. is no stranger to the Oscars. He was nominated in 1992 for his portrayal of silent film star Charlie Chaplin in the film "Chaplin."
I sat down with Downey here at the Sundance Film Festival. He`s here promoting a new movie. It`s called "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints." He stars in the film. He`s also a producer on the movie.
It`s a coming of age drama about a boy named Ditto, growing up in Queens, New York, in the eighties, who finds that his life may have been saved by various neighborhood saints.
I asked Downey about his own saints, his plans at Sundance and his recent marriage.
ROBERT DOWNEY JR., ACTOR: I would probably be a little uncomfortable to raise their names to the level of deification, but definitely some of my friends and peers, including you know, Sting, definitely is half the reason this film got done, because we didn`t want to have it financed by people who didn`t really understand that we wanted to support Ditto and tell the story his way.
I`m done with gifts. I don`t have the time, inclination or really ability right now to ski, but I can park my ass and watch the Steelers go to the Super Bowl, since you asked for my plans.
ANDERSON: How is married life now?
DOWNEY: It`s so fun.
DOWNEY: Yes. She`s getting me a sandwich right now.
ANDERSON: What a supportive spouse.
DOWNEY: Usually, I do what she says. But right now I get to say on TV that I told that (expletive) to go get me a sandwich from the deli, and she hopped to it.
ANDERSON: You know, they haven`t even been married a year yet and he`s already talking like that.
OK, moving now to another man here at Sundance, Al Gore. He is here with an urgent message about global warming, and he`s using Sundance to get the word out. He`s here to promote and premiere a new documentary. It is called "An Inconvenient Truth." And earlier today, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT asked him why he chose to take his cause to the big screen.
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AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The whole point of this is to get an important message out in an entertaining and watchable way, and the reaction from the audience just couldn`t have possibly been any better. And from the industry, the reviews are just unbelievably good. So I`m very pleased about that.
And again, mainly, because I`ve been trying hard to get this message out. And Davis Guggenheim and these filmmakers have made such an entertaining and engrossing movie that I wouldn`t have thought it was possible. We`re already seeing the consequences now. All the glaciers are melting. All the global warming -- pollution is doing what the scientists said it would do, exactly. So it really is time to act. It`s urgent. And this movie is intended to get that message out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Coming up, another star here at Sundance getting a message out, Rosie O`Donnell. She has a new documentary. And we will talk with her about it. It features 500 gay families on a cruise ship.
Remember, CNN`s SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is the only live entertainment news show live here at Sundance all week long. We bring you breaking news. We bring you one-on-one interviews with the biggest stars and an inside look at all the movie wheeling-and-dealing. And A.J., there is a lot of that going on.
HAMMER: Well, it`s so interesting seeing Al Gore there. Because I can`t recall ever at Sundance seeing a politician who was such a major player. Doesn`t get much bigger. In fact, it only gets one job bigger than that, who is there and furthering his platform and a cause that`s so important to him.
ANDERSON: Absolutely, A.J. He is using this as a forum to get the word out. He`s very passionate. It`s very important to him. And in fact, he`s written his second book about global warming. It, too, is titled, "An Inconvenient Truth," and it will be published in April. So it does mean a lot to him.
HAMMER: It`s going to be interesting to see what comes out of Sundance and if he gets the big distribution deal that he`s hoping for.
ANDERSON: Well, a lot of distributors are in talks right now, so there is some interest. So that probably will happen.
OK, coming up, the pies fly on "The Late Show." Why things got messy between Dave Letterman and Emma Thompson, next.
HAMMER: And a courtroom decision today for "Survivor" winner Richard Hatch. Will he go from being a millionaire to spending the next 13 years in prison? The verdict, still to come.
ANDERSON: Plus, Kanye West`s secret addiction and why some religious groups think the rapper`s gone way too far by posing as Jesus on the cover of "Rolling Stone." SHOWBIZ TONIGHT investigates the controversy, coming up.
ANDERSON: It is time now for the best in late-night laughs in "Laughter Dark."
When David Letterman found out that Emma Thompson was somehow throwing pies on the set of her new movie "Nanny McPhee," well, he had to find out for himself. Little did she know he might have revenge on his mind. Take a look.
EMMA THOMPSON, ACTRESS: OK.
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, CBS`S "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": It`s kind of fun, isn`t it?
THOMPSON: You see, you see?
No, no, no.
LETTERMAN: Yes, yes. No, no, I`m not going to do it to you. No, I can`t possibly do it to you.
THOMPSON: You wouldn`t?
THOMPSON: You promised now.
LETTERMAN: Have a seat.
HAMMER: She got what she deserved.
Well, a trip to China turns into big baby news for one A-list star. That`s next in tonight`s "Hot Headlines."
ANDERSON: Plus, more SHOWBIZ at Sundance coverage. I go one-on-one with Rosie O`Donnell. The special advice Madonna gave her on raising her kids. That`s in an interview you`re going to see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.
HAMMER: And Kanye West as Jesus on the cover of "Rolling Stone." Some people not happy. The controversy next.
HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. It`s 31 minutes past the hour. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.
ANDERSON: And I`m Brooke Anderson at the Treasure Mountain Inn, live at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. You are watching TV`s only live entertainment news show.
HAMMER: Well, Brooke, I happen to know that just down the street from where you`re staying right there is a great little newsstand, where, on Friday, I want you to go out and grab a copy of "Rolling Stone" magazine, if you can still find one. That`s when they hit stands.
HAMMER: Kanye West, no stranger to controversy, on the cover as Jesus Christ. Hard to imagine, some people not happy about it. Did "Rolling Stone" do this to create controversy, to still the pot a little bit? We get into it in just a couple of minutes. What`s going on there?
ANDERSON: Yes, Kanye never shies away from controversy, as you said.
Also, A.J., coming up, Rosie O`Donnell. I interview her. She`s here at Sundance premiering a documentary called "All Aboard! Rosie`s Family Cruise." We talk about the film, in which she takes 500 gay families on a cruise. We talk about the protestors she encountered along the way. And also, she opens up about her family, some advice Madonna gave her on raising her kids, and also if she wants to have more children. That`s coming up in just a few minutes.
HAMMER: Looking forward to hearing what Rosie had to tell you in just a few minutes. We`ll see you in a couple, Brooke.
But first, let`s get to tonight`s "Hot Headlines." SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Sibila Vargas back with us from Hollywood.
SIBILA VARGAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, A.J.
Supermodel Kate Moss has agreed to publish her autobiography. Today we learned Virgin Books will be publishing the book. A contract hasn`t been finalized, but reports estimate the deal at being worth $1 to $2 million dollars. Moss was at the center of a drug scandal last year after being photographed apparently snorting cocaine.
Pamela Anderson isn`t getting any sympathy from Kentucky`s governor in a dispute over a bust. No, not that kind of bust. Anderson, a PETA supporter, wants a bust of KFC`s Colonel Sanders removed from the Kentucky capital. She says it`s a symbol of cruelty to chickens in Kentucky. Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher wrote Anderson a letter saying the colonel is a Kentucky icon and the bust stays.
Well, tonight Meg Ryan has a new child. People.com says Ryan has adopted a baby daughter in China. No word on the age or a name of the girl. She already has a baby -- oh, actually a big brother, Ryan`s 13- year-old son with her ex-husband, Dennis Quaid.
And those are tonight`s "Hot Headlines." Brooke, back to you at Sundance.
ANDERSON: Thanks so much, Sibila. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Sibila Vargas live in Hollywood.
Well, as we`ve been reporting, the judging on "American Idol" has hit a sour note. Some are saying the show is anti-gay, discriminates against overweight people, and encourages racial stereotypes.
So that brings us to our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day." We want to here from you. "American Idol" judges: Are they being unfairly criticized? Keep voting at CNN.com/showbiztonight. Write us at showbiztonight@CNN.com. Your e-mails are coming up at 55 past the hour.
HAMMER: Well, tonight rapper Kanye West has landed on the cover of "Rolling Stone" magazine and in a whole lot of hot water. The cover photo shows him posing as Jesus, complete with a crown of thorns. One Catholic group, not amused.
SHOWBIZ TONIGHT gives you an early look as one of America`s hottest musical acts fends off yet another firestorm.
HAMMER (voice-over): The spiritual anthem, "Jesus Walks," was one of rapper Kanye West`s hottest hits, but it`s his depiction of Jesus on the cover of "Rolling Stone" that`s provoking a hot controversy. "Rolling Stone" magazine tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT the controversy came as a surprise to them.
JOE LEVY, "ROLLING STONE" MAGAZINE: It was striking. It was beautiful. It seemed natural as a cover. It wasn`t done to cause controversy.
HAMMER: But one Catholic group is furious with "Rolling Stone" over the cover. The Catholic League`s president tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT it`s not only offensive to Catholics, it`s racist.
BILL DONOHUE, CATHOLIC LEAGUE PRESIDENT: I`m angrier though at "Rolling Stone." It kind of reminds me of the white boxing agents in the 20th century who used to have these black boxers and rip them off and take most of the money for themselves. Here you have the fat-cat white guys over at "Rolling Stone," knowing damn well what they`re doing by using this kid, exploiting Catholic imagery, and then exploiting him a second time to sell their magazine. I think Kanye West has been taken.
HAMMER: Joe Levy of "Rolling Stone" calls that charge ludicrous.
LEVY: Kanye West is fully in control of his career in every way. He`s in control of his music, his image, his public statements. He`s someone who knows what he`s doing. He was eager to do this. This is in part his idea. The magazine was not twisting his arm.
HAMMER: And while Kanye West has been at the top of the music world for some time now, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT viewers know he`s also no stranger to controversy, a trend he continues in his "Rolling Stone" interview. Kanye admits to a, quote, "addiction to porn." And he also blames the government for the AIDS crisis, saying, quote, "My parents taught me that AIDS was a manmade disease designed to get rid of the undesirable people."
And he also talks perhaps his most controversial moment at last year`s live Katrina television.
KANYE WEST, MUSICIAN: George Bush doesn`t care about black people.
LEVY: Kanye`s feeling about his comments during the Katrina telethon is that something`s out of proportion. Yes, he attacked George Bush, but he also -- he wants to point out -- attacked himself, his own failures to be responsible during all of this. I think he said, "I went shopping. I didn`t pay attention. I was turning away."
HAMMER: Kanye West also talks about the firestorm that erupted when he took on homophobia in hip-hop during this MTV interview.
WEST: Everybody in hip-hop discriminates against gay people. I wanted to just come on TV and just tell my rappers, just tell my friends, like, yo, stop it, man.
LEVY: He believes that he suffered more and it was a greater controversy when he did that than when he spoke out against George Bush. Why? Well, in the hip-hop community, it actually was a bigger deal. And it was a bigger controversy.
Kanye has said he has a gay cousin. He believes that it was time for him to stand up. He believes God wanted him to stand up and say it`s not OK.
HAMMER: Kanye West is up for eight Grammy awards for his latest CD, "Late Registration," and the single, "Gold Digger." It`s clear that West`s pension for controversy isn`t hurting his popularity.
LEVY: He`s making the best music of anyone. Right now, he is king of the hill, he is at the top of the mountain in pop music. Nobody is making better records.
I think Kanye thinks it`s part of his job to be a fire starter. I think Kanye believes it`s part of his job to get out there and shoot his mouth off, as well as make great records.
HAMMER: The new issue of "Rolling Stone" magazine will be on newsstands Friday.
Well, Brooke Anderson out there in Park City, Utah, it`s normally kind of a mellow little ski town, but there are just stars everywhere this week, aren`t there?
ANDERSON: Stars everywhere. In fact, you never know when you`re going to see them. I practically ran into Josh Hartnett the other day, A.J., running up the hill. He`s here promoting a new movie.
And also someone else here promoting a movie. She`s really standing out here at the festival, Rosie O`Donnell. Coming up, my interview with her, my very candid interview. And it turns out Madonna actually gave her a big piece of advice on her kids. We also talked about if she wants to have any more. That`s coming up.
HAMMER: We`ll look forward to that. Plus, Richard Hatch faces a different kind of tribal council: the legal kind. A jury has decided on the fate of the "Survivor" winner. And now, he could actually be facing some jail time. Find out how much, coming up.
ANDERSON: But first, tonight`s birthday shoutout. And this is where we give fans a chance to wish their favorite stars a happy birthday. Tonight, a birthday shoutout to Alicia Keys, who is celebrating her -- how old is she? -- she is 25 years old today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, my name is Pedro.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Alex Brew (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Marquee la Monte (ph). And we want to wish Alicia Keys a very happy birthday.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Happy, happy birthday, Alicia Keys.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we wish you many, many more. Keep up the good work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, TV`s only live entertainment news show. I`m Brooke Anderson, live at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
Well, the stars have been heating things up here all week long in the Sundance Film Festival. And one of the stars who`s really standing out, really heating things up, Rosie O`Donnell. She premiered her new HBO documentary, "All Aboard! Rosie`s Family Cruise," last night to a packed theater. And she brought her whole family along, her partner, Kelly Carpenter, and their four children.
Now, the movie chronicles a vacation cruise that Rosie set up specifically for gay and mixed families. Rosie`s children appear in the movie, and I asked her if she was at all hesitant to bring her kids into the public eye.
ROSIE O`DONNELL, BROADWAY ACTRESS: For many years, you know, when I was on TV, I kind of bought into that whole concept, "Oh, you know, celebrities, you have to be careful. You have to worry. You have to shield them."
And, you know, my therapist would always say to me, "Where are all the celebrity children kidnappings? Where are all the" -- and I was like, "I know, but everyone says you`re supposed to."
And it was actually Madonna, who said to me, after she and Lola were in a magazine together, I said, "Why did you do that," you know? And she explained to me, you have two choices, faith or fear. And you can`t, you know, hide something that you love so much for fear that it may go away. You have to share it and show it.
And, you know, I don`t want them to be, you know, child actors in the next, you know, Doogie Howser revival or something. But I want, you know, them to know that they`re part of a family and their moms are in the public eye, and that comes with a special kind of reality that`s hard for me.
You know, he said to me, my oldest boy sometimes, "Do you know how weird it is to have a mom who`s on TV?" And I`m like, "I have no idea." My mom was not on TV, and you`re going to have to explain to me how it feels, and I`ll listen. And that`s all I can offer, you know?
It`s a very odd kind of life to have a mom who`s famous. I think that`s far more different than anyone they know than having a gay mom, gay moms, you know? They don`t really, I mean, aside from my friends who have kids that they see occasionally, not on a daily bases, you know? They don`t really have anyone to share that with.
So I kind of try to make the ones that are close, like Madonna`s daughter and Chelsea are the same age. They have the same interests. And we try to get them together a lot, because, as I said, you know, to her, I`d love to listen to them talk.
"Isn`t it weird?" "Yes, it`s weird. Everywhere we go, they know our mothers." "I know!"
ANDERSON: There`s that bond, that kind of bond...
O`DONNELL: Well, yes, because I can`t really relate to what that feels like, you know.
ANDERSON: And Sundance, bringing the film here to Sundance, why is that important?
O`DONNELL: I`m just thrilled that people get to see it, like you get to see it, and maybe get to know gay families are not so different than their own. And that`s a FedEx truck, because there`s a lot of free swag the celebrities get.
ANDERSON: Oh, tons of free swag.
O`DONNELL: Some of the celebrities don`t like to carry it, so...
ANDERSON: Do you participate in gift suites?
O`DONNELL: Well, today was my first gift suite experience just two minutes ago.
ANDERSON: How was it?
O`DONNELL: Well, you know, I have to say...
ANDERSON: They throw it at you, don`t they?
O`DONNELL: Well, I got this, which is a -- this is from the homeopathic suite, which I felt had a lot of...
ANDERSON: I`m sure that`s a very pricey gift, very expensive.
O`DONNELL: Well, there was reason to get this. I actually have a little adult acne, and I thought it might help.
But you do feel weird. You walk in, they go, "Hi, would you like a new iPod?" "Hi, would like a new phone?" I`m like, "Oh, my lord." And you kind of like -- and I always want to talk to them, because I feel guilty. I feel like I should have a gift for them.
ANDERSON: Right, right.
O`DONNELL: And then I`m bringing the people I`m with, like my makeup guy, Eric. Eric, do you want one? Can he have mine?
O`DONNELL: But it is a strange experience. But you know what? It`s nothing like I thought it was, Sundance. I kind of expected it -- I don`t know what to be. You just hear of it for so many years, you`ve heard of it. And I expected like to see Robert Redford having a beer on the street. I don`t know what I expected.
ANDERSON: By the way, you look great.
O`DONNELL: "Fiddler on the Roof." I`m crediting it all with Broadway.
ANDERSON: That was your diet plan, huh?
O`DONNELL: Well, I thought I could either do that or celebrity fit club.
ANDERSON: You lost a lot of weight.
O`DONNELL: I did, because I did eight shows a week for 18 weeks. And I lost about a pound and a half a week, so maybe like 25, 28 pounds. And, you know, I fit into my jeans again, size 16, I`m happy to report.
ANDERSON: You`re working hard.
O`DONNELL: Yes, you know, I worry. I said to Kelly, I worry -- you know, it took me 18 weeks to lose it and in 18 weeks it will all be back. So let`s keep doing interviews now at a thin peak for me.
ANDERSON: That`s right. That`s right.
And I also want today ask you, recently in Hollywood there are so many movies that have been getting critical acclaims, lots of awards, "Brokeback Mountain," "Capote," "Transamerica," with transsexuals, homosexual themes. Do you think everybody`s becoming more accepting? Do you think it`s changing?
O`DONNELL: Yes. You know, I think it`s an interesting evolution. You know, when I was a kid, the concept that two 18-year-old women or men in love would walk down the street holding hands was shocking. And I found, on my way to "Fiddler" every night, as I see these young kids, you know, and they go, "Hey, Rosie." I`m like, "Hey." What?
You know, like, it`s changed so much just in my lifetime, you know? I mean, the fact is there have always been gay people, there will always be gay people. And we`re not trying to take over. We`ve been 10 percent of the population since the beginning of time. And you guys are 90 percent, so don`t worry so much.
ANDERSON: Well, you have such a beautiful family.
O`DONNELL: Well, thank you very much.
ANDERSON: And such a great documentary. Are you planning on having more kids?
O`DONNELL: You know, Kelly`s in there, so I`ve sworn to her the answer is no. However, you know, I`m one of those that think you should get the ones you`re supposed to have. And the three that are adopted, I always tell them, you know, God chooses your family. And he chose for you to be with us, and there you go.
So we are the guardians of many of our friends` children. And I don`t know. The foster care experience was very beautiful and very healing in many ways for me. I think we`ll probably end up with more, but please don`t tell her that, because she said, if I bring home one more thing that has to eat or poop, she`s leaving.
ANDERSON: She`s done?
O`DONNELL: And if she leaves, I`m in trouble.
ANDERSON: "All Aboard! Rosie`s Family Cruise" will air on HBO on April 6th. Remember, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is the only live entertainment news show here at Sundance all week long, so stay with us. We are bringing you breaking news, one-on-one interviews with the stars, and the very cool behind-the-scenes stories, as well.
HAMMER: Brooke, you know, Rosie does indeed look good, as you guys talked about, but she also seems like she`s feeling real good. She seems to be coming from a really happy place right now.
ANDERSON: She seemed very genuinely happy, A.J. And she`s incredibly gracious. And, you know, it makes the job worthwhile when you talk to people like that. She was very open, very honest, and she had great intentions with this cruise, and she plans to do more cruises in the future.
But watching the documentary, A.J., it was just heartwarming. Some folks said to the effect, you know, they`ve never felt this comfortable, they`ve never felt like this before. It was just incredible. She`s really has good intentions with this, and it was an honor and a pleasure to speak with her.
HAMMER: No, it was really nice to see. And let`s hope that movie gets out there.
Well, it looks like the sun is starting to set where you are, so go put on another layer. We`ll be back with you in just a moment.
But first, let`s move right along to a jury decision today. Tonight, the jury has spoken, and the star from the hit reality survivor "Survivor" did not survive a major day in court. Richard Hatch, who, of course, is best known as the naked and gay winner of "Survivor`s" debut season was found guilty of failing to pay taxes on his $1 million winnings.
Well, now Hatch could actually find himself trying to survive more than a decade behind bars. Joining us live from Glendale, California, Harvey Levin, managing editor of the entertainment news site TMZ.com.
Couple things I need you to confirm for me, Harvey. First of all, was Richard Hatch fully clothed in court today? And can you run down what he was actually charged with?
HARVEY LEVIN, MANAGING EDITOR, TMZ.COM: Well, I mean they threw the book at this guy. Basically, they say he`s a tax fraud and that he failed to pay taxes on the million dollars that he won, as well as money that he subsequently earned. And Richard Hatch got nailed.
HAMMER: And from everything that I read and everything I`ve seen about this case, his defense was pretty lame, wasn`t it?
LEVIN: His defense was bizarre. I mean, one of the things -- A.J., I think the most interesting thing is his lawyer said in court at one point that he caught some of the "Survivor" contestants cheating, and he struck a secret deal with the producers that, if he didn`t tell, that they would then pay his taxes.
They were cheating by getting candy bars from friends, according to Hatch. But he never testified about that and ultimately said he was a bad bookkeeper and the jury just simply didn`t buy it.
HAMMER: So there actually is no proof or nothing actually came to the surface whether or not that cheating took place?
LEVIN: I have to tell you something. We talked with a cameraman. I can`t identify who it is. But I talked with a cameraman who said that he was on the island, and he said friends of the contestants didn`t sneak candy bars on, but the contestants were getting into their camp area and they were stealing candy bars, because they were finding wrappers all over the place. And I can be specific: Werther`s Originals and Power Bars. So there you go.
HAMMER: Harvey Levin, getting to the bottom of that. Well, now that Richard Hatch has been found guilty, could he actually wind up going to jail on simple tax evasion?
LEVIN: It`s unbelievable. I mean, he faces 13 years. The range, the normal range in a case like this is 33 to 41 months. But because the judge may believe he committed perjury, he could actually be harder on him.
And it really is ironic when you think about it that O.J. Simpson is walking the streets and Richard Hatch could end up going to prison for three years. It`s really quite amazing.
HAMMER: And certainly, he`s going to face some stiff fines, I imagine, which could perhaps -- you tell me -- wind up negating his winnings?
LEVIN: Yes, I mean, I don`t know where he stands financially now, but these fines are around $600,000. And I have to tell you. Remember, A.J., he got taken into custody right after he was convicted because the judge said he was a flight risk. So this guy is just in a world of hurt right now.
HAMMER: Richard Hatch never really had a chance getting out of this, did he?
LEVIN: You know, and what`s amazing is they offered him a deal that he actually accepted a year ago, and then said, "You know, I`m going to go for broke on this one."
HAMMER: Well, let`s just hope he keeps his clothes on.
Harvey Levin from TMZ.com, thank you very much.
LEVIN: See you, A.J.
ANDERSON: OK, there is still time for you to sound off in our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day." "American Idol" judges: Are they being unfairly criticized?
Keep voting at CNN.com/showbiztonight. Or write us at showbiztonight@CNN.com. Your thoughts, coming up live, next.
HAMMER: Throughout the program, we`ve been asking you to vote online on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day." We`ve been asking: "American Idol" judges: Are they being unfairly criticized?
We`ve gotten so many responses tonight, so let`s take a look at how the vote`s been going. As you see, 64 percent of you say yes; 36 percent of you say no.
A lot of e-mails, too, including one from Mike from Illinois. Mike writes, "Simon has consistently made homophobic comments. This teaches our kids that it is OK to make fun of homosexuals."
We also herd from Chad in Washington, D.C. And he writes, "As a gay man, I see nothing homophobic about Simon`s comments. The contestants even confused me."
Also heard from Loretta in Arizona. She writes, "The comments are part of the entertainment and should not be taken seriously. It is all in fun."
You can keep voting by going to CNN.com/showbiztonight.
ANDERSON: It is time now to see what`s playing on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT tomorrow. So for that, we got to the "Showbiz Marquee." Marquee Guy, it`s all yours.
MARQUEE GUY: Tomorrow, swag the dog. At Sundance, it`s not just the movies, it`s the free goodies. They call it swag. And we have the inside scoop on all the swag the stars are walking away with. The best things in life are free and swaggy, all tomorrow on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.
Also tomorrow, Mary Tyler Moore. She`s turning "That `70s Show" on with her smile, and SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is there behind the scenes. So we ask, who could ask for anything Moore? Tomorrow.
This is the Marquee Guy. And I`m going to make it after all.
HAMMER: So, Brooke, I have to ask you. You`re having all this time out there in a big ski town. Is anybody actually doing any skiing?
ANDERSON: Well, I know I`m not, A.J., unfortunately. I haven`t had any time. I bet that celebrities are hitting the slopes. Really great conditions for skiing and snowboarding right now,
HAMMER: Well, I know the RealFeel temperature is 16 degrees. Go get a cup of hot chocolate. That is it for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.
ANDERSON: I am Brooke Anderson at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Please stay tuned for the latest from CNN Headline News.
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