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SHOWBIZ TONIGHT

Fans React to Oprah`s About Face on Book; Shirley Jones Breaks Away from Sugary Roles; The Week at Sundance

Aired January 27, 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.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HAMMER (voice-over): On SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, America`s all abuzz about Oprah. Tonight, new developments after Oprah Winfrey`s stunning confrontation with author James Frey.

OPRAH WINFREY, HOST, "THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW": You betrayed millions of readers.

HAMMER: What the entertainment world is saying. What her viewers are saying. What you are saying. Did she go too far? SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with the coast-to-coast reaction.

Plus, the secret plan to save "The Today Show." tonight, what NBC might do in the mornings if Katie Couric bolts to CBS to anchor "The Evening News." The new faces you might be waking up to. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with the inside story in the high-stakes network news wars.

A powerful explosion on the set of "All My Children" and only SHOWBIZ TONIGHT was there. We`ve got the exclusive video of the terrifying blast, what happened and who got hurt.

ASHLEY JUDD, ACTRESS: HI, I`m Ashley Judd and if it happened today it is on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Hi there, I`m Brooke Anderson live at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

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

Tonight everyone continues to talk about Oprah`s outrage, her face-off with author James Frey. But tonight, the outrage is against Oprah.

A day after she grilled writer James Frey about his embellished memoir "A Million Little Pieces," Oprah Winfrey`s now finding the focus to be on her. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, your one place to turn for the latest on the Frey fallout and now the reaction coast to coast.

Let`s go live to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Sibila Vargas, who`s in Hollywood with more on the story -- Sibila.

SIBILA VARGAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, just two weeks ago Oprah Winfrey was taking all kind of criticisms for defending Frey and his book on CNN`s "LARRY KING LIVE," even as the proof trickled in that Frey`s addiction memoir had more fiction than advertised.

Now some fans are reacting to the way Winfrey treated Frey on her show. Some are praising her honesty and for making Frey account for his actions. Still others aren`t happy, and now Frey might have some company on the hot seat.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": Did Oprah go too far?

VARGAS (voice-over): The queen of daytime TV is now finding herself under the media microscope.

MATT LAUER, CO-HOST, NBC`S "THE TODAY SHOW": Why this 180-degree turn?

VARGAS: A rare turnaround for Oprah Winfrey as she led off Thursday`s show with an apology for publicly defending James Frey`s book.

WINFREY: I left the impression that the truth does not matter, and I am deeply sorry about that.

VARGAS: An outraged Oprah then turned her fire on James Frey himself.

WINFREY: I have to say it is -- it is difficult for me to talk to you because I really feel duped. I feel duped, but more importantly I feel that you betrayed millions of readers.

VARGAS: On the airwaves today Oprah did get some praise for her about face.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, MSNBC`S "SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY": I think she hit it out of the park.

BARBARA WALTERS, CO-HOST, ABC`S "THE VIEW": Oprah does more of the right things than almost anyone I know.

VARGAS: But now Winfrey is taking heat from those who say she was too hard on Frey.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m not really sure what the point was to drag him onto "Oprah" and sort of ambush him.

VARGAS: Fans logged onto Oprah`s message boards and let her have it. One writes, "Oprah`s treatment of James Frey made me cringe." While another writes, "Oprah needs to apologize for yesterday`s show."

A man who was in the same treatment facility as James Frey called into "ANDERSON COOPER`S 360" Thursday night to register his disapproval.

ALAN GREEN, WAS IN TREATMENT FACILITY WITH FREY: I thought it was somewhat hostile, and I thought basically he was being raked over the coals.

VARGAS: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT hit the bookstores to ask readers what they thought about Oprah Winfrey`s showdown with Frey.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was she too hard on him? Absolutely not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She definitely has the right to be upset. I mean, she took it on face value that this gentlemen was telling, you know, a true story.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it`s kind of hypocritical of her to at first say it`s OK and then to blame him. I think she kind of went with public opinion.

VARGAS: And for now that public opinion appears divided over the question was Oprah right or does she now have something else to apologize for?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VARGAS: One thing`s for sure; it appears some publishers are learning their lesson from the whole James Frey memoir controversy. Today publishing company Ballantine said it would stop shipping two memoirs from an award-winning Navajo author, that after a North Carolina newspaper reported that the author`s Social Security number matches that of a white man from Michigan.

I`ve got to tell you, A.J., it`s a little depressing, all these fabrications.

HAMMER: And it`s amazing that people are continuing to talk about it, and I think they will for some time to come. Thanks very much, Sibila. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Sibila Vargas live in Hollywood.

So here`s the question that a lot of people have been asking all throughout this: was Oprah way too harsh on Frey on her program yesterday? Well, joining me live from Los Angeles, Harry Shearer. He`s got a nationally syndicated radio program called "Le Show," and, of course, is well known as the voice of several characters on "The Simpsons."

And live from Memphis, Tennessee, Ben Ferguson, who hosts the nationally syndicated radio show, "Radio America."

Guys, thanks for being with us on a Friday night.

HARRY SHEARER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Thank you.

HAMMER: Ben, let`s get right to it and bottom line it. Was Oprah too harsh with James Frey?

BEN FERGUSON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: No. And no one needs to feel sorry for this guy. The book should be renamed "A Million Little Lies." They should come out with a new cover.

And she -- and everyone that says that she drug him on there to throw dirt at him, give me a break. He went on the show knowing that he was going to go on the show to get ripped on. He doesn`t care, because he`s going to sell thousands and thousands of more books this week, and it`s going to be on the top of the best-seller`s week for who knows how many -- how much longer. He doesn`t care about it. Any press for him right now is good press for him.

HAMMER: Harry, you`ve got to imagine that this guy absolutely did know what he was getting himself into. What do you think? Too harsh from Oprah?

SHEARER: What I think is that he`s now got a new addiction. It`s called being on television. The nastiest thing that Oprah could have done to him was said, "You can`t be on my show anymore."

FERGUSON: Exactly.

SHEARER: Look, the thing is, ask yourself what changed between the night that Oprah called Larry King and yesterday? Nothing. Everything Oprah knew two weeks ago she knew yesterday. What changed was the public`s attitude toward Oprah. This wasn`t about James Frey. This was about Oprah.

HAMMER: Well, she actually said that she was so emotional the night that she called Larry King, and that is what led her to make that phone call that she now actually regrets having done.

SHEARER: Yes, well, on my radio show I had what I thought was a superior move for her, which was to call Larry King and deny that the original caller to Larry King was Oprah and dare him to check out better next time people who call his show. And Larry said, "Well, I didn`t think it was a hoax call, because he didn`t mention Howard Stern."

HAMMER: Well, let`s talk about another person who appeared sitting next to James Frey yesterday on the show, Nan Talese, the publisher of the book. Here you have a respected publisher who took Frey at his word. These guys published the book, basically no questions asked. Nan Talese actually sat there and said, "No red flags were raised for me when I read the first manuscript of it."

FERGUSON: And...

HAMMER: Yes, go ahead, Ben.

FERGUSON: That`s a perfect example of corporate America at its best. They don`t care what they put out there. Publishers a lot of times don`t care what they put out there, as long as it makes money and sells.

If you look at this book, there were so many holes in it that they should have said, "OK, are we sure this really happened? Are we sure he was involved in this train wreck? You know, are we sure that he was arrested 15 times" when you couldn`t even find eight or nine of those bookings for those 15 times?

I mean, they didn`t care. They wanted to sell this book. They wanted to make millions of dollars doing it. And they know they had to sell it as fact to get people to believe it and actually buy into the story.

And that`s the only reason why Oprah had them on. When they look at these books, when they publish these things and package them, they`ve got to find a niche. They`ve got to find something to get people like Oprah to talk about it. And it worked. They got on "Oprah." And that`s why this guy is a multimillionaire now.

SHEARER: Sure. Oprah and Nan Talese are both like, you know, your friend who complains because they lent money to their junkie brother-in-law and oh, my God, he didn`t pay them back.

FERGUSON: He bought drugs?

SHEARER: You know, if there weren`t any red -- yes, if there weren`t any red flags dealing with a former drug and alcohol addict memoirs, if that doesn`t raise any red flags on its own, what would you check out?

If Oprah wants to put out a program for an hour about a guy who lied to the American public, why doesn`t she call up Paul Wolfowitz and see if he`ll come on to talk about, you know, "Hey, there are no ethnic strife among the Iraqis and the oil revenues will pay for the war."

FERGUSON: I think -- I think Oprah should just hit him on the air and then deny that she did it.

HAMMER: Well, what do you think, Harry? What do you think about that, maybe putting aside getting hit on the air, do you think her apology was enough? Do you think Oprah should be doing more?

SHEARER: Do more? I think she should do less. I think, you know, actually, the next time she decides to have a non-fiction author on and her producers get a call before the guy appears saying this is crap, this is hokum, this is baloney, maybe Oprah should, in the cliche of the day, take a deep breath and look into it a little more. The questions that she asked on the show last night are the questions she had have asked last October.

FERGUSON: A.J. ...

HAMMER: Ben, I`m afraid I`m out of time here, but hopefully they`re taking notes on the notes that you guys had to provide for us. We appreciate it. Harry Shearer, Ben Ferguson, appreciate you being with us on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

FERGUSON: Thanks for having me.

And now we want to hear from you for our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. We`re asking Oprah confronts James Frey: was she too harsh? Let us know what you think by voting at CNN.com/ShowbizTonight or e-mailing us at ShowbizTonight@CNN.com. And we`ll read some of your thoughts later on in the show.

Well, tonight, "Walk the Line" star Joaquin Phoenix walked away from a scary car crash. The Golden Globe winning actor was shaken, but pretty much unhurt, when the car he was driving flipped over in Hollywood. Police say Phoenix collided with another car when his brakes went out. Authorities added that there was no sign of alcohol or drug use.

There is a lot to talk about, whether Katie Couric is going to bolt "The Today Show" to host "The CBS Evening News." Tonight, we`re going to reveal the secret plan -- we`re going to take a look at the secret plan that NBC has in place to replace her if she does leave. That`s coming up.

And that is an image of a stunt that went wrong on the set of "All My Children." I was there, only SHOWBIZ TONIGHT was there, the amazing exclusive video and what happened, coming up in just a few moments.

And come on, get happy with Shirley Jones. She, of course, the mom that kept "The Partridge Family" from flying the coop. And now she`s keeping another family from falling apart. Shirley Jones will join us live in the interview you`ll see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. That`s in a little bit.

But first, tonight`s "Entertainment Weekly Great American Pop Culture Quiz." Going to test your knowledge here. In which of these 1980s movies does Meryl Streep not speak with a discernible accent? "Silkwood," "Plenty," "Out of Africa,"or "A Cry in the Dark"? We`re coming straight back with the answer.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMMER: Once again, tonight`s "Entertainment Weekly Great American Pop Culture Quiz." In which of these 1980s movies does Meryl Streep not speak with a discernible accent? "Silkwood," "Plenty," "Out of Africa,"or "A Cry in the Dark"? Meryl Streep plays a woman investigating workplace violations at a nuclear parts plant. So the answer is, "A," "Silkwood." And I guess she didn`t speak with a discernible accent in that film.

Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT for a Friday night. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.

It is time now for a "SHOWBIZ Sitdown" with one of TV`s most loveable moms, the great Shirley Jones. You know her, of course, as the sugary sweet mom who kept the singing kids in tune on "The Partridge Family" and that fancy bus of theirs.

But Shirley is shedding her wholesome image in two new movies. In fact, the producers of one of the films she recently worked on sent her a card saying, quote, "Thanks for letting us ruin your good reputation." Shirley Jones joins me now, live, from Hollywood.

Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, Shirley.

SHIRLEY JONES, ACTRESS: Thank you.

HAMMER: I love the sentiment of that card. From what I understand it came from the producers of Adam Sandler`s "Grandma`s Boy," which recently came out. And in this movie, your character likes to hop into bed with 20 year-olds.

JONES: That`s right.

HAMMER: So I understand the sentiment. And now you`re playing crazy Aunt Batty in this Hallmark movie "Hidden Places." Of course, people know you best, as I said, as the sugary sweet mom. You`ve done other roles, of course, but that`s how you`re best known. Must be kind of nice for you to break the mold.

JONES: That`s right. That`s why I`m doing these movies now. I`m a little tired of being sugary sweet Mrs. Partridge for 30 years. So "Hidden Places" is a lovely film, though. It`s Hallmark, as you know, and it`s tomorrow night at 9 p.m. And I play Aunt Batty. Her name is Betty, but they call her Aunt Batty, you know.

And it`s about a farm family that`s losing the farm in the 1930s. A young -- a young widow and her two children. And Aunt Batty comes out of the closet, so to speak, because she`s been sort of kept away from the family, to come to help save the family. And that`s what she does.

HAMMER: Aunt Batty is an appropriate name for her, from what I understand.

JONES: Yes, it is.

HAMMER: Definitely no Shirley Partridge.

JONES: It`s a fun role. I wear men`s clothes and an old gray wig and, you know, no makeup.

HAMMER: Worth tuning in for that alone, Shirley. Well, I was looking at the record book and checking out how along it`s been since "Partridge Family" was first on television. It`s 36 years.

JONES: That`s right. That`s right.

HAMMER: Which is amazing. And there are not a lot of shows that we can still see on TV today that were on 36 years ago, but we can see "The Partridge Family" today. Anything that you`re seeing now that you think we`ll still be enjoying 30 years from now?

JONES: I haven`t seen anything. I wish we had more shows like "The Partridge Family." I mean, what show do we have today that the whole family can sit down and watch on television? Hallmark, they can, but very few others. Very few sitcoms.

HAMMER: What about reality TV. What do you make of the reality shows?

JONES: I can`t stand reality television.

HAMMER: Really?

JONES: I wouldn`t watch it if they paid me.

HAMMER: My guess is, though, you had a chance to catch your good friend, your former TV son, Danny Bonaduce, Danny Partridge...

JONES: Yes, yes.

HAMMER: ... in "Breaking Bonaduce." Very self-destructive in the show, as we know, he`s been throughout a bit of his life. I understand -- I understand you actually called him up after seeing him on the show. What did you say to him?

JONES: I did. I didn`t even watch the whole show. I watched a bit of one of them, and I was so disappointed and upset with him that I called him and I said, "What are you doing? What are -- what possessed you?"

And, of course, he said, "Shirley, it`s a paycheck."

And I said, "Yes, it`s going to be your last one, too."

HAMMER: It has been completely unnerving.

JONES: I was very upset with him.

HAMMER: When you were working together, when he was a kid, could you ever have seen that he was on his way to becoming kind of what he became?

JONES: Well, no. I mean, he had -- he had a troubled childhood. I mean, there`s no doubt about that, but a lot of people do. You know, but he was very bright, very talented, one of the most talented youngsters I`d ever worked with. And you know, I worked with Ron Howard, who was also an incredible young man.

But -- but Danny was funny, you know? And still is. I mean, he has so much to offer. And to go that route, you know, so many times with a wife and two children now, is beyond me. I just -- I love him to pieces, by the way, and I wish him well, and that`s the reason I feel the way I feel.

HAMMER: Well, and you`ll always be a second mom to him in many ways, I`m sure.

JONES: Yes. That`s right.

HAMMER: So hopefully he will heed your advice. I`ve got to ask you real quickly. Do you have any of the old "Partridge Family" memorabilia? Because certainly, there was no shortage of it back then.

JONES: I have a lunch box.

HAMMER: You`ve got to check out the eBay, because I was on there today. A thermos will get you 12 bucks.

JONES: I know.

HAMMER: One of the original buses will get you 200 bucks.

JONES: You know, it`s in the Smithsonian Institute now.

HAMMER: The original bus?

JONES: Yes. They have a whole bunch. I think 15 or 16 from that time period of the lunch boxes that came out.

HAMMER: I am going to plan a vacation to the Smithsonian.

JONES: They`re on display. Yes, it`s fun to see.

HAMMER: Shirley Jones, thanks so much for joining us on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

JONES: Thank you.

HAMMER: "Hidden Places" premieres on the Hallmark Channel tomorrow.

Well, all this week, we`ve been the only entertainment news show to bring you live coverage of the Sundance Film Festival. Brooke Anderson, trying to stay warm in Park City, Utah, where I understand with the wind chill it`s about 15 degrees right now.

You`ve been having a really great time.

ANDERSON: It feels like about five, A.J.

HAMMER: You`ve been having a pretty amazing time as things come to a close, haven`t you?

ANDERSON: Absolutely, A.J. We are nearing the end of the festival, and it`s my first time in Park City, Utah. And I have to tell you when I arrived here seven, eight -- I`m losing count of the days, but when I arrived here I was just struck by the beauty of the city and the mountains, but I hit the ground running.

And it has been absolutely insane. It`s been a very busy week and there have been many memorable moments, including my interview with Jennifer Aniston. It was actually the first interview I did once I got to Park City last week, and she was in town to promote her film "Friends with Money." And she did interviews.

It was the same day that news broke that -- everyone learned that Angelina Jolie`s adopted children would be taking Brad Pitt`s last name. So very emotional, hard, tough time for her, I`m sure. But I sat down with her, and I asked her how she chooses her roles, because she`s been getting so many movies lately. And she talked to me about the fact that she was actually surprised to be considered for "Friends with Money."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: And how do you choose what roles you want to play? I know you`ve both been very busy. "Capote" recently and then with you "Derailed," "Rumor Has It," coming up with "The Breakup." Do scripts just come at you all the time, or directors knocking down your door? How does the whole thing work?

JENNIFER ANISTON, ACTRESS: I mean, scripts come and they -- there are some that are great and some that aren`t, and some that you do that aren`t great, but you have to, you know, have some of those, too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks, Jen.

ANISTON: Not this one.

ANDERSON: Not this one...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, no, no. Not this one. Trust me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: And her movie, "Friends with Money," actually opened the festival here at Sundance.

You know, A.J., my job and your job, as well, when you go out and cover events like this is we want our friends at home, we want viewers to feel like they`re here. We want to convey what`s going on. I want everyone to feel like they`re sitting with me as I`m interviewing Jennifer Aniston or Steve Carell or Rosie O`Donnell, whoever it be. I just want to convey what the feel is like here, and it`s been an exciting one all week.

HAMMER: Well, we definitely got that feeling, Brooke, when you sat down with Rosie O`Donnell or, actually, stood up against the railing there with Rosie O`Donnell. It was definitely my highlight of your coverage from Sundance this week. And from what I`ve heard, and I have talked to a couple of people who also were at Sundance, they really loved the movie. And they say that Rosie`s real proud of it.

ANDERSON: Rosie is extremely proud, and I have to say it`s one of my highlights of the week as well. She couldn`t have been more gracious. She`s very proud of her documentary. It`s called "All Aboard: Rosie`s Family Cruise."

And there was a move that chronicles a vacation cruise that she put together specifically for gay and mixed families. And her entire family, including her children, were actually featured in this documentary. They were here for the premiere. You know, in the past, Rosie has kept her family life private, but she told me what made her realize it was now OK to bring her children into the public eye.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSIE O`DONNELL, ACTRESS: It was actually Madonna who said to me after she and Lola were in a magazine together. I said, "Why did you do that?"

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 that they`re part of a family and that their moms are in the public eye. And that comes with a special kind of reality that`s hard for me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: A.J., Rosie also told me that her kids are her No. 1 priority, that she has friends who say they put their career first and didn`t develop relationships with their children early on, and that is why they are No. 1 in their book.

HAMMER: You know, Brooke, I`ve been outside in the cold covering a lot of entertainment stories before and I can see your mouth is starting to tighten up a little bit because it`s so cold. So I`m going to give you a little time so you can go in and warm up.

ANDERSON: OK. Thanks, A.J.

All right. Coming up, will you need more than a spoonful of sugar to see the new movie being compared to "Mary Poppins"? Coming up, reviews of "Nanny McPhee," "Annapolis" and "Bubble" in tonight`s "SHOWBIZ Guide" to new movies. That`s next.

HAMMER: You`re looking at a soap stunt that went wrong. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s cameras were there rolling. We`ve got the full story and more of that extraordinary exclusive video, still to come.

ANDERSON: And Oprah`s book apology has become the most talked about topic this week. Tonight, a look at other famous forgiveness pleas. We`re not sorry to bring that story to you, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. Tonight in "People`s Picks and Pans," new movies from Emma Thompson and James Franco. And live in Los Angeles to talk us through each one, our friend, "People" magazine film critic Leah Rozen.

Nice to see you, even from Hollywood.

LEAH ROZEN, FILM CRITIC, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: Thank you, A.J.

HAMMER: Let`s get right into it with "Nanny McPhee." This one stars Emma Thompson. In the ads -- in the ads for this particular movie they`re saying this is the next "Mary Poppins." What do you think?

ROZEN: Well, that`s partly because she`s a nanny and she`s British and she`s a little eccentric. It`s "Mary Poppins" without the music. No songs, no chimney sweep, but it`s a lot of fun. It has a charm all its own. I think kids are going to like it a lot.

Emma Thompson also wrote this. She plays the Nanny, who these really ill-behaved kids, and the more they learn lessons about kindness and good behavior, the more attractive she becomes.

HAMMER: And what`s the age cut off on this?

ROZEN: I would say probably up to 10 or 12, and beyond that they`ll think it`s childish.

HAMMER: OK. Well, then let`s get into something for a slightly older audience, I`m sure. "Annapolis," which is a military film, sort of "An Officer and a Gentleman" feel to it, right?

ROZEN: Yes. This is like "An Officer and Gentleman" crossed with a boxing film. James Franco, working class kid, gets into the naval academy. Can me make it?

This is pretty much for 16-year-old girls, you know? I think you`d have to be 16 to believe these were real characters. It`s kind of prefabricated. Franco certainly has hurting eyes, but that only gets you so far.

HAMMER: All right, Leah. Well, we appreciate your insight, as always. Enjoy your time in Los Angeles.

ROZEN: Thank you, A.J.

HAMMER: And as always, for more "Picks and Pans," you can grab your copy of "People" magazine. You`ll find it on newsstands now.

A `70s sitcom star suffers a stroke. We`re going to fill you in on who we`re talking about and how he`s doing. That`s coming up in tonight`s "Hot Headlines," which are next.

ANDERSON: Only SHOWBIZ TONIGHT was there. What happened on the soap set during a sweeps stunt gone wrong?

HAMMER: And the Plan B for Katie. Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT spills the beans on the secret NBC strategy, what`s going to happen to "The Today Show" if Katie Couric flies the coop. That`s coming up when SHOWBIZ TONIGHT returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT for a Friday night. 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 at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. You`re watching TV`s only live entertainment news show.

A.J., I understand a set visit you were on turned into a dangerous situation.

HAMMER: Yes, earlier this week, I had a scheduled shoot at "All My Children." They have a big upcoming episode featuring an explosion during a big Mardi Gras ball that Susan Lucci`s character, Erica Kane, is throwing. There was scheduled pyrotechnics with lots of appropriate training in advance. They invited us in to watch the explosion. Four stunt artists were hurt when the explosion took place. We`re going to fill you in on all the details, and we have the exclusive video, as well, to show you, coming up in just a few moments.

ANDERSON: It`s pretty unbelievable video, A.J.

And also, Katie Couric, many are watching and waiting to see what she plans to do when her contract comes up, if she stays at NBC at the "Today Show," or if she leaves and goes to the "CBS Evening News." We have new information on what NBC plans to do with the show if Katie does jump ship. That is coming up.

HAMMER: Definitely a story that won`t go away. We`ll get into all of that in just a moment. But first, we`re going to get into tonight`s "Hot Headlines."

"Eight is Enough" star Dick Van Patten currently recovering from a stroke. Van Patten told "Variety" that he suffered a slight stroke and has problems with his left leg and arm, but that overall he`s feeling great.

Well, more than anyone else, Tom Cruise showed theaters the money in 2005. In a poll of movie exhibitors, Tom Cruise, who starred in "War of the Worlds" last year, was voted the star who generated the most money at the box office. He has won that survey seven times.

Halle Berry and Richard Gere will be receiving this year`s Hasty Pudding Award at Harvard. This is an award that`s given out every year by a student drama group. Berry will lead a parade through the streets of Harvard Square amid students who happened to be dressed in drag.

And those are tonight`s "Hot Headlines."

Well, tonight, will Katie Couric quit her day job? The veteran morning host`s contract comes up in May for renewal, and there`s already a big buzz that`s been jumping around about Katie possibly jumping ship to the "CBS Evening News."

Well now, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has new information on what NBC will do if Katie does jump ship to try to keep their number-one spot in the mornings. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Sibila Vargas joining us live from Hollywood once again with more on that story -- Sibila?

SIBILA VARGAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A.J., hundreds of millions of dollars are in play in the morning news wars, and everyone wants to know: Will Katie stay or will she go?

Speculation got even hotter last week at a press conference when CBS News President Sean McManus would not confirm or deny if they were talking to Katie. And now the buzz has reached an all-time high as the names for "Today Show" replacements are leaking out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KATIE COURIC, "TODAY SHOW" HOST: Al has been working the crowds for 10 years. And nobody does it better.

VARGAS: Friday was Al Roker`s 10-year anniversary with the "Today Show," but the buzz was all about whether or not Katie Couric would be celebrating any more of her own anniversaries with "Today."

Reports have been flying that Katie is set to leave NBC when her contract is up in May. The laughs could be stopping for Katie, Matt and the gang if the number-one morning host heads to the number-three nightly newscast. That`s the word right now, and SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s been closely monitoring the buzz.

Also monitoring the buzz, "Entertainment Weekly`s" Lynette Rice. She tells us the CBS News anchor chair has been enticing for Couric.

LYNETTE RICE, WRITER, "ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY": The idea of leaving that dreadful morning shift, and working in prime time, and being the sole female anchor of a primetime news show is pretty attractive. And you know, you`ve got to be kind of a fool at least not to consider it. And so there`s probably a realization there that, man, this is a great carrot that`s being dangled in front of Katie.

VARGAS: Katie would take over the anchor chair vacated by Dan Rather and temporarily held by Bob Schieffer. Insiders say NBC has to realize that it could be time for the girl next door to move out of the neighborhood.

But this just in: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is hearing the Peacock Network is preparing a contingency plan to replace Couric from within. Reportedly, their top choice is Campbell Brown, who now anchors "Weekend Today." MSNBC anchor Natalie Morales is a close second. Lynette Rice says there`s a lot riding on the decision.

RICE: The stakes are really high when it comes to the morning shows. Across the board, these shows, even if you`re in third place, they`re immensely profitable to the networks. They make just a bazillion dollars.

So you want to make sure that that machine is still running effectively even if Katie leaves. The "Today Show" has been in first place for a long time.

VARGAS: But "Good Morning America" has been closing the ratings gap with the "Today Show." And get this: The buzz is that NBC could poach "GMA" anchor Charlie Gibson. But Lynette Rice says in this week`s "Entertainment Weekly" she thinks Campbell Brown will be the top choice.

RICE: It`s important that they hire a journalist first. And Katie is a journalist, as is Matt. And so if Campbell stepped into that position, she obviously would be somebody that you`d want to wake up to, but also somebody who has the chops to interview heads of state.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VARGAS: And sources tell us that legally, after May 1st, Katie can officially begin talks with CBS, but that NBC can always come in, in the last minute, and be an offer on the table. But somehow, I think we`ll be hearing more buzz on this before May.

A.J., back to you.

HAMMER: All right, Sibila. Thanks very much. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Sibila Vargas, live in Hollywood.

Well, Brooke Anderson, I want to go back to you out there in Park City, because I want to see more about the free stuff that people get this week and who`s been picking up all the goodies.

ANDERSON: The free goodies, absolutely. Well, A.J., as you know, one of the big attractions here at Sundance for the celebrities is not just the films but also the free stuff, or, as we call it, the swag. I got a chance to stroll around the "Self" magazine swag suites with "American Pie`s" Shannon Elizabeth, actress Bayh Ling (ph) and also Lance Bass.

And get this: Lance told me he has collected $80,000 worth of swag in his four visits to Sundance. You see him there showing off his new swag.

But the one person everybody here is talking about is Paris Hilton. She was out partying, having the time of her life at night. But by day, the merchandisers here are saying she`s been taking advantage of the swag suites big time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: I heard that Paris shut a whole store down just so she could shop.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yes, definitely, absolutely.

ANDERSON: So Paris got the whole place to herself?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Got the place to herself. We asked everyone else to leave, so she could just have the shopping experience for just her and her friends.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Paris is definitely...

(CROSSTALK)

ANDERSON: She`s gotten one of everything at the festival...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sometimes 10 of everything.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: And, A.J., not only does Paris get the free stuff, but also the members of her entourage, as well.

HAMMER: So she shuts the whole...

ANDERSON: And why does she need 10 -- yes, she shut the whole store down.

HAMMER: To get free stuff?

ANDERSON: Everybody had to leave, to get free stuff. And not just one of everything, four, five, 10 of -- you know, are they going put these items on eBay? Why do you need more than one, you know? It`s crazy.

HAMMER: Well, and here`s the other thing. Here`s the other thing. Most of the stars who were in town are there because they`ve got a new movie to push. Is she just there because that`s what she does, she shows up where the party is?

ANDERSON: Paris just shows up where the party is. She is having herself a good time, and the advertisers love it. They want her to be photographed because she`s in the tabloids. She`s in the magazines. You know, she gets excited about it.

She`s always out and about in public, and so they say it`s free advertising. So they`re not shy at all about giving her tens and tens of thousands of dollars worth of swag.

HAMMER: And I`m just going to go out on a limb here and guess that she`s not quite as humble of Rosie O`Donnell? I know when Rosie spoke with you about getting all the free stuff, Rosie she kind of felt bad because she thought she should be bringing them gifts, as well.

ANDERSON: Rosie did feel bad. She showed me, like, one little homeopathic thing that she got that was probably, you know, a $5 gift. And that`s about all she picked up here. But then you have others who walk away with -- it`s just an unbelievable sight to see, in fact.

HAMMER: Well, she was always the queen of giving away free stuff when she had her own show. We`ll get back to you in just a few moments out there at Sundance, Brooke.

And right now, we`re wondering if "The Sopranos" movie on the big screen will ever come to be? Is it possible? Well, Steven Van Zandt`s going to give us the inside scoop. Bada-bing, bada-boom, forget about it. That`s coming up.

ANDERSON: Plus, who`s sorry now? Oprah is apologizing about the little million pieces scandal, joining a long and illustrious line of celebrity "I`m sorries." We will forgive and forget, coming up.

HAMMER: Well, remind me to never do that again.

We also have a SHOWBIZ TONIGHT exclusive. We take you behind the scenes for this at "All My Children." It`s a special-effects explosion that left some stunt artists injured. We`re going to show you the exclusive video, coming up next.

ANDERSON: But first, tonight`s SHOWBIZ TONIGHT birthday shoutout. And this is where we give fans a chance to wish their favorite stars a happy birthday. Tonight, a birthday shoutout to ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov. He is celebrating his 58th birthday today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, my name is Edy Mitchell (ph). And I`d like to wish Mikhail Baryshnikov a very happy birthday. You are an inspiration to us all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Tonight, a SHOWBIZ TONIGHT exclusive, an accident on the set of the soap "All My Children." We were the only ones to get the footage. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT got an exclusive access interview invite to the set for the taping of an upcoming episode. It was loaded with pyrotechnics. And we`ve got late-breaking details now about the accident, which sent four people to the hospital.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Action!

HAMMER (voice-over): SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, with your exclusive look at the explosion that will rock daytime. We were the only television crew allowed access to the set of "All My Children." We watched real-life stunt people escape danger, all in the name of good TV.

Check out this amazing exclusive video, special effects explosion in Pine Valley. Despite all the precautions taken, including a fire chief and emergency medical workers on the scene during the taping, four stunt people did get hurt by the explosion and were sent to the hospital.

Watch the tape. This woman was extremely close to the center of the explosion. The blast apparently knocked her backward. Here she is right after the stunt. Emergency workers helped her walk off the set.

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has learned late-breaking new details about what happened, straight from ABC. A spokesperson tells us the scene you`re looking at had been rehearsed for a week with stunt coordinators. We`re told they ran through the scene five times before the set was actually blown up. And we`ve learned three of the stunt people actually went back to the set the same day. The fourth will be released from the hospital this weekend.

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is the only TV show to take you behind the scenes. Take a look at the stunt people`s skin. Remember, they`re professionals. That`s fire-retardant gel. Stunt people applied it all over their bodies so they wouldn`t get burned. None of all of "All My Children`s" leading cast members were present on set during the pyrotechnics.

I did catch up with Susan Lucci on the set after the shoot was completed. She`s been playing Erica Kane on the soap for 36 years. And despite all the crazy twists and turns over the years, this is one plot line she has never seen.

(on-screen): You`ve seen a couple of explosions in your time, I`m guessing, I don`t know if at this scale.

SUSAN LUCCI, ACTRESS: This is the first explosion that I`ve been in. I mean, Erica`s been in plane crashes and helicopter rescues. And I fought a grizzly bear and did a lot of things, but I`ve never been one of the people involved in an explosion.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAMMER: It was amazing to watch the stunt people at work and the stunt coordinators. It was very exacting. They were being very precise about what they were doing.

I was standing on the other side of the sound stage when the blast happened, but I still felt the heat, even a couple of hundred feet away.

You`ll be able to catch the explosion episode of "All My Children" February 13th. It`s part of their sweeps week on ABC. I`m going to have much more of my interview with Susan Lucci coming up next week. There`s a lot to talk about between us. Among other things, Susan shares memories of her favorite stars who got their start in Pine Valley.

And now let`s go out to Sundance.

ANDERSON: A.J., when I was watching that, it`s amazing that they weren`t seriously hurt. What did you think right after you saw that?

HAMMER: Well, we watched them go through several walkthroughs of what would happen when the blast actually occurred. So when it actually did happen, and then people were getting up and walking around, and there were people with fire extinguishers, we figured it was all just part of the plan.

We assumed, until we saw a stretcher come out and heard a bit of shouting going on, that everything was OK. But the fact is they did handle it. You know, they had EMTs on set. They had fire marshals on set. And they were prepared for any eventuality.

ANDERSON: Oh, that`s a good sign.

All right, A.J., moving on to -- it was the sorry heard around the world. Oprah Winfrey apologizing to her viewers for her defense of James Frey. And, in saying, "I`m sorry," Oprah joins a club of celebrities who have had to eat humble pie, but not all of it have found it to be an appetizing dish. Here`s CNN`s Jeanne Moos for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If sorry really is the hardest word, Oprah sure made it look easy.

OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: I regret that phone call.

MOOS: ... a call she made to Larry King.

WINFREY: ... still resonates with me, and...

MOOS: ... defending author James Frey.

WINFREY: I made a mistake. And I left the impression that the truth does not matter, and I am deeply sorry about that.

MOOS: Now that`s an apology, and not some sorry excuse for one.

MIKE TYSON, BOXER: Evander, I am sorry.

MOOS: Sorry for biting off a piece of your ear!

RUSSELL CROWE, ACTOR: I`m extremely sorry...

MOOS: ... for throwing a phone at a hotel worker.

Brenda Lee`s "I`m Sorry" is one of over 300 songs with "sorry" in it. There are those iffy sorries that begin with if, for instance when Arnold Schwarzenegger was accused of groping and insulting women.

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: If I`ve done anyone wrong where I thought that I am playful and just, you know, have fun, I feel bad about that.

MOOS: Apologies for sexual misbehavior often feature a supportive wife.

KOBE BRYANT, BASKETBALL PLAYER: Furious at myself, disgusted at myself. I`m so sorry.

MOOS: When sex is involved, say, between a movie star and an alleged prostitute, a highly anticipated apology is something to promote.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Jay asks Hugh Grant the one question everybody`s been wondering...

JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": What the hell were you thinking?

(LAUGHTER)

HUGH GRANT, ACTOR: I need to suffer for this. You know, I`ve done an abominable thing. I did a bad thing, and there you it.

MOOS: But it was President Clinton`s turn, his original lie was more passionate that than his eventual admission.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did not have sexual relations with that woman...

Indeed, I did have a relationship with Ms. Lewinsky that was not appropriate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wanted more groveling.

MOOS: And eventually there was.

CLINTON: I don`t think there is a fancy way to say that I have sinned.

MOOS: Oh, there`s a fancy way: with tears.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have sinned against you, my Lord.

MOOS: And then there were those who voted against George Bush and apologized to the world after his election, on the "Sorry Everybody" Web site.

One of the most abject apologies came from the South Korean scientist recently exposed for faking cloning research.

DR. HWANG WOO-SUCK, FAKED CLONING RESEARCH: I feel so miserable that it`s difficult even to say sorry.

MOOS: But the most impersonal sorry, the lamest sorry, the sorriest sorry of all, is the one we hear on hold.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sorry we`re having so much trouble! I`m sorry, but I`m not exactly sure what you want.

MOOS: All we want is to hear what Oprah said to her critics.

WINFREY: You are absolutely right.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: That was CNN`s Jeanne Moos for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

And that leads us to the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day." Oprah confronts James Frey: Was she too harsh? Keep voting at CNN.com/showbiztonight. And write us, showbiztonight@CNN.com. Your e- mails are coming up at 55 past the hour.

HAMMER: I`m a huge fan of "The Sopranos." This is something I`ve been wondering for some time: Will there be a "Sopranos" movie? Fans are buzzing about, and we have an answer.

The show, of course, has been on hiatus since June of 2004. And the new and supposedly last season begins on March 12th. So fans want to know if there`s going to be life after "The Sopranos" gets whacked. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT sat down with Steven Van Zandt, who, of course, plays Silvio Dante on the show. And we asked him straight out: Will the "Sopranos" be hitting the big screen?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVEN VAN ZANDT, ACTOR: Look, after it`s all done, who knows, you know? There may be a, you know, "Sopranos" prequel or something. You know, I can play, you know, my own father or something like that.

I don`t know. We`ll see when it`s all done. You never know. I suppose, you know, it could happen. But there`s been no serious discussion about that whatsoever because it`s all about, you know, watching the show on HBO.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: While on hiatus from the show, Van Zandt joined Rolling Rock beer and formed the Underground Garage Save Rock `n` Roll Foundation. He says this foundation`s going to help new bands tour the country. The garage rock tour will take place this coming summer.

And there`s still some time for you to join in and sound off on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day." If you haven`t voted already, it`s: Oprah confronts James Frey: Was she too harsh?

You can vote at CNN.com/showbiztonight. You can send us an e-mail to showbiztonight@CNN.com. We`ll read some of your e-mails, live next.

ANDERSON: First, the "Entertainment Weekly" must-list. Here are five things "EW" says you just have to check out.

First, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje on ABC`s "Lost." He plays the mysterious Mistereko who emerges from the ocean this season, along with the other passengers from the back half of the plane.

Next, "EW" says to check out "Robin`s Big Date," a seven-minute Web video about Batman.

Then pick up a copy of the book, "Go Ask Alice." Before there was a little million pieces, this was the controversial memoir of teenage drug addiction.

Next, "EW" says a must-have is Sam Peckinpah`s legendary western DVD collection.

And finally, check out Amy Adams in Phil Morrison`s 2005 Sundance hit, "Junebug." It`s now on DVD.

For more on the must-list, pick up a copy of "Entertainment Weekly." It`s on newsstands new. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. We`ve been asking you to vote online on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day." Oprah confronts James Frey: Was she too harsh? Here`s the vote so far: Only 29 percent of you say, yes, she was; 71 percent of you say, no, she was not.

Among the e-mails we received, one from Dina in Canada. She writes, "Oprah wasn`t so much harsh as she was self-serving. She embarrassed herself in this foolish attempt to redeem herself."

We also heard from Paula in Florida who writes, "Oprah did a great job. Americans have suddenly become squeamish about confrontations."

And Dan from New Jersey has this to say: "Oprah is a hypocrite. We saw her true colors yesterday."

Still time to vote by going to CNN.com/showbiztonight.

ANDERSON: And it`s time now to see what`s playing on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on Monday. Marquee Guy, it`s all yours. Take it away.

MARQUEE GUY: Well, hey now, Monday, we`re doing the electric slide with lovely Rita, the Electric Company and Rita Moreno. You remember that show? The kid`s show, with Bill Cosby, Morgan Freeman and Rita. Rita is live on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT Monday.

Hey now, also on Monday, "Dancing with the Stars," and the stars who are falling out of the competition. Waltz your way with us through the weekend, and then on Monday we`ll have the castoffs from the "Dancing with the Stars" big, big show, live.

Hey now, this is the Marquee Guy doing some fancy dancing.

HAMMER: Apparently, easily amused. All right, Brooke, you`re officially off-duty. Go get some skiing done at Sundance and in Park City this weekend.

ANDERSON: I hope to do that. Thanks, A.J.

HAMMER: That is it for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.

ANDERSON: And I`m Brooke Anderson live from the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Thanks for watching, everyone. Please stay tuned for the latest from CNN Headline News.

END

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