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"American Idol" Tops in the Ratings; Bryant Gumbel Makes Racial Comments about Olympics; Jackie Collins Dishes on Famous Inspirations for New Book

Aired February 16, 2006 - 19:00:00   ET


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


HAMMER (voice-over): On SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, "Idol" worship. Tonight, why "American Idol" is scoring ratings that are just unbelievably huge.

MANDISA, "AMERICAN IDOL" CONTESTANT: Simon, a lot of people want me to say a lot of things to you.

HAMMER: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT investigates the surprising reasons why "Idol" is crushing everything in its path. It`s a SHOWBIZ TONIGHT special report.

Plus, Bryant Gumbel stirs up an Olympic racial controversy. Tonight, stunning words from one of the best known TV anchors out there.

BRYANT GUMBEL, HOST, HBO`S "REAL SPORTS": Despite a paucity of blacks that makes the winter games look like a GOP convention.

HAMMER: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is live with the outrage.

And a fake TV show, but horrific, real-life crimes. Tonight, is "CSI" teaching criminals how to get away with murder?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s showing the crooks how not to get caught.

HAMMER: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT examines the shocking "CSI" effect.

JACKIE COLLINS, AUTHOR: Hi, I`m Jackie Collins, and if it happened today, it`s on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. So you better watch.


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

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

Brooke, it`s unbelievable. Everybody has been looking at the numbers for "American Idol." It`s hard to believe what`s going on with this.

ANDERSON: It is hard to explain, A.J. The latest ratings we got today are once again mind-boggling. I mean, think about it for a second: more people would rather watch a bunch of amateur singers than the greatest gathering of the world`s athletes. And of course we`re talking about winter Olympics.

In the fifth season "Idol" is bigger than ever, A.J. It`s crushing everything and anything thrown at it, even the president`s State of the Union address. How do you explain it? Well, we`ve got the answers in a SHOWBIZ TONIGHT special report.


ANDERSON (voice-over): It`s getting bigger, and bigger, and even bigger than ever before. FOX`s "American Idol," last year`s No. 1 show is soaring in the ratings in its fifth, yes fifth season. Meaning basically everything in every age group possible.

Take last night. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can report more people watched "American Idol" when it was on, 28.3 million, than watched CBS, NBC and ABC combined. They got 27.3 million viewers.

And get this: Idol crushed the Olympics during the time it was on with an incredible 98 percent more viewers than the winter games.

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT wants to know, why is the show still singing? What`s the secret? How do they do it?

Chris Lisotta from "TV Week" told us industry insiders are stunned.

CHRIS LISOTTA, SENIOR REPORTER, "TV WEEK": It basically defies the logic of -- defies the logic of what a show should be and how a show grows once it`s in its fifth season, which usually means a slight decline in its audience.

ANDERSON: Industry experts break it down for us, saying the folks at FOX have been smart. They`ve made adjustments along the way, keeping it fresh by separating the male and female categories, running only one season of the show each year and, yes, keeping snarky Simon front and center.

SIMON COWELL, JUDGE, "AMERICAN IDOL": You have the personalities of a hippo when you sing.

ANDERSON: And the show has been able to stay legitimate by turning out real talent, No. 1 music chart toppers. "TV Guide`s" Mary Murphy tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT that`s a huge part of the show`s unbridled success.

MARY MURPHY, "TV GUIDE": "American Idol" is so fascinating because it really is the American dream fulfilled. People like Clay Aiken or even Carrie Underwood last year, who lived on a farm with her family, suddenly become huge stars in America. Look at Kelly Clarkson. Look at her career. Look at Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard and Fantasia Barrino. These were just people kind of walking in out of their daily lives, and now they`ve gone to Hollywood and now they`re stars.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God, you`re too sweet.

ANDERSON: Not so sweet ratings for other long-time reality shows like ABC`s "The Bachelor."


ANDERSON: Or NBC`s "The Apprentice." Sorry, Donald, no one has been able to do what "Idol" has. Chris Lisotta tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT the show has superceded its genre.

LISOTTA: Where`s the guy who won the first "Apprentice"? The woman who won the first -- that model who went on "The Surreal Life"? Kelly Clarkson just won two Grammys, beating out people like Bonnie Raitt and Sheryl Crow to win the best female pop performance.

ANDERSON: "Idol" has been pure run-away success, beating out anything and everything that comes its way, even controversy.

LISOTTA: It`s not like the show hasn`t faced serious controversy. There were issues with the phones not working. You know, were votes being tallied correctly. They had to redo a show last year because a phone number was printed incorrectly. The whole issue with Paula and allegations made against her by Corey Clark, none of those things have stopped the show. None of those have raised issues that the snow is not legitimate.


ANDERSON: On last night`s show, the top 24 semifinalists were picked: 12 men and 12 women. And you can be sure viewers will be tuning in as the women compete next Tuesday and the men follow them on Wednesday.

So "American Idol" has been crushing the Olympics in the ratings, as we just told you. And we want to know, which one makes better TV? What do you think? It`s our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. "American Idol": is it better TV than the Olympics? Go to Send us an e-mail at We`re going to read some of your thoughts later on in the show.

HAMMER: Well, tonight, shocking and racial inflammatory comments about the Winter Olympics from one of TV`s best-known personalities, Bryant Gumbel. Gumbel absolutely went off on the Olympics during his HBO show, "Real Sports." The outrage and the buzz today has really been unbelievable.

Joining me live tonight in San Francisco is Steve Tady. He`s the sports editor and columnist for the "San Francisco Chronicle" web site. And live here in New York, sportscaster Warner Wolf of 77-WABC Radio.

Gentlemen, thank you both for being with me.



HAMMER: Now before we get into this, let`s take a look and see what Bryant had to say. And I hope you don`t mind, Warner, let`s go to the videotape.


GUMBEL: So try not to laugh when someone says these are the world`s greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the winter games look like a GOP convention. Try not to point out that something`s not really a sport in the pseudo athlete waits in what`s called a kiss and cry area, while some panel of subjective judges decides who won. And try to blot out all logic when announcers and sports writers pretend to care about the luge, the skeleton, the biathalon, and all those other events they don`t understand and totally ignore but for three weeks every four years.


HAMMER: So Mr. Gumbel certainly gave us a lot to chew on, guys. So try not to laugh when someone says these are the world`s greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the winter games look like a GOP convention. Wow. Warner, how about it?

WOLF: Well, to even infer that the games are racial, that`s really a stretch. I mean, it just so happens, that the major events, skiing, speed skating, figure skating are predominantly, with Caucasians. Period. That`s the way it is. You don`t have many blacks, African-Americans going into those sports.

But then if you believe that, then I guess you would have to believe that the Summer Olympics are racial, because they`re dominated by blacks, African-Americans in basketball and track. I don`t think -- I don`t see how, in any sense of the word you can say that it`s a racial situation.

HAMMER: Steve Tady, what`s your take?

TADY: I just think what if Bob Costas comes out and says, "I hate the Summer Olympics because there`s not enough white guys in it, or what if John Madden says, "That NBA, that`s awful because there`s just -- you know, there`s not enough white guys in it. And it`s like an NAACP convention." That doesn`t make any sense.

I saw the show, and my jaw hit the floor. And it`s Thursday. I can`t believe it`s taken three days for this to kind of mushroom, as it were.

HAMMER: But as is typical with these things, if it`s sort of off the radar, the blogs get ahold of it. It`s out there online. I was going through with my colleagues here at SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, a lot of the blogs and a lot of the commentary.

No. 1, I didn`t see anybody backing up Bryant. Usually you see at least one person who`s taking the side of the person who`s being yelled at here. One of the blogs says, specifically, "I completely agree that what Gumbel said was racist and ignorant and that he should lose his job for it." People are not happy here, Warner.

WOLF: Well, he shouldn`t lose his job. But it just makes no sense at all. It would be like saying country music is racist because we have predominantly Caucasian performers, or gospel music is racial because it`s predominantly performed by African-Americans. I mean, that`s the way it is.

You know, you have hockey. Canada supplies about 60 percent of the players in the National Hockey League. Well, it just so happens, the Canadian population is only two percent black. I mean, that`s the way it is.

HAMMER: And Steve, correct me if I`m wrong here, you`ve been writing for about sports for some 30 years. I`ve never heard Olympics and racist in the same sentence.

TADY: Never. The Olympics are one of the most inclusionary things ever. I mean, was he mad there`s too many Hungarians or too many Russians? It just -- it sort of came out of nowhere.

I watched his "Real Sports" show. It`s a very good show. And that show particularly had a great segment on Bill Johnson and then it just ended with this giant thud that I still -- I was just shaking my head at the end of it, thinking, "Did he just say that? And is he going to wake up in the morning and go, `Oh, my goodness, what have I done?`" And it`s kind of shocking, actually.

WOLF: You know, if he says that people aren`t watching the Olympics, which the ratings show, OK, that`s fine. But there`s -- the reasons are not because it`s racist. It`s because we used to have it every four years. Now you have either summer or winter every two years.

Also, you now, years ago that six-hour delay was OK. It`s not OK anymore. Everybody knows what happened. You know, we have Internet, cable television. And when the MC says, if you don`t want to know the score, turn away. Well, come on. That`s ridiculous.

HAMMER: Well, as if this wasn`t enough to push people`s buttons, Steve, he referred to these athletes, these men and women doing the downhill, doing the speed skating, among many other winter sports, he referred to them as pseudo athletes. Come on.

TADY: That`s ridiculous. Well, maybe the curling, because you can smoke a cigarette and drink a beer while curling, I think. But I defy you. Lindsay Kildow went down a mountain at about 50 miles an hour with pretty much a broken body. Her hip was badly bruised. That`s heroic; that`s courageous. That`s not only a great athlete; that`s kind of inspiring, actually. That was another blanket statement that was quite frankly just stupid.

HAMMER: Warner, I have less than 30 second. That was way out of line, though, wasn`t it?

WOLF: Yes. Well, if you want to take a shot at the events, that`s one thing. But I wouldn`t take a shot at the athletes. I mean, these are the best. Are we hiding people that aren`t showing up at the Olympics? I really think it`s a stretch what Bryant said.

HAMMER: And I think this is just the beginning of what we`re going to hear. And I should point out we did invite Bryant Gumbel to respond to what we`re talking about here tonight, and we did not hear from him.

Steve Tady from the "San Francisco Chronicle," Warner Wolf from 77- WABC Radio. Thank you very much both for being with us.

WOLF: Thank you.

TADY: Thank you.

HAMMER: And we should also note that Bryant Gumbel`s "Real Sports," which airs on HBO, HBO is owned by Time Warner. That`s the same company that owns CNN Headline News.

ANDERSON: OK. We`ve got big, late breaking news about Elvis Presley`s daughter. That`s coming up.

HAMMER: Also, fake TV, real life crimes. Tonight, are shows like "CSI" helping criminals get away with murder? Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT investigates the "CSI" effect.

Plus, we also have this...


COLLINS: Because every woman in Hollywood can say they slept with every man in Hollywood, because who`s going to argue?


ANDERSON: What do Jackie Collins` comments on Hollywood bed hopping have anything to do with author James Frey? Find out from the queen of steamy stories herself, Jackie Collins, in the interview you`ll see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.


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

Tonight -- tonight, late-breaking news about Elvis Presley`s daughter Lisa Marie, and SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is the first to break it to you. Just a short time ago, her publicist says Lisa married guitarist and music producer Michael Lockwood. The ceremony took place in Japan on January 22. Its Presley`s fourth marriage. Her previous husbands included Nicolas Cage and Michael Jackson. Lisa`s mom, Priscilla, walks her down the aisle and, actually, one of her other ex-husbands was the best man.

HAMMER: It is time now for a "SHOWBIZ Sitdown" with Jackie Collins. She is the ultimate Hollywood insider. She dishes dirt on all the biggest stars, but the catch is she never names in her books.

Well, I had a chance to sit down with the best selling novelist to talk about some familiar characters in her latest book called "Lovers and Players." And I wanted to get her take on the truths and lies of fellow author James Frey.


HAMMER: I need you to straighten out something for us, set the record straight on something about "Lovers and Players" right off the top.


HAMMER: Is it a novel? Is it a memoir? It`s a work of fiction, right, Jackie?

COLLINS: A thousand little lies, that`s what it is. It`s a work of fiction.


COLLINS: But you know, the late, great Frank Sinatra had a biography written about him. And at the time I had a book out called "Hollywood Husbands." And Frank sent me a note. He said, "You`re writing fact, and this woman is writing fiction about me." And I thought that was great. He signed it "Francis Albert." I love that. So cool.

HAMMER: You have to be very careful about these things, because of...

COLLINS: Very clear. Very clear.

HAMMER: So we know it`s a work of fiction. What do you make about that whole thing with "A Million Little Pieces"? That`s, of course, what I`m referring to, James Frey and the controversy. Who -- who bears the responsibility there? Is it the author? Is it the publisher? A little bit of both?

COLLINS: I think it`s a little bit of both. Because they must have known. And they must have asked him. I mean, you don`t say you`re in jail for three months, when you`re been three hours just sitting there. You don`t say you`re spitting at policemen when you haven`t. It would make a great novel, fantastic, but make it fiction. Don`t say it`s true.

Because every woman in Hollywood can now say they`ve slept with every man in Hollywood. Because who`s going to argue? You know, they can make it up. Why not?

HAMMER: And certainly, and Oprah brought this point home when she kept challenging...


HAMMER: ... the publishers, saying didn`t this raise a red flag? Didn`t that raise a red flag? She kept saying no. But come on.

COLLINS: Yes. Exactly. But you know, I like writing fiction, because I can do whatever I want. And I can write about whoever I want and I can change the names to protect the not so innocent.

HAMMER: Let`s talk about a couple of those specific characters for just a moment.


HAMMER: And also famously, you don`t usually reveal, as you said, who the character is based on.


HAMMER: But let me take a whirl at a couple.


HAMMER: Or at least a few people that came to mind. Tell me -- describe the character Birdy for me.

COLLINS: Birdy Marvel is this little pop diva. She`s very cute. She`s very blond. She`s emancipated from her parents, and she`s engaged to this biker with -- covered in tattoos, and he kind of wants to take all her money, and she kind of doesn`t want him to. She could be anybody.

HAMMER: Let me throw up a picture of a particular blond whose name begins with a "B," ends with a "Y." This comes to mind, you know, some of the things you mentioned.

COLLINS: It`s Britney. I love Britney. I think she`s great.

HAMMER: So this is Britney?

COLLINS: No, it`s not Britney. That`s Britney, yes.

HAMMER: But does Birdy at any time get caught driving with the baby in her lap?

COLLINS: Read my book. No. No, Birdy doesn`t have a baby. See, so it can`t be Britney, can it? Because Birdy doesn`t have a baby.

It could be Jessica. It could be Ashlee. It could be Paris. It could be Nicole.

HAMMER: Little bits of all of them.

COLLINS: Little bits of all of them.

HAMMER: Tell me who...

COLLINS: That`s what makes the character fun.

HAMMER: Tell me who Damon is.

COLLINS: Well, Damon...

HAMMER: Is it Donnell or Donnell?

COLLINS: Donnell.

HAMMER: Because I read a whole book and I want to make sure.

COLLINS: Yes, exactly, he`s a hip-hop model. He`s great looking. He wears, you know, a lot of bling, but he`s just like big and has a great body. And who are you looking at there? Who are you bringing up now?

HAMMER: You say Damon and bling and, of course, we think of Damon Dash.

COLLINS: Well, that`s because the name is the same. But it`s not Damon Dash. I mean, it could be a little bit of -- I don`t know, Diddy -- a little bit of Jay-Z.

HAMMER: Well, let`s through the next picture up here. It certainly appeared that maybe any of these guys, Russell Simmons.

COLLINS: It could be any -- it could be a little bit of all of them or it could be none of them at all.

HAMMER: So what is the deal with the fact that people are so obsessed with vicariously, perhaps, living through, you know, the rich and famous? Your books, it`s always said, when people start reading them, no matter who they are, it could be the biggest person on the Forbes list.


HAMMER: Or it could just be the supermarket checkout woman, but people start reading your books and they don`t put them down. Why are we so obsessed with all of this?

COLLINS: I think because I tell a good story. And you know you`re not getting the front page of one of the tabloids. You`re getting the real truth, because I`m there. And you know, I`m not outside pressing my nose up against the glass, saying, "What`s going on? Can I write about that?" I`m in there, and I`m writing about the real truth. So you are getting the real truth. I do change the names.

HAMMER: When you look at what is in the newspapers these days, particularly with all of the breakups.


HAMMER: And Nick and Jessica, the newlywed show, and of course, they end up splitting up. And look at -- look at marriages that have broken up in Hollywood recently, from Heather Locklear and Richie Sambora to Chad Lowe and Hilary Swank.


HAMMER: You can`t -- I say you can`t write this stuff. You do write this stuff.

COLLINS: I do write.

HAMMER: Is it amazing to you that the stuff that you write about fictionally...

COLLINS: It`s amazing to me that everybody is always looking for something better. They always think there`s something better around the corner. And I always say to people, I always say to girls, you know, young girls, I say go out and have a fantastic time before you get married. Do everything you want to do, and then you`re not sitting in a marriage saying, "Oh, I wish I`d done that." Because you`ve done it; you`ve been there, done that.

HAMMER: Is that the key? I mean, do you think that`s a lot of the reason why these Hollywood marriages are always breaking up, it seems?

COLLINS: Well, separation is not good for any relationship. I mean, you know, when your husband goes off on location with Angelina Jolie, go with him. Don`t leave him alone. You know, I mean, that`s kind of foolish.

HAMMER: So did you write that scenario out in your head when you saw what was going on there?

COLLINS: Absolutely. I mean, you knew the moment that she wasn`t there, you knew it had to happen. Because it`s just human nature, especially when a woman is there by herself. She has to kind of -- you know, she wants her sexuality to be noticed. If she can`t get the director or the co-star or whoever it is.

I`m not talking about Angelina, because she`s so fantastic. I`m a huge fan. But you know, most locations, it`s very, very sexual. Because you`re treated like a queen, and he`s treated like the prince. And you`re together, and you`re probably doing love scenes. I mean, if your wife or significant other isn`t there, you know, it ain`t going to be good.

HAMMER: Problems could be around the corner.

COLLINS: Oh, yes.


HAMMER: Don`t think that Jackie Collins spends all of her time watching celebrities. She also happens to watch her TiVo an awful lot. She`s afraid of the list that builds up while she`s out traveling and promoting her book, but she`s a self-proclaimed TiVo addict. On her list, shows like "Nip/Tuck," "Prison Break," and of course, as you would expect, she loves the "Desperate Housewives."

Her new book is called "Lovers and Players," and it`s in stores now.

ANDERSON: OK. Coming up, you can relax with the rich and famous. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT takes you to the hottest spas. Unwind with "Thursday InStyle," next.

HAMMER: Plus a big newspaper says "I`m sorry" to Elton John. They also had to fork over some cash. Find out why in tonight`s "Legal Lowdown."

Plus, we`ll have this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The result of the CSI effect is that jurors want more evidence. When they don`t get it, they become very suspicious.


ANDERSON: Question. Is real life imitating fake TV with deadly consequences? Tonight, why some say "CSI" is teaching criminals how to get away with murder? It`s a shocking story. And we`ll have that in just a bit.


ANDERSON: It is time now for "Thursday InStyle." Well, it`s February, and if you`ve been stuck shoveling snow or just want a relaxing vacation, we`ve got great ideas for you.

Here are some of the spas where Hollywood`s hottest stars head to get primped and pampered when they`ve just got to get away.


POLLY BLITZER, "INSTYLE" MAGAZINE: For the February issue of "InStyle," we decide to tell our readers about the top 10 spa destinations around the world.

Stars from Penelope Cruz and Jennifer Lopez to Jada Pinkett Smith love to go to the Mandarin Oriental Spa in Miami Beach. And where better to pamper yourself after a fun night on the town and sooth your stiletto weary feet with beautiful sunlit rooms, starting at just $419 a night. This hotel is the place to be.

The Miraval Spa in Arizona is definitely known as an adventure spa. Celebrities like Oprah and Janet Jackson go here for the ultimate adventure. Miraval is a beautiful spa set in Tucson, Arizona, with scenic views, and it`s really just a breathtaking place for a get-away at just $570 a night.

The Lake Austin resort in Texas is like a celebrity magnet for pampering. Celebrities like Jennifer Aniston and Sandra Bullock enjoy days at the lake spa resort, indulging in anything from one on one Pilates class to digging into an espresso chocolate cheesecake.

Not only is the spa cuisine amazing, but they like their guests to indulge in southwestern style stargazing, which is something that they offer in their outdoor barn pool, where you can look at the Big Dipper while you`re doing the backstroke.


ANDERSON: And if you want to read more on how celebrities spend their luxury spa vacations, just pick up a copy of "InStyle" magazine. It is on newsstands now.

HAMMER: Madonna goes under the knife. Why she had surgery next in tonight`s "Hot Headlines."

ANDERSON: Also tonight, why some are saying the hit CBS show "CSI" is helping criminals get away with murder. The shocking controversy surrounding the "CSI" effect. That`s next.

HAMMER: Also the Oscars just around the corner. If you haven`t seen all the movies, don`t panic. We`re going to show you how you can get all caught up without leaving your comfy, cozy couch.

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT will be right back.


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

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

HAMMER: Brooke, the popularity of crime shows cannot be disputed. But the question is: Are these shows helping criminals get away with murder? We`re going to get into the "CSI" effect in just a couple of minutes.

ANDERSON: Pretty frightening to think about.

Also, A.J., a British newspaper is saying it`s sorry to Elton John. We will tell you why, coming up.

Also, the latest on that bitter custody battle between Michael Jackson and his ex-wife, Debbie Rowe, over their kids. That is coming up in just a few minutes in the "Legal Lowdown."

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

Today we learned Madonna has been treated for a hernia. Her spokeswoman says she had a minor procedure for a hernia and is, quote, "absolutely fine now." Madonna performed at the Grammys last week and was in London last night where she received an award for best international female artist.

Halle Berry has received Harvard`s Hasty Pudding woman of the year award. And as tradition requires, today Berry rode in a parade through Harvard Square with male students dressed in drag. The awards are given by Hasty Pudding Theatricals, the oldest undergraduate drama troupe in the country.

HBO "Real Sports" anchor Bryant Gumbel is stirring up controversy with his comments about the Olympics. On the show, Gumbel said he doesn`t like the winter games. He said, quote, "Try not to laugh when someone says these are the world`s greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the winter games look like a GOP convention."

And those are tonight`s "Hot Headlines."

A.J., Gumbel not the only person who doesn`t like the Winter Olympics, right?

HAMMER: No, it`s unbelievable still to me that he said that. His remarks quite inflammatory. Now, you mentioned -- there is somebody else who actually has spoken publicly about not being a big fan of the Winter Olympics, but I think it was more comedic in nature.

ANDERSON: Did it in jest.

HAMMER: Yes, Charles Barkley on last night`s "Late Show with David Letterman." Take a look at this.


DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE SHOW": Do you watch the Winter Olympics at all?




BARKLEY: Not really. You know, there`s a lot -- you know, brothers don`t like the ice.


LETTERMAN: I didn`t know that.

BARKLEY: No, no.

LETTERMAN: I didn`t realize that. I did not know that.

PAUL SCHAFFER, CO-HOST, "LATE SHOW": I was not aware of that.


BARKLEY: You seen a lot of brothers skiing?


SCHAFFER: Well, where I come from, there was one black family, and they moved away after one year.



HAMMER: See, Brooke, I think Charles was just having a good time.

ANDERSON: Just having a good time, as Charles likes to do.

HAMMER: And moving on now. As we reported, last night "American Idol" got an incredible 98 percent more viewers than the winter games when they were both on the air. So we`ve been asking you to vote online on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day," asking: "American Idol": Better TV than the Olympics?

Keep voting at Write to us at We`ll get into the e-mails at 55 past the hour.

ANDERSON: "CSI" and other crime shows have become wildly popular, but some law enforcement officials are concerned that criminals are watching and learning a thing or two. Here`s CNN`s Ted Rowlands for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.


WILLIAM PETERSON, ACTOR: What am I smelling?


TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In this episode of "CSI," the killer uses bleach to cover up a double murder.

HELGENBERGER: There`s no footprints. There`s no handprints.

ROWLANDS: In Austintown, Ohio, a real-life killer does the same thing, uses bleach to clean up after murdering a 43-year-old woman and her 70-year-old mother. It turns out, according to court documents, the alleged Ohio killer liked to watch "CSI," possibly learning that bleach gets rid of DNA by watching TV.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The killer poured bleach down all the drains.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... sucking all the life out of DNA.

CAPTAIN RAY PEAVY, L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF`S DEPARTMENT: It`s showing the crooks how not to get caught.

ROWLANDS: Captain Ray Peavy runs one of the homicide units in Los Angeles County. He says "CSI" and other shows make it more difficult to nab criminals, because, after watching these shows and seeing the incredible science investigators are using, criminals are cleaning up.

PEAVY: Things like cigarette butts, blood, semen, hairs, all those things that used to be left -- you know, I won`t say regularly, but they were certainly not cleaned up after them -- those things are no longer being left at crime scenes.

So we`ll take a look in here in our identification or fingerprint section.

ROWLANDS: This is the Los Angeles County crime lab, a real CSI unit, where they do a lot of the same stuff you see on TV, analyzing bullet fragments, blood, fingerprints, and just about anything else they can find at a crime scene.

PEAVY: This stuff is really cool. People are absolutely fascinated about using science to solve crimes.

ROWLANDS: Barry Fisher (ph), a criminalist in this lab for 30 years, thinks shows like "CSI" may teach criminals a thing or two, but he says it won`t do them any good.

PEAVY: It is categorically impossible to remove all the evidence that somebody is going to leave at a crime scene. They may try, but they`re not going to succeed in covering it all up.

ROWLANDS: Shows like "CSI" are not only being blamed for educating criminals but also for tainting juries. Prosecutors from around the country say they are losing cases because some jurors show up wanting to see overwhelming physical evidence just like they see on TV.

Larry Pozner, a criminal defense lawyer in Denver, says jurors` expectations have changed.

LARRY POZNER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The result of the "CSI" effect is that jurors want more evidence. When they don`t get it, they become very suspicious.

ROWLANDS: Can a TV show really have this much effect on the criminal justice system? Elizabeth Devine is a co-executive producer for "CSI: Miami." She used to be a criminalist in the L.A. crime lab. She rejects the notion that shows like hers have changed criminals or jurors.

ELIZABETH DEVINE, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, "CSI: MIAMI": It underestimates a little bit the intelligence of our audience and the American people, if people are believing that they can`t tell the difference between a television drama and reality.

ROWLANDS: As for that real-life Ohio double-homicide case, in true Hollywood fashion, the cops found their main suspect hiding in this house.

Twenty-six-year-old Jermaine McKinney, the one police say learned from "CSI" how to cover his tracks, was arrested after allegedly trying to use one of the victim`s credit cards. McKinney put up a fight, but just like most "CSI" episodes, in the end, the alleged killer is taken away in handcuffs.


ANDERSON: That was CNN`s Ted Rowlands for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

HAMMER: Well, the Oscars just a couple of weeks away. If you`re not yet caught up on this year`s big contenders, you certainly can catch a few of them out on DVD.

Tonight in our "Showbiz Guide": "Crash," it`s up for six nominations, including best picture and best director; "Hustle and Flow," the movie about a pimp trying to turn into a professional rapper, is up for two Oscars, including lead actor for Terrence Howard; "The Constant Gardener" is up for four Oscars, including a best supporting actress nomination for Rachel Weisz; "March of the Penguins" is up for best documentary; and "Walk the Line," a chronicle of country music legend Johnny Cash`s life, not out on DVD yet, but it will be released February 28th, just days before the golden guys are handed out.

Joining us live to talk about some of these must-sees, Gitesh Pandya, who is the editor of the Web site

Nice to see you, Gitesh.


HAMMER: Let`s get into it with "Crash." I loved this movie. It`s actually been out on DVD for a while.

PANDYA: That`s right. One of my favorite movies of the year, "Crash" is a race-relations tour de force. It takes place in Los Angeles. Up for six Academy Awards. And it`s actually the only best picture nominee that is currently out on DVD, so you can get it right now and watch it.

It`s an excellent film, did well at the box office. And right now, the industry buzz says that, if "Brokeback Mountain" does not win the big awards on Oscar night, this is the film that could pull off the upset.

HAMMER: Yes, a lot of people are saying this is the number two for the best picture win. Well, let`s talk about a movie that has four nominations this year, "The Constant Gardener."

PANDYA: Right. Well, this is another terrific film, politically charged. Ralph Fiennes plays a man who investigates the murder of his pregnant wife, Rachel Weisz, in Africa. And it really gets into the nitty- gritty behind the corruption with pharmaceutical companies in Africa and what they do to people in third world countries.

Excellent film, out on DVD right now. Didn`t do all that well at the box office last summer, but sure enough got a lot of nominations, up for some big ones. Rachel Weisz got the Golden Globe, is a frontrunner for Oscar time. So this is another must-see film you can get right now on DVD.

HAMMER: And the Oscar section of your DVD store I`m sure is going to do some big business with these films in particular.

Let`s talk about "Hustle and Flow." This is really the film that put Terrence Howard on the map for a lot of people, made him a household name.

PANDYA: That`s right. What a great year he had last year, with "Crash" and also "Hustle and Flow." This movie set the Sundance Film Festival on fire a year ago.

It got picked up, released last summer, out on DVD right now. It`s a story of a Memphis pimp who wants to become a rap star. Ludacris is also in this film, excellent film. A wonderful performance by Terrence Howard. He is up for an Oscar for best actor.

Out of the 20 nominations in the Oscar acting category, he`s the only African-American up for those nominations. So he`s a very high-profile actor, great year and a wonderful performance.

HAMMER: It is, in fact, a must-see. Gitesh Pandya of, thanks a lot for joining us tonight.

PANDYA: Thank you.

ANDERSON: A big "I`m sorry" for Sir Elton John and some cash to go along with it. We will tell you who`s eating some humble pie, next.

HAMMER: Plus, yet another round in the court battle between Michael Jackson and his ex-wife over their kids. We`re going to tell you who`s on the winning side, and you might be surprised. That`s ahead in the "Legal Lowdown."

Also coming up...


JANE CURTIN, ACTRESS: I`ve been waiting for somebody to officially welcome me into the primetime schedule."


ANDERSON: Jane Curtin is back in primetime. She tells us about the role that got her to come back to the game, coming up in the interview you`ll see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.


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

Sorry seems to be the hardest word, especially for a big London newspaper. Elton John slapped them with a libel suit, and tonight a judge slapped them again, saying Elton was right. Let`s get the latest from CNN`s Becky Anderson who`s in London for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

What`s the deal here, Becky?

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening to you, A.J., from London.

Singer-songwriter Elton John has won a liable case and an apology from a British newspaper here to the high courts earlier today. Sir Elton accepted an undisclosed sum in damages from the "Sunday Times" newspaper after it published a report last year accusing him of rude, self-important, and arrogant behavior at one of his charity dos (ph).

Now, the story suggested that at his white tie and tiara summer charity event that Elton John had issued an absurd edict, saying, "Don`t address me" --this was to his guests -- "unless you are spoken to."

Well, this story had been printed in another newspaper and reprinted in the "Sunday Times." Well, Sir Elton John`s lawyer said it caused him a lot of distress and embarrassment and, indeed, it could have affected his charity-raising events and efforts going forward.

The "Sunday Times`" lawyers accepted that the story wasn`t true, that they shouldn`t have published it, and they will now pay his costs.

I`m Becky Anderson in London. Back to you.

HAMMER: All right, Becky, thanks very much. CNN`s Becky Anderson for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT in London.

By the way, part of the deal, as Becky mentioned, not to divulge how much money he got from the paper. He will be taking that settlement and donating it to his AIDS charity.

ANDERSON: That`s right, A.J. And this, of course, has raised a lot of questions about what impact this could have. It happened overseas. Could it have an impact here in America?

Well, joining us live to talk about this, from Glendale, California, Harvey Levin, the managing editor of the entertainment news site

Harvey, what do you think? Could it set a precedent for tabloids and publications in the United States?

HARVEY LEVIN, MANAGING EDITOR, TMZ.COM: Well, I think every time a star wins a lawsuit like this, Brooke, it really sends a message. There are consequences.

The deal here is that the newspaper was wrong. And the issue is: Is a celebrity going to take the time to sue? The answer here is yes. And every time a celebrity sues and win, I think it really scares the media into making sure, appropriately, that what they publish is correct.

ANDERSON: And the money, of course, that he won this time going to a good cause, of course.

Harvey, I want to move now to Michael Jackson. There is so much to talk about here. First thing, TMZ obtained documents that reveal information about a previous arrangement Michael Jackson had with ex-wife, Debbie Rowe. There was some pretty interesting stuff here. Tell us what you found.

LEVIN: Well, it was very interesting. We found some documents during this custody dispute that they`re in the middle of that basically show what Debbie Rowe got when she divorced Michael Jackson.

And his lawyer made it very clear that up front she got $4 to $5 million bucks, she got a mansion in Beverly Hills, and she got a $900,000- a-year stipend from him.

But there were strings attached. One of the strings was that she had to keep any information she had about Michael Jackson to herself.

Now, a couple years ago, Jackson said she violated that confidentiality agreement by going on television and he cut her off. And that really was the beginning of the war they`re now in.

ANDERSON: They`re in such a bitter custody battle. And this, of course, comes a day after we learn that a California appeals court says that Rowe should have chance to gain custody of those kids. Do you think there`s a real chance of that happening?

LEVIN: Yes, I think there`s a chance. I mean, what happened here is -- it was just -- the whole thing is so bizarre. But Debbie Rowe never wanted to be the mother of these children, really, when they were born. It was always intended that Michael would be the legal father of these kids and the sole parent.

But she said she became alarmed when he started, you know, hanging out with people from the Nation of Islam, when he started acting bizarre, when -- although, I guess that`s happened for a long time.

But also the child molestation charges. And this really started the ball rolling. She had given up her parental rights. And judge said her rights are terminated, but the judge reversed himself.

The trial judge said: You know, I made a mistake; I should have gotten these kids independent legal representation. So I`m going to void the order.

And Jackson appealed it. And the court of appeals said she can`t give up the kids that way, so she now has a fair fight at getting these kids.

ANDERSON: A fighting chance. And very quickly, of course, documents come out because of this decision. And one of the things that has come out is that a trial judge said that their marriage was an arranged one. I mean, Harvey, come on. Should we all be shocked?

LEVIN: Not shocked, but it really is interesting that, in this trial, the judge said: Look, this was an arranged deal. They weren`t going to play mom and pop ever.

It`s really kind of a public acknowledgment that this was a farce from the get-go.

ANDERSON: All right. Harvey Levin of, as always, thank you for your insight. We appreciate it.

LEVIN: See you, Brooke.

HAMMER: Well, tonight in a "Showbiz Sitdown," Jane Curtin, who is back in a new ABC series called "Crumbs." She started out as part of the not-ready-for-primetime players on "Saturday Night Live" back in 1975. She went onto two TV sitcoms in primetime. And after one of those sitcoms, the hit show "Third Rock from the Sun," ended, she told me it`s great to be back in primetime.


HAMMER: Let me be the official person to welcome you back to primetime television.

JANE CURTIN, CO-STARS IN ABC`S "CRUMBS": Well, I`ve been waiting for somebody to officially welcome me into the primetime schedule.

HAMMER: I consider that my responsibility.

CURTIN: They`ve been remiss.

HAMMER: 2001 was when "Third Rock" went off the sun, right? Well, it`s been a handful of years since the last time you were working in the primetime.

CURTIN: That`s generally my pattern.

HAMMER: Yes, you try to take little breaks? Could you have imagined, when "Third Rock" went off, that you would actually get back into sitcom or episodic television?

CURTIN: No, no.

HAMMER: Really?

CURTIN: I mean, after every series, you think, "Well, it`s time to hang up my toe shoes. They`re a little cracked and dried." But then something comes in the mail, and you look at it, and you think, "Oh, this is funny." This actually made me laugh out loud.

HAMMER: And now flash-forward a couple of years, and you said the script arrived for "Crumbs," the show you`re now doing...

CURTIN: "Crumbs," yes.

HAMMER: ... and you said, "I got to do this." Now, was that -- let me ask you this. You play the mother of a closeted gay man. Did you see the fact that it had a gay storyline and you said, "Oh, well this has to be a hit, since everything"...

CURTIN: No, no, no, no, no. I don`t think in terms of that. I think, "Well, is this somebody I could live with for any length of time?" meaning the character, because it`s basically about me, about what I do, what I want.

You know, it`s not about the general concept of the show. If what I`m going to be doing tickles me, then great. And if, within the context of the show, it makes sense, then great. Everybody else`s story is not something that I`m going to have any control over.

HAMMER: And your character, Suzanne, is this woman who -- described as a bit of a loon, but really she`s at the point in her life where she doesn`t care what anybody thinks.

CURTIN: Doesn`t care. She`s a loose cannon.

HAMMER: That`s a nice way to live, isn`t it?

CURTIN: Yes. I think it makes perfect sense in her world. I mean, her whole world is falling apart, so deal with it in whatever way is most comfortable. And for her, it`s to sort of propel herself out there. "OK, this is who I am. This is how I deal with stress. Take it or leave it, but that`s who I am." So, you know, everybody deals with drama in a different way.

HAMMER: Do you try to live your life a little bit like that?

CURTIN: Yes, right. Yes.

HAMMER: How`s that working for you?

CURTIN: No, I just try to avoid all confrontations, avoid anything that`s going to be stressful or...

HAMMER: You and I will get along famously.

CURTIN: Yes, yes, yes. We`ll just take our dogs for walks in the woods and be happy.


HAMMER: You can catch Jane Curtin on "Crumbs" Thursday night on ABC. Every now and then, you get to meet one of the really cool people in the TV business, Jane Curtin certainly among them.

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT will be right back.



Throughout the show, we have been asking you to vote online on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day." "American Idol": Is it better TV than the Olympics?

Let`s take a look at how the vote is going so far: 46 percent of you say yes; 54 percent of you say no.

Here are some of the e-mails we`ve received. Charles from Texas says, "The number of commercials is so annoying that I would rather watch `American Idol` and TiVo the Olympics."

Brittany from Florida writes, "`American Idol` appeals to the Hollywood-obsessed, but the Olympics are a display of hard work and training."

You can keep voting at

HAMMER: Well, you never get to see him, but, man, is the Marquee Guy tan. Here he comes with a look at what`s playing on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT as we get into Friday night.

MARQUEE GUY: Tomorrow, a desperate husband. "Desperate Housewives" star Eva Longoria`s husband is here. Hey, wait a second, guys. Eva Longoria isn`t married. Oh, it`s her Wisteria Lane husband. Why didn`t you say so? Ricardo Antonio Chavira. You say Chavira, and I`ll say Chavira, tomorrow.

Also tomorrow, welcome to NASCAR nation. Thank you. We`re making a pit stop in the world of NASCAR to see what makes it so popular, what makes it so powerful. What`s with all the p`s in the script tonight? The power of NASCAR, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, tomorrow.

This is the Marquee Guy, the real driving force of SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. Trust me.

HAMMER: Yes, the real driving-us-crazy force of SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

ANDERSON: That`s right.

HAMMER: Sometimes when he`s doing that, I`m thinking, "Hey, as long as he`s amusing himself."

ANDERSON: He is. I think he is entertaining himself, don`t you, A.J.? And he is very, very tan.

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

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


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