Return to Transcripts main page
Documentary on Amnesiac Man Sparks Debate; Future of BlackBerries in Judge`s Hands; Cuba Gooding Jr. Discusses New Film, Oscars
Aired February 24, 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 in New York.
SIBILA VARGAS, CO-HOST: And I`m Sibila Vargas in Hollywood. TV`s only live entertainment news show starts right now.
HAMMER (voice-over): On SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, imagine waking up one day with no idea who you are. Well, that`s what happened to this man. Now there`s a film devoted to the "Unknown White Male." Is this guy for real? Or will his story burst into a million little pieces? SHOWBIZ TONIGHT finds out.
Shocking revelations from a music legend: his lowest point. And in an interview you`ll see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, how an angel saved him from killing himself.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had suicidal thoughts.
HAMMER: And you won`t believe who that angel was.
And, going for the gold in TV ratings. The Olympics, "Survivor," "American Idol," "Dancing with the Stars." Who survived the ratings battle, and who got voted off? Only SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has the first look at the winners and losers.
PAUL WALKER, ACTOR: I`m Paul Walker. If it happened today it`s on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.
VARGAS: Hello, I`m Sibila Vargas live in Hollywood.
HAMMER: I`m A.J. Hammer live in New York City.
And Sibila, I`m pretty sure it`s not just me that feels like after that whole mess over the "Million Little Pieces" memoir, everybody questions whether a shocking true story is really true.
And it`s happening again tonight, this time with a new documentary called -- about a man with amnesia called "Unknown White Male." Tonight, the media are asking a single question: is this story really true? Well, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has the inside scoop.
DOUG BRUCE, FEATURED IN "UNKNOWN WHITE MALE": Then I suddenly realized, you know, I didn`t know who I was.
HAMMER (voice-over): The premise grabs you immediately: in 2003, a man wakes up on a subway in New York City. He has no I.D. and no idea who he is.
BRUCE: The first thing I see is scenery which I don`t remember ever having seen.
HAMMER: That`s the story behind the documentary "Unknown White Male" which traces an amnesia victim -- he finds out later his name is Doug Bruce -- as he tries to piece together the missing details of his life. A compelling story, one that has people asking, is it true?
BRUCE: I don`t know who I am.
MATT DAMON, ACTOR: How can I know that and not know who I am?
HAMMER: It sounds like the plot of "The Bourne Identity." But unlike the Matt Damon movie, the amnesiac hero in this film is not an assassin. And the film`s director, who turns out to be a long-time acquaintance of Bruce`s, tells "ANDERSON COOPER 360" that "Unknown White Male" is a true story.
RUPERT MURRAY, DIRECTOR: The thing about his story is it has some unbelievable elements to it. It`s an incredible story. He`s an amazing character.
HAMMER: But SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can report that ever since the movie debuted at the Sundance Film Festival last year, "Unknown White Male" has faced skepticism about its authenticity.
Is it about to fall victim to a hyperactive media truth antenna?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it a true story or might it fall apart into a million little pieces?
HAMMER: Ah, yes, "A Million Little Pieces." The controversy over that best-selling memoir is fresh in everyone`s minds. After writer James Frey admitted stretching the truth in parts of his drug addiction story.
JAMES FREY, AUTHOR, "A MILLION LITTLE PIECES": I`ve acknowledged that there were embellishments in the book.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And authorities are still no closes to finding out who "The Piano Man" is.
HAMMER: Last spring, the world was transfixed by the story of the "Piano Man," an unidentified man who was found wandering a beach in England. He didn`t speak and communicated only through his piano playing.
But the fairy tale fell apart, when it was revealed he wasn`t suffering from memory loss at all, and media reports said he had been looking for TV work.
HEATHER DONAHUE, ACTRESS: Even the mega 1999 horror movie "The Blair Witch Project" originally passed itself off as a documentary.
The ethics guy, syndicated columnist Bruce Weinstein, tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT you may get a short-term boost from passing off a fictional story as fact, but you`ll hurt yourself in the long run.
BRUCE WEINSTEIN, "THE ETHICS GUY": When the lie comes out, you won`t be taken seriously and your career may be damaged permanently.
HAMMER: But speculation about "Unknown White Male`s" veracity is just that: speculation. Some journalists who have researched the film tell SHOWBIZ TONIGHT it appears true.
And in Hollywood, the movie was considered real enough to score a nomination in the Directors Guild`s documentary category. And insiders say the film was also in the running for a best documentary Oscar nomination.
The film`s director says he`s baffled by all this debate over what was a very personal project for him.
MURRAY: I spent two and a half years living in this kind of situation. And for people to say that it`s not true is kind of quite shocking to me. I can understand that people might find it difficult to believe. But one of the things I like about documentaries is sometimes fact is stranger than fiction, and that`s -- and this is one of these cases.
HAMMER: "Unknown White Male" opens in limited release today.
VARGAS: "The Apprentice" is all in the family. It`s the latest chapter in the mogul melee SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has been telling you about all week. Now, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has learned the Donald will have his kids join him in the boardroom on the next "Apprentice."
Ivanka and Donald Junior both work for their father now. They`ll replace George and Carolyn. Ivanka also holds a business degree from Wharton.
Let`s just hope she speaks in complex sentences, though, because Trump recently criticized rival Martha Stewart`s daughter for her "one-word statements" on Stewart`s failed show.
The fifth season of "The Apprentice" starts Monday.
HAMMER: So America is buzzing about their BlackBerries. More than four million Americans tap away at these little things every single day. They are addictive to a lot of people. In fact, that`s why, for better or worse, some people call them CrackBerries.
Well there`s a case going on right now in Virginia that might shut these things down and off for good. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT decided to investigate and see what this whole deal is all about.
HAMMER (voice-over): Everywhere you look, America is addicted, and so is Hollywood.
RZA, MUSICIAN: Yes, got my BlackBerry. It`s definitely -- we call it the CrackBerry because that`s how much you need it.
ASHLEE SIMPSON, MUSICIAN: Everybody put their phones away. It`s too addictive.
HAMMER: Mariah Carey needed it so much she used it at this year`s Billboard Music Awards to remind her who to think.
MARIAH CAREY, SINGER: Mark Sudac (ph), absolutely fantastic. Benny Medina, doing your thing.
HAMMER: But all of that could very well change. There`s a possibility that the mighty BlackBerry could be shut down and America will be left with only this kind of BlackBerry.
So what`s going on here? It`s a small matter of patents and whether the company that makes BlackBerries has a right to some of the software that brings you your e-mail wherever you are.
To be honest, the details of the case are enough to make your eyes glaze over. But CNN`s business correspondent, Ali Velshi, decided to help SHOWBIZ TONIGHT break it down.
ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It`s complicated. There`s a company in Virginia that`s in the business of holding patents. They claim that BlackBerry service in the United States infringes upon one of its designs.
HAMMER: It`s a case that`s been going on and on since 2002. And today a judge was supposed to decide whether or not the mighty CrackBerry is legit or if it should be shut down.
VELSHI: I`m not sure I`d want to be the judge having to make a decision to shut down BlackBerry service across America.
HAMMER: And it turns out, neither did the judge. He said he wants the two companies to figure it out themselves. And if they can`t, he`ll decide in a few days.
So what are the chances the BlackBerry will be shut down?
VELSHI: I didn`t think there`s a good chance the BlackBerry service will get shut down. Research In Motion, the company that makes these, has said that it has a work around that involves U.S. users -- this, by the way, only applies to U.S. users -- downloading a software patch or an update to their BlackBerry, and it will allow the mail to come and go, the e-mail through a different system. They say that will get around the patent infringement discussion.
HAMMER (on camera): More than four million people in the U.S. are hooked on their BlackBerries. Now, while the chances of these guys shutting down completely is slim, we wanted to find out what people would do without their constant fix. You watch that. I`ve got to check my e- mail.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard about the lawsuit. I was, like, "Oh, my God. I can`t lose it."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I actually share one with my mom, if that`s not too embarrassing. But she`s very reliant on it. I use it, you know, for in the car.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like it.
HAMMER (voice-over): OK. Well, Ali, what do you think?
VELSHI: I don`t know what I would do. If my BlackBerry stopped working -- and you know, once in awhile when they`re upgrading or the system is down, it happens. I`m at a loss.
HAMMER: There`s no doubt about it, CrackBerries and other handheld devices like the mighty Sidekick have invaded America and Hollywood alike and changed the very culture of how Americans communicate. And you never know: it could change their thumbs, too.
VELSHI: There`s something called "BlackBerry thumb" that you get from constantly typing on the keyboard. I think the evolution of humankind will be such that in 500 years we`ll all have pointy thumbs with little flat bits that are made for punching little keyboards.
HAMMER: I`m sorry. It turns out that the "BlackBerry thumb" phenomenon -- the phenomenon has become such a problem, many spas are actually offering massages to relieve some of the pressure, which is pretty incredible.
Sibila, I wouldn`t consider myself addicted. I actually just use it for work. But you find when you use it all the time, it becomes a tool that you do depend on.
VARGAS: I -- but I`ve got to admit, I do it on the weekends all the time. I don`t want to, but I am addicted on the CrackBerry.
HAMMER: Sibila does it on the weekends all the time. Heard here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.
All right. Well, moving right along. Sibila, what`s coming up?
VARGAS: Well, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, let the ratings begin. Networks duke it out against the Olympics for ratings gold. Who won the gold? Not who you think. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has the winners and losers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUBA GOODING JR., ACTOR: That was an accolade I`ll have the rest of my life, but now it`s like -- now the work begins.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAMMER: Plus we have Oscar talk with Cuba Gooding Jr. How the Academy Awards changed his life. And you`re never going to believe how it actually cost him a starring role in another big film. The one that got away, in an interview you`ll see only here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.
VARGAS: And what`s wrong with this picture? Caught on tape. How one woman drove 14 miles against oncoming traffic. That`s coming up on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.
HAMMER: First your Friday night "`Entertainment Weekly` Great American Pop Culture Quiz." In the film "Beverly Hills Cop," what fruit does Eddie Murphy`s character use to disable a police car? Was it grapes, kiwi, a peach or a banana? We`re coming straight back with the answer.
HAMMER: So once again, tonight`s "`Entertainment Weekly` Great American Pop Culture Quiz." In "Beverly Hills Cop," what fruit does Eddie Murphy`s character use to disable a police car? Was it grapes, a kiwi, a peach or a banana? You remember the line: "Banana up the tail pipe?" So the answer is D, a banana.
VARGAS: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m Sibila Vargas in Hollywood.
Some Oscar nominees are being told to clean up their act in order to perform at the Academy Awards.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VARGAS: The group 36 Mafia is penning new lyrics to their Oscar- nominated song, "It`s Hard Out There for a Pimp" from "Hustle and Flow." The song contains expletives and other language producers felt was unsuitable for broadcast. Producers say they want it to be a show that everyone can watch.
Oscar night will be a big night, and we are going to be right there live on the red carpet before the show. Be sure to join me, A.J. Hammer and Brooke Anderson for a special Oscar edition of SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, next Sunday at 5 p.m. Eastern on CNN Headline News.
Then at 6 p.m. Eastern, our coverage moves to CNN with "Hollywood`s Gold Rush: Live from the Red Carpet." That`s next Sunday, March 5. We`ll see you there.
HAMMER: Well, in 1996 he showed us the money. Then he showed us his Oscar. Tonight, Cuba Gooding Jr. is showing us the dark side of law enforcement. The Academy Award winning actor is out with a new movie today. It`s called "Dirty." In it, he`s playing a very dirty cop.
Well, I sat down with Cuba to talk about this year`s Oscars and how his life has changed since he took home his own trophy for best supporting actor for the movie "Jerry Maguire."
I also asked Cuba if he`s ever had any real life experiences with corrupt cops.
GOODING: I had a friend who had a roommate who was a sheriff. And he was moving out, and he asked me to come over and help him move. And the guy saw me pull up in the driveway and pulled my buddy and said, "I don`t want any black people in my house."
And Mark explained to me, you know, this guy, to become a sheriff, he spent three years as a prison guard. And he saw the worst that there is to see of blacks and Hispanics. And then after he did his three years, he went into the public society to protect and serve. But you know, he had this mentality.
GOODING: And I think, you know, these crash units, these undercover cops infiltrating the gang systems. You know, how much of that, how long can you be in there before it starts to really -- you forget, you know, even though you start out with the ends justify the means after awhile you lose sight of where you`re supposed to be focused.
HAMMER: Yes, it does kind of shift along the way.
GOODING: Yes. And you know, I can`t play a character like that and judge him and saying I`m playing a bad guy. If I do that...
HAMMER: No. You`re playing the guy that you`re supposed to be.
GOODING: I`m playing him in a situation. And you know, researching and doing a lot of this stuff, I got in the mindset of these cats.
We the only gang that`s left, so wise up.
We had a screening of the movie in Memphis, Tennessee. And a black woman stood up and said, "I do not like the movie, and I don`t know why you choose to do such a negative role after all the positive roles that you`ve been in. You know, and why did you say the `n` word so much? And why did you use" -- and I said, "My mother had the same reaction when she saw the movie. But I said, `Mom, you loved `Boyz in the Hood.`" And she did. She loved "Boyz in the Hood." I said, I happened to play Tre in that movie. And my character got out and found redemption through, you know, not going with the flow.
GOODING: And I feel that that movie changed a lot of the behavior in South Central and other communities like that, I said.
But what if I had played Ice Cube? The message behind the movie would have been as strong. It`s just my participation in the piece would have been different. I said, in this movie I`m Ice Cube. You know, and I have to be true to the vernacular of these police officers who find endearment through racial slurs. And you know, some of the tactics are -- you know, again it`s a twisted mentality, but I have to -- we have to -- to find a solution to the problem, you have to understand what the problem is and be true to -- you know, and be honest about that.
HAMMER: You`ve lived in L.A. for a long time yourself. Have you witnessed or experienced any of that yourself? Have you been profiled yourself?
GOODING: Let me reiterate to you, I started off as a break dancer in Los Angeles. I used to hang out on the street corner with a radio. I was -- yes, cops used to have fun throwing me around, you know?
HAMMER: Here we are; it`s Oscar time.
HAMMER: Can you believe it`s been nine years since you walked away with that trophy?
GOODING: It was `97.
HAMMER: Yes, `97 is when the awards were handed out.
GOODING: Yes, yes, yes.
HAMMER: Do you view your life as pre-Oscar and post-Oscar?
GOODING: My professional career.
GOODING: Yes, of course. Not my personal life, but my professional career.
HAMMER: And a blessing, rather than a curse, I`m going to assume, for you?
GOODING: More so a blessing, but there`s been some obstacles and there`s been some personal revelations.
You know, I had to come into terms with myself what the Oscar meant to me. Because winning it, you know, I started to get that thing where I was like I`m an Academy Award winner. I will be forever. I can`t do that role. So I passed on a lot of roles. I passed on "Amistad" with Steven Spielberg. Of course, today, I`m like what are you thinking?
HAMMER: That`s the one that got away.
GOODING: But I was like, no, no, no, no. Show me the money. I have to do this, you know? And I realize now as an actor, it`s our job just to work, just to perform. You know, if I give advice to the next winners, don`t stop working. You know, get in there and let them figure out the marketing or the meaning of the movie.
But it`s -- you know, because I feel I`m ten times the actor now than I was when I won the Academy Award. Because there`s growth there. You know?
GOODING: So -- but yes, it`s a -- it`s been a blessing in my career, you know, and a self evaluation for me to just realize that that was an accolade I`ll have for the rest of my life, but now it`s like, now the work begins.
HAMMER: Well, if you`re still wondering if people come up to Cuba and say, "Show me the money," the line he made famous in "Jerry Maguire," when I asked him if that happened, he basically fired back to me, "What do you think?" And he said he`s perfectly fine with the fact that that`s going to follow him around for the rest of his life.
Cuba Gooding Jr.`s brand new film "Dirty" is in theaters now.
VARGAS: The ladies of "The View" were in Sin City all week, and it didn`t take long for Joy Behar to find out just how sinful things can get. But this time, what happens in Vegas ends up on TV.
JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, ABC`S "THE VIEW": Here I am in Sin City, and I do mean Sin City. I mean, there is every kind of thing for men here. But what is a woman supposed to do? I had no idea until now. I wonder what this is about.
All right, now I`m a virgin so be careful.
I feel the need to get you totally ready for this event tonight.
A little medicated powder, baby.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I won`t itch.
BEHAR: One more.
There you go.
I`ll tell you, I am exhausted. I`m going to bed, but before that, I have a few souvenirs I`d like to take to Barbara. Bellman.
VARGAS: I`m sorry, A.J., it got a little hot in here, about 30 degrees hotter.
HAMMER: I`ll take over then, Sibila. No problem.
If you`re thinking about heading to the movies this weekend and you want to know what to see, what not to see, we`ve go the "SHOWBIZ Guide" with your "Picks and Pans" at the box office, coming up.
VARGAS: Plus hip-hop legend Darryl McDaniels reveals his darkest moments to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. Why DMC wanted to take his own life. You`ll be shocked to hear who saved him from doing it in an interview you`ll only see here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.
HAMMER: And don`t touch that remote. Voted off, counted out and falling flat. The winners and losers of last night`s ratings battle. Reality TV versus the Olympic games. That`s all ahead on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.
Which leads us to our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. Olympics 2006: are the games better than reality TV? We`d like you to vote by going to CNN.com/ShowbizTonight. You can also e-mail us your thoughts at ShowbizTonight@CNN.com. We`ll read some of what you have to say later on in the show.
HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. Well, it is Friday. You just might be wondering what`s new at the movie theaters this weekend, so let`s check out the "SHOWBIZ Guide." Tonight, in "People`s Picks and Pans," we`re talking about new movies. We`re looking at Tyler Perry`s "Madea`s Family Reunion"; Oscar nominated foreign film "Tsotsi"; and Paul Walker`s new thriller, "Running Scared."
And here in New York to talk us through each one, "People" magazine movie critic, Leah Rozen.
Let`s get into it with "Madea`s Family Reunion." Tyler Perry, a very busy, busy person. People of course, remember him from "Diary of a Mad Black Woman."
LEAH ROZEN, MOVIE CRITIC, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: Yes. And in this one he wrote it. He directed it. He plays as least two roles in it. He`s back in drag as "Madea," and he`s playing her -- the old man in her house who basically spends most of the movie breaking wind.
This one -- you know, I think anyone who liked "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" is probably going to like it, because it`s pretty much more of the same.
This is one of those kitchen sink movies. I mean, everything is in it. You`ve got abusive men. You`ve got child abuse. You`ve got Madea setting everyone in the world straight. You`ve got family reunion. You`ve positive -- you`ve got pro-religion.
HAMMER: They didn`t leave anything out of it.
ROZEN: Not a thing is out. It`s fairly melodramatic. I wouldn`t say it`s subtle. The comedy is certainly broad. That said, you know, it`s out there.
HAMMER: It`s out there. OK, I`ll take that for what it is.
Let`s move on to "Running Scared" then. Paul Walker -- this doesn`t happen all that often. Paul Walker heads up this film. Of course, he`s in the No. 1 film in the box office right now, "Eight Below."
ROZEN: Yes. This one is very -- do not take the kids to "Running Scared." It is so violent. This is loud, violent and convoluted. This is a movie really aimed at 22-year-old guys who like cool, nasty violent movies.
HAMMER: I imagine it has an "R" rating?
ROZEN: You know, I`m not sure it does but it better have. Given the language in the film, it sure better have, and the number of people they shoot.
It`s just -- the plot really makes no sense. He`s sort of a mobster. You know, can they hide the gun?
HAMMER: So you don`t love it?
ROZEN: Skip it.
HAMMER: All right.
ROZEN: I`m saying skip it.
HAMMER: Nominated for -- in the best foreign language film category this year, "Tsosti." Real quickly, what`s this one about?
ROZEN: Best film it is. It`s a South African film. It`s a kid who`s a criminal. He`s really a bad guy, hijacks the car, a little baby is in the back. Through taking care of the baby, he discovers he`s, indeed, connected to humanity. It`s really quite a lovely film. And the kid who has the lead just has one of those faces you won`t forget.
HAMMER: But I`m certain it probably has subtitles?
ROZEN: Yes, it does for a lot of it, although some of it is in English.
HAMMER: Great. Leah Rozen, thanks for running us through those. Appreciate it, as always.
ROZEN: You`re welcome.
HAMMER: And for more "Picks and Pans," grab your copy of "People" magazine, which you will find on newsstands now.
Well, with great power comes great responsibility -- and, of course, a great new outfit. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has your very first look at "Spider- Man`s" new image. That`s coming up.
VARGAS: Everyone`s tuning in, but what are they watching? The four- way ratings race on TV last night, as reality shows take on the winter Olympics. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has the frontrunners, ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know I`m 80 years old, but I know I`m not crazy yet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAMMER: It was a rough road for this elderly driver, heading down a North Carolina highway in the wrong direction. Coming up, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has the 911 calls from drivers facing her head-on.
SHOWBIZ TONIGHT will be right back.
HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. It is 31 minutes past the hour. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.
VARGAS: And I`m Sibila Vargas in Hollywood. You`re watching TV`s only live entertainment news show.
A.J., I don`t know about you, but my house last night was a mad house. I`m not kidding you. I had "American Idol" on television in my kitchen. In my room, TiVo, I was doing "Survivor." In the living room, I had the Olympics. And then I was going back and forth, "Dancing with the Stars."
HAMMER: You were really running around your house watching the different shows?
VARGAS: I swear, I was. And apparently there were a lot of other people that were doing the same things. But you`d be surprised who won at the ratings. That`s coming up.
HAMMER: We`re going to get into that in just a few minutes.
VARGAS: That`s right.
HAMMER: Also, we ever an inspirational story tonight from Darryl McDaniels. You may know him as DMC. He`s one-third of the pioneering rap group, Run-DMC. A few years ago, he was actually thinking about ending it all. But a song and a mission put him back on track, and it`s documented in a brand-new TV series which fires up tonight. I spoke with DMC. You`re going to hear about his profound journey in just a few minutes.
But first, let`s get into tonight`s "Hot Headlines."
When Spiderman comes back next spring, he`ll be in black. Yes, today we learned that Spiderman`s new costume will be black, not red, in "Spiderman 3." We got our hands on the Sony Pictures teaser poster of Tobey Maguire you`re looking at right here. And as you can see, he`s in his black costume. "Spiderman 3" is due in theaters next May. And I guess you could say black is the new black.
Well, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston have cut the price on their former Beverly Hills home. Let`s take a look at the house. "The Wall Street Journal" says that they`ve dropped the price on this mansion from $28 million to just under $25 million. The house went on the market in October, the same month the couple`s divorce became final.
CNN`s founder Ted Turner says he`s not going to be seeking reelection to the Time-Warner board. Turner became a director when Time-Warner bought CNN back in 1996. Today, he said he has decided to leave the board.
And those are tonight`s "Hot Headlines."
VARGAS: Well, I don`t know about you, but it was a great night for TV last night. Everyone was tuning in, but to different programs. For the first time in about a decade, the four big networks went head-to-head with some powerhouse shows last night. We hear there were remote control clashes at some houses, including mine.
Here`s the deal: The TV networks are seeing the Olympics as being vulnerable.
VARGAS (voice-over): From singing and dancing, to skating and scheming, all four networks brought out the big guns last night in one of the hottest and most competitive television nights ever. In the critical 8:00 p.m. primetime spot, NBC`s Olympics battled against FOX`s "American Idol," ABC`s "Dancing with the Stars," and CBS`s "Survivor."
"TV Week`s" Chris Lisotta tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT that`s not the way it used to be.
CHRIS LISOTTA, SENIOR REPORTER, "TV WEEK": Usually the Olympics as programming is something that the other networks move out of way from. It`s usually the dominant programming.
VARGAS: Not anymore. And here at SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, the networks have been e-mailing us the ratings. And guess what? They just don`t jive.
FOX e-mailed SHOWBIZ TONIGHT to say that, at 8:00 p.m., when FOX eliminated contestants on "American Idol" live, they won hands down. But check out this e-mail sent to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT minutes later from ABC. They say, when their semi-final aired last night, narrowing the playing field down to three couples, they were the second most-watched network, second to NBC.
Wait, so ABC says NBC won? Huh? What does NBC say? We asked. Here`s the answer in the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT inbox. NBC says their Olympic coverage won the night. Come again?
So who`s right? We went to "TV Guide`s" Michael Ausiello to make sense of it all.
MICHAEL AUSIELLO, SENIOR WRITER, "TV GUIDE": Well, NBC did win the night. You know, the fact is they had Olympics going from 8:00 at night `til midnight. And on an average, they had the highest ratings for the night. But FOX can claim that, you know, "American Idol" won the 8:00 to 9:00 hour, which is where the big showdown was. And so everyone, I think, can claim a victory in some sense.
VARGAS: So why are primetime ratings sounding like political punditry? One reason: All of a sudden, Thursday nights are up for grabs.
From "The Cosby Show" to "Friends," NBC`s must-see TV has long dominated primetime. But since the sun set on "Friends" and the dawn of "American Idol," the landscape of Thursday night TV has drastically changed. Now it`s no man`s land, with TiVo, iPod downloads, trigger-happy remote controls, and hundreds of cable channels competing, everyone is trying to stake their claim to the number-one spot in the ratings.
"TV Guide`s" Michael Ausiello says it`s more competitive than ever.
AUSIELLO: NBC`s dominance is over. And a lot of the networks realize there is an opportunity on Thursday night. There`s a lot of ad dollars to be had on Thursday night. And that`s why we`re seeing, you know, so much more competition.
VARGAS: I remember that, when the Olympics were on, all the other networks would step aside. You`d only see reruns on other channels. Now, Michael Ausiello told us in our interview for this piece that the only events other networks move out of the way for now are the Super Bowl and the Oscars.
And we`ve been asking you to vote on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day." Olympics 2006: Are the games better than reality TV? Keep voting at CNN.com/showbiztonight and write us at showbiztonight@CNN.com. Your e- mails are coming up a bit later.
HAMMER: Well, the Winter Olympics aren`t just about medals, especially not in Italy. You know, they have all that great food over there. So come along with us now as one of "The Tonight Show`s" roving reporters gives us an odd look at the daily life of a baker.
JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": Now, does he have a tape or something? Did he give you something to show us?
TOM GREEN, COMEDIAN: Yes, he does have a tape, Jay. Harlan (ph) visited a little town nearby called Alba.
GREEN: And he spent a day with a genuine Italian pastry maker...
GREEN: ... and some of his friends. Good stuff. Paisanos.
LENO: Let`s take a look.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me try two of these nipple muffins, will you? Welcome to Italy. Hey!
Hello! Sara Lee sucks.
Didn`t I see you on South Park? Your name`s not Cartman, is it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (speaking Italian)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Kenny! Kenny, Kenny, Kenny.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, Kenny, Kenny, Kenny.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, trying the make a move on me, are you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t understand.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s what I like to hear.
And for best eye candy -- hey!
HAMMER: Now, if you were wondering if that cliche is true that some guys get into television to meet women, there`s your proof.
Well, it`s certainly an interesting time every time that great Jack Hanna stops by with his animals. And this time, certainly, no exception on "The Late Show with David Letterman." Check this out.
JACK HANNA, ANIMAL EXPERT: OK, just stand over there and act like a tree. I`m not going to hurt you.
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE SHOW": OK.
HANNA: Dave, stand like a tree. You can`t move.
LETTERMAN: Oh, like it`s my fault? You throw the damn lemur at me, and it`s my fault I don`t stand like a tree.
HANNA: Dave, Dave...
LETTERMAN: Would you turn that off!
HANNA: Do you remember...
LETTERMAN: I don`t seem to be having any trouble with mine, Jack.
Now are we going to -- is this time for the surprise?
LETTERMAN: The audience surprise?
LETTERMAN: Oh, my God. Taxi! Wow.
HANNA: Dave, what you see -- don`t anybody get nervous. If the kangaroo goes out there, don`t anybody move.
LETTERMAN: There he goes.
HANNA: Where`s the guy -- where`s the kangaroo, Dave?
LETTERMAN: The kangaroo is right there.
HANNA: No, where`s the person who`s supposed to be watching?
LETTERMAN: I don`t know. I don`t know, Jack. There he goes. There`s the kangaroo.
HAMMER: And, Sibila, that kangaroo was never heard from again.
VARGAS: Could you imagine being part of that audience, though?
HAMMER: I would love that.
VARGAS: Well, coming up, HBO is unveiling a new series about a man, his wife, his other wife, and his other wife. It`s polygamy in primetime. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT talks to the stars about the controversy surrounding "Big Love," coming up.
HAMMER: Plus, our revealing interview with music legend Darryl McDaniels of Run-DMC. He tells us why, at the height of Run-DMC`s success, he was actually contemplating suicide. And you will hear the surprising song that gave him hope.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DARRYL MCDANIELS, HIP-HOP ARTIST: I got on the wrong side, and I kept going on. I don`t know how I did that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VARGAS: What happens when an 80-year-old woman goes the wrong way in the fast lane for 14 miles? We`ll find out, coming up.
HAMMER: Against the odds, Mardi Gras 2006 under way in New Orleans. This live shot is coming at us from the corner of St. Charles and Napoleon, just outside of Fat Harry`s in the Crescent City. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT will be right back.
HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT for a Friday night. We are TV`s only live entertainment news show. I`m A.J. Hammer.
Tonight, we have the remarkable and emotional story of Darryl "DMC" McDaniels. He, of course, part of the influential rap group Run-DMC.
Well, back in 1997, the hip-hop legend should have been on top of the world. He was touring Europe. He was celebrating a remix that had put the group back on the music charts. But DMC was anything but happy. We spoke recently and he told me that, at the time, he was actually having suicidal thoughts.
He got over the depression only to find out that he was adopted, a bombshell that would lead him on an amazing journey to find his birth mother.
MCDANIELS: About 10 years ago, in 1997 I think it was, I was questioning my existence.
HAMMER (voice-over): DMC tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT that he thought about taking his own life.
MCDANIELS: I was suicidal to the point that this thing that was in me -- I didn`t know what it was -- it was unsettling.
HAMMER: At the time, he was coping with vocal troubles and creative differences with his group.
MCDANIELS: For some reason, the fame, the fortune, everybody saying, "D, oh, we love you, and you this and that." All of that DMC stuff was eh...
HAMMER (on-screen): That`s good, but there`s emptiness to it.
MCDANIELS: You know what I`m saying? Right, but I didn`t what the void was. There was something in me. I couldn`t put my finger on it.
HAMMER (voice-over): As it turns out, it was a song by Sarah McLachlan that gave DMC the hope he needed.
MCDANIELS: One day, I turned the radio on. Sarah McLachlan`s record, "Angel," was on the radio. And something in me said, "It`s beautiful to be alive. Life is wonderful." So for one whole year, I listened to nothing but Sarah McLachlan.
SARAH MCLACHLAN, MUSICIAN: In the arms of the angels...
MCDANIELS: The whole song, because she talked about the dark hotel room and the second chance. I mean, the whole record was about me. But it wasn`t sad. It wasn`t saddening to me or depressing. It made me say, "I must be crazy. It`s really good to live."
HAMMER: Darryl says the sadness in her voice captured an emptiness he felt but could not explain, until a few years later. That sadness came from a secret about his past.
MCDANIELS: "We have something else to tell you about the day you were born."
HAMMER: It was six years ago. DMC was starting to write his autobiography. He called his mother with some questions. He wanted to know where he was born. It was then that she revealed a bombshell.
MCDANIELS: Boom boom boom, you`re adopted.
HAMMER: The news left him shocked and confused.
MCDANIELS: As a kid, it was Christmas for me every day. I had the best life as a kid ever. I wasn`t pissed off. I was confused. I was really confused. At first, I didn`t believe it.
HAMMER: It took him a few years, but last October DMC decided to find his birth mother.
MCDANIELS: I want that original birth certificate.
HAMMER: DMC enlisted the help of VH-1, which followed him on his journey, documenting the process.
(on-screen): You went through an amazing journey in pursuit of your biological mother.
HAMMER: Tell me about meeting her for the first time, and walk me through what that was like.
MCDANIELS: Well, the day that I was going to meet her, I woke up that morning. I felt really, really empty. It wasn`t like I was nervous. It wasn`t like that I was overexcited or anxious or nothing. It was just empty, because I knew that, if anything that was going to happen, I was about to fill that void that was in me to complete -- like, everybody knows who DMC is, but this was going to define where Darryl came from.
MCDANIELS: I got to tell you all, this is DMC`s mother. Check it out.
HAMMER: Well, after learning about his adoption and finding his birth mother, Bernanda Lovelace (ph), DMC got in touch with singer Sarah McLachlan, whose song, "Angel," helped bring him back from the edge. He wanted to work with her on a remake of Harry Chapin`s classic song, "Cats in the Cradle."
Believe or not, Darryl grew up listening to Harry Chapin, one of his big influences. He wanted to dedicate this particular song to adopted children. So Sarah invited Darryl up to Canada where she lives. They recorded the song together. And when they were up their recording the song, Sarah told DMC that she was adopted, as well.
The song will be on DMC`s first-ever solo album. It`s due out on March 14th. And VH-1`s documentary airs tomorrow.
VARGAS: OK, let`s admit it. We`ve all had bad driving moments, accidentally cutting someone off maybe or forgetting a turn signal. But have you ever heard of a driving mistake that went on for 14 miles? Here`s CNN`s Jeanne Moos for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There`s a right way and a wrong way to drive on an interstate. This is the wrong way. You`re looking at the dashboard camera on the police car that eventually stopped the wrong-way roadster. No wonder 911 got flooded with 70 calls.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, there`s a car going the wrong way on I-40.
MOOS: The wrong way, like salmon swimming upstream, like the poodle who survived a romp on a New York expressway, like Gene Hackman chasing bad guys in "The French Connection," but a cop behind the wheel this wasn`t.
MARGARET RILEY, WRONG WAY DRIVER: I got on the wrong side, and I kept going on. I don`t know how I did that. I have no idea.
MOOS: For 14 miles she did it; 80-year-old Margaret Riley drove her 1984 Crown Victoria the wrong way in the fast line near Raleigh, North Carolina.
RILEY: Busy, busy, busy. They were blowing their horns.
MOOS: Margaret says she didn`t realize she was going the wrong way until a deputy`s car met her head on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get off the road.
MOOS: She did manage to back up onto the shoulder.
RILEY: And I said, "Well, I am so sorry." I said, "I`ve got a doctor`s appointment, and I`m running late, and I`m sorry."
MOOS: They didn`t give her a ticket, but her driver`s license is being reevaluated.
How did other drivers evaluate things?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s a -- oh, I believe she`s probably senile or got Alzheimer`s disease -- and she is driving the completely wrong way on the highway.
RILEY: I know I`m 80 years old, but I know I`m not crazy yet.
MOOS: At least she remembered to put on her turn signal.
VARGAS: God bless her. That was CNN`s Jeanne Moos for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.
HAMMER: Well, the stars came out for the premiere of HBO`s new series "Big Love" in Hollywood. And already there is no love lost with some critics, who say the show all about a polygamist family in Utah stirs up some old stereotypes about Mormons, who banned polygamy more than 100 years ago.
Bill Paxton plays the husband. And Chloe Sevigny, Jeanne Tripplehorn, and Ginnifer Goodwin play his wives. Well, we asked the stars what they thought about the controversy over their show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL PAXTON, CO-STAR, HBO`S "BIG LOVE": I think people, when they look for controversy in things, it`s usually to promote their own agenda. And, I mean, if people are that easily shaken, I mean, come on.
CHLOE SEVIGNY, CO-STAR, HBO`S "BIG LOVE": I mean, it`s entertainment at the end of the day. And, you know, I just hope that we show the positives and the negatives of what a polygamist family can, you know -- how can it hurt young people, and these women in these compounds are so isolated, and they know nothing outside of their communities, and they need a lot of help because they have nowhere to turn.
JEANNE TRIPPLEHORN, CO-STAR, HBO`S "BIG LOVE": "Big Love" is about a family. It`s about an American family living in Salt Lake City, Utah.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAMMER: Well, controversy or not, "Big Love" already has a big built- in audience, courtesy of the show before it. "Big Love" is all set to debut on March 12th. That`s happens to be right after the season premiere of "The Sopranos."
VARGAS: Throughout the show, we`ve been asking you to vote online on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day." Olympics 2006: Are the games better than reality TV?
Let`s take a look at how the vote is going so far: 59 percent of you say yes; 41 percent of you say no.
Here are some of the e-mails we`ve received. Breda from Missouri writes, "With all the hate problems in the world, the Olympics games are a great opportunity to witness peace among nations."
Well, Tim from Illinois writes, "Watching the grass grow is better than reality TV." Ouch.
You can keep voting at CNN.com/showbiztonight.
SHOWBIZ TONIGHT will be right back.
VARGAS: It`s time for the "Entertainment Weekly" must-list. Here are five things "EW" says you have to check out this week.
First, a must-see movie, "Eight Below," the story of sled dogs struggling to survive in Antarctica.
Next, "EW" says to check out Grant Morrison`s book "All-Star Superman," where he gives the Superman character life for another 78 years.
Then pick up a copy of Jack Johnson`s latest CD, "Sing-a-Longs and Lullabies" from the film "Curious George."
"EW" also says to make sure you watch ABC`s red-hot "Dancing with the Stars" season finale, when the finalists return for one last dance.
And finally, check out the Oscar-nominated film, "Walk the Line," which comes out on DVD next week. For more on the must-list, pick up your copy of "Entertainment Weekly," on newsstands now.
HAMMER: Well, as we head into the weekend, it is time to see what`s coming up on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT next week. Here comes your "Showbiz Marquee."
Oscar night certainly will be a big night. And next week, we kick off SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s road to the Oscars. This year Oscar got gutsy, with movies that got a lot of buzz, even if they didn`t get a lot of bucks. Our weeklong Oscar coverage starts on Monday.
Also on Monday, this is one of my favorite segments, lots of fun, "Viral Videos." We`re going to show you more of the videos that are making the rounds on the Internet and being e-mailed all over the place, but you actually get to watch them on your big screen TV. That happens on Monday on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.
And that is it for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. Have an excellent weekend. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.
VARGAS: And I`m Sibila Vargas in Hollywood. Stay tuned for the latest from CNN Headline News. And thank you for joining us.