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SHOWBIZ TONIGHT

"V for Vendetta" Tops Box Office; Simon Cowell Dishes on "American Inventor", Makes "Idol" Picks; Harry Shearer Releasing New CD, DVD

Aired March 20, 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, HOST: I`m A.J. Hammer in New York City. TV`s only live entertainment news show starts right now.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HAMMER (voice-over): On SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, the war in Iraq, the war on terror and the hottest movie in America. The shock and awe over "V for Vendetta."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I want him to understand what terror really is.

HAMMER: And the controversy. Is art imitating life? A political thriller where the hero is a terrorist. Is that really such a bad thing?

Also, women obsessed with gambling.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought the only way I was -- to commit suicide.

HAMMER: The lights, the sounds, the lure of money. In the casinos, on the Internet, on TV. It`s a SHOWBIZ TONIGHT special report, the fast ticket to destruction.

Plus, sniffing out the bad guys. Dog, the bounty hunter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rock and roll.

HAMMER: Tracking down drug dealers, serial rapists, fugitive felons. It takes a former bad boy to know one. The Dog days of bounty hunting, in an interview you`ll see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

ROSIE O`DONNELL, COMEDIAN: Hi, I`m Rosie O`Donnell, and if it happened today, it`s on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

All right, let me tell you what happened this weekend. America had a big choice of movies. Here`s the one they made No. 1: "V for Vendetta."

This is a movie all about terrorism. This is a movie that raises some serious and unsettling questions about who should really be called a terrorist. One man`s terrorist is another man`s freedom fighter. A movie that has chilling allusions to everything from September 11 to government spying to terror bombings to the war in the Iraq.

It`s a movie that opened just as we crossed yet another disturbing milestone in the struggle to end the seemingly unending war in Iraq. It`s enough to make critics and SHOWBIZ TONIGHT ask, what`s going on here?

Here`s CNN`s Jason Carroll for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This country stands on the edge of oblivion.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He`s America`s newest box office hero, an elusive terrorist who`s not afraid to use violence to make a point.

HUGO WEAVING, ACTOR: People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

CARROLL: "V for Vendetta" is earning a lot of buzz and, as America`s No. 1 movie, a lot of bucks for its look at a totalitarian society in the year 2020. In the movie, America has fallen into civil war following the war in Iraq, a war that, in real life, marks its third anniversary this weekend.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Americans have never retreated in the face of thugs and assassins, and we will not begin now.

CARROLL: In "Vendetta", a power mad leader uses fear mongering and intimidation to rule society with an iron fist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those caught in violation of curfew will be persecuted without leniency or exception.

CARROLL: While a masked man named V stokes rebellion by unapologetically blowing up buildings. And guess what? He`s the hero.

PAUL DERGARABEDIAN, EXHIBITOR RELATIONS: V is, in essence, a terrorist and getting his way through assassination, through terrorism. But the movie is so effective in what it does, you`re actually rooting for this character.

CARROLL: That`s right. America is flocking to a movie where the main character can arguably be described as a terrorist.

NATALIE PORTMAN, ACTRESS: I wish I wasn`t afraid all the time, but I am.

CARROLL: Controversial? Of course. So SHOWBIZ TONIGHT just had had to ask the film`s co-star, Natalie Portman, is any resemblance to real life purely intentional?

PORTMAN: Because it happened in an imaginary world, there`s so many different real-life historical and current events that you could connect it to, that it really sort of respects the audience to interpret it for themselves. It`s not like this is what you should think.

CARROLL: What many audiences are interpreting, is a movie that some say strongly parallels what`s going on today. In the real world, you have wiretaps, suicide bombings, and the post-9/11 language of a leader who uses tough talk to rally the people against terrorism.

BUSH: Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done.

CARROLL: Some say you can hear that language in "V for Vendetta."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gentlemen, I want this terrorist found. And I want him to understand what terror really means.

CHRISTIAN TOTO, "THE WASHINGTON TIMES": If you talk about terrorism enough, then you could get the public to buy into the military plans you have. So I think from that perspective, it plays sort of into the worst fears of the people on the left who are critical of the Bush administration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want anyone caught with one of those masks arrested.

CARROLL: Still, some critics are suggesting that the brutal regimes shown in the movie don`t resemble real-life governments as much as they resemble real-life fundamentalist terrorists.

TOTO: Which just means that there haven`t been many movies that really critique the terrorists that are out there today, the real-life terrors. You don`t see many movies with them as a villain or with them as the focal point. You`ll more often see critiques of our government.

CARROLL: "V for Vendetta" was written by the guys who brought you "The Matrix." And the film makers are quick to point out that "Vendetta" is based on a story that wasn`t aimed at President Bush`s government but rather, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Still, it is the modern world that audiences are connecting to "Vendetta". And it`s probably safe to say that the film makers are not complaining.

DERGARABEDIAN: I don`t think controversy really hurts a movie. And I think that, in this case, the political overtones with "V for Vendetta" actually may have helped the film.

CARROLL: And "V for Vendetta`s" box office success helped add a new spark to a grimly modern debate.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAMMER: That was CNN`s Jason Carroll for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. "V for Vendetta" made almost $26 million this weekend. So a lot of people getting out there and getting that message.

Well, tonight, there`s a new apprentice. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can report it`s a boy for real estate Donald Trump and his wife, Melania. Mrs. Trump went into labor just after 11 p.m. last night. She gave birth this morning to an 8 1/2-pound baby boy.

Trump says he`s proud to be a dad again. This would be number five for Trump. In fact, Trump spoke with Regis today to announcing the little bundle of joy. Regis actually gave the Donald a little suggestion for the young lad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOY PHILBIN, SUBSTITUTE CO-HOST, ABC`S "LIVE WITH REGIS & KELLY": And his name is?

DONALD TRUMP, REAL ESTATE MOGUL: Well, we haven`t really fully, fully decided.

REGIS PHILBIN, CO-HOST, ABC`S "LIVE WITH REGIS & KELLY": Hey Donald, you know what would be good?

TRUMP: I think Regis would be great. I think Regis would be great. What do you think of that, Joy?

R. PHILBIN: This is no joke, Trumpster. Think carefully about it.

J. PHILBIN: Think prettier, please (ph).

R. PHILBIN: I don`t want to put any ideas in your head. But Regis Trump. Oh, God, I would love it.

TRUMP: It is actually a pretty good name. You know, it`s not a bad suggestion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: Kind of predictable. I think Regis has done that bit before.

Well, sorry about this, Reg. But Trump and his wife actually named their baby Barron William Trump. That`s Barron, B-A-R-R-O-N.

Well, you either love him or you hate him. And I`m not talking about Donald Trump here. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is going one on one with "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell. We all know he`s got one hit on his hands already. But check it out: he`s got another one.

Joining me now, live from Hollywood, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Sibila Vargas.

Now there`s a rumor floating around that there`s singing with Simon going on here, Sibila. That`s not true, though, right?

SIBILA VARGAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, I`d love to say that it wasn`t. I`ve belted it out for him before, and you know that. But oops, I did it again. But first, I started out by asking him about the latest big buzz, which is of course the success of his brand new show "American Inventor."

Now, much like "Idol", this show searches for the next big American inventor. And A.J., it`s off to a promising start.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SIMON COWELL, JUDGE, "AMERICAN IDOL": We were very happy. I mean, it was more people than we were expecting. The good news is -- because I`ve seen the second and third episodes. They`re much, much better than the first episodes. It`s not like we`ve given all of our best stuff away. There are some unbelievable stories still to come.

VARGAS: I`ll be completely honest. I was a little skeptical at first of "American Inventor."

COWELL: Yes.

VARGAS: Inventors kind of might be boring people. But you have some real characters on this show.

COWELL: Day-to-day inventors are normal people with crazy ideas. And I was fascinated, always fascinated by who`s the person behind the whacko idea? What made them come up with the idea? And that`s exactly what I thought would happen. And it happened. They are compelling. And also, very sad.

VARGAS: There`s also sometimes crazy people with normal ideas, which is also what we see on the show.

COWELL: I just -- I just would want to get inside their minds. At what point in your life did you decide that the world needs closed guitars (ph)? When was the moment? I really want to know. I want to get inside your head.

Or the guy who came in wearing a suit carrier, which appeared (ph). Why?

VARGAS: All right, American Idol. You have in the past, you have predicted who was going to win. You said Carrie Underwood would take the prize. Now who do you think is going to take this one?

COWELL: At this stage it can all change. I think it`s between Taylor, Chris, Kellie.

VARGAS: What is it about those three?

COWELL: You know, there`s something called the likeability factor. You`ve got to have the likeability factor. And Taylor and Kellie in particular have got that. They walk on the stage. Viewers just like them.

VARGAS: What are some of the biggest surprises this season for you so far?

COWELL: The fact that you are quite a nice person after all those rumors.

VARGAS: No, we`re talking about the show.

COWELL: Oh, about the show. OK.

VARGAS: Yes, about the show.

COWELL: I`m surprised that it`s still so popular. I think -- well, we`re all probably a bit surprised about that. We weren`t expecting to be here very long, you know. The Brits who came over, we thought it would be on a couple of years, we`d done well, and then we`ll be sent packing back to -- back to Britain (ph).

VARGAS: Because you do this judging and you`ve done this for so many years now with "American Idol", do you find yourself judging everything? Is it hard for you not to?

COWELL: I`m judging you now.

VARGAS: You are? I`m afraid to ask.

COWELL: No, I really am.

VARGAS: I am afraid to ask.

COWELL: I think we all do that. I think it`s probably more with other people. You know, like you book someone to -- if you want a massage. And you`re thinking they`re a bit tense. I`m the one that`s supposed to be tense. I`m having the massage.

And suddenly you realize that they`re nervous you`re going to judge them. You know what I mean?

VARGAS: Right.

COWELL: It`s kind of strange. I said to somebody recently, "That was fantastic."

"Oh my God."

"No, that was really good."

"I was really nervous."

Then you realize everyone thinks that you`re going to judge them.

VARGAS: I have had my "American Idol" moment. (singing) I write the songs that make the whole world sing.

I sang for you. And you said you would vote for me.

COWELL: I was lying.

VARGAS: What? You were lying?

VARGAS: I was just shutting you up. Sing again.

(singing): I write the songs that make the whole world sing

COWELL: I think I was saying I`d put you through to shut you up.

VARGAS: Get out!

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VARGAS: And you can catch the second episode of Simon`s "American Inventor" this Thursday on ABC.

And A.J., I must tell you I have a brand new appreciation for all those contestants.

HAMMER: You have that likeability factor, Sibila. That`s what it is. I`m suggesting maybe next time you go a deeper in your repertoire. You sang the same song twice.

VARGAS: OK. I`m taking your advice.

HAMMER: Maybe.

VARGAS: You should be on that panel now.

HAMMER: Maybe not. Thank you very much, Sibila. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Sibila Vargas, live in Hollywood.

Well, coming up, whatever happens when the cameras stop rolling on TV news sets like this one perhaps? Take you behind the scenes. Just ask comedian Harry Shearer. He joins us live with his hilarious host of well- known news anchors.

Also, you can run but you can`t hide of Dog the bounty hunter. Busting bad guys for a living. The Dog days of crime fighting with the self-proclaimed greatest bounty hunter in the world. An interview you`ll see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

We also have this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really believed that if I swallowed a bottle of pills, at least I would stop the pain.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: Obsessive women gamblers driven to the edge. And the stakes are even higher than they thought. Battling the costly addiction, a SHOWBIZ TONIGHT special report.

First here`s tonight`s "`Entertainment Weekly` Great American Pop Culture Quiz." In 1996`s doomsday drama "Independence Day", what finally leads to the demise of the attacking aliens? Was it A, a nuclear bomb; B, a flu virus; C, a computer virus; or was it D, water? We`re coming right back with the answer.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMMER: Once again tonight tonight`s "`Entertainment Weekly` Great American Pop Culture Quiz." In 1996`s doomsday drama "Independence Day", what finally leads to the demise of the attacking aliens? Was it a nuclear bomb, the flu virus, a computer virus or water? Well, the answer is, of course, C, a computer virus.

Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer. You`re watching TV`s only live entertainment news show.

Tonight, conservative humorist Ben Stein is speaking out on behalf of American troops. And he`s sticking it to Hollywood.

Speaking at a Republican Party fundraiser, Stein blasted the Academy for not observing a moment of silence at the Oscars for all the servicemen and women who have given their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Well, now we want to hear from you on this. It is our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. Three years in Iraq: has Hollywood done enough to support U.S. Troops? You can vote at CNN.com/ShowbizTonight. Also, send us your e-mails at ShowbizTonight@CNN.com. We`ll get to some of what you have to say later on in the show.

And one guy who`s got a lot of insight into all of this is Harry Shearer. He`s an actor, writer, social critic and he`s the host of the nationally syndicated radio program "Le Show". Harry is also, of course, the voice of several characters on "The Simpsons." He`s out with a new DVD. He`s also out with a brand new CD.

HARRY SHEARER, ACTOR/RADIO SHOW HOST: Yes.

HAMMER: He`s a busy guy in general. Harry, it`s a pleasure to have you here.

SHEARER: Thank you. In person.

HAMMER: In person on our set. Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

SHEARER: Yes. Nice to see you in the flesh.

HAMMER: You have never been shy about your views on things of a political nature.

SHEARER: Moi?

HAMMER: Moi, on "Le Show". You have some political commentary. You`re out there writing on the blogs. I just mentioned what Ben Stein had brought up. Sort of complaining, really poking at the Academy for the Oscars a couple of weeks ago. No mention, no moment of silence for the troops.

SHEARER: Nice timing, waiting a couple of weeks. I guess Ben didn`t have a booking until now.

Two, you know, what about a moment of silence for the people who were killed at the hands of the federal government in the flood that the devastated my hometown, New Orleans. That would have been nice. A moment -- if we have enough moments of silence, we could do without the Oscars and we`d all be better off.

And you know, maybe Ben`s right, you know. I don`t want to deprive anybody of the opportunity to get a cheap applause line at the expense of Hollywood. I think we all in the entertainment community get together, raise some money, and send Ben over to Iraq on a non-stop tour.

HAMMER: Just put Ben over there and let him learn a lesson.

SHEARER: Put Ben over there. Let him please the troops.

HAMMER: So -- but for a more personal nature for you...

SHEARER: Yes.

HAMMER: ... were you watching the Oscars at all?

SHEARER: Not a moment.

HAMMER: And say, you know, they didn`t do a moment of silence for my hometown of New Orleans?

SHEARER: I was in London at the time, and the Oscars would have been at 3 in the morning. So I slept through the Oscars as many people did.

HAMMER: But would it have bothered you, if you were watching, or should we just move on?

SHEARER: I think if I were -- I`ve never been in the military. If I were, I think a cheap gesture by the Academy like that would seem self- aggrandizing, and, you know, America could do something more significant for the troops than just having stars play like they care for a moment.

HAMMER: Right. Well, there`s an anti-war sentiment, certainly...

SHEARER: You think?

HAMMER: ... presence in this country. Let`s talk about that.

SHEARER: OK.

HAMMER: There`s actually a concert, an anti-war concert happening in New York City right now with Cindy Sheehan, the activist, and a bunch of Hollywood types. Michael Stipe is there performing. Susan Sarandon is there.

Normally we would say, "Wow, this is happening in New York City. But people around the rest of the country, they`re not feeling these sentiments." That`s not the case today, is it?

SHEARER: I don`t know. I mean, I read the polls. I don`t really put much stock in polls. If there`s major antiwar stuff happening now, my feeling is nice timing. Next time, try it a little closer to when it matters, you know.

I remember, I was talking to one of the people off the set. I clearly remember the leader of the Democrats, Tom Daschle, in the Senate in 2002, when the debate happened about the war, saying, "We want to get this Iraq war resolution off the table. We want to talk about what people really care about: prescription drug benefits for seniors."

You know, that was the moment when a little anti-war movement might have helped.

HAMMER: Yes, but didn`t end up having it, then, at the right time.

SHEARER: No. Didn`t have it, did we?

HAMMER: Well, let`s talk about what you`re up to. Your new CD is "Dropping Anchor".

SHEARER: Yes.

HAMMER: Where you`re basically poking fun at TV news anchors.

SHEARER: Really?

HAMMER: Some people might say what`s funny about news anchors?

SHEARER: Those are people who don`t watch TV news.

HAMMER: And to that you would say...

SHEARER: It`s about the people -- that generation of anchors who suddenly have left the scene in the last year or two. Dan, Tom, Ted. Barbara left "20/20". Peter Jennings passed on. Aaron Brown left, too. And so, I`ve been making fun of all of these people while they were on the air. And so I thought what they deserved was a coming salute as they left. So...

HAMMER: Why not give them something that will leave a lasting impression? Give me an example. What`s...

SHEARER: Well, one of the pieces is, you know, what they`re doing now. Tom Brokaw has a record out now, because he`s had a little time to work on his singing, called "Songs in the Key of L", where he does songs like "I Love L.A.", "La La La La La Means I Love You".

HAMMER: I think I get the idea.

SHEARER: Yes, you get the joke.

Barbara Walters there`s a song she does. Because Meredith Vieira made fun of her a couple of years ago. You know, one of these dinners that they have for correspondents and politicos. And she did a little song about Barbara having had 82 facelifts. And Barbara went on "The View" for the next two days and was angry about it. And I thought no, don`t be angry. Do a song.

So I wrote her a song, and do it in her voice, called "82 Facelifts", about just how hard it is to have 82 facelifts.

HAMMER: That would be difficult.

SHEARER: And I do Ted`s -- "The Ted Koppel Show", if he had stayed at ABC, where he has Paul Shaffer as his band leader and he has Doctor Brzezinski (ph) as his guest, but they dump him into a big tub of oatmeal as he`s opining about the state of the world and it`s called "Stupid Professor Tricks".

HAMMER: So you`re really doing a service, keeping these voices and keeping all these people alive.

SHEARER: Keeping them alive. Keeping them in the public eye. That`s right.

HAMMER: We appreciate that.

SHEARER: My pleasure.

HAMMER: Best of luck with that CD.

SHEARER: Thank you. It comes out tomorrow.

HAMMER: And there`s also a brand new DVD from Harry Shearer. And that one is going to be on sale. Is it on sale now?

SHEARER: It`s all on sale tomorrow.

HAMMER: It`s on sale now.

SHEARER: Yes.

HAMMER: And it`s called "Now You See It." That will be on sale tomorrow as well. Harry Shearer. Appreciate you joining us.

SHEARER: Thank you. It`s a pleasure.

HAMMER: All right. Well, now, what would you do for $5? On spring break, people will do just about anything. It`s true. You can just ask "The Tonight Show`s" John Melendez. He`s got that coming up in "Laughter Dark."

Speaking of what you would do, you`re not going to believe the great lengths that one guy went to just so he could get to work a little bit quicker. But was his dummy idea genius or just plain dumb? SHOWBIZ TONIGHT lets you decide.

Plus, women driven to despair.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought the only way out is to commit suicide.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: The incredible highs and unbearable lows of obsessive gambling. Why going for the green can leave you in the red. Women battling the gambling addiction, a SHOWBIZ TONIGHT special report.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stand by to break. Everyone stay tuned for a great spring break highlight after the break. Roll your break, and take left.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMMER: Coming up tomorrow on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, she hates other people`s kids. Actor/comedian/author Adrianne Frost is out with a new battle cry. It`s a book called "I Hate Other People`s Kids." Frost joins us live with her tips for dealing with the tiny terrors and their clueless parents. That`s tomorrow on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

Ah, spring, finally here. College students, of course, that means spring break. Well, "The Tonight Show" sent its announcer, John Melendez, down to South Padre Island, Texas. That`s a hot spring break destination. And he went there to play a little game called "I`ll Bet on Anything for $5." Let`s see how John did.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN MELENDEZ, ANNOUNCER, NBC`S "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": I`ll bet you $5 that you can`t say the Pledge of Allegiance correctly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I bet you I can.

MELENDEZ: OK, let`s see.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I pledge allegiance under God one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

MELENDEZ: Give me the $5.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I pledge allegiance under the flag, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and....

MELENDEZ: I`ll bet you $5 that I can squirt the suntan lotion further than you by stepping on it.

I win!

OK. We`re going to both take a shot. First five seconds you can`t make a face after you drink it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No problem.

MELENDEZ: You can`t cringe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ll try.

MELENDEZ: Oh, I see something, Roy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAMMER: Another tough gig for John.

Well, "The Simple Life" just got more complicated for Nicole Richie. She mouthed off to the wrong person. Coming up, why the lip flap won`t ever make it onto TV.

And, driven to the edge.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought the only way out of it was to commit suicide.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: The incredible highs and unbearable lows of obsessive gambling. Why going for the green can leave you in the red. Women battling the gambling addiction, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s special report.

Also, criminals stopped cold in their tracks. We`ve got Dog the bounty hunter. He`s on the case, and you`ll see him live in the interview that you`ll see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMMER: And welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. It is 31 minutes past the hour. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York. You`re watching TV`s only live entertainment news show.

Still to come, in the next 30 minutes, my sit down with Dog the Bounty Hunter. If you`ve seen his program, you know he`s kind of an -- oh, how do I say this politely -- a gruff-looking fellow. A charming man, he spends his lives hunting down criminals, but you`ll never guess what his very first job was. To say it plays against type would be an understatement. I`ll ask him about that, coming up in just a few moments.

Also, what lengths have you gone through to shorten your commute? Well, coming up, we`re going to show you what one guy did. Actually, we`ll show you the passenger this one guy brought along to sort of help him out, and to say that the guy was a dummy, well, that wouldn`t really be an insult in this case.

But first, we have a SHOWBIZ TONIGHT special report on an addiction that many of us think happens just to men, the bright lights and sounds, the rush of adrenaline, the lure of winning big money. We`re talking about gambling.

And you may be surprised to learn that the number of women that are being treated for gambling addiction is on the rise, but you`re about to meet two women who just couldn`t stop. It cost them their livelihood and it nearly cost them their lives, as well.

Here`s CNN`s Adaora Udoji reporting for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ADAORA UDOJI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The lure of fast money, the lights and the glamour simply can be irresistible.

"KAREN," FMR. COMPULSIVE GAMBLER: The very first time I stepped foot in a casino, I knew that it was just the most exciting thing I`d ever done.

UDOJI: For most women who gamble, it`s just good old fun, but for a growing number it`s a fast ticket to the misery of compulsive gambling.

KAREN: I know people who have committed suicide. I know people who have ended up in jail, educated people from upper-class families who have done horrible things to fund their gambling.

UDOJI: We`ll call her "Karen," a young professional who has survived the round-the-clock desperation. For fear of being judged, she`s asked CNN to conceal her identity.

She was only 16 on her first trip to the casino, and she was hooked.

KAREN: The lights and just the sounds, just everything just drew me in.

UDOJI: Karen lived in New York City. At her worst, she spent night after night, up to 15 hours at a time, in Atlantic City casinos, 115 miles away from home. She was in her mid-20s, playing blackjack and racking up tens of thousands of dollars in debt.

She would then try to go to work, but too often she wouldn`t make it. And she switched jobs five times in two years. Nothing else mattered, not her career, not a boyfriend, not her girlfriend, only gambling.

KAREN: It was a lot of covering up, a lot of lying, a lot of half- truths. And...

UDOJI (on camera): It must have been a terrible burden.

KAREN: It was. It was a terrible burden, and it was emotionally taking a toll on me to the point, like I said before, that I just -- I thought the only way out was to commit suicide.

UDOJI: It`s a vicious cycle for thousands of women across the country who head into casinos like these here in New Jersey every day. No one knows exactly how many are battling an addiction to gambling, but experts say more women than ever before are seeking help.

(voice-over): Some say because access has never been easier. Gambling is everywhere from celebrity games on television to thousands of Web sites online promising big jackpots.

KAREN: It`s an emotional roller-coaster. The highs were the highest highs I had ever felt, and the lows were so low.

UDOJI: Psychotherapist Joanna Franklin has been treating gamblers for 25 years. She says women are not always taken seriously. Most people think only men become compulsive gamblers.

JOANNA FRANKLIN, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: One of the important things that I think we`ve learned along the years is that women can most effectively be treated if they`re treated differently than the males.

UDOJI: She says that`s because men and women generally gamble for different reasons: Most men gamble for the thrills they find inside the casino; Most women gamble to escape their problems outside the casino, problems like depression, or sexual abuse, or stressful lives.

Carol O`Hare was a poster child for escapist gambling. She was driven to it by stress. She had just moved to Las Vegas with her three children and was trying to deal with a divorce. Then she discovered video poker.

CAROL O`HARE, NEVADA COUNCIL ON PROBLEM GAMBLING: Putting that first quarter in was like launching the vacation ship. My brain was able to just go away. I went to a quieter, calmer, more peaceful, more wonderful place in my head.

UDOJI: She quickly lost control. The lies, the debts, they piled up fast. She borrowed money from friends and family. She couldn`t keep a job. She says she was a terrible mother to her sons.

Caught in a frenzied cycle of guilt and shame and gambling, she came to think that suicide was the only way out.

O`HARE: There certainly wasn`t much of anything being said about women and gambling. And so for me, I didn`t know that my problem was related to gambling. I just thought I`d gone crazy. So in the end, I really believed that if I swallowed a bottle of pills, at least I would stop the pain.

UDOJI: She asked a friend for sleeping pills; instead, he suggested Gamblers Anonymous.

Slowly and painfully, she has learned to cope with life`s ups and downs. With help, she paid her debts. She says she hasn`t gambled in 15 years.

O`HARE: And problem gamblers are part of the story. The rest of the story...

UDOJI: Now she helps others confront their addiction.

Karen also turned to Gamblers Anonymous. She hasn`t gambled in six years. She`s paid off more than $100,000 in debts and she has a steady job.

But they both know relapse rates are high. Nearly 90 percent of problem gamblers fall off the wagon.

FRANKLIN: They can feel so isolated, you know, so alone, like there`s nobody out there that`s ever done what I`ve done.

UDOJI: That`s why Karen still goes to GA meetings once a week.

KAREN: By helping other people and sharing my story, which is why I agreed to do this interview, maybe I can help someone.

UDOJI: She wants women who are addicted to gambling to know there is hope if they just ask for help.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAMMER: That was CNN`s Adaora Udoji for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

Now, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling, about 50 percent of people now seeking help for gambling addictions are women. For more information, you can check out the council`s Web site at ncpgambling.org.

Well, it`s time now for tonight`s "Hot Headlines." SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Sibila Vargas is joining us live once again from Hollywood.

Hi, Sibila.

VARGAS: Hi, A.J.

Well, tonight Nicole Ritchie is in trouble for talking dirty to an 11- year-old boy. The boy was playing basketball in his Los Angeles driveway. That`s when Ritchie asked him in graphic terms we cannot repeat if he found her attractive.

The exchange was filmed by a camera crew taping the next season of "The Simple Life." That`s a show Ritchie does with Paris Hilton. But you won`t ever see this scene. The boy`s father refused to sign a release giving the show permission to use the clip.

"Brokeback Mountain" is coming out on DVD even while it`s still in theaters. In a rare overlap, the three-time Oscar-winning gay cowboy romance will be released on DVD on April 4th. A Universal Studios spokeswoman says "Brokeback`s" theater run has been extended, bumping it to the DVD street date.

And Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon have been nominated for a Country Music Television award.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REESE WITHERSPOON, ACTRESS (singing): Let`s go. Time`s a-wastin`.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VARGAS: The duo stars in "Walk the Line" as Johnny Cash and his wife, June. Their version of "Jackson" is up for a CMT collaborative video of the year.

And those are tonight`s "Hot Headlines." A.J., back to you.

HAMMER: That is amazing, considering, well, basically neither of them ever thought of singing on any professional level ever, so...

VARGAS: That`s right. And they had great voices.

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

Well, we just now passed the three-year anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Conservative humorist and actor Ben Stein is upset because he says nobody acknowledged American troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan at the Oscars two weeks ago.

So what do you think? It is our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day." Three years in Iraq: Has Hollywood done enough to support U.S. troops? We`d like you to keep voting by going to CNN.com/showbiztonight. You can also write to us if you have more to say. Showbiztonight@CNN.com is our address. Your e-mails on their way in just a bit.

Well, coming up, a guy that has caught some of the world`s most notorious criminals. But would he go after the most notorious, Osama bin Laden? We`re going to ask Dog the Bounty Hunter, coming up live next, in the interview you`ll see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

Plus, we`ve got this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GREG PRINGLE, MOTORIST: I added legs later so that the truckers wouldn`t look down and see that I had a person with no legs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: You won`t believe the great lengths one guy went to just so he could get to work a little bit quicker. But was his dummy idea genius or just plain dumb? That`s coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York. This is TV`s only live entertainment news show.

Tonight, we`ve got the story of a guy who went from doing hard time in Texas prison to getting big-time TV ratings. We`re talking about Dog the Bounty Hunter.

He first grabbed headlines all the way back in 2003. That`s when he caught fugitive and Max Factor cosmetics heir Andrew Luster, who had fled to Mexico during his rape trial. Well, Dog`s got a reality show on A&E. It happens to be the highest-rated program in the history of the network.

There`s the man, Duane "Dog" Chapman, joining us live now from Hollywood for a "Showbiz Sitdown."

Nice to see you, Duane.

DUANE "DOG" CHAPMAN, "DOG THE BOUNTY HUNTER": Nice to see you, A.J. Thank you for having me, Brother. Aloha.

HAMMER: Aloha to you, my friend. Of course, you are from Hawaii. That is where you do your business. But I recently learned that your very first job, Dog, was as a vacuum salesman. Now, I have to ask you: Did you always look the way you look now?

CHAPMAN: Well, you know, not quite as long of hair, but I still had that look. I was the person where, after you meet him for the first time, I had to take five more minutes before you`d run away.

HAMMER: Right, so what was the deal? Were you intimidating people into buying your vacuums?

CHAPMAN: No, no. I used to say -- I`d knock on the door and said, "Have you seen the new Kirby yet?" And, of course, the lady would say, "No, if you don`t get off my property, I`ll shoot you." And then I said, "Ma`am, did you get your $2 bill for watching the Kirby?" And she said, you know, she`d look at the $2 bill and say, "You got 10 minutes; come on in."

And I probably sold 90 percent of those that looked. I became the number-one Kirby salesman in the nation.

HAMMER: See, and that just shows the charm that has made you successful at what you do, as both a bounty hunter and as a now television star. So we all know what a vacuum salesman does. But there are people out there who don`t know exactly what a bounty hunter does. So what`s that gig?

CHAPMAN: Well, a bounty hunter is someone, you know, in the private sector who goes out and arrests people that have warrants for their arrest and gets paid for bringing them in. It`s kind of like the citizen`s arrest.

It`s an old law that was enacted back in the 1800s by, believe it or not, Abraham Lincoln. And, you know, I`ve done it for almost 30 years. We`ve arrested almost 6,000 fugitives. And, I mean, it`s a good living. The children do it. The wife does it. We`ve made a living at it, and it`s rewarding inside, also, to bring some of these guys in.

HAMMER: You got the whole family involved. And as you mentioned, you were responsible for the capture of over 6,000 fugitives. I have to imagine in the time, going out there and capturing these people, you`ve gotten yourselves into some scary situations.

You ever get into one particular situation that has stayed with you, where you thought, "You know what? This might not go so well. Maybe I`m not even going to make it out of this"?

CHAPMAN: Well, yes, one time. And it seems like the bigger they are, you`d think the more dangerous, or the bigger bounty, or the worst crime. But, you know, back in the `80s, I arrested a $500 bond for a kid for driving while intoxicated.

And as I jumped in his car like that, man, you know, he blasted a .45 pistol within inches of my face. So you never know when -- you know, it`s not the charge or the amount of money you`re going after. Even if it`s a jaywalk, and you`ve always got to be very careful, because there`s always that factor of death that you have to face.

So you just got to be very careful to know what you are doing. In the beginning of our show on A&E, it says, "Please, don`t try this at home," and we really mean that, you know what I mean?

HAMMER: And you mention this particular guy was -- you were only going to get $500 for capturing him. Give me a big number. What`s a large number that could be thrown out there for the capture of somebody?

CHAPMAN: Well, hundreds of thousands, you know, $100,000 and more than that, yes, absolutely. Andrew Luster, we were planning on making $350,000 on him. And, of course, it took 160-some days to catch him and about $150,000 actual cash out of my wife and I`s pocket.

HAMMER: Yes.

CHAPMAN: But, you know, you can catch the big ones like that, also. I used to say: Big ones come in pairs, and little ones come in bunches.

HAMMER: Well, let`s talk about one of the big -- let`s talk about the biggest. If you were put in charge of capturing who has to be considered the most wanted criminal in this country, Osama bin Laden, what exactly would you do to bring him in?

CHAPMAN: You know, I have dreams about this, my brother. I mean, first thing I would do is embarrass him, you know, in his own home, and then embarrass him in America. It seems like every time we start talking about his mom or something, he comes out of the rat hole he`s in.

So I would embarrass his leaders, because you know what they are, really, and I would, you know, embarrass him, kind of pull the covers off, as we say in America, and let his people realize what kind of a rat scum he really is.

So the first thing I would do would be work on his people and, you know, embarrass him, because he`s coming -- you know, I`ve chased a lot of let`s say Aryan Nation`s guys. And when you start talking about their mamas or something like that, with that kind of attitude -- I had one guy call me last year and say, "Dog, you don`t have to be looking for me, because I`m now looking for you."

So I think, you know, to make him mad enough to come out of his hole, I think, that`s one thing we should do to grab him.

HAMMER: What`s another idea that you would have? Because it sounds like you`re the guy -- hey, I want you out there looking for him.

CHAPMAN: Well, when you chase a guy, my brother, you`ve got to have informants. I mean, you know, you can`t look at a crystal ball and, "Oh, oh, where are you?" You have to have people that know the guy to tell you things about him.

So I think that people are ignorant. They don`t believe America`s, you know, the land of the free and home of the brave. They don`t believe that we have love in our hearts. I mean, there`s a lot of things that they don`t know about Americans.

I would absolutely convince his people or the people of his land, you know, what kind of guy he is and what $25 million reward would do for them and their family. Once they see that and see that, they`re a very intelligent race of people.

Once you get by that ignorance about, you know, America`s, you know, prejudiced, and there`s not -- you know, everybody`s, like, panhandling on the street corners, once you get passed that, I`m sure they`d give him up, because a lot of people over there -- it`s about 50-50 right now. A lot of people do not want him as a leader and do not like him.

A leader is someone who can come out in public and lead the people, not someone who lays in a cave, you know, and threatens war all the time.

HAMMER: Well, Duane, I wish we could have you on that job, but hopefully somebody is watching right now. And I appreciate you dropping by on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

CHAPMAN: Thank you for having me, my brother. Thank you very much.

HAMMER: Duane "Dog" Chapman. The very third season of "Dog the Bounty Hunter" will premiere tomorrow night on A&E.

All right, well, it`s something that has happened to all of us. You`ll be on the highway. You`re stuck in that bumper-to-bumper traffic, but right next to you cars are just whipping by in the HOV, high-occupancy vehicle lanes.

Well, tonight we`ve got the story of a guy who thought he had this foolproof system so he could beat the system. He thought he`d get away with it, too, because he`s no dummy, at least that`s what he was thinking. The problem is his passenger was a dummy.

Here`s CNN`s Jeanne Moos for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Her name is Tillie, but don`t let that serene face fool you. Tillie has lived life in the fast lane with Greg Pringle.

GREG PRINGLE, MOTORIST: Oh, well, I knew I was doing wrong from the get-go. I was nervous.

MOOS: Pringle got busted a month and a half ago using Tillie as an extra occupant to sneak into the HOV lane for carpoolers. And this is his punishment.

PRINGLE: Almost halfway done.

MOOS: Four hours by this Colorado highway, holding a sign saying "HOV lane is not for dummies." Not since the automatic pilot in the spoof "Airplane" ...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There it is.

MOOS: ... has a dummy gotten this much attention. But dummies in HOV lanes are nothing new. From the Netherlands to California, drivers have been nabbed for propping them up to fool the police.

But the best excuse came from this Arizona woman when she was pulled over for driving alone. The officer asked her how many occupants she had, and she said two.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She pointed to her obvious pregnancy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: An unborn child is defined as a person.

MOOS: The judge didn`t buy her argument.

This dummy, known as Safety Man, was meant to be used by women to scare off potential attackers. Now that`s a dummy that might pass for real. But Tillie was homemade, consisting of a Styrofoam head from a beauty supply store, hangers for shoulders and newspaper stuffing. For about a year, she saved Greg half an hour a day.

PRINGLE: I had a summer outfit and a winter outfit. And I had legs. I added legs later so that the truckers wouldn`t look down and see that I had a person with no legs.

MOOS: Greg had to pay $125 bucks in fines and court costs. As for his public punishment...

PRINGLE: It`s been kind of fun.

MOOS: Tillie will be auctioned off on eBay with proceeds going to Alive at 25, a driver-ed organization.

If a fetus doesn`t help your HOV count, how about the body in the back of a hearse? No way, say cops. That`s cargo, you dummy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAMMER: That was CNN`s Jeanne Moos for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. So here`s the thing. Greg Pringle actually could have used his dummy or could have used the Colorado HOV lanes without the dummy passenger, because they`re open to everyone when it`s not rush hour.

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT coming right back with your e-mails.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

And throughout the show, we`ve been asking you to vote online on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day." We`ve been asking: Three years in Iraq: Has Hollywood done enough to support U.S. troops?

Here`s how the vote`s been going tonight: Only 29 percent of you say, yes, they have done enough; 71 percent of you say, no, they have not.

Here are some of the e-mails we received. Jim from Alabama writes, "Hollywood has done a great job. Just because the majority don`t support the war doesn`t mean they don`t support the troops."

We also heard from Elmer in Florida. He writes, "Hollywood is hostile to the Army. Their lack of recognition of the troops was as close to sincerity as they get."

You can keep voting at CNN.com/showbiztonight. I think hostile might be a little harsh. Appreciate your opinion. I have not met anybody who may not support the war but doesn`t at least support the troops.

That is it for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York. Stay tuned for the latest from CNN Headline News.

END

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