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Meredith Vieira to Co-host "Today Show"; Christian Groups Objects to Wal-Mart Selling "Brokeback"; Show Examines Recently Found Gospel of Judas

Aired April 6, 2006 - 19:00:00   ET


A.J. HAMMER, CO-HOST: Couric`s out, Vieira`s in. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.
BROOKE ANDERSON, CO-HOST: And why one group is mad at Wal-Mart, because of "Brokeback Mountain." I`m Brooke Anderson in Hollywood. TV`s only live entertainment news show starts right now.


HAMMER (voice-over): On SHOWBIZ TONIGHT J.K. Rowling on a rant about our obsession with weight. Tonight, why the "Harry Potter" author is attacking skinny models and stupid girls. Why Rowling thinks Pink is dead- on, and why she`s in for a fat fight.

The remarkable TV show about Jesus that could turn history upside down. The shocking discovery of a document lost for 1,700 years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Judas didn`t actually betray Jesus, but did what Jesus wanted him to do.

HAMMER: Tonight, the 66 pages that could stir up more controversy than "The Passion of the Christ" and "The Da Vinci Code" combined.

GOLDIE HAWN, ACTRESS: Hi, I`m Goldie Hawn. And if it happened today, then it`s on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.


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

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

Brooke, don`t know about you. But all these changes in TV going on these days are having my head spinning around.

ANDERSON: I know. Me, too, A.J. People going from NBC to CBS, from ABC to NBC. It`s like a game of musical chairs. Right?

HAMMER: Today, yes. And today the music stops on Meredith Vieira. She made it official today. As you may know by now, we`re telling you, she is leaving "The View". That`s what she announced this morning on "The View". She`s been plucked by the NBC peacock to co-anchor NBC`s "Today Show". She`s replacing Katie Couric, who we found out yesterday is going to anchor at "CBS Evening News".

Believe me, we here at SHOWBIZ TONIGHT spent the entire day working on the telephone, sending crews everywhere here in New York just to show you what all the big players had to say about today`s big announcement.


HAMMER (voice-over): Maybe it was way the hosts of "The View" walked in, arm in arm. Or the extended applause for Meredith Vieira. It was clear something big was up. And just a few minutes into the show, Vieira confirmed with her by announcement.

MEREDITH VIEIRA, CO-HOST, ABC`S "THE VIEW": I`m very honored that NBC has asked me to co-host "The Today Show".

HAMMER: Vieira will be leaving "The View" to replace Katie Couric on NBC`s show "Today Show" this September. The deal is reportedly worth $10 million a year, double what she`s making now.

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT was right there at the NBC press conference with Vieira and her new colleagues. Meredith talked to us about her big decision.

VIEIRA: I`d like to start tomorrow, which is easier. But it`s really fun to come into a few family and get to know everybody and the dynamics of it. And it`ll evolve.

HAMMER: Vieira`s soon to be co-host Matt Lauer helped woo Vieira. It took months and at one point even had her over for dinner. He tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT he`s happy to share the "Today Show" anchor desk with Vieira.

MATT LAUER, CO-HOST, ABC`S "THE TODAY SHOW": I mean even today I feel a little like I`m cheating, you know. Katie just announced yesterday. She`s somewhere in the building, and I`ve got the new girl right here.

There is something really natural about this. There isn`t something where we have to force conversation. And I think, and I hope and I cross my fingers it`s going to be that way on the air.

HAMMER: Critics like the choice too.

MARC PEYSER, "NEWSWEEK": I think it`s an inspired choice, really. Being on "The View" for the last 10 years almost has been just speaking to women viewers, which is the heart and soul of "The Today Show" audience. But she was on "60 Minutes". She was a national correspondent on CBS and on ABC. She really can probably handle both halves of what is a tricky job.

HAMMER (on camera): This is Vieira`s soon to be new home. NBC studio 1A of Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, where she`ll begin work some time this fall.

Now, before she begins lobbing questions during her "Today Show" interviews, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT will answer the big questions about Vieira`s move to today.

(voice-over) One, who did NBC dis in the decision? In picking Meredith to replace Couric, NBC passed over "The Today Show`s" other personalities: Campbell Brown, Natalie Morales and Ann Curry. But Ann put on a brave face to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. She tells us she`s happy with her current job.

ANN CURRY, NEWSREADER FOR NBC`S "THE TODAY SHOW": I am a hard news reporter at my core. And this gives me a great opportunity to do that, I think, in a bigger way.

HAMMER: And then there`s the big question, why is Vieira moving to early morning TV now? Vieira has a history of putting her family before her career. Her family, her three children and her husband, journalist Richard Cohen, who has been battling multiple sclerosis.

VIEIRA: I`m Meredith Vieira.

HAMMER: She left "60 Minutes" because it involved too much travel. And over the last decade, she turned down spots on both "Good Morning America" and CBS`s "Early Show". But this time Vieira tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT it was her family who helped her make the decision to go to "Today".

VIEIRA: My middle boy, Gabriel, was -- caught me one night crying, because I thought if I have to get up early I`m not going to see the kids anymore in the morning. And Gabe said see us do what, fight? And I said he`s got a great point.

And then my daughter Lily, who is very sweet said, "Mom, just follow your heart. In the end, do what`s right for you." And so I listened to all those pieces of advice.

ELISABETH HASSELBECK, CO-HOST, ABC`S "THE VIEW": You`ve been like a sister to me.

HAMMER: Still, it`s Vieira`s family on "The View" who had the most emotional response to her job. The reaction ranged from sarcastic...

JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, ABC`S "THE VIEW": I`ve been meaning to tell you what a skinny bitch you are.

HAMMER: ... to heartfelt.

STAR JONES-REYNOLDS, CO-HOST, ABC`S "THE VIEW": I`m going to miss the person to my right. I just want you to know that.

BARBARA WALTERS, CO-HOST, ABC`S "THE VIEW": We have had the most wonderful nine years with you.

VIEIRA: Thank you. Back at you.

WALTERS: And we love you, all of us, very dearly.

HAMMER: But as good a move as this could be for Meredith Vieira, it`s clear it`s not an easy one for her.

VIEIRA: I believe in growth, but right now I`m feeling terrific growing pains. And that`s all I have to say.


HAMMER: Of course the other question that`s floating around right now is what happens with Meredith Vieira`s other job. She`s the host of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire". Well, she says she doesn`t know if she`s going to continue on with that gig. Her new bosses over at NBC say they have no problem with her doing that.

Coming up a bit later on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, we`re going to look at what Meredith`s move means for the future of "The Today Show."

I think it is a fantastic idea. She`s a perfect choice. And we`ve been getting a lot of e-mails about Meredith Vieira`s announcement that she is heading over to "The Today Show."

We do want to keep hearing from you on the subject. It is our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. Meredith Vieira: the right replacement for Katie Couric? Here`s our votes so far. Forty-seven percent of you say yes; 53 percent say no. Pretty even split.

Among the e-mails we`ve received, we heard from Sally in Washington. She writes, "I never watch `The View` because those women argue. I don`t want to watch arguing with my coffee in the morning."

Also from Audrey from California, who writes, "I might be wooed back just to watch Vieira, a classy (versus perky) example of broadcast intelligence."

Keep voting at E-mail address, We`ll get into some more of your e-mails later in the show.

ANDERSON: Tonight, your very first look at Bob Woodruff since he suffered serious injuries while covering the war in Iraq. The ABC News anchor is back at home in New York, after being injured in a roadside bomb attack in Iraq in January. Look at him, he looks terrific. He`s now undergoing outpatient treatment.

In a statement obtained today by SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, Woodruff tells his co-workers that while there`s a long road ahead, the well-wishes he`s received are a source of strength for him.

HAMMER: Well, Wal-Mart just can`t quit "Brokeback Mountain." There is a raging debate tonight over whether Wal-Mart should sell the Oscar- nominated movie, which just came out on DVD.

Let me tell you, there are a lot of people not happy about this. Why? Well, there`s a Christian group, the American Family Association, that says the gay cowboy romance is not the kind of film families should be watching, and Wal-Mart has got some nerve selling it.

Randy Sharp is the director of special projects at the American Family Association. He joins us live from Memphis tonight. And live in New York City is Bradley Jacobs, a senior editor for "Us Weekly" magazine.

Thank you very much for both being us with.



HAMMER: All right. Let`s get into it. Randy, I need you to explain it to me. Help me understand. What is your problem and your organization`s problem with Wal-Mart selling "Brokeback Mountain?"

SHARP: Well, certainly Wal-Mart can sell this DVD if they so choose. They`re a private company. They can do that.

What we primarily object to is the way that they are marketing in their stores. They put these big "Brokeback Mountain" posters right inside the front entrance of all of their stores. And it`s a very focal point for all of the families that go into Wal-Mart.

And when you look at Wal-Mart`s customer clientele, it`s traditional value families, and that`s what they expect from Wal-Mart. But to go in and see a movie about gay cowboy sex, that`s a big turnoff for a lot of people.

HAMMER: Well, I think Bradley you can chime in here. And maybe we can bring some understanding to the fact this is not a movie, No. 1, about gay cowboy sex. And No. 2, you know, Wal-Mart whenever they sell any move are going to put displays up in their windows.

JACOBS: That`s right. This movie made $83 million. This movie was given more Academy Award nominations than any other film last year, eight of them, and it won three, including best director.

Ang Lee`s movie was a beautiful, well-told story that was far from a gay cowboy -- just a gay cowboy movie. And there are many, many people who never saw it who want to see it on DVD.

I feel like this is just Wal-Mart just doing smart marketing, giving its consumer base the knowledge that this film is coming out. It`s no different than any other movie. Maybe it was not as big as "Narnia", which made $300 million. But $83 million and all those Oscars. It very much could have won best picture. I feel like it makes sense what Wal-Mart did.

SHARP: I think what we have to remember is that this movie did not do well at the box office: $83 million compared to $291 million for "Narnia". Yet "Narnia" took a backseat at the Wal-Mart Corporation.

HAMMER: But that -- that being said, Randy. It is one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year.

SHARP: It`s acclaimed by the homosexual Hollywood community. That`s who it`s acclaimed -- wait, wait, wait. It also received the top award by GLAAD, one of the nation`s leading homosexual organizations in America.


SHARP: So the accolades are not coming from...

HAMMER: Wait, Randy -- Randy...


HAMMER: Randy, you need to reign it back in for me and help me understand what`s wrong with them selling this movie? They sell other movies and have sold other moves for years that have gay themes to them. I can name off a few: "To Wong Fu", "My Own Private Idaho", "The Bird Cage". All have gay themes. This is another movie. This is a critically acclaimed movie. What`s wrong with it?

SHARP: No one said that Wal-Mart shouldn`t sell it. The AFA never said it. What we said is that to market it within the very front doors of their store where families have to go past this. And kids are asking, "What`s this cowboy movie about, Mom and Dad? I may like to get one."

HAMMER: Well, the fact...

SHARP: They should not be exposed to that. If Wal-Mart wants to sell it, let them sell it in the movie section. But don`t put it in our face. And I think that`s what`s opposed by most of the traditional families in America.

HAMMER: OK. So you`re -- let me be clear. Your organization doesn`t have a problem with them selling it. You have problem with how they`re marketing it. Bradley, would you chime in here?

JACOBS: I guess my argument is, you know, if you`re going to criticize Wal-Mart for marketing it, shouldn`t you criticize NBC for running ads for that movie during must-see TV on Thursday nights? Or newspapers for running ad, you know, pushing that -- for that film. I mean why pick on Wal-Mart? You should be protesting the Academy Awards and encouraging people to not watch them, because you didn`t want to see "Brokeback" rewarded.

SHARP: Well, we would expect the Academy Awards and GLAAD and those organizations to support this movie. They`ve been on CNN just pushing it left and right. But I think the issue is with Wal-Mart, we don`t expect this kind of response from Wal-Mart.

HAMMER: Randy, let me ask you a question. Have you seen the movie?

SHARP: I have not seen it. Our staff has, and I`ve read the reviews. And can I tell you it does not appeal to me.

HAMMER: Based on that, what do you think is going to happen to people if they go into Wal-Mart and buy this movie and watch it?

SHARP: Well, I`m sure there are going to be some people who are going to go into Wal-Mart and buy it. But I think the sales are going to be very disappointing when you compare it to the publicity that they could have given to "Narnia" inside the front door, when you`ve got millions and millions of families and children walking in. They see the big poster. That`s what they want to buy.

HAMMER: Well, I think they`re -- I think they`re marketing both movies. We`re out of time. I appreciate you joining us tonight to talk about this.

SHARP: OK. All right, thanks.

HAMMER: A rather heated debate. I think obviously they should be able to sell whatever they want to sell and market it how they choose. Randy Sharp and Bradley Jacobs, thanks for joining us on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

JACOBS: Thank you, A.J.

ANDERSON: "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling is also on a rant. Coming up, why she`s angry at skinny models, and how she has found an unlikely ally in pop music.

Also ahead...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Judas didn`t actually betray Jesus. But did what Jesus wanted him to do.


HAMMER: A TV show about Jesus that could rewrite history. Coming up, a document lost for 1,700 years is unearthed. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has the story.

ANDERSON: Plus, we have your first look at a very young Marlon Brando, in newly discovered footage of a screen test he did in the late 1940s. That`s coming up.

But first, tonight`s "`Entertainment Weekly` Great American Pop Culture Quiz". In "Back to the Future," what speed did Dr. Brown`s car have to hit before going back in time? Is it 85 miles per hour, 88, 80 or 100 miles per hour? We will be right back with your answer.


ANDERSON: So again, tonight`s "`Entertainment Weekly` Great American Pop Culture Quiz." In "Back to the Future", what speed did Dr. Brown`s car have to hit before going back in time? The answer is B, 88 miles per hour. And you can pick up a copy of "Entertainment Weekly`s" special "Pop Culture Quiz" edition. It`s on newsstands tomorrow.

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

Ron Howard`s movie "The Da Vinci Code" is going to be in theaters a little over a month from now. That is really helping out sales of the book, which was just released in paperback. Dan Brown`s novel back at No. 1 on "USA Today`s" best-selling today. The last time "The Da Vinci Code" was No. 1 was almost two years ago. The book came out in 2003.

ANDERSON: If you think "The Da Vinci Code" is controversial, you`ve got to hear this. Today we found out about a TV show that is going to make a claim so incredible it would make "The Da Vinci Code" seem tame by comparison.

Imagine if everything we thought we knew about Jesus weren`t true. The National Geographic Society says it has found something nearly 2,000 years old that tells an amazing story about Jesus and Judas that is almost hard to believe.

CNN`s Mary Snow is live for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with that story -- Mary.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, really very stunning. It`s a revelation that`s bound to stir up controversy and debate in one of the largest religious communities in the world.

This Sunday the National Geographic Channel will reveal what they say is the gospel of Judas, the man who is thought to have betrayed Jesus.


SNOW (voice-over): It questions the way Jesus died and what`s been considered gospel for nearly 2,000 years. Was Judas Iscariot, one of the 12 disciples with Jesus in his final days, really a traitor? Or was he the favorite disciple given a secret as part of a divine plan?

ELAINE PAGELS, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PANEL MEMBER: The gospel of Judas is a big surprise. It pictures Judas not as the worst villain in the history of the world, as he`s always been thought of in Christian tradition, but as the one disciple whom Jesus entrusts with secret understanding.

SNOW: That secret understanding, say scholars, is contained in these writings from 300 A.D. and referred to by researchers as the gospel of Judas.

The writings reveal Judas handed Jesus over to the authorities because Jesus instructed him to do so as part of a plan for salvation and not for money and because of Satan, as written in the Bible.

Why is it only coming to light now? Scholars say the early church considered these secret teachings blasphemy.

PAGELS: Many of these were buried, attacked, challenged, denounced. And this text has just barely survived.

SNOW: The National Geographic Society partnered with scholars to restore and translate the battered documents that were found in the desert in Egypt in the 1970s, traded on the antiquities market and then stashed inside a safe deposit box for 16 years in New York before an arts dealer returned them to Europe.

There is skepticism about their contest. A Vatican historian calls the Judas gospel, quote, "a product of religious fantasy." Other scholars say it changes nothing.

THOMAS M. ROBINSON, CLAREMONT GRADUATE UNIVERSITY: It`s an artificial, mythological invention of the second century.

SNOW: The scholars who studied these texts say, whether they`re true or not, they add to the understanding of the complexity of Christianity.


SNOW: If you want to see it for yourself, pages from this newly discovered document will be on display at the National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C., starting tomorrow -- Brooke.

ANDERSON: I`m sure many people will want to get a look at that. CNN`s Mary Snow. Thank you so much.

And so what does this mean -- what does this finding mean for millions of Christians around the world? Well, joining us live from Washington, D.C., the executive producer of "The Gospel of Judas," John Bredar.

John, thanks for being here.


ANDERSON: First question for you. Does this just absolutely blow the lid off what we have known about the story -- part of the story of Jesus Christ? This could arguably change the way we understand Christianity and the Bible.

BREDAR: Well, it could. It kind of depends on what you already believe. And I think the interesting thing about it is it`s going to start a discussion. And that`s our whole intention in making the film and coming out with the presentation as we have.

Whether it blows the lid off, it`s kind of hard to say. If you -- if you were to take it at its face value, you know, it certainly turns the story of Jesus Christ`s betrayal on its head. But that`s just the beginning of a discussion.

ANDERSON: What do you think the ramifications of this could be? Do you think some people just aren`t going to believe it?

BREDAR: Absolutely. You know, we had a panel of scholars who not only appear in the film but who were part of our news conference today. And you get a whole range of views there, you know. You have a Catholic view, which is, this really isn`t going to change things. You have a less orthodox view that says we have to think about how this changes things. Maybe this will change slightly how we think about Judas.

ANDERSON: John, do you think if "The Da Vinci Code", that book, that film weren`t getting so much attention, do you think this TV project would be getting this much attention?

BREDAR: It`s a really good question. I mean there`s no -- there`s no doubt that we`re kind of living in the Dan Brown age. But I think the difference is that`s fiction. And this is non-fiction. You know, this is something that`s real. It`s an authenticated document. And it`s something that really has -- the beginnings of a substantative discussion about what was going on in the first couple of centuries of the Christian movement.

ANDERSON: Why do you think there suddenly is such a renewed fascination in books and films of this topic? Because it`s not just this TV project. It`s not just "The Da Vinci Code", "The Passion of the Christ", "The Jesus Papers".

BREDAR: That`s another great question. I mean there`s no doubt that "Da Vinci Code" and that kind of book is raising people`s consciousness about spiritual questions.

But I think what you see here and with the level of pick-up for what happened today at our press conference. It`s showing that there`s always been a deeply held interest in spiritual things. And this is just one new bit of information.

ANDERSON: John, thank you so much for being here and sharing it with us. We will have to leave it there. John Bredar, executive producer of "The Gospel of Judas". And you can catch "The Gospel of Judas" this Sunday on the National Geographic Channel.

HAMMER: So why the heck is Eva Longoria in the desert, and why is she 110 feet tall? We`ll explain that, coming up on "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT."

ANDERSON: Plus, Meredith Vieira going to "Today". Was it a snub to some of the people already there? We will look into what it all means for the future of "The Today Show," coming up.

HAMMER: And J.K. Rowling on a rant, about the fashion industry`s obsession with weight. Coming up, why the "Harry Potter" author is attacking skinny models and stupid girls.


ANDERSON: Time now for "Thursday InStyle." Tonight, the best dresses for the season, with fashion director Hal Rubenstein.


HAL RUBENSTEIN, FASHION DIRECTOR, "IN STYLE" MAGAZINE: Our best dress for this month is actually a very emblematic look for the season. Because what I like about this. It`s a cotton and silk dress by Donna Karan worn on Maria Bello, who`s one of Hollywood`s really incredibly talented new stars.

The dress has -- it plays with the whole idea of volume, which I know is very sometimes nerve-wracking for women. There`s so much movement, because the fabric is just so lightweight, that it actually sort of gives almost like an illusionary quality to a women`s form, which I think is actually quite appealing and very sensual.

Another category we have this month is what we call "Empires of Their Own." It`s all about the return of the empire waistline. The return of the empire waist line. It kind of lures a man in, and then it sort of stops giving everything away. I think one of the best examples of this dress is Mischa Barton in this incredibly beautiful red ruffled Yves Saint- Laurent dress.

And you look at all the shaping that`s done around the bodice of the dress, the look of the season, this great bow, and then the dress cascades.

What I like about this whole revival of the headband look is it goes, again, with this whole idea of innocence. You`re taking the headband and you`re taking the hair off the face. It really is about focusing attention on the face. It really is about, "Look into my eyes."


ANDERSON: To read more about the best dresses of the season, pick up a copy of "InStyle" magazine. It is on newsstands now.

HAMMER: Lindsay Lohan gets a major apology from a major magazine. Who`s eating humble pie? We`ll tell you.

Plus, "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling rant. Coming up, why she`s angry at skinny models, and how she found an unlikely ally in pop music.

And a very young Marlon Brando, in a very early screen test. It`s coming up on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.



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

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

HAMMER: Big news again today. Brooke, Meredith Vieira announced formally on "The View" that she will be leaving "The View" to take over Katie Couric`s spot on "THE TODAY SHOW." Everybody`s wondering what will "TODAY" be like after Katie leaves. And there are a few people that some feel were passed over for the job that Meredith Vieira is taking. Should they feel dissed? We are going to get into that just a bit.

ANDERSON: And what a terrific opportunity and challenge it is for Meredith.

Also tonight, A.J. we`ve got newly-discovered video of a very young Marlon Brando from a screen test he did back in the 1940s. And we will show you that video coming up in just a few minutes.

HAMMER: All right, Brooke.

But first tonight, "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling has a serious bone to pick with Hollywood`s ultra skinny models and celebrities. You know the one. And she`s sick and tired of them and the message that they`re sending to young women, especially her two daughters. She went off on the pressure to be skinny on a Web site today.

And SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Sibila Vargas is live in Hollywood with this really interesting story of J.K. Rowling coming out swinging -- Sibila.

SIBILA VARGAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: That`s right, she sure did, and for good reason. Doctors are seeing more and more cases of eating disorders pop up, especially in young girls. Now, it`s a trend that`s both scary and serious, and this author says she doesn`t want her two daughters growing up in a skinny obsessed world.


VARGAS (voice-over): From Lindsay to Nicole to Teri, Hollywood is thinner than ever. And that has got one of the most successful authors in the world fuming. J.K. Rowling is the mastermind behind the wildly popular "Harry Potter" series. She`s also the mother of two young girls.

And today she`s fuming over the messages that ultra-thin celebrities are sending to young, impressionable people, especially her girls. On her Web site, Rowling writes, "I`ve got two daughters who will have to make their way in their skinny-obsessed world, and it worries me because I don`t want them to be empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones."

And she`s not alone. This nutritionist and author agrees, Hollywood is sending scary messages.

ELISA ZIED, AUTHOR, "SO WHAT CAN I EAT?!": I think by seeing all these so-called ideal images, it is encouraging children to take on unhealthy habits, which in turn can make them become very thin or become unhealthy.

VARGAS: J.K. Rowling is one of the most powerful women in the world. It was pictures of an emaciated woman in a magazine that made her want to speak out saying, "She can talk about eating absolutely loads, being terribly busy, and having the world`s fastest metabolism until her tongue drops off, but her concave stomach, protruding ribs, and stick-like arms tell a different story. This girl needs help, but the world being what it is, they are sticking her on magazine covers instead."

ZIED: She`s absolutely right, because parents are having such a tough time explaining to their kids why they should be proud of how they look as individuals when all across the media we are seeing very, very thin, unhealthy images.

VARGAS: Rowlings is rallying around pop star Pink whose hit song "Stupid Girls" takes dead aim at the Lindsay Lohan and Mary Kate Olsens of the world, saying brains are more important than bones and lip gloss.

Rowling writes: "`Stupid Girls` satirizes the talking toothpicks held up to girls are role models: those celebrities whose only function in the world appears to be supporting the trade in overpriced handbags and rat- sized dogs."

The pressure to be thin is stronger than ever, so strong, in fact, that many of our favorite stars have developed eating disorders.

JAMIE-LYNN SIGLER, ACTRESS: Within four months, I might probably have dropped almost 40 pounds.

VARGAS: Jamie-Lynn Sigler says she was eating next to nothing and exercising up to four hours a day before school, all why starring on HBO`s hit show "The Sopranos." She`s now a spokesperson for the National Eating Disorders Association. So is "American Idol" judge Paula Abdul, who suffered from bulimia.

PAULA ABDUL, "AMERICAN IDOL": I had a serious problem.

VARGAS: Take "Simple Life" star Nicole Richie. She`s lost a dramatic amount of weight, reportedly dropping below a hundred pounds. Still she says she`s never had a problem with food. Even her dad, singer Lionel Richie, stands by that telling us she only loses weight when she`s stressed out.

LIONEL RICHIE, SINGER: She`s OK though. I can tell that as a father. She`s good.

ZIED: I think when you see these images of thin, thin women, it may be some sort of red flag for an eating disorder. In some cases, it may not be. But if you see wide fluctuations in your favorite celebrity, chances are there`s something going on there. And it might not be the most healthy thing.


VARGAS: The nutritionist that we spoke to told us that eating disorders are hard to get over. Now, she encourages parents to sit down with their children and discuss the images they see in the media and find ways to be happy about their own, individual bodies. Sound advice, A.J.

HAMMER: That does seem to make sense. And J.K., not holding back there. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Sibila Vargas. Thanks very much for joining us from Hollywood.

What J.K. Rowling and Pink are saying and singing about has really hit a nerve -- but is it all painfully true?

Well, joining me live tonight here in New York is Susan Schulz. She is the editor-in-chief "Cosmo Girl," a fashion magazine aimed at teenage girls. Thanks for being here, Susan.


HAMMER: So I am curious. You write about this. This is your audience, these young girls. Is what J.K. Rowling is saying, is she overestimating the influence that people like Nicole Richie, who we were seeing those pictures of there, and Lindsay Lohan -- is she overestimating how influential those skinny starlets are on young women today?

SCHULZ: Well, it definitely has an influence. I mean, there`s no question about it. Girls say -- I mean, we actually just did a body image survey with all of our global editions, and the U.K. edition of "Cosmo Girl" was one of them.

And the fact is, girls say that they think the media is hyping it too much. Over half of girls say, you know, we are not as influenced as you think. I mean, granted, they also aren`t really that satisfied with their bodies.

So it could -- you know, teenagers will talk out of both sides of their mouths because they`re going to be rebellious and say, oh, it`s not effecting us, I`m fine. But, you know, when they see all of these girls looking so pretty and looking skinny, it definitely has an effect. There`s no question about it.

HAMMER: Because all we`ve been hearing for years is how the media is sending the wrong message to young people.

SCHULZ: Right, well, it`s true. And, you know, the other thing that was in our survey and J.K. Rowling would be happy to hear, is that the girls in the U.K. it`s actually more their parents and their siblings that they listen to when it comes to body image, whereas girls in the States, it definitely is media and celebrities. But overall girls say that they put pressure on themselves to, you know, kind of be skinnier.

We just talked about a couple of young women who came out, big Hollywood starlets who came out with eating disorders. Can they really influence girls or send them down the path towards bulimia or anorexia?

SCHULZ: Well, you know what? I mean, you have to realize that girls are confident for the most part. I mean, it`s not like every kid is going to become -- you know, have an eating disorder just because somebody in Hollywood does.

So it`s really girls who are sort of more predisposed, and scientists are looking into the fact that there`s, you know, a gene, that there`s actually -- you can be predisposed to have an eating disorder. And they are looking into that more and more.

So just the same way that kids weren`t going to go to school shooting just, you know, because of some song they heard or they weren`t going to go committing suicide because of that, this is kind of like the new media thing.

HAMMER: Same sort of thing.


HAMMER: I have less than 30 seconds, but I`m curious. You heard what J.K. had to say. Do you think she`s coming from a position of somebody who influences young people or, you know, as she said, she`s the mother of two? Or is it a little bit of both, maybe?

SCHULZ: Well, you know what, anybody who brings this up, whether it`s J.K. Rowling or Pink, you know, this is a good conversation to have because it is a problem and it is effecting girls. But I just want to underscore the fact that girls are confident and they`re not just going to be listening to, you know, what a celebrity says.

HAMMER: Sure. Well, I appreciate your insights, Susan. Susan Schulz from "Cosmo Girl." Appreciate you being with us. And you can grab your copy of the latest issue of "Cosmo Girl" out on newsstands and in stores right now.

ANDERSON: It is time now for a look at what`s out there in magazines in the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT mag rack.

Tonight, a stunning apology to Lindsay Lohan. OK, let`s look at some pictures from "W" magazine`s profile of Lindsay and Meryl Streep. They`re starring in the upcoming movie, "A Prairie Home Companion." Well, the article says that Lohan`s mom, Dina, and Lindsay`s siblings visit her father in prison, where he is serving time on a drunk driving charge.

Lohan`s rep tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT that`s simply not true. Dina even has an order of protection against her ex-husband. "W" magazine tells us they`ll run a correction in the next issue. Lindsay also adds that she finds that wild party-girl image of her, quote, "vile and disgusting and not fair." Check out more in the May issue of "W" magazine.

And some very powerful words from Jada Pinkett Smith. She says her husband, singer and actor Will Smith, saved her life. She tells "Essence" magazine that she, quote, "was literally killing herself" when they started dating 10 years ago, doing drugs, drinking alcohol, and sleeping around. Jada says Will gave her stability and comfort. You can read more of Jada`s interview in the May issue of "Essence." It`s on newsstands now.

HAMMER: Time now to get into tonight`s hot headlines with SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Sibila Vargas who joins us live once again from Hollywood -- Sibila.

VARGAS: Thanks, A.J.

Well, tonight, the Rolling Stones are hoping to get some Shanghai satisfaction. The rockers are in the Far East for their first-ever concert in Mainland China. The Stones had planned to play there three years ago, but had to cancel because of the SARS epidemic.

"Platoon" is getting a second chance at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival. Today, "Hollywood Reporter" says the 1986 Oliver Stone film about the Vietnam War will be screened at the festival in France next month. Cannes originally rejected "Platoon" 20 years ago. A restored DVD version is about to hit stores.

And meet Julia Roberts, a multi-tasking mom. The actress is currently in New York starring in a Broadway play called "Three Days of Rain." The show`s producer tells "People" magazine that there`s a scene where Roberts` character knits, and she`s actually knitting something for her real son, Phinneaus. Roberts is no diva either, she puts on her own makeup and get this. She eats Subway sandwiches with the cast.

And those are tonight`s hot headlines. Could you believe it A.J.? They are people, just like us.

HAMMER: Everybody has to eat and sometimes you have to go with what`s convenient, Sibila.

VARGAS: Exactly.

HAMMER: Thanks very much, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Sibila Vargas.

ANDERSON: And those sandwiches aren`t bad.

OK, coming up, a "Desperate Housewife" makes a big splash in the desert. We will show you the super-sized video.

Plus, we`ve also got this...


MARLON BRANDO, DECEASED ACTOR: I was in Candida with Katharine Cornell and I was in "Eagle Rampant."


HAMMER: Look at him. That`s the late Marlon Brando nearly 60 years ago. Coming up on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, we`re going to show you the very first screen test.

ANDERSON: And what the "Today Show" will look like after Katie Couric signs off for good. And why "The View`s" Meredith Vieira beat out Ann Curry, Natalie Morales, and Campbell Brown.

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT investigates, live next.


HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. We are T.V.`s only live entertainment news show. I`m A.J. Hammer. Well tonight, for the very first time ever, newly discovered footage of a screen test by Marlon Brando in the late 1940s. Check this out.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Marlon, what were the shows that you`ve done in New York? Name one or two for me.

BRANDO: I was in Candida with Katharine Cornell. And I was in "Eagle Rampant" with Tallulah Bankhead.


BRANDO: With Sophie Rosenstein (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Old "Truckline Cafe."

BRANDO: Oh yes. "Truckline Cafe."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s good enough. Now will you turn your head for us?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And around the other way. Now all the way around. Thank you.


HAMMER: No question it`s fascinating to see. I don`t know if it was the genius of what was to come in his acting. That screen test is actually being released as part of an eight disc DVD set called the "Tennessee Williams Film Collection." It includes Brando`s starring role in "A Streetcar Named Desire."

ANDERSON: Today Donald Trump`s wife Melania gave her first interview since the birth of their son. Melania looked great on "The View" this morning. Get this, 17 days after giving birth to Barron William Trump. She said that the birth was very easy with the help of an epidural and that Donald is bonding with his new son, up to a point.


MELANIA TRUMP, WIFE OF DONALD TRUMP: He`s waking up with him in the morning. And he brings him to the room. And they watch T.V. and they read the paper together. And then when the baby start a little crying or, he`s hungry.

BARBARA WALTERS, TALK SHOW HOST: If he has to change a diaper, what happens?

TRUMP: Then he says, go to see mommy.


ANDERSON: Are we surprised she looks so beautiful? I don`t think she ever has a bad day. Barron is Melania`s first child and Donald`s fifth.

HAMMER: Well, not to trump Melania, but there`s no question that all eyes were focused on Meredith Vieira on "The View" this morning. Or should we say, the "Today Show," Meredith Vieira. Both Meredith and Katie Couric got what they wanted.

Katie heads over to the "CBS Evening News" and "60 Minutes." Meredith takes Katie`s spot on "Today." But what will life be like after Katie leaves and will she be leaving behind some angry co-workers?

Joining me live is "New York Daily News" columnist Lloyd Grove and "Business Week" senior writer, Diane Brady. I appreciate you both being here on this momentous day. Finally, the rumors are put to rest.

DIANE BRADY, SR. WRITER, BUSINESS WEEK: I haven`t eaten, it`s so exciting.

HAMMER: Well let`s get into talking about what the "Today Show" will actually look like once Meredith steps into that position and sits on the couch next to Matt. What do you think, Diane?

BRADY: I think -- well, first of all, I think it was the best choice. I think the existing roster was not up to the task. I think there will be howls of despair at first because people love Katie Couric. She`s been there 15 years, but I think Meredith has got a great sense of humor. She`ll probably ease into the job. They seem to have some chemistry so far.

HAMMER: See, I`m thinking it`s going to be a pretty smooth transition.

LLOYD GROVE, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: I think so. I think Matt and Meredith obviously get along. They had their blind date in December. She went to dinner at his house. But listen, how times have changed. It used to be thought that women in television couldn`t really do anything good after age 40. And here Meredith is 52 and she`s a huge star. Her career`s never been better.

HAMMER: It is interesting she`s older than Katie and Katie will now be the oldest person on the evening news programs. But back to Meredith and Matt and what that`s going to be like. You alluded to that little date they had back in December.

At a press conference today they revealed that they had their first meeting, it was kind of a dinner where they got to know each other a bit. And they talked today a bit about how that chemistry is going to be. Chemistry is what makes the "Today Show" what it is. So what we do we think of Matt and Meredith or Meredith and Matt as far as the chemistry is concerned?

BRADY: I don`t think anybody can match the perkiness of Katie Couric. I think that`s definitely not the route she`s going to go. But she`s smart. She can handle I think both the light stuff. She`s done it on "The View." She`s done the investigative stuff. She spans everything. So I think it will work out well. But I do think people are going to not like it for the first while.

HAMMER: From what we know though of Matt and Meredith, I think its going to work out pretty well, from what we know of their personalities.

GROVE: I think so. And look, this is a rounded personality. She`s had a lot of experiences in life. She`s had to deal with her husband`s illness. She has three kids. She`s been hard news, she`s done "60 Minutes." So she`s had a great career so far. And I think she`ll bring a lot of richness to the job.

HAMMER: Well a lot of people were talking about who might have been passed over for this gig and in fact dissed: Natalie Morales, Campbell Brown, Ann Curry. We caught up with Ann Curry today. Let`s listen to what she had to say about this.


ANN CURRY, TODAY SHOW: I ultimately want what the American public wants. I want the American public to be well served. Yes, I`m complimented that so many people wanted me to take this role. I mean, I -- I would lie to tell you that I am not touched by that. I am, really touched by that. And -- you know, but I hope, I think this will work out. I think it`s going to be good.


HAMMER: She hopes it will work out.

GROVE: She seems thrilled, doesn`t she?

BRADY: I think that cuts to the chase as to what the problem is with Ann Curry. She does not exude authenticity or sincerity. And I think she might have actually been a bit scary in that role. She`s terrific as a news reader. But she`s just too serious and too intense I think to take over that role from Katie.

HAMMER: But in terms of people who thought that Katie -- rather Ann, Campbell and Natalie were dissed, should they just get over that? Because really Meredith was the perfect person for that job, it seems.

BRADY: The question isn`t -- I think whether they`ll feel dissed, because if they feel dissed, then we may see them go to another show.

GROVE: They`re paid too much to feel dissed.

HAMMER: I`ve got to wrap it on that. But thank you very much for your insight. Diane and Lloyd, thanks for joining us on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. And tonight, we`ve been asking you to sound off on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day, asking, Meredith Vieira, the right replacement for Katie Couric? What do you think? Let us know at You can write to us at Your e-mails coming up in just a bit.

ANDERSON: Well, if you happen to be flying over Las Vegas, and your captain says if you look outside your window, you`ll see Eva Longoria, well don`t worry -- he`s serious. A giant, bikini-clad picture of the "Desperate Housewife" is in the desert. The 75 by 110 foot cover is a replica of this month`s "Maxim." The magazine is celebrating its 100th issue. And if you are straining to read the fine print there, it says, "The only magazine big enough to be seen from space and only in Vegas."

A.J., I hope the pilots aren`t too easily distracted. Could be dangerous.

HAMMER: That`s pretty funny that they have that giant thing out there in the desert. Unfortunately from that picture, they didn`t have something to give us perspective. I needed to see a car next to it so I could see exactly how large Eva Longoria was.

ANDERSON: Exactly how colossal it is. And Eva said quote, "I`m flattered to say the least to be T.V.`s sexiest earth link."

HAMMER: Oh wait a second. I`m getting my perspective. I`m told those are Vegas showgirls next to the magazines. OK, so now I have a sense.

ANDERSON: Oh, towards the top. There we go, five ladies.

HAMMER: All right, my eyesight apparently, not that good.

Well Brooke, in tonight`s "Showbiz Showcase," something that is definitely going to make "Simpsons" fans like myself and fans everywhere, rejoice.

You have seen the T.V. show, of course. Next summer, you can see the movie. We have your very first look, at least 22 seconds of it, of the trailer.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In 2007, leaping his way onto the silver screen, the greatest hero in American history.

HOMER SIMPSON, CARTOON CHARACTER: I forgot what I was supposed to say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "The Simpsons Movie," opening worldwide, July 27th, 2007.

SIMPSON: Uh oh, we better get started.


HAMMER: I will be first online. The movie`s creators aren`t really giving much away. They did say guest starts will include Albert Brooks, Minnie Driver and the real-life Erin Brockovich. The film is probably going to be rated PG-13 for language a bit rougher than what they are able to show on the T.V. program.

ANDERSON: Stay with us because coming up, your e-mails on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. Meredith Vieira, the right replacement for Katie Couric? You can keep voting, We`ll be right back. Keep it here.


ANDERSON: Throughout the show we`ve been asking you to vote online on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. And it`s this: Meredith Vieira, the right replacement for Katie Couric? Let`s take a look at how the vote is going so far. Pretty close, 47 percent of you say yes, 53 percent of you say no.

Here`s some of the e-mails we`ve received.

Joel from Georgia writes: There`s only one choice for life-long viewers like me, and that`s Ann Curry.

Christopher from Maryland says: Vieira will make an excellent co-host. Like Katie, she is a genuine person, veteran journalist and a unique talent.

That`s for your e-mails. And you can keep voting

HAMMER: Tomorrow is Friday. Let us take a look at what`s coming up on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT as we get into the weekend with our "Showbiz Marquee."

And tomorrow I`ll speak with "Just for Kicks" executive producer Whoopi Goldberg, one of my favorite personalities. We`ll talk about empowering girls, body image and speaking your mind. Whoopi Goldberg in the interview you`ll see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, that`s tomorrow. Also tomorrow: gay men, straight women. It`s been a popular theme on NBC`s "Will and Grace" for eight years now, but what`s the connection in real life? SHOWBIZ TONIGHT investigates the special bond between gay men and straight women. Live tomorrow, on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

HAMMER: And that is it for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, thank you for watching. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York City.

ANDERSON: And I`m Brooke Anderson in Hollywood. Have a great night, everyone. Stay tuned for the latest from CNN Headline News.


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