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Military Issues Warning about New HBO Documentary; `The Da Vinci Code` Controversy; Star Graduation Speeches

Aired May 15, 2006 - 23:00:00   ET


A.J. HAMMER, CNN ANCHOR: A star of "The Da Vinci Code" speaks out about the controversy surrounding the film. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.
SIBILA VARGAS, CNN ANCHOR: And Halle Berry on the X-Men, turning 40 and whether motherhood is in her future. I`m Sibila Vargas in Hollywood, TV`s most provocative entertainment news show starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: On SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, is the U.S. military afraid of war films? SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has an Army memo, warning about a new HBO documentary on the Iraq war, called "Baghdad E.R." Tonight, what the memo says and your first look at the movie the military says could be hazardous to troops` health.

Celebrity kennels, a Web site where some of the biggest names in Hollywood have bought their furry friends. But it puts the kennel to the stars, why is it in a strip mall? And why are some of the puppies allegedly showing up sick?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s a problem. We don`t know exactly where a dog came from.


ANNOUNCER: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT investigates the growing trend in Hollywood and beyond, buying puppies online.

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

VARGAS: And I`m Sibila Vargas in Hollywood.

Tonight, a new movie about the horrors of the war in Iraq.

HAMMER: That`s right, Sibila. This film is so graphic, it is so intense that it`s actually coming along with a warning from the Pentagon. What is going on here and why is the military so up in arms over a movie that it supported?

Let`s get more tonight from CNN`s Barbara Starr, reporting form the Pentagon for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

Hi Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well hello to you, A.J. This film is not the TV show "M.A.S.H."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the 86th Combat Support Hospital. The tip of the sphere for Army medicine in Iraq.

STARR (voice-over): The new HBO documentary, "Baghdad E.R." chronicles what the Army itself says are the ravages and anguish of war.

SERGEANT SAIDET LANIER: What we see what we see here is trauma, hardcore, raw, uncut trauma.

STARR: But hours before its Washington, D.C. premier, the brutally frank film is causing controversy.

JON ALPERT, PRODUCER DIRECTOR, "BAGHDAD E.R.": When we went to the Pentagon and we screened this for the top soldier in the Army and all his staff, they said that they felt it celebrated the Army, that it captured the sole of the Army. And they wanted all Americans to see it and they also wanted everybody in the military to see it. And they began programming this at bases all around the country.

At some point the Office of the Secretary of the Army, this is the civilian side, the guys that actually aren`t over there fighting and doing this type of work, decided that Americans probably shouldn`t see this. And they actually tried to censor the film.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two dead on arrival.

STARR: The Army insists it`s not censoring the project, but says it`s concerned about the impact on families. Lieutenant General Kevin Kiley, the Army surgeon general, warned in an internal memo obtained by CNN that vets watching the documentary could experience post-traumatic stress, including flashbacks or nightmares. Kiley says family members may be upset by the film`s realism.

LT. GEN. KEVIN KILEY, ARMY SURGEON GENERAL: I think frankly, it should be reassuring the American people that the care that our sons and daughters, mothers and fathers that are in combat are getting is world class.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pretty much they said he was dead.

STARR: The Army allowed HBO extraordinary access last year to the hospital unit. The only major restriction, the faces of dead Americans could not be shown.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I purposefully have not counted how many deaths -- people I`ve prayed over. It`s just -- I don`t know, it would overwhelm me.

STARR (on camera): Major David Snyder was the hospital unit`s chaplain. For months he moved among the living and the dead, offering prayers. He and others featured in the documentary, talked in the Pentagon just a few minutes after seeing the film for the first time in a private screening. They all said, indeed, it gave them flashbacks.

MAJOR DAVID SNYDER, U.S. ARMY CHAPLAIN: I thought it was very overwhelming. I think it`s very realistic. I mean, I felt like I was there again.

STARR (voice-over): Sgt. Jeff Beltran was treated after being severely wounded.

SGT. JEFF BELTRAN, WOUNDED IRAQ VETERAN: It brought back a lot of emotions. It was a time to reflect on what had happened and what I had gotten through the whole year.

STARR (on camera): The doc, Major Jim Hill, had the job of trying to keep the wounded soldiers alive long enough to get to surgery.

MAJOR JIM HILL: Everything flashed back to me. Immediately. I mean, I remembered each patient, I remember when I said what things. I remember going out to the basketball court. I remember all those things like it happened yesterday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can walk back to the (inaudible) to make sure our people survive to make it back to their homes.

STARR (voice-over): The documentary will begin airing around the country next week, and on more than 20 Army posts. One mother, who has already seen the film, saw the last moments of her son`s life.

PAULA ZWILLINGER, MOTHER OF SOLDIER KILLED IN IRAQ: To actually be at my son`s bedside with him when he came in through his injuries during his final moments, that truly is a gift that not every parent gets, especially when your son is deployed overseas.


STARR (on camera): A.J., the secretary of the Army issued a statement saying he did not ask HBO to censor the project, but he did tell the company that the film is so graphic that it, indeed, may upset soldiers and their families -- A.J.

HAMMER: Maybe some tough footage to look at. Barbara, thanks so much for that report. CNN`s Barbara Starr for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

"Baghdad E.R." will air Sunday on HBO. HBO is a division of Time Warner, the parent company this network.

And joining me now from Washington D.C., the co-director of "Baghdad E.R.," Matthew O`Neill.

Matthew, thanks for being with us tonight.

MATTHEW O`NEILL, CO-DIRECTOR, "BAGHDAD E.R.": Thanks for having me.

HAMMER: As we have mentioned, you made this film with the full support of the military and now they have issued this very clear-cut memo that I have right here. I want to read another excerpt from it. They said, "This film will have a strong impact on viewers and may cause anxiety for some soldiers and family members. I ask that your medical treatment facility be prepared to provide the support mechanisms for those who seek assistance."

This is going out to the various treatment facilities. Were you shocked when you heard that this memo went out?

O`NEILL: No. I think that it`s absolutely true that the soldiers will need support. They need to be supported whether or not they`ve seen this film.

And as you heard in your segment, a number of the soldiers, it did take them right back into the moments they were experiencing in the "Baghdad E.R.," and that`s exactly what it`s going to do for American audiences.

HAMMER: And the fact is the film is a documentary. You`re just telling a story. You know, your camera doesn`t lie. Certainly we see a great deal of heroism. We see a great deal of courage. We see the fine way that our men and women are cared for, but we see through that a lot of ugliness. We see some absolutely horrifying and brutal scenes that are the reality of war. So people inevitably will be politicizing this.

Are you at all making a political statement with this film:

O`NEILL: It`s less a political statement. I think that every person who wears a uniform that`s seen this movie has said that we respected the truth of the heroism and the truth of the horror. And it`s difficult to watch the horror, and people may take that as a political statement, but what we did was hold a mirror up to nature. And war is a difficult, complicated, often ugly thing, and that`s the reality of the situation.

HAMMER: Another thing, and you just talked about it a moment ago, that they mentioned in this memo, is talking about the soldiers. The memo reads, if they have been stationed in Iraq, they may re-experience some of the sights and sounds of when they were there. They may experience some symptoms of post-traumatic stress, such as flashbacks or nightmares.

We heard in our story that some soldiers, in fact, experienced that. Is that at all a concern for you, or, you know, are you worried about the fallout of that occurring?

O`NEILL: And I talked to one soldier a few weeks ago that I traveled with back to the United States. And he was telling me an experience he had where he experienced the flashback because he was driving along the highway and saw a car accident.

I think it`s important that everyone in America recognizes that the soldiers that are coming back from Baghdad will experience flashbacks, that are wounded physically and are wounded mentally and it will take a long time to heal.

And I think that it`s important that we provide them with the best support possible. And what you see in this film is that we`re giving them the best support possible over in Baghdad. And it`s important that we follow up with that support here and take care of any issues they may need to discuss.

HAMMER: It is a message that everybody needs to know about. We`ve heard a little bit of a conflict whether or not the Army actually wanted this film to be censored. We`ve heard that they did want to censor it and we also received a statement saying they didn`t want to censor it. Can you shed some light on that for us?

O`NEILL: What I can say is that the Army never censored us when we were filming this film down in Baghdad that every person in uniform that we`ve interacted with -- John and I personally, as filmmakers -- has worked to facilitate our ability to show the truth of what was going on down there.

HAMMER: Well, Matthew, we appreciate you being with us and for all the hard work you put into this. I do think it`s something everybody should see. Matthew O`Neill, director of "Baghdad E.R."

O`NEILL: Thanks for having me.

HAMMER: I appreciate you joining us on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. "Baghdad E.R." will make its premiere this Sunday on HBO.

VARGAS: Susan Sarandon has always been outspoken about her opposition to the war, and on Mother`s Day, she joined Activist and Mother Cindy Sheehan in an antiwar protest in Washington. Sarandon read her letter to First Lady Laura Bush, saying the president should personally notify some mothers whose children died while serving in Iraq.


SUSAN SARANDON, OPPOSES WAR: Maybe you and George didn`t realize just how horrific things have gotten. Since he never served in a war, skipped out on his duties stateside and only got to play dress up on mission accomplished photo op. Maybe he just doesn`t get what`s at stake here. I know he doesn`t want to see flag-draped coffins or attend the funerals of the fallen. That would be so uncomfortable. But if he did, it might just slow down his next invasion. It might start a real conversation about the withdrawal of our troops who right now are so busy trying to stay alive that they really don`t have the time and manpower to do much spreading of democracy.


VARGAS: Susan Sarandon, speaking her mind. The protest was organized by a woman`s antiwar group, called "Code Pink."

HAMMER: Well, Halle Berry has a milestone birthday on the horizon. She tells me about turning 40 and whether motherhood may or may not be in her future. That`s coming up.

We`ll also have this...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How much oversight is there when you buy a puppy on the internet?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s very little oversight.


VARGAS: Questions about a Web site where some of the biggest stars in Hollywood have bought their pets. Coming up, a SHOWBIZ TONIGHT investigation on a growing trend in Hollywood and beyond, buying puppies online.

HAMMER: Plus, if you`re like me and the words Crockett and Tubbs mean something to you, well don`t go anywhere. Your very first look at the "Miami Vice" trailers. Coming up, in the showbiz showcase.

VARGAS: Well, first tonight`s entertainment weekly great American pop culture quiz. What was 1950s rocker Buddy Holly`s real first name? Was it Fred, Marshall, Charles or David? We`ll be right back with the answer.


VARGAS: So again tonight`s entertainment weekly great American pop culture quiz. What was 1950s Rocker Buddy Holly`s real first name? Fred, Marshall, Charles or David? Now the guy that give us "Peggy Sue" and "That Will be the Day," was named C, Charles.

HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, TV`s most provocative entertainment news hour. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.

And it`s time now for another story today that made us say, "that`s ridiculous." Tonight it`s the British broadcasting bungle. The news channel put a guy on the air to talk about a court win for Apple computer or apple core, which represents the Beetles. Now, the BBC thought this guy was an expert. Actually, he was a cab driver. Here`s a look at the video, which is all over the Internet, including you too.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well Guy Kuehne (ph) is the editor of the technology Web site news wire. Hello, good morning to you.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Were you surprised by this verdict today?


HAMMER: The guy had no idea. Did you see the look on his face? He`s basically saying, that`s not me? That`s not who I am.

VARGAS: It was priceless to see his face. He`s, like, huh? And the thing is, that he had to keep on going and he made it seem as if he was the guy. And what was even funnier was that the real guy that was booked was actually watching the whole show. And he`s thinking -- at first he thought it was amusing, but then it was, this is my reputation on the line.

HAMMER: The BBC says they didn`t know how they made the mistake. It was probably a stage manager, which wouldn`t really surprise me on this show. They might have grabbed the wrong guy. Either way, we`ve got to say "that`s bloody ridiculous."

VARGAS: Bloody ridiculous it is.

Well, in tonight`s showbiz showcase, moving on, if you ever wore a pastel suit and loafers without socks -- you know you have -- this one is going to be right up your alley. "Miami Vice," the movie version of the 80`s TV show, is coming to the big screen this summer. And Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx play the roles of the immortalized by Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas. Remember them? Well here`s your first look at the trailer...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We get down just the play calls for it, bud.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re here for business.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we can close each other`s eyes right now real fast.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It ain`t nobody going to make no money.

DETECTIVE CROCKETT, MAIMI-DADE P.D.: This is Detective Crockett, Miami-Dade P.D., we got `em.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one has ever tread before where we are now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re seeing their operations from the inside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your agency cannot know how they do whatever it is they do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Taking it to the limit one more time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Things get emotional, moves get messy. Moves get messy and the wrong people die.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s undercover and then there`s which way is up?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, you think I`m in so deep I forgot?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t doubt you.


VARGAS: Gosh, I love the music on that trailer. "Miami Vice" is in theaters July 28th.

HAMMER: We are just two days away from the launch of the Cannes Film Festival in France. They might as well rename it this year, "The Da Vinci Code Festival." The highly anticipated film, all set to open this year`s festival. And SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`S Brooke Anderson is at Cannes and joins us now on the phone.

Hello, Brooke.

BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello there, A.J., I am in the French Riviera where the 59th edition of the Cannes Film Festival is getting set to kickoff in just two days, on Wednesday. Now more than 60 films will be presented, but the one movie title that is on everybody`s lips, of course, is "The Da Vinci Code". The most buzzed about film in recent history is going to open the festival with its world premiere. Now, of course, this amid a tremendous amount of controversy.

Many religious leaders are upset about the film. They find it offensive. They`re incensed about the portrayal of Jesus Christ. They say it`s inaccurate.

I actually spoke with Dr. Paul Bettany recently. He plays the murderous monk, Silas, in the film. And he`s told me that he doesn`t know what all the fuss is about.


DR. PAUL BETTANY, PLAYS SILAS, "THE DA VINCI CODE": If we have offended any Christians, I would ask them to forgive us, which it seems to me is one of the main tenets in the New Testament. So, I really -- I don`t know what else to say. I read the book. I was born a Catholic, raised a Catholic. I found nothing offensive. I just thought it was sort of (inaudible). You know, I bought my book in the fiction department. I didn`t buy it in theology and personal growth. And so it seemed clear to me that it was a fiction, it should be sort of seen as one.


ANDERSON: Now, Paul also told me that he never said the name "Opus Dei" in the film. He doesn`t know if other characters use that name or not. Paul said he has not yet seen the movie. Opus Dei, of course, the small, but influential group within the Catholic Church. Paul also said that those people who are highly critical of the film without even seeing it, if they`re that incensed about it, that upset about it, then they should just do what he does. If he`s not interested in a movie, just don`t go see it.


BETTANY: I would suggest that people do what I do, which is if I`m at the movies and they`re showing a bunch of trailers and there`s trailers that appeal to me and I think, oh, I`ll go see that film; and then if one comes up I don`t -- it`s not my cup of tea, I choose not to go and see it. But what I don`t do is then try and persuade lots of other people not to.


ANDERSON: Now, the very first screening, A.J., the first worldwide screening of "The Da Vinci Code" will take place tomorrow. I will be there. I`ll join you on the show tomorrow night to chat about it.

HAMMER: All right. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Brooke Anderson, joining us from Cannes in the south of France. And, as I mentioned, or as Brooke mentioned, she`s going to be at Cannes all this week, having complete coverage of the premiere of "The Da Vinci Code." She`ll join us every night right here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT at 11:00 p.m., Eastern.

VARGAS: Now, we want to hear from you. It`s our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. Countdown to "The Da Vinci Code": Does the controversy make you want to see the movie? Go to and send us e-mail at

HAMMER: Words of wisdom from Billy Joel, Bill Cosby and Melissa Etheridge. The stars come out to send college grads off into the real world. That`s coming up.

We`ll also have this...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Buy another dog there?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh definitely not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I don`t think so. No. And I`m not -- not this celebrity.


VARGAS: Major questions about a Web site where some of the biggest stars in Hollywood have bought their pets. Coming up, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT investigates a growing trend in Hollywood and beyond, buying puppies online.

HAMMER: Plus, where do those celebrity gossip writers dig up their dirt? We`re going to get the scoop from one of the most popular gossip writers around. Coming up, in the interview you`ll see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

VARGAS: And now a SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`S "birthday shout out," where we give fans a chance to wish their favorite stars a happy birthday. Tonight we`re sending one out to Jamie-Lynn Sigler, who`s celebrating her 25th birthday today.


CARLIE, FROM JERSEY: This is Carlie from Jersey. I want to wish Jamie-Lynn Sigler a happy birthday. I watch "The Sopranos" every Sunday. And it`s filmed in Jersey, where I`m from, so...



HAMMER: Tomorrow, Porn 101. We`re going to take you inside the controversy brewing in a classroom at a college where the curriculum is hardcore. Students watching porn in the classroom. We`re going to look into it tomorrow on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

VARGAS: Well, some college students throughout the country are heading off into the real world with some words of wisdom from the biggest stars of music and television.

First, Billy Joel. Joel sang a song for graduates and gave the commencement speech at Syracuse University over the weekend. He told the grads to follow their dreams no matter what. Joel, himself, never even graduated from high school. He received an honorary doctorates in music from the university.

And at Spellman College in Atlanta, Bill Cosby took to the podium to speak to grads.


BILL COSBY, SPEASK TO GRADUATES: People talk about it takes a village. I want to warn you, there`s prostitutes in the village. There`s drug dealers in the village. There`s crooked politicians in the village. And there`s men with plenty sperm cells, but no guts to take on responsibility of fatherhood in the village.


VARGAS: And in Boston, Melissa Etheridge gave the commencement address at the Berklee College of Music. Etheridge advised grads to go out there and be the musicians that they are and to be the keeper of the dream of music.

HAMMER: So, do you read the celebrity gossip? Maybe you don`t admit to it. But maybe you do read it. Do the gossip columnists make that stuff up? We`re going to get the inside scoop on all of that from one of the most popular gossip writers around. She`s here and she`s joining us for the interview you`ll see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

We`ll also have this...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How much oversight is there when you buy a puppy on the Internet?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s very little oversight.


VARGAS: Some major questions about a Web site where some of the biggest stars in Hollywood have bought their pets. Coming up, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT investigates a growing trend in Hollywood and beyond -- buying puppies online.

HAMMER: Also tonight, I had the chance to spend a little time with Halle Berry. We`re going to hear from her about turning 40. We`re going to hear from her about whether or not she actually wants to have kids. And of course, she`s coming up in the brand new "X Men III," soon to be in theaters. What is everybody talking about on the set? She`ll tell us. My interview with Halle is coming up on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. We`ll be right back.

SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, I`m Susan Hendricks. Here`s your Headline prime news break right now. President Bush addressed the nation earlier tonight, announcing a plan to combat illegal immigration. The president is calling 6,000 National Guard troops to help stop illegal immigrants from crossing into the U.S. Critics say the Guard is already stretched too thin from serving in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Well, for the first time the Pentagon is handing over all the names of everyone who has been held by the U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay. According to the "Associated Press," 201 names are on that list.

A 350-acre brush fire is forcing about 1,200 families from their Florida homes. Officials shut down a 12-mile stretch of Interstate 95 in Volusia County when the fire jumped the highway.

In sports, Quarterback Doug Flutie is retiring after a 21-year career in football; 43-year-old Flutie won the Heisman Trophy back in 1984. He spent 12 seasons with the NFL, and played for the Canadian football league earlier in his career.

That`s the news for now. I`m Susan Hendricks.


A.J. HAMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT for a Monday night. It is 30 minutes past the hour. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.

SIBILA VARGAS, CNN ANCHOR: And I`m Sibila Vargas in Hollywood. This is T.V.`s most provocative entertainment news hour.

HAMMER: So Sibila, do you think Halle Berry feels the pressure from Hollywood to stay impossibly fit so she can fit into those tough-to-fit-in costumes, like the one she wears in "X-Men III?"

VARGAS: I don`t know. She`s just looking so darn pretty and hot. I don`t think she probably does. She`s probably naturally that way.

HAMMER: We`ll find out from Halle herself coming up in just a few moments.

VARGAS: All right. Well, also, you know, Halle Berry is no stranger to the gossip columns. You know, she`s been in one or many -- a lot, actually. But you`ve got to wonder how do those gossip writers get all the juicy information? Well, we`re going to tell you that coming up a little bit later.

But first, stars and their dogs. Some celebrities are so attached to their pups, that they`ll take them to dinner, out to parties, even walk the red carpet together. You know you`ve seen some of them, right? But tonight some are calling the most popular place for the Hollywood set to buy their pooches doggone dangerous. Here`s CNN`s consumer correspondent Greg Hunter for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.


GREG HUNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What do the Osbornes, known for their hit MTV show, have in common with actress Jennifer Love Hewitt and singer John Secada? They all bought dogs from the same place. A company called the Wizard of Claws, also known as Celebrity Kennels. It`s run by this couple, Jim and Gilda Anderson. They offer what they describe as top-of-the-line teacup and toy sized dogs on the Internet and claim annual sales of up to $5 million.

They also claim to be the nation`s premiere supplier of puppies to the stars. Look at all the celebrities featured on their website who bought their dogs.

(On camera): You would think with a celebrity clientele like that, the dogs would come from a really posh exotic location. In actuality, they come from this store, located in a strip mall just outside of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Now don`t get me wrong, the dogs they sell are really cute. But some have real problems.

JENNIFER PURA, PURCHASED HER DOG ONLINE: Parasites, coccidia, giardia, vomiting, diarrhea.

HUNTER (voice-over): Jennifer Pura of California wasn`t prepared for the sick dog she got from the company, a shih tzu named Tucker. He cost $3,500 and an extra $5,000 in vet bills in just a year.

PURA: They overwhelmed us. I mean, we are still in debt from those bills.

HUNTER: To make up for some of the costs, The Wizard of Claws offered her this yorkie pictured on its website free of charge. Pura trusted them, because after all they have an impressive celebrity clientele.

PURA: If it`s okay for them, then it`s certainly okay for me. Not the case. Not the case at all.

HUNTER: The new dog, named Romeo, arrived at the airport extremely sick. Vet care immediately topped another $5,000, of which the company paid $1,200. Pura tried to nurse the puppy back to health.

PURA: You know, we really thought that there was a chance, just because we loved him enough and cared for him enough. And it wasn`t enough. Nothing was enough. He was so sick.

HUNTER: Romeo died within a month.

DEBORAH HOWARD, COMPANION ANIMAL PROTECTION SOCIETY: When you go to a reputable breeder, you`re not going to find, you know, a lot of dogs that have kennel cough, that have giardia, coccidia.

HUNTER: Deborah Howard heads the Companion Animal Protection Society. Her nonprofit group goes undercover to expose inhumane treatment at puppy mills, where dogs are bred in mass quantities.

HOWARD: We`ve seen dead frogs in water, dead rats.

HUNTER: She claims many dogs sold on the Internet come from places like this, where conditions are often unsanitary and crowded.

(On camera): How much oversight is there when you buy a puppy on the Internet?

HOWARD: There`s very little oversight, because Internet breeders are not regulated, as it stands right now, by USCA or any kind of government agency.

HUNTER: At all?

HOWARD: At all.

HUNTER (voice-over): Yet buying a dog on the Web is a growing trend. The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association says 150,000 dogs are bought online annually. But online, you have no idea who you`re buying from. Take, for example, the Wizard of Claws which, remember, also goes by the name Celebrity Kennels. They`re not a breeder, but they sell dogs online.

CNN has learned Jim Anderson is a convicted drug felon. And in 2003, his facility was slapped with six federal violations under the Animal Welfare Act for things like providing poor vet care and selling animals too young. Now the Florida attorney general has opened an investigation into the company, and several dissatisfied customers have filed lawsuits.

And there`s even this: a Web site called Former Miss Florida, Shannon Ford, started the site after her pug, that was supposed to be a miniature, no more than eight pounds, grew to 25 pounds. She claims Jim Anderson not only sells sick and defective dogs, but has also lied about their origin, age, registration and size. He`s now suing her for $4.4 million to shut her site down.

HUNTER (on camera): Do you think stop Wizard of Claws is a little rough on some guy trying to make a living?

SHANNON FORD, FORMER MISS FLORIDA: If you saw the complaints that I have, I don`t think you would think that.

HUNTER (voice-over): And what about some of those celebrity customers? Are they happy?

(On camera): You paid top price.


HUNTER: Did you get a top dog?

JOHN SECADA: I don`t think we did. I don`t think we did.

MARI SECADA, WIFE: We still love him.

JOHN SECADA: Absolutely. He`s a great -- you know, he`s a great dog.

HUNTER (voice-over): Singer John Secada and his wife, Mari, bought their first family dog, Sunshine, from Celebrity Kennels last August. He was supposed to be perfectly healthy, but instead had kennel cough for more than a month and a tooth problem that cost about a thousand bucks to fix.

MARI SECADA: It was causing a lot of bruising...

HUNTER (on camera): I can see that.

MARI SECADA: ... at the bottom. Yeah, bruising and bleeding.

HUNTER (voice-over): The Secadas say they were also told their dog came from a specialized breeder. But CNN has discovered Celebrity Kennels actually bought their dog, Sunshine, from an online auction.

JOHN SECADA: That`s a problem. We don`t know exactly where our dog came from.

HUNTER (on camera): Would you buy another dog there?

MARI SECADA: Oh, definitely not.

JOHN SECADA: No, I don`t think so. Not this celebrity.

HUNTER (voice-over): As for the other stars, a spokesperson for Jennifer Love Hewitt told CNN her dog had several health problems that needed vet care. However, the Osbornes told us the dogs they received were perfectly fine. To see first hand, we decided to order a dog from Celebrity Kennels.

About three weeks later, he arrives by plane to Atlanta.

(On camera): We have our dog.

(Voice-over): He appears friendly and alert.

(On camera): How ya doin`?

(Voice-over): His shipment was delayed, because the company told us they wanted our dog to get over kennel cough and an upper respiratory infection. We go directly from the airport to a vet.

(On camera): Here`s Champ.


HUNTER: How`re you doing?

(Voice-over): Dr. West Hamryka, Sugar Hill Animal Hospital in Georgia, agreed to check out Champ. The good news, our dog has no parasites, worms or other abnormalities. But there is this. Our puppy still has a cough and has watery eyes, which the vet says are signs of sickness.

(On camera): In your estimation as a vet, could I have just taken this dog home and given it to my kid?

DR. WEST HAMRYKA, SUGAR HILL ANIMAL HOSPITAL, GEORGIA: Not without not being perfectly healthy.

HUNTER (voice-over): We wanted to interview Jim Anderson about our dog and others.

(On camera): Hey, Jim, Greg Hunter, CNN. What do you have to say to all your unsatisfied customers around the country?

(Voice-over): He didn`t talk on camera, but on the phone he told us he doesn`t sell sick dogs. He says shipping causes a lot of stress. And out of the 9,000 sales in five years, he estimates only about 8 percent generated complaints.

Among those who complained, Jennifer Pura. Her dog Tucker still has health problems.

PURA: I`m constantly worried that there`s something wrong with him, which is not how it`s supposed to be. It`s supposed to be fun, and it`s supposed to lighten up your life. And it`s made it -- it`s made it sad and hard.

HUNTER (voice-over): And as for our dog, Champ, good news. He was adopted by a vet at the Dr. Hamryka`s clinic.

(On camera): You`re going to love him?



VARGAS: Oh, those poor puppies. Well, at least somewhat of a happy ending there. But by the way, A.J., readers of "The New York Dog" and "Hollywood Magazine Dog" say that Joss Stone is the best celeb dog owner out there. And the worst? Believe it or not, Tinkerbell`s mom, Paris Hilton.

HAMMER: I`d like to say I believe that.

Coming up, Halle Berry talks about hitting the big 4-0, wanting to be a mommy, and how her role in the new X-Men film got her thinking about racial issues.

HALLE BERRY, ACTRESS: I was thinking, hmm, if there was a cure tomorrow and the cure was I could be white instead of black, as if something was wrong with me being black, would I take it?

HAMMER: Halle Berry in the interview you`ll see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

VARGAS: Plus, just how do celebrity gossip writers build up no-name people into stars. Better yet, how do they knock them down? Find out the secrets from one of the best-known gossip writers out there. She joins us next.


HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, T.V.`s most provocative entertainment news show. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York. It is time now for another story today that made us say, "That`s ridiculous."

I`d like you to chew on this one. We`ve all heard the jokes about the British. Now some of them have, well shall we say, less than perfect teeth? But the British Dental Foundation doesn`t think it`s funny. So it did a little study, and it found out that 60 percent of people admitted using household items to pick at their teeth. The most popular teeth- picking devices -- are you ready for this? -- needles, scissors, knives and screwdrivers. We`re guessing the tool, the screwdriver, not vodka and orange juice. So we got to say, "That`s ridiculous," and quite honestly a little disgusting, Sibila.

VARGAS: Knives and screwdrivers? I mean, I`ll admit. I`m guilty. I`ve used other than a toothpick.

HAMMER: Like? Like?

VARGAS: Do I have to say it?

HAMMER: No you don`t. Let`s move on.

VARGAS: Yes, let`s move on, please.

HAMMER: Let`s talk about Halle Berry, because has certainly has beautiful teeth. In fact, she`s just beautiful all around. I had the chance to sit down with the "X-Men III" star. She plays Storm in the film. And among the things we chatted about -- her turning 40. Can you believe it? Wanting to be a mommy, and one of the biggest questions facing all Hollywood stars these days: Does she feel the pressure to stay thin?


BERRY: I deal with, I think, a much greater issue, which is my diabetes. So my workout, and my good health, and eating right is really to stay healthy and live, you know, a good life. And the result of that is usually a body that`s in pretty good shape. So when I think about it, I never think about I have to stay in shape for my job or for Hollywood. I have to stay in shape to live and live a good life. And that`s way more important.

So I`m not one of these people that really have felt that pressure, because I have a different deal that I deal with every day that`s more present in my life than staying in shape for Hollywood.

HAMMER: Do you talk at all to the young -- a lot of young actors on this particular film. Do you talk to them at all about those particular pressures?

BERRY: Um, sometimes, yeah. When it comes up sometimes, absolutely.

HAMMER: Because I imagine coming up in the business, it`s got to be something that they need to address individually.

BERRY: Yeah, and I see many people struggle with it, you know, especially the younger women of the industry struggle with it sometimes. And, you know, I hope they`ll get it under control.

HAMMER: A lot of people talking to you in your life about the fact that you have what is considered to be a milestone birthday coming up this summer -- turning 40. Everybody gets to draw attention to that. And there are a lot of people saying, oh you`re turning 40, you look great -- like you shouldn`t be. Right?

BERRY: Right. Right.

HAMMER: Are they saying things like that?


BERRY: ... look, you know, like haggard at 40. Yeah, they are. And it`s -- I`m really good with it. I`m happy that I`m turning 40. And I`m really healthy, and I`m in great shape. I feel good, like I`m at a really good time in my life at 40.

HAMMER: Is it causing you to be particularly reflective, or it`s just -- you`re just moving through and --

BERRY: I`m not particularly. But when people bring it up, like you just did, I`m forced to talk about it a lot.

HAMMER: Right.

BERRY: But for me, it`s like another year. I`m not a big birthday celebrator anyway. So it`s going to -- I`m going to be working on that day. It`s going to be like any other birthday.

HAMMER: I imagine something that is on your mind. Just from everything I seem to know about you, mommyhood. It has to be out there. Are you thinking about that?

BERRY: Yeah. I want to have a family.

HAMMER: It`s in your future?

BERRY: At 40 you do start to think of -- you need more of a reason to wake up these days, and it`s not just going to another movie set. But it`s about having something that`s real, that`s really important in this life. And when I die, I won`t be thinking about all the movies I made, I`ll be thinking about my family and children -- hopefully people that love me. And that`s what I -- I`m at that stage in life where I need to make that manifest. And so it will. I don`t know how, when, who, what, but it will manifest. I feel it coming into my life.

HAMMER: Well, you clearly have the perspective to know what`s really important. And that`s...

BERRY: Yeah. And it`s that right now.

HAMMER: ... that`s cool to hear. And so it`s so nice to see you front and center in this movie. That had to have been lots of fun for you.

BERRY: Oh, I feel like I`m an X-Man finally, like for real. And it feels good.

HAMMER: And to be clear, that is you flying around. That`s actually you.

BERRY: That is me, yeah.

HAMMER: They put you in a harness and sent you up there.

BERRY: Yeah, I really got to do it.

HAMMER: Big fun.

BERRY: That`s the best fun of all, to really get to do those stunts and have fun like that, yeah.

HAMMER: One of the things that`s at the core of this film, and in all the X-Men films, is that a segment of society is being persecuted because they are different.

BERRY: Right.

HAMMER: Obviously, there are clear parallels to things we face every day and have faced for generations in our society.

BERRY: Right.

HAMMER: Does that get talked about onset among you and the cast?

BERRY: Oh, yeah, we always talk about it. And especially with this new movie, "The Last Stand," you know, the issue of a cure is presented. And we talked about that a lot. You know, and we all sort of internalized it and thought -- I remember I was thinking, hmm, if there was a cure tomorrow, and the cure was I could be white instead of black, as if something was wrong with me being black, would I take it? You know, I thought about that a lot.

And I have a Down`s Syndrome nephew. And I thought, if I could cure him of his Down`s Syndrome, would I? You know? And everybody brought up - - you know, Ian McKellen, being a gay individual said, "Would I," you know, "not be a gay man?" Like we had these conversations. Oh yeah. It put a lot on our mind.


HAMMER: Well, Halle also told me that one of the greatest things she ever got to do was meet some of her role models at "Oprah`s Legends Ball." That special was supposed to air tonight, but apparently got bumped by some guy named Bush. It`s going to run next Monday. "X-Men III, The Last Stand" in theaters for the big memorial day weekend.

Well, Halle Berry has obviously been in a gossip column or two during her career. And admit it, you just love to read all of those juicy bits of celebrity dish -- all the blind items, who`s dating who, who`s a diva on set, the list goes on and on. But sometimes it can get pretty nasty. Just how do these gossip writers dig up all this stuff? Well, Deborah Schoeneman has written gossip for a bunch of New York City papers. She`s out with her very first novel called "4% Famous." She`s joins me here in New York.

It`s nice to see you.

DEBORAH SCHOENEMAN, AUTHOR, 4% FAMOUS: Thanks for having me.

HAMMER: I love the way you start off the book. Right there on the first page, a great quote from Woody Allen: "Gossip is the new pornography." Now he said that some 27 years ago. We took a poll recently on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. More people than not admitted to loving this stuff. So it really is still the new pornography.

SCHOENEMAN: It is. I think a major reason people read newspapers is just for the gossip. People watch T.V. for the gossip. We`re obsessed with what`s going on with celebrities, what`s going on in their private lives. We want to know every detail. Because part of it is we want to feel like we`re not alone. If someone`s going through a divorce, they want to hear about Jennifer Aniston. You know, she`s having this problem too.

Or also I think you want to know about celebrities to know what`s it like on the inside, how glamorous is it? It`s very voyeuristic. But also, you want to know it`s not so great. You know, your own life is pretty good. They`ve got tons of problems.

HAMMER: Yeah, we love seeing them shot down for sure. And that`s maybe how we can feel like, okay, they`re not so much better than us. And there are all kinds of celebrities that we love to read about; the mega famous, like the Brad Pitts and Madonnas, but also what you refer to as the four percent famous. Explain that concept. Who are these people, the four percent famous?

SCHOENEMAN: Well, there are people, especially in New York City, who can maintain a small level of fame, enough that the gossip columnists are not constantly trying to bring them up or take them down.

HAMMER: Such as who?

SCHOENEMAN: Such as maybe Andre Balazs, a guy who owns hotels in New York. Or a chef, like Eric Ripert at Le Bernardin.

HAMMER: Or people on, say, reality T.V. shows probably.

SCHOENEMAN: People on reality T.V. shows, actually I think they`re different. I think that often the gossip columns will build up these people out of nowhere, up to, you know, 60 percent, 70 percent and then cut them down to negative 20.

HAMMER: Well let me talk to you about that. Because you guys wield a lot of power in determining how much of a celebrity somebody can or cannot be. You actually will build somebody up, and then you`ll say one day, no, enough of them. Let`s knock them down. This actually goes on, doesn`t it?

SCHOENEMAN: It does. You know, I used to edit the party picture pages at "New York Magazine." And there are certain people we just wouldn`t run their picture, because we were sick of them. We said, enough. We can`t run these people anymore. Or certain people we specifically would want to try to find the party that they were at to include them.

It`s very fickle -- people going up and down all the time. And gossip columnists have a lot to do with public perception of who these stars are, and who matters, and who we should pay attention to, and who`s wearing which dress and which makeup and what movies we should look out for.

HAMMER: Well, we get tipped off quite often throughout the day here at SHOWBIZ TONIGHT as to who is allegedly doing this or that. Or we see these blind items in the newspaper. Would you please admit it to me? You guys make some of the stuff up, right?

SCHOENEMAN: Well, it depends on the publication. I never made anything up. I think though also with gossip, where there`s smoke, there`s fire. If there`s an item, or a blind item, or a mention of someone perhaps doing something, there`s usually some truth to it, maybe just 4 percent. But usually it`s not out of nowhere. Of course, as a gossip columnist, you have to be really careful about your sources.

I mean, there are plenty of people who want to plant mean items about someone they hate or they`re competitive with. And that can be great stuff. But that could also be completely false. You know, I have people trying to plant things, and then I would get the actual lawsuit and say, well, that`s not really the story that you tried to tell me. You know, the paperwork doesn`t really add up what you are trying to spin here in the media.

HAMMER: But the fact is some of it is made up. Not by you...

SCHOENEMAN: Not by me.

HAMMER: ... but by other people, it does happen.

Well, again, the book is called "4% Famous." Deborah, thanks for joining us here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

SCHOENEMAN: Thanks for having me.

HAMMER: Deborah Schoeneman. And the book will be in stores tomorrow, by the way.

VARGAS: On Friday we asked you to vote online on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. Oprah Winfrey -- do you look to her for spiritual guidance. Now, only 4 percent of you said yes, you do. Ninety-six percent of you said no, you don`t. Now here are some of the e-mails we got.

Ian from Alabama writes: What separates her from most clergy is that her message is one of personal responsibility for one`s mistakes.

And Cassandra from Maryland said: I don`t think anyone looks at Oprah for spiritual guidance. However, I do think Americans think of her as our own Princess Di.

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT will be right back.


VARGAS: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. Now, after months of controversy over "The Da Vinci Code," we`re just a few days away from when it hits theaters. It`s our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. Countdown to The Da Vinci Code" -- Does the controversy make you want to see the movie? Keep voting at And write us at We`ll read some of your e-mails tomorrow.

HAMMER: Well, speaking of "The Da Vinci Code," some very exciting news coming up for you right now in tonight`s "Showbiz Marquee."

Tomorrow, we have got your very first reviews of the highly anticipated Tom Hanks, Ron Howard film. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Brooke Anderson -- tough assignment this week -- hanging out at the Cannes Film Festival in France, at one of the very first screenings of "The Da Vinci Code." She`s going to tell us all about it. That`s coming up tomorrow on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

And did you have this course when you were in school? Porn 101. Tomorrow, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT takes you inside the controversy that`s brewing in a college classroom, where students watch hard-core sex. Is it a good education? Or does it set a bad xxx-xample? That`s tomorrow.

And that is it for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. Thanks for watching. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.

VARGAS: And I`m Sibila Vargas in Hollywood. Stay tuned for the latest from CNN Headline News. Bye.


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