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SHOWBIZ TONIGHT

Paris Hilton Fired From Own Bar; Effects of Tabloids on Women`s Body Image

Aired January 5, 2007 - 19:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


A.J. HAMMER, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT ANCHOR: Donald Trump`s wife weighs in on his feud with Rosie O`Donnell. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.
BROOKE ANDERSON, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT ANCHOR: And the man who fired Paris Hilton right here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m Brooke Anderson in Hollywood. TV`s most provocative entertainment news show starts right now.

HAMMER: On SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, Britney`s shocking message. Britney Spears finally breaks her silence about her wild ways, from her pantyless partying to shocking pictures of her looking just god awful. Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with Britney`s startling and very personal confession.

Will the real Simon Cowell please stand up? Cowell makes them cower, but is he really as rude, as mean, as he seems? It`s "American Idol`s" toughest judge like you`ve never seen him before. Tonight, a SHOWBIZ TONIGHT special report -- what Simon says about Simon.

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

HAMMER: Welcome to the weekend. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York. Paris Hilton, you`re fired. Yes, tonight only SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can exclusively bring you the guy who had the guts to fire Paris Hilton. Why did she get fired? Why did he do it? The exclusive interview coming your way in just a couple of minutes.

ANDERSON: But first tonight, Britney Spear`s shocking confession and she`s telling it to the world. Britney today turned her personal website into a confessional, seeming to admit she has been out of control. And wait until you get a look at the picture that had the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT staff staring in absolute disbelief.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: It is the pictures that made our jaws drop, Britney Spears coming out of a Hollywood restaurant, looking less than her best.

A "New York Post Headline" suggesting that months of hard partying and bad press are all taking a toll on Britney`s looks. Things have gotten so bad, even her former boyfriend sexy back singer Justin Timberlake could only turn his sexy back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT when we asked him about less successful ex.

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, SINGER: Oh, I`m not commenting on any of that. So thank you.

HARVEY LEVIN, TMZ.COM: She is the same kind of train wreck that K-Fed is.

ANDERSON: Now, Britney is trying to stop the train wreck. Fresh off of headlines suggesting she passed out as a Las Vegas club on new year`s eve, claims her people deny. Britney has posted a letter to fans on her website. She expresses regret over her recent headline grabbing antics.

LEVIN: Well she is clearly trying to do damage control.

ANDERSON: The letter reads, quote, the last couple of years have been quite a ride for me. The media has criticized my every move and printed a skewed perception of who I really am as a human being.

JO PIAZZA, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": When Britney doesn`t wear underwear, it is our fault.

ANDERSON: OK Brit, we`ll let that media thing go. She also addresses reports that a major Britney Spears fan site is closing down because the guy who runs it says, he is now sick of her, which he told us in an exclusive interview with SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

RUBEN GARAY, CREATOR, WORLDOFBRITNEY.COM: It`s more about not being able to believe in her as much as I used to do it.

ANDERSON: In response, Brit says in her letter, quote, I do understand all the reasons that went behind making that decision and I am sad to see it closing. If I were you I would be unhappy too if I had to read what I`ve been reading every day.

She adds, quote, but trust me, I get it. I know I`ve been far from perfect and the media has had a lot of fun exaggerating my every move, but I want you all to know that I love my fans so much, and I appreciate everything you have done for me. So thank you, thank you, thank you.

LEVIN: She was a person who, until recently, didn`t seem to care what other people thought. I think she cares now.

ANDERSON: But SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can tell you the funny thing about Britney`s letter is we`ve heard this song before.

It was back in November. Soon after she split from Kevin Federline, that she started getting bad press for her constant public partying, sometimes without wearing panties.

Then in December, she releases a repentive statement saying, quote, every move I make has been magnified. And quote, I probably did take my new found freedom a little too far, but the partying continued.

And now she`s starting January the same way, with another statement acknowledging her faults add blaming the media. It`s like a Britney Spears` greatest hits album, where she goes from unrepentant party girl in one song to mournful (INAUDIBLE), and back again.

Could this be a pattern?

PIAZZA: it seems like every month we have a Britney milestone. We have got her divorce papers, her statement saying I`m sorry; I`m going to stop partying real, real soon, and then this last statement saying, no guys, I mean it this time, I`m going to stop partying real, real soon. She is just running scared. She doesn`t know what else to do.

ANDERSON: And reportedly Brit has reason to be scared, if you believe what insiders have been saying about her upcoming comeback album.

LEVIN: There are reports that she has five tracks on her CD that are lousy and that the record company is so unhappy that they might drop it altogether. That CD has to be good or she is a has been.

ANDERSON: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT contacted Britney`s record label, which says those reports are not true. But it`s clear Britney recognizes what`s at stake. In her letter to fans, she promises that in her next album and tour she will be, quote, bigger and better than ever.

She better be or she`ll see more bad press and we`ll see another apologetic Britney statement.

PIAZZA: I really wish that we could keep celebrities away from the keyboard.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: And another bit of Britney news, this one concerning her divorce from Kevin Federline. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has confirmed the divorcing couple has reached a temporary joint custody arrangement for the month of January. They had each filed for sole custody, but again, the agreement applies only to January. Anyway, Britney`s letter to her fans, maybe a good step, a good first step, but she still needs to roll up her sleeves and do some more work to save her career and we have just the advice for her.

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is saving Britney Spears, coming up at 45 minutes past the hour.

HAMMER: Well now the exclusive interview you will see only here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, the guy who told Paris Hilton, you`re fired. His name is Fred Khalilian and he owns Club Paris, named after Paris Hilton. But Fred has had it with Paris. Actually, he is not the only one, but he did fire her.

Fred joining us tonight from Orlando, Florida. Hey, Fred.

FRED KHALILIAN, OWNER, CLUB PARIS: Hi, how are you doing?

HAMMER: I`m doing well. So, set it straight for me now. What exactly was Paris supposed to be doing for your club, and why did you fire her?

KHALILIAN: Well, we were supposed to be partners. We were supposed to take this whole concept and this brand and take it international and take it where I`m going to take it anyway. I`m not going to leave it where it is and I`m going to finish what I started. In a lump sum, that is what it`s really about.

HAMMER: But essentially, it came down to part of your arrangement with her is that you pay her X amount of dollars just to show up, and she hasn`t been showing up?

KHALILIAN: Well, it all began from the first night, the grand opening, when she was six hours late and she wasn`t really going to make it even that night but we -- me and a group of people, and some people on her team and my team, we kind of put the extreme effort into bringing her back from Switzerland.

HAMMER: And she has been asked to appear at the club and has not showed up, upon those requests, as part of her contract?

KHALILIAN: Well, she was there six hours late at the grand opening. The next night, which is the new year`s eve for us, our first new year`s eve, unfortunately, she wanted to spend new year`s eve, either in Miami or Vegas. So, I did make those arrangements for her and she did leave, and then after that I brought her back for her birthday and we threw a fantastic birthday party for her, and everyone`s seen it in every network, and all the pictures. After that, no other sign of Paris, except, rather than her coming to me, I went to her.

HAMMER: Even though she was supposed to contractually show up. Here`s what I don`t really understand about that, because Paris is obviously still seen out and about at the clubs all over the world. We see her out in New York, in L.A., and in Miami. So it`s not like you`re asking her to do something that she wouldn`t be doing anyway. So why do you think she is not showing up, Fred?

KHALILIAN: I don`t know. I mean, I spent almost four months with her last year. You know, including herself and her camp and the world knows, I helped her with the album. I introduced her to Scott Stocrchum (ph) in Miami. I was everywhere with her and I would constantly ask her, do you think we could stop by in Orlando? We were in Miami for over a month together. I think that with Paris is -- Paris is Paris. That`s why she is Paris Hilton, of course.

I do have a high level of respect for her, but she does what she wants. She does what she thinks is right and if you have an extreme business camp behind her, to enforce her, then maybe I didn`t have that type of power over her.

HAMMER: But you have a business to run. so you fired her. And to be fair, we did contact Elliot Mince, that`s here representative. Now he`s telling SHOWBIZ TONIGHT that they were never contacted by you. Instead, you went straight to the media. Can you set that straight? What is your side of that story?

KHALILIAN: Absolutely. I have e-mails, documents, phone records, that I have all -- I have it all prepared. I have confirmation that I just, around three weeks ago, sent it to Wendy Weiss, her personal assistant, who works for Hilton and Highland, and Wendy just sent an e-mail back to me about three, four days ago, about her SLR Maclauren, because I bought her that and the tag is expired.

We got an invoice about a week ago about her insurance is being expired, over $8,000 which is not paid. And there has been communication. There was communication, in regards to, she knew I was building a club in Jacksonville. It`s not -- I don`t want to point fingers and say who did it and who didn`t.

HAMMER: OK, but you have reached out to them is what you`re saying, and there is some level of communication. All right, real quickly, just bottom line it for me, is there a chance this could come to some sort of a resolution and you would actually take Paris back in as part of Club Paris?

KHALILIAN: There is a chance for everything in life. And for the record, I would like Elliot Mince and Paris to know this too, it wasn`t about me going to the media to make a point that Paris Hilton, you`re fired. It was about the fans, the customers, the employees, everywhere I go, especially in the past 60 days, everyone is asking Fred, where is Paris, where is Paris?

HAMMER: And like I said, you have got a business to run. Fred Khalilian I appreciate you joining us tonight on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

KHALILIAN: Thank you, my pleasure.

ANDERSON: So Brooke, you know we here at SHOWBIZ TONIGHT cover body image and Hollywood issues like nobody else. Well coming up, we are talking to the author of a new book, who says life does not begin five pounds from now.

ANDERSON: She is right. Yes, it doesn`t. And it shouldn`t, at least. That`s ahead in the SHOWBIZ Weight Watch. We`ve also been following, A.J., the war of words between Donald Trump and Rosie O`Donnell. But could their problems be solved by a bucket of chicken?

We`ll also have this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SIMON COWELL, "AMERICAN IDOL": I can remember being in the back of a taxi and I had the equivalent of about 5 dollars in my back pocket. And that was the end of my money.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: Simon`s secrets, how he went from being broke to breaking spirits on "American Idol." Simon Cowell like you have never seen him before. It`s a SHOWBIZ special report, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT for Friday night. This is TV`s most provocative entertainment news show. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York. It`s time now for a story that really made us say, that`s ridiculous.

By now you certainly have heard about the war of words between Donald Trump and Rosie O`Donnell. Trump has been ripping into Rosie right here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, and basically anywhere anybody will listen. But finally tonight, a solution, fast food. Yes, believe it or not, KFC, Kentucky Fried Chicken, has invited Trump and O`Donnell to any of its locations so they can split a bucket of chicken, to work out their differences.

And if all of this wasn`t ridiculous before, well it sure as heck is now. So pass the biscuits please, and that`s ridiculous.

Well Matt Lauer is celebrating ten years at the "Today Show." Congratulations Matt. As part of the anchorversary, Lauer`s predecessor and best friend Bryant Gumbell stopped by for a little walk down memory lane. But in the end, it was new co-host Meredith Viera who truly stole the show. Take a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATT LAUER, "THE TODAY SHOW": Things that made it so easy for me here to start out ten years ago was that Bryant handed me the baton here with such class and with such warmth that it was really -- it was one of the great transitions. And that`s, I think, because we were and are such good friends.

BRYANT GUMBELL, "THE TODAY SHOW": I can`t believe it`s 10 years ago. My goodness.

MEREDITH VIERA, "THE TODAY SHOW": We actually have the clip of the passing of the baton

(CROSS TALK)

LAUER: You have shown me and created such a terrific example and set such high standards for me. But most importantly, besides the professional things you have done for me, I thank you for your friendship. You have been my best friend over these past four years and I miss working with you every day, but I know we will see each other a lot.

(CROSS TALK)

VIERA: Was that the scene that was cut out of "Brokeback Mountain?"

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: Well done Meredith. Well Katie Couric also had a taped message for her former co-host. She said she hadn`t really had the chance to miss him because there`s this large build board of him and Viera that`s hanging across the street from the studio where she anchors the CBS Evening News.

ANDERSON: Now for the SHOWBIZ Weight Watch. This is our on-going coverage of Hollywood`s obsession with body image. We cover this stuff like no other entertainment news show. Tonight, a new study that shows how dieting articles, like the ones found in tabloid magazines, are driving young girls to practice extreme weight loss measures, like vomiting or taking laxatives.

And joining me here in Hollywood to talk about this, Jessica Weiner, author of "Life Doesn`t Begin Five Pounds From Now." And how true that is.

JESSICA WEINER, "LIFE DOESN`T BEGIN FIVE POUNDS FROM NOW": I know, right.

ANDERSON: Good to see you Jessica.

WEINER: Good to see you too.

ANDERSON: OK, this study, done by the University of Minnesota, basically found that headlines, like this one, this week`s "In Touch," thin for the new year, that those headlines are really bad for young girls. How bad?

WEINER: They`re as bad as we think they are. Listen, this is the kind of language that we see everywhere, and it`s not just on the cover of these magazines. It`s online. It`s in every commercial that we see. It`s in our mother`s mouths. We hear our moms talk about the same things. So, this obsession with dieting is not just limited to Hollywood, but when it comes from a powerful source like the media, it holds a much more powerful punch.

ANDERSON: And it`s incessant. You see it all the time. You know, people are bombarded with these articles, with these unattainable images. And the study found that it really does a number on young girls` self esteem, doesn`t it?

WEINER: Yes, I don`t think we should be so surprised about that, certainly if we`re going to look at magazine ad nauseum, we`re going to take in those messages. And if those messages are, you`re not good enough unless you lose weight, or look like this celebrity; she`s really thin, or don`t get fat, because no one`s going to love you. I mean, those are the messages that kind of come through, and girls, who don`t have a filter up yet about the media, and who see those images, and love those celebrities, they`re going to take it in as this is the doctrine; this is what it means to be a girl in the world, and we need to stand up and tell them something different.

ANDERSON: Yes, balance the influence. And something that`s really fascinating to me, Jessica, is there`s a Celeb-Speak going on, where young girls talk in the context of celebrities, in terms of these issues, saying things like, I want to be as thin as Nicole Richie, or I don`t want to look bloated like Britney Spears. Now, to me, that shows that celebrities can be a very negative influence at times. It`s frightening.

WEINER: They become characters in the lives of these girls. You know, I work with girls all over the country and all over the world, and they speak about celebrities as though they are a character in a role in their life. You know, and even though they don`t know them, and even though they probably will never get to know them, celebrities right now are huge for young women. They are their role models, and we have to kind of counter balance that a little bit. It`s negative when the celebrity`s behavior is negative, but I think it`s more negative the way we talk about celebrities all the time, and pick apart their body parts, and pick apart their (INAUDIBLE). I think a young girl hears that and, again, takes it in to mean her own body image and self esteem.

ANDERSON: And also, they shouldn`t be put up on a pedestal, because these young girls want to relate to that as well, and think they have to look perfect, don`t you agree?

WEINER: I agree, and I think, you know, we have to keep in perspective, the tabloid magazines have a job to do. They`re not there to really raise our self-esteem. So they`re going to be there to gossip, and we buy the gossip.

ANDERSON: And why do they put the same people, the usual suspects, for this issue. You`ve got the Nicole Richies, the Kate Bosworth. Why don`t they feature other people, talk about other things?

WEINER: We keep buying those magazines. I mean, this is a business. This is capitalism. So we as consumers, we want to hear that information. They`re going to provide it. That`s why we, and everybody watching your show right now, we have to do something differently. They will change. If we stop buying those magazines, they will change what`s in them.

ANDERSON: Maybe even say, for the new year, we should all make a resolution to go on a media diet.

WEINER: Well, we watch so much what goes into our mouths. I think we have to watch what goes into our minds. And I think we have to choose carefully where we put our attention. And listen, a little gossip doesn`t hurt anybody, and I would be a total hypocrite to say I didn`t enjoy it too, but you have to keep it in perspective. And if you`re a mom out there, and you`ve got young people in your life, you have to walk your talk a little better. You have to debunk the myth of celebrity. You need to build up their own self-esteem.

ANDERSON: Good point, hopefully in this new year we will see some major changes. Jessica Weiner, thanks as always. Her book, "Life Doesn`t Begin Five Pounds From Now," is on sale now.

HAMMER: And now we want to hear from you for our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day, diet advice in the media. Do you feel pressured to be thin? Vote at CNN.com/SHOWBIZTONIGHT or e-mail us at SHOWBIZTONIGHT@CNN.com. Remember, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is the only entertainment news show letting you express your opinion on video. So send us a video e-mail. Go to the website, CNN.com/SHOWBIZTONIGHT.

ANDERSON: A.J., the big news of the day, Britney Spears finally breaks her silence, but is it enough? SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with some advice on how Britney can save her career. That`s coming up, A.J.

HAMMER: Yes, and Brooke, I want you to smile, because there`s a good chance you`re on a cell phone camera. Coming up, the amazing ways that cell phones are capturing celebrity scandals, and why we just can`t turn away. We`ll also have this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COWELL: I can remember being in the back of a taxi, and I had the equivalent of about five dollars in my back pocket, and that was the end of my money.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Simon`s secrets, the shocking confession about how he went from flat broke to flat out feared on "American Idol," coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMMER: Well, you know, the staff here at SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is certainly not shy about talking about what we are loving. So here are this week`s SHOWBIZ Staff Picks. On TV, we just can`t get enough of Scrubs. Enjoy it while you can, because Zach Braff is expected to leave the show after this year, which truly would be a shame.

We are also loving "American Idol Rewind." Have you seen this yet? It`s the show that takes us back to the very first season. Not only do we get to see the likes of Justin Guarini (ph) and all that hair, but the people trying out clearly had no idea just how big this thing would get.

On the net, we`re crazy about Superficial Friends. It`s on Heavy.com. The animated show features Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie and the Olsen twins, ruling their empire from the great hall of anorexia, where they remain devoted to the concept of selfishness and social ignorance.

If you`re looking for a good read, pick up Nelson Demille`s "Wild Fire." With his sarcastic writing style, Demille takes a story about a terror plot and makes it funny. It`ll make you smile and it will scare the heck out of you at the same time.

And finally we are loving the color chocolate brown, because it is the new black in elegance again and it`s everywhere, fashion, interior design, even type setting. You can always find out all of the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT Staff Picks on our website, CNN.com/SHOWBIZTONIGHT.

Brooke, you know, the cell phone not just for talking anymore. Just got a really good picture of you. And the cell phone camera has actually played a minor role in many a celebrity scandal. A closer look, coming up.

ANDERSON: Yes, you never know when you`re on camera, anymore, A.J., and also we`re going to open up the Britney files again. What does she need to do to save her career? SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with advice for Britney, straight ahead. We`ll also have this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COWELL: I can remember being in the back of a taxi and I had the equivalent of about five dollars in my back pocket. And that was the end of my money.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: Simon`s secrets, a revealing look at how he went from being broke to breaking spirits on "American Idol" . It`s Simon Cowell like you`ve never seen him before, coming up in a SHOWBIZ special report.

(NEWS BREAK)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT for Friday night. It`s 30 minutes past the hour. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.

ANDERSON: And I`m Brooke Anderson in Hollywood. This is TV`s most provocative entertainment news show.

HAMMER: Well, Brooke, you know, Britney Spears and her now soon-to- be-ex K-Fed have both declared they want sole custody of their two kids when this whole divorce is finalized. Every body, of course, shaking their heads, saying, Well, that - that`s not going to happen, at least for K-Fed, for certain.

There has been a custody decision. We have it for you coming up in just a few moments.

ANDERSON: And a very interesting decision it is.

Also, A.J., Donald Trump`s usually reserved wife, Melania, is now jumping into that whole war of words with Rosie O`Donnell.

HAMMER: Oh good.

ANDERSON: She`s standing by her man with some biting words. And we`ll have that coming up.

HAMMER: But first tonight, can you believe it? The next season of "American Idol" just around the corner now. Tonight, we`ve got a very revealing look at "Idol" judge Simon Cowell and his stunning turnaround, including a shocking confession about being completely broke, and how the guy famous for wearing tight shirts pulled himself up from rock bottom when things got really tight for him.

Here`s CNN`s Kyra Phillips for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(SINGING)

SIMON COWELL, "AMERICAN IDOL": Thank you. What do you do, Christopher (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I work at the Phoenician (ph) front desk.

COWELL: Well, I have some good news for you. You`re going back to the hotel. That was appalling.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As a judge on "American Idol," Simon Cowell has been called rude, mean.

COWELL: That was like fingers going down a blackboard.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, sorry.

PHILLIPS: .and vain.

But he`s more than just a big mouth. He`s a risk-taker who`s been taking big gambles in business since his first job in the recording industry.

COWELL: Well, I did two years at EMI out of the mail room. And then a manager -- he was a smart guy -- he said to me, why don`t we just start a record label together. And why not? I was about 20, 21 with no money. We just took an office and started a -- a record label.

PHILLIPS: And with that, Simon Cowell was a record producer. A producer, that is, with no artists and a very low budget.

COWELL: I had about, in dollars, maybe $8,000 or $9,000, to find an artist, make a record, make a video, manufacture it, promote it.

PHILLIPS: Despite the lack of funding, Simon did find an artist. Her name was Sinitta (ph) and their first hit together, "So Macho," sold nearly a million copies.

The cocky record producer was on his way. At 29, Simon was a millionaire.

But his new-found fortune was about to disappear. By 30, he was living back at his parents` home in Elstree (ph). A buyout of his record company had gone sour, leaving him bankrupt.

COWELL: I can remember being in the back of - back of a taxi. And I had the equivalent of about $5 in my back pocket and that was the end of my money. And all I remember thinking is, Is this going to cover the cab ride to my parents` house?

PHILLIPS: Simon turned to legendary British pop producer Pete Waterman to help rebuild his career.

COWELL: So it took me about two years to eventually persuade him to work for me. And within that two-year period, I followed him around like a dog because I knew that this guy could teach me more in a year or two than I could learn in 25 years within a major corporation.

PETE WATERMAN, BRITISH MUSIC PRODUCER: You know, the one gracious thing about Simon, he`s never claimed he didn`t pinch (ph) all the ideas off me.

PHILLIPS: Simon eventually took a job with recording giant BMG, and found early success producing albums inspired by TV shows, such as "The Teletubbies" and "The Power Rangers."

But his biggest success came when he signed Westlife, an Irish boy band that went on to sell more than 45 million records.

(SINGING)

PHILLIPS: By the time he`d reached his early 40s, Simon Cowell was a certified powerhouse in British pop music. But it would take the success of the UK reality series "Popstars" to lead him to television. The TV talent show used judges to build new pop bands, and the format gave Simon, and music manager Simon Fuller, an idea with a twist.

CYNTHIA SANZ, SENIOR EDITOR, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: Simon was a successful record producer in Britain. And he and Simon Fuller, who is also in the music industry over there, came up with the idea of doing sort of a -- a televised talent show, like "Popstars" over there. But what made this one different is that the audience, the viewers, got to vote.

PHILLIPS: "Pop Idol" took Britain by storm, and the judge with the acerbic wit became a celebrity almost instantly.

COWELL: Honestly, it was terrible.

PHILLIPS: It was more than even the brash Simon Cowell could have imagined. Despite "Idol"`s phenomenal success in Britain, U.S. broadcasters were reluctant . And Simon himself doubted the show would make it in America.

COWELL: I thought at the time -- you know what? We`ll be on air for three or four weeks, we`ll be thrown off. We`ll have a nice holiday and go back to England.

RANDY JACKSON, "AMERICAN IDOL" JUDGE: Not everything that works in England will work and translate in America. And whoa, to become the biggest show is just so crazy. I mean, none of us knew.

PHILLIPS: "American Idol" has made Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson and host Ryan Seacrest household names. Interest and speculation about their private lives and relationships lands them in the news and on magazines.

Especially when it comes to Paula and Simon.

NIGEL LYTHGOE, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, "AMERICAN IDOL": Simon and Paula are like an old married couple. Each of them knows the weak spots.

They do build it up. They do know they get publicity from kissing each other and everything else.

TERI SEYMOUR, SIMON`S GIRLFRIEND: They have a love/hate relationship. But he`s always there for her, and she knows that. But he drives her crazy. Like he drives me crazy!

PHILLIPS: Behind the scenes of "American Idol," Paula Abdul also has to deal with the guys` club that developed among Simon, Randy and Ryan.

SANZ: The guys on the show really are friends. Simon and Randy and Ryan go out every week. They vacation together. They just have fun hanging out. Paula is sort of the odd woman out in that circle.

PHILLIPS: Simon certainly has his opinions of his fellow "Idol" judges, and they, in turn, have theirs of him, especially when it comes to his sense of fashion -- or lack thereof.

JACKSON: Simon Cowell is definitely the no-fashion guy. I don`t think he believes in fashion. He only believes in a designer, Armani. If you get out there -- Giorgio, man. Look, this guy loves you, man, but call and do -- hook him up, man. Say look, man, if you`re going to wear my stuff, don`t buy 20-pair of the same jean and 20 of the same t-shirt.

PHILLIPS: Simon Cowell`s sense of fashion may be stuck in the past, but he`s always looking forward professionally. And he insists that he sees a day in the not-so-distant future when he`s back working behind the scenes, instead of in front of the cameras.

For the judge America loves to hate .

COWELL: Travis, I`m not being rude but that, I thought, was appalling.

PAULA ABDUL, "AMERICAN IDOL" JUDGE: Oh, come on!

PHILLIPS: .it`s all about the next big thing.

COWELL: I`m very, very, very competitive. And I`m - and I`m only happy when I`m winning.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAMMER: That was CNN`s Kyra Phillips for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT

"American Idol" premieres on January 16.

ANDERSON: Yesterday we asked you to vote on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day." The Donald Trump-Rosie O`Donnell war of words doesn`t seem to be letting up.

So "Donald Versus Rosie: Has the whole thing gone too far?"

Very one-sided here. Ninety-one percent of you say yes; 9 percent of you say no.

Here are some of the e-mails we received:

Victoria from Minnesota says, "I am getting really tired of the whole argument. They should grow up and put their energy into something constructive."

And Shirley from New York thinks, "Donald is way too professional to take this so-called fight with Rosie as far as he has. It makes him look foolish."

HAMMER: No question about that.

You know, Melania, Donald`s wife, usually pretty quiet as far as public things go.

ANDERSON: Yes, pretty reticent to talk. Usually lets Donald do all the talking.

HAMMER: Well, she is actually speaking out, finally - this time about her husband`s fierce feud with Rosie. We`ll get into that next.

ANDERSON: Also, A.J., Britney Spears is speaking out as well. For the first time, she`s talking about the outrage over her pantyless partying.

We`ve also got this:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a cell phone that recorded the n-word rant.

MICHAEL RICHARDS, ACTOR: (INAUDIBLE)

MOOS: It was a cell phone that captured Mel Gibson`s partying before his rant.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: Well, you know, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT picked Britney Spears as the most controversial celebrity of the year. Now we`ve got the most controversial gadget out there. And we are dialing that up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Well, as much as we hoped, begged and, quite frankly, prayed for this Donald Trump-Rosie O`Donnell nasty war of words to just go away, it`s still going strong. Yesterday we told you that Donald`s daughter, Ivanka, ripped into Rosie. Now Trump`s wife, Melania, who really never says much of anything, is letting her have it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MELANIA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP`S WIFE: Well, I think she has a real issue and problem with herself, anger inside. And she need to work on that. It`s in - in herself. And if you watched "The View," you could see how hatred she has toward my husband, you know?

And nobody asked her to ask - to tell any story anyway. So what`s her problem? You know?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: I don`t know if we`re going to be hearing from the baby next. So that was from "Good Day, L.A.," by the way, out there in Hollywood.

Monday is going to be very interesting, of course, because that`s when Rosie returns on "The View" from her vacation. And you know we`ll be watching.

ANDERSON: Well, after a lot of debating, name-calling, hair-pulling - it got pretty ugly. After all of that, we here at SHOWBIZ TONIGHT picked Britney Spears as the most controversial celebrity of 2006.

But if we had to choose the most controversial gadget of the year, I think we can all agree on the one that gave us some pretty shocking star stuff: the cell phone.

Here`s Jeanne Moos for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MOOS (voice-over): If "Time" magazine can nominate you as the Person of the Year, then we can nominate the cell phone as gadget of the decade. It was probably a cell phone camera that let us walk up the stairs to the gallows, let us listen to the taunts of Saddam Hussein`s hanging.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

MOOS: It was a cell phone that recorded the N-word rant.

RICHARDS: (INAUDIBLE)

MOOS: It was a cell phone that captured Mel Gibson partying before his rant.

(on camera): True, most of what most of us do with our cell phones is less than momentous.

(voice-over): A dip in the tub, a friend scaling fish. But the cell is celebrated with cell-phone film festivals, and cell phones dancing to their own vibrations on the Web.

(PHONE VIBRATING)

MOOS: And as they got smaller and smaller, size became.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold on.

MOOS: . a "Saturday Night Live" joke. Which makes us all the more nostalgic for these old dinosaurs.

From "Wall Street".

MICHAEL DOUGLAS, ACTOR: Astonishing talent.

MOOS: .to "Lethal Weapon."

DANNY GLOVER, ACTOR: Terrific.

MOOS: They now look like lethal weapons.

The Motorola researcher credited with making the first cell phone in 1973 looks as if it took all his strength just to lift it.

But there`s something comforting about these old clunkers, especially when you notice them in documentaries like "The War Room."

GEORGE STEPHONOPOULOS, ADVISER TO BILL CLINTON: He`s heading your way.

MOOS: Or see them in film.

(PHONE RINGING)

MOOS: Julia Roberts` phone must have taken up every inch of her tiny purse.

JULIA ROBERTS, ACTRESS: George, I didn`t tell you my dress was lavender.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is your wake-up call, pal.

TOM CRUISE, ACTOR: Yes, we did. We won.

MOOS: They don`t call them bricks for nothing.

And on Web sites like Retro Brick you can buy second-hand or "pre- loved" cell phones for 100 bucks or so. A new boxed set will set you back about 300.

Some, like the brains behind phonebashing.com, seem to hate all cell phones.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Turn off the phones! (INAUDIBLE)

MOOS: They apparently dressed up a cell phone, grabbed other people`s cells and trashed them.

The New Year is a time for nostalgia.

GLOVER: I`m getting too old for this (BEEP)

MOOS: So are these.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: That was CNN`s Jeanne Moos phoning it in for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

By the way, that very first Motorola - Motorola, rather, cell phone weighed two pounds and cost $4,000.

HAMMER: Big news for Britney Spears tonight. We have got the shocking photo that really makes it look like Britney`s wild partying is catching up with her.

Now Britney is talking directly to her fans about her crazy, headline-making behavior. It was all in a new message that she posted today on her very own Web site.

And this is what she said, in part: "The last couple of years have been quite a ride for me. The media has criticized my every move and printed a skewed perception of who I really am as a human being. I know I`ve been far from perfect, but I want you all to know that I love my fans so much, and I appreciate every thing you have done for me."

Joining us tonight from Hollywood, Anna David. She`s the author of "Party Girl," and is a reformed wild child herself.

Joining me here in New York, "In Touch Weekly"`s Tom O`Neil.

A pleasure to have you both here.

TOM O`NEIL, "IN TOUCH WEEKLY": Good to be here.

ANNA DAVID, AUTHOR, "PARTY GIRL": Thank you. Good to be here.

HAMMER: You - you know, I got to say, we followed Britney`s career from the very beginning. And we were very shocked when we saw this photograph, to see the transformation that has occurred over the years.

Charles, can we - can we throw this particular split screen we do now. On the left - don`t be afraid of that guy, by the way. He`s not a stalker; that is executive producer of SHOWBIZ TONIGHT Dave Levine (ph) with Britney at the age of 17, looking young and beautiful and innocent.

On the right, there she is 25 years old, out on the town in West Hollywood.

Tom, you look at that picture, and I got to say, Not a flattering shot of Britney.

Doesn`t it kind of prove to the critics what every body`s been saying, that the partying is catching up with her?

O`NEIL: Oh, it is. It`s - it`s clear.

And you look back at that picture from when she was in her late teens, and those days we cared about her music. We cared about her. The big question was, Was she sleeping with Justin? Now she just looks like the town floozy. I mean, she`s gone the other way.

HAMMER: Anna, what`d you think when you saw that picture? Because like I said, not - not really a pretty picture. I mean, we call it what it is.

DAVID: It - well, you know, we - what we do starts to wear on us. We start to look like what we do.

And yes - no, in - in just seven years or so, she`s aged it looks like about 17 years.

HAMMER: And if you look on the statement on the Web site - and I think it was a - a move in the right direction, certainly, that she put this out there today. She`s got to start communicating with the fans.

But she says that she thinks the media is exaggerating every thing and blowing it out of proportion.

I got to say, Tom, we`re - we`re kind of calling it like we`re seeing it. The pictures of the pantyless partying are real pictures. Those aren`t made up.

O`NEIL: I know. I know.

HAMMER: Do - do you think she`s right? Have we blown it out of proportion?

O`NEIL: We have taken it another step. We - we used this, as Jay Leno does, for joke material.

But what she`s now acknowledging is that the basic stuff is so ridiculous itself. And she takes no responsibility there. And all she says is, I was less than perfect.

Well, come on. You`re twice being cited for - for that baby stuff in the cars and the panties and the passing out in - in - or the lack of panties, and the passing out in night clubs. This is serious stuff.

HAMMER: Yes, and it`s really going on.

And - and look, maybe she is, as I said, making a - a move in the right direction.

Anna, you know, I - I can`t believe for a moment that she actually sat down and wrote the letter on her Web site.

DAVID: Right.

HAMMER: .herself. How - however - I mean, to me, when I read it, it seemed kind of like a do-or-die PR move, with every thin that`s been going on recently.

DAVID: Oh, well I really got the feeling that somebody like Larry Rudolph (ph) or some body who works with her sat her down and said, We`re writing this letter. I mean, when you compare it to sort of Lindsay Lohan`s crazy missives that have gotten out to the public, it`s very - you know, it`s very well-written.

But I agree with Tom. I mean, she takes absolutely no responsibility for what she did. And if you`re going to do a mea culpa, we as a public are so forgiving so long as you just are slightly accountable. You know, you - it goes back to sort of Hugh Grant getting - you know, getting in trouble, and then going on Jay Leno the next night and saying, Yes, I did this. And suddenly we forgive you.

HAMMER: And Tom, you - you have sort of a different perspective though.

We were talking right before we went on here. You don`t really want to see her try to become some thing that she once was, in terms of that beautiful image and that very poised superstar. You want her to keep acting like she`s acting, don`t you?

O`NEIL: Every village needs an idea.

(CROSSTALK)

O`NEIL: No, I - let - let - let - let`s point to probably the most important new trend in celebrityhood over the past seven to 10 years. And that is, it feeds the fantasy that you can be an idiot and be still cool. It`s "The Beverly Hillbillies" syndrome. That was the message of that old sitcom.

Now we have Paris Hilton. We have Anna Nicole Smith. We have Ozzy Osbourne. We have - you know, Jessica Simpson not knowing what Chicken of the Sea is. And it`s glamorized.

Britney has evolved into a cartoon, tabloid character. And you know what? It`s a good job. She does it well. She - she - I think.

(LAUGHTER)

HAMMER: Go ahead (INAUDIBLE)

O`NEIL: I think that`s her future. That`s who she is.

HAMMER: Yes. Well, you - I - I can see you just want her to be true to who she`s being now.

Anna, I`m sorry, we`re out of time. We`ll have to take that up another time. And - and we`ll see if she becomes your village idiot, or - or remains that way, Tom, indeed.

Tom O`Neil, Anna David, I appreciate you both joining us.

DAVID: Thank you.

HAMMER: Of course, Anna`s the author of "Party Girl"; Tom from "In Touch Weekly." And I appreciate you joining us.

ANDERSON: We`ve been asking you to vote on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day." A new study out says reading magazine stories about weight loss could cause young girls to go on extreme, dangerous diets.

So, "Diet Advice in the Media: Do you feel pressure to be thin?"

Keep voting at cnn.com/showbiztonight. Write to us, shobiwztonight@cnn.com. We`re going to read some of your thoughts on Monday.

And remember, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is the only entertainment news show that lets you express your opinion on video. So send us a video e-mail. Just go to our Web site, cnn.com/showbiztonight.

HAMMER: I`m very excited about this - "Transformers" -- do you remember them? You know, "more than meets the eye." Those robots in disguise?

Well, here we are more than 20 years since we first plopped ourselves in front of the TV to watch the cartoon after school. "Transformers" are back. Your very first look in tonight`s "SHOWBIZ Showcase." That`s coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: OK, so if you lived through the `80s, you remember the "Transformers." Robots in disguise, more than meets the eye. Don`t be embarrassed. Sing along at home if you want.

Well, now there`s a live-action movie. So put on those legwarmers, grab your Rubik Cube. Here`s your first look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: .it sounded like several sonic booms.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At 0900, Soxon Ford (ph) Operations Base in Qatar was attacked.

The only lead we have is this sound.

MX3 (ph) pilot, power down now. Have your crews step out, or we will kill you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh my God.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Those Transformers have mad skillz.

"Transformers" hits theaters July 4.

HAMMER: Mad skillz!

Time to find out what`s coming up on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

This weekend, would Oprah ever consider running for president with George Clooney as VP? Hey, we can always dream, right? SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s seven celebrity wishes for 2007.

And on Monday, Rosie O`Donnell back on "The View" from vacation. Will the nasty Donald Trump-Rosie war of words rage on? We`ll be watching, so you watch SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on Monday.

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

ANDERSON: Join us this weekend, same time, same place.

I`m Brooke Anderson in Hollywood.

"GLENN BECK" is coming up next, right after the latest headlines from CNN Headline News. Keep it right here.

END

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