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SHOWBIZ TONIGHT

Dakota Fanning Plays Child Rape Role in New Film; Anna Nicole Defies Court Order

Aired January 23, 2007 - 23:00:00   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: Well today is the day Anna Nicole Smith is supposed to submit her daughter to a paternity test. Did she do it? I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.
SIBILA VARGAS, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT ANCHOR: And "Grey`s Anatomy" star Isaiah Washington takes another dramatic step to bounce back from his anti- gay slur, but can he do it? I`m Sibila Vargas in Hollywood. TV`s most provocative entertainment news show starts right now!

HAMMER: On SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, Hollywood`s child rape shocker! SHOWBIZ TONIGHT right there as Dakota Fanning speaks out about the explosive movie where her character is sexually assaulted.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAKOTA FANNING, ACTRESS: I felt her pains and her joy and that made me want to play her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: The coast to coast outrage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it proper to use a 12-year-old, to exploit her in kiddie porn rape?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: And SHOWBIZ TONIGHT asks the daring question -- is it ever all right for minors to act in rape scenes?

The Hollywood surprise, tonight the Oscar nominations are out, and there are some rude awakenings. The yeas, the nays, plus SHOWBIZ TONIGHT gets the first reaction from all the stars around the world.

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

VARGAS: And I`m Sibila Vargas in Hollywood. A.J., we just got to talk about it. How about those Oscar nominations?

HAMMER: Oh yes, you know, this year`s roster of Oscar nods had more surprises, more snubs than any release I can remember. So SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is going to have all the Oscar shockers coming up in just a moment.

VARGAS: But first another stunning development in film, this one surrounding a movie that isn`t even out yet. Outrage over child star Dakota Fanning`s movie where we see her character getting raped on screen. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has to ask is it too much.

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Brooke Anderson joins us from the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah with the latest. Brooke?

BROOKE ANDERSON, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT ANCHOR: One of the films making its debut here at Sundance is "Hound Dog," a Period film, starting Dakota Fanning as an Elvis fan in the south. The on-screen rape of the main character, who is played by 12-year-old Dakota Fanning has outraged some, who say this movie crosses a disturbing line.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA WALTERS, "THE VIEW": She plays a 12-year-old who is sexually abused.

ANDERSON (voice-over): It is getting the attention of TV talk shows, culture critics.

WILLIAM DONAHUE, PRESIDENT, THE CATHOLIC LEAGUE: Is it proper to use a 12-year-old, to exploit her in kiddie porn rape? I think it`s wrong.

ANDERSON: And possibly even the U.S. Department of Justice.

FANNING: You ain`t nothing but a hound dog.

ANDERSON: The movie is "Hound Dog," starring 12-year-old Dakota Fanning. "Hound Dog" has been seen only by a handful of media and Hollywood insiders and doesn`t even have a distributor or release date yet.

FANNING: Daddy, guess what, I saw Elvis!

ANDERSON: But still, it`s in the middle of a hot controversy, because the character played by Fanning, one of Hollywood`s most recognizable child film stars, is raped on screen. It`s the story all America is talking about.

In just a minute you`ll hear directly from Dakota herself, as SHOWBIZ TONIGHT brings you the latest reaction to this shocking film. And we ask, have the film-makers and those guiding Fanning`s career crossed the line?

(on camera): Here at the Sundance Film festival in Park City, Utah there is no shortage of disturbing, unconventional and just plain strange indy films looking to make their way into a theater near you. But none has incited more outrage than "Hound Dog."

So Dakota and her co-stars were here to defend their film and face the heat.

(voice-over): SHOWBIZ TONIGHT cameras were there as Dakota Fanning spoke for the first time. She says her parents supported her choosing this role.

FANNING: It`s a script that I love. It`s ultimately my decision, because I`m playing the character. But, of course, my mom and agent read it, but it was no different than anything else.

ANDERSON: And how does Fanning respond to the critics?

FANNING: I hope that people that haven`t seen the movie and are saying some things, that I hope they do see the movie. I don`t let things that I can`t control bother me, and I know how much I love this story and how much I love my character, and no one can ever change that.

DONAHUE: We have laws in this country against child pornography.

ANDERSON: Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League, says he has written to the Justice Department. He wants a federal investigation to see if "Hound Dog" breaks child porn laws. He has even written first lady Laura Bush. Donahue tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT there is no reason to have a child like Fanning playing such a disturbing scene.

DONAHUE: This girl is about five or six years off of her tricycle. She is a pre-teen. There are a lot of sick men in our society who get crazy ideas from the Internet. Now they can get ideas about child rape from their local neighborhood theater.

ANDERSON: Unlike Donahue, "US Weekly`s" Bradley Jacobs has actually seen "Hound Dog." He tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT the rape scene and the film`s other disturbing scenes are shot tastefully and discretely.

BRADLEY JACOBS, "US WEEKLY": The central rape is handled very eloquently. It is actually relatively brief, this scene. It is tough to watch, but it`s handled in the right way.

ANDERSON: Of course, Dakota isn`t the first child actress to play disturbing roles. When Brooke Shields was also 12-years-old, she played a prostitute in 1978`s "Pretty Baby."

And a young Jodie Foster got an Oscar nomination for playing a child prostitute in the 1976 classic "Taxi Driver."

They both went on to successful acting careers. And Robin Wright Penn, who co-stars in "Hound Dog" with Fanning, tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, Fanning`s new role puts her on that same path.

ROBIN WRIGHT PENN, ACTRESS: Dakota is really, really talented, and serious about moving on, you know, moving on from America`s sweetheart into something more.

ANDERSON: The truth is Dakota Fanning is already a major star. She has worked with some true Hollywood heavy weights and her films have grossed more than a half a billion dollars. But she is still a child.

So the question remains -- will audiences go see a movie with a child being raped on screen? Will they look to the feds to crack down or will they simply look away?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: As we noted, "Hounds Dog" is looking for a distributor to put it into theaters.

HAMMER: That`s SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Brooke Anderson at Sundance in Park City, Utah. We`ve got a lot more on this shocking controversy on the way. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Brooke Anderson has actually scene "Hound Dog." So we`re going to get her reaction to the explosive film. That`s coming up in just a bit. Remember that SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is right there at Sundance all week long.

Tonight one man who knows exactly how a child actor can be impacted by the roles they play. Paul Peterson is president of A Minor Consideration, a nonprofit organization that`s formed to give and support young -- give support to young performers in the entertainment industry. Paul, like Dakota Fanning, was a child actor, mostly known for his role on "The Donna Reed" show. Paul joining me now form Hollywood. I appreciate you being with us, Paul.

PAUL PETERSON, A MINOR CONSIDERATION: Thank you. Pleasure -- well it is not a pleasure to be here, but good to see you.

HAMMER: Well some tough subject matter and let`s get to it, because I know you have not seen the film "Hound Dog." Very few people actually have. I do know that you`ve read the script. So what is it exactly about Dakota Fanning`s role in the movie that`s really bothering you? Is it the rape scene that everybody is buzzing about?

PETERSON: Not so much that. You know, this movie has been so sanitized by the editing process. It doesn`t at all capture what`s in the script, work that Dakota had to do. This is what bothers me. This is the workplace. This is not an abstract. This is a child, at 12-years-old, being asked to portray a minor in a sexually explicit scene, whether there is actual penetration or contact is not the issue.

Title 18 of the federal code is very clear about this. But here`s the question -- who has the right to give permission to a 12-year-old to do this? Not the parents, because if the parents did, this stuff would be all over the Internet, with a whole bunch of parents in distressed circumstances saying, well hey, I`m doing an art film. This is art. It`s not art.

HAMMER: So to be clear, because there are obviously a couple of sides of the controversy, there are those who would say this simply shouldn`t show on screen, you shouldn`t see a child being involved in scenes like this. You`re actually saying that it was her in the workplace that shouldn`t be subjected to whatever it took to actually make this happen.

PETERSON: That`s the point. Anybody familiar with the process of movie making knows you spend hours and hours just to get a few seconds together. And in this instance, you know, there was much more in the script than a rape scene. There was mutual masturbation scene with another minor. And who are we putting this child`s welfare in the hands of?

HAMMER: So Paul, what are you actually afraid for, in terms of what Dakota may experience because of having done what she did in this film? What is your concern as to what she had to partake in for the filming of this role?

PETERSON: I have big concerns. I have small concerns. But I want to remind everybody that Brooke Shields had a stalker for almost 20 years, Robert Mark Bailey. He was institutionalized. And don`t forget what happened to Jodie Foster. Remember, there`s John Hinckley tied to her, because of this fascination towards this character she portrayed. You can`t separate the life from the actress, because in a lot of people`s mind they combine.

HAMMER: So to be clear then, because you`re saying the responsibility shouldn`t rest simply with the parent or the actor because they are too young, and very quickly, do you think there needs to be a federal law in place here to protect these kids?

PETERSON: There already is a federal law in place to protect them. The question is, why do people think that somehow it`s OK, that Hollywood gets a pass? No, it`s not Hollywood. This is an independent producers who went to a state that has no child labor laws for entertainment.

HAMMER: Paul, I`ve got to wrap it up there. I do appreciate you giving us your insight, the other side of this controversy. Paul Peterson of A Minor Consideration thanks for being with us.

PETERSON: You bet.

VARGAS: Now we want to hear from you. It`s our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day, Dakota Fanning controversy -- is it ever all right for miners to act in rape scenes? Vote at CNN.com/SHOWBIZTONIGHT. Send us e- mail at SHOWBIZTONIGHT@CNN.com.

And remember, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is the only entertainment news show that lets you express your opinion on video. To send us a video e-mail, go to our website, CNN.com/SHOWBIZTONIGHT.

HAMMER: Well, as you know, there have been tons of outrage over Isaiah Washington`s anti-gay slur. The "Grey`s Anatomy" star is taking another dramatic step to bounce back and we`ve got that coming up.

VARGAS: After all the fighting today`s the day Anna Nicole Smith was supposed to submit her daughter for a paternity test. Did she do it? An exclusive interview with the lawyer for the guy who was suing for the test. We`ve also got this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PENELOPE CRUZ, ACTRESS: It`s a huge deal for me. I mean, the first time it happens to a Spanish actress.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: We will reveal to you the very special thing Oscar nominee Penelope Cruz has in common with other nominees. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT catches up with some of the biggest stars, as Hollywood picks the Academy Award nominees, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. 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 made us say, that`s ridiculous! We thought apartments here in New York City were expensive and tiny, but I`d like you to check this out.

In London, this apartment, a tiny little apartment in an upscale neighborhood, going for, are you ready for this, 335,000 dollars. Wait, there`s less, it doesn`t even have electricity. Oh yes, it is also 77 square feet small, total. The room hasn`t been used in years, so it is full of trash and crumbling paint. The agent says he has three offers so far. Now that`s ridiculous!

VARGAS: Well now the road to the Oscars. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT was right there as the nominees for the 79th annual Academy Awards were announced early this morning. We`ve been running around all day, tracking down the biggest names to get their reaction. In the best actor category, it`s Leonardo Dicaprio for "Blood Diamond," Tyan Gosling "Half Nelson," Peter O`Toole for "Venus," Will Smith "The Pursuit of Happiness," and Forest Whitaker in "The Last King of Scotland."

O`Toole, who is nominated for his eight best actor Oscar was really funny, telling us, "if you fail the first time, try, try, try, try again. A little more seriously, Dicaprio really happy people have paid attention to "Blood Diamond," which deals with a tough topic, the dangerous African diamond trade.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEONARDO DICAPRIO, ACTOR: You know, to be nominated for a movie like "Blood Diamond," it is an amazing film and a rare film. It`s not often within the system that you get to do a sort of poeticly charged thriller like this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VARGAS: Over to the actresses, Penelope Cruz in (INAUDIBLE), Judi Dench for "Notes on a Scandal," Helen Mirren "The Queen," Meryl Streep "The Devil Wears Prada," and Kate Winslet "Little Children." SHOWBIZ TONIGHT caught up with Penelope, who was thrilled that other stars of Hispanic background, like supporting actress nominee Ariana Baratza (ph) and best director nominee Alejandro Gonzales Siniorito (ph), both for "Babel," were recognized.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: This year it really feels like movies are starting to reflect the reality of what`s happening out there, you know, in the way all the cultures are mixing more and more, different languages, different accents. And before it was very rare to see a movie getting recognized, a movie that wasn`t in English. There are movies like "Babel" that are in four different languages. So it a year where that really feels different, and it`s great to be part of that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VARGAS: We also spoke with Helen Mirren, who talked about the care she took while playing Queen Elizabeth in a film about the days after Princess Diana`s death.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HELEN MIRREN, ACTRESS: I played the queen as truthfully -- I did a lot of research and I thought a lot about her, and then I came to my conclusions about her true psychology and personality and the person within the moment. And I tried to portray my understanding of her as truthfully as I could.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VARGAS: Lots more on the Oscar nominations coming up at 43 past the hour, the surprises and the shockers that left everyone scratching their heads.

HAMMER: Well, it has arrived. It is DNA deadline day for Anna Nicole Smith. Her old boyfriend, Larry Birkhead, says he is the papa and he won a court order for Anna to submit her daughter, Danni Lynn, for a paternity test. Is the mystery of who is her baby daddy any closer to being solved? Joining me tonight from Los Angeles for a SHOWBIZ TONIGHT exclusive interview, Larry Birkhead`s lawyer, Debra Opri.

Now, Debra, I know that you`ve been in court all day long. Doesn`t sound to me like any paternity testing would have been going on if you`ve been in court. The court order deadline for the DNA testing was January 23d. Looking at my watch here, which I`m not actually wearing, it`s January 23rd. That`s today. What`s going on?

DEBRA OPRI, LAWYER FOR LARRY BIRKHEAD: Well, Birkhead and Anna Nicole are both in the Bahamas. Anna Nicole was supposed to appear between 3:00 and 6:00 eastern standard time to submit to the test. At the 11th hour her attorney, who was supposed to be in the Bahamas as well, showed up in a Los Angeles superior court and basically said, at the 11th hour, oh no, we can`t proceed with the tests, because -- and the reasons they gave were too ridiculous to mention here.

But the long and short of it is, Anna gave Larry a heads up in a text message that is now in the public. She said, I`m not showing up, and she used the F word, and she is a very, very troubled woman.

HAMMER: Well, wait a second. So your client, Larry Birkhead, is communicating with Anna Nicole?

OPRI: Anna Nicole is communicating with my client. As far as the test, A.J., we never anticipated the test would go forward. We knew she wouldn`t attend. But the long and short of it is, we`re ready with a contempt motion and ultimately we`ll have an arrest warrant issued for when she comes back to the United States.

We knew this would be a fight, so I`m in a good mood today because we`re proceeding.

HAMMER: So is the only way for this to get resolved back in court? I mean, can you, I don`t know, sneak into their house with a cotton swab and get some of the kid`s saliva or something like that?

OPRI: You know, I do things the right way, and I don`t misuse the courts. And I will do what I need to do, and our attorneys in the Bahamas will do what they need to do to enforce the orders. And Anna Nicole will face the piper. She is a very, very troubled woman, and the context of her text message and the way she is ordering her attorneys to do the impossible by further delays, it shows she has no respect for the court system, and she has other troubles.

There is an inquest coming up in March, you know.

HAMMER: Did Larry respond to that text message? Because that seems like a huge no-no, that there would be any level of communication on their level.

OPRI: There is no restraining order in effect, and -- but for the paternity action, they have been in communication. As far as Larry`s response, the text message is clear. He asked her to do the right thing.

HAMMER: Well we have less than 30 seconds Debra. But what`s your message to Anna Nicole tonight? You said you feel pretty upbeat about where it`s going to go. What do you have to say to her?

OPRI: Anna needs to deal with the fact that the world does not circle around her. She has to obey court orders. She has to appear when she is ordered to. And she can hire attorneys until the day she dies. She has to follow the law. And I advise her to do so.

HAMMER: Debra Opri, lawyer for Larry Birkhead, thanks for being with us.

Well another battle that`s been nasty and getting even nastier, the jaw-dropping court room custody battle between Christie Brinkley and her cheating soon to be ex-husband. We have got those stunning details next.

VARGAS: And still tons of outrage over Isaiah Washington`s anti-gay slur. The "Grey`s Anatomy" star takes another dramatic step to bounce back. But a lot of people are asking, is it enough, coming up?

HAMMER: Also coming up, much more of SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s road to the Oscars. We`re going to have the surprises, the snubs and child star Jackie Earl Hailey (ph), after 15 years of being out of work in Hollywood, now finds himself with an Oscar nod tonight. It`s an amazing story. He will join us tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VARGAS: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, TV`s most provocative entertainment news show. I`m Sibila Vargas in Hollywood. Shocking new details from the Christie Brinkley-Peter Cook divorce battle. And folks, got to tell you, it`s getting pretty ugly. The two were reportedly pretty much at each other`s throats during a custody hearing in a Long Island, New York court room on Monday.

The couple has two young kids, and Cook took shots at Brinkley`s mommy skills, implying she passes off stuff, like helping the kids with their homework, to the nanny. Cook was also annoyed by stuff Brinkley supposedly wanted in the custody agreement. The "New York Post" said she insisted the kids couldn`t be asked to keep secrets from one parent.

And get this, Christie doesn`t want the children to take commercial flights when Homeland Security raises the terror alert to red, the highest level. But Cook apparently signed off on all of this stuff. The former cover girl model, who was married to Billy Joel at one point, filed for divorce last year after learning that Peter Cook was cheating on her with a teenage employee.

HAMMER: More on Hollywood`s child rape shocker. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Brooke Anderson has seen the movie causing all the explosive controversy, "Hound Dog," and in this movie 12-year-old actress Dakota Fanning is involved in a shocking rape scene. We are going to head to Sundance with the first reactions, coming up.

VARGAS: And much, much more on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s road to the Oscars, the surprises, the snubs, we`ve got it all. And child star Jackie Earl Hailey, after 15 years out of work in Hollywood, finds himself with an Oscar nomination.

HAMMER: Plus, are you ready to see some really unlikely roommates? A sea lion and a bunch of cows. Yes, that`s right. That`s ridiculous and that`s coming up next. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT for Tuesday night is coming straight back.

(NEWS BREAK)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

VARGAS: And I`m Sibila Vargas in Hollywood. This is TV`s most provocative entertainment news show.

HAMMER: "Grey`s Anatomy" star Isaiah Washington still trying to dig himself out from the controversy around his anti-gay slur that he hurled at one of his co-workers. He met with some gay community leaders. We`ll talk to a guy who was at that meeting, coming up in just a few minutes, Sibila.

VARGAS: And also tonight, Brooke Anderson is at the Sundance Film Festival, and she has a review of "Hound Dog," the very controversial film starring Dakota Fanning in that graphic rape scene. She`s going to tell us all about it, coming up.

HAMMER: But first tonight, the road to Oscar. It`s under way. A lot of big stars getting their expected recognition today - people like Leo and Meryl and Penelope. But there is one name on the Best Supporting Actor category that comes with an absolutely unbelievable story.

After massive child stardom with movies like "Bad News Bears," "Breaking Away," even on the show "The Waltons," Jackie Earle Haley found himself delivering pizzas and driving limos just to make ends meet. Well, now he finds himself with an Oscar nod for his riveting turn as a child predator in "Little Children."

Jackie Earle Haley joining us from his hometown of San Antonio, Texas. A little smile coming to your face when you hear that word Oscar.

Jackie, I`m - I`m so excited for you. Take me back to this morning, and when you found out. How did you find out? What happened? Who did you call?

JACKIE EARLE HALEY, ACTOR: Wow.

It - this is - this is beyond surreal. But it - it`s just an amazing experience. Needless to say, you know, last night, I didn`t get a lot of sleep, you know, in anticipation, just wondering, Wow, you know, is - is my name going to be there? And - and this morning, and it was 7:30 San Antonio time. And I was lying in bed and my - my wife came running in the room. She was crying; she was hysterically happy. And she was just screaming, `You got it! You got it!`

And - and her and I just hugged and literally cried for five minutes. It was just an unbelievable moment in time.

HAMMER: That - that`s beautiful.

And as I mentioned, what a path you have had from your childhood to now. You were just a recognizable, very successful child star. Who doesn`t remember you from "Bad News Bears," among other things? And you went from that to - to virtually nothing. Now nominated for an Oscar.

Could you ever have imagined this?

HALEY: No. No. This is - it`s crazy. You know, three years ago, and it just seemed absolutely impossible the notion to even get back in to acting. And to be sitting here today chatting with you is just - it`s - it`s flabbergasting. It`s just mind-boggling. It`s - it`s so enthralling and validating.

It`s just - it`s - it`s crazy. It`s - this has been a cloud nine like no other.

HAMMER: Yes. I - I - I think that you`re one of these guys who really appreciates where they`ve come from.

And I want you to take me back for a moment. Because when your star began to fade, you weren`t getting work any more, a lot of child actors have told me that they really had to hit rock bottom before they were able to recover, and - and get back on a path and maybe have some success.

Were there a lot of dark days for you?

HALEY: Well, you know, it was a - it was just a - it was a - it was a tough time. Things just started to kind of drift away in terms of roles and parts. And - and, you know, there was just a - it was - I was kind of faced with a decision. It was either start all over with acting, or take that same time and energy and focus and put it into somewhere else. So I - it just at the time made sense to kind of focus elsewhere.

And it - it took me about a decade and a half, you know, to - you know, the first half of that was just kind of struggling, trying to survive. And then the second half has been slowly working my way into directing television commercials, which is what I`ve been doing for the last few years here in San Antonio.

HAMMER: But back at the beginning when - when things were starting to more or less unravel, at least in terms of the career, I - I`ve heard from so many people, it can just have a crushing effect on your self-esteem when - when you were on top of the world.

HALEY: Yes, it`s a - I think it`s a - it`s a tough process for a - for a child actor to make that transition. And - and I think, you know, when things slowed down and when the parts started to drift away, I wasn`t aware of this at the time, but what happened is, you know, my self-esteem and self-worth kind of drift away with it.

And - and the reason it did is because it was unrightfully by me, you know, connected to - to that celebrity. And when that started to drift - you know, it took me a long time to just kind of find myself, and - and to get OK with - and comfortable being in my own skin.

And - and - but, you know, it - it`s actually - was a great journey. It was a great journey getting out there and - and - and - and just getting a - you know, OK with all that stuff from my childhood.

HAMMER: Yes.

HALEY: And finding a - a comfortable place as a - a mature adult. And - and - and I was successful at it. And I got pretty comfortable.

So this is - this is, like, icing on the cake. This is amazing.

HAMMER: Yes, I was going to say, now - now your biggest problems are, what am I going to wear? And what am I going to write in my speech? Who am I going to thank - thank first.

Jackie, we - we are thrilled for you, and I think every body is rooting for you tonight.

HALEY: Well, thank you so much. I can`t tell you how crazy this is. Thanks.

HAMMER: Jackie Earle Haley, I appreciate you being with us.

"Little Children" is in theaters now. Go see it.

And we`ve got more Oscar nominations, surprises and snubs coming up at 43 past the hour.

VARGAS: Well, Elizabeth Vargas is speaking out about leaving the anchor chair at "World News Tonight." Vargas left the broadcast in May, and she says she wasn`t forced out, but that she decided to step down when she got pregnant with her second child, and realized it wasn`t working for her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELIZABETH VARGAS, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I was at the same time having a series of conversations with my boss, because I had a 3-year-old son already.

OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: (INAUDIBLE)

E. VARGAS: Exactly.

And it was becoming difficult for me. I mean, to juggle all of that, and to do the job at work that I wanted to do, and to do - to be the mother I wanted to be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VARGAS: And Vargas is now co-hosting ABC`s "20/20." She said it was the right choice for her, but left open the possibility of returning to daily news when her children are older.

HAMMER: Tonight, Isaiah Washington is in total apology mode. The "Grey`s Anatomy" star`s latest attempt for redemption was to meet with gay- activist groups to understand how hurtful words can be.

But SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has been asking, Is an apology enough? Or should Isaiah lose his job for using an anti-gay slur?

Joining me tonight from Hollywood, Neil Giuliano, the president of GLAAD. He met face-to-face with Isaiah.

I appreciate you being with us, Neil.

NEIL GIULIANO, PRESIDENT, GLAAD: Thank you, A.J.

HAMMER: Now, Isaiah`s use of this gay slur has certainly had people up in arms over the past few weeks. What did he say at this meeting that you were at that specifically made you believe he is sincere about his apology?

GIULIANO: Well, he said he was sorry. He said he realized the enormity of the mistake that he made, and that he wanted to make amends, and that the amends really would be determined by his actions more so than his words of apology. And so we`re looking forward to working with him in the future and engaging him in some anti-gay bigotry work in this country.

HAMMER: Yes, I think the actions are going to be of the utmost importance in surviving his career, and - and just personally.

And I don`t want to diminish the importance of this meeting. It certainly was a start. But - but we got to face it: you know, this of course was part of Isaiah doing what he had to do, to save his job.

GIULIANO: Sure.

HAMMER: So...

GIULIANO: Of course.

HAMMER: ...do you feel confident, having been at the meeting, that it`s more than just posturing at this point? And - and - because, you know, whatever`s going on in Isaiah`s head obviously can`t be changed in the course of a meeting.

GIULIANO: He seemed very genuine, and he seemed very authentic. And - and I take that on face value as an opportunity for us to move forward.

The issue of his employment is - is an issue between him and his employer. And obviously, there are a wide range of opinions and beliefs on - on that - in my own community, and probably in - in the broader community as well.

HAMMER: Well, let`s talk about that specifically, because we did poll our audience here at SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, to - to see if they thought that Isaiah was going to, in fact, be fired.

And I want you to look at this: it was split right down the middle, 50-50. Now in a lot of work places, there wouldn`t be any second chances; you`re out of the door if you say something like what he said.

So if ABC does not let Isaiah go, I`m - I`m wondering what kind of message that that sends, and - and exactly where that line is.

GIULIANO: Well, it`s an interesting question. It`s one that a lot of people are going to grapple with.

We`ve heard from people on the one extreme, saying he should have been fired immediately. We`ve heard from people who have said that GLAAD and - and others are making too big of a deal of the entire incident.

For us right now, as an organization that works on - on advocacy for anti-gay - against anti-gay bigotry in this country, it`s important for us to move forward and use this opportunity to educate other people about how hurtful and harmful that kind of language can be.

HAMMER: Yes, I agree with you on that. And - and to the end of - of - some people have said, maybe too much is being made of this - some people say that Hollywood has gotten too sensitive and - and too PC. Now, I don`t agree; when it comes to hurtful words, it`s something else.

But what do you think?

GIULIANO: I would agree with you. I think we can never overestimate the power of words. And - and especially the power of offensive, hurtful words. And so it`s important for us to take the - the anger that we felt when we first heard about this when we first heard about this situation, and the offense that we took to it, and really program that now into something positive.

HAMMER: Yes.

GIULIANO: And I`m - and I`m that Mr. Washington is willing to do that with us.

HAMMER: Needs to be pointed in another - right direction. We`ll see what happens next.

Neil Giuliano of GLAAD, I appreciate you being with us. Thanks.

GIULIANO: Thank you, A.J.

VARGAS: Well, it may be the most talked-about movie at Sundance: "Hound Dog," featuring 12-year-old Dakota Fanning acting in a rape scene.

HAMMER: And our Brooke Anderson has seen the movie. So we`ll go back to Sundance to get her reaction to it.

And just ahead, we`ll also have this:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PENELOPE CRUZ, ACTRESS: This is a huge deal for me. I mean, the first time it happens to - to a Spanish actress.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: It`s a big day in Hollywood; the Oscar nominations. Penelope Cruz got one. But you know, there were a lot of surprises, and quite frankly, a few snubs. The complete wrap-up is coming up.

VARGAS: Plus, what`s a sea lion doing bunking up with a bunch of cows? We`ll tell you what spawned this weird roommate situation. That`s coming up next.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A.J. to desk with tracking for the E-block. Master, roll your break and effect black.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VARGAS: Well, welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, TV`s most provocative entertainment news show. I`m Sibila Vargas.

Time now for another story that made us say - come on guys, help me out with this - "That` Ridiculous!" Not bad for three people.

A dairy farmer in California got quite a surprise. He found a young sea lion just chilling with his milk cows. The farmer says the sea lion had to have come at least three miles - quarters of a mile to get there. Kind of a long field trip for a guy on flippers, right?

He said the cows were naturally curious about their new roommate. But they all got along just fine. A team from a marine mammal center is going to get the sea lion back to a more natural habitat.

But still, a sea lion showing up unannounced to a - to bunk with a bunch of cows? "That`s Ridiculous!"

HAMMER: Well, the Oscar race is on. The nominees have been named. And in the afterglow of the - afterglow of the Golden Globes, there are some nominees that quite frankly might have been shocked by how things shook out this morning.

We`ve got the major Oscar surprises with SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s nearly world-famous Oscar panel.

Joining us tonight from Hollywood, Tom O`Neil from theenvelope.com; Paul Degarabedian`s joining us, president of Media By Numbers; and right there, at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, Leah Rozen, film critic for "People" magazine.

Nice to see you both. Let`s get right into it.

Charles, our director, I`d like you to throw up the nominees, please, for Best Picture. I want to take a look at who was nominated in this category this year. Yes, I don`t see "Dreamgirls" anywhere.

Tom, what the heck is going on?

TOM O`NEIL, THEENEVELOPE.COM: That`s what I said this morning when I looked at those nominations.

Look, this movie was just named best picture of the year by the Golden Globes. It has the most Oscar nominations. It was just one of the five Best Picture for the Producers Guild, the Directors Guild. And right now, in theaters across America, it`s getting roaring standing ovations, and pretty good reviews from the critics.

The - you could say, Well, maybe the old, white geezers in the Academy don`t connect with this movie. But on the other hand, five black actors were nominated today. That ties the record. So you can`t accuse them of that.

I don`t know what to make of this.

HAMMER: Leah Rozen, what do you think? You know, you and I both agree, it`s a great movie. But I think we also agree, maybe not a Best Picture great movie. I don`t know.

LEAH ROZEN, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: Well, I think - I - I - I say it`s an uneven film. There`s some great moments in it, but it`s not uniformly great, and it really feels 20 minutes too long. You know, I really think most people were checking their watches.

And I`m guessing that`s how a lot of Academy voters felt. Plus, many of them probably saw it on their television using their Academy screener, and not on the big screen.

HAMMER: Yes.

ROZEN: And it`s a lot less impressive on an Academy screener.

HAMMER: I saw it at the Ziegfeld in New York City, one of the biggest theaters here, and - and it does make a huge difference.

Let`s move on to the Best Actor category, and who was nominated in this roll. Now a lot of people said, if there was one long shot, it would be Ryan Gosling. And he comes kind of almost out of nowhere, and he gets his (ph) nod.

Now Paul, this movie was not even remotely a box office hit. In fact, not a lot of people have even heard of "Half Nelson." So how does some thing like this happen?

PAUL DEGARABEDIAN, PRESIDENT, MEDIA BY NUMBERS: Well, I think the performance transcends the fact that the film has not made a lot of money. I mean, "Half Nelson," on the indie circuit has done pretty well on a per- theater basis. But in total, it`s made about $2.6 million. That`s not a lot of money.

But when you have a performance like this - not a lot of people have seen it, but obviously enough people did, and there - enough of the Academy voters saw it, and wanted to honor him for that performance.

HAMMER: And we`re - we`re talking about Oscar shockers here. I got to imagine a lot of people shaking their heads today saying, Well, where the heck was Brad Pitt`s name? Because he wasn`t exactly a long shot, right, Tom?

O`NEIL: Yes. Not only Brad Pitt, but also Ben Affleck. The - the tabloid boys got slapped today.

I thought it was very interesting, because we began this award year where Brad`s performance in "Babel" was so admiring. The movie did so well across the board, but he was shut out. I think he`s paying a price for this Brangelina business.

HAMMER: Let`s take a look, shall we, Charles, at the nominees in the Best Actress category.

And Leah, I want to - I want to talk to you about this. Because I - I actually heard one critic today saying, Well, this category was basically a lock back in November. No surprises here - Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep and Kate Winslet.

So - so Leah, will the real surprise be here if Helen Mirren doesn`t win?

ROZEN: That will be the true surprise.

Now, you know, she`s the odds-on favorite. But she is in some extremely good company. And, you know, Oscar voters may just decide, Oh, her mantle - her mantelpiece is full, let`s give it - let`s share the wealth.

HAMMER: In the Supporting Actor category, a lot of people shocked that Jack Nicholson didn`t get the nod that Mark Wahlberg ended up getting for the same film.

Paul, how does this happen?

DEGARABEDIAN: Well, Nicholson has been awarded so many accolades and - and Oscars over the years, I think it just wasn`t his time. It`s certainly time for "The Departed" to step up, and certainly it`s a movie that`s well-deserving.

I think Mark Wahlberg`s performance was great. When he came on the screen and he stars, you know, going on with that dialogue, you cant take your eyes off him. I think it`s much-deserved.

I think it`s great, really. And I think it`s not a surprise to me.

HAMMER: All right.

Well, then let`s move to the Supporting Actress category. No surprise that Jennifer Hudson got the nod. But 10-year-old Abigail Breslin - she`s the fourth-youngest nominee in this cat - or for the Academy Awards ever.

"Little Miss Sunshine," Leah, premiered last year right where you are at the Sundance Film Festival. I`m sure it`s all the buzz today.

So she and this movie really could cause an upset come Oscar time, couldn`t they?

ROZEN: Well, they could. Absolutely. "Little Miss Sunshine" could just sneak in there and win, though probably "The Departed" is the favorite.

And Abigail Breslin - you know, she`s been signaling to Hollywood, I`d like this award. She`s been doing her Lenos, her talk shows. And I think you`re going to watch her in the next month, and see how much she`s out there being adorable.

Tom, I got 10 seconds for what will be the biggest shocker come Oscar night.

O`NEIL: Eddie Murphy will not win. Alan Arkin is going to win the Veteran of the Year Award. That`s what that supporting category is going to be.

HAMMER: Yes, I don`t think I`m going to be shocked if Eddie Murphy doesn`t win. I thought he was terrific, but I don`t know if it was necessarily Oscar.

I appreciate you all being - being with us. Tom O`Neil, Paul Degarabedian in Hollywood and Leah Rozen right there having fun in Park City, Utah.

And don`t forget, mark your calendars, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT absolutely live right there with you on Oscar night, from Hollywood. So make sure you tune in.

VARGAS: Now SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has your first reaction to Dakota Fanning`s controversial new movie, "Hound Dog." The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Brooke Anderson is in Park City, Utah, and has seen it.

Brooke, what can you tell us about the rape scene we`ve heard so much about?

BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

Well, first, I want to say, Sibila, that I was dreading having to watch this rape scene. I did not want to have to sit through it. And yes, while it was very disturbing, very unsettling, at the same time, it`s very brief. It`s only a few seconds. So you blink, you kind of almost miss it, and Dakota wasn`t really exposed. You saw her face; you saw her hand and her arms.

So fortunately, it was very short. It was horrific; it was violent. But I was relieved that it was so brief.

But for much of the movie, Sibila, Dakota is just clothed in her underwear and in a little tank top in some very provocative, suggestive scenes. So - so there were parts that - that made a bit uncomfortable. As I said thought, that rape scene very, very brief, which I felt blessed by that, that the director did it that way.

There was a smattering of applause at the end. No standing ovation in the screening that I went to. Some mixed reaction from audience members as we were exiting the theater, and also when I got on the shuttle.

Overall, individual performances were fantastic. We`re probably going to be talking about Dakota Fanning this time next year during awards season. But overall, I didn`t think the film was all that great. Parts of it were compelling; parts were suspenseful. But some of it just dragged on, and some of it was, Where is this movie going?

And that being said, the movie is still looking for a distributor to put it into theaters - Sibila.

VARGAS: Well, all right, Brooke. Thanks for the update. And keep warm, of course.

Brooke will be right there at Sundance tomorrow, when she`s going to speaking with Tara Reid about her new film at the festival.

We`ve also been asking you to vote on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day": "Dakota Fanning Controversy: Is it ever all right for minors to act in rape scenes?"

Keep voting at cnn.com/showbiztonight. And write us at showbiztonight@cnn.com. We`ll read some of your e-mails tomorrow.

HAMMER: Just ahead in "The SHOWBIZ Weight Watch," we caught up with Heather Graham at Sundance. We asked her about the pressure to be thin in Hollywood, and how she feels about it. You`ll find out what she told us, coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...music under. Go Don (ph). Stand by, A.J. Pre- set Camera 2. Open his mike. Dissolve. Go.

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

It`s time now for "The SHOWBIZ Weight Watch." This is where we cover issues of body image in Hollywood like nobody else.

Tonight, actress Heather Graham speaks out about the pressure to be thin. We caught with Heather at the Sundance Film Festival, and she told us that she thinks the issue is not just a Hollywood thing, but that society in general tells women what they should look like.

Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HEATHER GRAHAM, ACTRESS: I think society a lot of pressure on women. You know, more so than men. And I just hope that in my -- I`d really like to rebel against it. It - I don`t - I think it really doesn`t matter what other people think. I just think it - if you could inside yourself feel good about yourself, like, that`s definitely the battle of every person. And - and I just try all I can to just tune every thing out and just feel good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: Heather Graham stars in the new movie "Adrift in Manhattan." It`s premiering at Sundance this week.

VARGAS: Well, yesterday, we asked you to vote on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT "Question of the Day." Fans outraged over "American Idol" judges ripping into contestants for the way they look.

So, "`American Idol`: Has it gotten too mean?"

We got a ton of responses, and get this: the vote is split right down the middle. Now, 50 percent of you say yes, and 50 percent of you say no.

Here are some of the e-mails we received:

Now Beth from Canada writes, "It has lost its vision as a talent show, and has become a platform for the judges to degrade and bully."

Melissa from California though, she writes: "It`s unfair to say that `American Idol` is being too hard on contestants. These people just want a taste of fame."

HAMMER: Welcome to the portion of the program where we take a look ahead, tell you what is coming up on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

Tomorrow, "Hollywood Hookups." We know; they happen all the time. We`re going to be talking about how they can completely change a star`s image. I mean, think about it: Britney lost her good-girl persona when she got together with Kevin; Nicole Kidman picked up and moved to Nashville for country star Keith Urban; Ben Affleck even became a total family man, a complete about-face from what life was like when he was with Jennifer Lopez. This list goes on and on. So tomorrow, we`re dealing with how relationships change the stars.

Also tomorrow, ooh, you`re going to need to buckle your seat belt. Janice Dickinson is back on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, and it truly is always a wild ride when the self-proclaimed "world`s first supermodel" stops by our studio. Janice is going to fill us in on her show, the Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency, and whatever else is on her mind. There always is quite a bit. That`s tomorrow, in the interview you`ll see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

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

VARGAS: And I`m Sibila Vargas in Hollywood. Good night, A.J., and good night, everyone.

"GLENN BECK" is next, right after the latest headlines from CNN Headline News.

END

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