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SHOWBIZ TONIGHT

Heath Ledger`s Amazing Oscar Nomination; Oscar Surprises and Snubs; Protecting the Obama Kids; Jenna and Barbara Bush`s Message to Sasha and Malia Obama; Aretha Franklin Dissing Her Own Singing?

Aired January 22, 2009 - 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, CO-HOST: Now, on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, tragedy and tribute. Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with the amazing story of Heath Ledger`s Oscar nomination, exactly one year to the day after his tragic death. Tonight, the Ledger legacy. Plus, the stunning Oscar surprises and the snubs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEONARDO DICAPRIO, ACTOR: I want to feel things.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with the big controversies and the one- on-one star reactions to the Oscar nominations.

The SHOWBIZ Obama Watch. Tonight, brand-new, eye-opening details about the life of the Obama kids in the White House. How the president and first lady will protect them, revealed. The Malia and Sasha fashion frenzy. And the very special message to Obama`s daughters from President Bush`s daughters.

And Aretha Franklin dissing her own singing at Obama`s inauguration?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARETHA FRANKLIN, SINGER: It by no means was my standard. I was not happy with it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: Why is the Queen of Soul being so hard on herself?

FRANKLIN (singing): My country, `tis of thee

HAMMER: TV`s most provocative entertainment news show starts right now.

(MUSIC)

Hello, I`m A.J. Hammer, broadcasting tonight and every night from New York City.

BROOKE ANDERSON, CO-HOST: Hi there, everyone. I`m Brooke Anderson, coming to you tonight from Hollywood.

Tonight, Heath Ledger, the tragedy and the tribute.

HAMMER: Like an improbable plot line right out of a movie, Heath Ledger was nominated for an Oscar today, exactly one year to the day of his tragic death.

It was on this day a year ago that 28-year-old Ledger, one of Hollywood`s biggest and most talented movie stars, was found dead in his New York City apartment. Even now, the shock of that has not worn off.

And today, it was only fitting that Ledger would be nominated for his amazing performance as The Joker in "The Dark Knight," one of the most successful movies of all time.

Now, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has complete coverage of all the Oscar shockers today. But we begin with the story of Heath`s nomination, because it is making big news right now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Heath Ledger, from "The Dark Knight."

HAMMER (voice over): It may not have been unexpected, but everyone is talking about Heath Ledger`s best supporting actor Oscar nomination for playing The Joker in "The Dark Knight."

ALICIA QUARLES, ASSOCIATED PRESS: In a way, it`s kind of bittersweet.

HAMMER: Not to mention eerie, because this joyful announcement comes exactly one year to the day after SHOWBIZ TONIGHT brought you the news that shocked us and all of Hollywood.

(on camera): Shocking breaking news tonight, Heath Ledger is dead.

(voice over): Now, Ledger`s Oscar nomination, a year after his death, hits like a fresh blow to fans who still can`t quite believe he`s gone.

QUARLES: Obviously, we lost this great actor, but it`s wonderful he`s been honored for his work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The young actor, Heath Ledger, has been found dead at his Manhattan home.

HAMMER: On January 22nd, 2008, Ledger`s body was found in his New York City apartment.

QUARLES: Heath Ledger died of an accidental prescription drug overdose.

HAMMER: At 28, Ledger had already risen to the top of Hollywood`s A-list, thanks to his Oscar-nominated performance in "Brokeback Mountain."

At the time of his death, he just finished his work as The Joker in "The Dark Knight," a role that apparently had taken quite a toll on him.

QUARLES: He said that he was having problems sleeping and he was taking Ambien.

HEATH LEDGER, ACTOR (as The Joker): This town deserves a better class of criminal.

HAMMER: "The Dark Knight" was released six months after Ledger`s death. His critically-praised performance helped make it one of the highest- grossing movies of all time.

LEDGER: Why so serious?

HAMMER: And now, a year after his tragic death, Ledger`s last completed movie role is up for Hollywood`s biggest honor. But SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can tell you, some people are asking the same question Barbara Walters asked on "The View" Thursday morning.

BARBARA WALTERS, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER AND CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": Do you give it to Heath Ledger because it was such a tragedy and such a sentimental choice?

HAMMER: Alicia Quarles of the Associated Press tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT almost from the moment Ledger wrapped work on "The Dark Knight," people were saying he would get an Oscar nomination.

QUARLES: The buzz was there way before he passed away. I remember interviewing Heath Ledger a couple years ago at the Toronto Film Festival when he was filming "The Dark Knight." And there was so much buzz around it. You know, everybody was saying this is going to be the role that puts him in Oscar contention.

HAMMER: And in recent weeks, his performance has been racking up a ton of posthumous awards.

QUARLES: Earlier this month, Heath Ledger won a Golden Globe for his performance in "The Dark Knight." And Heath Ledger`s mother said that they planned to give the statue to his little girl Matilda so she`ll have a piece of her father.

HAMMER: Matilda, Ledger`s 3-year-old daughter with actress Michelle Williams, may soon have an Oscar statuette to remind her of her father. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can tell you Ledger is considered the odds-on favorite to win the best supporting actor Oscar. That would make him only the second actor ever to win an Academy Award after his death. The first was Peter Finch for the movie "Network" in 1976.

PETER FINCH, ACTOR: I am mad as hell, and I am not going to take this anymore!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Heath Ledger, "The Dark Knight."

HAMMER: Still, Ledger`s Oscar nomination on the anniversary of his death is providing yet another sad reminder of the huge talent we all lost a year ago.

QUARLES: When I think about the irony that Heath Ledger gets nominated for an Academy Award one year to the day that he died, I just can`t really wrap my head around it. This is a guy that had great promise. He should have been with us for years to come, yet he`s gone too soon. But I`m glad he might be honored in Hollywood.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: And I would imagine that it`s been such a heartbreaking day full of mixed emotions for everybody who knew or worked with Heath Ledger.

With me now in New York tonight, Jessica Shaw - she`s a senior writer for "Entertainment Weekly." In Hollywood tonight, Carlos Diaz, who`s a correspondent for "Extra."

Jessica, Carlos, I was right there at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills when the announcement was made that Heath got the nod and the emotion in the room was almost palpable.

Carlos, should we be at all surprised that Heath got nominated for his role as The Joker?

CARLOS DIAZ, CORRESPONDENT, "EXTRA": Not at all. It`s not only the best performance this year, it`s probably one of the best performances in the last decade. I mean, it`s an amazing performance.

We were talking about this performance before he died. I remember being in this chair exactly one year ago today talking about the tragic death of Heath Ledger and saying that he had already put in a great performance as The Joker.

And I have nothing but respect for Barbara Walters, but when I heard her say that on "The View" today, that they were going to give it to him or should they give it to him because of his passing, I could not disagree more. It`s about the performance, not the passing.

ANDERSON: Yes. You know, anybody who has actually seen Heath in "The Dark Knight" would agree that his performance is outstanding, was outstanding. Let`s take a look at a clip from the movie.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEDGER (as The Joker): This town deserves a better class of criminal, and I`m going to give it to them. Tell me you`ll work for me now. This is my city.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I won`t work for a freak.

LEDGER: Why don`t we cut you up into little pieces and feed you to your pooches, huh? And then we`ll se how loyal a hungry dog really is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: As Carlos said, you know, Heath was getting big Oscar buzz even before his death, even before the film was released.

So Jessica, I think we can all say that this was not a sympathy vote. He probably will be a sentimental favorite but not a sympathy vote.

JESSICA SHAW, SENIOR WRITER, "ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY": Oh, absolutely not. I mean, he is absolutely extraordinary in this film. And as you said, anyone who has seen this movie knows that his performance definitely justifies an Oscar nomination.

ANDERSON: Yes. And you know, he`s up against some really heavy duty competition, though. The other nominees for best supporting actor - Josh Brolin for "Milk"; Robert Downey, Jr., "Tropic Thunder"; Philip Seymour Hoffman - "Doubt"; Michael Shannon, "Revolutionary Road."

Carlos, what do you think? Is it a lock for Heath and if not, would you hate to be the guy who beat Heath Ledger and had to get up there and give an acceptance speech?

DIAZ: I think whoever does win, if it`s not Heath Ledger, will basically give the award to Heath, you know, at least in some part. I feel sorry for those guys having to walk the red carpet and every question they`re going to be asked is going to be about Heath Ledger. So I feel sorry for them in that way.

I would have to say that the front runner - if you`re not looking at Heath Ledger - would have to be Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Doubt" - I mean, an amazing performance.

I love the fact that Robert Downey, Jr. was nominated for "Tropic Thunder." That is amazing. And you know, Josh Brolin in "Milk" - Josh was amazing in "Milk." So all great performances including Michael Shannon in "Revolutionary Road." So it`s tough, but it`s got to go to Heath Ledger.

ANDERSON: Yes, I agree. The other guys, to me, really don`t stand a chance.

Jessica, what do you think? If somebody else, though, does win, you pretty much have to dedicate it to Heath, shift the award maybe to his family.

SHAW: Absolutely. Yes, you definitely don`t want to be the guy that takes this award away from him. You want to make sure that Matilda has a nice little Oscar to put next to her Golden Globe.

ANDERSON: Right. Carlos, how amazing really is it that this nomination comes on the exactly one-year anniversary of his death? Whether or not he wins, this is the perfect tribute, isn`t it?

DIAZ: It is a great tribute. And I remember exactly what I was doing one year ago to the day, we were having a birthday party for one of our bosses here. We just had the same birthday party. And during that party they said, "Heath Ledger is dead, go and be on CNN HEADLINE NEWS."

And, you know, it was like two hours of just recapping his career. And it is the most fitting tribute for Heath Ledger that you can think of to be nominated for an Oscar one year after his death.

ANDERSON: Yes. I think it`s a great way for the entertainment industry to really give him a fitting farewell.

And I really also cannot begin to imagine the range of emotions, though, that his family in Australia must be feeling right now. And same goes for Michelle Williams, his ex-girlfriend and mother of their 3-year- old daughter Matilda.

Jessica, this has got to be a bittersweet day for them, right?

SHAW: Absolutely. I mean, there`s nothing that can, you know, get them over the death, the loss of someone like Heath and a family member.

But certainly, to see how the industry and how Hollywood has embraced him and is so enamored of him and of his work and so respectful of everything that he`s done, that`s got to feel good on a day like today which is so, so sad to be able to say, you know what? He was an incredible actor and look at the recognition that he`s getting.

ANDERSON: Yes, well-deserved recognition. Jessica Shaw, Carlos Diaz, thank you for now.

But hey, stick around, because we`re going to look at more of today`s big Oscar nominees and find out which stars got snubbed. That`s coming up later on in the show.

You know, A.J., the Obamas have been in the White House just a couple of days, but already their kids have become huge stars.

HAMMER: Absolutely, Brooke. And tonight, I know Barack and Michelle are taking some pretty big steps to protect the kids. Brand-new, eye-opening details about the life of Sasha and Malia in the White House.

And you definitely don`t want to miss this - a very special message to the Obama daughters from President Bush`s daughters. That`s coming up.

Also, how President Obama and his wife are getting people in the mood for love.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I fell in love all over again.

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Have you noticed how they affectionate they are?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s terrible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: I think it is so nice how Barack and Michelle are so close. So will their affection inspire others to get onboard the love train?

HAMMER: And SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with so many more big surprises at today`s Oscar nominations. Were both Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie nominated? Can you see them walking down the carpet together as nominees?

And what happened to poor Leo DiCaprio? Right now, we have a look at more today`s Oscar nominees. Remember, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is going to be live right there at the Oscars in Hollywood on February 22nd.

And for a complete list of nominees, all you have to do is check out our Web site, CNN.com/ShowbizTonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RON HOWARD, BEST DIRECTOR NOMINEE, "FROST/NIXON": Having won takes a little of the pressure off. But I think in some ways, it allows you to savor the possibility even a little bit more.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP OF THE OBAMAS DANCING)

BEYONCE KNOWLES, SINGER (singing): Here we are in heaven, for you are mine at last.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: Tonight, the first couple of love. Barack and Michelle Obama, a vision of love at the first dance on inauguration night. Tonight, how that loving feeling is spreading across America.

Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York. And tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can now reveal how the first couple of love is inspiring couples everywhere.

There was a collective "awww" as the new president and first lady danced the night away on inauguration night. Many people are hoping that President Obama can fix the economy, but here`s what we are asking tonight, could this lovey-dovey couple actually improve the state of romance?

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

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It was bad enough - the hand holding, the kissing, the arms around one another. But when they did this, women everywhere swooned over the cuddly first couple.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love it. I loved that they love each other and they show it in public.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just exudes out of them. It spills over, and it just comes to all of us.

MOOS: If this keeps up, America`s going to need a cold shower. When Beyonce sang "At Last" to the Obamas on ABC -

KNOWLES (singing): And here we are in heaven -

MOOS: Enthralled gawkers looked like they were in heaven. Not since Annette Bening danced with Michael Douglas in "The American President" has a slow dance gotten folks so revved up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I fell in love all over again.

MOOS (on camera): Have you noticed how affectionate they are?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s terrible.

MOOS (voice over): Even when the president stepped on her dress, it seemed cute rather than klutzy.

(on camera): Half of you are probably all goo-goo eyed right this second, smiling at the TV set, watching these images. Get a grip. Some even marveled at their grip while dancing. That`s what they did.

(voice over): This partially obscured snuggle on the parade route ends up on front pages all over the country.

(on camera): Oh, this is about their -

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Awww -

MOOS: What`s that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just saw the picture. Really nice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Aren`t they the sweetest, most romantic? This says hope -

MOOS (voice over): On YouTube, this couple celebrated their second anniversary with an "anniversinauguration," dancing along with the first couple. But dancing is not the only thing being emulated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like the fact that they have like a date night, you know, once a week. Actually, a lot of my friends have implemented that into their own relationship.

MOOS: You don`t need a psychiatrist to figure out why folks are so smitten with the Obamas seeming smitten.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because that`s essentially something we all want.

MOOS: The first lady even switched the hand she used to hold the president so she could wave with it, then switched back. Some say the dancing reminded them of newlyweds at a wedding.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were definitely at the top of the cake.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, at there`s a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that a lot of weddings don`t.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAMMER: I`ve got to admit, I was a little goo-goo eyed watching that piece, Brooke. That was CNN`s Jeanne Moos for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I saw you were goo-goo eyed, too.

ANDERSON: I was.

HAMMER: The "Showbiz On Call" phone lines keep ringing. In fact, I can hear them right now off in the background, people calling in with their emotional messages for President Barack Obama and his family.

ANDERSON: That`s right, A.J. We got a call into "Showbiz On Call" from Stacey in California. Listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

STACEY, CALLER FROM CALIFORNIA: I just wanted to say congratulations to President Obama. I`m very proud of him. Proud to be American. I was a Hillary supporter originally, but there`s no doubt in my mind that we, the Americans, have made the right decision and that things are going to get better for all of us in this country. Thank you.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Thank you for that, Stacey. We also heard from Serreta from Tennessee calling in to "Showbiz On Call."

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

SERRETA, CALLER FROM TENNESSEE: I never thought that I would see anything so great or wonderful in my time. And it`s just so exciting and so wonderful. I`m just so proud of America, period.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

Thank you, Serreta. You can call us at "Showbiz On Call" to let us know what you think about this or anything else at all.

ANDERSON: The "Showbiz On Call" phone lines never close. They`re open 24/7. The number is 1-888-SBT-BUZZ; 1-888-728-2899. Simply leave a voicemail. We will play some of your calls right here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

And your calls to "Showbiz On Call" are also now online. That`s on our homepage, CNN.com/ShowbizTonight.

So what about the Obama daughters? People are already talking about their fashion, how they are meeting their favorite stars. It`s our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day - The Obama Kids: Are Malia and Sasha role models?"

Vote CNN.com/ShowbizTonight. E-mail us, there`s the address, showbiztonight@cnn.com.

HAMMER: And I`ve got to believe, Brooke, moving into the White House, it has to be exciting and I imagine a bit intimidating for the Obama girls.

ANDERSON: Yes, that`s true, A.J. Where can you play? What can you touch? Tonight, though, I hear that they`re getting some great tips.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How great is this letter? How nice of Jen and Barbara.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER (voice over): The letter titled, "Playing House in the White House," is a survival guide of sorts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: Yes. How cool is this? Jenna and Barbara Bush, President Bush`s daughters, have given Sasha and Malia Obama a list of do`s and don`t`s for living in the White House. That`s coming up.

ANDERSON: And I was right there in Beverly Hills for this morning`s Oscar nominations. I`ve got to tell you, some huge surprises and huge snubs.

Did Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt get yeses? And what happened to poor Leo DiCaprio? Why did he get a big fat no?

HAMMER: And this is so bizarre and it`s pretty scary, too - reports tonight that John Travolta is caught in the middle of a $20 million extortion plot having to do with his son`s death.

ANDERSON: And now the SHOWBIZ News Ticker - more stories from the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom making news right now.

(CAPTION READS: "People" magazine: George Clooney returning to "ER" for its final season. Soul singer Duffy and Coldplay lead Brit Award nominations, the British Grammys.)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VIOLA DAVIS, BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS NOMINEE FOR "DOUBT": I actually am not looking to win. I honestly am honored to be nominated. I didn`t even think I was going to get the role.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

ANDERSON: And I`m Brooke Anderson with some more stories that are making news right now.

HAMMER: Brand-new Anna Nicole Smith controversy. According to TMZ, Howard K. Stern and Larry Birkhead are teaming up in a lawsuit. Now, Stern is suing a former colleague of Birkhead`s former lawyer. Among other things, Stern says this guy suggested that Stern drugged Anna Nicole Smith.

Birkhead has actually signed a sworn declaration in support of Stern. And what`s so interesting is that, of course, Birkhead and Stern were enemies at one point, bitter enemies, fighting over Anna Nicole`s baby, Dannielynn. But soon after, it was Birkhead determined to be the daddy and they called their fight off.

ANDERSON: Sarah Palin might be leaving Alaska behind and heading to Hollywood. "The Hollywood Reporter" says the former VP candidate has hired a Washington attorney by the name of Robert Barnett. This guy has set up book deals for former President Bill Clinton, his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and even President Barack Obama. He handled Obama`s "The Audacity of Hope."

Barnett has also done TV deals for Brian Williams and CNN`s own Christiane Amanpour and Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Now, a lot of people are talking about Palin running for president in 2012, so let`s see if she would get a TV gig before then.

HAMMER: I love this story, and I`m not sure why. Tonight, a brand-new Britney Spears controversy. And actually, it`s been a long time since I`ve used "controversy" and "Britney" in the same sentence.

Well, the Parents` Television Council is protesting Brit`s new song, "If U Seek Amy" and wants radio stations not to play it. The PTC`s beef is that they believe the song violates the Broadcast Decency Law if it runs between 6:00 a.m. and 10 p.m. And the reason for that, the PTC says, if you say the song title, "If U Seek Amy," quickly and out loud, it spells out the F-word.

No word yet from Britney`s label, Jive Records. But there is an edited cutout there that changes the word "seek" to "see." "Amy" is pretty high rotation on stations and still well iTunes, so it`s going to be interesting to see how it all plays out, Brooke.

ANDERSON: Yes, A.J. And you know, when Britney was out of control, a lot of people demanded that she be left alone, that she have some privacy.

HAMMER: That`s right. And tonight, I know the Obamas are doing the same thing for their two young girls. Coming up next, how President Obama and Michelle are putting on a full-court press to protect Sasha and Malia.

Also, the brand-new, amazing advice from President Bush`s daughters to the Obama girls in a letter.

ANDERSON: And I was right there in Hollywood for this morning`s Oscar nominations and let me tell you, there were some huge surprises. Did both Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt get nominated?

And unlucky Leo. Why did he get snubbed? Plus, Heath Ledger is honored on the one-year anniversary of his death.

And also this -

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANKLIN: It, by no means, was my standard. I was not happy with it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: Wait a second. Is that the queen of soul, Aretha Franklin, dissing herself? Oh, why Aretha? Why?

Now, remember, you can always stay on top of the most provocative entertainment news with our daily SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsletter. Just head on over to CNN.com/ShowbizTonight, and click on the "signup for newsletter" link at the bottom of the page. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is coming right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How great is this letter? How nice of Jenna and Barbara.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: The letter, titled "Playing House in the White House," is a survival guide of sorts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: Now, on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, the SHOWBIZ Obama Watch. Brand-new details about Sasha and Malia Obama`s new life at the White House. Plus, what president Obama and the first lady plan to do to protect their daughters.

Hollywood`s gold rush. Surprises and snubs at the Oscar nominations. Will brad and Angelina be going as nominees? Why was Leonardo left out?

Plus, honoring Heath Ledger`s legacy. His nomination comes one year to the day after his tragic death.

TV`s most provocative entertainment news show continues right now.

(MUSIC)

HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. It is 30 minutes past the hour. I`m A.J. Hammer, broadcasting tonight and every night from New York City.

ANDERSON: And I`m Brooke Anderson, coming to you tonight from Hollywood. And right now, the first kids.

HAMMER: Yes, tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has a revealing new look at life in the White House for Barack and Michelle Obama`s two young daughters, Malia and Sasha. And the amazing special message to Obama`s daughters from President Bush`s daughters. And SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can now tell you that both the president and the first lady are speaking out in no uncertain terms about how they plan to protect their kids from the prying eyes and do everything possible to make their lives normal.

This is absolutely fascinating and we begin with CNN`s Alina Cho for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): They`re arguably the most famous children in the world now living in America`s most famous house, a fishbowl few understand. Jenna and Barbara Bush do, and they want to give Sasha and Malia Obama some advice.

"Surround yourself with loyal friends and cherish your animals. When your dad throws out the first pitch to the Yankees, go to the game."

ANN SCHRADER, "POLITICO.COM": How great is this letter? How nice of Jenna and Barbara.

CHO: The letter, titled "Playing House in the White House" and published in "The Wall Street Journal", is a survival guide of sorts, the life inside 160 Pennsylvania Avenue. After all, the Bush twins` relationship to the highest office in the land goes back 20 years, to when their grandfather was elected.

Among the tidbits, "If you ever need a hug, go find Ramsey. If you want to talk football, look for Buddy. And if you just need a smile, look for "Smiley," the White House usher.

SCHRADER: They are the White House butlers who, you know, the girls will see every day. And that will be people that they will probably grow pretty close to.

CHO: Not since John-John and Caroline Kennedy has America been so seemingly fascinated by first children.

DOUG WEAD, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: The White House is a blur. It is very fast. It`s a short part of their life. And it`s the best part of their life.

CHO: Why Jenna and Barbara Bush are advising Sasha and Malia to go to anything and everything you possibly can. The Bush twins know all the highs and lows of life in the spotlight. They were once known for partying and ditching the Secret Service.

SCHRADER: When you get caught sort of doing things and the press attacks you for it - they learned. And who better to get advice from than people who lived through it, gone through it and learned and realized, "OK. Maybe we shouldn`t do that."

CHO: Which brings Jenna and Barbara Bush to this, "Our dad, like yours, is a man of great integrity and love. Not a sketch in a paper or part of a skit on TV. So here is our most important piece of advice, remember who your dad really is."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAMMER: Good advice indeed. That was CNN`s Alina Cho for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

So how will the two most famous girls in the world handle all of the fame that comes with being the daughters of the president of the United States?

Joining me tonight in New York is Ashleigh Banfield who`s the anchor for "In Session." And also in New York, it`s Dawn Yanek, who`s the editor- at-large for "Life and Style Weekly."

So President Obama is well aware that every move his young daughters make is going to be scrutinized. But I want you to watch what the president told CNN`s John King about the press being fair about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: My hope is the press is going to be respectful of the fact that growing up is hard enough without doing it in a fishbowl. We`ve asked them not to follow them around, not to take pictures of them when they`re not with their parents doing something that is a public event.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: All right. Ashleigh Banfield, over to you first. President Obama, obviously as media savvy as they come and he clearly knows the game. But do you think the press will actually honor his request and just stick to capturing the girls at public events?

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, ANCHOR, "IN SESSION": Yes, absolutely. In fact, the press has been very respectful of all of the children of the White House who are under the age of 18.

Jenna and Barbara had a really tough time with the press because they went off to college and they did some naughty things and they were involved with the law. That got coverage.

But these are kids and they are off-limits. And I think you can look back as far as even Caroline Kennedy. A lot of the things you saw about Caroline were publicly staged. The other stuff - no, it`s hands off and the press is respectful of that.

HAMMER: Yes, and I think particular sensitivity will be given due to their ages as we saw. It`s been a long time since children this young had been in the White House. Malia is 10, Sasha is 7.

And the media attention gets more and more intense every day. In fact, "The View" co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck talked about her 3-year-old daughter`s fascination with the Obama girls. You`ve got to see what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELISABETH HASSELBECK, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": She saw the picture of Malia and Sasha, together looking at their parents. And she was taken by it. She said, "Mommy, I`m going to rip this out." And I said, "OK, you could." She says, "I want to save this." And so I said, "Fine. You can save it in your room." She said, "No, I need a frame." I mean, this is - the impact they will have, I think, on all ages, all people, will be incredible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: Now, again, Elisabeth Hasselbeck`s daughter is only 3 years old. Even she knows who these girls are. Dawn, do you think that President Obama and the first lady really - I mean, truly understand how influential their kids are already?

DAWN YANEK, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, "LIFE AND STYLE WEEKLY": I don`t think they get it just yet and I don`t think we all get it just yet. But it is definitely Obama-mania all around.

I mean, look. They will be kids first and foremost, but really, this is an amazing opportunity for, really, everyone involved. Because of course, the values of service are very, very high in this family. That`s one of their core values.

And so if we see these children doing some amazing things over the course of the next four years, that can really have an impact on children everywhere, on young people. And really, they can turn into role models. They can be role models. It`s so much better than some of the young Hollywood starlets who young people tend to idolize.

HAMMER: Yes, I don`t think their influence can be overstated. And as you said, on so many different levels - you want to talk about influence. Even on a commercial level, look what happened. J. Crew`s stock actually has gone up. Their Web site actually crashed after the girls wore those J. Crew outfits at the inauguration.

Ashleigh, I would have to imagine, even on the business side of things, we`re going to be seeing more of that.

BANFIELD: Well, you won`t see the J. Crew clothing because J. Crew has decided they`re not going to reproduce this and commercially retail those clothes. They are special just for the girls. And those clothes are so cute I wanted to put my boys in them.

But I think, yes, you`re probably not going to see a lot of them, so you probably won`t see what they`re wearing or who they`re listening to and that sort of thing. So I actually don`t think they`re going to have a huge impact commercially because I don`t think we`re going to have access to them like that.

HAMMER: I think people, though, will be able to identify perhaps what they`re wearing. You know, the J. Crew thing - they may not be reproducing the clothing. But in terms of brand awareness, I mean, just getting the name out there and the fact they`re identified with these kids - I mean, come on.

BANFIELD: Like I said, I wanted my boys to wear that. I wanted those clothes.

YANEK: Me, too.

HAMMER: All right. We`ll see if we can get something made up for your boys there, Ashleigh.

You know, despite their best intentions, you have to imagine it`s still going to be an incredible challenge for the Obamas to keep things normal for their kids. Michelle Obama did tell ABC`s Bob Woodruff she is really trying, down to even starting school in a new town. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, UNITED STATES FIRST LADY: We came to D.C. early so that they could start school at a normal beginning time. And, you know, the first weeks that we were here, we were taking the kids to school, picking them up, getting them to play dates, doing homework. It was as if we were just living in a hotel but our lives were the same. And I`m hoping there will be that same level of normalcy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: I appreciate all that. But Michelle arranged this movie night and a scavenger hunt at the White House on the night of the inauguration for the girls and their new school friends.

But Dawn, the Jonas Brothers showed up. I`m sorry, that doesn`t fall under the heading of normal childhood. I still think it`s pretty cool, though.

YANEK: No. But it`s completely awesome. I mean, what a great perk of being the kids of the first family. You know what? Look, it`s not normal but it`s wonderful.

But I think that Michelle and Barack definitely want to keep these kids very down to earth. We`ve heard that they`re going to make sure that they tidy their own beds and they pick up after the new family dog. And I think they`re going to do everything to make their lives as completely as normal as possible.

HAMMER: Yes. And I think there should be perks. They just need to recognize that yes, they`re perks.

YANEK: Yes.

HAMMER: Dawn Yanek, Ashleigh Banfield, thanks, guys. I appreciate it.

We`ve been asking you to vote on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. It is this - "The Obama Kids: Are Malia and Sasha role models?"

What do you think? You can vote at CNN.com/ShowbizTonight. You can also E-mail us at showbiztonight@cnn.com.

And Brooke, I need to point out we`ve been getting a lot of calls coming in to "Showbiz On Call" as our viewers are calling in leaving messages of their own for President Obama and his family.

ANDERSON: That`s right, A.J. And one of the best comes from Mia who called in to "Showbiz On Call" with this to say.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

MIA, CALLER: Barack Obama and I feel very jubilant that we have a marvelous president. And also this is an immense event for many people.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Well said, Mia. Thank you for your call. And we also heard from Rochelle in Ohio calling in to "Showbiz On Call."

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

ROCHELLE, CALLER FROM OHIO: I am proud that Obama is in office. I`m ready for the change. I`m ready for something new. And I just want to say congratulations to Obama and Michelle for everything and keep up the good work. I love the kids. They`re so beautiful.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ANDERSON: We appreciate that, Rochelle. And call us at "Showbiz On Call" with your message for the Obamas or anything else that you`re thinking about. The "Showbiz On Call" phone lines are open around the clock.

HAMMER: And the telephone number is 1-888-SBT-BUZZ; 1-888-728-2899. Leave us a voicemail. We`re playing your calls here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. And I`ve got to say, just hearing these messages, it`s unprecedented pretty cool. Pretty cool.

ANDERSON: Yes, it is.

HAMMER: A big day in Hollywood, by the way. You were right there for the Oscar nominations.

ANDERSON: I was. And you know, it`s always a very exciting morning and today was no exception, A.J.

Coming up, all the surprises, all the big stories, nominations for Brad and Angelina, a surprise snub for Leo and Heath Ledger honored with a nomination on the one-year anniversary of his tragic death. All the big stories from the Oscar nominations, straight ahead.

HAMMER: Also, disturbing news tonight about an alleged plot to extort $20 million from John Travolta concerning the details of his son`s death. This is scary.

Plus, Aretha Franklin`s review of her own performance on Inauguration Day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANKLIN: It, by no means, was my standard. I was not happy with it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Not happy with it? I thought Aretha`s song was one of the highlights of Inauguration Day. So why was Aretha not so thrilled with it? We`ve got the queen of soul in her own words.

Now, it is time for the SHOWBIZ News Ticker - more stories from the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom making news right now.

(CAPTION READS: Nearly 37.8 million Americans watched TV coverage of President Barack Obama`s inauguration. Dakota Fanning reportedly offered role in "Twilight" sequel.)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEDGER (as The Joker): This town deserves a higher class of criminal and I`m going to give it to them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Tonight, Heath Ledger`s remarkable Oscar nomination for his role as The Joker in "The Dark Knight" exactly one year to the day after his shocking death.

Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m Brooke Anderson in Hollywood.

Tonight, Oscar shockers and snubs. Could this be the most dramatic Oscars ever? Heath Ledger`s posthumous nod was just one of the big moments at today`s nominations. I was right at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills as Oscar winner Forest Whittaker made the announcement, including Kate Winslet nabbing her sixth Oscar nomination, and her "Revolutionary Road" co-star, Leo DiCaprio getting a titanic snub.

And then, there`s the curious case of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie`s dual Oscar nomination.

Joining me tonight in New York, Jessica Shaw who is a senior writer for "Entertainment Weekly," and in Hollywood, Carlos Diaz, who is a correspondent for "Extra."

Jessica, Carlos, I want to begin with Heath Ledger, nominated for best supporting actor for his role as The Joker in "The Dark Knight." Carlos, Heath died exactly one year ago on the very day that last year`s Oscar nominations were announced. How incredible is it that exactly one year later, he`s honored like this?

DIAZ: It`s so unusual that a year ago, exactly to the day, I was sitting in this very chair talking to you guys for two hours straight about Heath Ledger and his passing.

And I was talking about, "You know what? He just got done shooting "The Dark Knight" and supposedly it`s this amazing performance." And now, it`s been confirmed with an Oscar nomination.

And let me make one thing clear. Let`s keep the word "sympathy vote" out of this equation. It was an amazing performance. He deserves the Oscar based on the fact that it was an amazing performance, not on the fact he`s passed away.

ANDERSON: Yes, I agree with that. Jessica, what are your thoughts? It`s quite an eerie coincidence, isn`t it, exactly one year ago he died?

SHAW: Absolutely. And I have to agree with Carlos. The other nice thing about the Oscars is that this is an award given by his peers. He won the Golden Globe, obviously, and that`s wonderful, you know, but that was from the foreign press.

There`s something about getting an award, which I think he will get. And most people think he will win the Oscar this year, given by people who worked with him in the past, who wanted to work with him, who thought he was an amazing actor and who thought he just had more to give in his career.

ANDERSON: Yes, very well respected in the industry. And you know, as dramatic as it will be, waiting to see if Heath wins, we`ve also got this, the most famous couple in the world both nominated for Oscars in the same year, Brad Pitt for best actor for "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," Angelina Jolie for "Changeling."

Carlos, is this an Oscar ceremony - I don`t know - made for tabloid paparazzi heaven? You can almost see them drooling.

DIAZ: OK. It is for the paparazzi, for the photographers. It`s perfect because they will be there together and they`ll take pictures together.

But not for us, I mean, for "Extra," because we would like to have them together. But since they`re each nominated, you know they`re going to walk the carpet separately because they`re going to want to talk about their movie and not their love life. So now, we`re screwed.

ANDERSON: Well, you know, maybe they`ll walk hand in hand. We can keep our fingers crossed for that, can`t we, Carlos?

(CROSS TALK)

DIAZ: They can do the interviews like one person here - one person talking to this outlet, and they can go holding hands the entire time. They can be just (UNINTELLIGIBLE) like that.

ANDERSON: Yes. Well, you and I will be on the same boat. we`ll see how it works.

Well, you know, Angelina won an Oscar in 2000 for "Girl Interrupted." But Brad has never won an Academy Award. Jessica, if Brad wins, are we going to see two million people gather on the mall to watch his acceptance speech? That would be big, wouldn`t it?

SHAW: Well, I`m not going to be the person to compare him to President Obama, and I`m sure Brad wouldn`t want that either. But there will be plenty of people who have been watching him since "Thelma and Louise" and he was just a really pair of abs. And they will be very happy and definitely hanging on his every word, if he does win.

ANDERSON: And you`re right, there is no comparison. That was purely in jest.

I do now want to get to Kate Winslet and Leo DiCaprio. It took 12 years for these two to reunite onscreen since "Titanic." SHOWBIZ TONIGHT asked Winslet what it was like to reunite with DiCaprio for "Revolutionary Road." Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATE WINSLET, ACTRESS: With Leo, you know, we`re the same people but we`re also very different now. You know, it`s 12 years. We`re both older, a lot older. And we have both changed and changed as people and changed as actors. And to have the chemistry that we have and the history that we share was really beneficial to us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Kate earned a best actress nomination today for her other film, "The Reader." But Leo got snubbed for "Revolutionary Road." Carlos, will your heart go on for Leo? Was this big fat snub deserved in your opinion?

DIAZ: It was a total snub. I think he did a great job in "Revolutionary Road," a total snub. And if you remember correctly, everyone thinks he got nominated for "Titanic." He didn`t. He got snubbed for "Titanic" as well. That movie won like every award that year, but he was snubbed.

So it softens the blow a little bit that Kate wasn`t nominated for "Revolutionary Road." She was nominated for "The Reader." But still I would have loved to see Leo there. It`s a big-time snub.

(CROSS TALK)

SHAW: He`s going to say, "I`m not working with her again. What`s going on? Every time we work together, you get the Oscar nomination, and I don`t."

ANDERSON: That`s true. What`s up with that? All right. Jessica, Carlos Diaz, good to see you. Thanks.

HAMMER: Well, tonight, reports of an extortion plot against John Travolta just weeks after his son Jett tragically died. TMZ reports police in the Bahamas are investigating an alleged $20 million extortion plot. TMZ says the plot concerns the circumstances surrounding Jett`s death, and Travolta`s reps contacted police.

ANDERSON: All right. To me, Aretha Franklin singing "My Country, `Tis of Thee" at President Barack Obama`s inauguration was one of the most moving parts of the day. But there is somebody who doesn`t agree - Aretha herself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANKLIN: It, by no means, was my standard. I was not happy with it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Straight ahead, why Aretha says she wasn`t thrilled with her performance.

And now, the SHOWBIZ News Ticker, more of the nominees for today`s Oscar nomination -

(CAPTION READS: Best Director: David Fincher, Ron Howard, Guy Van Sant, Stephen Daldry, Danny Boyle. Best Original Screenplay: "Frozen River," "Happy-Go-Lucky," "In Bruges," "Milk," "Wall-E")

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ELLEN DEGENERES, HOST, "THE ELLEN DEGENERES SHOW": It`s a good thing I didn`t go because I was going to wear this.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

How embarrassing. That would have been so embarrassing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: Ellen DeGeneres having a little bit of fun with Aretha Franklin`s fashion statement at the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

And tonight, the queen of soul speaks out about the "My Country, `Tis of Thee" at Barack Obama`s inauguration, and about that hat.

Aretha says she got the hat at a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in Detroit and she loves it.

As for the song, Aretha told Larry King that chose it herself. Let`s listen to some of that performance..

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANKLIN (singing): Our country `tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: Larry King asked Aretha if that`s a difficult song to sing. Watch what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANKLIN: No, not at all. But yesterday, it was.

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Because?

FRANKLIN: Mainly because of the temperature outside. I don`t have to tell you, it was freezing, if you were there.

KING: You`re not kidding.

FRANKLIN: And some singers - it doesn`t bother and others it does. I don`t care for it. It definitely was going to - it affected my voice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: Now, Aretha says it wasn`t her best performance and she wasn`t very happy with it. But I think she`s sang an amazing - actually, I think that was the general consensus. Aretha said despite not being thrilled with her performance, she was still incredibly honored to be a part of the inauguration.

ANDERSON: On Wednesday, we asked you to vote on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. It was this - "Barack and Michelle Obama: Are they Hollywood`s first couple?" Thirty-six percent of you say yes. Sixty-four percent, no.

Here`s some of the E-mails we received. Lakeisha from Texas, "I think everyone needs to remember that the president and first lady are not celebrities. He is the president."

Grant from Michigan says, "They are so much more than that. They truly are America`s first couple. Their incredible influence can`t be contained to just Hollywood."

We appreciate your E-mails.

HAMMER: Yes, that was well said. And we appreciate your watching.

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

ANDERSON: And I`m Brooke Anderson in Hollywood. Don`t forget, you can catch SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on 11:00s - 11:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, and in the morning, at 11:00 a.m. Eastern on HLN.

END