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Brand-new Developments on the Extortion Plot Against the Travoltas; Brad Pitt`s Plea for Privacy; Senator Oprah?; Sasha and Malia Dolls

Aired January 26, 2009 - 23:00:00   ET


A.J. HAMMER, CO-HOST: Now, on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT - the Travolta extortion case. Tonight, brand-new developments in the sickening extortion plot tied to the tragic death of John Travolta`s teenage son. Tonight, who has been charged? Who may be charged? And was one of Travolta`s friends really involved?

Plus, was the alleged demand for millions of dollars caught on tape? Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with the latest on the startling Travolta extortion case.

Does Brad Pitt regret being a movie star? Tonight, Brad`s brand new startling comments about the pain of fame. But given how much money he makes, does he have any right to complain?


BRAD PITT, ACTOR: It`s a big year. It started with a pregnancy, and it`s hard to top that.


HAMMER: Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT dares to ask, do Brad and Angelina deserve more privacy?

Plus, Sen. Oprah? The unbelievable revelation from the impeached governor of Illinois that he wanted Oprah to fill Barack Obama`s Senate seat.

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


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 from Hollywood.

And tonight, this Oprah Winfrey story is really wild. On the same day the impeachment trial of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich began, he reveals he wanted Oprah Winfrey to fill Barack Obama`s Senate seat.

And now, Oprah is responding. The latest developments are coming up.

But first tonight, the fast-moving and dramatic developments all day long in the John Travolta extortion plot. Today, for the very first time, police in the Bahamas revealed what the extortion plot may have involved. And at least one person has been arrested in the extortion case which may be tied to the sudden and tragic death of Travolta`s 16-year-old son in the Bahamas.

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is staying on top of all the breaking developments making news right now.


(voice over): A devastating loss, a heartless extortion attempt, and an alleged betrayal by a so-called family friend.

OBIE WILCHCOMBE, FORMER BAHAMAS TOURISM MINISTER: John described it as the worst day of his life.

ANDERSON: Three weeks after John Travolta and Kelly Preston`s 16-year-old son, Jett, suffered a seizure and died during a vacation in the Bahamas, we are now learning more about the shocking multimillion-dollar extortion plot against the grieving movie stars.

MARC MALKIN, "E! NEWS ONLINE": John Travolta and Kelly Preston were contacted by someone who basically is saying, "Give me some money or I`m going to release information regarding Jett`s death."

HARVEY LEVIN, TMZ: We know that the negotiations were somewhere between $10 million and $20 million. And the extortionists were willing to settle somewhere in the middle. But all of this was caught on tape, or at least some of it was caught on tape. And the police have those tapes now.

ANDERSON: Police in the Bahamas are looking at three people in the alleged extortion plot. One is former Bahamas Tourism Minister, Obie Wilchcombe.

WILCHCOMBE: I met John Travolta and his wife. He came out, saw me, we embraced.

ANDERSON: In the days after the tragedy, he gave interview after interview talking about Jett`s death and his own friendship with the Travolta family.

WILCHCOMBE (on the phone): My very first meeting with John Travolta and his wife, three, four years ago. That`s what they talked about. They talked more about their children.

ANDERSON: Wilchcombe has been questioned in the case but not charged. But two others have been. Charged on Monday, the ambulance driver who rushed an unconscious Jett Travolta and his frantic parents to the hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was me, him and Jett.

ANDERSON: Before his arrest, the EMT Tarino Lightbourne recently talked to "Good Morning America" about his encounter with Travolta that tragic night.

TARINO LIGHTBOURNE, PARAMEDIC: I saw him lean over, hug his son, kiss him, tell him he loved him, tell him, "I did everything I could." Hugged him, put his arms around him. Kissed him on his forehead. Kissed him on his cheek. Hugged him and tell him he loved him. He then turned to me, gave me a hug and said, "You guys did a wonderful job."

ANDERSON: The other person charged in the alleged Travolta plot was actually a member of the Bahamian senate. She has since resigned from office. Everyone linked to the case says they`re innocent.

And Wilchcombe, the self-described Travolta family friend tells "Us Magazine" that he and the senator were not involved in the extortion plot. They were trying to warn Travolta about it. But TMZ`s Harvey Levin tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT the cops are skeptical.

LEVIN: The issue now is, are they going to charge John Travolta`s really good friend?

ANDERSON: And we are also learning something new about the one big question in the case. Exactly what were the alleged extortionists offering? Early reports suggested the unthinkable, that it was photos of a dying Jett Travolta. But as TMZ first reported, it is looking like the plot was not about photos but information about that tragic death.

LEVIN: A police official came back today and said it is a document.

ANDERSON: Either way this case of the alleged Travolta extortion plot is moving ahead. And less than a month after saying good-bye to their son, John Travolta and Kelly Preston are getting an unwelcome reminder of the perils of fame.

LEVIN: Where there is a buck to be made, you know, even in tragedy, there are clearly people out there to try and make that buck. There are a lot of people who are just willing to basically do anything. And sadly, you know, even try and allegedly do something look this when somebody is just being torn apart.


HAMMER: Wow. There is so much outrageous stuff to talk about here. Let`s get right to it.

Joining me tonight in New York is Ashleigh Banfield who is an anchor for "In Session." And in Hollywood, Darren Kavinoky, who is an attorney for the Kavinoky Law Firm.

The twists and turns this story takes are just unbelievable to me. And as if it wasn`t shocking enough to find out about this extortion plot, then comes along this bombshell that police detained have detained Obie Wilchcombe who seemed the unofficial spokesperson for the Travolta family all along after Travolta`s son`s death.

Ashleigh, to you first - it`s never been really clear exactly what Wilchcombe`s connection to the family is. Do we know?

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, ANCHOR, "IN SESSION": Well, from everything I`ve read, until now, he is always characterized as a family friend and he characterized himself that way.

But I just got off the phone with a government administrator in Bahamas who said that the deal is that when you are the minister of tourism, everybody comes to your house at least once and usually has dinner or you`ve had dinner with them.

But there`s a difference between an acquaintance and a friend. And her speculation was they were acquaintances and not friends.

HAMMER: And he was really front and center. And we have seen Wilchcombe on "LARRY KING LIVE" several times after Jett`s death. I want you to listen to what he had to say about his interaction with John Travolta in those hours following his son Jett`s death.


WILCHCOMBE: I walked to the emergency room, Larry. And I received a hug from John. It was a bear hug. And you know, you felt the very strong emotion. You saw this man who, for most part, you see him bigger than life. And you saw him, a father, grieving, and deeply.


HAMMER: And I have to upon the out and stress that Wilchombe has not been charged and says he didn`t do anything wrong.

But Darren, I can`t imagine what the Travoltas have to be thinking right now, wondering whether someone they considered to be a confidant could have actually betrayed them. It really just adds to their pain, doesn`t it?

DARREN KAVINOKY, ATTORNEY, KAVINOKY LAW FIRM: Yes, this has to be so rough for them. Nothing, A.J., stings like betrayal, where somebody that you placed your trust in has now come around and harmed you.

And of course, we, students of American history, can remember all the way back to Benedict Arnold and things like that. I mean, it is famous, really, in terms of the pain that can be caused by it.

Of course, if these allegations are true and he is convicted of taking part in the extortion, certainly the idea that he abused a position of trust would be a significant aggravating factor and add to his punishment.

HAMMER: Yes. And everybody is wondering if and when we may actually hear from the Travoltas themselves. Because other than the brief statement that was released by Travolta`s attorneys, we have not heard nor seen Travolta at all.

Ashleigh, do you think, at least for the time being, that would be exactly what they need to do - continue to be doing - just stay out of this, continue to lay low, let the lawyers do the work?

BANFIELD: Well, I think publicly, yes. But if the Bahamian officials need to speak with them for any reason, I think that would be in their interest. But at this point, it won`t serve the public any good to be hearing from the Travoltas on this. They still need their time to grieve. Their lawyers did it best by staying quiet and letting the tapes roll.

HAMMER: The question is, how long is this thing going to take to work itself out? Because obviously, the Travoltas and a lot of people would like to see this resolved as soon as possible.

But hey we, saw it in the Anna Nicole Smith investigations. The Bahamian judicial system is not like ours and it really seems to move at a snail`s pace. So Darren, have we seen anything so far that may lead us to believe, you know, maybe there will be something different in this case?

KAVINOKY: No, I think it certainly, as you say, moves at a snail`s pace. And in the Bahamas, they tend to do things a little bit more slowly and little bit more relaxed. And I think it will ultimately unfold the same way here, too.

At the end of the day, this is such a high profile case, though. We are hopeful that everybody who`s involved in it is going to do everything they can to cross all the T`s and dot all the I`s.

HAMMER: Yes, you don`t want to make any mistakes when it comes to something like this, given the high profile nature. And just generally speaking, it`s just such a sad and tragic story.

Ashleigh, what do you think? Considering it is so high profile, do you see the case dragging out or can we expect the Bahamian authorities to really put this at the top of their priority list, if it is not already?

BANFIELD: Oh, I remember Anna Nicole Smith`s Daniel`s coroner`s inquest. Kind of jumped the line and made a lot of people upset. So I think when it is high profile, they tend to get on things as quick as possible. And I think it`s really important to remember swift justice is nowhere near as good as fair justice. So I don`t care how long it takes.

HAMMER: Yes. I guess there is a careful balance to be followed there in the end. Ashleigh Banfield, Darren Kavinoky - thanks guys. I appreciate it.

All right. Moving on, Brooke, this story, the one surrounding the Illinois governor, the guy who could be removed from office, Rod Blagojevich. It`s amazing he is doing all these TV shows now. He`s fighting his impeachment in the media.

ANDERSON: Yes, A.J. And get this bizarre Blago bombshell that he dropped today. Senator Oprah? Tonight, the unbelievable new revelation from Blagojevich, that he considered Oprah to fill the Barack Obama`s Senate seat. We`ve got that, coming up.

HAMMER: And listen to this unbelievable revelation - does Brad Pitt regret being a movie star? You`ve got to hear the brand-new thing that Brad is saying about fame. But we`ve got to ask, given all the cash that he makes, should he really be complaining?

We`ve also got this -


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s not surprising that in our consumer culture and this hard times economy that people are going to try to take advantage of Obama`s wonderful two little girls.


ANDERSON: The "SHOWBIZ Obama Watch" - the outrage over the Obama daughter dolls. That`s right, two dolls, named after Sasha and Malia.

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

(CAPTION READS: Janet Jackson postpones Japanese leg of world tour, citing world "economic crisis." Prince Harry and girlfriend Chelsy Davy break up after dating for five years.)


ANDERSON: Take a look at this. I was right there at the Screen Actors` Guild Awards Sunday night. And can you say one strap up and down the red carpet. The stars were wearing one strap or one shoulder dresses just like Michelle Obama wore inauguration night to the ball.

Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m Brooke Anderson in Hollywood. And A.J., I think Hollywood may be taking a page right out of the first lady`s playbook here.

HAMMER: That`s right, Brooke the not such an easy look, of course, for the guys to pull off - that one strap thing. But the ladies definitely have.

ANDERSON: They certainly have. And we will have more on the Michelle Obama-inspired fashion at the SAG Awards in a minute.

But first, the race to the Oscars is on. And the if Golden Globes, and the SAG Awards are any indication, it looks like the late Heath Ledger may sweep. Ledger`s Sunday night SAG win may have been expected. But I can tell you the Screen Actors` Guild Awards also gave us some big surprises that will make the Oscars an even bigger mystery.

And despite a lingering contract dispute, Hollywood`s biggest stars put on quite a show.


(voice over): Hollywood`s acting community put infighting aside long enough to host the 15th Annual Screen Actors` Guild Awards, where members traded stabbing each other in the back for patting each other on the back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Slumdog Millionaire -

ANDERSON: On the motion picture front, there was a happy ending for the gritty Cinderella story "Slumdog Millionaire," which earned outstanding performance by a cast for its Mumbai-based actors.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody wants to rise out of adversity and achieve what they really want in life.

ANDERSON: Meryl Streep`s lead actress win for her role as the crusading in "Doubt" led her to doubt her wardrobe choice.

MERYL STREEP, ACTRESS: Well, I didn`t even buy a dress.

ANDERSON: And when "Milk" star Sean Penn picked up his prize for playing gay rights activist Harvey Milk, he admired the anatomically correct statuette.

SEAN PENN, ACTOR: I noticed the two statues have rather healthy packages. As actors, we don`t play gay, straight. This is a story about equal rights for all human beings. And -

ANDERSON (on camera): I didn`t see Sean Penn at all. I saw Harvey Milk.

PENN: It always goes back to the writing. And Harvey Milk, in this case, happened to write himself a sensational life.

ANDERSON (voice over): Supporting trophies went to Kate Winslet for "The Reader" and to the late Heath Ledger for "The Dark Knight."

GARY OLDMAN, ACTOR: He was an extraordinary young man with an extraordinary talent. I thank you. Peace.

ANDERSON: In the TV category -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The cast of "Mad Men."

ANDERSON: The show won outstanding performance by an ensemble in a drama series.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are really an ensemble show.

ANDERSON: For comedy series, it was the cast of "30 Rock" which tallied three wins including nods for Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey. Of course, Fey couldn`t resist taking a jab at SAG`s stalled contract negotiations with industry producers.

TINA FEY, ACTRESS: What do you mean you don`t get residuals for this?


ANDERSON: The Screen Actors` Guild Awards are considered a pretty good predictor for the Academy Awards. So this could be a crystal ball in terms of who will take home an Oscar on February 22nd. And remember, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT will be right there, live.

Hey, A.J., can we talk fashion?

HAMMER: I think we have to talk fashion because it`s part of any awards show, Brooke. Let`s do it.

ANDERSON: It certainly is. We saw so many one-strap or one-shoulder gowns on the red carpet and at the award show yesterday. Yes, let`s take a look. And do we think that First Lady Michelle Obama inspired these fashions by what she wore at the inaugural balls?

You are looking at her dancing with President Obama on the right. We saw Laura Linney, Teri Hatcher, Viola Davis, Lisa Edelstein, Forest Whitaker`s wife - the list goes on and on - wearing this sort of style.

And, you know, A.J., if they were inspired by Michelle Obama, then they really only had less than a week to get those gowns. But you know what? Hollywood stylists can do anything. They can work magic.

HAMMER: They can work quickly. But it seems to be a fashion trend perhaps that Michelle Obama latched on to. And she pushed everybody else along saying "Hey, I guess that`s a good idea."

All right. Brooke, moving on, the "Showbiz On Call" phone lines keep ringing with lots of people calling in about President Obama and his family.

ANDERSON: That`s right we`ve got a call into "Showbiz On Call," from Kerry in California, who called in to let us know what she thinks of the Obama daughters, Sasha and Malia being in the public eye.


KERRY, CALLER FROM CALIFORNIA: These are young girls. And until they reach their teenage years or an age of majority, they`re not role models. They`re little girls that deserve a private life. Miley Cyrus chose to be in the public eye and she`s is a role model. There`s a big difference.


ANDERSON: We appreciate that, Kerry. And we also heard from Lakesha, calling from Florida for "Showbiz On Call."


LAKESHA, CALLER FROM FLORIDA: It is really the first time that I believe that what the words are in the "Star Spangled Banner." This is the first time I believe in "America the Beautiful." This is the first time that I believe because this is the first time that I have seen that we are equal as a people. So I want to say congratulations to the first family.


HAMMER: Sounds like we have a new patriot among us. Thank you, Lakesha. And you can call us at "Showbiz On Call" to let us know what you think about this or anything else at all that`s on your mind.

ANDERSON: That`s right. The "Showbiz On Call" phone lines are open around the clock. Give us a ring - 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 those calls to "Showbiz On Call" are also now online at our homepage. That`s at Check them out.

Hey, A.J., I know that Oprah Winfrey is a huge fan of President Barack Obama.

HAMMER: Absolutely, Brooke. She got behind Barack from the beginning of his campaign. But get this, was she really being considered to take over Obama`s Senate seat?

That`s right - coming up, the stunning, brand-new revelations that Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, who could get kicked out of office, was thinking of picking Oprah.

ANDERSON: What? All right. I think Brad Pitt is a really a talented actor. He does a great deal for charity. But tonight, does Brad really regret being a movie star? And come on, with the millions he and Angelina Jolie make, does he have any right to complain?

HAMMER: And listen to this, Katie Couric smacks down her former "Today" co-host Matt Lauer. You have absolutely got to hear how Katie pulled the rug out from under Matt. And I`ve got to tell you Matt definitely has some serious rug burn right about now.

And now, it`s time for the "SHOWBIZ News Ticker." Here are some more stories from the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom making news right now.

(CAPTION READS: SAG Award Winners: Best Actor, TV Drama - Hug Laurie, "House." Best Actress, TV Drama - Sally Field, "Brothers & Sisters.")


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

ANDERSON: And I`m Brooke Anderson. And new right now, Drew Barrymore and Jennifer Aniston opening up about meeting Mr. Right, and Jennifer on turning 40. Drew and Jen have this new movie coming out called, "He`s Just Not That Into You." It`s all about figuring out relationships, trying to understand the opposite sex.

So we just had to ask - what have they really learned about men from their relationships?


DREW BARRYMORE, ACTRESS: Men build bridges. If they want to get from here to there, they will build a bridge in order to do it. So I am positive they can find your phone number and call you.

JENNIFER ANISTON, ACTRESS: I don`t know how to build anything. Find me a cab. Find me a piece of mail. Where am I?

BARRYMORE: We`ll decorate the bridge. I don`t know what our - like, I think women will like literally, like, put our hand on one side and feet on the other and become the bridge.


ANDERSON: Of course, those two, especially considering the high-profile relationships that they have had. Of course, Jen has been married to Brad Pitt.

HAMMER: Now, we also talked to Jen who is about to turn 40 about what it means to her to turn the big 4-0.


ANISTON: For me, I don`t really feel anything different except that you, whoever - there are people who say, "Wow, you`ve got the big 4-0 coming up." I don`t know. I personally feel better than I ever felt. Better than I ever did in my 20s, for sure - 30s.

And you know, so if this is what it means to be 40, I think it`s fantastic. And every wise, wonderful, amazing person, man and woman that I know that`s 40 or above has - is just - and they really do mean it, they just say it just gets better.


HAMMER: Well, I think Jennifer Aniston looks fantastic and I think she`s got a great long career of her well ahead after she turns 40 years old, Brooke. She`s going to be around with us for a while.

ANDERSON: Yes, A.J. Right. And now, we also want to tell you that on Wednesday, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is teaming up with "More" magazine for a special report "Women Over 40" in Hollywood. That is Wednesday. You don`t want to miss it right here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

HAMMER: So Brooke, Oprah Winfrey is obviously one super-successful woman over 40. In fact, she`s over 50. She has done, you know, so much in her career. And she really got behind now-President Obama. Right from the very beginning, Oprah was right there.

But get this twist - tonight this guy, Rod Blagojevich, the governor, of course, from Illinois who could get kicked out of office. He revealed that he was actually thinking of putting Oprah into the Senate seat vacated by Obama. This is wild. All the details are coming up.

Also, this controversy surrounding Barack Obama`s daughters.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is sickening and a horrible thing. As a country, we are all prepared for a terrorist attack. Well, this, in many ways, is a greed attack.


ANDERSON: Those are some really strong words. Tonight, the outrage over the Sasha and Malia dolls.

HAMMER: Also, big Zsa Zsa Gabor news. No, she is not getting married again. But she may have lost a ton of money in the alleged Bernie Madoff scam. Wait until you hear how much she could have lost.

Now keep in mind you can always stay on top of the most provocative entertainment news with the daily SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsletter. Subscribe over at Just click on that "sign up for newsletter" link at the bottom of the page.


HAMMER: Now, on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT - Senator Oprah Winfrey? The remarkable story of why the embattled governor of Illinois considered Oprah for Barack Obama`s vacant Senate seat. And what does Oprah have to say about this? Tonight, politics and Hollywood collide, Oprah style.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s not surprising that in our consumer culture and in these hard times economy, that people are going to try to take advantage of Obama`s wonderful two little girls.


HAMMER: The "SHOWBIZ Obama Watch," cashing in on Obama. And it isn`t just the president. Now, a company may be cashing in on Sasha and Malia`s image. The first lady is not pleased. But is it OK to cash in on the Obama daughters?

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


Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. It`s 30 minutes past the hour. I`m A.J. Hammer, broadcasting tonight from New York City.

ANDERSON: And I`m Brooke Anderson, coming to you from Hollywood. And tonight, Senator Oprah?

HAMMER: Yes, Brooke. This is unbelievable. The governor of Illinois on the very same day his impeachment trial began, reveals to the world that he wanted Oprah to replace Barack Obama in the Senate.

Governor Rod Blagojevich dropped this brand new bombshell this morning on national TV. And get this, Oprah had no clue. Oprah herself can`t believe it. And today, she also sounded off. Wait until you hear her reaction to being dragged into this political scandal.

Governor Blagojevich`s impeachment drama is wilder than a Hollywood script. I mean, from the brand-new Oprah connection to the expletive-laced secret wire tapes, and of course, oh, that hair.

Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is casting the Blagojevich movie. Who should play him on screen?

Joining me tonight in New York, Ashleigh Banfield. She`s an anchor for "In Session." Also in New York tonight is Janelle Snowden. She`s the host of "VH1 News."

Now, we know the reason that Gov. Blagojevich is in trouble in the first place is because he`s accused of trying to sell the Illinois Senate seat left open by President Obama.

And he spent the day in New York doing the whole talk show circuit. The first stop was "Good Morning America," and that`s where he revealed what I think is just a shocking plan to call Oprah up and offer her Obama`s seat. Take a look at this.


DIANE SAWYER, HOST, "GOOD MORNING AMERICA": Did you call Oprah? Were you talking to her or is this something you were just thinking?

GOV. ROD BLAGOJEVICH (D-IL): No. The idea came to me from a friend. And then among the considerations we discussed, whether or not it made any sense. She seemed to be someone had helped Barack Obama in a significant way become president. She was obviously someone with a much broader bully pulpit than other senators.

She probably wouldn`t take it. And then we talked about, "If you offered it to her, how would you do it in a way that looked like it was some gimmick and embarrass her?"


HAMMER: All right. Let me be clear. I love Oprah. You all love Oprah, right? Everybody loves Oprah. But Ashleigh did you just kind of want to fall off your chair when you heard this?

BANFIELD: Yes, but for a different reason because I don`t believe him. This is awfully convenient timing to bring up a big headline that distracts us all from the dirty process that is going on today in Illinois.

I think that this is a load of malarkey. And I would look to know who this friend is he had conversation with that`s nobody`s heard of so far.

HAMMER: Carefully-crafted, ulterior motive. You`re on to that, Ashleigh Banfield.

JANELL SNOWDEN, HOST "VH1 NEWS": Red herring, red herring.

HAMMER: Nobody, I have to say, was more shocked to hear about this than Oprah herself. She actually missed "Good Morning America" today. But her best friend and XM Satellite radio host, Gayle King, broke the news to her on her program. You have got to hear Oprah`s reaction.


OPRAH WINFREY, HOST, "THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW": My plan was to get up and watch "Good Morning America" and work out. Then I thought, let me lay here another half-hour. So, wait a minute. If I had been watching as I normally, watch from the treadmill. I would have probably fallen off the treadmill.

GAYLE KING, OPRAH`S BEST FRIEND: I know, Oprah. I thought that was so shocking.

WINFREY: I think - I am pretty amused by the whole thing.


HAMMER: All right. Janell, what about you? If you had been on the treadmill at the time that news broke, would you have fallen off the treadmill?

SNOWDEN: Of course. I mean, I have a hard-enough time staying up when I`m not (UNINTELLIGIBLE) with shocking news. But definitely, in this case, I would have. I mean, this is just such an audacious move on his part for so many reasons.

This is a Senate appointment and it should be respected as such. This is not some run-off-the-mill job. It`s like, "Yes. A friend toll me I should hire so and so." No, are you kidding me? Like what are you thinking? Who is this guy? And then to think Oprah would accept. I mean, get real.

HAMMER: But the idea that maybe she would be good for the job - is it really so far-fetched? You know, after Oprah publicly endorsed Obama, there was a lot of buzz during the presidential campaign about - maybe, she will go and work in the White House alongside Obama.

Of course, she quickly shot that down. But maybe, just maybe this whole crazy scandal could get Oprah into the public office once and for all, I`m thinking. You`ve got to hear what Oprah tells Gayle about that.


KING: Could you imagine someone approached you and said, "Oprah, the governor would look to discuss you taking Senator Barack Obama`s seat. Are you interested?" You would have said?

WINFREY: Absolutely not. I would say, "Where would I fit it in with my day job, my midday job, my night job, my radio job."

KING: But I am sort of flattered that people think that you could be senator.

WINFREY: I think I could be senator, too. I am just not interested.


HAMMER: All right. So you heard. She said right there. Oprah said she could be senator. Ashleigh, I`m going to ask you this now. Despite her saying that she has no time with all the jobs, if the situation wasn`t so, you know, muddled up and nutty with the governor, do you think she ever might have ever seriously considered becoming Senator Oprah?

BANFIELD: I don`t know. Look, she is a sentinel species in television, so she is basically the best at her business. I don`t know that being a one- percenter would be in her interest.

There are 100 senators and they are all equal. That means that she would not have the kind of say that she has now. That is a big transition to make and a real hard one, too.

HAMMER: Well, it has been said that this whole Blagojevich story is so crazy, so wild, that, you know, it couldn`t have been made up even out there in Hollywood.

But you have got to believe, somebody is going to make this thing into a movie. So you have to wonder - it begs the question. Who gets to play Rod Blagojevich? Now, keep in mind, it`s all about the hair.

We here at SHOWBIZ TONIGHT have some suggestions to now offer to you. Should it possibly be - Josh Brolin. No, think about it. I mean, take a look at that. That`s pretty good. He had the look particularly when he did the movie, "Milk." And he`s nominated in "Milk" for best supporting actor, Oscar.

Let`s move on to another thought we have. Perhaps, Conan O`Brien. He`s got the hair. You know, he just needs to dye it brown.

Then there`s my favorite pick of all and this is who I would have to go with. Lego man, of course! Ladies and gentlemen, that`s my thought! Janell, who`s your pick?

SNOWDEN: My pick is Conan simply because of the hair, and because you have to be a comedian to play this guy. He obviously has jokes. And so I think Conan is the best suited.

HAMMER: Ashleigh Banfield, 10 seconds for your response. Make it a good one.

BANFIELD: This is it. It`s Steve Carrell, Michael Scott - there can`t be a better charge than this. I tell you. Miguel from graphics nailed it.

HAMMER: Nice. Good work, Miguel. And an excellent choice, Ashleigh Banfield. I thank you and Janell Snowden both. I appreciate it.

So Brooke, the "Showbiz On Call" phone lines won`t stop ringing. A lot of people calling in with their messages for President Barack Obama and his family.

ANDERSON: That`s right, A.J. Some of the best messages we`ve received are from younger SHOWBIZ TONIGHT viewers. We`ve got a great call into "Showbiz On Call" from Kaliah in Ohio. Listen.


KALIAH, CALLER FROM OHIO: I just want to say I love you, Michelle Obama, and I love you, too, Barack. And I loved your outfits. Thank you. And you are running a great country.


ANDERSON: Thank you so much for taking the time to call, Kaliah.

And we also heard from Francis in California calling in to "Showbiz On Call."



FRANCIS, CALLER FROM CALIFORNIA: President Obama, I wanted to let you know that even us, little high schoolers, are behind you because we believe you have dream of a better nation.


ANDERSON: Thank you, Francis. Call us at "Showbiz On Call" with your messages for the Obamas or anything else that`s on your mind.

HAMMER: And the "Showbiz On Call" phone lines are always open for that very reason. The number is 1-888-SBT-BUZZ; 1-888-728-2899. Leave us a voicemail. We will play your calls here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

Your calls to "Showbiz On Call" are also now online right there at our homepage. Just surf on over to

ANDERSON: Hey, A.J., there are so many people cashing in on the Obamas.

HAMMER: That is so true, Brooke. Look at all the stuff that`s out there. You`ve got that Obama Chia pet. You`ve got the commemorative coins, the plates - tons of stuff. And now, a company may actually be cashing in on the Obama daughters.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is sickening and a horrible thing. As a country, we are all prepared for a terrorist attack. Well, this, in many ways, is a greed attack.


HAMMER: A greed attack? All right. Maybe. And Michelle Obama herself - she is not happy with how one company is cashing in on her daughters. I have got the story coming up on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

ANDERSON: Also, why Brad Pitt is complaining about being a movie star. It may look like Brad has it all. But he says there is a lot that he doesn`t like. We have got the great debate, should Brad be left alone? Do he and Angelina deserve more privacy?

HAMMER: Also, it`s the battle of the former co-hosts - how Katie Couric has literally pulled the rug out from under Matt Lauer.

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

(CAPTION READS: "Mad Men" star Elizabeth Moss and Fred Armisen of "SNL" engaged. Molly Ringwald expecting twins; babies due in August.)



BRAD PITT, ACTOR: A lot of the attraction before I came out was fame, the lifestyle.


ANDERSON: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with the lost Brad Pitt interview when a very young Brad Pitt talked about how he wanted to be famous and live the Hollywood lifestyle.

Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m Brooke Anderson in Hollywood. Tonight, Brad Pitt`s privacy plea. Has Brad Pitt had it with being the biggest movie star in the world?

In a startling new interview Pitt says the publicity machine is out of control and he will never be comfortable selling tidbits about his personal life to sell movie tickets.

Joining me in New York, Ben Widdicombe, who`s the celebrity editor of "" And from Hollywood, Kim Serafin, who is the senior editor of "In Touch Weekly."

All right, Ben. All right, Kim. Brad Pitt really holds nothing back in the brand-new issue of "Newsweek" during their annual Oscar roundtable. He goes off about being asked all the time about his life with Angelina Jolie and their six kids.

Listen to this, Brad says, quote, "This publicity machine is out of control. It`s everything we didn`t sign up for. There is this whole other entity that you get sucked into. You have to go and sell your wares. It is something I never made my peace with. Somehow you are not supporting your film if you don`t get out on a show and talk about your personal life. It has the nothing to do with why I do this."

Ben, memo to Brad, "You did sign up for this." Is this what you think?

BEN WIDDICOMBE, CELEBRITY EDITOR, "STYLELIST.COM": Oh, memo and seven copies to his wife and six children. Brooke, this is a man who sold pictures of his own twins for $14 million.

Now, granted he did say that amount was going to go to charity, but it shows that he is comfortable monetizing his personal life. So I believe, not only did he sign up for it, he`s working it.

ANDERSON: Now, Kim, I have a feeling that you disagree with Ben and maybe think yes they deserve their privacy?

KIM SERAFIN, SENIOR EDITOR, "IN TOUCH WEEKLY": Well, you know, he is not saying - Brad Pitt is not saying, "I`m not going to do any more interviews." He`s saying, "I do it. I don`t like it."

And look, you get the impression that Brad did not get into the industry for all the swag. He doesn`t take his money and throw these hedonistic Hollywood parties. He does give money to charity. As Ben pointed out, when he makes money off photos of their kids, he gives it to charity. When he does a commercial, he gives money to charity. When he has the chance, he goes to New Orleans and does charity work there.

So I think he gets a pass that maybe another celebrity would not because what he uses his fame for is for something really good. So he says there is a bad part of this industry but I`m going to use it for something good to help a lot of people out.

ANDERSON: You know, I can`t really argue with either one of you. You both make great points. But I do want to say I couldn`t help but notice that on the same day, we are hearing about Brad Pitt`s pain about fame. We got news of 50,000 brand new layoffs nationwide. Ben, I am betting many of them would say, "Hey, pay me $20 million to do a movie and you can ask me anything."

WIDDICOMBE: Absolutely, Brooke. You know, I have covered scores of red carpet premieres and I`m sure you have, too. And you know, there`s always that one cast member who doesn`t want to talk to the press and who is just so offended that you would dare to ask something like, "What are you wearing?" or the most innocent questions.

And I always feel like, "Dude you are working. It`s not just me who is working here. We are here to sell tickets to your movie. So it is part of the job." It`s absolutely what he signed up for. And it`s all for his own benefit.

ANDERSON: You know, celebrity, I think - celebrity in general has changed in recent years. And you know, Brad, Angelina - when they signed up for this career, maybe it was much different. So Kim, maybe this is now a tough pill to swallow.

SERAFIN: It is definitely a different climate than when he initially got into it. But again, he does it. He maybe does it reluctantly. You can tell he really doesn`t really love to give all the details.

But again, he is not someone - he`s not Tom Cruise jumping on a couch and declaring his love for Angelina. You know, I think he gives the public enough of what they want, and he does it. And people go see his movies.

And by the way, we know enough about Brad Pitt. When he first got into this, yes, he had to answer the questions about where he grew up and where he went to school and what his favorite color was.

Now, we know all of that. So you get to a point, when like, the only questions you can ask are these super-personal questions, then nobody should have to answer that.

ANDERSON: Well, and speaking of what the public wants, back in November, when Brad was getting ready to promote his role in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," pictures of Angelina Jolie breastfeeding their newborn twins were published in "W" magazine. Who shot the pictures? Brad.

So Kim, how can he complain that he`s got to talk about his personal life to promote a film when he is doing something like that, releasing pictures of Angelina breastfeeding? Just being devil`s advocate here.

SERAFIN: Well, because he jumped ahead of the curve. And he`s putting out an image he was wants to put out. Well, first of all, tell me any reporter - I don`t care how good you are, what reporter could have taken those pictures? No one. So he gave us something that no interviewer, no reporter could have given us. He gave us this personal glimpse into their life. And they control their image. So I think he did a good thing with that.

HAMMER: Ben, what do you say to that?

WIDDICOMBE: Well, Brooke, I think you have the smoking gun that you played at the beginning of this segment. He has admitted that he got into the lifestyle for the fame. It`s part of his job. Bradley Pitt, suck it up. You have the best job in the world.

ANDERSON: We will end it there. Ben Widdicombe, Kim Serafin, thank you both.

And we`ve been asking you to vote on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT of the day - "Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie: Do you think they deserve more privacy?" Keep on voting, E-mail us, the address -

HAMMER: Time now for the "SHOWBIZ Obama Watch." Tonight, outrage over the Sasha and Malia dolls. First Lady Michelle Obama is not happy at all with the company that is selling dolls with her daughter`s names. Are the Sasha and Malia dolls really crossing a line?

Here`s CNN`s Alina Cho for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.


ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Meet Marvelous Malia and Sweet Sasha - names sound familiar? They`re the latest dolls by toy company Ty, Inc. And there are passing resemblance to first daughters Malia and Sasha Obama.

ALLAN LICHTMAN, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: They are really cute. They`re wonderful. And you know, by virtue of being so wonderful, they`re marketable.

CHO: But does that make it right? The first lady doesn`t think so. Through her spokeswoman, Michelle Obama tells CNN, "We believe it is inappropriate to use, young private citizens for marketing purposes."

CHARLES FIGLEY, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST, TULANE: This is sickening and a horrible thing. As a country, we are all prepared for a terrorist attack. Well this, in many ways, is a greed attack.

CHO: Others argue, why not? Everything the Obama girls touch turns to gold.

LICHTMAN: And there really isn`t much of anything that the Obamas can do about it. The president is not going to go sue private companies.

CHO: If history is any guide, Children in the White House, especially the young ones, are generally off limits. In the Obama White House, the first couple makes it clear they want their daughters to live as normally as possible. These dolls, some say, leave the first daughters exposed.

DR. JUDY KURIANSKY, CLINICAL PSYCHIATRIST: They should not be sold and feel like that they can be bought. This is not healthy for them psychologically.

CHO: Ty, Inc. tells the Associated Press, "There is nothing on the dolls that refers to the Obama girls. It would not be fair to say they are exact replications of these girls. They are not."

LICHTMAN: Well, it`s not surprising that in our consumer culture and in this hard-times economy, that people are going to try to take advantage of the Obama image and even Obama`s wonderful two little girls.

CHO: They`re not the first. In the 60s, Caroline Kennedy had a doll, too. And some say from a marketing standpoint, it is a genius idea.

LICHTMAN: We live in the land of the free and the home of the dollar. Barack Obama is kind of a unique figure. He is a political leader. He is a rock star. He is an icon.


HAMMER: Capitalism, alive and well. That was CNN`s Alina Cho for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

ANDERSON: Hey, coming up on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT - get ready for the battle of the former co-hosts. How Katie Couric has pulled the rug out from under Matt Lauer.

HAMMER: And now, the "SHOWBIZ News Ticker," here come more stories from the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom, making news right now.

(CAPTION READS: Tyler Perry in legal battle over alleged unpaid bills for construction on his home and movie studio. Late "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry and wife`s ashes to be launched into space.)



CAPT. CHESLEY "SULLY" SULLENBERGER, HEROIC PILOT: I know I can speak for the entire crew when I tell you, we were simply doing the jobs we were trained to do. Thank you.


HAMMER: A hero`s welcome for Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger right there in his hometown of Danville, California. He received a key to the city after he safely landed a plane in the Hudson River on January 15th. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) think about that.

Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York. Here are some more stories that are new right now.

Katie Couric has landed the very first interview with hero-pilot Sully. The interview with him and his crew will be shown on "60 Minutes" on February 8th. Now this is a big coup for Katie Couric. She one-upped her former "Today" show colleague Matt Lauer in getting this interview.

Sullenberger was originally supposed to speak with Matt Lauer on the "Today" show. That interview was postponed during the investigation of the U.S. Airways water landing.

Well, Zsa Zsa Gabor may be among the celebrity clientele who lost money in that Bernard Madoff scandal. A lawyer for Gabor says that she may have lost - ready for this - as much as $10 million that she invested with Madoff.

The lawyer says the loss was discovered about a week ago when Gabor`s husband was checking on their finances.

Other celebrities who lost money to Madoff reportedly include Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick, Steven Spielberg and Eric Roth - that`s the guy who wrote "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."

And it won`t win any Oscars but Kevin James` new movie is beating out "Benjamin Button" and all of the other Academy Award contenders at the box office. "Paul Blart: Mall Cop," number one at the weekend box office for the second week in a row. Now, the only best picture nominee that`s in the top 10 were "Slumdog Millionaire," in at number five, and "Benjamin Button" at number nine.

ANDERSON: On Friday, we asked you to vote on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. It was this - "Michelle Obama: Is there too much focus on her fashion?"

Let`s take a look at the results. A whopping 84 percent of you say yes; 16 percent say no.

Some of the E-mails we received. Bill from Virginia, "The fashion of the first ladies has always been a topic of conversation. Why should Mrs. Obama be treated differently?"

Jackie from New York writes, "Mrs. Obama is a beautiful woman, but clothes are clothes. Pay more attention to what she`s doing for America."

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

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