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Eminem`s War with Hollywood; How the Travolta Family is Coping; Michelle Obama versus Oprah Winfrey; Outrage Over an Anti-Smoking Ad

Aired April 8, 2009 - 23:00   ET


A.J. HAMMER, CO-HOST: Now, on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, Eminem`s all-out war on Hollywood. Jessica Simpson.


Lindsay Lohan.


EMINEM, RAP ARTIST: Lindsay, please come back to CNN.


HAMMER: Even Sarah Palin. Tonight, no one is safe. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with the brand-new explosive video that rips the stars apart.

The Travolta family tragedy. Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with the heartbreaking, brand-new details about John Travolta and his family are still struggling with the death of his teenage son. The mourning, the healing and the new revelations about how the Travoltas are trying to move on.

Plus, Michelle Obama versus Oprah Winfrey. Tonight, the controversial question - is it racist to make comparisons between Michelle and Oprah? SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with the heated debate.

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, there he goes again, the guy who got Sarah Palin`s teenage daughter pregnant is blabbing again. And his sister is now calling Palin a liar. That`s coming up.

HAMMER: But first tonight, Eminem slamming the starlets. And yes, Sarah Palin is also a part of this. Now, what we are about to show you is the very definition of must-see TV. Eminem returning to the public eye and targeting everyone - Palin, Britney, Lindsay, Jessica, Ellen DeGeneres. Even "Star Trek" is a part of this thing. Yes, I said "Star Trek."

And if all of this sounds really, totally bizarre, you`re absolutely right. And SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is now in a position to reveal it is making big news right now.


(voice-over): As if Hollywood starlets didn`t have enough problems to deal with - pushy paparazzi and those pesky flash bulbs, mean gossip pages, public relationship troubles - we`ll get to that in a minute.

Now, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can tell you Hollywood starlets are now dealing with an even harder ordeal - getting mocked in a new Eminem video.


The controversial rapper`s video for his song, "We Made You" skewers just about every star imaginable. And SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can tell you it has all of Hollywood either laughing.

COOPER LAWRENCE, PSYCHOLOGIST/RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I was laughing out loud throughout the entire video.

HAMMER: . Or not laughing.

LAWRENCE: You can`t take yourself seriously in this business. You`ve got to have a thick skin.

HAMMER: Almost no star is spared in Eminem`s video.

EMINEM: Jessica Simpson, sing the chorus.


HAMMER: Jessica Simpson.


An over-exaggerated Kim Kardashian and Jessica Alba are all spoofed. Celebrity couples Ellen DeGeneres and Portia De Rossi and John Mayer and Jennifer Aniston.


HAMMER: They get the Eminem treatment, too. Even former vice presidential candidates aren`t spared.


HAMMER: Eminem even cavorts with a Sarah Palin look-alike.


HAMMER: We`ll skip this next part. But SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can tell you it`s an extended appearance by a fake Lindsay Lohan and Samantha Ronson that`s getting the biggest buzz. That`s because just as this video came out, Lohan and Ronson`s relationship flamed out. Oops.

LAWRENCE: The timing for Lindsay is awful.

HAMMER: In an interview with "Us Weekly" magazine, Lindsay Lohan says she`s devastated after Ronson ended their relationship of two years. Let`s hope Lindsay is not watching music videos right now.

LAWRENCE: Right now she`s going through this devastating break-up. She`s obviously very hurt by it. And here it is being played out in this video that everybody`s talking about. So she can`t escape it.

HAMMER: But psychologist and radio show host Cooper Lawrence tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, this video might leave Lohan smiling through her tears.


LAWRENCE: In a way, it should make Lindsay feel empowered because she`s not being made fun of; Samantha is. So it`s almost like somebody is saying, "That girl wasn`t good enough for you."

HAMMER: Some celebrities couldn`t be happier about getting the Eminem treatment. Kim Kardashian, who`s wickedly spoofed in the video, raced to her blog the second she saw it. She wrote, quote, "I think this video is so funny. I am a huge Eminem fan and find it flattering that he would rap about me. Personally, I`m honored."

On the other hand, quotes a friend of Jessica Simpson who says the former "Dukes of Hazard" star found her burger-chewing portrayal in the video, quote, "annoying."

LAWRENCE: He makes fun of you, you`ve made it. You`re successful. You matter.

HAMMER: But psychologist Cooper Lawrence tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT stars should be lining up to be annoyed this way.

LAWRENCE: If I ended up in an Eminem video, I`d be like, "I`ve made it!"

HAMMER: And what about the celebrities who didn`t make the cut?

LAWRENCE: That means if they`re not thinking about you, if you`re not in that video, your career`s on the downslide.

HAMMER: Attention, Paris Hilton, you might want to fire your publicist, because even classic hot list Britney Spears is mocked in Eminem`s spoof- fest. But the famous heiress is nowhere to be found.

LAWRENCE: You`re not important enough for Eminem to make fun of you.

HAMMER: Proof positive that even though being made fun of can be a major Hollywood hardship, it sure beats not being mentioned at all.



HAMMER: Now, for his part, Eminem tells MTV news that his video isn`t necessarily taking shots at people. And then upon further reflection, he concedes, quote, "Yes, it is."

ANDERSON: Yes. It`s pretty obvious. OK. Tonight, brand-new developments in the war of words over the sex life of Sarah Palin`s daughter, Bristol. Bristol`s former fiance, the guy who got her pregnant, slammed Palin again today on his confessional media tour.

In a brand-new interview, Levi Johnston is calling Sarah Palin a liar. The fiery feud began when Johnston appeared on "The Tyra Banks Show" claiming Palin knew about his sex life with Bristol.


TYRA BANKS, HOST, "THE TYRA BANKS SHOW": Did she think you were abstinent?


BANKS: You think she knew?

JOHNSTON: I`m pretty sure she probably knew.

BANKS: How are you pretty sure she knew?

JOHNSTON: Moms are pretty smart.


ANDERSON: Well, Palin blasted Johnston`s claims, and now Johnston is firing back.

Joining me tonight in Hollywood is Lisa Bloom who is an anchor with the legal network "In Session." Also Tanika Ray, who is a correspondent for "Extra."

Lisa, Tanika, a spokesperson for Sarah Palin has called Levi Johnston`s claims about his sex life with Bristol flat-out lies including the claim that he lived in their house.

But in a brand-new interview this morning on the CBS "Early Show," watch how Levi responded.


MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ, ANCHOR, "THE EARLY SHOW": Sarah Palin, through her spokesperson, has denied a lot of the things that you`re saying. So either you`re lying or Sarah Palin is lying. Which is it?

JOHNSTON: They said I didn`t live there - I stayed there. I was like, "OK, whatever you want to call it. I had my stuff there. So if you want to call it staying there, that`s fine."

RODRIGUEZ: So they`re lying?



ANDERSON: OK. Obviously each side has a different definition of living or staying somewhere. Tanika, could Sarah Palin have ever imagined that Levi Johnston would become her worst nightmare?

TANIKA RAY, CORRESPONDENT, "EXTRA": You know, I don`t think she did. I thought - I think she probably thought she was savvy enough to sort of bring her into her fold, use him to her advantage during the campaign, make it look like everybody was happy.

And if her daughter got pregnant, it`s OK if they`re about to get married, right? It makes the image much more rosy. And I think she thought she could use him for her well-being, but didn`t realize he might bite her back. So no, I think she probably thought she was in control of that one.

ANDERSON: Well, you know, this was his second interview in less than a week. And Lisa, to me, it is appalling. It`s disrespectful. I mean, do you think it would do him some good to just shut up?

LISA BLOOM, ANCHOR, "IN SESSION": No, I don`t. I`m going to disagree with you there. Look, he`s in the powerless position. How`d you like to have Sarah Palin, the self-described pit bull in lipstick as your erstwhile mother-in-law?

And who is he? What does he got, I mean, except a microphone? So he can speak out. He can tell his side of the story. And frankly, I`m delighted to hear it. I think it`s a fascinating story. And this is where abstinence-only education and all this right-wing family values stuff usually leads, this kind of family feuds.

ANDERSON: I don`t know. I don`t know. Was the American public champing at the bit to hear from Levi Johnston? I personally just don`t think so.

RAY: I was.

ANDERSON: You were, Tanika. I wasn`t.

RAY: I want to hear his voice.

ANDERSON: But you know, it`s not just Levi speaking out. His sister, Mercede, is even getting in on it. She was also on the CBS "Early Show" this morning and said, "Hey, Sarah Palin had this coming." Watch.


MERCEDE JOHNSTON, LEVI JOHNSTON`S SISTER: I mean, look what they`re doing. They`re lying trying to save themselves. And they`re the one that asked for it. They brought him to the campaign. They should have known what was coming. They can`t, you know, turn around and try to take it back now.


ANDERSON: They did bring him out, trot him out during the campaign. So Tanika, is Levi`s sister right? Did Sarah Palin have it coming? And should she have seen it coming?

RAY: Absolutely. They not only trotted him out. They paraded him out to the world. And I think - I don`t know if they`re right - necessarily completely in the right. I think basically what it is, is if you`re going to use us, we`re going to use you.

And I do think that Levi`s family is going to benefit from this in some sort of financial way. They might even get their own reality show. Who knows in this crazy world today?

But I feel that`s their only way to be heard. And maybe he`s going to write a book about the truth. I don`t know. But I feel them sitting in Alaska being quiet, what are they going to get out of the deal? Sarah definitely benefited from it. So now, it`s their turn. So she should have seen it coming, girl.

ANDERSON: Well, (INAUDIBLE) think about possibly benefiting from it financially. A spokesperson for Sarah Palin has said that Levi Johnston is out for fame and fortune. Levi claims today that he`s just trying to tell his side of the story. But he does reportedly have aspirations to become a model or an actor. So Lisa, to me, the question is who is he kidding here?

BLOOM: Well, listen, I worked for "The Early Show." I can tell you they do not pay for interviews. So he may have been flown out, but that would have been it. He did not get any money for doing that interview. If you think that all of this is exposure.

ANDERSON: But he wants to become a model or an actor, maybe capitalize on it.

BLOOM: Yes. Look, everybody wants to be a model and an actor. He`s a handsome young guy. You know, maybe he`s got a shot. And then he can support his kid. There`s nothing wrong with people who are on television, Brooke.

RAY: Absolutely.

ANDERSON: You`re right about that. But it is just his approach that is really just blowing me away. We`ll have to leave it there. We could continue this conversation, and we probably will - the three of us.

RAY: Yes, we could. Levi should model for Levi`s. Perfect.

ANDERSON: Gracious - but that`s a good idea. Thanks, guys.

HAMMER: Wow! Brooke, that Levi-Sarah Palin controversy has really got everybody talking. And you know, this Michelle Obama-Oprah Winfrey one has got people very fired up as well.

ANDERSON: It does, A.J. We asked the question, "Is Michelle Obama more influential than Oprah?" And people got really fired up with some saying that comparison is racist.

So tonight, we are asking the question, is it really racist to compare these two? It`s a heated debate you do not want to miss, coming up.

HAMMER: Also tonight, did Angelina Jolie have a health scare on the set of her new movie? Did she collapse? Well, we are sending out the SHOWBIZ Truth Squad so we can dig up the answers.

Also this.


DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN, NEW YORK CITY HEALTH COMMISSIONER: It`s clearly a disturbing ad. The reality is even more disturbing.


ANDERSON: The brand-new controversy over a startling anti-smoking ad. Was a little boy harmed while making it? This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on HLN.

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

TEXT: Ryan O`Neal and Farrah Fawcett`s son Redmond charged with heroin possession. Whitney Houston counter-sues mother-in-law for $1.6 million in condo dispute.


ANDERSON: Hey, welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m Brooke Anderson in Hollywood.

Tonight, Michelle Obama in wax. OK, so touching the real first lady would usually be a big no-no. But tonight, I`m giving you the OK. Go ahead. Get up close and personal. I promise, you won`t get burned because this Michelle is wax.

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


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): First, the press waxes lyrical over the real Michelle Obama. And now, we`re waxing lyrical over wax.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, look at that woman.

MOOS: And if looking isn`t enough at Madame Tussauds -

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can hug her, kiss her - everything.

MOOS: The wax Secret Service won`t stop you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you think?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, looks exactly like her. It`s scary.

MOOS: She`s wearing one of her trademark cardigans which covers up a sleeveless dress.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Inspired by the purple dress that she wore the night that her husband clinched the nomination.

MOOS: And seemed to be clinching her more than the nomination. If we`re so interested in a dress worn by a wax first lady, well, it`s just an extension of the fascination with fashion during her just-completed overseas trip.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Mrs. Obama, you happy to be here?

MOOS: On "The Huffington Post," her style was praised. It was panned, "Michelle Obama`s Lost Her Mind: Three Reasons She`s Suddenly A Fashion Disaster." A dud for wearing an outfit too casual for the queen. We were accessories to the crime of analyzing accessories right down to Mrs. Obama`s favorite Azzedine Alaia belt.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s the only thing the president does not like in her wardrobe, he calls it her "Star Trek" belt.

MOOS: And we were star struck. The "Huffington Post" ran polls so readers could vote "love it" or "leave it" on the first lady`s every outfit. Which was her greatest hit? An Azzedine Alaia dress she wore to the NATO concert. Her biggest bomb? This mosquito shirt with bow. "Clown bow" screams "dowdy." A bowwow bow.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are 1,500 -

MOOS (on camera): On a bow.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, on a bow. And it was the number one story on our site on Monday.

MOOS: On the whole site?

(voice-over): But at least her bow was bigger than French First Lady Carla Bruni`s. It`s tough to being a fashion plate for the whole nation to dine on when even your wax figure is mobbed by the media.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE CHILD: I`m just freaked out.

MOOS: The way the first lady was laid low by her bow makes you want to check your collar.


ANDERSON: And that was CNN`s Jeanne Moos for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, checking her collar there. And by the way, the only other first ladies to get their own wax figures - Jackie Kennedy and Hillary Clinton.

HAMMER: Well, Brooke, you know, people are still fired-up about Madonna trying to adopt another Malawian child. A lot of calls are coming in from people who are defending Madonna.

And look at this, I`ve got to tell you the "Showbiz on Call" operators definitely not having a holiday down there.


HAMMER: There you go. All right. They`re very busy, Brooke.

ANDERSON: Yes, they are, A.J. We got a call in to "Showbiz on Call" from Bryce in Florida who says that Madonna`s intentions are good.


QUESTION: Everyone is saying that Madonna is collecting these children, that she`s adopting like they are fashion accessories. But I don`t think that`s the case. We have to keep in mind that Madonna, even though she has money and wealth and celebrity, she is a human being. She`s a person. And I believe that she is, you know, adopting these children with good intent.


HAMMER: Thank you, Bryce. We also heard from Carol calling into "Showbiz on Call" also from Florida. And Carol says it`s great that Madonna is trying to adopt a child no matter where the kid is from.


QUESTION: First of all, she`s taking a child out of poverty in a third- world country. She is doing such a wonderful thing. And people who think that she`s not - what is the difference where this child comes from? It makes no difference. This child is in need.


ANDERSON: Thank you for that, Carol. Call us at "Showbiz on Call." Let us know what you think about this or anything else. The "Showbiz on Call" phone lines are open 24/7 - 1-888-SBT-BUZZ; 1-888-728-2899. 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,

A.J., we are also getting a lot of E-mails and calls from people fired up over this Michelle Obama-Oprah Winfrey controversy.

HAMMER: Yes, that`s right, Brooke. We asked if Michelle is now more influential than Oprah. And some people thought the question was racist. So tonight, we`re asking, is it racist to compare Michelle Obama to Oprah Winfrey? This is a heated debate. You will not want to miss it. It is coming up.

Also this.


MICHAEL J. FOX, ACTOR: My bad days are good. But again, I have to separate how I feel physically from how I feel emotionally.


ANDERSON: I think Michael J. Fox is so incredibly brave, such a fighter. Tonight, Michael`s brand-new revelations about his battle with Parkinson`s Disease, next.

HAMMER: And the Travolta family tragedy. The heartbreaking, brand-new details of how John Travolta and his family are obviously still struggling with the death of their teenage son, and the new revelations of how the Travoltas are trying to move on. This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on HLN.

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

TEXT: Showbiz ratings news: "Oprah" up eight percent last week, "Ellen" up five percent. CBS beats Fox`s "24" and "House" with NCAA championship Monday night.


ANDERSON: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m Brooke Anderson. Tonight, Michael J. Fox is revealing brand-new details about his fight with Parkinson`s Disease. In an emotional interview with CNN`s Larry King tonight, the 47-year-old star of the "Back to the Future" movies and "Family Ties" opened up about how he gets by on bad days and how he felt when President Obama lifted federal restrictions on stem cell research.


LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": In March, President Obama lifted the ban on federal financing for embryonic stem cell research. You`ve long fought for that.

FOX: Yes.

KING: You`ve got to feel like it`s come true.

FOX: Yes. It was great. I was actually in Bhutan when that happened. That`s on the other side of the world and in the Himalayas on a sat phone trying to find out the information. But it was really gratifying. He campaigned on that promise that he would do that. And knowing when he came in he had a lot of housekeeping to take care of, we`re happy that he got to this as soon as he did.

KING: Do you think that will lead to things?

FOX: I think it can`t hurt. I mean, when you close off that exciting avenue of research, whatever - forget about it being a guaranteed breakthrough, guaranteed results - nothing is guaranteed. We never claimed it was a surefire thing.

But it was such a promising avenue of research. If you`ve got something that even speaks of promise in that area, to just for, we thought, largely political reasons to construct a series of restrictions and make that almost impossible to carry on was just maddening.

KING: So the glass is always half full?

FOX: Well, it is. You know.

KING: How about bad days?

FOX: My bad days are good. But again, I have to separate how I feel physically from how I feel emotionally. And I mean, a lot of people who have Parkinson`s deal with clinical depression, and that`s a completely different issue. You have to put that aside. And we can`t jolly your way out of that. I mean, that`s - it takes some serious dealing with.

But absent that, just if I have a bad day physically, it might disappoint me that therefore I can`t do something that I want to do, or I can`t do it in the time frame that I want to do it.

But it`s very easy for me to just go, well, that`s how my body feels. That`s not how I feel. There are other things I can do. And it will come around.


ANDERSON: He is a real fighter. And Michael`s also got a new book out. It`s called "Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist." And he`s also doing a guest stint on FX`s "Rescue Me."

HAMMER: Wow. He`s so inspirational. All right. Now, the SHOWBIZ line up. What`s coming up at the bottom of the hour on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. A fired-up controversy - is it racist to compare Michelle Obama to Oprah Winfrey?

Also, the SHOWBIZ Truth Squad checks out the explosive report that Angelina Jolie collapsed on the set of her new movie.

HAMMER: And how are the Travoltas coping with the death of their teenage son, Jett? The new revelations about how the Travoltas are trying to move on. This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on HLN.

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

TEXT: New Poll: Miley Cyrus is a bigger teen star than Britney Spears. New Fox reality show: Employees of a small business decide who to lay off!


HAMMER: Now, on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, Michelle Obama versus Oprah Winfrey. Tonight, the controversial question - is it racist to make comparisons between Michelle and Oprah? SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with a heated debate.

The Travolta family tragedy. Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with the heartbreaking brand-new details about John and his family are still struggling with the death of their teenage son.


FRIEDEN: It`s clearly a disturbing ad. The reality is even more disturbing.


HAMMER: And a brand-new controversy over a startling anti-smoking ad. Was a little boy harmed while making it?

Plus, more stories breaking from the "SHOWBIZ News Ticker."

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 and every night from New York City.

ANDERSON: And I`m Brooke Anderson, coming to you tonight from Hollywood. And tonight, Oprah versus Michelle and the controversial question.

HAMMER: Yes, Brooke, the controversial question is this: Is it racist to make comparisons between Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama? Now, all of this began after a controversial blog this week posed the question and compared the first lady of America to the first lady of talk.

Also, new right now, why Michelle Obama is being called the biggest star in the world. From her headline-making fashion statements to her massive appeal the world over.

But wait, there`s more. Your outrage over the President Obama Chia pet. Yes, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT first reported the controversial story and why some stores have already pulled Obama Chia from their shelves. We`ve got your fired-up calls in to our "Showbiz on Call."

Joining me tonight in New York, it`s Midwin Charles who is an attorney with the law firm Midwin Charles and Associates. In Hollywood tonight, Tanika Ray who is a correspondent for "Extra."

And let`s begin with this controversy over comparing Michelle Obama to Oprah Winfrey. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT did first report on this after famed editor Tina Brown wrote on her Web site,, "American women already admired Michelle Obama before she left for London, but the TV coverage in the last two days has dialed her up dramatically to another level. Suddenly, she has zoomed past Oprah as the inspirational `it` girl and iconic female African-American role model."

Tanika, I`m going to you first on this. We have gotten a ton of E- mails just slamming this comparison, calling it racist. What do you think?

RAY: You know, we started this conversation yesterday, and we got a little cut off. And so I`m so happy we`re able to approach this again. I`ve got to tell you, from the African-American community, we do consider that a little insensitive and slightly racist. The reason why is because we feel, why can`t there be 10 amazing iconic inspirational black women that we look to and they`re in the media?

It always seems that we only are allowing one. And I feel like Oprah and Michelle aren`t even a really fair comparison. If you want to compare Michelle to anybody, it would be Hillary Clinton because they`re both lawyers, both in politics. That seems like a fair comparison.

That`s apples and oranges - Oprah and Michelle. Yes, they`re both African-American. They`re both brilliant, but that`s kind of where it ends.

HAMMER: What if Tina Brown had stopped with "suddenly she has zoomed past Oprah as the inspirational `it` girl" and not mentioned race at all?

RAY: That would have been a lot better. I feel like, you know, there`s a lot of inspirational people in this world. And to just say, "Oh, she`s gone past Oprah," makes it - that`s where the racism comes in.

And you know, it`s not malicious, I don`t think. But I just feel like it`s just - it`s insensitive, and it`s shortsighted to think that there has to be only one at the top of the pyramid. It doesn`t.

HAMMER: As I mentioned, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT got a ton of E-mails. A lot of people are slamming this comparison between Michelle Obama and Oprah.

Let me read one of them to you. This comes to you from Michelle in Maryland. Michelle writing, "I`m absolutely offended by the Oprah versus Michelle Obama poll. Is there so little room at the top for powerful black women that you need to compare the two? Kind of to Tanika`s point there. Thank you for that E-mail, Michelle. Midwin, do you agree?

MIDWIN CHARLES, ATTORNEY, MIDWIN CHARLES AND ASSOCIATES: Well, I think Tanika`s correct in the sense where it shows a lack of racial sensitivity. I don`t know whether it`s racist. But it certainly shows a lack of racial sensitivity.

And we see it in al kinds of arenas. There can only be one top black supermodel. There can only be one black singer, Beyonce, at a time. And it does show a lack of racial sensitivity for sure.

But I think Tina Brown`s comparison had to do with Michelle Obama`s worldwide popularity which is what Oprah has. I think that`s where the comparison came in is that worldwide stage and that notoriety that Oprah has and whether or not Michelle has achieved that as well.

HAMMER: Yes, I think that was certainly the intent, and we`ve been hearing it from all sides coming into the "Showbiz on Call" phone lines. Let me get to a call right now. This is Gidget calling in. Let`s roll that one.


QUESTION: I think it is appalling that you want to pit a black woman, the first lady, against Oprah Winfrey. I think that is for somebody (INAUDIBLE). I`m like, "How in the hell do you do that?" That is stupid to me. And it was a stupid commentary and it was a stupid - there we go. Hated it. Hated it.


HAMMER: All right, Gidget not holding back there at all.

RAY: She`s not happy. She feels strong about that.

HAMMER: No. Tanika, let me ask you about a point that Midwin was making a moment ago. Do you think anyone is making this comparison with malicious intent? We are talking about two strong women who are doing great and inspirational things separate from race.

RAY: You know, I don`t think it was with malicious intent, but that is unfortunately what we look at as institutionalized racism. We don`t even know when it`s coming at us. And that`s what we - as a black community, we`re always trying to point out. That right there is inappropriate.

So we`re trying to teach America, and we`re learning as a country how to be more sensitive to these matters. But that - pitting one against the other - is a racist way of looking at the world. And I think they could have said Michelle is a bigger inspirational person than the queen of England. Why didn`t they do that?


RAY: So when you pit Oprah - I just feel like it just takes it to a whole other ugly level.

HAMMER: Did you want to jump in, Midwin?

CHARLES: I did. I did. I think also part of the outrage stems from this sort of notion that it`s a surprise that a woman like Michelle even exists, the fact that she`s educated and smart and a mother.

RAY: Exactly.

CHARLES: And I think what a lot of us.

RAY: There`s a lot of us, girls.

CHARLES: There are a lot of us like that. If you go to any African- American community, you go to the churches and you look at your leaders, there are tons of women like Michelle in their communities. And so I think that is really where the concern and the outrage comes from, which is, "Why is this even a surprise?"

RAY: Yes.

CHARLES: There`s tons of black women like her. But I do see where Tina Brown was going with that comparison, though, in terms of the world stage and the identity that she now has. I think she has become a world image right now.

RAY: Absolutely.

HAMMER: There`s that and there`s the obvious star power here. I think that`s one of the obvious reasons for this comparison between Oprah and Michelle. You know, the first lady has, for better or worse in some people`s minds, become one of the biggest stars in the world.

RAY: Absolutely.

HAMMER: We saw her take Europe by storm, making headlines - yes, sometimes about what she wore - but so does Oprah, - also making headlines about her inspiring speeches to the grade school girls over there. Take a look at the headlines today on the widely-read entertainment blog,

Look at this. Washington falls from MICHELLE Obama`s extraordinary ordinary. Midwin, back to you. Has Michelle become one of the biggest stars in the world? And really, is there anything wrong with that?

CHARLES: I don`t think there`s anything wrong with it. But I think also, A.J., another part of this is that Michelle is a different type of first lady that we have really never seen. She doesn`t have those Stepford Wife- like qualities.

RAY: Yes.

CHARLES: She`s not frozen. She`s not wearing the pillbox hat and the perfect little suit.


CHARLES: She makes her own rules. If she doesn`t want to wear sleeves, she`s not going to wear them. If she wants to wear a cardigan to meet the queen mother, she will do it. And I think that that makes her refreshing. It`s like, "Oh, my goodness, she`s alive!

HAMMER: I couldn`t agree more. She is very much her own woman. All right. Let`s move on to this controversy surrounding the new Chia pet resembling our president, President Obama.

Chia Obama has been taken off the shelves in a Walgreens in Chicago, his hometown, and a Walgreens in Florida after yet some customers complaining about it. Our "Showbiz on Call" phone lines have just been flooded with calls about Chia Obama. This is Angel calling in from Pennsylvania saying it is downright rude. Roll it.


QUESTION: I think that this is so rude and so disrespectful to the president. They never made a George Bush Chia pet. They never made a Bill Clinton Chia pet. So why an Obama Chia pet? Is it to say that there will never be a black president again? Or to mock him? I think it`s very disrespectful.


HAMMER: All right. Tanika, sadly, only 10 seconds here. Thanks for the call, Angel. The creator says it has nothing to do with race. But Midwin, do you agree - I`m sorry. Tanika, do you agree with the caller there?

RAY: No, this is where you take it too far. Who cares? I`ve seen all kinds of silly dolls and stuff of Bush that are very X-rated.

HAMMER: OK. That works.

RAY: As long as he has something.

HAMMER: We`ll leave it there.

RAY: And he grows an afro. You can only have an afro with a Chia pet.

HAMMER: I`ve got to go. I`ve got to go back to my office. I`ve got to water my Chia Homer Simpson. All right. Midwin Charles, Tanika Ray, I do appreciate you both being here.

Let me turn this over to our audience for our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. What do you think? "Michelle Obama: Is it unfair to compare her with Oprah?" Vote at Or E-mail

ANDERSON: All right. Tonight, three months after John Travolta`s family`s tragedy, A.J., we are getting heartbreaking new details about how he`s coping.

HAMMER: That`s right, Brooke. The brand-new revelations about how the superstar and his family are trying to move on after the tragic loss of their son, Jett.

Also this.

FRIEDEN: It`s clearly a disturbing ad. The reality is even more disturbing.

ANDERSON: It`s the alarming ad that`s supposed to get people to quit smoking. But it`s firing up a whole new controversy instead. Was a little boy harmed while making the ad?

HAMMER: Wait until you hear about the shocking new reality show about a transgendered mayor in a tiny town who calls himself a regular dude. It is a story you`ve got to see to believe. This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on HLN.

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

TEXT: Madonna donates more than $500,000 to Italian earthquake victims. Courtney Love suing over millions "looted" from late husband Kurt Cobain`s estate.


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

Tonight, the Travolta family tragedy. We are just learning brand- new revelations about how John Travolta has been coping with the sudden death of his son, Jett, three months ago. Jett died tragically from complications from a seizure in January.

And now the new issue of "People" magazine had some intimate, heartbreaking glimpse inside the life of the Travolta family.

Joining me tonight in Hollywood, Mike Fleeman, who is the west coast editor for

And Mike, the article describes the Travoltas` entire world shattering, obviously, when their son, Jett, died in the Bahamas in January. They built their entire lives around Jett who had a very rare disease, Kawasaki Disease. Jett Travolta, sadly, would have turned 17 on Monday. It is so sad. Mike, how are they coping?

MIKE FLEEMAN, WEST COAST EDITOR, PEOPLE.COM: They`re coping about as you might expect, which is this is something you can never get over. And for a while, they were holed up. Nobody saw them very much. Now, they`re just starting to get back on with their lives.

They`re starting to see people. People are coming over to their house. They`re not going out in public so much, but they are opening themselves up to close family and friends.

ANDERSON: Yes, they`ve really made no public appearances at all. But in the small town where they live in Florida, the townspeople have spoken openly to "People" magazine about seeing the Travoltas around town. What do they have to say specifically about how the family`s doing?

FLEEMAN: You know, it`s a heartbreaking scene because John Travolta is very outgoing, very friendly any time you meet them.


FLEEMAN: And people have seen him around town shortly after the memorial service. He`s slumped over. He looks very sad. His wife, Kelly, was spotted in the Macy`s. And you know, just in the store, people can see sort of a sadness about them. And so it`s very noticeable.

ANDERSON: Yes, there will always be a hole in their hearts, really. And Olivia Newton-John, who starred with Travolta in the movie, "Grease," remains a longtime friend of the family.

And she tells "People" magazine, quote, "John is a strong man, but we want to leave him in peace. To lose a loved one - it`s the worst time in anyone`s life." And that is so true.

Mike, it wasn`t just a loved one, though. It was John`s beloved son. What was the relationship like between father and son?

FLEEMAN: As you had mentioned, you know, everything in the Travolta household revolves around family. And of course, Jett had the developmental issues, the medical issues. They didn`t talk about it, but you could always tell.

And you know, John, when he talked about him, referred to him as "my sweet Jetty." That`s what he used to call him.


FLEEMAN: And of course, his birthday - he would have turned 17 this month. So it`s a very, very tough time.

ANDERSON: But it isn`t over yet for John. There is that extortion case to deal with in the Bahamas. Listen to this. A former Bahamian senator and an ambulance driver charged with trying to extort more than $25 million from the Travolta family. Mike, could John eventually have to testify and relive his nightmare?

FLEEMAN: Very likely. You know, this is something that hit them. Almost immediately after Jett`s death, they had to deal with this extortion attempt. Lawyers were on the phone with the authorities. And yes, this thing`s going to be starting within days.

And there`s a very good chance that John`s going to have to go back there and testify or at least talk to authorities. But when we talked to people they said, "You know, look, after you lose a child, this is small potatoes."

ANDERSON: Absolutely. You know well our thoughts and prayers do go out to the Travolta family. My goodness. Mike Fleeman, thank you so much. Good to see you.

And to read more on how the Travolta family is coping, pick up a copy of "People" magazine. It`s on newsstands, Friday.

ANDERSON: Did you see this? The transgendered mayor of an Oregon town is working on getting his own reality show. Mayor Stu Rasmussen of Silverton thinks his story would be perfect for the wild world of reality TV.

Now, the mayor calls himself a regular dude and he lives with his girlfriend of almost 35 years. Rasmussen says he`s out to prove that his life and his town are perfectly normal.


STU RASMUSSEN, MAYOR OF SILVERTON: I think what we`re looking at is trying to show small-town America as being a very open, tolerant, accepting environment which is not what you get from the mainstream sometimes.


HAMMER: Well, crews have been following Rasmussen around town recently, but no word yet on if the reality show is a go.

ANDERSON: Tonight, a brand-new controversy that has people totally fired up. New York City is running an in-your-face anti-smoking ad that`s igniting strong reaction from a lot of people, especially parents. The ad shows a toddler crying after getting separated from his mother in a busy train station.

The heart-wrenching image has a lot of people asking one question, does it really cross the line? We want to warn you, the piece includes portions of television commercials that some viewers may find disturbing.

Here`s CNN`s Mary Snow for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.


MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New York City`s Health Department doesn`t pull punches in anti-smoking ads like this one, featuring Rolando.

ROLANDO, THROAT CANCER SUFFERER: I was 39 when I got throat cancer from smoking cigarettes.

SNOW: There`s also Marie who`s had multiple amputations as a result of her smoking. But it is this ad, featuring three-and-a-half-year-old Alex, who gets separated from his mother, that has critics asking whether these commercials go too far. The little boy is first afraid then cries.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is how your child feels after losing you for a minute. Just imagine if they lost you for life.

FRIEDEN: This is clearly a disturbing ad. The reality is even more disturbing. The reality is that people die every day from preventable causes and in ways that are often painful and disfiguring.

SNOW: But on the Web, critics are calling it atrocious, evoking images of child abuse. Others, like Ad Age`s Ken Wheaton call it a strong ad but say.

KEN WHEATON, ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR, AD AGE: The only concern on my part is, you know, that sort of fuzzy ethics that if you`re poking a kid just to get him to cry to make a point.

SNOW: Not so, says the woman responsible for the ad which was made in Australia. The head of Quit Victoria says the mother and son are actors. And she says the boy was briefed beforehand. But she admits -

FIONA SHARKE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, QUIT VICTORIA: They were real tears at the end of that when he briefly lost sight of his mom. But certainly he was fine and there was no concern there was no concern from child welfare or anyone else who was on the set that day.


ANDERSON: That was CNN`s Mary Snow for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. And here`s an interesting note. The ad`s maker says similar questions about the boy`s safety were raised in Australia back in November when the ad first ran there.

But she also says many smokers have gotten a huge wake-up call from the shocking ad and are willing to drop the deadly habit because of it.

HAMMER: Tonight, the new details about Lindsay Lohan and Samantha Ronson`s split. So are the cops really getting involved? Plus, shocking new reports that Angelina Jolie collapses on the set of her new movie. The SHOWBIZ Truth Squad on the case, next.

And now, more stories from the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom that are new right now. Pop star Rihanna getting her own signature scent. reports she`s inked a deal for her own perfume and it`s expected to come out next summer.

Jay-Z, who discovered Rihanna and Kanye West, have signed up for fragrance deals of their own. And Hugh Jackman says he is heartbroken over the illegal online leak of his new film. Jackman stars as superhero "Wolverine" in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine." The movie opens May 1st. This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on HLN.


HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York. It`s a coast-to-coast of the SHOWBIZ Truth Squad for three of the most buzzed about entertainment stories.

First up, did Angelina Jolie pass out on the set of her new movie, "Salt"? Well, there had been all sorts of wild reports that the allegedly overworked superstar and mom of six fainted between takes while shooting the movie.

But tonight, Angelina Jolie`s rep tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT - no way, not true. Here`s some more inside dish. Angelina, Brad Pitt and their entire clan are living in New York while filming "Salt." It`s expected in theaters next year.

HAMMER: All right. Next up, is Samantha Ronson getting a restraining order against ex-gal pal Lindsay Lohan? Well, after a widely reported rocky year-long romance and just days after the two split, Ronson`s relatives were spotted asking about a restraining order from Beverly Hills Police Department.

So the SHOWBIZ Truth Squad is asking, what is the real deal here? Well, Ronson`s attorney tells "" Samantha is not getting and does not need a restraining order against Lindsay Lohan. He says, quote, "There is no basis for one."

And there`s one more case the SHOWBIZ Truth Squad is cracking wide open. Will Kate Moss become the first supermodel to write a cookbook? And not just any cookbook, a Jewish cookbook?

Everybody has just been eating up reports that Moss is publishing a book of traditional Jewish meals. But "" reports Moss is not working on a cookbook and her rep doesn`t even know how this whole thing got started. However, I did here that Moss` mom added, "Kate, eat. Your so thin. What, won`t eat something?"

ANDERSON: That`s great, A.J. OK. On Tuesday, we asked you to vote on our question of the day - "Chris Brown Pleads Not Guilty: Is it Rihanna to speak out about the alleged abuse?" Very one-sided here. 87 percent of you say yes; only 13 percent say no.

Some of the E-mails we received - Hermineh from California writes, "I think this young lady needs to come clean with her emotions and set an example for all women."

But Jamita from North Carolina says, "Rihanna does not have to speak out. To have to share such a private and embarrassing moment with the world is ridiculous. I hope she gets the help she needs as well as Chris Brown."

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

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