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Is Whitney Houston`s Comeback a Disaster?; Brand-New Chris Brown- Rihanna Drama; Shocking Claims from Levi Johnston; What Happened When Laura Ling and Euna Lee Were Captured; Jon Gosselin Speaks After the Divorce

Aired September 2, 2009 - 23:00:00   ET


A.J. HAMMER, HOST: Now, on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, Whitney Houston`s big whoops. Whitney returns to the stage for one of the most highly-anticipated come backs in music history. She was once the Queen of the Night. But how did she do this morning? Why some people are calling Whitney`s big performance a comeback catastrophe.

Brand-new Chris Brown and Rihanna drama. Chris` dramatic new comments about the night he beat up Rihanna.


CHRIS BROWN, SINGER: All I can say, I guess that night was just one of the nights I wish I could just take back.


HAMMER: But wait until you see Rihanna`s racy revenge, an extremely provocative new photo spread. We`ll show it to you. Plus, the great debate - is either one of them making the right moves?

And a shocking claim from Levi Johnston that Sarah Palin tried to convince him and Bristol to let her adopt their baby.

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.

Tonight, Houston, we have a problem. I`ve got to tell you, I was among those very excited for Whitney Houston`s big return to the stage day. I know I`m not the only one out there who was just rooting for Whitney to bring down the house.

But tonight, there is big controversy over Whitney`s concert performance on this morning`s "Good Morning America." Some are even calling it a comeback catastrophe. So did Whitney just hit a sour note or is this a sign of an even tougher road back than she ever expected?

Well, no matter where you look tonight, you`ll see the buzz over Whitney is making big news right now.


(voice-over): Over the years, Whitney Houston`s music career has been battered by reported drug problems, a difficult marriage to Bobby Brown, and sometimes her own words to Diane Sawyer.


HAMMER: But as Whitney returned to the big stage with this morning`s appearance on "Good Morning America" to promote her first new album in seven years, she is now finding her big comeback threatened by the biggest force in the universe - Oprah. We`ll explain that one in a minute.


But now, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can tell you the reviews are in of Whitney Houston`s "Good Morning America" performance in Central Park and they aren`t good.

JO PIAZZA, ENTERTAINMENT JOURNALIST: A lot of people are calling Whitney`s performance a train wreck.

HAMMER: "Rolling Stone" blares, "Whitney Houston stumbles during `Good Morning America` taping." TMZ using Whitney`s own quote against her declares, "Voice Cracks are Wack." And "" bluntly asks, "Did Whitney Houston`s `Good Morning America` Performance Suck?"

PIAZZA: They`re saying that her voice was raspy.


She was not able to hit the high notes anymore.


Would I want to go see a Whitney concert after this performance? Probably not.

HAMMER: And this is where Oprah comes in. During a portion of the concert not aired on "Good Morning America," but recorded by fans and posted on YouTube, Whitney apologizes for her voice. She said it was sore from all the talking she did taping her appearance on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" the day before.

HOUSTON: I did "Oprah" yesterday and I talked so much that my voice...

PIAZZA: You have to associate any time anyone uses Oprah as a scapegoat.

HAMMER: Whatever issues Houston was having with her voice, she told "GMA" host Diane Sawyer and Robin Roberts she is happy to be on stage after a long and difficult absence.

HOUSTON: I`m overwhelmed with the love, the support, your prayers. It means so much to me.

HAMMER: But entertainment journalist Jo Piazza tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT that Houston`s questionable performance might tarnish her carefully managed comeback.

PIAZZA: But this just gives her critics some fodder to say, "Oh, my gosh. She can`t do this. She is washed up."


HAMMER: But even as critics take apart Whitney`s performance, she does have her defenders.

MARVET BRITTO, CELEBRITY PUBLICIST: I thought her performance was great.

HAMMER: Celebrity publicists Marvet Britto tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT she thinks Houston sounded fine, cracks and all.

BRITTO: It`s no secret that Whitney`s voice has evolved and, you know, with her struggles, her voice has changed a bit. But what we don`t realize is that Whitney on what some may call a bad day is still better than most voices that we see today.

HAMMER: And Britto, who helped Mariah Carey return to the musical A-list in 2005 after a long absence, tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT this singing superstar is doing all right, too.

BRITTO: What I love about Whitney Houston`s comeback is she is coming back authentically as Whitney, the Whitney we all knew and loved. She doesn`t have to show skin. She doesn`t have to sell sex to sell records. Whitney Houston is staying true to who she is.


HAMMER: Still, as far as Whitney is concerned, just appearing on that "Good Morning America" stage after all her years of troubles seemed to be victory enough for her.


And if she is going to be the top music diva she once was, she`s going to need a comeback that is flawless and more importantly, Oprah-proof.

PIAZZA: This is essentially her last chance to prove to all of her fans that she can do this, that she is every woman.


HAMMER: All right. Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT wants to know, was Whitney Houston`s big comeback performance really a catastrophe, or are some people just blowing this whole thing out of proportion? Let`s find out.

Joining me in New York, Carolina Bermudez, a senior editor for "In Touch Weekly." Also tonight in New York is Ben Widdicombe who is the celebrity editor for ""

All right, Carolina. You are reading the reviews, too. A lot of mixed reviews out there. What did you think? You saw the performance. Did she do all right or was the big old train wreck in your mind?

CAROLINA BERMUDEZ, SENIOR EDITOR, "IN TOUCH WEEKLY": Oh, A.J. This was disappointing at best. It`s not the comeback that you would expect from a legend like Whitney Houston. It was breathy. It was uncomfortable at times.

Expecting the crowd to know the words to a single that hasn`t even been released to radio yet is expecting a lot from the fans. So I would have liked to have seen her come out as the powerhouse that she used to be.

HAMMER: Yes. And imagine the pressure, because his was huge. This was like, you know, Britney Spears returning to the stage at the MTV Video Music Awards last year. We all know how that went.

Let`s listen to a bit more of Whitney`s comeback performance so you can judge for yourself. This is from this morning`s "Good Morning America."


HAMMER: All right. Ben, I`m looking to you. Whitney apologized to her fans for the voice cracking, claimed it was because she had just done this Oprah interview. She had been talking all day long. Do you think it`s a valid point or a lame excuse?

BEN WIDDICOMBE, CELEBRITY EDITOR, "STYLELIST.COM": Well, I think it`s a bit of an excuse. And the trouble that Whitney is facing is that at her peak, she wasn`t just a good artist. She was, you know, a superstar, the number one artist in the world. She was almost perfect in her day.

So everyone is comparing her to her peak. It`s very hard for any artist to maintain that kind of success. So I think her performance - a little bit disappointing, maybe, but not the train wreck that she is being criticized for.

HAMMER: Yes. It is a lot to live up to. And as far as the Oprah thing, I first thought, well, don`t schedule these things near each other. But the truth is, when "Oprah" calls, you do "Oprah." When "GMA" calls, you do "GMA." And sometimes, it`s unavoidable, the scheduling conflict.

Certainly, a lot of the Whitney Houston fans out there undeterred by her performance. I want you to take a look at this. It`s some of the fans` unbridled enthusiasm at the concert. Roll that.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whitney is my idol because Whitney the purest, cleanest, sweetest person I have ever, ever known. I love her. You`re beautiful and you never ever left. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) from Poughkeepsie. Hello!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who else is the biggest Whitney Houston fan? Right here. What`s your name.

SANDY (ph), WHITNEY HOUSTON FAN: I`m Sandy (ph). I`m from New Jersey with fellow Jersey girls. Whitney is manna from heaven, honey on my ears, the best singer of my generation. I love you, Whitney. Welcome back.


HAMMER: Hold on a second. I`ve got to write that one down. Whitney is manna from heaven. That`s a new one for me.

You know, really, when you look at that as much of a train wreck as we all know Whitney has been at times in the past, those fans - they are die-hard, Carolina. So obviously, she needs new fans. She needs people to like what she is doing.

But does it matter how good or bad her performance was with this fan base and these people who will stick with her no matter what?

BERMUDEZ: I don`t think so. Somebody like Whitney has fans have followed her for years now, decades. And it`s evident from the crowd that was over at "GMA." Now, what I think she really needs a good single to hit radio.

"I Look to You" is a power ballad. It`s not really making any noise right now. I think that`s the song with Akon on the album and Alicia Keys - those are her stronger, stronger singles that are really going to get that new audience to kind of say, "OK. You know what? Maybe I didn`t like her before, but I can see myself liking her now."

And another thing to credit Whitney Houston, she`s not using synthesizers or machines to make her voice sound better. So you`ve got to give her credit for getting out there and doing her thing.

HAMMER: Did you notice she sounded more like her aunt Dionne Warwick than I have ever heard her sound in the past? I`m just saying. That was something that really stuck out to me.

If you go over to the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT Facebook page, you will see it is blowing up about Whitney, people writing a lot of things. Definitely, she has her detractors writing on the wall. Whitney didn`t do such a great job on the "GMA."

But believe it or not, we were actually more overwhelmed with all the positive comments. Look at this one from Kayla M., "I think Whitney Houston did amazing. Love her voice. Let`s not forget we all aren`t perfect."

Amanda G. writing, "Whitney is just as big an icon as Michael Jackson was. I am glad to see her making a comeback. I will definitely be listening."

Ben, is it just me or do Whitney`s fans seem to be pretty forgiving?

WIDDICOMBE: Well, I think Whitney`s fans love her. It`s interesting that she is not touring to promote this album because with the music industry in crisis, tour revenue is so much more important because it`s the one thing that the Internet can`t rip off.

So tours are more important than they have ever been for an artist. And the fact that she`s not touring is significant. One final point - Carolina said that she wasn`t using machines to help her voice. Actually, today, there was an allegation that "GMA" might have tweaked it a bit because it wasn`t a live performance. They taped it.

It was alleged that maybe they did give her a bit of a boost which is controversial. "GMA" is a news program. They`re not supposed to do that. So I`m not sure that we got the raw Whitney.

HAMMER: OK. That is unconfirmed, Ben. I haven`t seen that written officially.

WIDDICOMBE: It`s an allegation.

HAMMER: Well, those allegations are flying around all the time. Carolina Bermudez, Ben Widdicombe, thanks, guys. I appreciate it.

All right. Over to you. You get to sound off on this for our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day - "Whitney Houston`s Comeback Performance: Were you disappointed?" Well, here`s where you go to let us know, Or you can always E-mail us at

Chris Brown has finally broken his silence about the night he beat Rihanna, speaking out in a brand-new controversial interview. Rihanna now has kept quiet, but she is baring all in another way. Wait until you see her brand- new racy photo shoot and the great debate. Are Chris and Rihanna handling the aftermath well?

Also, wait until you hear this. Levi Johnston at it again with his fiercest claims yet about Sarah Palin. Was Sarah really behind an outrageous adoption plot to hide her teenage daughter`s pregnancy? You`ve got to hear this one for yourself.

Also, it`s the closest you may ever get to feeling like a wild animal.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It`s an armadillo scurrying from Web site to Web site. A mole burrowing its way through the Internet.


HAMMER: This is something not to be missed. Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT presents critter cam, from gator cam to lamb cam, we`re going to show you the wild videos collected critter cam. This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on HLN.

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

TEXT: Megan Fox and U2 kick off new season of "Saturday Night Live" September 26. N.Y. officials nix plan to honor Michael Jackson at subway stop from "Bad" video.


HAMMER: OK. Did you see this? It`s the pole dancing doll. This picture is making the rounds online right now. And not since Miley Cyrus` pole dance have parents been so outraged.

The box promises a disco ball, music and a rotating doll that goes up and down and around and around. Wow. Well, the good news here is whether or not it`s a real product is actually up for debate because nobody can seem to find it for sale anywhere. And the only proof of its existence is this one picture online.

Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.

And now, from one crazy picture to some pretty amazing video. Did you see this? It`s the critter cam. Have you wondered what it would be like being a pig wallowing in the mud or what really goes on inside a prairie dog`s dwelling? Well, tonight, we can show you the amazing critter camera video that is now going viral.

Here`s CNN`s Jeanne Moos for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with a bird`s eye view of the world`s foremost critter cam collector.


MOOS: It`s an armadillo scurrying from Web site to Web site. A mole burrowing its way through the Internet. An alligator surfing the Web forest as it surfs the marshland.

They are all making the rounds, but the place they call home or at least homepage is the Museum of Animal Perspectives. From chick cams to lamb cams, the animal borne cameras let you get up close and personal entering their habitat leaving the viewer happier than a pig in mud.

But not to be outdone...

(on camera): We these we can examine the habitat of the oven reporter. OK. I want to go to make up now.

(voice-over): Camera mounted on glasses, partially obscured by hair...

(on camera): Now, I`m going to cut through the control room. Are you going up?


MOOS: Where did you get these glasses, Steve (ph)?


MOOS (voice-over): We also found the creator of the Museum of Animal Perspectives. Sam Easterson was happy to chat on the phone...

(on camera): Video naturalist...

(voice-over): That`s how he describes himself, but wouldn`t do an on- camera interview.

(on camera): I can`t believe you won`t go on with it. But anyway, I get it.

(voice-over): For almost a decade, Easterson has been compiling animal videos like this one, featuring a rhino.

(on camera): He`s not exactly rushing. He is sort of sniffing.

(voice-over): He considers what is now going viral on the Web to be his old stop. These days, he is into dwelling cams located in a prairie dog`s tunnel or the nest of a laughing kookaburra.

(on camera): It also seems to me that you have a sense of humor about this. I mean, if you are putting on like, you know, cows licking each other.

(voice-over): You can`t get any closer to a cow or a wolf than this, digging furiously, snarling at another wolf. There similarities between a camera mounted on a bison as it chows down on grass and a camera mounted on the reporter grazing the salad bar. The difference is...

(on camera): I`m taking them off.


MOOS: I can`t stand it anymore.

MOOS (voice-over): The sheep stuck with it, no wonder the flock won`t let him join. Candid camera is enough to make anybody sheepish.


HAMMER: That was the always candid Jeanne Moos for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. Well, the "Showbiz on Call" phone lines have been lit up nonstop. A lot of people have been calling in and they are absolutely outraged about Chris Brown.

We`ve got a call into "Showbiz on Call" from Kim in Kansas. Kim says the fact that Brown witnessed his mother being abused - that is no excuse for his behavior.


CALLER: The whole thing with Chris Brown is, isn`t it about breaking the chain if you see an abusive parent to another parent? Why would you turn around and do it to another? I thought my life but I broke the chain and that`s Chris Brown needs to do. Enough is enough.


HAMMER: Thanks a lot, Kim. We also heard from Mike calling into "Showbiz on Call" from California. Mike thinks that Chris Brown should be in jail.


CALLER: To tell the truth to Chris Brown is ridiculous. You know what you are doing when you do it. The fit of rage is ridiculous. There is no - it`s like being on alcohol. He knew what he was doing and he should be in jail like every other man that beats on a woman.


HAMMER: Thank you, Mike. Would you like to call us at "Showbiz on Call?" I`d like you to call us at "Showbiz on Call" to let us know what you think about Chris Brown or anything else. The "Showbiz on Call" phone lines are open all the time at 1-888-SBT-BUZZ; 1-888-728-2899. That`s the number to dial to leave us a voicemail so we can play your call here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

We are posting them, too. The "Showbiz on Call" phone calls are also online at

Well, tonight, there is even more brand-new Chris Brown-Rihanna drama.


BROWN: I have to say I guess that night is just one of those nights I wish I could just take it back. And I really regret it and I feel totally ashamed of what I did.


HAMMER: Chris is speaking out, but is it helping or is it hurting him? Rihanna has kept quiet, but she is baring all in another way. Wait until you see her racy new photo shoot. Plus, the great debate, are they making the right moves?

Brand-new outrageous claims from Levi Johnston against Sarah Palin. Was Palin really behind a shocking adoption plot to hide her teen daughter`s pregnancy? You`re going to want to hang on to your wigs and keys. Levi is at it again.

And Jon Gosselin says the way Kate treated him was abuse. This is Jon`s first bombshell TV interview since they filed for divorce. This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on HLN.

Time now for the "SHOWBIZ News Ticker" - it`s more stories from the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom that are making news right now.

TEXT: Avril Lavigne and Katy Perry added as guest judges on "American Idol." Rolling Stones dispel reports that drummer Charlie Watts has left the band.


HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer with some more stories that are making news right now.

Tonight, did DJ Adam Goldstein commit suicide? Well, brand-new reports have surfaced that the celebrity DJ known as DJ AM may have committed suicide. He was found dead in his New York City apartment on Friday.

Law enforcement officials tell the Associated Press that six undigested OxyContin pills were found in his stomach and one in his mouth. A separate report links that finding to suicide as the cause of death.

Well, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT reached out to DJ AM`s spokesperson who issued this statement, "Any reports indicating that this is anything other than a tragic accident are not only false, but merit-less." DJ AM reportedly suffered from anxiety after surviving a plane crash last year.

Cate Blanchett got hit on the head while on stage. During a preview performance of "A Street Car Named Desire" in Australia, a fellow actor accidentally knocked her in the head with a radio.

Well, Blanchett continued to perform, but had to stop after she realized she was bleeding. Thankfully, Sydney Theater organizers say she is fine and she is returning to the stage.

Tonight, look out, Katie Couric. Diane Sawyer is taking over ABC World News. ABC announced today that Sawyer will replace the 66-year-old Charles Gibson who is retiring at the end of the year. No word on who will replace Sawyer at "Good Morning America," but her move is certainly a significant one.

This means two out of the three big network anchors will be women. Brian Williams, you are officially outnumbered.

Well, the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT Facebook page is burning up over Whitney Houston`s performance today on "Good Morning America." Whitney took to the stage in New York City`s Central Park for the big comeback. So how did she do?

Well, Facebook fans seem to be split here. Evelyn F. writing, "Whitney did an awesome job. She looked like she was having fun, but most importantly, she looked healthy."

But Lori R. writes, "I was not impressed. After all the struggles in her life, I think she should stay out of the spotlight. Heaven knows it is just a matter of time before we see her all wacky again."

I want to hear from you on Facebook. Also, follow us on Twitter. You will get breaking entertainment news alerts. Sign up for our Facebook and Twitter pages by going to

Time now for the SHOWBIZ lineup. This is what we have planned for you at the bottom of the hour on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

Brand-new Chris Brown and Rihanna drama. Chris is speaking out about the night he beat Rihanna. She hasn`t said anything, but she is baring all in another way. We`re going to show you the racy new photo shoot.

Brand-new outrageous claims from Levi Johnston. So, listen to this - was Sarah Palin really behind an adoption plot to hide her teen daughter`s pregnancy?

And the shocking inside story of what really happened when Lisa Ling`s sister and another journalist were captured in North Korea. Dramatic new details. This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on HLN.

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

TEXT: Pink, Bobby Brown and Bret Michaels to be featured on VH1`s "Behind the Music." Sunday`s daytime Emmy Awards TV show had lowest ratings ever.



BROWN: I have to say I guess that night was just one of the nights I wish I could just take back. And I really regret it and I feel totally ashamed of what I did.


HAMMER: Now, on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, Chris Brown`s brand-new explosive words about the night he beat Rihanna. Will his public pleas fall on deaf ears?

And Rihanna`s racy revenge. Why eye-popping topless photos of a silent Rihanna are worth a thousand words.

Sarah Palin`s new scandal. The father of Palin`s grandson makes explosive new claims. Did Palin have a secret adoption plan to hide her daughter`s pregnancy?

And Jon Gosselin`s first TV interview about why his marriage failed.

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.

Tonight, Rihanna`s racy revenge. You are not going to believe your eyes. I want to you take a look at these brand-new photos of Rihanna in the September issue of "Italian Vogue."

The bombshell singer appears in a series of extremely provocative photographs. Rihanna posing in bondage gear, lip-shaped muzzle, thigh-high boots and even goes topless. So what is with the racy photos? Is Rihanna trying to tell us something?


BROWN: I have to say, I guess that night is just one of the nights I wish I could just take back. And I really regret it and I feel totally ashamed for what I did.


HAMMER: Also, brand-new tonight, Chris Brown has finally told the whole tale to Larry King. As Brown tries to set the record straight about what happened the night he beat Rihanna to a pulp, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is asking, could Chris` mea culpa tour backfire badly on him?

Joining me tonight in New York is Cooper Lawrence who is a psychologist and author of "The Cult of Celebrity." Also in New York tonight, it`s Ben Widdicombe who is the celebrity editor for ""

I`ve got to begin with these brand-new racy photos of Rihanna in "Italian Vogue." Let`s remember, Rihanna still hasn`t said word one about the infamous attack, and now, this.

Cooper, Rihanna, looking great certainly in those photos. But the style and the timing seems pretty peculiar to a lot of people. What do you think?

COOPER LAWRENCE, PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, you`re saying she hasn`t said word one, A.J. But she has - she said a lot. First, she got a tattoo of a gun. Then, she`s got these photos coming out. I think she is sending a message, and the message is, "I`m a strong woman. Chris tried to take that away from me. But here I am." You know, sort of a hear-me-roar of 2009.

HAMMER: What do you think, Ben? These photos of Rihanna -she`s in bondage. She`s topless. She`s wearing a muzzle. Is this the image that she should be putting out there right now in your mind?

WIDDICOMBE: Well, I think that Rihanna is only going in one direction and that`s up. I mean, she is already a superstar. European fashion magazines are much more adventurous than American fashion magazines. She is not even American.

So I don`t think that she has to conduct herself in a way that would be suitable for "Red Book," for example. I say, good for her for doing this, you know, provocative, racy spread in Europe, which is not unusual there.

And you know, I think she has a long career ahead of her. And this is just one more step in that.

HAMMER: Yes. I think this caught a lot of people by surprise certainly because of the background of the story and Chris Brown beating her up. But I think it`s showing she is an independent woman. I mean, people are clearly shocked by bondage photos, but she is doing her own thing here.

As we mentioned, Chris Brown finally has told his side of the story to CNN`s Larry King. And during the interview Chris talked about witnessing abuse when he was a kid. Take a look at what he said.


BROWN: As far as I - growing up in a domestic violent situation as far as - with my mom`s ex-husband and stuff like that. There used to be times when I was just scared to go to bed because - well, I don`t know.

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": This was a husband or a boyfriend?

BROWN: This was her boyfriend or husband at the time. So it was just like...

KING: So you saw a lot of violence?

BROWN: It depends. I didn`t - like I would hear it. I didn`t really see it all the time. There might have been one or two occasions.

KING: How old were you?

BROWN: I was like seven - seven or eight.

KING: Were you scared?

BROWN: Yes, very scared. Sometimes, I just kind of didn`t want to even come to the house.


HAMMER: He has got to stop using the word "like" every other word. But separate from that, Cooper, and I don`t mean to make light of it. I just think he needs a little help being more articulate in what he`s saying.

But when people hear the story of this troubled childhood that he lived through observing this abuse of his mother, do you think people are naturally going to feel pretty conflicted?

LAWRENCE: Well, the conflict is just that, you know, I know that you want to be upset because he did hurt Rihanna. But on the other hand, that`s what happens with domestic violence. It`s called social learning theory - there`s a term for you. And it means that you learn from the environment you grow up in.

So he learned as a young boy this is how you treat women. This is what women expect of you. And while there is no excuse for him to not try to do something about that as he became adult, remember, he`s not quite an adult yet. And unfortunately, he had to - this had to happen to him and Rihanna before it woke him up.

HAMMER: So now, we are seeing Rihanna in her whole bondage get up and she is the victim here. Ben, do you think that people are going to be conflicted about what to think of her, too? Because again, even if we applaud her for being independent and being strong, it is kind of shocking when you see these photos.

WIDDICOMBE: I don`t think she did anything inappropriate. The so-called topless pictures, if you ever look at them, she is wearing some Janet Jackson-style pasties. So you don`t see anything too rude of these pictures. "Italian Vogue" has a tiny circulation in this country.

Most people won`t see the pictures if they`re not watching SHOWBIZ TONIGHT or looking on the Internet. So no, I think it`s fine. I don`t think it`s that controversial and I think, good for her and good for her to show her independence.

HAMMER: Well, what certainly is clear is the message that Chris Brown wants all of us to get is that he is sorry and he wishes he could take back the events of that horrific night when he beat Rihanna up.

The "Showbiz on Call" phone lines have not stopped ringing since this happened. And people are pretty overwhelmed by Chris Brown`s bombshell interview. We heard from Shalecia in California who had plenty to say. Listen to

CALLER: I just think Chris Brown is honestly telling the truth. I mean, he honestly was remorseful. He said that he kind of forgot, which just means that he wants to not relive it over and over again. And I honestly believe that Chris Brown is sincere in everything that he is saying. Rihanna needs to speak out and tell her side.


HAMMER: All right. I appreciate you, Shalecia. Cooper, let me ask you this. A lot of people agree with Shalecia and think that Chris Brown has said enough. And now, it`s Rihanna`s turn to talk.

I`ve said all along, you know what? If she wants to talk about it, that`s when she should talk about it, obviously, not a moment sooner and feel no pressure. But what do you think?

LAWRENCE: I think this is a great example of the cult of celebrity. This is somebody who - you know, if he was anyone else, people would be damning him.

But the fact that he`s a celebrity and he`s so likable, people are so willing to get behind him and say, "No, he is really sorry. He didn`t mean it and let`s all be friends again," without realizing that the message here is about domestic violence and that we shouldn`t be so quick to just push it under the rug. It`s a discussion they need to have.

HAMMER: Ben, what do you think? You mention that you think Rihanna has nowhere to go but up from here. But could her silence, not speaking out, telling her side of the story. Do you think it could actually hurt her in the end?

WIDDICOMBE: No, I think she`s doing the right thing. And I think silence, if that`s how she wants to do it, is her right. What struck me about what Chris said to Larry is, "That`s a night I want to take back."

Well, actually, Chris, it`s one of three nights you want to take back. Because as we learned during the sentencing, there were three episodes of domestic violence that he perpetrated on Rihanna. What seems to me is that he is not sorry he did it so much that he`s sorry he`s in so much hot water for it.

HAMMER: Let me get to another call into "Showbiz on Call." This is Carol calling in from Philadelphia who says that Chris didn`t do himself any favors by speaking out. Listen to this.


CALLER: I`m watching the interview with Chris Brown. His eyes are always down. He doesn`t make eye contact. I believe completely that he`s lying. And I think that he`s a disgusting person and a horrible role model and yes, he`s going to do damage control. I don`t think having his mother there makes any bit of difference.


HAMMER: Thanks, Carol. We`re actually hearing that from a lot of people. A lot of people still very angry about this and naturally, and they should be. Cooper, Carol is certainly not convinced there. Do you think that this whole mea culpa tour that he really has, I think, no choice but to do - do you think it could backfire on him?

LAWRENCE: Yes. It`s going to backfire because, you know, we`re expecting an apology. But if it`s not the one we want, if he doesn`t do it sincerely enough - I mean, that`s the problem with being a celebrity and having him out and give some sort of apology. You are not going to win.

You have to do it. It`s a PR thing and we all know it at this point. But the truth is, I mean, he really should be saying other things. He should be copping to it and really talking about it rather than - I mean, so far him saying "I`m ashamed" is the first I`ve heard him actually admitting that he did it.

HAMMER: Yes. Ben, what do you think? Very quickly - do you agree with Cooper there?

WIDDICOMBE: I do. But you know, I think that Chris could still have a career. Sometimes celebrities do icky things like Roman Polanski for example who had a strong career in Europe after his allegations. So I don`t think that he`s necessarily done for good. I think that he could survive this in some sort of a reduced capacity.

HAMMER: Got to end it there. Ben Widdicombe, Cooper Lawrence, thank you, guys, so much.

All right. As we move on tonight, I`ve got to say, Levi Johnston is becoming the biggest mouthpiece for Sarah Palin`s controversy. Tonight, what kind of dirt does the father of Sarah Palin`s grandson have on Palin now? Did she really have a secret scheme to keep her daughter`s pregnancy quiet? Was Palin going to divorce her husband? Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has the new Sarah Palin scandal.

And Jon Gosselin has really been letting Kate do all the talking on TV. Well, now, it`s Jon`s turn. Tonight, I`ve got Jon Gosselin on camera telling all about why he thinks his marriage went bust.

Plus, Lisa Ling`s sister Laura and fellow journalist Euna Lee break their silence about their terrifying capture on the border of North Korea. This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on HLN.

It is time now for the "SHOWBIZ News Ticker" - these are more stories from the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom making news right now.

TEXT: Black Eyed Peas to perform at Oprah block party in Chicago to open her 24th season. Blink-182 reschedules two more shows as the mourn death of DJ AM.



KATHY GRIFFIN, COMEDIENNE: Hi. This is an unlikely couple. I admit it. This is Levi Johnston and I`m Kathy Griffin Johnston.


HAMMER: Kathy Griffin really had everybody talking when she brought the father of Sarah Palin`s grandson as her date to the Teen Choice Awards.

Well, now, Levi Johnston is doing the talking. You have to hear his brand- new bombshell revelations about Sarah Palin. I will tell you what he said in just a moment.

Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.

Tonight, Kathy Griffin`s plastic surgery confessions. In Kathy`s brand-new memoir, "Official Book Club Selection" - great title there, Kathy - she reveals that she felt pressure to get a nose job at 26 so she could get work in Hollywood.

Listen to what she writes, "I was told repeatedly, `You would be pretty if it weren`t for that nose. You would work more if it weren`t for that nose. Hey, have you considered getting a nose job?` You would think I had a nose the size of Texas." Kathy`s new memoir is in stores next week.

Tonight, Sarah`s new scandal. Levi Johnston, the father of Sarah Palin`s grandson, takes us on a wild ride inside Palin`s private world and makes some unbelievable brand-new claims.

Levi Johnston writes in "Vanity Fair" - yes, he writes the article himself - that Sarah Palin allegedly hatched a secret plot to adopt the son that he fathered with her teenage daughter.

Plus, Levi blows the lid off of the Palins` home life, saying it wasn`t as squeaky clean as it seemed. And he even claims Sarah and Todd talked about divorce.

With me tonight in New York is Carolina Bermudez. She`s the senior editor for "In Touch Weekly." Joining me from Washington tonight, Ben Ferguson - he is the host of the syndicated program, "The Ben Ferguson Show."

Well, this "Vanity Fair" article is called "Me and Mrs. Palin." It is remarkable. Among the explosive claims, Levi says that Sarah Palin wanted to adopt her 17-year-old daughter`s baby.

Listen to what Levi writes: "Sarah told me she had a great idea. We would keep it a secret. Nobody would know that Bristol was pregnant. She told me once Bristol had the baby, she and Todd would adopt him. That way, she said, Bristol and I didn`t have anything to worry about."

Well, according to Levi, this happened before former Gov. Palin was tapped to become the Republican vice presidential nominee. Carolina, let me begin with you. Does this outrageous claim just blow your mind?

BERMUDEZ: You know, A.J., it really doesn`t. I mean, the things coming out of this guy`s mouth are ridiculous. I mean, before, he told us that Sarah knew what was going on in the bedroom with him and Bristol.

And now this - these are some secrets that he`s unleashing and he`s unveiling to everyone. And nothing could be more damaging, I don`t think, than this statement right here.

HAMMER: Hey, Ben, I know you`re reading this article and thinking, well, it must be true.

BEN FERGUSON, HOST, "THE BEN FERGUSON SHOW": Yes, right. I mean, it reminds me of K-Fed. At least, K-Fed actually has a job and he is actually taking care of his kids. I mean, this is a classic guy who got to walk on stage, be famous for, you know, being associated with somebody. And now, he is trying to milk it for all it`s worth and make some cash doing that.

I mean, the thing is, it`s sick because you`ve got a child involved here. And people are actually paying for this kind of stuff. And you know what? I have a hard time believing that Sarah Palin and her husband talked about divorce around this guy who is unemployed and barely sees his kid.

HAMMER: Well, let me get to that, and it is interesting, too. You mentioned here`s a guy who had instant fame. And it`s something - if you read the whole article, he had no interest in, according to him, at the beginning of the whole vice presidential nominee process.

But Levi said the Palins aren`t the happy family that they want everybody to think they are. Levi writes that Sarah Palin and her husband have been on the brink of divorce for a while.

Listen to this, "There was a lot of talk of divorce in the house. And there were times when Sarah and Todd would mention it and sound pretty serious. Todd would say, `All right, you want a divorce? Is that what you want? Let`s do it. Sign the papers.` They`d either stop and be fine or Sarah would go to her room."

I have to point out again that this article is in Levi`s own words. Carolina, what do you think is going on here? Is he being vindictive, or is he possibly telling it like it is?

BERMUDEZ: Oh, I think there are two things going on here. I think, number one, he is telling it like it is. He is singing like a canary.

I think that, innocently, Mrs. Palin, I guess at the time, and her husband were talking about things and they didn`t think that their daughter`s high school boyfriend would ever come back to haunt them or make statements that would come back to haunt them.

But I also think that he is looking - he is reaching for the fame. He got a little taste of it. And now, he wants more and he`s going to do anything that he can do to get that.

HAMMER: Yes. And he says the offers keep pouring in. Hold on one second, Ben, because SHOWBIZ TONIGHT did reach out to Sarah Palin about this really shocking article. Late today, a very brief statement came in, saying that Sarah Palin is, quote, "focused on her book right now."

But I want you to take a look at what Levi said about the Palins. This was back in April on CNN`s "LARRY KING LIVE." Let`s roll that, Charles.


KING: Did the Palin family - did they seem close-knit? How was it like for you, dating in the atmosphere of the governor`s daughter?

LEVI JOHNSTON, FATHER OF FORMER GOV. SARAH PALIN`S GRANDCHILD: They always treated me like a son. I mean, they were real nice to me. And I thought she was like my second mother. And you know, Todd was always a great guy and helped me out with a lot of things. So I mean, they welcomed me.


HAMMER: Maybe you should get a radio show. Ben, do you think that Sarah is going to have to come out swinging here to save her reputation?


HAMMER: Or she doesn`t even need to say anything? Because as you mentioned, you know, basically it`s this 19-year-old unemployed single father.

FERGUSON: Yes. This guy is say walking contradiction. And the fact of the matter is, he`s making stuff up. I really don`t think they have like family court where they sat down at the table and discussed in front of their children that they were going to get a divorce if they even were going to get a divorce, which I think is fabricated completely.

But this guy is doing anything and saying anything to make some quick money. And he`s going to be this guy that`s a has-been that never goes away. I mean, he is hanging out with a B-lister, Kathy Griffin, who is using him. And he`ll do that.

BERMUDEZ: Hey, hey, hey. Back off, Kathy.

HAMMER: Carolina, let me ask you very quickly. You know, Levi, as I said, claims there are lots of offers coming his way. Do you get that?

BERMUDEZ: I don`t get it. I don`t understand it. But I think he is a flash in the pan and he better take the offers now while they are coming in, because I don`t think two or three years from now, we`re going to be interested in anything this guy has to say.

HAMMER: Well, I have to say, believe it or not, it is a fascinating, fascinating read. Carolina Bermudez, Ben Ferguson, thanks, guys.

Well, tonight for the very first time, Lisa Ling`s sister and a fellow journalist reveal the terrifying details of being captured on the border of North Korea.

In a brand-new blog on "," Laura Ling and Euna Lee say that their guide in China may have intentionally taken them into North Korean territory.

Listen to what they write, "Feeling nervous about where we were, we quickly turned back towards China midway across the ice. We heard yelling and looked back and saw two North Korean soldiers with rifles running towards us. Instinctively, we ran. We tried with all our might to cling to bushes, ground - anything that would keep us Chinese soil. But we were no match for the determined soldiers."

Along with the post the two women posted a video, thanking their supporters.


LAURA LING, JOURNALIST: All of the people who supported Euna and me throughout the nearly five months that we were in captivity, we wanted to thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

EUNA LEE, JOURNALIST: All of the letters and postcards you sent us gave us strength to endure the difficult time we spent in North Korea.


HAMMER: Really, it`s quite something. Both women added they still aren`t ready to talk about what happened while they were in prison.

As we move on tonight, Kate Gosselin has been doing a lot of interviews on TV lately. Well, now, it is Jon Gosselin`s turn. Tonight, Jon is pointing fingers at Kate for their failed marriage. Does he think Kate`s behavior was abusive? Does he think her career overshadowed their marriage? It is Jon Gosselin in his own words. This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on HLN.

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

TEXT: Jerry Springer to host live stage version of "America`s Got Talent" in Vegas. Judge rules that Michael Jackson`s estate will pay for his funeral.


HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I am A.J. Hammer in New York.

Tonight, Jon Gosselin speaks out about what he calls abuse by his estranged wife, Kate. In his first TV interview since divorce papers were filed, Jon told Chris Cuomo of "Good Morning America" that there were many reasons the marriage failed. Among them, Jon says, the way Kate treated him and how busy she was with her career. Listen to this.


JON GOSSELIN, REALITY TV STAR, "JON & KATE PLUS 8": She would call me almost like a lame fish, like I wasn`t anywhere. Excuse me, I am taking care of the kids. She is on a book tour. She`s doing all these things.

You know, she is gone a week, you know, comes back, unpacks, repacks, does laundry and packs up and leaves again. And I`m just standing there like, "OK, your mom is gone again." But I took a lot of abuse from her. You know, I was put down.


HAMMER: Jon also said that their reality show, "Jon & Kate Plus 8" may have played a role in their divorce. He said they were a much better team before the cameras started rolling. Now, Kate, for her part, has said all along she doesn`t think the show was a factor.

Well, they don`t have kids caught in the middle, thankfully, but LeAnn Rimes and her husband Dean are officially getting a divorce. On her Web site, LeAnn says that she and Dean are still friends. Rimes married Dean back in 2002. That`s when she was just 19 years old.

It`s really isn`t a huge surprise since rumors started last fall that she was having an affair with her co-star in the Lifetime movie, this guy, Eddie Cibrian.

Well, Leann and Eddie went out in public for the very first time just last week when Eddie filed for divorce from his wife. Eddie`s wife says she doesn`t even know who he is anymore and says she could see the attraction between Eddie and LeAnn on the set even though he denied it at the time.

So on Tuesday, we asked you to vote on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. It was this - "Chris Brown Speaks Out: Should Rihanna tell her side of the story?" I`ve got to tell you, I was a little surprised by these results. Fifty-eight percent of you said yes, she should be speaking out; 42 percent of you said no, she should not.

Let me read a couple of E-mails. Barbara from Arizona writing, "Rihanna does not have to tell her side of the story. The picture tells it all." And I`m guessing that she`s talking that horrible picture of Rihanna`s face all bloodied and bruised.

Monica from Georgia writing, "Chris Brown and Rihanna should both stop talking about this situation and move on with their lives. Would you want your life on the news every night?"

Well, that is it for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. Thank you so much for watching. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York. Please remember, You can always catch SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on the 11:00s. We`re on at 11:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific. We`re also on in the morning at 11:00 a.m. Eastern, and that`s right here on HLN.