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Ted Williams` Amazing Reunion With His Mom; Oprah`s Big Challenge; Bad News for Paula Abdul; The New Season of "Jersey Shore"

Aired January 7, 2011 - 23:00:00   ET


A.J. HAMMER, HOST: Big news breaking today on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT - the amazing reunion for the homeless guy with the golden voice. Ted Williams sees his mom for the first time in 10 years.




HAMMER: But is there a dark side to their reunion?

Oprah`s big challenge? A startling interview with Oprah about her new OWN network revealed today. We`re asking, should Oprah be worried?

Paula`s pounding. Really bad news today for Paula Abdul and her brand-new dance show.

The new season of "Jersey Shore" gets off to an unbelievable fist- flying start. We`re asking you, is "Shore" still fist pumping fun or just a tired cliche?

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


Hello. I`m A.J. Hammer coming to from New York City with big news breaking today - the amazing reunion caught on camera.

Today, Ted Williams can add another check to his list of dreams come true. He went from homeless to Hollywood star practically overnight, thanks to his golden voice. And today Ted Williams is making up for lost time with his 90-year-old mother who he hasn`t seen in more than 10 years.

I`ve got to tell you, there was hardly a dry eye in the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom as we watched when easily could have been a made-for- Hollywood movie - Ted, running down the hallway, tearfully hugging his mom. But there are brand-new worries today there could be a dark side to this real-life fairy tale.


T. WILLIAMS: Hi, Mommy! Hi, Mommy!

HAMMER: It`s another happy chapter in the feel-good story of the year.

MEREDITH VIEIRA, CO-HOST, THE "TODAY" SHOW: Ted Williams is with us again this morning, along with his mother, Julia.

HAMMER: Homeless man, Ted Williams, who rocketed into superstardom with a viral video of him demonstrating his golden radio voice -

T. WILLIAMS: You`re listening to Magic 98.9

HAMMER: Appeared this morning on NBC`s "Today" show, CBS` "The Early Show" and ABC`s "Good Morning America" with his 90-year-old mother, Julia.

T. WILLIAMS: Hi, Mommy. I`m home. I told you I was coming this year.

HAMMER: As we see in this video from the "Columbus Dispatcher`s" Web site, the two reunited yesterday in New York City. They hadn`t seen each other in more than 10 years.

And this morning, in their first TV appearances, since that tearful reunion, it was clear, mother and her prodigal son were overjoyed.

JULIA WILLIAMS, TED WILLIAMS` MOTHER: We talked on the phone, but I hadn`t seen him for 10 years. It was just so beautiful. Is this him? Are we together?

T. WILLIAMS: It was beautiful. It was a beautiful moment.

HAMMER: But amid the smiles and tears, there was a tinge of sadness.

J. WILLIAMS: Please don`t disappoint me.

T. WILLIAMS: I`m not, Mom.

HAMMER: In their first post-reunion TV appearances, Ted Williams` mother made clear she still feels the pain from her son`s past troubles.

J. WILLIAMS: Prayer is the only thing that has helped me through all this because it`s been hard.

HAMMER: And now that Ted Williams is an instant and in-demand superstar, she`s worried about his future.

J. WILLIAMS: Get it together. Forget about the old friends and things that you used to do with old friends. Leave it out there.

HAMMER: Williams says he wound up on the streets after years of drug and alcohol abuse and numerous run-ins with the law destroyed his radio career.

And this morning on "Today," Williams no-nonsense church-going mother didn`t mince words when she revealed how his problems nearly destroyed their relationship.

J. WILLIAMS: He would always brush me off. I would say to him, "Why don`t you let God in your life to straighten out your life? You need to straighten up." "Goodbye" - that`s what I got. So he just pushed me out of his life and it made me feel very bad.

HAMMER: But now, Ted Williams is the first new star of 2011. He`s fielding tons of job offers, including one from the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team.

T. WILLIAMS: Kraft Home Style Macaroni and Cheese -

HAMMER: And today, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT obtained this video of Williams` latest gig, recording a voiceover for a Kraft Macaroni and Cheese commercial that airs this weekend.

T. WILLIAMS: Cheesy noodles stuffed with golden-brown bread crumbs. You know you love it.

HAMMER: But all this sudden fame doesn`t impress Ted`s mother. This morning, she bluntly told the "Today" show and her son she`s worried he might repeat his past mistakes.

J. WILLIAMS: Don`t let things fall apart and you fall in with the wrong people. That`s the part that upsets me about him. He`s a good person and he`s easily pulled into things.

HAMMER: Ted`s mom is not the only family members worried about his sudden fame. His stepdaughter tells "The Columbus Dispatch," quote, "That`s one of my biggest fears, just him spiraling out of control and letting this get the best of him."

But Ted Williams says he`s been clean and sober for two years. This morning, on the "Early Show," he tried to reassure all doubters, mom included, that things are different this time.

T. WILLIAMS: This time around, nothing will be taken for granted. I think if I keep the focus on - or keep my sight on keeping an ongoing relationship with God, then I`ll be all right.

HAMMER: And as he wrapped up their "Today" show interview, Williams assured his mother she doesn`t need to worry anymore.

T. WILLIAMS: I don`t want to disappoint her anymore.

VIEIRA: Thank you, Ted.

HAMMER: Thank you, Meredith.

J. WILLIAMS: We`ve been through enough. I think it`s over now.


HAMMER: His mother really kind of brought us back down to earth in all these interviews. Here we are, all excited about Ted`s overnight success, but she`s says to him "Don`t disappoint me." Take a look at what she told the "Today" show about why she said that.


J. WILLIAMS: That`s right. Don`t disappoint me. Hold your life together. Just don`t let things fall apart and you fall in with the wrong people.

That`s the part that upsets me about him. He`s a good person and he`s easily pulled in to things. And straighten your life out. That`s the only thing I wanted him to do.


HAMMER: As great as it is to see this reunion between Williams and his mother in video posted on "," she sort of smacked everyone in the hand for reaching into this cookie jar of excitement surrounding her son.

I turn now to the very wise Jane Velez-Mitchell, host of course of "ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL," airing every night, 7:00 p.m. Eastern right here on HLN.

Jane, did Williams` mom give you the sense that, hey, there could be a dark side to this fairytale that we shouldn`t lose sight of?

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST, "ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL": I think she is a very wise woman because, obviously, she is issuing this caution for a reason. The devil`s in the details, A.J.

He says he has been sober for two years while he`s out on the street? I wonder if that`s true. And he`s also working a program of sobriety because all of this money suddenly coming at him, all of this fame, it`s just a huge temptation.

When a drug addict is given this kind of cash, the first instinct is to use. So I really hope he can get a sober mentor, somebody to watch him 24/7, 365 to make sure he doesn`t use.

HAMMER: Well, he says he has his faith and he says he is working a program. He did say during interviews today that he`s approaching all the dozens of offers he`s getting with caution.

He`s seeing a psychologist. He`s continuing with A.A. meetings, which is great to hear, also other recovery programs.

Syndicated radio host and author, Cooper Lawrence, after hearing what his family had to say about this and how he`s approaching this, do you get the sense that maybe Ted does have everything under control, at least best he can?

COOPER LAWRENCE, SYNDICATED RADIO HOST AND AUTHOR: He`s doing all the things that people that are thrust into the limelight never get to do.

All of a sudden, someone is famous, but they don`t realize that now, your coping strategies are going to be different. Your expectations are different. Your stressors are different.

This isn`t like regular life anymore for him. So the fact that we`re talking about him, he`s been on all these shows, he`s going to be on some level of fame. That`s something he has to now deal with.


LAWRENCE: So between talking with his people at A.A. and a therapist, I think he`s going to be able to find the coping strategies he needs to be successful.

HAMMER: I hope so because as much as we know that it sounds like he thinks he has everything in order, the truth is, fame like this is unusual. He`s never experienced it before. And Jane that is a lot to navigate and a lot to ask of somebody.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m rooting for him. I hope he does it, but let`s be real. He has a rap sheet a mile long. He has so many mug shots he could paper a wall with him.

So I`ve got to wonder, why is he homeless when he has nine children and a mother who lives in Brooklyn? So I think we don`t know the entire story. It`s probably a lot more complex and murkier than we give it credit for.

We like fairytales, but usually, I`d have to say the devil is in the details. But again, I am rooting for him.

HAMMER: Yes. I think we all are. Yet, I`m still hearing today there are some stories of people who are actually outraged by the fact that he`s getting a second chance. I say, good for him. Let him prove to everybody that people who have been in his situation deserve a second chance.

And so far, the only job that Williams has confirmed that he`s taken is that of the voice of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Well, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has obtained a copy of Williams` first official voiceover gig with Kraft. You`ve got to take a look and listen to his brand-new ad.


T. WILLIAMS: Kraft Home Style Macaroni and Cheese. Cheesy noodles topped with golden brown bread crumbs. You know you love it.


HAMMER: I love hearing his voice, not just because of story. I just think it is a great voice. And it sounds to me like Kraft got really lucky nabbing this man with the golden voice.

But let us find out the real story behind Ted becoming Kraft`s new big cheese. Kraft`s brand manager, Noelle O`Mara, joins us from Chicago right now in a showbiz newsmaker interview.

First of all, Noelle, what a smart move. I have now lost track of how many times I`ve mentioned Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. And there, I did it again. We just played your commercial, I believe, twice.

You guys must be over the moon about this. But what was it about Ted`s story in particular that made you guys jump at the chance to sign him up?

NOELLE O`MARA, KRAFT BRAND MANAGER: You bet. Well, overall, you hear his voice and it`s unbelievable. And we were so moved by his story and the YouTube that came out earlier this week that we thought it was a perfect fit with our campaign.

So we brought him in and shot the new commercials this week and he did a tremendous job. With his voice, he`s a natural.

HAMMER: Yes. Obviously, a natural. And the commercial does sound great. And I think it is terrific that Kraft and other companies are willing to take a chance on Ted.

But look, we`ve been talking about it. He`s made no secret about the fact that he`s had this troubled past, including a pretty lengthy rap sheet.

Was there any hesitation when the idea of hiring Ted started getting tossed around that, you know, hey, maybe we`re taking a big risk having this guy become the voice of one of the country`s best-known brands?

O`MARA: Well, yes. We believe in second chance. And we think everyone deserves a second chance. We wanted to jump at the opportunity because his voice was so great. I thought he deserved the opportunity. And like I said, he did a great job for thus week. And like Jane, we`re rooting for him.

HAMMER: Yes. And it does strike me when I`m watching him and listening to him that he would be a real trained professional here. He`s been in this room before so he know what is he`s doing.

But one of the things that really struck me, Noelle, about Williams` reunion with his mother today is that one of the first things that she said to him was "Don`t disappoint me."

Now, obviously you`ve been hearing this as well. A lot of people are very worried about him being able to handle this frenzy that now surrounds him, particularly because of his history of addiction.

Does Kraft Foods have any plans to help him stay on the right track now that he`s, you know, helping your name along?

O`MARA: Well, we`re focused on the opportunity of the commercials and he`s done a great job with those. And like I said, we`re continuing to root for him and wish him only the best.

HAMMER: OK. Well, that`s terrific to hear and we hope that he does continue to do well for you guys and stay with his programs so he can do the best. Noelle O`Mara, thanks so much.

Moving on now to Oprah`s brand-new big challenge. Should she be worried about her network`s instant success?


OPRAH WINFREY, OWNER, OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK: Let`s all do the hoola over that. Let`s just calm down. And this is day six. Let`s get to day 14 and then let`s get to day 30.


HAMMER: There`s a startling new interview with Oprah. It`s Oprah in her own words.

Paula`s big problem. Really bad news today for Paula Abdul and her brand-new dance show.

And wait you hear this. I`ve got your very first listen to Britney Spears` new single coming up. Let me tell you this new song from Britney is hot, hot, hot. This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on HLN news and views.

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

TEXT: Aretha Franklin tells "Jet" magazine her health issue has been "resolved." Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Mel Gibson were the most tweeted people in 2010.


HAMMER: Welcome become to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.

Today, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT investigates sports and scandal. Tiger Woods, Brett Favre - their sex scandals have totally rocked headlines. So why are so many pro athletes going from role models to be totally reckless? Here now is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Kareen Wynter.


KAREEN WYNTER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Brett Favre`s sexting saga. Ben Roethlisberger`s sex assault scandal. Tiger Woods` cheating ways.

TIGER WOODS, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated.

WYNTER: Pro athletes turned poster boys for alleged bad behavior. The salacious sex scandals that have rocked the sports world.

Most recently, Favre. The NFL`s golden boy is once again under investigation, this time over allegations of sexual harassment. Two former New York Jets massage therapists claim they got the ax in 2008 after complaining about Favre`s sexual advances.

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT asks, why does it seem like more of sports` biggest stars are going from role models to reckless players? Sports analyst Max Kellermann says being at the top of their game can cause some players to self-destruct.

MAX KELLERMAN, SPORTS ANALYST: You have a mountain of empirical data that says you are the best in the world at what you do. There`s a sense of accomplishment that leads to a kind of warped sense of entitlement. They are powerful, rich and famous men.

WYNTER: Famous men with temptations around every corner and new technology capturing every careless move. And that`s what first got Favre in trouble with the league. Back in 2008, he allegedly sent explicit photos and texts to a former Jets female employee.

Golfer Tiger Woods also became tangled in texting scandals that shattered his marriage. NBA star Tony Parker`s marriage to actress Eva Longoria also crumbled amidst sexting allegations.

KELLERMAN: Anyone can capture that moment of bad behavior. It`s amazing that athletes feel safe considering what goes on around them.

WYNTER: Some say what`s more outrageous these athletes continue to catch breaks despite their behavior. The NFL fined Favre a mere $50,000 for not playing ball with the lead investigation.

No fine for Steelers` QB, Ben Roethlisberger, following a sexual assault case involving a college student, just a suspension. Police didn`t charge him citing lack of evidence.

JESS WEINER, AUTHOR AND SELF ESTEEM EXPERT: The world of sports is kind of like the one last domain of the boys` club.

WYNTER: Author and self-esteem expert, Jess Weiner, tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT that these recent scandals shed a light on a problem that`s flown under the radar in sports for decades.

WEINER: Sports creates fans and fanatics. So a lot of times, people who behave badly in sports, these men especially, have a huge fandom that doesn`t change their opinion about them

WYNTER: But even the most notorious bad boys can change their ways. Boxing great iron Mike Tyson`s career suffered a TKO after his 1992 rape conviction. The disgraced boxing champ told Larry King after years of personal struggle, he finally cleaned up his act.

MIKE TYSON, BOXING CHAMPION: It`s just time to grow up and wake up.

WYNTER: And also not take himself so seriously.


Tyson`s knockout appearance in the 2009 comedic hit, "The Hangover," got people talking about him again, in a good way.

Perhaps other troubled megastars can take a page out of Tyson`s play book and leave the game-playing on the field.


HAMMER: That was SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Kareen Wynter. Bad news for Tiger Woods today. "Golf Digest" has ditched him as a columnist after 13 years. Now, according to "The Huffington Post," this is now the fifth company to dump Tiger since his sex scandal.

All right. I`ve got to tell you. I`m actually really psyched for this - the brand-new song from Britney Spears. This song is hot. And I`ve got your first listen, not to be missed, coming up.

Also, we are naming the most provocative celebrity of the week and see who your pick is, too. Nominees right here, Sandra Bullock for her possible rebound relationship with Ryan Reynolds; Snooki admitting she`s sometimes blacks out and ends up in trash cans; or is it the homeless guy with the golden voice, Ted Williams. Will he be able to handle his instant fame?

Also this -


This is so cool. Flash mob wedding in a mall. This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on HLN news and views.

TEXT: LAPD revives 1997 Notorious B.I.G. murder investigation. Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann to reprise "Knocked Up" roles for new Judd Apatow film.`



HAMMER: Did you see this? A flash mob wedding. I love these things. Now, this couple shocked the crowd in the Prudential Center Mall in Boston.

All of a sudden, people start singing "Ain`t No Mountain High Enough." And, boom, the couple walks down the aisle. To these two, I say, mazeltov.

For a wedding gift, I`m thinking think I should send them - I don`t know - or Orange Julius and a Cinnabon? They were in the mall after all.

Hey, with the amount of money Ray Romano makes, he could buy a chain of Cinnabons and Orange Juliuses. Ray currently stars in the very funny series, "Men of a Certain Age" on our sister channel, TNT.

But you can`t forget Ray`s super-hit show, of course, "Everybody Loves Raymond," which ran for nine amazing years on CBS. And Ray is still loving the show because, quite frankly, it makes a lot of money for him from the reruns, money he says he barely gets to see.

Listen to what he just told us in a brand-new interview with "Men of a Certain Age" co-star, Scott Bakula.


RAY ROMANO, ACTOR: The check comes. I pop it over to my wife. She takes it. Every morning, I get a clean clothes and an apple and I`m happy.


HAMMER: Yes. You see, he`s still happy and fame hasn`t changed him at all. Ray has actually been married to his wife, Angela, for more than 20 years now.

Another guy handing over his money to his wife, Jim McCuller. Jim and his wife, Caroline, just came forward to reveal that they are one of the two ticket holders to have picked all six numbers in the $380 million dollar Mega Millions lottery tickets.

Now, a lot of lottery winners buy fancy things with their money, but not Jim - oh, no. Watch this.


JIM MCCULLER, LOTTERY WINNER: I`ve been married 41 years. I know what to do with this check.


HAMMER: That Jim is a smart man. And get this - the couple won over $18,000 years ago using the very same numbers they used to win Mega Millions.

Time now for the SHOWBIZ lineup - here`s what coming up on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

A startling interview with Oprah about her new OWN network revealed today. Should she be concerned about the instant success of her new network?

Really bad news for Paula Abdul today and her brand-new dance show.



SAMMI "SWEETHEART" GIANCOLA, REALITY STAR, "THE JERSEY SHORE": I`m here and I`m staying, whether you like it or not.



HAMMER: They call it like they see it on "Jersey Shore." Yes, the new season of "Jersey Shore" off to an unbelievable record-breaking, fist- flying start.

But a lot of people are asking today as they drive away from their BMWs, is "Shore" still fist-pumping fun, or just a tired cliche? This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on HLN news and views.

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

TEXT: "30 Rock" star Jane Krakowski is pregnant. Rihanna to launch her first fragrance, "Reb`l Fleur," in stores February.


HAMMER: Big news breaking today on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT - Oprah`s big challenge. Oprah caught on camera. It`s Oprah in her own words.


WINFREY: Let`s not do the hoola over that. Let`s just calm down. This is day six. Let`s get to day 14 and then let`s get to day 30.


HAMMER: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT dares to ask should Oprah be worried about the success of her new network?

Paula`s big problem. There is an unbelievable news today for Paula Abdul. Let me tell you, it`s not good.

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT names the most provocative celebrity of the week. The nominees - Sandra Bullock for her alleged rebound romance with Ryan Reynolds; Snooki for saying she blacks out and ends up in garbage cans; or the homeless guy with the golden voice.

Plus, breaking today from the "SHOWBIZ News Ticker" - Justin Bieber`s love life decision and a new record for Harry Potter.

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


HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. It is 30 minutes past the hour. I`m A.J. Hammer coming to you from New York City with big news breaking today - Paula Abdul`s brand-new dancing show hits a major speed bump, Gwyneth Paltrow`s bombshell confessions to talk show host Rachael Ray and Oprah`s startling reaction to a big interview with CNN`s Piers Morgan. All this making big news in "The Buzz Today."


(voice-over) Oprah grilled. O reveals to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT she felt surprised after being the first guest in the hot seat on Piers Morgan`s brand-new CNN show.

WINFREY: CNN did a very good job hiring that Piers, I will say.

HAMMER: Winfrey tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT Piers grilled her for two and a half hours. And after it wrapped, she and her team were blown away.

WINFREY: We all just went, "What was that? Did we not lose?" And we did say that`s one of the toughest interviews I`ve had in 20 years.

HAMMER: "Piers Morgan Tonight" debuts January 17th. Gwyneth`s drug confession. Gwyneth Paltrow is revealing in a brand-new interview that she boozed it up on the set of "Country Strong."

Gwyneth plays a heavy drinker in the new movie and she just told Rachael Ray how she got into her character.

GWYNETH PALTROW, ACTRESS: You just get really drunk all the time, which is awesome. At least, I did anyway. Maybe it`s not very professional. But -

RACHAEL RAY, HOST, "RACHAEL RAY SHOW": Well, you start out with vodka -

PALTROW: Yes. A bloody Mary, 10 a.m., like that. You just keep it going all day.

HAMMER: Paltrow says she followed up the film with a different type of drinking, a 21-day juice cleanse.

Paula`s pounding? Paula Abdul`s brand-new dance show has just taken a dive. The ratings for Wednesday`s second episode of "Live to Dance" dropped 25 percent from its premiere on Tuesday night.

The debut of "Live to Dance` rocked the ratings and 10.2 million people watched. By the next night, only 7.7 million tuned in.


Wow. That is not a good sign that Paula`s new show dropped almost three million viewers from one night to the next. So here`s our SHOWBIZ Flashpoint - will Paula Abdul`s new show survive against "American Idol"?

Let me bring in Joe Levy. He is the editor-in-chief with "Maxim" magazine.

And Joe, I realize obviously there`s going to be heightened interest the first night a brand-new show, particularly a brand-new Paula Abdul reality competition show, debuts.

But, you know, do you think even though the drop-off is not entirely shocking, she really stands a chance to survive against "American Idol"?

JOE LEVY, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Absolutely not. But then, nothing on television stand as chance to survive against "American Idol." "American Idol" is the juggernaut, the biggest thing on TV for years now.

Everything that goes up against it loses. And god knows it is the Goliath to Paula Abdul`s tiny little - it`s not even David. I don`t know what to call it.

HAMMER: Yes. And even if there is decay in the ratings and even if they don`t come back stronger than they`ve been before, I tend to agree with you. It`s still hard to compete with something that is probably still going to get 15 million, 20 million people tuning in to each show.

LEVY: And "American Idol" is an original, right? It`s the first of the singing shows we`ve had.

HAMMER: Right.

LEVY: Paula Abdul has a dancing show on. We`ve got, what, three, four, five of them. There are no stars dancing on this show.

The innovation is there`s no age limit so you can you have really old people dancing and really young people dancing. Unless somebody breaks a hip, I don`t think it`s going to hold an audience.

HAMMER: There`s the reality right there. Paula gave a brand-new interview to CNN`s Anderson Cooper. And she revealed that competing against "American Idol" was actually never even a factor in her mind. Watch this.


PAULA ABDUL, JUDGE, "LIVE TO DANCE": I didn`t walk into this new show even thinking would there be comparisons as to "American Idol."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because it`s going to go at so many point head to head -

ABDUL: Yes. Midway throughout the planning process, we found that out. And you know, I would say this. I feel blessed to be part of a genre of shows that actually give audiences an opportunity to understand talent and the art form and what it takes to be tenacious and strive to do your best.


HAMMER: And let me tell you right here. I`m rooting for Paula. I love you, Paula. But Cooper Lawrence, syndicated radio host and author, do you think her show can really compete against "American Idol"?

LAWRENCE: No. And of course, she`s going to be compared. She`s the spin-off of "American Idol." And she`s not going to be as good. People love her on "American Idol." They`re not going to love her here.

HAMMER: She doesn`t think she`s a spin-off of "American Idol."


HAMMER: To be clear. But a lot of people, for better or worse, do see it that way.


HAMMER: All right. Let me move on right now to the brand-new reports about Oprah Winfrey`s brand-new challenge. Her new network has had this amazing debut. And that has sparked a frenzy of the Television Critics Association press tour in Los Angeles.

Apparently, the Oprah engaged the reporters there in a very lengthy discussion about her new network. In fact, check out this headline from the "New York Post" today about that press conference.

It says, "Way-Out Oprah: Wacky turn and pitch for new cable net." "The always in control star teared up at times as she rambled on for more than 18 minutes about her deceased grandmother, Michael Jackson and even a trip to the gynecologist."

Now, Oprah has even copped to being scared about her new network and launching this new part of her life. I imagine that she may have been a little bit nervous. But Joe, should we be worried about Oprah and should Oprah be worried about the new success of her new network?

LEVY: We should not be worried about Oprah. Oprah`s going to be fine. Oprah has more money than I think the United States government. So I`m not worried about Oprah.

Should we worry about the network? A little bit. The network is resolutely positive. It`s all good cheer, good vibes. I`d watch TV. I think that`s not exactly what holds an audience on TV. A little of bad goes a long way. Sometimes they want some darkness with the light.

And also Oprah`s fans are upset that it`s a cable network. They`ve got to pay for it. They`ve been getting Oprah for free for years. So she`s got an uphill battle now.

HAMMER: Do you think the early success the show is having, Cooper, should give Oprah a new reason to worry?

LAWRENCE: Yes. It should if she wants to stay the mogul in our minds that she is. I mean she always had her money. But the thing is, you know, it`s always the last things you do.

You don`t want the last thing did to be failure, because that will always be her legacy. You want your legacy to be something positive. So if this network is an absolute failure, that`s what we`ll be talking about.

HAMMER: Yes. And I think she`s taking the right approach with this. Oprah acknowledged another huge challenge for her network, the fact that not everybody is able to tune in because in some parts of the country, quite frankly, it`s not part of the basic cable plan.

Well, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT was right there on the red carpet, where - get a load of this - Oprah told us that even she couldn`t tune in to her new network when it first launched last weekend. Watch this. This is wild.


WINFREY: I go to my hotel in Los Angeles and I can`t get it. I could not get it. So I am just sitting in my hotel room in Los Angeles with my new network on and I can`t get it.

I think, well, I should have went home - I should have gone home. But the reason I didn`t is because I had the interview with Piers the next day.

So I thought, OK. I don`t want to go all the way back home. I`ll just stay down here. So I am sitting in my hotel room, the OW of OWN, the "OW" of OWN and I can`t watch it.


HAMMER: All right. Joe, I get that her hotel didn`t carry it. But I actually find it kind of stunning that she would admit she couldn`t watch the debut, although it was fitting in her character to be so honest.

LEVY: It is absolutely amazing. I`m just amazed she didn`t go out and buy an entire house instead of staying in a hotel and watch it there.

HAMMER: That`s what I was thinking. That`s exactly what I was thinking.

LEVY: It`s a 24-hour network -

LAWRENCE: Doesn`t she know anybody in L.A. and go to their house and watch it? Come on. That`s ridiculous.

HAMMER: She was busy, focusing on that Piers interview. And the ratings really have been great so far. But despite the optimistic start, Oprah tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT she`s not celebrating just yet. Watch this


WINFREY: Let`s not all do the hoola over that. Let`s just calm down. And this is day six. Let`s get to day 14 and then let`s get to day 30.


HAMMER: I think that is a very, very smart move. Stay cautious, Oprah. Stay cautious. We are rooting for you as always. Joe Levy, Cooper Lawrence, thank you both.

All right, "Jersey Shore," here we go. It`s off to its fist-flying start. In fact, the show just broke a record because of this.


POLIZZI: You are the biggest (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m here and I`m staying whether you like it or not.



HAMMER: Oh, boy. Of course, there was nasty name-calling, drunken fistfights, all in the season premiere. We wouldn`t have it any other way.

But I`ve got to ask, is the show still fist-pumping fun or has it become kind of a tired old cliche already?

Kelsey Grammer`s soon-to-be ex-wife just revealed an absolutely mind- boggling bombshell today. You won`t believe what Camille Grammer said Kelsey allegedly made her do.

And Britney Spears has a brand-new song. This thing is hot. I`ll play it for you, next. This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on HLN news and views.

It is time for the "SHOWBIZ News Ticker" - more stories from the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom making news today.

TEXT: Taylor Swift is the top-selling and most-played artist in 2010. Justin Bieber says he is done answering questions about his love life.



MIKE "THE SITUATION" SORRENTINO, REALITY TV STAR, "THE JERSEY SHORE": Oh, wow. Really? It looks like a good time. Everything looks situated.


HAMMER: Yes. And she did take it all off, by the way.

That`s the newest "Jersey Shore" cast mate kind of introducing herself to The Situation on the brand-new season. It`s back to the beach - more naked, more drunk and more famous than ever. But could their fame actually ruin the show?

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

We got to get to all that "Jersey Shore" drama in just a second. You don`t want to miss it. But first, only in Beverly Hills.

The soon to be ex-wife of "Frasier" star, Kelsey Grammer, says it was his idea to have her become a reality star on "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" and put all their business on TV.

She gave a shocking new interview today to Ellen DeGeneres. And Camille Grammer said she thought Kelsey was crazy, but she did it anyway. Watch this.




DEGENERES: Kelsey wanted to you do it?

C. GRAMMER: Surprisingly enough. Yes. I didn`t want to do the show. I wasn`t ready to expose my life that way. You know, we`d been a private couple for a longtime. I`d seen you could couple times at awards show and stuff like that.

But for the most part, we really kept to ourselves. So I was surprised that he wanted me to do it, too. I was like, "Are you crazy?"


HAMMER: All right. First, off to you, celebrity journalist, Ben Widdicombe, I`m thinking while it may not have turned out exactly how Camille Grammer expected or hoped, doing the show was probably the best thing that ever happened to her in terms of getting her out from under the shadow of her very, very famous husband.

BEN WIDDICOMBE, CELEBRITY JOURNALIST: Well, she`s presented this whole idea that Kelsey pushed her out of the spotlight. She didn`t want to do it.

I don`t think anyone who watched the show sees that confident woman in front of the cameras believes that she was shoved before any camera.


WIDDICOMBE: I think she wanted to do it. I think she`s very happy to have her relationship in front of camera. And I think that both of them, frankly, were getting ready for the split when the show started filming.

HAMMER: And man, I have to believe she`s playing it up on this show. Camille, of course, has become the one on this show that everybody loves to hate. Her marriage, of course, imploding on the show has added to all the drama.

But now, Camille reveals that maybe she`s done with the show. For the first time today, Camille tells Ellen about those reports that she`s leaving "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" and whether or not it`s true.


DEGENERES: So now, and the rumors are that you`re quitting, you`re not going to do it again?

C. GRAMMER: Well, we haven`t decided that yet. You know, right now, as everybody knows, I`m going through a divorce.

DEGENERES: Yes. Let me ask you that because you - so were you - you said Kelsey wanted you to do it. So you got divorced during - while you were shooting?

C. GRAMMER: Yes. I found out he wanted out of the relationship during the shooting.


HAMMER: So right there, Camille is saying she hasn`t decided what she`s going to do. Have I to bring in "TV Guide Magazine" contributing editor, Lisa Bernhard.

It seems to me, Lisa, that all of Camille`s drama that we`re watching unfold on the show actually gives her some leverage here, gives her a better chance of cashing in if she does decide to stick around. Why the heck not?

LISA BERNHARD, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, "TV GUIDE MAGAZINE": I think she just got herself a raise if, in fact, she does come back to the show. Absolutely right.

I mean, she`s somebody who has had a show business past, if you would like to call it that. She`s done a lot of "Playboy" posing. She`s not afraid of the camera.

And Kelsey is a thriving actor. I don`t think he would have set her up to watch his marriage implode on television. He doesn`t need that kind of publicity.

HAMMER: No. Of course not.

BERNHARD: No. So I think you`re absolutely right. I think she was very smart in a way to dish on Kelsey and to put that tease out there. And I think she`s hired for next season with a higher price if she wants it.

HAMMER: Yes. Yes. No kidding. I mean, what a thing to be able to cash in on for sure.

All right. Right now do I want to move on to new LeAnn Rimes cheating scandal bombshell news. LeAnn just engaged to Eddie Cibrian after, of course, their scandalous affair that broke up both of their marriages.

Well, today Eddie`s ex-wife, Brandy Granville, tells "Radar Online" she and LeAnn went to therapy together before LeAnn got engaged to Eddie.

And surprise, surprise. It didn`t go very well. But I`m just floored to learn that these two women were in therapy together. Ben, what about you?

WIDDICOMBE: I`m just wondering what the outcome she thought she was going to get. Was she going to persuade LeAnn Rimes, the famous mistress, to back off? I don`t think so.

And I`m wondering about this whole story, frankly. I don`t know what inducement she may have had to tell the press this kind of thing. It sounds completely bananas to me.

HAMMER: It`s very, very strange to me. I have no idea what to make of it. So right now, I think then we should take it from splitsville down to the "Jersey Shore." Why not? Our favorite jailed-up, self-proclaimed guidos and guidettes are, in fact, back. But they`re classing up the joint, sort of. Watch.


POLIZZI: I cannot wait to go to the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) shore. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) is definitely more my scene with the guys.

Not be wearing (UNINTELLIGIBLE) boots. Oh, god.


HAMMER: OK. Are you seeing what`s happening here? You got Snooki driving a beamer, the others driving nice new cars. Remember the broken down cars at the beginning of the series?

And they can raise a glass of SoCo to this, the season premiere of Jersey Shore, the most watched show of any MTV series ever, we learned today, that more than 8 million people tune in for this thing.

Lisa, I think all their fame and money really does take away from that - I don`t know what to call it - charm that made the show such a hit to begin with. I kind of have a hard time seeing through that now.

BERNHARD: You know, I think we`re all in on the joke and why we like to watch the show. But now, that they are making so much money going on "Dancing with the Stars" like The Situation did. Snooki has a merchandising deal. She wrote a novel. A novel.


BERNHARD: I`m not sure now I want to sleep on Snooki-designed sheets, do you? I don`t think I do.

HAMMER: No. I never did to begin with, you know. We`ll have to check the thread count on that, I suppose. All right. We`ll leave it right there.

But I want to you to tell me what you think about the new "Jersey Shore" season. Vote right now on our exclusive SHOWBIZ TONIGHT poll - "The New season of Jersey Shore: What do you think?" Is it fist pumping-fun or just a tired cliche?

You can vote at You can also E-mail us at

All right. Right now, it is your first listen to Britney Spears` brand-new single. This thing is called "Hold It Against Me." Listen to this.


Well, just to let you know that`s not actually Britney`s voice. That`s a stand-in singer. What you just listened to is actually a leaked demo, not the final version, obviously without Britney on it.

But Britney is tweeting about this thing. Here`s what she tweeted, "Heard an early demo of my new single leaked. If you think that`s good, wait until you hear the real one Tuesday."

The real deal single is scheduled to drop Tuesday, January 11th. I think the demo is actually pretty hot. I can`t wait to hear the real song. And I think she did a good thing by sort of copping to it being a leaked demo, not getting all upset with it. Nice going, Britney.

Well, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has named Britney Spears the most provocative celebrity of the week before. It`s not going to be this week.

Here are the nominees for the very first most provocative celebrity of the week of 2011. Sandra Bullock, for her possible romance with Ryan Reynolds. Snooki, admitting to getting drunk and ending up in trash cans. Or will it be the homeless man with the golden voice, Ted Williams?

We`ve got the big reveal is coming up next. This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on HLN news and views.

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

TEXT: TLC to air "Ted Haggard: Scandalous" on January 16th. Top- grossing onscreen couple: "Harry Potter`s" Emma Watson and Rupert Grint.


HAMMER: All right. Here we go. The wait is over. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT about to name the most provocative celebrity of the week. Now, this is the first for the new year. We`re very excited about that.


People are waiting with baited breath around here. I don`t know what baited breath is. I`m back with Lisa Bernhard and Ben Widdicombe. Will it is Sandra Bullock who may or may not be on the rebound with Ryan Reynolds? Will it be Snooki for her new novel and other tribulations? Or perhaps Ted Williams, the homeless man with the golden voice?

Ben, who gets your vote for the very first most provocative celebrity of the week for 2011?

WIDDICOMBE: Well, you know, my favorite celebrity of the week is Ted Williams. But most provocative I think is Snooki. And it`s not because she admitted she ended up in the garbage can. We expect that. It`s for the novel. Didn`t see that one coming.

HAMMER: You didn`t see a novel by Snooki coming?


HAMMER: All right. Well, our Facebook fans say it`s Ted Williams, they think, hands down. And I`ve got to say, he`s got a very provocative story to be sure.

This is Sabrina L. writing on our Facebook wall, "Ted Williams, hands down. Who cares if Snooki wrote a book? I`d be more impressed if I heard she actually read a book."

Well, Sabrina, I`m here to tell you she actually said she`s read two books. I don`t even know - "Twilight" was one of them. That`s right - "Eclipse," I believe. All right. Who gets your vote here, Lisa?

BERNHARD: I don`t know if redemption is provocative. But Ted Williams definitely, definitely gets my vote. We`ve heard the sweeter tones of the golden voice and I think there will be more to the story with him.

I think he`s a fabulous guy, and I hope for all the success. And I hope that he keeps it that way. But I think there will be an unfolding story here with him.

HAMMER: Yes. I think it certainly grabs you, not only the overnight sensation part of it. But now, everybody is eager to see him do well and to get past all the demons that have troubled him earlier in his life.

But right now, the wait is over. Chris, the drum roll, please. And there it is, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT names, show it to me - Ted Williams, the most provocative celebrity of the week.

Well, there it is, Ben Widdicombe. I mean, you can`t argue with the fact that it`s got all of the ingredients for this unbelievable and provocative story, the fact that just, what, three days ago this guy was homeless, panhandling with that sign in Columbus, Ohio.

You know, it`s a beautiful story. My only concern is the media will lose interest in him after five days. And you know, the offers will dry up, and a year later he`ll be back in the same place.

I hope he takes the opportunity to make something of his life and the people don`t lose interest. I hope it`s for real.

HAMMER: See. I think the Kraft commercial is a great example. It shows that he does have a pure raw talent. So I think he will sustain even if the media steps away.

BERNHARD: I think that`s true, but I think that he should look to his family members who have gotten jobs, his ex-wife who has raised the kids, his own kids who have gotten jobs themselves and raised their own kids as examples of folks had can pull themselves out.

HAMMER: We`re cheering him on. Lisa Bernhard, Ben Widdicombe, we`ll end it there.

So on Thursday, we asked you to vote on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT exclusive poll. Right here, I have the astonishing final results. Khloe Kardashian gets her own reality show and look what you have to say about this.

Put those results up. Ninety percent of you say enough Kardashians already. Ten percent of you say sweet, bring it on.

That is it for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. Thanks for watching. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York. And SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is live at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Monday through Friday. And we`re still TV`s most provocative entertainment news show seven days a week at 11:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific right here on HLN.