Return to Transcripts main page


Charlie`s Custody War; Elton`s Royal About-Face

Aired March 2, 2011 - 23:00:00   ET



A.J. HAMMER, HOST (voice-over): Big news breaking today on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. Charlie`s new war. Unbelievable Charlie Sheen drama today. Charlie`s young sons taken away, and it`s all caught on tape.

CHARLIE SHEEN, ACTOR: Wow. Tiger blood now drips from my fangs.

HAMMER: Right here, an incredible "Showbiz News Maker" interview with someone who was there minutes after this all went down. Our "Showbiz Flashpoint" today, was it right to strip Charlie of his kids?

Oprah in trouble? Shocking claims today that Oprah`s OWN network is a big fail. Should Oprah be worried or should everyone just chill?

The great idol debate today. "American Idol" goes live. So, how are the judges doing? Are J.Lo, Randy, and Steven making hits (ph)? What about Simon? Is he missed or is it Simon who?

And Snooki. Today, she says she wants to be the next Jessica Simpson. Yes. Any chance of that happening?

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


HAMMER (on-camera): Hello. I`m A.J. Hammer coming to you from New York City with big news breaking today. Charlie`s big custody battle. Charlie Sheen`s wild media blitz is now topped by a dramatic, emotional turn of event. All of it, of course, caught on tape. Sheen seemed blindsided when police went to his house and took his twin boys that he had with his ex- Brooke Mueller from his home.

Now, Sheen says he was warned that his ex-filed for a temporary restraining order, but he had no idea he was about to lose his kids. A judge had agreed to strip Sheen`s custody after Mueller claimed Sheen threatened her life. And now, Sheen says he is ready to go to war to get his kids back. In fact, he even made a dramatic public appeal to his ex this morning on the "Today" show. Watch.


SHEEN: I`m sorry that you felt this had to be done this way, but this does not display any responsible parenting and anything that I`m familiar with, and I think that cooler, and smarter leveler heads can prevail. And I urge you to reach out to me and immediately if not sooner and tell me where our sons are.


HAMMER: Whole battle just blew up when Charlie`s ex went to a judge claiming he threatens her. And in newly revealed court document SHOWBIZ TONIGHT obtained today, Brooke claims that Charlie said, listen to this, it`s wild, "I will cut your head off, put it in a box, and send it to your mom." Again, these are claims from Brooke, his ex. Brooke also claims in those documents that Charlie threatened to stab her eye with a pen knife, spit on her feet, and she claims that he punched her in the arm.

Now, Brooke says that she feared for her life and for the safety of her kids. That`s why she got the restraining order. Let me bring in attorney and former prosecutor, Robin Sax. Robin, is there any surprise to you that authorities swooped in after hearing this to take Charlie`s kids away from him?

ROBIN SAX, ATTORNEY, LAW OFFICE OF ROBIN SAX: Well, what needs to be clarified is that it was actually not the authorities that came in and took the kids away. What actually happens here is almost what happens in an eviction type of scenario where it was a private family order ruling that had the assistance of the authorities in the transfer should Charlie Sheen misbehave and not comply with the order, but this is completely a family court order.

But, I would expect to hear someday down the pike in the next day or two that DCFS, the department does get involved not on from a dependency court point of view but also, potentially, a criminal point of view.

HAMMER: OK. So, to be clear, the sheriff that was on-hand was there as a matter of assistance, not so much as authority. Let me turn that to Midwin Charles who`s an attorney. Midwin, you know, Charlie has said he`s ready to wage war. Is there any doubt in your mind he`s got an epic battle on his hands right now?

MIDWIN CHARLES, ATTORNEY, MIDWIN CHARLES AND ASSOCIATES: He does. I mean, I think, anyone who paid attention to the past couple of days of those bizarre interviews can see that this is not man who is in a great position to parent. And when it comes to custody, it`s all about the kids. And the standard that judges go by in custody decisions is what is in the best interest of the child. And I think we can all agree, objectively, that Charlie Sheen right now is not in the best interests of those children, at least, spending any time with them.

HAMMER: It certainly seems so, and I do take some solace in knowing that there are nannies involved right now because some people are questioning whether Brooke is the right person to have control, but at least,

CHARLES: And that`s fair. I think that`s a fair question.

HAMMER: But they have some money. They have the resources, and the nanny is there. And, of course, given this giant media blitz that Charlie Sheen is on, no surprise that this was all caught on tape. You got to watch this. Some incredible video SHOWBIZ TONIGHT obtained today from RadarOnline. Charlie taking his kids out of the house after the authorities or after the people involved came to get them, and he also gave a powerful message. Watch this.






SHEEN: Tiger blood now drips from my fangs.


SHEEN: Bye-bye. I love you, little man. I will see you very soon. Trust me. Your dad don`t lie.


HAMMER: All right. Your dad don`t lie. He sounds very upset. I mean, so sad seeing the kids just pulled right into the middle of this drama, but Charlie seems very determined in this video and according to Brooke`s court declaration, and she claims that she feared him in the court declaration. So, in light of that, Robin, do you think that the comments that Charlie made on that tape could help him or come back to haunt him, perhaps?

SAX: Every single thing that Charlie Sheen does is going to be under scrutiny, and everything that he has done and said, so far, has come back to haunt him in some form or another. If I am him, I am shutting up. There is no doubt that that tape had to have gotten leaked from his people or even sold on his behalf to RadarOnline, which suggests to me that he thinks that he was doing some sort of positive parenting, positive media ploy, but in fact, it didn`t seem that way when he seemed so nonchalant, doesn`t seem even very sad about the fact that his kids are being ripped from him, which was emotionally painful for me just to watch.

HAMMER: Yes, but at the same time, you really can tell watching this today show interview and watching him there that this has struck a chord with him in a way that things of recent have not. He gets a little calmer. He seems a little more stoic when talking about his kids. And in fact, there was relative calm there when he was with the kids.

So, do you think, Midwin, a judge or somebody involved in this case could look at that and see the seriousness with which, you know, he`s affected by the kids that could help him in a positive way?

CHARLES: Not in isolation. What judges usually do is they`ll look at an aggregate of factors. They will look at --

HAMMER: Well, there`s no good here.

CHARLES: You know, you reap what you sew, right? If you are out there talking about the dragon blood that you have and this bizarre and erratic behavior, you`re showing that you are a parent who cannot exercise good judgment. And when it comes to parenting, that`s what it`s all about. Parents need to remember that parental rights are not absolute. They`re not absolute.

HAMMER: Right.

CHARLES: Children, what`s in the best interest for the child will always trump that.

HAMMER: So, you would think, if having the children remain in his life is important to him at this point, you would think that, maybe, yes, Charlie would shut up as Robin suggested, and he would realize -- see I don`t know that he has the sense now, it`s not for me to say, that he could realize that, yes, maybe, I should just keep my mouth closed and put an end to this media blitz, give himself a cease and desist or something.

He has been declaring that he`s drug free. He even took a drug test, and the results were revealed on live TV, but Tuesday night in that 20/20 special with Charlie, his girlfriends, you know, the ones he`s referring to as the goddesses, they got a bit defensive when they were asked about that drug test. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you helping him stay clean?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don`t need help staying clean. It`s not even a part of our lives anymore.

SHEEN: There`s a ton of laughter in this house. There`s a ton of love in this house. There`s a ton of nobility in this house.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are there any drugs in this house?

SHEEN: If there are, you better find them and give them to me immediately. No, they`re not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No drugs in the house?

SHEEN: Not that I know about. If I know about them, I`ll find them and throw them away. It`s not a big deal.


HAMMER: OK. Robin, as a former prosecutor, how do you think Charlie`s none traditional living situation and answers like that will go over with a judge or does it matter? I mean, it seems from our discussion here the aggregate of what he`s saying does matter a big deal.

SAX: It does -- I mean, exactly what Midwin said is that this is a case where we`re going to be looking at the best interest of the children. And clearly, when you start looking at erratic behavior, drug use, an alternative lifestyle in any way that`s going to threaten the stability of the kids, are these girls people that are going to be there for the long run or are these people who are short-term rolling over kind of gals who are going to be around the house?

And let not forget here, we know that Charlie Sheen is going to go after Brooke and Brooke`s character. And that is very similar to what happens in any case. There are lots of times in cases here in Los Angeles County where you have a poor dad and a poor mom, too, and that`s when you start looking at the outer circle, like the grandparents.

HAMMER: Well, you got to wonder what was going through Charlie`s mind minutes after the kids were taken away from him, and we have somebody who knows. You don`t want to miss our headline making "Showbiz News Maker" interview with someone who is right there with Charlie Sheen just after all of this went down. That is coming up.

But right now, we got to move on to Oprah. Is she in big trouble today?


HAMMER (voice-over): There are shocking claims today that Oprah`s OWN network is a big fail. Should Oprah actually be worried about this or does everybody just need to chill out?

Also this --


HAMMER: Whoa. Whoa. That voice, that auto tune voice, hey, that`s Kim Kardashian. It`s her brand new song. It`s called "Jam." Will people be jamming to it or will they want to jam it into the trash? The big Kim K. song debate is coming up.

This is Showbiz Tonight on HLN, news and views.

Time to roll out the "Showbiz News Ticker," more stories from the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom, making news today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You expect to meet the woman that you`re going to marry in Italy?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The woman you have to marry -- does she have to be Italian?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She doesn`t have to be, no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you would prefer?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, I`m just looking for something that`s -- something different. Everybody said that she`s out there. Somebody has family values and go get somebody straight from Italy.



HAMMER (on-camera): Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York with big stories making news in the buzz today.

Pink makes fun of Christina Aguilera`s arrest.

An unbelievable war breaks out over just one strand of Justin Bieber`s hair.

And Elton John says, OK, I am going to the royal wedding.


HAMMER (voice-over): Elton`s royal about face. After reportedly denying he was attending the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, Elton John has just revealed he and his partner, David Furnish, have, in fact, been invited. John broke the news to Canada CTV saying, quote, "We do have an invitation. I`ve been trying to be discrete." Elton was a close friend of William`s mom, Princess Diana, also complemented Kate saying, "She is Diana in personality and handled the pressure really well." No word on whether John will be singing at the April 29th royal wedding.

The big Bieber bidding war. Justin Bieber fans are scrambling to get a piece of his famous hair. And SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can reveal it`s going to cost you. One fan even bid over $15,000 on eBay for the strands he gave to Ellen DeGeneres to benefit the charity of her choice.

Pink pokes fun at Christina`s arrest. Pink just spoke out about Christina Aguilera`s shocking arrest for public intoxication. Pink has got a bad girl image, but the mother to be is taking pride in being the good girl here. She tweeted, "Out of myself, Britney and Christina -- didn`t everyone think I was going to be the troublemaker? Look, ma, no cuffs!


HAMMER (on-camera): All right. You got to hear this. I just checked eBay. The auction has ended for Justin Bieber`s hair and that one strand, it went for more than $40,000, but I`m thinking, that includes free shipping. So, hey, what a steal. All right. I think it`s great. Justin Bieber raising money for clarity, take nothing away from that, but $40,000 for a strand of hair, really?

Joining me right now in New York, Maggie Furlong who`s the West Coast editor for AOL television and Moviefone. And I`m quite aware as an entertainment television professional that Bieber fever is contagious.


HAMMER: But 40 grand for a strand of hair, do you get it?

FURLONG: Here`s my problem with 40 grand for a strand of hair. Bieber fans, kids, people his age, the tweens, they don`t have 40 grand to be spending on his hair. Someone`s parent was like this is a great idea. I will buy it for you.

HAMMER: What do you do with it?

FURLONG: It`s like the greatest birthday present I never got, never knew I wanted.

HAMMER: Well, look, here`s the thing, again, it`s for charity. So, I don`t want to take anything away from that at all. Good for Bieber. Good for them for raising all that money. But right now, let me get to another story that is getting some big buzz today. Pink`s tweet over the news of Christina Aguilera`s run-in with the law. Now, Pink basically says that she`s the only one out of her generation of pop stars who hasn`t gotten in trouble.

You know, Britney has gotten in trouble and now Christina. Not Pink, and I love Pink. She came to the scene as a rebel, but Maggie, do you think it was unfair of her to go there or does she kind of have a point?

FURLONG: At this point, I think anything is fair game, especially on Twitter. It`s there for you to voice your opinions, to get it out there. For someone like Christina who found herself in a very bad way lately, why not? They all came up together, and she`s right. You can`t judge a book by the tattoos. Pink looked like the obvious choice to be the trouble maker, and she`s the only one that hasn`t been --

HAMMER: I think she`s celebrating, actually, in the fact that she`s not the troublemaker. I kind of get where she`s coming from. I do want to talk about Christina Aguilera now. It`s been a day since she was released from jail after being arrested for being intoxicated. She`s been through a pretty rough going the last few months. Two weeks ago, her divorce was finalized.

"Burlesque," her film, a flop in theaters. Then, of course, she botched the national anthem at the Super Bowl. There are a lot of people are saying right now, Maggie, that Christina Aguilera is spinning out of control. I actually think this arrest, whatever is going on with her, certainly has to be a wake-up call.

FURLONG: And yet, NBC gave her a job today. I think it`s the worst move they`ve ever done in that department to name her as the singing coach for their new hit reality show that`s coming out. Who gets arrested for their boyfriend having a DUI, and they`re in a drunk tank, and then, they get a new high-paying job?

HAMMER: I want to see her go back into the recording studio. I think that was --

FURLONG: She definitely needs to get back to her roots and sing a song.

HAMMER: Maggie Furlong, thank you so much. Always good to see you.

Well, we have so many calls coming in to our "Showbiz On-Call" phone lines today about Charlie Sheen. Of course, everybody is buzzing about it. Some people are concerned about him. Some people disgusted by him like Kitty calling from California.


KITTY, CALIFORNIA: I think when the show went on hiatus so he could go into rehab, that was great. Then, he went to the Bahamas and he decided to take a drug test and he came back clean, I think that`s great. But he is now talking crazy and showing a disrespect for his children. He is a terrible role model as a father.


HAMMER: All right. Kitty, appreciate your call. We also heard from Lisa calling in a "Showbiz On-Call" from Rhode Island. Now, Lisa thinks someone needs to step in and help Charlie ASAP.


LISA, RHODE ISLAND: Doesn`t anybody around him realize we don`t want him to be another Michael Jackson and that some people have to actually really take interventions to prevent this from happening to him, the family, the friends or even other people somehow to intervene and get him some help that he needs.


HAMMER: Thank you so much for your call, Lisa. Much more on this incredible Charlie Sheen custody war is coming up right here.


HAMMER (voice-over): It`s an incredible "Showbiz News Maker" interview. I`ll be speaking with someone who was right there minutes after Charlie`s young sons were taken away.

DYLAN HOWARD, SENIOR EXECUTIVE EDITOR, RADARONLINE.COM: Very upsetting to see two innocent seemingly oblivious children to what was going on. And, you know, though children mentioning goodbye, daddy, and things like that, really tugged at, I think, anyone`s heart strings.

HAMMER: No question about that. This guy is coming up right here. Charlie says he`s going to war with his ex over this. Getting nasty.

Snooki. Today, she says she wants to be the next Jessica Simpson. Yes, really. I got to ask, any chance of that happening?

And I don`t think anyone saw this coming. Scarlett Johansson, Sean Penn, are they dating?. We`re looking into this coming up.

This is Showbiz Tonight on HLN, news and views.


HAMMER (on-camera): And now, the "Showbiz News Ticker," more stories from the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom, making news today.





JOHN GALLIANO, DESIGNER: I love Hitler. People like you would be dead today. Your mothers, your forefathers would be (EXPLETIVE DELETED) gassed and (EXPLETIVE DELETED) dead.


HAMMER (voice-over): Caught on tape. Former Christian Dior creative designer, John Galliano, in a disgusting apparent anti-Semitic rant. Face of Dior, Natalie Portman, outraged and Galliano fired.


HAMMER (on-camera): And today, he`s apologizing, but actually saying, he`s a victim here. Like Natalie Portman and so many people, I was just shocked and disgusted by what John Galliano was caught on camera saying. And today, the fired Dior designer is saying, I`m sorry, but -- there`s a big but here. In a statement, here`s what Galliano says, "Anti-Semitism and racism have no part in our society. I unreservedly apologize for my behavior in causing any offense."

But he goes on to say that he denies the claims against him and that he`s suing for defamation.

And another shocking development, "Sex & the City" costume designer, Patricia Field, is defending Galliano today saying his alleged anti-Semitic remarks are, quote, "a farce."

Well, there`s so many posts coming into our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT Facebook wall today about the incredible Charlie Sheen custody war.

We have Laura H. posting something she`s really worried about Charlie writing this, "Charlie, Charlie, Charlie, you really need to get your life together. Think of what you`re doing to your children."

This is from Deana W. It`s an interesting point. Why doesn`t Charlie`s dad step in and do something? Martin, where are you? Thanks, Deana.

Well, you know, we all know Charlie is an adult. He needs to be accountable for his own actions, but I agree, and maybe, this is exactly what family is for. Somebody else, perhaps from his family, could help out with the kids or do something to try to protect Charlie from himself.

Connect with us. Join our debates on Facebook, showbiztonighthln there follow @showbiztonight on Tweeter for breaking entertainment news alert.

And speaking of Twitter, check this out, Charlie Sheen just verified his Twitter account on Tuesday. So, we know his tweets are coming from him.


HAMMER (voice-over): Right now, he`s closing in on one million followers. Now, according to, at this rate, at Charlie Sheen will cross almost two million followers in about a week, three million the week after that, and that`s going to put him in the same company as Eminem, Jessica Simpson, and Rihanna, but Charlie will done it much, much faster.

Let me get to a couple of samples from Charlie Sheen`s Twitter page. Among what he`s written today, defeat is not an option. Still winning! Pong! And his Twitter profile says born small, now huge. Winning, bring it. And he also said, unemployed winner.


HAMMER (on-camera): Time now for showbiz line-up. Here`s what`s coming up on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT at the bottom of the hour.


HAMMER (voice-over): A headline making "Showbiz News Maker" interview with someone who was right there minutes after Charlie Sheen`s kids were taken away.

Oprah in trouble? Shocking claims that her OWN network is a big fail.

And is Kim K.`s very first song a big fail?

This is Showbiz Tonight on HLN, news and views.

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




HAMMER: Big news breaking today on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. Charlie Sheen`s custody war explodes today. We`re talking with someone who was right there minutes after Charlie`s kids were taken away from him.

HOWARD: It`s very upsetting to see two innocent, seemingly oblivious children to what was going on, and, you know, those children mentioning goodbye, daddy, and things like that really tugged at, I think, anyone`s heart strings.

HAMMER: It`s a headline making "Showbiz News Maker Interview."

Big trouble for Oprah? Shocking claims today that Oprah`s OWN network is a big fail, but should Oprah be worried or are people making a big deal out of nothing?

And Kim Kardashian, the pop star?


HAMMER: Oh, yes. Your very first listen to Kim K.`s news song. Should Kim turn up her music career or just put the mic down?

Plus, breaking today from the "Showbiz News Ticker." Who`s roasting Donald Trump?

And will Matt Damon have more kids?

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


HAMMER (on-camera): Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. It`s 30 minutes past the hour. I`m A.J. Hammer coming to you from New York City with big news breaking today inside Charlie`s custody war.

Sheen, who, of course, is promising to sue CBS over cancelling production on the show "Two and a Half Men," is now promising another war, this time, with his ex, Brooke Muller. Last night, authorities removed Sheen`s twin sons, Bob and Max, from his home. That happened after Mueller, the boys` mother filed for a restraining order claiming that Sheen had threatened her.

RadarOnline cameras were right there last night. They caught everything, including Sheen strapping his kids into the car and saying goodbye. Listen closely here.



SHEEN: No, we`ll see you soon, buddy. We`ll see you soon, absolutely. We`ll see you soon. You have my word. Papa don`t lie.


HAMMER: RadarOnline executive editor, Dylan Howard, was at Sheen`s house last night, the same night that Sheen`s kids were taken away, and Dylan joins me now from Hollywood for a "Showbiz News Maker Interview. So, Dylan, I want you to describe for me what you saw at Sheen`s house last night.

HOWARD: Well, I arrived, A.J., about half an hour after the law enforcement authorities had come and took the two twins away. I arrived, and Charlie Sheen seemed very defiant in the face of this adversity. Those around him, though, were very heartbroken, as you can imagine, by the events of the hour previous and that was exemplified by the RadarOnline exclusive video, which was very, you know, very upsetting to see two innocent, seemingly oblivious children to what was going on.

And, you know, those children mentioning goodbye, daddy and things like that really tugged at, I think, anyone`s heart strings, irrespective of your view on this entire scandal. But it was very stoic scenes from Charlie Sheen last night. He told me that he viewed that the decision by the court as a water shed moment for him to be able to clear the path and move forward with what he wants to do and that`s getting full custody of these children.

HAMMER: And after the authorities left, Dylan, you talked to Sheen about Brooke Mueller`s custody move and the explosive claims that he made about him in her restraining order. I want to take a listen to what he told you.


HOWARD: She`s accusing you of saying to her, "I will cut your head off, put it in a box, and send it to your mother."

SHEEN: It`s actually a good line. No, I didn`t say that. It`s ridiculous. You come into my home and take my children? There`s a storm coming, and his name is me.


HAMMER: Sure sounds like Sheen is promising an all-out war with his ex- wife, Dylan. Will all he`s dealing with now, you know, he has his battle with CBS and "Two and a half Men," does doing battle with his ex over his kids seem very clearly to you much more important than any other thing going on in his life right now?

HOWARD: I think Charlie Sheen really sees this as being an important part of what he says is his clean lifestyle going forward. You know, Brooke Mueller will say that Charlie wasn`t the greatest father. He, on the other hand, says that she was a "photo opportunity mother," quote/unquote. These two have been at each other for some time.

HAMMER: What can you tell us about how close Charlie is with his twin boys and how much time he does spend with him?

HOWARD: You know, this week, I think, is probably not a great reflection of the amount of time that he would spend with them given that he`s clearly been on a seven-day media blitz. That said, though, the times that I have seen him with the children, he`s like any other father. In the video last night as law enforcement turned up to his Beverly Hills mansion, quite clearly showed a father that was enjoying his time with his children.

And it was, you know, you don`t have to be a Charlie Sheen advocate, you don`t have to be a Charlie Sheen detractor to understand that that was a very powerful video and showed clearly a man that was clearly affected by the events that had taken place. A.J., I can tell you last night when I was at Charlie Sheen`s house, unbeknownst to me, he went to the bathroom, and he yelled out for me to go to the bathroom and I went into the bathroom with him, and he finished off a sample of urine (ph).

Again, you know, we spoke about this drug test that (INAUDIBLE) in this way. He said here you go, here`s a bottle -- it was an empty bottle of water, he filled up a sample. We went and tested it, and I can tell you, A.J., it came back negative.

HAMMER: Now, there you go. Another drug test from Charlie Sheen, but I do think that there will be people and professionals who will be brought in certainly if his, what some are calling, erratic behavior continues in these interviews, but Dylan Howard, it certainly has been interesting to watch it unfold, and we appreciate you taking the time with us for the "Showbiz News Maker Interview."

HOWARD: Thanks, A.J.

HAMMER: Well, Charlie Sheen`s big media blitz may be bad news for his personal life, but hey, it`s given TV network a huge boost. One example, Sheen`s big tell-all on Tuesday night gave 20-20 its highest 10:00 p.m. ratings in two years. That`s pretty unbelievable.

Right now, there`s more big news breaking we got to get to you today. Simon who? The new season of "American Idol" is sizzling, even without original, mean judge, Simon Cowell. Ratings for Tuesday night`s big live show featuring new judges, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, they were actually up 11 percent from last year.

And that brings us to our "Showbiz Flashpoint," did "Idol" needs Simon after all?

To Maggie Furlong, West Coast editor for AOL Television & Moviefone, Maggie, I`ve actually come to really like this new mix. I didn`t think I would at the beginning, but what do you think? To our "Showbiz Flashpoint," does "Idol" even need Simon anymore?

FURLONG: I don`t think I don`t need Simon at all. I think J-Lo offers a little bit of heart. I think Steven Tyler is always on his game with a good quick come back and a really great critique. I think the meanness of Simon is just this thing that we built up for so long, and at the end of the day, no one needs it.

HAMMER: Ratings were understandably soft when the season first kicked off. Now, they`re back on live for the first time and the ratings are up. So, what do you think, Shelly? Simon who?

SHELLEY WADE, RADIO HOST, Z100 NEW YORK: You know what, I do agree. I do agree that everyone`s loving it. As soon as I saw Steven Tyler, the first episode, I`m like I`m loving this dude. I tweeted about it like crazy. But at the same time, you do miss Simon. I mean, that doesn`t mean you`re going to stop watching the show, but you miss it, but you know that X- Factor is coming up.

HAMMER: Yes, but bow that Steven Tyler is on, you don`t want to miss a thing.

WADE: I don`t.


HAMMER: Sorry, terrible.

WADE: Bad.

HAMMER: All right. I want to move on to another story that is making big news today. Oprah Winfrey`s new network, OWN, just dipped to its lowest ratings yet dropping 10 percent below what Discovery Health Channel was doing, and of course, that`s the network that OWN replaced. Look, Maggie, when Oprah took this over, she told us this project was going to take time and these early lows are going to happen.

But this is lower than I would think they even expected. Do you think this is a big warning sign? Do you think that this is lower than what Oprah even expected?

FURLONG: No. I definitely think Oprah knows there are ups and downs. I mean, she had ups and downs launching her own show when she first started out for Oprah Winfrey. I definitely think that they are trying to weed out the shows that are working and the shows that aren`t. So, those that are getting super low ratings, now, they`ve come on with amazing programming like, "Our America with Lisa Ling," and all of these shows that are doing rather well.

HAMMER: So, you don`t think this caught her by surprise, though, that she expected, to look, I`m Oprah Winfrey, and granted, she doesn`t walk around saying, I`m Oprah Winfrey, but perhaps, given her power and her draw that she would command at least the ratings that the network she replace would get.

FURLONG: But you can`t forget, this is premium cable. People are having to pay extra for this network. And even Oprah, herself, said on the day of launch, they were in a hotel, they were in Los Angeles, she turned on the TV, they did not have OWN, and she freaked out.


FURLONG: She was like, oh, God. This is a huge issue.

HAMMER: Shelley, here`s the thing. Of course, Oprah said once her show is done, her daytime talk show is done, she`s going to be much more hands on with the Oprah Network than she is right now. Personally, I think, that is exactly the shot in the arm that the network is going to need to grow to the heights it`s opening to achieve.

WADE: That`s the point I was going to make. I was like, well, she`s dedicated to the Oprah Winfrey Show right now. It`s over what, May 25th? So, after that, she`s going to dedicate all of her time to that. And plus, you know, you have people like me. I pay extra for the Oprah Winfrey Network.

You know, I`m going to be there for her. Right now, there`s not enough original programming to keep it on the network, but as soon as she gets more programming, you know, we`ll look at it more.

HAMMER: OK. So, people need to chill out.

WADE: Yes.

HAMMER: Don`t start waving the flag just yet.

WADE: Calm down, people, calm down.

HAMMER: We just need to make sure because we love Oprah Winfrey.

WADE: Yes.

HAMMER: We want this to go well for her.

WADE: Everything she touches turns to gold, so we can`t count her out, yet.

HAMMER: All right. Shelley Wade and Maggie Furlong, I thank you both.

WADE: Thank you, A.J.

HAMMER: Let`s move on to Kim Kardashian. Kim K., the pop star? Yes, that`s right. Kim K. makes her debut as a pop star today.



HAMMER (voice-over): Make it stop, make it stop. We`ll get your first look in a Kim Kardashian`s new song called "Jam". Somebody actually e- mailed me today and told me it was the worst song they`ve ever heard. I don`t know about that, but should Kim turn up her singing career or put down the mic for good? That is next.

Also a brand new Hollywood couple`s alert today. Ready for this? Scarlett Johansson and -- wait for it -- Sean Penn. Are they really a couple? If they are, do you love them or hate them?

And are you ready for this? Snooki says she wants to be the next Jessica Simpson. Seriously, that`s what she`s saying, but can she do it?

This is Showbiz Tonight on HLN, news and views.


HAMMER (on-camera): And now, the "Showbiz News Ticker," more stories from the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom, making news today.





HAMMER (voice-over): Oh, yes. It`s Kim Kardashian`s brand new song just revealed today. Kim K.`s new single "Jam" which has made its worldwide debut. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT wants to know, is Kim`s big singing debut a huge hit or is just a major miss?


HAMMER (on-camera): Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York. And today, Kim Kardashian the singer. Yes, Kim K. has a few reality show. She`s got fashion line, a perfume line and now, she can maybe add singer to her resume, but should Kim`s first attempt at singing be her only attempt?

Let me bring in "Real Housewives of Atlanta" star, NeNe Leakes. Nene is also the author of this book, "Never Make the Same Mistake Twice." Nene will also be a contestant on the upcoming season of "Celebrity Apprentice." And Nene Leakes, let me just say, it is a pleasure, although, through the cameras, to meet you, Nene. It`s great having you here.


HAMMER: I`ve seen you on the real housewives. You hold nothing back. So, I`m expecting complete and utter honesty here. What do you think of Kim K.`s new song? Do you love it or do you hate it?

LEAKES: You know, I haven`t really heard the song. I saw her in the studio. The Dream is a great producer. I don`t know. I can`t really comment on it that well. But I have been around lots of people who can`t sing. I think you know that.

HAMMER: Yes, I do.


HAMMER: And you certainly know what that`s about and also what can be done to kind of make them sound like they can sing. And look, I`m going to be honest, and I`ve become this sort of big supporter of Kim K.`s lately, but I`m not rushing to the store to buy the CD or to my iTune`s account, but Km K., and here`s the problem I`m having. She says all the proceeds are going to go to the St. Jude`s Children`s Hospital.

I want to go over to TV journalist, Taryn Winter Brill. Look, I hope this charity makes a ton of money. I mean, St. Jude`s is amazing, Taryn, but sadly, that does not make the song easier to stomach, does it?

TARYN WINTER BRILL, TV JOURNALIST: I agree. It`s all for a good cause, however, I heard the song a couple of times, A.J., and I thought Kim, don`t quit your day job, but then, I thought, what is her day job? What does she do?

HAMMER: Well, she has some multitude of things.

BRILL: I guess.

HAMMER: No. And this is why I give her a lot of credit.

LEAKES: She`s done a lot.

HAMMER: I give her a lot of credit lately for branching out and for making a ton of money, and all the people who say, what does she do? Now, I think she has a genuine cottage industry going. I just think the singing thing, and I`m sorry, Kim, that`s just -- I don`t think I`m telling you anything that somebody hasn`t already told you.

Another reality star that`s making big news today. We got to talk about "Jersey Shore" Snooki. Now, Snooki says she wants to be the next Jessica Simpson. Listen to what she said in the brand-new interview in the upcoming issue of "Rolling Stone" magazine. She`s likely basically saying she plans on building an empire after she`s done with her "Jersey Shore" days.

Here`s what she`s saying. "When "Jersey Shore" ends, I`m going to do more spinoffs." What actually in this quite she`s saying, "What I`d like to do is turn out like Jessica Simpson with her whole brand. She makes millions. I`m trying to build an empire because after this, I can`t get a normal job. I mean, how do I go and sit behind a desk?"

Snooki, I think a desk job is not the right thing for you either, but you`re eyeing Jessica Simpson`s empire. To me, that could be a stretch, but NeNe, you`re a reality star, yourself, what do you think about Snooki`s grand plans to build a post-"Jersey Shore" empire a la Jessica Simpson. Is she being realistic?

LEAKES: Well, I just want to say, for all you haters out there, don`t hate on the reality stars because we are doing it. The other person said a few minutes ago, what does Kim K. do? She does a lot. She is making mega millions. Don`t be a hater. And listen at this, Snooki can do anything right now. We are on huge platforms. And we are getting offered all kinds of things on the daily basis just from being a reality star. So, don`t hate, appreciate.

HAMMER: But let me ask you about that, NeNe, you know, what about the fact that yes, you know -- look, you know that there are people who say, OK, so, these people are being offered all of this because they`re a reality star. Some people -- for some people, there`s a huge disconnect there that there should be all these offers out there.

LEAKES: Well, you know what, we`re just in the game. We didn`t make the rules of the game. And this is just how it is, OK? So, we are reality stars, and we are getting a lot of offers. And reality stars are millionaires now. I mean, if you don`t like it, then you should become a reality star. Don`t hate because we chose to be reality stars and make money. Nobody`s hating on you for what you do for a living.

HAMMER: And, listen, the other thing I`ve always said, NeNe, you`d probably agree with this, if you don`t want to buy something that somebody is pushing because they`re a reality star, then don`t buy it. But obviously, plenty of people are in your case, in Snooki`s case, and in Kim K.`s case.

But right now, let me get to another story that is making big news today. Are Scarlett Johansson and Sean Penn a couple? Now, Scarlett and Sean were seeing, spotted having a lunch date in L.A. and Scarlett made herself really comfortable by resting her leg on Sean Penn`s lap. Neither have confirmed they`re dating, but let me ask you, Taryn, look, Scarlett Johansson and Sean Penn as a couple, love them or hate them?

BRILL: You know, I think we have to see. As far as I know, I think they connected over their mutual interest in Haiti, which holds some merit, I think.


BRILL: He`s twice her age, but that`s Hollywood for you. Let see what happens.

HAMMER: All right. I agree. And just because people are having lunch doesn`t mean they`re dating. But Nene, love it or hate it to this couple possibility of Sean Penn and Scarlett Johansson?

LEAKES: I like Scarlett. I think she`s gorgeous. And if she wants to date an older man, I`m all for it. I married someone that was 13 years older than me. I know he`s quite older than her, but whatever makes you happy. I mean, go for it.

HAMMER: I agree with that. And wow. What a bright and gifted person Sean Penn is. NeNe Leakes, Taryn Winter Brill, thank you both so much. NeNe we are looking forward to watching you on "Celebrity Apprentice" this Sunday night on NBC. Thanks for being here, NeNe.

LEAKES: Thank you.

HAMMER: Big revelations from the Queen of Soul today.


HAMMER (voice-over): Aretha Franklin speaking out for the first time on camera about her big health scare.

ARETHA FRANKLIN, SINGER: The pain was so hard that it almost brought me to my knees. And then, maybe a month or so, after that, I was in Boston in concert, and then, I got another pain in the side. So, I said the concerts are over.

HAMMER: And you`ve got to see what ReRe said that moved Wendy Williams to tears, next.

This is Showbiz Tonight on HLN, news and views.


HAMMER (on-camera): Time for the "Showbiz News Ticker," more stories from the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom, making news today.


ELLEN DEGENERES, HOST: You think you`re done or do you want to have a whole bunch?

MATT DAMON, ACTOR: No, we`re done. This is a whole bunch. I don`t know how people with more than four do it. I mean, and we rely on our oldest one a lot. It`s like, sometimes, we just leave her with all the kids.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When will you decide if you`re going to run for president?

DONALD TRUMP, BUSINESS MAGNATE: Right after the "Celebrity Apprentice."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you will announce it on our air?

TRUMP: Well, I may do that.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Make a commitment.

TRUMP: But sometimes prior to June.

HAMMER (voice-over): So, will Donald Trump run for president? Hey, you got to love the Donald. He is not shy at all about plugging his favorite subject, himself. Trump on the "Today Show" today, Donald said maybe he`ll run for the White House in 2012. I guess, we`ll have to wait until the end of the cycle of "Celebrity Apprentice" to see if he will officially throw his hat into the race.


HAMMER (on-camera): But mark my words right now, Donald not running.

All right. Moving on now to big news about the Queen of soul Today, Aretha Franklin speaking out in her first on-cam interview today since her big health scare back in December. Now, Aretha said down with Wendy Williams, and she revealed that she has lost an unbelievable 85 pounds. Wendy asked the 68-year-old Aretha about her health, and Aretha set the record straight.


WENDY WILLIAMS, HOST: You had a pain in your side?

FRANKLIN: Yes, that was my first inkling that something was not what it should be. The pain was so hard, though, it almost brought me to my knees.

WILLIAMS: So, you cancelled your tour?


WILLIAMS: In December, we all found out that you were having abdominal surgery.

FRANKLIN: Is that what you heard?

WILLIAMS: Well, that`s what was said.

FRANKLIN: OK. Well, a lot of things were said. I left that behind. I`m feeling wonderful. I`m feeling great.


FRANKLIN: And I couldn`t be feeling any better that what I`m feeling right now.


HAMMER: And really, that`s what`s important. Look straight. And another big revelation. Aretha actually brought Wendy Williams to tears. Now, a couple of years ago on her talk show, Wendy, who`s a former cocaine addict, had some tough love for Aretha`s god daughter, Whitney Houston about Whitney`s cocaine use, and for that, Aretha showed Wendy some R-E-S-P-E-C- T.


FRANKLIN: Before we go any further, I would like to say I think you did a very good thing for Whitney in speaking in the way that you did at one point.

WILLIAMS: That means a lot.



WILLIAMS: How`s she doing now?

FRANKLIN: She`s doing very well. She`s doing very well. Yes. Doing very well.


FRANKLIN: And sometimes, all it takes is just someone to say certain things, you know.

WILLIAMS: Thanks, Miss Franklin.


HAMMER: Wow. When I spoke with Aretha during the Grammy Awards, she sounded fantastic. She looks amazing. Aretha, can`t wait to see you back on stage.

Well, on Tuesday, we asked you to vote on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT exclusive poll. Just moments ago, I got these final results. Charlie Sheen`s bizarre behavior, did you feel sorry for him? 13 percent say, yes, he clearly has problems, but an overwhelming 87 percent of you say no way. Are you kidding me?

Well, that is it for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. Thank you for watching. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is live at 5:00 p.m. eastern Monday through Friday. We`re still TV`s most provocative entertainment news show seven days a week at 11:00 p.m. eastern and pacific here on HLN.