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A Special Tribute to Whitney Houston who Died Saturday

Aired February 13, 2012 - 23:00:00   ET



A.J. HAMMER, HLN HOST (voice-over): Big news breaking tonight on "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT."

The Whitney Houston death mystery. New details revealed today about why Whitney may have died. Was it a fatal mix of prescription drugs and alcohol? Did Whitney drown?

Tonight, the brand new revelations from the Coroner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can look at a body and not know what the cause of death is. You might have a suspicion, but the person could have suffered a heart attack or an embolism or something.

Plus, "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" breaks big news. We`re the very first to learn where Whitney will be laid to rest.

One music legend remembers another. Gloria Estefan is right here tonight for an extraordinary showbiz newsmaker interview.

Tears and tributes at the Grammys. "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" goes one on one with music`s biggest stars as they share with us their remarkable personal Whitney memories.

Plus, Jennifer Hudson`s heart-wrenching tribute.

Tonight the showbiz flash point. Did the Grammys do too much, too little or did they get Whitney`s tribute just right?

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


HAMMER: Hello and thank you for watching. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York with big news breaking tonight.

Why did Whitney Houston die? That was the disturbing and still unanswered question all day long today even as millions of people around the world recovered from the shock that one of the greatest entertainers in a generation had mysteriously died in a Beverly Hills hotel room.

"SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" can tell you that there are certainly new clues tonight, and for fans and stars alike, her death seems so, so senseless. Tonight, we have got this covered like no other entertainment news show.

"SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s" Kareen Wynter is with us from the police station in Beverly Hills. "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s" Nischelle Turner is in Hollywood tonight where "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" first broke the news today about Whitney Houston`s funeral.

Also, with us tonight, three legends in their own right with their thoughts about the legendary Whitney. Penny Marshall who directed Whitney in "the preacher`s wife," music legend Gloria Estefan and Steven Van Zandt who with Bruce Springsteen and his legendary band opened the Grammys show last night as it paid tribute to Whitney. They`ll all join us in this upcoming hour.

But we begin tonight with "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s" Kareen Wynter and tonight`s late-breaking developments -- Kareen.

KAREEN WYNTER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: A.J., Beverly Hills police informed us just today that this is a death investigation and not a criminal case. And, A.J., boy, are they putting a whole lot of weight on that toxicology report before they can definitively say what exactly caused Houston`s death, if it were drug related or perhaps something else.

New, right now, police just confirmed to us today that it was actually a member of Houston`s entourage who found her in the bathtub of her hotel room and not a hotel staff worker. TMZ is reporting that alcohol as well as prescription meds were found in Houston`s room while these are unconfirmed reports, A.J., and police would not go there. They told me today that they are not commenting on this. An autopsy has been complete. A.J, the Coroner`s office also told us today they`re not confirming any of those reports out there as to how Houston died. They say right now, this is an ongoing investigation.


ED WINTER, LOS ANGELES CORONER`S OFFICE: I had a conversation with the family at the hotel, and at no time did I discuss prescription meds or the drowning issue. I don`t know if the detectives discussed that with the family, but, no, we have not released any information like that. The case is still pending. We`re waiting for tox -- pathology and toxicology and the investigation is ongoing.


WYNTER: And those toxicology results could come back within the next six to eight weeks or, of course, much sooner -- A.J.

HAMMER: All right. "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s" Kareen Wynter. We`ll obviously, all be waiting to find out exactly what comes with those results. And with all of the mysteries around Whitney Houston, one of them may have been cleared up today.

This morning on a special live edition of "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" right here on HLN, we broke the news about where Whitney Houston`s funeral will take place. "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s" Nischelle Turner was also live with me this morning. She is in Hollywood tonight -- Nischelle.

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: A.J., today`s "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" was the first to confirm Whitney Houston`s body would be flown from Los Angeles to her home state of New Jersey. Now, ever since Whitney died on Saturday, we`ve been seeing that priceless video of a young Whitney singing at her home church in Newark, New Jersey, in the hours after her death, there were all kinds of speculation about where her funeral would be. Well, we now know the where. So what about the when? Sources close to Houston tell "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" that the funeral will likely be held on Friday or Saturday, A.J.

HAMMER: And of course, we`ll have complete coverage of that. "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s" Nischelle Turner, thank you so much.

You know, it`s really remarkable if you just take a step back and consider all that Whitney Houston accomplished in her 48 years. I mean, obviously, we think of all the great music, her outstanding voice. And we think about her hit movies. One of her great on-screen successes, was the 1996 film "the preacher`s wife." "The preacher`s wife" was directed by a huge star in her own right, Penny Marshall.

Penny is with us from Hollywood for this showbiz newsmaker interview. Sorry, it`s under these circumstances but great to have you here. Thank you for being with us.


HAMMER: Tell me where you were when you heard the sad news which has to be an unimaginable time for you.

MARSHALL: I was actually in the shower getting ready to get dressed to go to Clive Davis` party which I do every year. And Terry who works for me came running in. And I couldn`t hear because the shower was running and then as soon as I got out, my friend Liz Mullan who was with me, her husband called from Memphis to tell me because he was there and Bobby Brown`s group was there. And so that`s how I found out. So it was, do I stay home and cry or do I go and be with other people who loved her? So I went.

HAMMER: And you did go to the party. And Whitney has always been a fixture at Clive`s party. I remember seeing her perform there years ago. It just was never the same if she wasn`t there. And, of course, they had to make the decision, what do we do? I think it was the right decision for them to go on with the party but it sounds like you did struggle with what you should do. Are you happy in the end that they did throw the party? Clive got to speak and you were able to be there surrounded by Whitney`s friends?

MARSHALL: Yes. I mean, was rather than sitting home. And I was there to support Clive. And Sean Combs did a wonderful speech. And -- as well. And you know, you see people you know who cared about her so much. So that helps a little bit.

And, yes, I was looking forward to seeing her because I used to see her there every year.

HAMMER: And obviously, now, Penny. We know people are revisiting all things Whitney. Her music sales way up. This is pretty standard. But I`m thinking people are going to be revisiting her movies and there`s obviously a lot to see. And "the preacher`s wife" certainly among things I hope people get the opportunity to check out. And personally, I will never forget being there at the film`s release party the night you had it in New York City. And Whitney there with Angela Bassett and the entire cast.

But Whitney, in particular, I remember being in such good spirits, so proud of the movie. It was getting so much praise. Let`s watch a bit of that.


HAMMER: So great seeing her. And it`s hard watching it even now knowing, Penny, knowing that it was a pretty troubled time in her life. In 2009, Whitney told Oprah Winfrey when she was filming your movie, "the preacher`s wife," she was doing drugs every day after shooting it. Something she`s been candid about. And obviously we`re hearing a lot today about the role prescription drugs may have played in her death.

Looking back, did you have any concerns at the time or notice any problems when you were working with her at the time?

MARSHALL: I had no problems working with her. She always knew her lines. She was happy. She would laugh. She was very funny, by the way. And there she is skating on melted ice in Portland, Maine where it melted and we had to go to cover and we went to free port and bought at the outlet stores.

But she was very happy. She wasn`t depressed. She wasn`t, you know, sad. She was actually very funny and knew her lines. She sang beautifully. And she at least went and got back to doing her gospel routes. So I didn`t see her doing any drugs, nor did I see any effect of them on her.

HAMMER: You mentioned --

MARSHALL: I`ve been around a lot of people.

HAMMER: Yes. You have certainly spent your time in the thick of it there in Hollywood. You know, you mentioned her humor, something she was known for. As we`re mourning her loss, as somebody who really did know her well, what would you like all of us to remember about Whitney?

MARSHALL: How talented she was. What a happy, sweet person she was. There wasn`t meanness in Whitney. And she had a great sense of humor. When we were at Jazzies, where she sang, "I believe in miracles," Lionel Richie, I had cast because I like to cast people who can actually play the piano and so -- and who could sing. And it was his first acting role and Denzel bang the table in the middle of dialogue.

HAMMER: Hopefully it is helpful to talk about her, and I really do appreciate your being here.

MARSHALL: Thank you so much.

HAMMER: Penny Marshall.

Alright, as we move on tonight, the most anticipated moment of the Grammys, certainly Jennifer Hudson`s take on Whitney`s anthem, "I will always love you."


HAMMER: Here`s what I want to know tonight. Did the Whitney tributes hit the right notes? Tonight, I`m going to ask that of two music legends. I want to know what they thought. I want to find bought their take on all of the biggest and best Grammy moments.

The great Gloria Estefan right here for an extraordinary show biz newsmaker interview and I`m so excited to welcome back the great Steven Van Zandt. He will be here tonight as well. He helped open the Grammys, of course, performing with Bruce and the E street band.

Steven is sharing his remarkable personal Whitney memories in another showbiz newsmaker interview.

Wendy breaks down. One of Whitney`s most explosive interviews about her drug use was with talk show host, Wendy Williams, who suffered through her own drug battle. Well, this morning, Wendy broke down on live TV with a tearful good-bye.


WENDY WILLIAMS, TALK SHOW HOST: Whitney and I, same age and both plagued with the demon of substance abuse.


HAMMER: This is "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" on HLN news and views.

Whitney`s passing set the tone for the evening, but it wasn`t all tears at the Grammy awards last night. Bruno Mars lit up the stage and he made sure to give a very special shout-out to the one and only Whitney Houston.


BRUNO MARS, SINGER: Tonight we celebrate music. Tonight we celebrate a beautiful Miss Whitney Houston. So get off your rich asses and let`s have come some fun.



HAMMER: Tonight, show biz breaks news with one of Whitney Houston`s closest friends. Gospel`s star, Kim Burrell, was supposed to be with Whitney the very night that Whitney Houston died.

Tonight, Kim is here and she tells me about her final phone calls with Whitney. It`s another headline making showbiz newsmaker interview.

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

And people all over the world are still in complete shock over the loss of Whitney Houston. And that shock is obviously even more deep for her closest friends like gospel singer, Kim Burrell.

Now, they`ve been trading phone calls for hours before Whitney`s death trying to connect right before Clive Davis` pre-Grammy party on Saturday night. But sadly, as we all know, that never happened.

Kim Burrell just revealed to me what her last moments with Whitney were like and how Whitney`s 18-year-old daughter Bobbi Kristina is holding up.


HAMMER: Kim, I so appreciate you being with us. This has to be an impossible time for you. Thank you for being here.

KIM BURRELL, GOSPEL SINGER: I appreciate this opportunity.

HAMMER: And I know you`re enjoying sharing memories of your dear friend, Whitney Houston. I want you to take me back to the days before she passed away because you had spent some time with her. You had spoken with her. And by many of the accounts that I`m seeing, she seemed to be in great spirits leading up to the Dave her death, had a lot of things to be excited for.

When you reflect back on your interaction with her, do you now see any sense that anything could have been wrong with her?

BURRELL: No. As usual, Whitney had such a high spirit and a high level of expectation of fun and she was just a big ball of joy. Most of what I knew about her. But the fortunate side of things for me and slightly unfortunate is that, I spoke to her when I landed Saturday in hopes that we would get together right away. We were going to see each other before the actual party. And she left a message on my phone which I`ll keep as long as I ever can, and when I called her back, of course, by then she, was gone.

HAMMER: So how did you learn the news because I imagine that has to have been such an unimaginable moment for you?

BURRELL: It was horrible. I just got to the hotel room and Pat Houston who has been Whitney`s sister-in-law and manager for over 20-plus years called me. And Pat said, Kim, get here right away. Get to the hotel. I said what`s wrong? She said get here right away. And I started getting an influx of telephone calls because of people knowing Whitney and my relationship. And I just refused to answer because I heard the panic in Pat`s voice. And so I just kept driving. And I got there. And unfortunately Whitney was gone and it was a horrible, horrible, horrible moment for me.

HAMMER: Everybody`s thoughts are with Whitney`s family and her 18-year-old daughter Bobbi Kristina in particular. Who we were all shocked to learn she was hospitalized twice over the weekend after her mother`s death. I know you talked to her on Saturday. Can you give us a sense how she is doing because we are greatly concerned, obviously.

BURRELL: I`m proud to see that Bobbi Kristina is doing fairly well. She is in a whole lot better than when I saw her on Saturday. I was able to sit with her and love on her and hug her and pray with her. And to be expected, she was extremely overwhelmed and devastated by this. And being only a few feet away from her mother`s body, that was not a fun thing for us to have to witness with Bobbi Kristina. But she is fighting very hard to be better. And those of us around her are making sure of that.

I can assure you that as faithful as Pat Houston has been and was to Whitney`s life, she is continuing that faithfulness and love to Whitney by seeing to her daughter. And you must know without a shadow of a doubt, after talk with Pat last night, and things are getting better for Bobbi Kristina. And she`s taking it extremely hard, which is to be expected.

HAMMER: Of course.

BURRELL: But, we`re all in prayer for her.

HAMMER: Yes. It`s great to hear that things are turning around as far as at least how she`s doing right now. I know she has your support, Kim which is tremendous.

Kim Burrell, thank you and our condolences. And again, our condolences.

BURRELL: Thank you so much.

HAMMER: The sudden loss of a superstar, a stirring tribute by a rising star. Jennifer Hudson`s touching tribute to Whitney Houston last night at the Grammy awards.


HAMMER: So what do you think? Did the Whitney tribute hit the right note? One music legend remembers another. Gloria Estefan opens up about Whitney and about the biggest and the best moments at the Grammys. Gloria breaks news in tonight`s showbiz newsmaker interview.

This is "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" on HLN news and views.

HAMMER: Whitney`s influence on fans and stars crossed generation from Diana Ross to Britney Spears. Whitney made a lasting impression.


DIANA ROSS, RECORDING ARTIST: Such an incredible voice. You know, she`s just a beautiful, beautiful face. I remember the first time I saw her first on records. You know, just a beautiful girl.

BRITNEY SPEARS, RECORDING ARTIST: I was the biggest fan of hers. She influenced me so much growing up and it`s really devastating, and shocking, really shocking. They`ll definitely be in our prayers, you know. She sent so much love out to the world and she was an inspiration for so many people. You know, we`re there with her. So --


HAMMER: We are all mourning the loss of a gifted artist gone too soon. It`s been especially painful for Whitney Houston`s fellow musicians. I`m talking about the people who worked with her, admired her, aspired to be like her.

"SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s" Nischelle Turner caught up with many of them before the Grammys on the red carpet which has to have been a show, a red carpet like no other, I imagine.

TURNER: A.J., absolutely. It was such a surreal experience to be on this really somber red carpet. Now, many of the stars I spoke with from Tony Bennett to Fergie and LL Cool J, tried to keep their spirits high as they remembered the permanent mark that Whitney Houston made on music and the world.


LL COOL J, HOST, 54TH ANNUAL GRAMMY AWARDS: I`ve known Whitney a long time. I remember sitting in those seats and just being amazed at how many recordS she`s sold. Yes, it`s tough.

TONY BENNETT, RECORDING ARTIST: Everybody was like, wow, right on top of it, you know. Like what`s happening? They just got the word. It was unexpected that it happened to the great Whitney Houston, you know. The greatest singer I ever heard.

FERGIE, RECORDING ARTIST: There is no other Whitney Houston. Her tone, just her tone by itself was so unique and, I mean, no other singer could ever match that. It was just so wonderful. She just had that spirit. That smile from here to here. She was just Whitney.

JOHN LEGEND, RECORDING ARTIST: As I`ve grown older and we`ve gone into (INAUDIBLE) where I feel like most popular singers can`t really sing. Whitney Houston could really, really sing. And she was beautiful and she had great songs. You know she, had the whole thing. So we lost somebody amazing.


HAMMER: She had the whole thing. Nischelle, I think the great John Legend got it exactly right.

"SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s" Nischelle Turner, thank you so much.

Time for the showbiz line-up. Here`s what`s coming up at the bottom of the hour on "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT." LL Cool J`s powerful prayer.


LL COOL J: Heavenly father, we thank you for sharing our sister Whitney with us. Today, our thoughts are with her mother, her daughter and all of her loved ones.


HAMMER: So, did the Grammy tributes hit the right note? Well tonight, we` are going to ask two music legends what they thought of that performance and about all of the big Grammy moments. There she is, the great Gloria Estefan here for an extraordinary Grammy showbiz newsmaker interview.

And Steven Van Zandt here who helped open the Grammys perform with Bruce and the E street band. And tonight, Steve shares his Whitney memories.

This is "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" on HLN news and views.

HAMMER: What Whitney`s music mentor, the legendary Clive Davis, is among those who are truly heartbroken today over her death. But as Clive told the crowd at his annual star-studded pre-Grammy party, Whitney of all people most certainly would have wanted the show to go on.


CLIVE DAVIS, WHITNEY HOUSTON`S MENTOR: Whitney was a beautiful person, and she had a talent beyond compare. She graced this stage with her regal presence so many times giving so many memorable performances here over the years. So simply put, Whitney would have wanted the music to go on, and her family asked that we carry on.




HAMMER (voice-over): Big news breaking tonight on "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT." A tribute to Whitney.

Jennifer Hudson sings one of the most famous Whitney Houston songs of all time in memory of the icon, one of the most emotional tributes at the Grammys last night. But did it hit the right note?

Tonight, two music legends are in the house. Gloria Estefan will tell us what she thinks about Jennifer`s performance and all the big Grammy moments. And Bruce Springsteen`s right-hand man, Steven Van Zandt also here. He`ll tell us what it was like to open the Grammys and say good-bye to Whitney, and Wendy Williams` dramatic breakdown on camera over Whitney Houston`s death.

WILLIAMS: Whitney and I, same age, and both plagued with the demon of substance abuse.

HAMMER: Tonight, Wendy`s tearful confession and why she says Whitney`s death hits so close to home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE 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 in New York with our continuing coverage, of course, of the death of Whitney Houston.

We learned today, it may still be a few weeks before we know why Whitney died. "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" was the very first to break the news today that her funeral is expected to be held in her hometown in New Jersey later this week. Whitney`s sudden death on Saturday, the night before the Grammys, was both a spoken and unspoken presence last night at the Grammy awards. But there was a lot to celebrate on music`s biggest night. And some moments, many of us will never forget including, of course, Jennifer Hudson`s chilling rendition of one of Whitney`s greatest hits ever, "I will always love you."

With me tonight for a showbiz newsmaker interview, a good friend, multiple Grammy award winner, Gloria Estefan who has an amazing new video out called "Hotel Nacional." We are going to show it you -- great to see you -- in just a few minutes.

It`s great to have you here always. And I should point you out. We had you booked to be here weeks ago we had set this up to celebrate "Hotel Nacional." The song is now number one on the dance charts. Of course, it`s impossible to ignore the news.


HAMMER: I know you knew Whitney. You went to her wedding to Bobby Brown after all.


HAMMER: And last night, the Grammys really had this opportunity to pay tribute in a respectful way, which I think they pulled off. There was the prayer by LL Cool J. He said to everybody right at the beginning of the show, we can`t ignore this. And I think he really set the tone and had a proper balance to the night, don`t you?

ESTEFAN: I agree. I agree. You have to talk about it. She`s one of our biggest stars, amazing singer. Someone unequaled, really, in our field, and, yes, I mean, I can`t say that I was a close friend of Whitney`s. Many times during our lives, she invited us to her wedding.

I met her when we were both practicing in Miami for our tours in 1991. She was always the sweetest, nicest person. Very giving and loving and, of course, you have to send her off in -- the Grammys was a great place to do it.

HAMMER: Sure. I`m sure you`d run into her at the Grammys year after year because you really battled on the charts for many of the same years throughout the `80s and the `90s.

ESTEFAN: Well, I was a fan, a huge fan. The first time I heard Whitney`s "Saving All My Love For You" I was in Japan and I wore out that CD. I was a huge fan. And I said, my God. What a wonderful voice, so special.

HAMMER: And I`m certain it was mutual. She was a sweetheart.

For both of you became successful because of your voices long before there was any computer that was making anybody`s voice sound the way they do now. But listen, Gloria. I mean, you have special insight into what the pressure is like to have so many millions of people watching your every move and really looking for what`s next from you.

And I -- I can`t help but think, with Whitney particularly as her voice was not the same in later years, that has to have put an immense amount of pressure on her and perhaps led to many of the issues that she had.

ESTEFAN: I`m sure it did. Look. People tend to forget that celebrities are human beings. We live our lives. We try to do what we love. And -- which is music. And to share it with everyone and our job usually is to entertain and to make people forget their troubles.

So, things like this really hit home. We become like family to our friends. And, you know, her gift, which was a true gift. I mean, since she was a little girl. She had this amazing voice. So when you lose that as well, it`s got to be pressure. And lately, the entertainment, the music business, particularly, has taken major turns and we`ve all had to adapt to the new world in music.

And all those things put pressure on. Add to that the fact that you know, everyone is watching your every move. So, I`m sure there are pressures. And like anyone else, you know, we go through a lot of tough times, but in the public eye. It`s tough. It must have been very difficult for her.

HAMMER: And I know you`ll miss her as much as we all will.

ESTEFAN: Yes, I will.

HAMMER: We`ve talked about the changes that go on in the music business. That, I believe, is also been reflected in what`s going on at the Grammys every year. A much different show in 2012 than it was back in 1985.

ESTEFAN: Very much so.

HAMMER: And that is reflected in so many ways. You never know what to expect. Can we put up a shot? I don`t know. Let`s see Nikki Minaj, for instance. There it is.

ESTEFAN: I miss that performance.

HAMMER: Yes. Shows up sort of little red riding hood doing a mini film about an exorcism. I don`t think we would have seen that back in 1985. I could be wrong about that.

ESTEFAN: Wouldn`t have seen it on the stage, but we had Alice Cooper in --

HAMMER: That`s true.

ESTEFAN: Exactly. We had a performance artist now. It`s just, you know, it`s getting more about performance and, you know, over the top stuff. More and more people are doing it. Everybody does their own thing.

HAMMER: Yes. Lady Gaga, great example, who does her own thing. If we can put up a shot of her from last night wearing some kind of -- I don`t know. It looked like a fish netting mask to me.

ESTEFAN: The scepter was nice. I like that touch.

HAMMER: So, you think it is artists being artists for artist`s sake or do you think sometimes, maybe it`s a little too much and they are just trying too hard? I don`t think for Gaga in particular.

ESTEFAN: It`s theater. I mean its theater. How much is who they actually are? Who knows? I mean. But it`s good that they have the freedom to do it. I mean, I think it`s great that everybody do their own thing in their own way. You know, you have Gaga, you have Nikki Minaj that are very much over the top in their fashion and their performances. And then you have this amazing performance by Alicia Keys and Bonnie Raitt which is killer and still phenomenal and Jennifer Hudson and Adele.

HAMMER: And of course, Adele, going home with a clean sweep of six Grammys. And all she needs to do is stand in front of the mike and sing. Does it get more perfect than that?

ESTEFAN: Let me tell you something. I`m such a huge Adele fan. Those songs have touched people. She deserves all those wins. And I love that she`s a singer, a girl, you know, that`s up there that happens to sing and she says it very much in the interview she did in "60 Minutes" before that. And you know, everybody has their own image. As long as you are doing what makes you happy and what you truly are. It`s all good.

HAMMER: And that`s why you`ve always had great success. Right now, as I mention, "Hotel Nacional," number one on the dance charts. But this video, I`m dying to show this to people. Let`s roll out the video where you pay homage to the bird cage and also the rocky horror picture show. Let`s take this full, Charles.


HAMMER: Yes. I defy, not anybody could dance in their chair when they see that. Did I see Susan Lucci, you did? What`s going on?

ESTEFAN: Well, you know what? I was writing the song with Emilio. And we had the hoochy coochy, which is the dance. Hoochy coochy can be whatever you enjoy doing. And I go -- you know, drama is on like Susan Lucci because she is like stands for this whole genre. She was the sweetest, nicest, most generous person. She came down and became a part of the video which is a little mini film in tribute to these cult films.

And I love it. I co-wrote it with my son, Naiyb (ph). That middle section with the swing, my daughter co-produced with me because it was her idea to do this whole dance. She`s playing drums. She does a cameo in the film. Family affair, we had a great time doing it. I co-directed with the great Kenny Ortega.

HAMMER: Please tell your family I say hello. So, great to see you, Gloria.

ESTEFAN: I will. Thank you so much.

HAMMER: The great Gloria Estefan. And make sure you check out the entire music video. Show it to all your friends. "Hotel Nacional" is online at

Well, it was a moment at the Grammys we`re all going to remember when Jennifer Hudson got up there and did her captivating tribute to Whitney.


HAMMER: I think Jennifer`s performance was spot on. But did the Grammys` tribute to Whitney hit the right note? I`m going to ask someone right in the room seeing it all happen live. Steven Van Zandt is here from must-see showbiz newsmaker interview.

And talk show host Wendy Williams breaks down in tears over Whitney Houston`s death.


WILLIAMS: Whitney and I, same age, and both plagued with the demon of substance abuse.


HAMMER: So tough. Tonight, Wendy`s tearful confession and why Whitney`s death hit so close to home.

This is "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" on HLN news and views.

HAMMER: Now remembering Whitney at her peak. A Grammy performance that, as far as I`m concerned, set the bar for everybody else.




HAMMER: What a great way to open up the Grammy show last night, Bruce and the E street band. And, of course, right by Bruce`s side, his longtime band member, his chief collaborator Steven Van Zandt. They certainly look like they were having a great time. But what was it really like to perform with Whitney Houston`s death overshadowing the show?

Welcome back to "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT." And last night at the Grammys, everyone was waiting to see how the show would pay tribute to Whitney Houston.

Before the tribute happened, Bruce Springsteen and the E street band kicked off the show with that amazing performance. But what was it like to be the very first act knowing that Whitney was on the minds of so many people in that audience.

Steven Van Zandt is with me from Hollywood. The former "soprano" star has got his mobster Mojo back for a great new TV show, just a view to exclusively on Netflix, it`s called "Lilyhammer."

And Steven, it always great to see you, great to have you back. Sorry under these circumstances, but I appreciate you being here.


HAMMER: So, you know, I`m watching you guys. I just had a smile on my face watching you perform. My immediate thought seeing you up there with Bruce and the band was that you were genuinely having a great time performing there at the show.

But I got to know, even as the seasoned vets that you are. Was it at least a little daunting being the first act out of the gate considering the mood that was hanging over the Grammys after Whitney`s death?

VAN ZANDT: Well, not really. We`ve been doing all kinds of things for a long time. I think after you do the super bowl, nothing is particularly daunting.

HAMMER: And I imagine you want to go in there and just make people smile, too. That has to be a part of it. Let`s do what we do. This is why we`re here.

VAN ZANDT: There`s a lot of discussions about you know -- I mean, look, we were already carrying the loss of Clarence Clemmons and others as well. You know Etta James and Amy Winehouse. So, there is always that`s always going to be there. It`s always going to be a little sad. There`s always going to be that tragedy. And, of course, we live with that.

But, you know, we go on stage intending to be, you know, inspirational. I mean, that`s what we do. So, you know, you kind of -- you end up celebrating the lives of those people rather than, you know, turning it into a funeral, you know. I think their work will live forever and we celebrate that.

HAMMER: And to that end, Steven, sitting there in the audience, we saw what we saw on TV. But sitting there in the audience, do you feel the Grammy awards struck the right tone last night? You know, so soon after the death of such an icon that they really struck a good balance?

VAN ZANDT: I really do. I think can Ken Ehrlich, who is already one of the great event producers of all time, I went to some other level last night, honestly. I think it was one of the great events of all time. I think it`s going to be looked back on as reaching a new place.

It was a very, very -- just a great show in every respect. And the right balance of paying tribute to the losses and at the same time celebrating life and celebrating the future. I think you have to do that. And I thought Ken Ehrlich did a terrific job.

HAMMER: Well, I loved the performance last night. And I have always loved you. And I`ve told you this before. Silvio on "the sopranos." Now, you are playing a mob rat who goes into the witness protection program in, of all places, "Lilyhammer," Norway. Why Steven, why?

VAN ZANDT: Did you have to use the word rat? Did you really have to, A.J.?

HAMMER: You know what, that comes from Dave Levine, our executive producer. You can take him out for that.


VAN ZANDT: It`s true, though. I can`t deny it. Why Norway? Well, because these Norwegian creator writers came to me in Norway. And said we have an idea for a show, one sentence pitch. Gangster, witness protection, "Lilyhammer", Norway.

And I said, you know what, I wasn`t intending to play a gangster again, until Scorsese (ph) calls, of course, but I can`t resist this. It`s just too good an idea. And they said they wanted me to be very involved. I became one of the writers, one of the producers. And I went over there for six months and made eight episodes.

HAMMER: Well, I`m thrilled you are back with it and look forward to seeing you next time you`re in New York. Steven, thank you so much for being with us today.

VAN ZANDT: Absolutely.

HAMMER: And you can check out Steven`s original series "Lilyhammer" on Netflix. It`s available now at

Well, the sad news of Whitney Houston`s death was on all of the star`s minds at the Grammy awards and the tributes started even before the show got under way.

"SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s" Nischelle Turner was right there with those stars on the red carpet talking to show many people.

Nischelle, I`m watching and I got the impression that people really embraced this opportunity they had before the Grammys even began to talk about how much Whitney Houston meant to them.

TURNER: Absolutely, A.J. It was, of course, a night of celebration but also a chance for these stars to remember Whitney and share their memories of how she influenced them all. Just take a look.


FERGIE: I remember watching the Grammys as a little girl. And seeing her, this shining star up on stage and just being so iconic. She was such an inspiration to me. I used to practice all of her songs "all at once", "greatest love of all." I knew every note, every word.

LADY ANTEBELLUM, RECORDING ARTIST: Actually as a female, too just the power in her voice. The powerful presence that she has, I mean, it`s always been so inspiring. And, I mean, I remember sitting in my room and listening to the bodyguard soundtrack, you know. And so, she is just someone that I have really looked up to and admired as an artist.

ADAM LEVINE, ARTIST: Whitney had a tremendous influence over everybody. And I think that everyone is realizing that the hard way now after all this time. But it`s just so shocking and so sad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE ARTIST: It feels like we lose so many of our artists so soon and too early. Whitney was the first pop singer that I fell in love with. I mean, her soul, she had a huge voice but she could play around with it. She just had so much heart.


TURNER: So amazing, A.J., to hear these artists are today described how Whitney influenced them. And just like you saw there, her influence touched women, men, it crossed generations. And like Adam Levine said, Whitney had a tremendous influence on everybody. And I will tell you. You know, you really did feel that on the red carpet.

HAMMER: Yes. And talking to Adam Levine and Lady Antebellum, country stars, rock stars, she crossed all genres in terms of who she influenced.

TURNER: Absolutely, yes, she did.

HAMMER: Wow. Well it is something that will be with us for a long time. And I think it`s terrific that people had that opportunity before the Grammys got under way to really honor her memory and then they could set the tone for more of a celebration as things fired up inside the staple centers last night.

"SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s" Nischelle Turner. Thanks so much, Nischelle.


HAMMER: Well, we move on to this. It`s pretty stunning. Wendy Williams` tearful confession about Whitney Houston.


WILLIAMS: Whitney and I, same age, and both plagued with the demon of substance abuse.


HAMMER: Wendy Williams breaks down on her talk show over Whitney`s death. Tonight, Wendy`s emotional revelation about why Whitney`s death hits so close to home for her.

This is "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" on HLN news and views.

Now, as we remember Whitney Houston, last night, Stevie Wonder did not miss his chance to give a special shout-out to Whitney and even brought his harmonica along as he took the Grammy stage.


STEVIE WONDER, RECORDING ARTIST: I just want to say to Whitney up in heaven, we all love you, Whitney Houston.




HAMMER: Whitney Houston`s death has obviously hit so many people so hard. And today we learned just how hard it has been for talk show host Wendy Williams.

Wendy broke down in tears on her show this morning. She did an infamous radio interview with Whitney Houston about her drug use step back in 2003. The two had never met in person but Wendy points out they did have a lot in common.


WILLIAMS: Whitney and I, same age, and both plagued with the demon of substance abuse. It`s been almost 15 years since I smoked last from a crack pipe. It`s been almost 15 years since I waited on Jerome Avenue in the Bronx for my drugs. She`s my jersey girl. She was a woman like me who is part of the subculture of our society, the addict.


HAMMER: That has to have taken so much strength to get on national TV and do today. Wendy implored people who know addicts to reach out to them and help.

"SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s" Nischelle Turner is back with me.

Nischelle, you know obviously, we still don`t know exactly how Whitney died. But, wow, you have to give it to Wendy Williams for sharing something so deeply personal in an effort to help other people.

TURNER: A.J., I am just more in love with Wendy Williams today than I`ve ever been. I don`t know about you. But one of the things we all love about Wendy is how candid she is, how open she is and she puts everything on the table.


TURNER: But just like you said, the courage it took to go on national television, open yourself up like that and say things like, I smoked from a crack pipe. I waited for drugs in the Bronx at the corner.

HAMMER: She`s keeping it really.

TURNER: It encourages me. It`s courage.

HAMMER: All right. Nischelle, thanks so much.

Tonight, you got to hear what Billy Ray Cyrus is saying, sharing his memories of Whitney Houston with "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT." That is next.


HAMMER: Well, one thing that is very clear in Hollywood`s reaction to Whitney Houston`s death is the personal impact she made on so many big stars. At the Grammy award last night, Billy Ray Cyrus shared his reaction with "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT."


BILLY RAY CYRUS, RECORDING ARTIST: I come here with a heavy heart. I`ve lost a friend. Someone that certainly I was a huge fan impacted a great deal by her music. Her life, as both, a singer and as an actress, I think she was a fantastic actress and just a great human being.


HAMMER: Yes, exactly. So many people are remembering her today.

And that is it for "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT." I`m A.J. Hammer. Remember, you can catch "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" exclusively weeknights. We are on at 11:00 p.m. eastern and pacific right here on HLN.

Stay right here for "Dr. Drew" coming up next. Dr. Drew draws the connections between the deaths of Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson.

"Dr. Drew" on HLN starts right now.