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October 24, 2000; Tuesday

Transcript # 00102400V17


SECTION: Entertainment

LENGTH: 3225 words

HEADLINE: Hollywood Joins Forces With U.N.; John Travolta Plays the Odds in 'Lucky Numbers'; Aimee Mann Makes Music on Her Own Terms

BYLINE: Laurin Sydney, Cynthia Tornquist, Jim Moret, Sherri Sylvester, Bill Tush, Jodi Ross

For years, glamorous women and glamorous men have used their soap boxes to promote the work of the United Nations. In celebration of U.N. Day, some of them gathered at the organization's New York headquarters. John Travolta may have prepped for his latest role by predicting the weather. He plays a meteorologist in "Lucky Numbers," co-starring Lisa Kudrow. Visit Aimee Mann's Web page, you'll find a dodo bird roosting on the site. Now, fortunately, the singer's career hasn't gone the way of the dodo, despite some troubles with her former record label. She's in the clear now, making music on her own terms.



LAURIN SYDNEY, CO-HOST: Hi there everybody, I'm Laurin Sydney back in New York, Jim Moret is in Hollywood.

And the stars were glamming it up Monday night at "Glamour" magazine's "Women of the Year" awards in New York. Sharon Stone, rocker Sheryl Crow and actress Julianne Moore were among those women being honored for their commitment to charities and good causes. Stone, who was honored for her efforts on behalf of AIDS research, used her time to promote her issue and her candidate.


SHARON STONE, ACTRESS: You need to vote for Al Gore if you care about AIDS; if you life has been touched by it; if you want to see research and a cure you need to vote that man into office it makes a difference.

QUESTION: And if were to help, what does it mean for you?

STONE: It means I have a soap box to tell you this stuff right now.


SYDNEY: For years, glamorous women and glamorous men have used their soap boxes to promote the work of the United Nations. In celebration of U.N. Day, some of them gathered at the organization's New York headquarters.

Cynthia Tornquist was there and has more.


MICHAEL DOUGLAS, ACTOR: Last year I was able to go to Albania and see a U.N. pilot program involved in trading in arms for jobs, which I think has a lot of effect.

CYNTHIA TORNQUIST, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Michael Douglas, Mia Farrow, Harry Belafonte, Susan Sarandon and Geri Halliwell were among 50 celebrities from around the world who gathered at the United Nations.

MIA FARROW, ACTRESS: I've been asked to join UNICEF on the more narrow issue of the eradication of Polio and I was asked to do so because I had Polio as a child.

TORNQUIST: They talked about ways to bring attention and support for U.N. concerns such as human rights, disarmament and drug control as well as providing assistance to developing nations and relief to refugees and children.

DOUGLAS: The people who would not normally listen to it are forced to; and in that sense I think we can make a dent.

TORNQUIST: But there's also some celebrity frustration with U.N. bureaucracy.

SUSAN SARANDON, ACTRESS: But the sense of coming back having experienced so much and feeling like you've done so little, I find really, really upsetting and frustrating.

QUESTION: Interesting point. Why do you not have the mechanism? Is it that the U.N. structure isn't in place?

SARANDON: Well, I -- yes.


At times it can be a kind of dangerous and lonely job and it's good to know that there's other people out there when you're under fire that you can talk to.

TORNQUIST (on camera): Over the years many prominent people have lent their names, talents and time to support U.N. programs, as goodwill ambassadors and celebrity advocates.

(voice-over): In 1954, Danny Kaye became UNICEF's first goodwill ambassador. Audrey Hepburn traveled to the corners of the world in the tireless pursuit of the rights and well-being of children.

New personalities have taken up the cause.

GERI HALLIWELL, SINGER: I was dropped in the deep end very, very quickly; and -- but, you know, I'm one of these people that makes their parachute on the way down.

TORNQUIST: Celebrities believe as goodwill ambassadors and messengers of peace they can put a human face on world problems.

Cynthia Tornquist, CNN, the United Nations.


JIM MORET, CO-HOST: With Halloween approaching, the country is bracing for some "Blair Witchcraft." "Book of Shadows," the follow-up to the hit horror film premiered in Hollywood on Monday night. The cast of up-and-coming actors cast their spell over Mann's Chinese Theater. Tori Spelling left the 90210 zip code to catch the show.

The young stars told us how they prepared for their roles.


ERICA LEERNSEN, ACTRESS: Basically, I just studied a lot of witchcraft. I didn't really know anything about Wiccanism before I got the part. I had met a few Wiccans, but I had no idea.

KIM DIRECTOR, ACTRESS: Actually, I did a lot of preparation for my character. I, sort of, went back to my little goth roots and dusted off all my old goth music and that's all I listed to for four months.


MORET: John Travolta may have prepped for his latest role by predicting the weather. He plays a meteorologist in "Lucky Numbers," co-starring Lisa Kudrow.

Sherri Sylvester reports, his future clouds up after he pulls a scam.



JOHN TRAVOLTA, ACTOR: Am I the only one who misses our old pal Jack Frost?

El temperaturos el loco.


SHERRI SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fame is the name of the game in "Lucky Numbers." John Travolta's local weatherman character is so desperate to hold onto his lofty place in a small town that he rigs the Pennsylvania lottery.

Director Nora Ephron explores the instant recognition TV brings, something Travolta experienced firsthand back in 1975, after only two airings of his series, "Welcome Back, Kotter."

TRAVOLTA: Having to go to the bathroom and being stopping in the middle of...

SYLVESTER (on camera): Mid.

TRAVOLTA: Mid, yes, let your imagination take over, OK.

SYLVESTER: Did someone actually want an autograph?



TRAVOLTA: I said, could I please finish?





SYLVESTER (voice-over): Lisa Kudrow, who got her first flash of fame from "Friends," co-stars as the local lotto lady.

KUDROW: Pretty obvious who this woman was, she wants to be like Vanna White, that's what she wants to do and, you know, without actually doing any work.

SYLVESTER: The two are co-conspirators until this comedy of errors spirals out of control. Then Kudrow plays the heavy, and as it turns out, really did rough up co-star Michael Moore.

KUDROW: I have to push him, and I -- you know, you do something over and over again, and he got bruised. We kept asking, are you OK? But he ended up in the hospital, but he -- you know, I think he's all right. He's OK. I mean, he probably didn't have to go to the hospital.

SYLVESTER: She also kicked Michael Rapaport in the groin.

KUDROW: That was a stunt gone bad. I thought he was protected and he wasn't.


KUDROW: So he is officially your agent, right? It's not like you just had that one meeting.

TRAVOLTA: We aren't splitting hairs here, you know. I mean, it was clear he wanted to sign me.


SYLVESTER: Things were smoother between Kudrow and Travolta, who improvised some of the scenes in this lotto loot story. In real life, he remembers his first big paycheck was spent on keeping the fame.

TRAVOLTA: I hired a publicist, because I was on "Kotter" and I didn't know if it was going to last. Of course, in those days, we didn't make a whole lot, so you know, hiring another employee would take most of your paycheck, and it did.

SYLVESTER (on camera): You, in a lot of ways, have hit the jackpot in your life. What do you dream about doing?

TRAVOLTA: I mostly like the position I am in, where I can entertain people and inspire them, you know, in movies. And if I can keep that going, I have kept the lottery.

SYLVESTER (voice-over): Sherri Sylvester, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SYDNEY: You can hear more from John Travolta, including the inside story on his personal memorabilia collection, by visiting our Web site. That's at

And SHOWBIZ TODAY will be right back right after this, so don't go anywhere.


SYDNEY: Tony award-winning actor Matthew Broderick will soon be singing "76 Trombones" in a TV version of the Broadway musical, "The Music Man." He will star as Professor Harold Hill in the Tony award- winning musical, which should be renamed "The Music Couple." Broderick's wife, "Sex and the City" star Sarah Jessica Parker, is being wooed to play his love interest, Marion the librarian.

The "Hollywood Squares" gang wooed Broadway's music men and women to play a game of tic-tac-toe on a recent trip to New York. Bill Tush was there as Broadway's brightest squared off with Whoopi Goldberg.


BILL TUSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When "Hollywood Squares" came to the Big Apple recently, everyone was yelling, Whoopi!



TUSH (on camera): Are you in this show for life now or what?

GOLDBERG: I -- probably.

TUSH: Yes.

GOLDBERG: Yes, as long as they pay me well, you know, I may never leave the center square.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's also the home of 60 different native languages, where is it?

GOLDBERG: New York taxi cab.


TUSH (voice-over): And like the original "Hollywood Squares," which started in the late '60s, this version rotates famous faces inside geometrical spaces.

(on camera): This looks like a fun thing to do, so...

TONY ROBERTS, ACTOR: I did this years ago.

TUSH: Oh, yes? ROBERTS: The only thing I don't like about this is you have to sit in a very small square with no back on it, so if you push your chair back by accident, it's like going over the Grand Canyon.

TUSH (voice-over): That seems like a small price to pay for the chance to share a right angle or two with some curvy co-stars.

(on camera): Let me ask you this, do they write the answers out for you, or are you guys that clever?

BEBE NEUWIRTH, ACTRESS: Well, I could tell you that, but then I would have to kill you.

TUSH: Oh, one of those "Hollywood Square" secrets.

I asked other people and nobody is telling me the truth? Do they give you the answers, the clever answers, or do you ad-lib them?

LEA THOMPSON, ACTRESS: No, they won't give us answers.


THOMPSON: They will help us with jokes a little bit, you know.

TUSH: That's what I wondered about.

THOMPSON: Being a fledgling comedian, I had to rewrite them myself.

TUSH: Oh, OK, fledgling comedian.



GOLDBERG: None of those 100-year old paper worn pants.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are not wearing pants now.

GOLDBERG: No, but they don't care obviously


TUSH (voice-over): Writing jokes is what landed funnyman Bruce Vilanch on the "Squares" in the first place, even if he has toned down his act.

(on camera): So how has your life changed? You can't go anywhere, you can't even go to a diner.

BRUCE VILANCH, COMEDIAN: I am beset and besieged.


TUSH: Beset and besieged.

VILANCH: Yes, I love it. You can't -- you have to be nice to everybody now. I used to be able to be mean, you know.

TUSH (voice-over): Who would have thought after all these years, it would once again be hip to be square.

(on camera): Were you surprised how this show caught on again?

GOLDBERG: Yes, I was, I was, because everybody had been so negative about it, you know, saying, oh, this is a terrible idea. But, you know, you take the work when you can get it, and it's good work, and we're on our third year, and Tom's got an Emmy and our director's got an Emmy, and it's -- you know, it's kind of cool.

TUSH (voice-over): Bill Tush, CNN Entertainment News, New York.


SYDNEY: Husband and wife Aimee Mann and Michael Penn make beautiful music together. And meet the face behind the voice of "Behind the Music."


MORET: Visit Aimee Mann's Web page, you'll find a dodo bird roosting on the site. Now, fortunately, the singer's career hasn't gone the way of the dodo, despite some troubles with her former record label. She's in the clear now, making music on her own terms.



MORET (voice-over): Aimee Mann's voice carried her onto a solo career, but says when record label executives tried to stifle her creative voice, she fought back.

AIMEE MANN, MUSICIAN: It became, you know, where you had to spend way too much time thinking about lawyers and contracts and, you know, that part that's not that much fun.

MORET: Mann had to choose between creating more radio-friendly songs, or going it on her own.

MANN: The idea of what a single has become has been -- has become very close to the idea of what a jingle is, you know, which is just like a little ditty to sort of drive the product,

MORET: To win her independence, Mann bought her master tapes back from Interscope Records and released "Bachelor Number 2" under her own label.

MANN: It's a totally different experience. It's totally different. I mean, there's, you know, just a whole section of struggle that we don't have to have anymore.

MORET: While an Oscar nomination for "Magnolia" didn't change her life, it did give her a little extra exposure. MANN: I think that that helped a lot to establish an audience, you know, to -- I mean, just to -- you just have to remind people that you're out there.

MORET: Married to singer/songwriter Michael Penn, Mann not only married into a famous Hollywood family, she also gained a touring partner.

MICHAEL PENN, MUSICIAN: We're kind of both autonomous up on stage in doing what we're doing. It's just a nice way to sort of take home with you when you're touring, you know. It just keeps it a bit saner.

MORET: Still, there are challenges.

MANN: It's all about the bathroom counter space.

PENN: A lot of...

MANN: A lot of hair products.

PENN: A lot of problems.

MORET: Even before they met, Mann says she was a Michael Penn fan.

MANN: I always sort of thought of him as the guy who made a lot of interesting use of the dominant 7th chord and, you know, so that was...

PENN: These are the things that bring people together.

MANN: That's right.


MORET: Mann and Penn tell us they're creating a new, artist- friendly label that will allow others the same creative control that Mann is enjoying -- Laurin.

SYDNEY: Thank you, my friend.

All of us have turned on the TV and heard that familiar voice. Now, whether it's VH1's "Behind the Music," or Lifetime Television, aren't you curious about the face behind the voice?

Jodi Ross reveals their identity.



JIM FORBES, NARRATOR: He conquered the wild world of pop with heartfelt songs that spoke eloquently to his times.

(END VIDEO CLIP) JODI ROSS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The voice behind "Behind the Music" belongs to Jim Forbes.


FORBES: But the young star burned out in a flash.


FORBES: I was on a line at the concession at the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young concert, somebody heard me speak and said, "you're the guy who does 'behind the Music.'"

ROSS: Forbes is famous for bringing pop star stories to life on one of VH1's highest rated shows.

FORBES: I try to be as much myself as I possibly can, as if you were sitting on that couch next to me and I was just telling you the story whether we were on television or not.


PAUL TURNER, NARRATOR: Underground, in the shadows of D.C. nightlife...


ROSS: Whether you watch the news, or the NFL...


TURNER: The quest to be the best is neverending.


ROSS: ... you know the vocal stylings of Paul Turner.

TURNER: Literally, when I was a kid, I wanted to get into the broadcasting field, but not just the broadcasting field, I wanted to be a voice. I wanted to do voice work. I heard these guys for years, you know, I heard Ernie Anderson doing "The Love Boat" on, you know, TV, and I heard those kind of things and I said, "that's what I want to do."

ROSS: And he does it for Court TV, as well as "The Howard Stern Radio Show."


TURNER: You're listening to a man with nice feet, Howard Stern.


SARA MOON, NARRATOR: Only on Lifetime, television for women.

ROSS: Sara Moon has made it. MAUREEN MCALEER, V.P., CREATIVE SERVICES, LIFETIME: Sara is important because she gives a little edge to our network, which it has really never had before.

ROSS: Being the lifeline of Lifetime is a dream come true.

MOON: You may remember her from "Married With Children," but Katey Sagal's first love wasn't the small screen.

It's a gift to be able to work in a creative medium where I'm still using a creative process. But, you know, nobody, when I walk down the street, nobody knows who I am. I can do whatever I want.

ROSS: Until now, we've put a face to the voice, which might come as a surprise to fans.

FORBES: I have heard everything from: "You can't be a day over 25" to "You thought I was 75."

ROSS: So a voice is more than meets the ear, if you listen carefully.

MOON: But the real shock was discovering the side of her we didn't see.

You know, the odd part is, when I'm in like a stationary story and the radio is on, and I'm like: "Oh, that sounds familiar," and "Oh, it's me!" You know, it like takes me a second.

ROSS: Jodi Ross, CNN Entertainment News, New York.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Loved throughout the world, Jar Jar Binks had everything going for him: Women loved him. Men wanted to be him. But behind the glamour and the fame, there lived a dark side.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): "Jar Jar Binks: The E! True Hollywood Story" is the latest "Star Wars" fan film generating buzz in cyberspace. This spoof on the popular celebrity biography is complete with Jar Jar's ups and downs.

LELF EINARSSON, WRITER/DIRECTOR: There has always got to be a rise and then, you know, it gets to the person's head, the fame, and then the downfall.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jerod Herbert Finklestein (ph) had officially hit rock bottom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The film's Web distributor,, has even given the creators a deal for 10 short films based on the popularity of their mockumentary. Were they worried about outraging hardcore "Star Wars" fans? EINARSSON: We were kind of afraid. We didn't want to offend. I mean, it's only a short. And it's done tongue-in-cheek.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even if that tongue is a digital effect.

This is SHOWBIZ "Online."


SYDNEY: Wednesday on SHOWBIZ, Hollywood gears up for Halloween with the new "Blair Witch" sequel, and our Bill Tush chats up the chimp star of the new film, "Most Valuable Primate."


SYDNEY: And with your permission, we've got to say goodbye right now. But tomorrow on SHOWBIZ: Bill Tush faces off with a chimp -- just a normal day for Bill. And the 14-year-old star of "Billy Elliot" has all the critics on their toes. Until next time in New York, I'm Laurin Sydney.

MORET: In Hollywood, I'm Jim Moret. We leave you now with more music from Aimee Mann.