updated 3/28/2006 10:42:39 AM ET 2006-03-28T15:42:39

Guests: Dave Holloway, Art Wood, Joe Tacopina, Garry Henning, Sharon Everitt, Rick Roten, Bob Stuber, Simon Cowell, Ken Warwick, Kimberly Caldwell, Justin Guarini

RITA COSBY, HOST:  Good evening, everybody.  Tonight, new details about the mother of three charged with the gruesome murder of her own husband, a Christian minister.  Do police know why she and her three kids were on the run?

And the “American Idol” judge you either love or love to hate.  Simon Cowell joins us to explain who‘s next on his hit list and why he‘s going to judge yet another reality show.

But we begin tonight with new developments in the Natalee Holloway investigation.  Aruban police are now getting ready to search a new part of the island for Natalee, this after the deputy police chief says that he believes Natalee may have died from using alcohol and also maybe even illegal drugs.


GEROLD DOMPIG, ARUBAN DEPUTY POLICE CHIEF:  We feel strongly that she probably went into shock or something happened to her system with all this alcohol, maybe on top of that, other drugs which either she took or they gave her, and that she just collapsed.


COSBY:  And joining us now live is Natalee‘s father, Dave Holloway.  Dave, what‘s your reaction to the chief saying she may have died from alcohol and drugs?

DAVE HOLLOWAY, NATALEE‘S FATHER:  Well, he gave an either/or situation, and I believe the other.  You know, when I arrived on the island on June the 1st, I met with Dennis Jacobs (ph), the lead detective in the case, and he indicated that he had met with all three of them boys and pretty much cleared them of any wrongdoing, and then sent us down to Carlos and Charlie‘s.  But he gave us one warning.  He said, If you go in there and have a drink, cover your drink or don‘t leave it alone because someone may put a drug in it.  So I believe the other part, that Natalee may have been drugged.

COSBY:  What do you think the likelihood...

HOLLOWAY:  She did not have...

COSBY:  ... Dave, that maybe somebody did slip a date rape drug?  Do you think that that‘s a realistic option?

HOLLOWAY:  Well, that‘s—well, that‘s—you know, Natalee did not have any history of using drugs, nor did she use drugs, and none of her friends have admitted that.  So I have to believe the other.

You know, there was someone who went in under cover and noticed that there were clear bottles that were not marked, that were kept in a separate cabinet, away from all the other liquor bottles.  So you know, and then Joran, in his statement, indicated that Natalee was euphoric and then she fell asleep, woke up, fell asleep and woke up.  And in my research of GHB, which is a date rape drug, that‘s pretty much the symptoms.  You know, you first go into a euphoric state, and then after 10 to 15 minutes, you revert, if you‘ve been overdosed, into a sleeping, comatose state.

COSBY:  Dave, who do you think may have given her that kind of drug? 

Why do you suspect?

HOLLOWAY:  Well, it would either be Joran or maybe the bartender.

COSBY:  Have you looked into—obviously, you‘ve looked into Joran. 

Have you looked into the bartender?

HOLLOWAY:  Well, like I said, there was someone that went undercover that indicated there was clear, unmarked bottles in a cabinet behind the bar, so—and there was also rumors—and I say this is a rumor—that you could pay the bartender $25 to do it for you.

COSBY:  Yes, I was hearing a lot of those rumors, too, when I was on the island, Dave, as well.

Let me bring in, if I could, to the conversation private investigator Art Wood, who has been helping the Holloway family from the very beginning.  Art, I want to show a comment—this is Chief Dompig on “48 Hours.”  And he talks about Natalee and drugs and sort of the pervasiveness of drugs.  Let‘s listen in on that.


DOMPIG:  We have statements claiming that she—that she had drugs.

TROY ROBERTS, CBS “48 HOURS”:  What kind of drugs?

DOMPIG:  I cannot say.  We do not have proof that she used drugs, but that they saw her with drugs in her possession.


COSBY:  Art, have you heard anything about drugs with her?  And also, how pervasive are drugs on the island?

ART WOOD, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR WORKING WITH HOLLOWAY FAMILY:  Well, Rita, listen, I think it‘s reprehensible that Dompig would insinuate that Natalee Holloway was using drugs or possessed illegal drugs.  We all know that Natalee Holloway was a straight-A student and worked two jobs, volunteered for senior citizens, had a full scholarship to the University of Alabama.

Dompig sent investigators over to the United States to interview her friends and all the other kids on that trip, and as far as I know, not one of those kids ever, ever insinuated that Natalee used drugs.  I mean, it‘s incredible that he would insinuate that.  I mean, drugs are—drugs are rampant on the island.  There‘s drug dealers all over, and especially ecstasy and marijuana.  But to insinuate that Natalee used drugs is—it‘s reprehensible.  It‘s uncalled-for.

COSBY:  No, and absolutely, especially if he doesn‘t have any proof of it.  You know, Dave, one of the things we were hearing—one of our producers talked to this guy who‘s a self-admitted drug dealer, and he claims that he may have given Natalee some drugs.  I mean, have you even heard this story before?

WOOD:  I just heard that story last night.  I really don‘t—well, let‘s put it this way.  I don‘t believe it because when I arrived on the island, I was even fooled myself, as a father of a child.  There were so many blond-headed girls on the island, thousands—literally thousands of high school kids coming in and out of the island.  And for someone who deals in drugs and who stays messed up most of the day, and then come up eight later, nine months later and make a statement such as that, I can‘t buy it.

COSBY:  No, it certainly is questionable, Dave.  You know, Dave, this new witness who we heard Dompig talk about—and we had talked about this before, even ourselves, but now we sort of we (INAUDIBLE) who it is.  He‘s says it‘s the nightclub manager.  And I want to play the comment.  This is Dompig sort of saying about where some of his new leads are coming from.


DOMPIG:  The information that this person gave was too specific to just be a story that was just made up.


COSBY:  Dave, how do you read this, this new info that Dompig says that he feels like there‘s something substantive to this new tip, meaning where she may be located?

HOLLOWAY:  Well, you know, what really gets me is if they knew where she was located and they knew it three months ago, why haven‘t they—why haven‘t they found her?

COSBY:  You know, Art, you and I searched the sand dunes a long time ago, remember?  Why haven‘t they, like, just jumped on that search, especially if they‘re saying they‘re at a critical last phase?

WOOD:  Well, Rita, that‘s a very good question.  I don‘t know.  As you know very well, that the sand dunes could have been cleared clear back in August, when the first indications were that she may have been buried there.  I have no idea why it‘s taken the Aruban authorities this long to bring in a team from Holland.

COSBY:  Yes, that is a big question.  You know, Dave, you got to be frustrated, right?  I mean, come on!

HOLLOWAY:  Oh, yes.  You know, I did speak with Fred Golba (ph), and he indicated that he was on the island and he searched many of the sand dunes and some other areas that police directed him to.  He did say that his efforts were hampered.  He had someone on his team that worked the radar that violated the procedure, leaked some information to the press.  He had to turn them back, send them back home, and then he was basically on his own thereafter.

He did say he was going to return, get some training in ground-penetrating radar, work with the Aruban authorities, and hopefully, be back before or the time when the Dutch show up on April the 11th.

COSBY:  Well, let‘s certainly hope so because it sounds like you‘ve a lot of good equipment.  Both of you, thank you very much.

And we‘re joined now by Joe Tacopina—he is the attorney for Joran Van Der Sloot—to get some reaction—his first reaction about the chief‘s comment about Natalee and drugs.

Joe, what do you think when you hear these comments that she maybe overdosed on some combination of alcohol and drugs?

JOE TACOPINA, JORAN VAN DER SLOOT‘S U.S. ATTORNEY:  Look, Rita, since we‘ve last spoken, we‘ve gotten our hands on thousands and thousands of pages of police reports, I mean, not just law enforcement from Aruba, but FBI reports, and I‘ve seen what reams of witnesses were saying.  And you know, I understand where Dompig is getting his assessment, I guess, or his, I guess, speculation-...

COSBY:  Is it credible at all, Joe, or is it speculation?

TACOPINA:  Well, you know what?  To me, it‘s speculation because how

could anyone say anyone died of a drug overdose without finding a body and

making that determination?  I mean, you know, he maybe should not be on TV

giving some rank speculation as to what happened and maybe should be doing

and leading an investigation because I‘ll tell you something, Rita.  There

are reports out there that I think point in some real, live directions

having nothing to do, as I said from day one of my involvement in this case

having nothing to with Van Der Sloot.

And I got to tell you something.  I mean, this is the same guy who initially from the get-go said he thought these three boys were guilty of murder.  I guess he‘s—according to this program on Saturday, Rita, he‘s just cleared them now of murder.  So now Joran is no longer a murder suspect.  I mean, it is just really upsetting to me and obscene to do to the Holloway family and the Van Der Sloot family and everyone else, that people just come out there without any evidence, without any hard facts and just spin theories and stories as if, you know, it were facts or probabilities.  So if there‘s no evidence that it didn‘t happen, well, then, maybe it happened.  That is ridiculous.

COSBY:  No, absolutely.  You got to have proof, especially if you‘re going to make some claims like that.  You know, I just—just settle for the record, Joe, did Joran ever do drugs?

TACOPINA:  Did Joran ever do drugs?

COSBY:  Did he do any sort of hard drugs?  Was he doing drugs at the time?

TACOPINA:  Absolutely not.  You know, I mean, I just heard Ron (SIC) Wood, the investigator for Natalee‘s family, say how great of a student Natalee was and all that stuff.  And obviously, I don‘t dispute that and don‘t—you know, it‘s not my issue.  But if we‘re talking about backgrounds and pedigree, Joran Van Der Sloot was an honor student with a full-boat (ph) scholarship, as well.  He‘s someone who had reams and reams of community service that were done all before the Natalee Holloway incident.  This was a good, smart kid, whose life has been ruined by, now we find out, by not even now a suspicion of murder, but some theory that Natalee died of her own accord, and Joran, for some ungodly reason, or anyone else, would want to bury a body that they had nothing to do with harming.

I mean, it really—you know what?  Hearing what I just heard, Rita, really makes my blood boil because too many people are getting hurt in this case.  And I‘m sick of hearing these people who are supposed to be in the know spitting theories.  And I got to tell you, I‘ve read thousands of pages of police documents since you and I last spoke, Rita.  And to me, they need to get on the ball and start figuring out a few other things because I‘ve seen things that I‘ve not heard on the airways or on any of these cable news programs, and they‘re real leads.  They‘re things they should have been looking at.  And if they‘re not, I really have to question their motives and whether they have connections to people on the island...


COSBY:  And Joe, these are things that—these are things other than Joran you‘re talking about, right?

TACOPINA:  Joran Van Der Sloot had nothing to do with Natalee Holloway‘s death...

COSBY:  Joe, let me...

TACOPINA:  -or her disappearance.

COSBY:  ... just get you to respond because Dave, obviously—you may have just heard Dave Holloway, her father, was saying that he was looking at the option of maybe some date rape drugs, that he even said, look, maybe the bartender, maybe Joran—did Joran have an GHB, any date rape drug, and connection to it, see anything unusual, someone else doing something?

TACOPINA:  Rita, absolutely not.  Never has anyone ever complained that Joran Van Der Sloot did anything aggressive towards them as a female.  And Joran never possessed date rape drugs.  I mean, that‘s the last thing that kid needed.  And quite frankly, that‘s offense to say.  And I understand—look, Dave Holloway is going through hell, and I sympathize with him.  I‘m not here to attack him.  But I don‘t think—look, it doesn‘t mean that one should go on the air and say, Well, maybe the bartender or maybe Joran gave her the drugs.

I mean, first of all, let‘s assume she had drugs.  I mean, that would

we‘re speculating again, of course.  And because there‘s no proof that Joran didn‘t give her drugs, maybe he gave her drugs?  I mean, it‘s the same sort of thing that gets us to where we are today, 10 months later, and zero leads to what happened to this poor girl.

COSBY:  And really quick, I got to play the comment—this is from Joran‘s—this is about Joran‘s father, that Dompig said.  I‘m just going to get you to really quick reaction because he went after the father, too, a little bit, made some suggestions.


DOMPIG:  He had more visiting rights with his father.  And his father being a judge in training was a problem for us because he could give his son certain advice.


COSBY:  Joe, real quick, your reaction?

TACOPINA:  Ridiculous.  He could give his son certain advice?  Any father should give their son advice.  But Paulus Van Der Sloot asked Joran what happened, if you knew what happened to this girl or what happened to this girl, right in front of the Holloway family and Jug and all those people the first day they came to the island.  There was no time to prepare.

And let me just say, if we‘re talking about families and whatnot, Dompig should maybe reevaluate, you know, the people he‘s looking at or not looking at and his familiar connection with some of these people.  I mean, he—you know, there‘s been evidence that he has relations to people that maybe he hasn‘t revealed yet.  And I think, you know, time will come when all this, hopefully, comes to the top.

But you know, I‘m just—I‘m really sick and tired of people going on there, spinning stories that they have no idea what they‘re talking about.  That guy‘s the leader of this investigation, and I don‘t think it‘s any surprise that it‘s in the state it‘s in 10 months later, Rita .

COSBY:  Well, he‘s certainly made a lot of bizarre comments through the road (ph).  All right, Joe, thank you very much.  We appreciate you being with us.

And still ahead, everybody, new developments in the search for two missing boys.  Why is it now a criminal investigation?  We‘re going to explain.  And that‘s not all.  Take a look.

Still ahead, the murder of a minister.  The prime suspect, his wife.  Was there trouble behind closed doors?  And why did she run?  Their neighbor joins me live.

And a plea for help.  Why is the search for two missing boys now called a criminal investigation?  What have the cops found?

Plus, “Idol” worship.


SIMON COWELL, “AMERICAN IDOL”:  It was nothing more than a pointless karaoke performance.


COSBY:  Simon Cowell tells me why he thinks “American Idol” is having its biggest season ever, who he thinks will be the next “American Idol” and why our own Tucker Carlson should stick to his day job.


TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, “THE SITUATION”:  All you need is one cigarette, one pack of matches, and an iron tongue.


COSBY:  Simon Cowell and a lot more coming up.



JUDGE BOB GRAY, MCNAIRY COUNTY, TENNESSEE:  According to agents of the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, Mary Winkler confessed to planning the murder of her husband, Matthew Winkler, shooting him on March 22, 2006, and leaving Selmer with her three daughters.  That is the sum and substance of the complaint, Ms. Winkler.


COSBY:  Tonight, horror, angst and grim curiosity surrounding the murder of a Christian preacher, as his wife is the one facing first degree murder charges at this hour.  Thirty-two-year-old Mary Winkler is accused of shooting her husband, Matthew, in their Tennessee home and then running away with her three children.  She was caught in Alabama.  There‘s some pictures of her kids.  Well, before her arraignment today, Winkler reportedly asked a friend to share an apology with the congregation of the church where her husband was a pastor.

Joining us now live is Sheriff Ricky Roten with the McNairy County sheriff‘s department, who rode with Winkler on her ride back to Tennessee.  Sheriff, how long was the ride, and did she say anything during it?

SHERIFF RICK ROTEN, MCNAIRY COUNTY, TENNESSEE:  Oh, it was about a five-and-a-half, six-hour ride.  And no, she didn‘t have a whole lot to say.

COSBY:  What was her demeanor like, Sheriff?  And what did she do?

ROTEN:  Well, she was quiet, slept most of the way.  Only time she would talk is when we asked her if she needed anything or needed to stop to go to the restroom...

COSBY:  Did she seem cooperative?

ROTEN:  ... but she spent most of the way back...

COSBY:  Did she seem cooperative?

ROTEN:  Yes, she was very cooperative with both us and the authorities in Alabama.

COSBY:  Did she talk at all about the murder?

ROTEN:  No, she didn‘t talk at all about it.

COSBY:  What were your impressions of her personally?  What was she like as an individual?

ROTEN:  As an individual, she was just quiet, not talking very much, just sitting still, being calm, and really didn‘t say much of anything to us at all.

COSBY:  And Sheriff, what was your reaction?  It was obviously such a horrible crime, and to think now a wife accused of murdering her husband, a Christian preacher.  I‘m sure you‘ve seen a lot of cases in your day.  How does this one hit you?

ROTEN:  Well, we don‘t have very many cases like this.  It was quite an ordeal for us and the community.  And we‘re hoping we come out of this thing OK and everybody does OK as far as the church.

COSBY:  You bet.  Well, Sheriff, our prayers are with all of you, and thank you very much.

And now let‘s bring in one of the Winkers‘ neighbors, Sharon Everitt.  Sharon, how did the husband act?  What—he was a preacher.  What did he act like to you?

SHARON EVERITT, NEIGHBOR OF WINKLERS:  Well, we just met him whenever he moved into the home.  He‘d lived here maybe three or four days.  And I suppose, you know, from what I hear, that we‘re about the only people that ever saw him without his preacher clothes on, or his preacher hat, however you like to say that.  But we found him to be a pretty direct or even aggressive individual.  And that‘s not just what I think, but a different circumstance that my husband said exactly the same thing.

COSBY:  And Sharon, if you can get back to the other part of the rumor

we‘re losing you a little bit on the cell phone there.


COSBY:  But if you can tell us again—you know, you said that he was, what, aggressive and confrontational?

EVERITT:  Yes, I did.

COSBY:  And how so?

EVERITT:  Well, we have a dog and the dog was out playing with the children one day, and he stopped the children.  And he told the children that if we didn‘t keep the dog in the house that he would shoot the dog.  And...

COSBY:  Wait a minute.  He said he would shoot the dog?

EVERITT:  Yes, he did.

COSBY:  And when you found out that this man was a minister, how did you react?

EVERITT:  Well, I knew he was a minister.  And so immediately, I told my child that surely he was mistaken.  And so I went over to the house and told him, you know, that the children had told me that he had said this.  And he said, Yes, you know, I have small children, and I don‘t want dogs running around.  And I said, Well, my dogs don‘t run around.  I said, Sometimes the children let him out in the front yard.  We have six little children.

COSBY:  You know, and Sharon, speaking of dogs, did you hear anything

I understand that the home has a dog, their home, the Winklers‘ home. 

And did anybody hear any gunshots or any sounds that day?

EVERITT:  Well, no, we didn‘t hear any gunshots, but starting Wednesday morning, the dog barked all day long and into the night.

COSBY:  And when was the last time you saw Mary Winkler, the wife?

EVERITT:  I saw her Tuesday afternoon, sometime (INAUDIBLE)  She left her home and went down towards the school, I guess to pick up the children.  I don‘t know if at that point, she left the state or—I never saw her come back but (INAUDIBLE)

COSBY:  Well, Sharon Everitt, we thank you very much.  And again apologize, everybody.  She‘s obviously on a cell phone that‘s breaking up a little bit.  But some interesting developments, saying that he threatened, I guess, the neighbor‘s dog and threatened to shoot the neighbor‘s dog, which is interesting for a preacher, maybe gives some insight into the family.  Thank you very much.

And tonight, on to another story, a big development in the search for two boys who vanished without a trace a week ago.  Now police say that the search for 12-year-old Dre Henning and 11-year-old Purvis Parker is a criminal investigation.  The boys were last seen playing ball in their Milwaukee neighborhood.

And joining me now is Garry Henning, Dre Henning‘s grandfather, and also Bob Stuber.  He‘s a child safety expert.  Garry, have you gotten any indication as to why it‘s now a criminal investigation?  Is there new information?

GARRY HENNING, DRE HENNING‘S GRANDFATHER:  Well, first of all, let me say thank you and to the American public and Milwaukee in general for the support that we‘re getting.  As far as that question is concerned, only thing they told us was it was now considered a criminal investigation, and that‘s the extent of it, merely because, I guess, they had leads or something that they felt was evident to make them do that.

COSBY:  And Garry, did they tell you at all what those leads were or sort of what area those leads are?

HENNING:  Hello?

COSBY:  Yes, Garry, did they give you an inkling as to sort of where those leads were, as to what direction?

HENNING:  No.  They just said it was a criminal investigation, and that‘s all.

COSBY:  You know, how tough is it, Garry, as time goes by, and you know, as far as you know, no significant lead, or at least, they‘re not telling you what it is?

HENNING:  Well, whether they tell us or not, it‘s still hard as each day goes by to not have Dre and Purvis home.  It‘s hard regardless.

COSBY:  You know, and Bob Stuber, why do you think that they elevated it to a criminal information?

BOB STUBER, CHILD SAFETY EXPERT:  I‘m not sure.  I‘ve read the articles and the reports on this.  It doesn‘t seem to indicate.  However, I think—I think probably what‘s happening is it‘s actually becoming what it should have been in the first place.  It should have probably been a criminal investigation from day one and...

COSBY:  And why didn‘t they?  Why didn‘t they, Bob?

STUBER:  Well, I don‘t know.  I really question that.  It‘s so odd.  It‘s so strange because unless you have evidence to the contrary when it comes to children, when they disappear, you should treat it as though something is afoul.  That brings all the people to the table.  That starts a hard investigation.  Then, if something surfaces and says, OK, it‘s a runaway, you can back off.  But when it comes to kids, you want to give them the benefit of the doubt from the word go.  So in my mind, they‘re just getting it back to where it should have been to start with.

COSBY:  You know, and Bob, that includes questioning everybody at this point, right, Bob?  I mean, even family.

STUBER:  Oh, yes, yes.  That‘s one of the first things you do in these cases, is you question people, not because you suspect them, but you want to clear them.  You start with the immediate family, and then you move into other acquaintances and people around, you know, the neighborhood.  You begin to clear these people so you can start focusing, you know, on other avenues.  But this should have all been done by now.

COSBY:  You know, Garry, you were questioned, too, right...

HENNING:  Exactly.

COSBY:  ... included—I mean, obviously, as to all family members. 

What did the FBI ask you?

HENNING:  Oh, I had—I had a—oh, boy, I think five or six hours drill in there.  It was rough, tough.

COSBY:  What kind of things did you—because right now, they can‘t rule anybody out, even—you know, even...

HENNING:  Exactly.

COSBY:  ... close family, extended family.  Was that tough for you, to be asked about the disappearance?

HENNING:  Oh, it was very tough.  I mean, I haven‘t had anything like that to happen to me since I was in the service.  It was really tough.  And again, I think this should have—I agree with your guest there.  I think that should have happened long before now, instead of saying they were runaways from the initial beginning, which we knew they were not runaways. 

And the time spent trying to convince us that they were runaways should

have been spent on eliminating, like they‘re doing now,

COSBY:  You bet.

STUBER:  Absolutely.

COSBY:  And go ahead, Bob, real quick.

STUBER:  I was just going to say absolutely.  That should have been the tack from the beginning, and you don‘t back off until the evidence shows to the contrary because if these little boys are in danger, and they probably are, the way they disappeared, they need you to be on the ball now.

COSBY:  You bet.  Well, we will do whatever we can.  Both of you, thank you.  And everybody, we‘re going to will stay on this case.  We want to make sure you see the number.  If you have any information about these two cute little boys, please call the national tip line.  The number is right there on the screen, 877-628-3804.

And still ahead, everybody, “American Idol” judge Simon Cowell, whether you love him or love to hate him, he‘s one reason the show is having its biggest season ever.  He‘s going to tell me why he thinks everyone is obsessed with “Idol” and also who should be at the top of the “Idol” charts.


COWELL:  Sorry.  (INAUDIBLE) I like you.  You‘ve got a great voice. 

But that like some hideous party performance.


COSBY:  And what happens after “Idol”?  Justin Guarini and also Kimberly Caldwell tell me who they think should be America‘s next superstar.  It‘s “Idol” mania, and they are coming up, as well as Simon Cowell.


COSBY:  And he‘s the man everyone loves or loves to hate.  I‘m talking about “American Idol‘s” very own Simon Cowell.  Cowell‘s sharp-tongued critiques of contestants is one reason “American Idol” is having its biggest season ever.  But now Simon and “Idol‘s” executive producer, Ken Warwick, are looking for a new type of talent on a very new NBC show.  They told me all about it before tonight‘s show.


SIMON COWELL, HOST, “AMERICAN IDOL”:  We are looking for the best entertainer or entertainers in this country, and we have decided to rip up the rulebook this time, whereby there is no age limit.  You can be two years old; you can be 100 years old. 

And we‘re allowing singers, magicians, dancers, jugglers, dog acts, ventriloquists, whatever makes you believe you are the best entertainer or entertainers in this country.  We are going to give you $1 million if you win the show. 

COSBY:  Now, this is the biggest, right, that you‘ve ever offered? 

COWELL:  Biggest I‘ve ever offered.  It‘s the biggest talent search we‘ve ever done.  And to be honest with you, Rita, I mean, like we‘ve done with “Idol,” what we‘re trying to do here—because Kenny is the executive producer on “Idol” with me and on this show—we‘re trying to find stars.  I mean, that‘s what we always set out to do. 

COSBY:  How is this going to be different than “American Idol”?

KEN WARWICK, PRODUCER, “AMERICAN IDOL”:  “Idol” is singers, obviously.  This is absolutely anything and everything.  If you have a talent, if you‘ve been something in your front room and everybody said, “That‘s fabulous, you‘ve just got to go somewhere and do something with that,” then we want to see you. 

COSBY:  How is it like, Ken, working with the guy next to you?  Is he as harsh and tough off-screen as he is on screen? 

WARWICK:  No, no, no. 

COSBY:  He‘s worse?

WARWICK:  It‘s a laugh a minute, Rita, which is a good thing, which is why a lot of what we do works.  It‘s spontaneous.  It happens there and then.  That‘s what it‘s all about.  And it either works or it doesn‘t work but, you know, most of the time, it does work.

COSBY:  You know, what do you make of all the Web site chatters?  You know, Simon, there‘s this new Web site.  It‘s VotefortheWorst.com, also DialIdol.com, where they actually try to influence voting on “Idol,” also try to predict votes on “Idol,” and also the winner.  What do you make of that? 

COWELL:  I mean, when you‘ve got 40 million votes coming in a week, I

mean, you can‘t possibly change the results.  The good ones are going to be

there until the end, and the bad ones are going to go.  It‘s not going to -

it‘s not going to make any difference. 

WARWICK:  It‘s when they stop talking that we start to worry, Rita. 

COSBY:  And do you think scandal helps, guys?  I mean, there‘s been a lot of scandal around “American Idol.”

COWELL:  Of course.

COSBY:  Has that helped the ratings?

WARWICK:  Absolutely. 

COWELL:  We love it. 

COSBY:  Let‘s talk about Paula, because Paula says, Simon—and she‘s even admitted that she‘s acting a little weird, but she says you‘ve been whispering in her ear, and that‘s causing her to act strange on the air.  Any truth? 

COWELL:  Well, I whispered a couple of things in her ear.  I wasn‘t expecting her to say it, however, on air.  I mean, when she says to me, “What should I say?”  And I whisper some made-up Chinese expression about moths and melons, you can‘t expect her to believe it and then say it on the show.  So you can‘t blame me for that.

COSBY:  Some people say she‘s drunk.  Is she drunk? 

COWELL:  No, but, look, Rita, she‘s been like this for five years.  I mean, that‘s the way she is. 

WARWICK:  You know, and we quite like the fact we never know what she‘s going to do. 

COWELL:  I agree.  I love it.

WARWICK:  You know, it‘s great.

COWELL:  I love it. 

WARWICK:  And the fact that you‘re bringing it up warrants it being there, you know? 

COSBY:  You‘re right, everybody‘s talking about it.  You‘re right.


COWELL:  And no one‘s spoken about Randy since he‘s been on the show. 

Randy, you never mention him.


COSBY:  You know, Simon, what about your top three predictions?  You made a prediction a while back of who you think is going to be the top three.  Are you sticking with that same prediction now? 

COWELL:  Yes, I‘ll stick by it.  It was Kellie, Taylor and Chris.  I think that sounds fair, that sounds safe.

COSBY:  What about Mandisa?  The other night, you were saying how sexy and great she is. 

COWELL:  Yes, I mean, she‘s getting better.  And this Katharine girl seems to be getting better.  I mean, look, I said this months ago.  This will be the most open competition we‘ve ever had, and it is going to be the most open competition.

WARWICK:  There‘s nothing worse than knowing who‘s going to win.  You know, when Fantasia one, everyone was saying, “Oh, Fantasia‘s going to win right from the beginning of the top 12.” 

COWELL:  Absolutely.

WARWICK:  We don‘t want that.  We want it to be a competition. 

COWELL:  Yes, and it will be a competition.

WARWICK:  Yes, it will be.

COSBY:  And you still think it‘s going to be those same three?  You‘re still sticking to your prediction?

COWELL:  Yes, I‘ll stick by it, yes. 

COSBY:  And who do you think is going to win?  What‘s your prediction on who‘s going to win, who‘s going to take it all? 

COWELL:  I have a horrible feeling that public are going to vote for Taylor, and I would prefer Chris. 

COSBY:  You‘d prefer Chris?

WARWICK:  And I think it might—you know, I totally disagree with his—so it‘s all subjective. 

COSBY:  Yes, what do you think, Ken?  Who do you think, if you had to name it today, who do you think, Ken? 

WARWICK:  I don‘t know.  No, I‘m not allowed to.  But I will tell you now:  They are most definitely the most talented kids we‘ve ever had on our show. 

COWELL:  I‘ll give you an exclusive, what he said to me this morning: 

Kenny has predicted either a boy or a girl will win this year. 

COSBY:  Kellie Pickler, you love Kellie Pickler.  Why do you love Kellie Pickler so much? 

COWELL:  Because she makes me laugh.  She‘s a bit raw, and she‘s funny.  You know.... 

WARWICK:  She is funny.  She‘s entertaining.

COWELL:  Yes, I like her.


COSBY:  Is she faking it or is she the real deal, you guys?

COWELL:  Well, look, none of them are faking it, Rita, but they‘ve all become a bit more media-savvy than previous years, so, you know, they‘re playing it, all of them, to the cameras.  They‘re very aware of what they‘re saying, all of them. 

COSBY:  Speaking of, you know, we talked about scandals and stuff.  What‘s your relationship with Ryan Seacrest like off the camera?  Because it looks a little biting in front of the camera. 

WARWICK:  Exactly the same.

COWELL:  I‘ve got to tell you, we‘re actually good friends, but when we go out, it‘s exactly the same as on the show.  We just make fun of each other. 

WARWICK:  It‘s actually a competition, Rita, to see who can wind each other up the most when they actually get to the show. 


COSBY:  And who do you think is winning, Ken? 

COWELL:  I mean, we‘re very lucky.

COSBY:  Who do you think is winning, Ken?

WARWICK:  Simon, Simon.  Definitely Simon. 

COSBY:  You know, one of the former idols, person who‘s been in the news a lot, Clay Aiken, all these rumors that he‘s gay, then you‘re seeing him with women.  What do you make of these rumors, Simon?

COWELL:  Gay rumors about him?  No. 



WARWICK:  Is that good news?

COWELL:  No, it‘s all...

WARWICK:  More gossip.


COSBY:  What do you make of all the talk about Clay Aiken lately? 

COWELL:  Oh, who cares?  Honest to God, who cares?  I mean, what people want to be, they can be—I don‘t know, anything.  One way or the other, Rita, but I couldn‘t care less. 

COSBY:  The “American Idol” numbers were huge.  A lot of people thought they couldn‘t get any bigger.  Why is it still so enormously popular, guys? 

WARWICK:  It‘s down to the kids, to be honest, Rita.  You know, every time that door opens, just when you think you‘ve seen it all, you think you‘ve seen the best singer, the worst singer, the funniest singer, the most off-the-wall person, the door will open, and in will come another story.  And this season has just been particularly strong. 

COWELL:  I thought it was about me. 

WARWICK:  Yes, well, that, as well.

COWELL:  That‘s what you told me.  So it‘s not about me? 

WARWICK:  I‘m sorry, mate, no.

COSBY:  Isn‘t it always about you, Simon?  Isn‘t it always about you?

COWELL:  Show business, so two-faced. 

WARWICK:  And Simon, Rita, OK?  Otherwise he won‘t turn up on Tuesday. 


COWELL:  Kenny‘s right.  You know what?  It‘s not politically correct. 

It‘s real reality TV.  It‘s life. 

WARWICK:  It‘s a world made good.  It‘s what happens at the time that

you sing.  That‘s it

COSBY:  Well, you guys, we put out auditions here for your new show, of course, “America‘s Got Talent.”  We put auditions throughout MSNBC and NBC, and we reached a really high caliber of talent.  We picked our finalist, and it‘s Tucker Carlson, who‘s the host on “THE SITUATION” here on MSNBC.

And I want to show this, and I want to get both of you to rate his talent, see if he‘s a potential candidate for the show, if you guys can watch. 


TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC HOST:  All right, Simon, I‘m not auditioning for your show, but I would like to show you a trick I have never before displayed in public.  All you need is one cigarette, one pack of matches, and an iron tongue.  I learned this from my dad.  Don‘t try it at home.  Try it in a bar.  Ready? 


COSBY:  Now, let‘s do it in slow mo for them, because then you‘ll really get to see the essence of his talent, guys.  Here‘s the slow-mo version. 

On a one to three guys, what do you think?  Your jaws are dropped. 

WARWICK:  The million dollars is his. 

COWELL:  Absolutely.  You just want to write the check now, don‘t you?

WARWICK:  The guy‘s a natural. 

COWELL:  The trouble is, it‘s the weird faces he was pulling and he was doing it, you know?  And the crooked bow tie. 

WARWICK:  That‘s probably the burn that‘s going on inside his mouth. 


COWELL:  Very good.  So that‘s the best of MSNBC, is it, Rita?

WARWICK:  We have nothing to worry about.  The show will be a success.

COSBY:  What do you think of our stellar talent, huh? 

COWELL:  I will come back to you on that one, darling. 

COSBY:  Big fans of both of you guys.  Thank you, both. 

COWELL:  Thanks, Rita.

WARWICK:  Thanks, Rita.  Cheers.

COWELL:  Nice to talk to you. 


COSBY:  And our thanks for Tucker Carlson for being such a trooper.  Auditions for Tucker and everybody else for the NBC new show, “America‘s Got Talent,” are going to begin next month.  For a list of locations near you, be sure to go to NBC.com. 

And still ahead, Justin Guarini and Kimberly Caldwell have faced Simon‘s wrath on “Idol.”  What do they think about his comments and this season?  Their inside scoop is coming up.  We can‘t wait to have them on. 



RYAN SEACREST, HOST, “AMERICAN IDOL”:  You voted.  Kevin, Bucky, both of you, thank you for everything you‘ve done so far.  Bucky, I‘m sorry that you‘ve had to stand here.  You are safe.  Kevin leaves us tonight on “American Idol.”


COSBY:  That was Chicken Little who everybody seemed to be rooting for, but didn‘t get it.  “American Idol” is not only the most popular show on TV, but it also a true cultural phenomenon, launching the careers of plenty of big names and also launching plenty of scandals.

But why is the show more popular now in its fifth season than ever before?  Joining us to explain are two people who have experienced Simon Cowell in action firsthand, former “Idol” contestant Kimberly Caldwell, who is now the host of “Idol Tonight” on the TV Guide Channel, and also Justin Guarini, runner-up from the first season of “Idol.” 

It‘s great to have both of you guys.  How are you doing?

KIMBERLY CALDWELL, FINALIST, “AMERICAN IDOL”:  We love you.  You‘re just straight up, and ask all the right questions.  I really like you. 


COSBY:  No nonsense.  No fooling around here.  You know, I‘ve got to ask you guys, I was surprised—and I‘m curious to get your take—let me show a little clip.  This is Simon on the show.  But in the interview with me, he actually was very calm, very nice, words you wouldn‘t expect to hear from Simon. 


GUARINI:  He definitely is.

COSBY:  But let me play a little clip from him in the show. 


COWELL:  There times tonight, if I‘m being honest with you, I feel like I‘m trapped in some sort of high school musical or something, and I want to leave.  You know, it‘s all a bit cutesy.  It was OK. 


COSBY:  You know, Kimberly, you know, he‘s still tough, but he‘s getting a little soft, I think.  He was kind of soft with me.

CALDWELL:  I don‘t think he‘s getting soft.  I mean, off-air, just like Justin knows, I mean, it‘s not like he‘s a bad guy.  He‘s honest.  Like, if I walked out wearing an outfit that made me look fat, he‘d go, “Kim, you look fat in that.” 

And if I walked out wearing an outfit that made me look hot, he‘d be, like, “Hey, Kim, you look hot in that.”  You know, he‘s just a very, very honest guy. 

GUARINI:  Yes, definitely.

CALDWELL:  And I think that “American Idol” is as huge as it is today because of Simon Cowell. 

GUARINI:  Yes, he‘s the one you love to hate.

COSBY:  And he was very pleasant, didn‘t you think, Justin?  I mean, he‘s got a very kind of fun side. 

GUARINI:  Oh, no, he is.  I mean, I hate to, you know, burst your bubble, but really, I mean he is one of the nicer, wittier people that, you know, I met on my “Idol” experience. 


GUARINI:  But, you know, but he is honest, and he does say what he needs to say, and, you know, more often than not, he‘s kind of hitting the nail on the head. 

CALDWELL:  Right.  I think he‘s always saying what everybody‘s who‘s sitting on their sofa are actually saying to themselves, but they would never actually say out loud. 


CALDWELL:  I usually agree with him.


COSBY:  You‘re right, because they say, “He just said what I‘m thinking.”


COSBY:  Let me play a comment, because we talked about Paula Abdul, guys.  And let me show a little bit of Paula in action.  There‘s been a lot of focus on Paula this season.


COWELL:  Paula, you‘re talking rubbish.  You are.  No, you are.  You


PAULA ABDUL, HOST, “AMERICAN IDOL”:  No, you cannot dance.  You cannot dance, Simon.  The whole world knows. 

COWELL:  This is a singing competition.  It‘s a singing competition. 

It‘s not a dancing competition. 



COSBY:  Justin, what‘s up with Paula? 

GUARINI:  Oh, you know what?  It‘s great to watch, you know what I mean?

CALDWELL:  “You cannot dance.  You cannot dance.”


That‘s all I have to say.

GUARINI:  No, Paula‘s awesome.  I love me some Paula.

COSBY:  What do you think—what‘s happening with her? 

GUARINI:  No, you know what?  I don‘t know.

CALDWELL:  She‘s been there a while.  She‘s comfortable, you know? 

GUARINI:  You know what?  I know she‘s been tired sometimes, but, I mean, it‘s just good television. 

CALDWELL:  It is.  I love to see Simon and Paula fight, and I think the rest of America does, too. 



COSBY:  And that‘s exactly what Simon told us.  Let‘s listen to what Simon told us a little bit earlier.  Here it is again. 


COWELL:  She‘s been like this for five years.  I mean, that‘s the way she is, you know?

WARWICK:  You know, and we quite like the fact we never know what she‘s going to do.

COWELL:  I agree.  I love it. 

WARWICK:  You know, it‘s great.

COWELL:  I love it.

WARWICK:  And the fact that you‘re bringing it up warrants it being there, you know?

COSBY:  You‘re right.  Everybody‘s talking about it, you‘re right.

COWELL:  And no one‘s spoken about Randy since he‘s been on the show. 

Randy, you never mention him.


COSBY:  You know, Kimberly, do scandals and sort of unpredictability, is that the success of the show?

CALDWELL:  The success of the show, I think, is the talent, you know?  I‘d like to think is the talent, because we were one of those people at one time.

But I think that it kind of has a little bit to do with everything, and now that America has made it as big as it is, then of course the scandals are going to come along and everything else is going to come along, because people are going to want to talk about other things than just the talent. 

GUARINI:  Yes, I think it kind of progresses from, you know, just the show about these kids who have a dream and then have to stand up in front of this English guy and get bashed, to then, you know, people being able to either live vicariously through them and vote for the people that they want to hear on the radio, see on the TV.

You know, it becomes about not only the people singing, but the people voting for them and, you know, enjoying their talent. 

CALDWELL:  Right, totally. 

COSBY:  Did you guys—either of you have idea it would become this big when you were on it? 

CALDWELL:  No way.  I‘m sure you didn‘t...


GUARINI:  No, our first season was like, you know, we didn‘t know.  We were all flying by the seat of our pants. 

CALDWELL:  And the second season, it was like, you know, we kind of knew how big it was going to be, because, you know, we saw the finale.  It was huge.  And Kelly and Justin both blew up.

But at the same time, you know, when you‘re in that experience—just I‘m sure you notice—you‘re in a bubble.  You really are like in a bubble.  You don‘t know what‘s going on outside of that bubble and what‘s going on in the real world. 

GUARINI:  Thank goodness. 


CALDWELL:  I know.  Or you would freak out, you know, when people would be, like, you know, are you nervous about singing tonight?  You‘re going to be in front of millions of people.  I‘d be, “Well, I wasn‘t really until you just said that, you know?”


CALDWELL:  I don‘t think we had any clue that it was going to be as huge as it was, right?  I‘m glad it was, because now we both have jobs. 

GUARINI:  Right.

COSBY:  Yes, job security for a long time.  Both of you, stick with us, OK?  We‘re going to talk with both of you a little more after the break.  We‘re going to have a lot more from these two “American Idol” stars in a few seconds, including who they think will be this year‘s winner. 

But first, let‘s go to Joe Scarborough with a preview of what‘s coming up tonight in a few minutes on “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.” 

Joe, any hidden talents like Tucker had? 

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST:  I have absolutely no hidden talents.  It seems that Tucker and you have all of those. 

But what about “American Idol”?  I mean, talk about a cultural icon that just keeps on rolling.  We‘re actually going to take it from a little different angle later in the show, Rita.  We‘re going to have the young guy on that‘s got the Web site, VotefortheWorst.com. 

He says “American Idol” has nothing to do with talent.  It‘s just a basic reality TV show, and he‘s doing his best to sabotage what goes on there.  And they‘re actually encouraging people to call in and also to e-mail in and vote for the worst person on “American Idol” just to screw up who wins the contest. 

At the top of the show, we‘re going to be going to Tennessee, going to be talking on a serious note about that tragic murder in Tennessee, the preacher, the wife that fled to Alabama with her children.  Many are saying now that abuse was involved.  We‘re going to get to the bottom of that and much more tonight in “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.”

Rita, now back to you. 

COSBY:  And we will be watching, Joe.  Thanks so much.

And, everybody, we‘re going to be right back.  We‘re going to talk about those Web sites, ask our folks what they think of what Joe has coming up.  We‘re going to talk a lot more about the controversy surrounding “American Idol.”  Stick with us, everybody.


COSBY:  And we‘re back, talking about “American Idol” with two of the most successful contestants in the show‘s history, Kimberly Caldwell, who is now host of “Idol Tonight” on the TV Guide Channel, and also with us the handsome guy next to her, Justin Guarini, who‘s got a new album out called “Stranger Things Have Happened,” available also on his Web site, which is JustinGuarini.com. 

You guys, let me play—this is what Simon said.  This is Simon Cowell making his prediction of who is going to win this season‘s “American Idol.”


COWELL:  Yes, I‘ll stick by it.  It was Kellie, Taylor and Chris.  I think that sounds fair, that sounds safe.  I have a horrible feeling the public are going to vote for Taylor, and I would prefer Chris. 


COSBY:  Justin, what do you think?  Who do you think is going to take it all? 

GUARINI:  Well, I like Taylor and Kellie.  I don‘t know who is going to take it all.  I mean, if I had to say who would take it all, I would say Chris, but I‘d love to see a Chris-Mandisa face off.

COSBY:  All right.  And, Kimberly, what do you think? 

CALDWELL:  Well, I think that—you know, if America sticks to what Simon says, that, you know, there‘s a pretty good shot.  But just like, you know, Simon said, that girl, Katharine, Katharine McPhee, little lady, she has been bringing it.  Mandisa has been bringing it.

Everybody‘s really been raising their game.  And I think that, you know, no matter who goes next, it‘s going to be a shocker, because everybody is a favorite, you know?  I don‘t think anybody is actually competing with each other or with the same audience.  They all have their own unique audience, and I think that‘s really going to help the votes in the end. 

COSBY:  You bet.  They‘re all really good.  And you guys, look, you guys were fantastic.  In fact, “Idol” helped launch a second career.  I want to show a little bit of you on TV Guide Channel, Kimberly.

CALDWELL:  OK, great.


CALDWELL:  ... “American Idol” finalist.  Together, we are hosting your ultimate tailgate party.  Where‘s the barbecue and beer?


We are going out to take you, surrounded by over 600 fans, we‘re going to go pack the audience for tonight‘s “American Idol” performance show. 


COSBY:  You look like you‘re having a lot of fun out there.  Are you surprised at how much this has helped your career?

CALDWELL:  Yes, it looks like I‘m screaming.  I lost my voice after that show, as I‘m sure you can tell.  Yes, it definitely did.  We have “Idol Tonight,” and it‘s with the “American Idol” audience at the “American Idol” studio. 

And it‘s so great, because we have “Idol” experts on, like fashion designers, celebrity vocal coaches, and a former “American Idol.”  So maybe we‘ve have Justin on there soon.

COSBY:  And, in fact, Justin, I want to talk about your album...

CALDWELL:  You can watch it on TV Guide Channel, 7:00.


GUARINI:  I‘m sorry?

COSBY:  You got your album, right? 

GUARINI:  Yes, yes.

COSBY:  But, you know, what do you make of Kelly Clarkson, who kind of is trying to forget about her “Idol” past?  Do you think she should...


GUARINI:  I have such an argument when people say that.  I mean, I was there when she fought with Clive Davis, really, over naming her album “Thankful,” and she is just that, really thankful for everything she‘s had.  And I mean, she‘s gone straight through the stratosphere, and I‘m really proud of her. 

COSBY:  Well, we‘re really proud of both of you guys!  And thank you so much, both.  And I‘m really glad your careers are both taking off.  You both deserve it.  Thanks so much.

CALDWELL:  Thank you, Rita.

GUARINI:  Thank you.

COSBY:  And, everybody, still ahead, the massive fight over immigration.  Who should be able to come into the U.S. and what happens to people who sneak in?  Hear what the president of Mexico has to say.  It‘s part of my exclusive interview.  That‘s coming up next.  We‘re going to give you a sneak peek. 


COSBY:  And take a look at this.  Proposed changes to immigration laws have tens of thousands of people protesting from Detroit, to Texas and California.  The protestors are supporting illegal immigrants, people who would be affected by legislation making it a felony to live in the U.S.  illegally.  The law would also build fences along part of the U.S.-Mexican border. 

In an exclusive interview, I recently asked the president of Mexico about this problem. 


COSBY:  What do you say to people who want to cross the border illegally?

VICENTE FOX, PRESIDENT OF MEXICO:  That they shouldn‘t, that they shouldn‘t cross illegally.  But, again, how can you hold somebody that is looking for a better life.  He who thinks that he himself can do everything and solve all its problems in today‘s world is mistaken. 


COSBY:  And coming up tomorrow night, we‘re going to begin a series, a very special series, of reports on the border battle with more of my exclusive interview with President Vicente Fox.

Plus, what‘s at stake in the hot-button immigration debate.  That all starts tomorrow night, right here on LIVE & DIRECT.  It is sure to be a fiery night.

And that does it for me on LIVE & DIRECT here tonight.  I‘m Rita Cosby.  “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY” with my pal, Joe, starts right now.

Joe, take it away.


Watch Rita Cosby Live & Direct each weeknight at 9 p.m. ET


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