updated 8/24/2006 10:57:14 AM ET 2006-08-24T14:57:14

Guests: Stephanie LaGrossa, Kevin Dickson, Laura Schwartz, Tom O‘Neil, Jill Dobson, Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, Bex Schwartz, Dina Sansing, Courtney Hazlett

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Right now in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, segregation comes to primetime as CBS throws political correctness out the window. and separates races into tribes.  Now, it‘s sparked outrage, but will it rack up ratings?  Then: Tom Cruise, you‘re fired!  Tonight, Holly-wars (ph).  Did the voice from “South Park” get the last laugh again?  But what really happened?  And we‘ll tell you how Viacom bosses went out of their way to embarrass Cruise.  Plus: Politicians do the dumbest things.  I mean, look at me.  But now they‘re on the Internet for the world to see.  How Youtube‘s already changing politics and making life ugly for stupid politicos.

Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  No passport required, only common sense allowed.

We‘re going to have all of that and a lot more.  But first, a half century after Brown v. Board of Education struck down the “separate but equal” doctrine, segregation‘s making a roaring comeback on September 14.  No, not in our schools but on TV, as CBS prepares to wade into hot water by segregating blacks from whites from Asians from Hispanics on the granddaddy of all reality TV shows, “Survivor.”  Now, this season‘s “Survivor” is going to have a radical, politically incorrect twist where the usual four teams will be divided into four tribes—an African-American tribe, an Asian-American tribe, a Hispanic tribe and a white tribe.

The show‘s host, Jeff Probst, said they made the move because “Survivor” was criticized for being too white.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF PROBST, “SURVIVOR“ HOST:  It is a social experiment, and this is adding another layer to that experiment which is taking the show to a completely different level.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘ll say!  Is it a bad idea to balkanize reality TV or is it a nice change for a world that‘s gone decidedly politically correct?  Right now, let‘s bring in Leo Terrell.  He‘s a KABC radio talk show host and Civil Rights attorney.  We also have Stephanie Lagrossa.  She‘s a former “Survivor” contestant.  We also have Kevin Dickson from “In Touch Weekly.”

Stephanie Lagrossa, let me start with you.  Why is “Survivor” splitting races into separate tribes?  I mean, that‘s so 1953, isn‘t it?

STEPHANIE LAGROSSA, FORMER “SURVIVOR” CONTESTANT:  You know what?  I have no idea what the answer to that question is.  I don‘t work in production.  But I can guess that it‘s been around 12 seasons.  We‘re on the 13th now.  And they want to mix things up.  They want to get people interested.

And honestly, I didn‘t think it‘s going to be about race.  Maybe us, as viewers, think it is, but after these contestants get out there about a day, they‘re going to realize it‘s about survival and it‘s about trying to win a million bucks.  So the fact that we‘re having this talk show right now about it, I think Mark Burnett made a good move and I think that they‘re going to get a lot of ratings from it.  And I think that‘s what they‘re trying to do.  I don‘t think it‘s about race.

SCARBOROUGH:  But an African-American tribe—I mean, come on, CBS had to know this would inflame viewers out there, right, Stephanie?

LAGROSSA:  I don‘t know.  I don‘t know the answer to that.  I mean, I think that—I don‘t think it‘s going to be about race, and I don‘t think these four tribes are going to stay intact for very long.  They never do.  I mean, how is this any different than, you know, male versus female, or you know, young versus old?  I don‘t understand how, really, that much of a difference because probably in a week or two, they‘re going to merge and they‘re going to go into two tribes.  They always do.

SCARBOROUGH:  Leo Terrell, what‘s the big deal?

LEO TERRELL, KABC RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  This is sickening!  This makes me sick, OK?  There is—this is the race card being played to increase ratings.  Twelve years ago, he didn‘t care if blacks or Hispanics were not on that program.  I find this offensive!  He‘s trying to squeeze a couple extra years out of this program.  And I want to look him straight in the face and say, Don‘t tell me after 12 years, you‘re racially sensitive to the lack of blacks or browns on this show.

I hate the whole concept!  And I want him to understand something right now.  This Civil Rights attorney is going to do everything possible to make sure that doesn‘t go on.  Black people, brown people, do not watch this program!  He is trying to use race to put money in his pocket, and anyone who doesn‘t understand that is naive!  This is nothing more than to use black people, brown people and yellow people to boost ratings, to put money in his pocket.  This is sickening!

SCARBOROUGH:  But Leo, it‘s a TV show, Leo, a gimmick.

LAGROSSA:  Right.

SCARBOROUGH:  And since it‘s just a gimmick...

TERRELL:  It‘s a gimmick using race!

SCARBOROUGH:  ... should you not be concerned?

TERRELL:  It‘s a gimmick using race!  It‘s a gimmick—the whole set-up there is black versus white, and this historical association with this adversarial role.  This is nothing more than playing a race card!  And I want to make this clear on your program.  For him to sit there and say this is in response to the lack of diversity is a big lie, in my opinion!  And no one on in program should defend this!  Absolutely not!

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Kevin—Kevin, can you think of any precedent at all for dividing TV contestants by race?  Especially—it seems so out of touch with the times.  I can‘t think of any TV show that has ever done this, can you?  And do you think CBS...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... has a reason to be concerned?

KEVIN DICKSON, “IN TOUCH WEEKLY”:  No, I don‘t think they have a

reason to be concerned.  I think that race is a visual identifier, the same

as age or gender, and I think that Mark Burnett has played with those mores

(ph) before on the show, and I think he‘s doing it again.  And I think that

I was there when it went down.  I was there when they were separated.  I went to the tribes after they were separated, and I watched...

TERRELL:  Apologist!

DICKSON:  ... how it worked, and I think people are...

TERRELL:  Apologist!

DICKSON:  ... going to be very happy.

TERRELL:  Apologist!  All apologists...

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, hold on a second, Leo...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Leo, hold on a second.  You will have your turn.  Are they hoping, Stephanie, do you think, that blacks will tune in to cheer for the black tribe, Asians will cheer for the Asian tribe, and so on and so forth?

LAGROSSA:  I think they‘re just—I think they just are trying to mix it up.  It‘s been around a long time.  They‘ve done a lot of things.  There‘ve been a lot of twists.  And I think that this is just a twist that they haven‘t done before, and I think a lot of Americans are going to be very interested and...

TERRELL:  Not this black American!

LAGROSSA:  Well, you know what?

TERRELL:  Not this guy!

LAGROSSA:  But you‘re on this show talking about it, so you‘re obviously interested.

TERRELL:  Yes, I‘m on this show because I‘m offended by it!

LAGROSSA:  But you‘re still...

TERRELL:  And you guys are apologizing for it!  I hope you‘re not...

LAGROSSA:  I‘m not apologizing.

(CROSSTALK)

LAGROSSA:  I think it‘s a very interesting idea...

(CROSSTALK)

LAGROSSA:  I‘d like to see...

SCARBOROUGH:  All right...

LAGROSSA:  ... how it‘s going to play out because I don‘t think it‘s going to last...

TERRELL:  Sure, you do!

LAGROSSA:  ... through the whole—I don‘t think it‘s going to last long.

(CROSSTALK)

LAGROSSA:  Leo, you watch and see.  I was on the show.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Kevin—hold on a second.  You guys have got to let me ask these questions.

LAGROSSA:  All right.

SCARBOROUGH:  We can only is one person talking at a time.  Kevin, you said you were there when all of this went down.  Were the...

DICKSON:  Yes, I did, and (INAUDIBLE)

SCARBOROUGH:  ... African-Americans offended when they were taken into one group, and were the Asian-Americans offended when they were taken into another group, and so on and so forth?

DICKSON:  Interestingly, to answer your question, I had an inkling that was going to be how it went down, so I was able to kind of address it with the contestants before they found out and before the game started, and the team that across the board had the best response were the African-Americans.  They were, like...

TERRELL:  Oh, please!  Don‘t...

(CROSSTALK)

DICKSON:  That‘s how it went down.

LAGROSSA:  What did they say?

DICKSON:  I‘m not lying to you.

LAGROSSA:  What did they say...

(CROSSTALK)

TERRELL:  Black people, do not watch in program!  They‘re trying to use you!

LAGROSSA:  Kevin...

TERRELL:  Don‘t—don‘t tell me how black people think!

DICKSON:  Yes, Steph?

TERRELL:  I‘m sick of this!  You‘re not a—you don‘t of speak for black people!

LAGROSSA:  Were they offended?

TERRELL:  This is ridiculous!

(CROSSTALK)

LAGROSSA:  I didn‘t hear the answer?

DICKSON:  I‘m not speaking for anybody.  I‘m telling you what happened.

LAGROSSA:  I‘m sorry, I didn‘t hear the answer.  Were they offended or were they, like, Let‘s play, let‘s play the game?

DICKSON:  No.  No, they were—they were—they just—a lot of them said it reflected an urban environment.  They were quite happy to play it that way.

LAGROSSA:  OK.

DICKSON:  Across the board, people said they were unlikely to choose an alliance based on skin color.

LAGROSSA:  Exactly.

SCARBOROUGH:  Leo Terrell...

(CROSSTALK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Leo, I want to show you a quote that was made this past week.  This was a guy who obviously—Andrew Young, who‘s been a leader in the African-American community for some time.  He was talking about convenience store owners in urban areas.  He said, “Those are the people who‘ve been overcharging us.  They‘ve been selling us stale bred and bad meat and wilted vegetables, and they sold out and moved to Florida.  I think they‘ve ripped off our communities enough.  First it was the Jews, then it was the Koreans and now it‘s the Arabs.  Very few  black people own these stores.”

Leo, isn‘t this really the type of racism that you and I should be worried about instead of what goes on on a TV show?

TERRELL:  Well, you know what?  Yes, I agree.  You and I should be worried about the Young comments and try to correct that.  But what makes me sick is to use—for economic purpose to play the race card.  And anyone, Joe, who is going to deny the fact that Mark Burnett, after this show has been on for 12 years, is going to be sensitive to black people is disingenuous.  Black people, I beg you, go do not watch “Survivor”!  Please~!

SCARBOROUGH:  Stephanie, I want to ask you ask you about “Survivor,” why it‘s lasted so long, and whether this is their last grasp for rating gold because ratings have obviously gone down over the past few years.  Do you think this is his final sort of—Mark Burnett‘s final desperate ploy?  And you can look at—the ratings have gone down from 17 to a 9.5.  Do you think it‘s sort of their last effort to save themselves from cancellation?

LAGROSSA:  You know what?  I don‘t.  I think there‘s a reason why the show‘s been on for 13 seasons straight, and it‘s always a top 10 show.  And I think that they always have new twists, and this is just another twist that the producers decided to go with.  And I don‘t think this is a ploy because it‘s going down.  I think the show‘s going to be—it has been around for a long time.  Obviously, Mark Burnett‘s a mastermind.  He‘s done a great job, and he‘s going to continue to do a good job.

Now, the thing is, with race, Leo, is that when I was out there, I didn‘t align myself with young white females, I aligned myself with men of all colors on both seasons I was on.  So it‘s not a race thing, it‘s a survival thing.  And it‘s when you get out there after day one, you‘re, like, This is for real.  Who cares who‘s what color, who‘s on what tribe?  We need to work as a team to get to the end to win a million bucks.  I mean, that‘s—that‘s what it is.

And I think that they divided according to race to—you know, maybe for ratings, maybe not, probably, but to get—to gain interest.  And look at us, we‘re talking about it right now.  It‘s obviously (INAUDIBLE)

SCARBOROUGH:  Stephanie, you‘re exactly right, we‘re talking about it.  And if they‘d had the same type of show they‘ve had for the past several seasons, we wouldn‘t be doing that tonight.  So on that score, they certainly know what they‘re talking about.

Thanks a lot, Kevin.  Thank you, Stephanie, and thank you, Leo. 

Greatly appreciate you all being with us.

And when we come back in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY: Virginia senator George Allen fell victim to it.  So did Delaware senator Joe Biden.  It‘s the Youtube revolution, and it‘s changing the face of politics and making life ugly for some dumb politicos.

And later: You can take the man out of the frat, but can you ever take the frat out of the man?  A White House insider has revealed the president‘s favorite type of humor, and it makes the White House sound more like Animal House than the White House.

Plus: Cruise canned.  You heard the news, but tonight we‘ll tell you what really happened behind the scenes that left Tom Cruise out in the cold.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back.  Gotcha politics goes worldwide.  On the Web, that is.  The popular on-line video site Youtube is catching hapless politicians in the act of being stupid, and they‘re putting it on the Internet for you and your fellow voters to see.  Now, this past month alone, the site‘s been credited with helping an unknown businessman take down three-term senator Joe Lieberman, and it‘s also embarrassed Virginia senator George Allen, who was caught on tape making what some considered to be a racial slur.

NBC‘s David Gregory has the story of how Youtube‘s political revolution will change the way you get your political news.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID GREGORY, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Virginia senator George Allen recently learned firsthand about the changing political landscape.  At a campaign event, Allen made an off-the-cuff racial slur, “macacca,” when he spotted an Indian-American staffer from his rival‘s campaign.

SEN. GEORGE ALLEN ®, VIRGINIA:  This fellow here, over here with the yellow shirt, Macacca, or whatever his name is...

GREGORY:  In the past, such an unscripted moment may have gone largely unnoticed, but not in the era of Youtube, an increasingly popular Web site where you can post video for the world to see.  For politicians, the Web site has turned campaigns into reality television.  Here‘s Democrat Joe Biden speaking about Indian-Americans.

SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), DELAWARE:  You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin‘ Dunuts unless you have a slight Indian accent (INAUDIBLE) I‘m not joking!

GREGORY:  And of course, the president is a frequent target.

GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  In my state of the—my State of the Union or state—my speech to the nation, whatever you want to call it, speech to...

GREGORY (on camera):  Youtube is just the latest entry into a political landscape that‘s been dramatically changed by the Internet, where you never know who‘s watching or what they‘re doing with the material.

(voice-over):  But some politicians have decided if you can‘t fight it, join it, attempting to raise their profiles on the Web with younger voters.  Senator Evan Bayh has posted his own profile on the  social networking site Facebook.  But former White House media adviser Nicolle Wallace is skeptical of all this new exposure, fearing in particular that Youtube‘s popularity will make politicians even less spontaneous.

(on camera):  Your fear is that this creates candidates as robots.

NICOLLE WALLACE, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS ADVISER:  I think if we get to a point in politics where politicians can‘t be human, then they move farther away from us, and I think that that‘s a dangerous thing.  I think that‘s something we should all guard against.

GREGORY (voice-over):  Ana Marie Cox, who came to prominence as a political blogger, disagrees.

ANA MARIE COX, TIME.COM:  The difference here is that politicians will get caught more.  But shouldn‘t people who do stupid things be held accountable for them?

GREGORY:  In a new campaign era that is anything but politics as usual.  David Gregory, NBC News, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  Did that give me—oh, my God!  I‘m busted.  With us now—and I‘m so glad they didn‘t have Youtube when I was in Congress.  With us now, Laura Schwartz, former special assistant to President Clinton and Democratic strategist.

So let me ask you, do you think Youtube is good for America?

LAURA SCHWARTZ, FORMER ADVISER TO PRESIDENT CLINTON:  Yes, I do.  And I think it‘s good for the candidates themselves, as well.  You know, you look back to 1992, and the Clinton campaign in ‘92 really revolutionized the video news release.  But at that point, you had to videotape an event, take it into an editing suite, edit it for a few hours, make a package, send faxes and call around to all the news agencies in the country, saying, Hey, watch your satellite at these coordinates between 7:00 and 8:00 tonight.  We‘re going to feed you a news release.  And it cost tons of dollars.  Now you just do a video, download it to your computer, edit it and e-mail it out, and it‘s...

SCARBOROUGH:  But Laura, Youtube would have been nightmare for Bill Clinton.  Bill Clinton was a human highlight reel.  I mean, whether he talked about his (INAUDIBLE) or all those Gennifer Flowers moments.  Can you imagine?  I think Youtube would have actually hurt Bill Clinton in 1992 because of all of those embarrassing clips that could have been out there.  So isn‘t it gotcha politics, and isn‘t it all about embarrassing politicians?  And couldn‘t you look at that as being a bad thing?

SCHWARTZ:  Well, you know, (INAUDIBLE) is how to use it as a good thing.  Now, as far as reality in politics and a  reality show, I think it will put them more on guard, but in a good way.  You know, you want to come off—you know, I always say people are voted into office on personality.  And then they‘re kept into office based on their policy.  If they can show true personality to this demographic that they usually don‘t all get to go to—you know, Jon Stewart has done it brilliantly on Comedy Central.  More people from, like, 18 to 24-year-olds watch Comedy Central and the Jon Stewart “Daily Show” than they do the regular network news.  This is another tool that they can use to tap into that.  They‘ll be on guard, but I think if they play it right, they can really come through well.

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, speaking of embarrassing politicians, I want to show you another Youtube clip, and this one comes from a guy in Florida that talks about what life was like when he was in the military.  Roll that clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I grew up in Alabama.  I understand—I know this from my own experience, that blacks are not the greatest swimmers or may not even know how to swim...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  What—you know, what—what do people—I just—

I‘m one of these people that believe if you say it and it‘s that stupid, you deserve to get busted.  Is it—isn‘t it...

SCHWARTZ:  I agree.

SCARBOROUGH:  I ran—we ran these clips of the president or if we ran clips of Bill Clinton—I mean, if you don‘t like that being out there on the Internet, then don‘t say it in the first place!

SCHWARTZ:  Exactly.  You wonder...

SCARBOROUGH:  Keep your mouth shut!

SCHWARTZ:  ... who says things like that?  Really.  I mean, it‘s just

you‘ve got to be aware of your surroundings.  In every campaign I‘ve worked on, and in the White House, you always, always take for granted that you are on camera, everything you say or do can be heard at all times.  And you just have to approach it like that.  And when you say something like that, sometimes it shows your true colors, and they‘re coming out and we‘re going to realize that and vote on behalf of what you look like all the time.

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt about it.  And of course, politicians can get in trouble for what they say even when the camera is off.  This comes from “Washington Whispers,” “U.S. News and World Report,” talking about George W. Bush around the White House, and it says this about him.  Quote, “He loves to cuss,” “get a jolly when a mountain biker wipes out trying to keep up with him.”  And now we‘re hearing that the first frat boy loves flatulence jokes.

SCHWARTZ:  You know, what did he say?  This guy spent more time at keg parties than he did at study groups in college.  But even my friends in fraternities grew out of that at a 5 and 10-year reunion.  It really just shows—you know, I really, Joe, believe it‘s as lesson to be learned here is next time you see the president, remember to shake his hand, don‘t pull his finger.

(LAUGHTER)

SCARBOROUGH:  You know, the thing is, though, it really does mean that as a politician, does it not, that you need to be on your best behavior not only when you‘re in front of the camera but also when you‘re in the Oval Office?  And I‘m always reminded of those stories about Ronald Reagan, my political hero, who would never even go into the Oval Office unless he was wearing a jacket because he thought it was disrespectful to the Oval Office.  A lot of people see that as old-fashioned, but I think people we elect to Congress and to the Senate and to the White House certainly need to understand that they work for us and they need to be on their best behavior, and if they screw up, we‘re going to hold them accountable.  And the Internet allows us to do that.

SCHWARTZ:  Absolutely.  Well, you know, you‘re the dignity of this country.  You‘re the face to world, as the president.  You represent your state as a senator or representative or as a governor.  You are constantly not just representing yourself and maybe your dumb stupid habits, you‘re representing the country and you‘ve got to take that seriously.  That‘s why this guy should have left this at the door in private quarters.  But come on.  This is our face to the world.  What, does he use these jokes to break the ice at the G-8 summits?  I mean, I really got to wonder.

SCARBOROUGH:  We don‘t know, and I certainly don‘t want to her Chirac‘s jokes.  Thank you so much, Laura Schwartz.

SCHWARTZ:  Thanks, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  Greatly appreciate you being with us.

And still to come tonight, the Hollywood break-up that the whole industry‘s buzzing about.  Was Tom Cruise just too crazy for Paramount, or is there another story behind the story on why he was dumped?  We‘ve got the inside scoop coming up.

Plus: Up in the sky, it‘s a bird, it‘s a plane?  No, it‘s a lawn mower, and it‘s part of tonight‘s “Must See S.C.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s time for tonight‘s “Must See S.C.,” some video that you just got to see.  First up, England‘s annual trick golf shot competition.  Golf pros from all over the world flock to the English countryside to show off some of their best tricks, which included hitting balls blindfolded, hitting balls out of tubes and hitting them in mid-air.  The winner was a former British cop, who walked away with almost 10,000 bucks.

And if this isn‘t must-see, I don‘t know what is.  This video comes from the Internet, so we can‘t exactly vouch for its credibility, but it looks like some genius mechanic figured out how to rig a lawn mower and fly it across his back yard skies.  The mower‘s called, what else, the Sky Cutter.

We got a lot more ahead in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Paramount Pictures dumps Tom Cruise.  Will Hollywood‘s most bankable star land on his feet, or is this the end of the long road for the leading man?

And later: They‘re the commercials you love to hate.  From singing celebrities to obscure head remedies, we‘ve got a full rundown of this year‘s best and worst TV ads.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Coming up, don‘t touch that dial.  We‘ll show you the new list of the best and the worst commercials on TV.  Plus, is Oprah such a big star that she now needs her own planet?  The out-of-this-world detail in “Hollyweird.”

Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  We have those stories coming up in just minutes. 

But first, the big Hollywood breakup everybody is talking about.  After 14 years, Tom Cruise and Paramount are calling it quits.  The moviemakers had enough of Cruise‘s bizarre behavior, while Cruise is expected to fire back with both barrels in this P.R. war of the worlds.  But what really happened behind the scenes? 

“Star” magazine‘s Jill Dobson and Tom O‘Neil from “InTouch Weekly” will join me in a minute.  But first, the latest details from NBC‘s James Hattori.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAMES HATTORI, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  For years, Tom Cruise has played bigger-than-life, likable leading men. 

TOM CRUISE, ACTOR:  You complete me. 

HATTORI:  But after opening up to Oprah about his romance with Katie Holmes... 

OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST:  Did you know Katie once told “Seventeen” magazine...

CRUISE:  Yes. 

(APPLAUSE)

HATTORI:  Lashing out at actress Brooke Shields for taking anti-depressants after giving birth. 

CRUISE:  She doesn‘t know what these drugs are.  And for her to promote it is irresponsible. 

HATTORI:  And getting prickly on the “Today” show.

CRUISE:  ... Matt, Matt, you don‘t even—you‘re glib.  You don‘t even know what Ritalin is.

HATTORI:  Some are seeing cracks in his movie star facade. 

CHUCK NICE, VH-1, “BEST WEEK EVER”:  Tom should be in rehab for weirdness abuse.  It‘s one thing to do something strange.  It‘s another thing to do strange on top of strange.

HATTORI:  His long-time studio, Paramount Pictures, decided enough was enough.  Sumner Redstone, chairman of the studio‘s parent, Viacom, even criticized Cruise publicly, saying, “His recent conduct has not been acceptable to Paramount.”

Tom Cruise‘s films have made billions of dollars, but with Hollywood worried about future box office and DVD revenues, studios are increasingly scrutinizing the behavior of even their most bankable stars off the lot. 

Mel Gibson‘s career hit a pothole after he launched into an anti-Semitic tirade during a drunk driving stop.  Lindsey Lohan‘s studio called her on the carpet for partying late into the night, then calling in sick. 

In Cruise‘s case, insiders say personal behavior wouldn‘t be an issue at all if his latest film, “Mission Impossible 3,” had performed up to the studio‘s expectation. 

PETER BART, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, “VARIETY”:  Paramount wanted to do business with Cruise, but on their terms. 

HATTORI:  Cruise‘s camp says he chose to leave Paramount to make films with private investors who may not see his public persona as risky business. 

James Hattori, NBC News, Los Angeles. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCARBOROUGH:  Thanks, James.

And here now is Tom O‘Neil.  He‘s senior editor for “InTouch Weekly.” 

Also with us, Jill Dobson from “Star” magazine.

Tom, what happened to this guy who‘s long been considered one of the most powerful men in Hollywood? 

TOM O‘NEIL, “INTOUCH WEEKLY”:  Well, we‘ve just seen the firing of the biggest star in Hollywood history, if you measure this guy in terms of just dollars and cents.  There are $3 billion in ticket sales, his movies have made here in the U.S., and $6 billion worldwide.  And what‘s amazing is that the firing was petty and it‘s mean in that grand, old Hollywood tradition. 

Something terrible has happened behind the scenes, and it‘s one of two things.  Either Sumner Redstone as head of Viacom got wind of the fact that Paramount did offer Tom a scaled-back deal—and they did—and then he just intervened like a grumpy grandpa and said, “Take that deal off the desk.  We don‘t want this kook on our team.”

Or when Tom saw the deal, he popped off with a tantrum, because somebody was nasty behind the scenes in order to cause Paramount to be so nasty publicly against Tom. 

SCARBOROUGH:  They certainly were nasty against Tom. 

And, Jill, if Tom Cruise, you know, if this guy was still the unqualified box office top gun, would Paramount have put up with his quirky behavior still? 

JILL DOBSON, “STAR” MAGAZINE:  Oh, certainly.  You can see that anything can be forgiven in Hollywood with a quick trip to rehab, or an apology, or whatever else.  But it‘s the bottom line that‘s really the biggest, most important factor.  And Tom didn‘t do quite as well as expected with “Mission Impossible 3.”  Not only that, but Tom has deals where he gets such a huge end of the back end of these movie deals that the Paramount studio wasn‘t making that much money off him.  And between his antics reducing ticket sales and then him getting such a big portion of whatever is left of the box office, it just wasn‘t worth it to them financially. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Wasn‘t worth it to them.  And then they‘re embarrassed again by the Scientology stuff, by him attacking Brooke Shields, which, of course, enraged a lot of women across the country.  I mean, again, this guy just wasn‘t worth the embarrassment, was he, Jill, because he wasn‘t bringing in the bucks for them?

DOBSON:  Right, exactly.  If he‘s going to bring in the bucks, they‘ll put up with it.  But his shenanigans were embarrassing them and hurting their bottom line, and that‘s a one-two punch that no Hollywood studio chief is going to take. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, Tom, on the same morning—this is where it really gets ugly.  You were talking about the ugly break.  On the same morning that Paramount cut ties with Cruise, they also announced a new deal with Cruise‘s long-term tormentors, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of “South Park.”

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Don‘t you understand, L. Ron?  It‘s me, Tom Cruise!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, I know who you are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Haven‘t I done well, L. Ron?  Haven‘t you enjoyed my acting?  Which films did you like best?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, I mean, you‘re not like as good as Leonardo DiCaprio, but you‘re OK, I guess. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I mean, you‘re not Gene Hackman or that guy that played “Napoleon Dynamite,” but you‘re OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m nothing.  I‘m a failure in the eyes of the prophet!  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hey, dude, I‘m sorry, I didn‘t mean it. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Go away. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Dude, this is my room. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, so Hollywood—this is the ugly side of Hollywood, where first they go after Comedy Central, they go after “South Park.”  You know, and Tom Cruise got that episode reportedly pulled from re-airing on Comedy Central. 

And so the “South Park” creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, fired back and they issued a statement in “Daily Variety” and said this.  Quote, “So, Scientology, you may have won this battle, but the million-year war for Earth has just begun.”

Tom, it looks like this round goes to “South Park,” and it looks like Paramount may have had these two announcements come out to specifically rub Tom Cruise‘s nose in the dirt, right? 

O‘NEIL:  No doubt about it.  Imagine how embarrassed the Paramount executives were when they all got caught, you know, pulling that South Park episode, which, of course, somebody did, whether Tom did it alone by just bullying his way through the system or it was done on his behalf.  Clearly, it was a corporate plot. 

And they were humiliated by this, as they were by such things as reports leaking out that Tom had a Scientology set—camp, excuse me, on the set of “War of the Worlds,” and that they put up with this.  And, you know, if you were a member of the media and you wanted to interview Tom, you had to go through a Scientology course first.  And they let all of this kookiness go on, and they put up with it because there was money, as you mentioned, but not any more. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Jill Dobson, there is nobody that Tom Cruise probably hates more than these “South Park” writers and producers, and yet, on the same day that he‘s fired, they resign a two-year deal.  I mean, that seems out and out spiteful on Viacom‘s part, doesn‘t it? 

DOBSON:  It does.  Not only that, but this Sunday is the Emmy awards, and this particular episode is up for an Emmy award.  So I‘m very interested to see what will happen.  If it wins, it will be another slap in the face for Tom Cruise.

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, Cruise‘s producing partner, Paula Wagner, struck back at Redstone, calling his comments offensive and undignified, saying, quote, “There must be another agenda that the studio has in mind to take one of their greatest assets and malign him this way.”  Is it about to get ugly, Tom? 

O‘NEIL:  It‘s going to get uglier and uglier, because Tom is going to fire back.  It‘s all about ego.  What‘s fascinating to me about this case, Joe, is that we have seen the flameout of Hollywood‘s biggest star, not because he committed a crime, not because we caught him stealing or molesting a child, or something terrible.  It‘s hubris.  It‘s pure Hollywood ego.  It‘s what the Greeks used to warn about when they said all glory is fleeting and his fall now is epic, like the Greeks warned. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Jill Dobson, what‘s the latest line in Hollywood on Tom Cruise rehabilitating himself?  Is it all over, or do they think he can come back? 

DOBSON:  You know, I think you can come back from anything, but this is a really tough one.  This is a slap in the face, when someone as powerful as Sumner Redstone chooses to go forward and make these statements and really humiliate you in the public eye. 

I understand why Paula Wagner, Tom‘s production company manager, is upset about it, because it is a huge slap in the face.  But, you know, if he makes some great films along with Paula Wagner with their production company, he‘ll be OK.

SCARBOROUGH:  Tom, do you agree with that assessment?  If he turns it around, learns to keep his mouth shut, maybe bite his tongue until he bleeds in his mouth, that maybe America will forgive and forget and start going back to this guy‘s movies? 

O‘NEIL:  No way.  Tom Cruise is toast as a superstar.  There was a time when the women of America wished they could be Katie Holmes, and now she‘s a subject of pity for us all.  She looks like his hostage.  He has lost his hero status, and he‘s lost the rooting factor.  Nobody is rooting for this guy anywhere, except maybe Mel Gibson, who somewhere tonight is probably praying to his higher power, saying, “Thank you, Jesus, for bringing us the Tom Cruise story.” 

SCARBOROUGH:  Amen.  Thank you so much, Tom, and thank you, Jill.  And just for the record, everybody, they went ahead and announced that Emmy award early.  I think the “Simpsons” beat that “South Park” episode, but I don‘t think Matt Stone and Trey Parker are worried about that tonight. 

Now, don‘t fast forward through this next segment.  The best and worst commercials on TV coming up, and there are some funny once.  And reports of a very uncomfortable moment backstage for Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson.  Meow.  That‘s coming up in “Hollyweird.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Thanks to TiVo, you may be missing them, but advertisers are constantly trying to get your attention with TV commercials.  Some, like these Geico ads, are so good perfection they require sequels.  Others miss the mark, including this ad for a product called HeadOn, which is so bad MSNBC.com named it the worst commercial of the year.  It looks bad. 

Here are the best and worst commercial breaks (INAUDIBLE) MSNBC.com television editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper.  We also have VH-1 commentator Bex Schwartz.

Let‘s go ahead and show a series of commercials for California cheeses that took the top spot on the MSNBC poll. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Look, tourists. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I‘ll get this one. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  This is perfect. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Oh, honey, let‘s take a picture.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  That‘s great. 

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP:  And one, two, three, cheese!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Did she say cheese? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  She just said her first word, her first word. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Her first word!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  OK, that never gets old. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Great cheese comes from happy cows.  Happy cows come from California.  Real California cheese. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Gael, why is that such a popular commercial with voters on the MSNBC.com poll? 

GAEL FASHINGBAUER COOPER, MSNBC.COM TV EDITOR:  Oh, you know, animal -

we‘ve been doing this poll for three years now, and animal commercials are always popular, but I think that, with the cow series, it‘s also just a smart—it‘s a smart series.  It is kind of funny.  It‘s gentle.  It pokes a little humor and makes you smile.  And, you know, people are so used to being offended or hit over the head with sales tactics that the cows are just kind of a sweet, little break. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  And, of course, “American Idol‘s” Taylor Hicks didn‘t perform as well as cows.  His Ford ad was not a fan favorite.  Let‘s take a look at it. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAYLOR HICKS, “AMERICAN IDOL” WINNER (singing):  I get what I want.  I go where I please.  I do it my way, because that‘s what I say.  And that‘s what‘s for me possibility.

ANNOUNCER:  Announcing Ford‘s model-year clearance...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Bex, what do you have to say about Taylor‘s foray into Ford advertising?

BEX SCHWARTZ, VH-1:  I love to watch him jerk around.  He‘s like a modern day Joe Cocker.  I‘ll not sure that I feel compelled to buy a Ford, but I do want to shake my booty.  “Possibilities, yeah!”

SCARBOROUGH:  I‘m sorry.  I‘ll tell you one of my favorite ads were the Geico caveman ads.  And they‘re a fan favorite, also, with MSNBC.com.  Let‘s take a look at some of these ads.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  At Geico.com, you can handle all your car insurance needs online.  It‘s so easy, a caveman could do it!

Seriously, we apologize, we had no idea you guys were still around. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, next time maybe do a little research. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Gentlemen, are we ready to order? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘ll have the roast duck with the mango salsa. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And I don‘t have much of an appetite, thank you. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Geico, 15 minutes could save you 15 percent or more on car insurance. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Gael, those never get old.  In fact, they had a series of those cavemen ads, didn‘t they? 

COOPER:  They did.  And, you know, I think the cavemen are really creepy, and they kind of—I don‘t really like those ads.  But the readers love them.  And Geico is a smart company.  Their ads are aware that they‘re ads.  They know you know it‘s an ad.  And, you know, they kind of use that to their advantage and play up on it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  There‘re no doubt about it.  Their ads have actually helped them break out of the pack. 

Let‘s take a look at the worse ad at the MSNBC.com.  It‘s for a product called HeadOn.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Apply directly to the forward.  HeadOn, apply directly to the forehead.  HeadOn, apply directly to the forehead.  HeadOn is available without a prescription at retailers nationwide. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCARBOROUGH:  Bex, what the hell was that about? 

SCHWARTZ:  I think I was just being hypnotized, but I do know how you use the product.  I don‘t know what it does.  But I know you have to apply it directly to your forehead, apply it directly to your forehead. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, Bex, do you remember those Clapper commercials?  I mean, do you think some of these people decide that they‘re going to make commercials so bad that we‘ll remember them, we‘ll talk about them, and the time we‘re in our convenience store, we‘ll pick up their product?

SCHWARTZ:  I think, when they‘re that bad, they definitely do have the buzz factor.  You know, you do hang out around the water cooler making fun of the HeadOn ad. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, no doubt about it. 

Hey, Gael, what was your selection for worst ad that you reviewed? 

COOPER:  Oh, it was hard to beat the HeadOn ad, but another one was the Burger Kind ads.  They have the big bucking chicken.  He‘s kind of a rodeo chicken.  You‘re supposed to ride him around.  And then they have the big hucking chicken.  He‘s like a motocross racer.  I‘m not really sure why we would want to eat chicken after watching him, but those were also very unpopular with our readers.  And I personally can‘t stand them. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Bex, do you have a favorite ad? 

SCHWARTZ:  Well, I love those big bucking chicken ads.  I love that they could almost say the f-word but not.  And I just love the way the singer goes, “Chicken,” like he‘s really a passionate person about the bucking chicken.  I don‘t eat the chicken, but, if I did, I would eat the bucking one. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And that would make you do it?

SCHWARTZ:  It bucks.  And it hucks.

SCARBOROUGH:  It reminds me of a Ricky Bobby quote from “Talladega Nights.”  “I‘m so drunk, I can‘t taste this chicken.”  Thank you so much, Gael.  Thank you, Bex Schwartz.

COOPER:  Thank you.

SCARBOROUGH:  Greatly appreciate you both being with us. 

And coming up next in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, we hit daytime TV.  Oprah may be headed for outer space.  It‘s a story that‘s custom made for “Hollyweird.”

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCARBOROUGH:  Roll out the red carpet.  It‘s time to take a trip to “Hollyweird.”

First up, just when you thought Oprah‘s star couldn‘t get any brighter, she now made the cover on “Planet.”  Scientists at Oprah‘s alma mater, Tennessee State University, discovered a planet and they want to name it after the daytime queen. 

With us now to talk about Planet Oprah and other stars in Hollywood‘s constellations, “US Weekly‘s” deputy West Coast editor, Dina Sansing, and “OK” magazine‘s senior reporter Courtney Hazlett. 

Dina, Planet Oprah?  It sounds like a bad fat joke.  Talk about it.

DINA SANSING, “US WEEKLY”:  Well, you know, she already rules Planet Earth, so you might as well give her, her own planet.  You know, she‘s the biggest star that we have these days, and her school decided—you know, they discovered this planet.  They have reign about what to name it, and they really want to pay tribute to her.

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt about it, and Oprah sells.  Courtney, I mean, this woman is a huge star.  I guess this means she‘s conquered Planet Earth and our great-grandchildren aren‘t going to be able to escape her even when they go into the heavens, right? 

COURTNEY HAZLETT, “OK” MAGAZINE:  Absolutely.  I think this is definitely going to seal the deal:  No one will ever forget about Oprah Winfrey, now or in the far, far future.  But, you know, she really is a wonderful woman, huge heart.  “OK” just reported that she‘s selected all the first 70-some students for her new school in South Africa.  And so I do think maybe she might be a little bit mortified about all this going down, but who‘s more deserving, really? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Who is more deserving really?  Certainly not the pope or whoever else...

HAZLETT:  Well, I mean...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... people that cure cancer.

SANSING:  What fun is that, you know?

SCARBOROUGH:  Oprah is just the greatest thing in the world. 

Next up, let‘s talk about pop tart rivals Jessica Simpson and Britney Spears.  They had an uncomfortable encounter backstage at last weekend‘s Teen Choice Awards.  Dina, give us the inside scoop.

SANSING:  Well, you know, Jessica was hosting the awards show, and

Britney was there to introduce her husband who was doing his first

performance ever.  They met backstage, and Jessica came up to her and asked

excuse me.  Britney came up, asked Jessica if she could kiss her belly. 

You know, she‘s pregnant with her second child and thought it would be cute.  And Britney‘s reaction was really like, “No, thank you.”  It was even a little too weird for Britney.  But they‘ve been rivals forever.  It‘s kind of interesting to see this rivalry continue with them.

SCARBOROUGH:  The rivalry does continue, Courtney, and the fallout continues from Kevin Federline, K-Fed‘s less-than-spectacular performance at the Teen Choice Awards.  The “New York Daily News” reports none of the a-list celebrities invited to his after-party showed up.  It‘s getting ugly out there for K-Fed, isn‘t it, Courtney? 

HAZLETT:  You know what?  It really is a little rough.  That performance was not something you really want to write home about. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It was awful.

HAZLETT:  I think that is a common opinion.  But what is kind of impressive is sources are telling us that Britney actually was pretty upfront with Kevin.  She said, “You know, you looked a little rehearsed.  Maybe this wasn‘t the best coming out you could have had.”  And for a woman who‘s kind of queen of hyperbole, this is actually a big step back into kind of reality for Britney. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, well, talking about coming out, look at that nightgown that she brought from the trailer park to wear on stage, Dina.  It wasn‘t exactly a great night for Britney either, was it? 

SANSING:  No, it wasn‘t.  You know, and she really wanted to look good.  She knows the press has not been friendly to her.  She‘s really had a tough time.  She hoped to introduce her husband.  She hoped he would have a great performance.  And it just didn‘t really work out that way, from her look to his performance.  It was really sort of a buzz-kill for her that night. 

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt a buzz-kill.

And finally, a new Suri sighting, and this time it‘s a real person.  A man identified only as Frank tells an L.A. radio station he and his girlfriend saw Suri.  Courtney, finally, independent verification:  Suri lives!

HAZLETT:  How about that?  Yes, you know what?  Well, I want to know that Frank really lives, actually, before I completely buy into this Suri lives sort of thing.  I think it might be a little bit dubious that some minivan found its way the entire way to Tom Cruise‘s garage, essentially.  He has this phenomenally long driveway.  Who‘s to say?  The pictures will be the proof. 

SCARBOROUGH:  The pictures will be the proof.  The proof is in the pudding.  Thank you so much, Dina Sansing and Courtney Hazlett.  Greatly appreciate you being with us tonight. 

That‘s all the time we do have tonight.  But stay where you are.  It‘s been another night of developments in the JonBenet Ramsey case.  Just the latest in the notorious crime drama that took a strange turn one week ago tonight.  Next, a look at it all in our special report, “WHO KILLED JONBENET?” 

Have a good night.  We‘ll see you tomorrow.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END   

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