updated 9/5/2006 11:41:45 AM ET 2006-09-05T15:41:45

Guests: Rachel Sklar, Christopher Hitchens, John Stossel, Tom Mooney, Todd Bridges, Jill Dobson, Dawn Yanek, Courtney Hazlett, Kennedy

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST:  Right now in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, movie-makers take a shot, literally, at George W. Bush, a fictional filmed assassination designed to shock audiences and sell tickets.  But it‘s the political shots in D.C. that should concern you more.

Then: He took on teachers, and did he hear about it.  But what happened when this newsman, John Stossel, actually tried to teach a class?  John‘s here with the details.

And what you talking about, Willis?  Troubled child star Todd Bridges comes to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY to talk about what really went on behind the scenes of the classic TV show “Diff‘rent Strokes.”  Plus, Brad Pitt‘s exclusive NBC interview.  Could he have found a higher calling than acting?  Hard to believe, but he says it‘s true.

Stossel, Willis and Pitt?  Must be Friday night in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  No passport required, only common sense allowed.

We got a big show for you tonight, but first up, a huge outcry over a new British movie depicting the assassination of George W. Bush.  Now, this movie is scheduled to debut at the Toronto Film Festival next week.  Some producers say it‘s thought-provoking, and it could be a look at what would happen if the world—to the world if President Bush were killed.  Just another excuse for out of control Bush-bashing?  Well, most consider this kind of thing sickening or even borderline criminal, but is it dangerous?  Will it inspire copycats and lunatics?  There was similar outrage when the BBC aired a spoof called “The Terrorism Awards,” which showed a fake photo supposedly showing an assassinated Tony Blair.

You know, movies have often taken aim at the president and the office, but the effort to be more outrageous than the next guy has just continually drummed up these anti-establishment artists.  Have they crossed the line, or are they simply exercising their right for free speech?

Here‘s Rachel Sklar.  She‘s from the Huffingtonpost.com.  Rachel, what‘s your take on this movie?  Is it dangerous or is it just free speech?

RACHEL SKLAR, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM:  Well, you‘ve just asked me two questions.  You‘ve asked me if it‘s free speech, and obviously, yes, it‘s free speech.  It‘s art, and however one defines art, it falls under that category.  However, you‘ve asked me if it‘s dangerous.  That remains to be seen in terms of copycats, like you just expressed the concern about.  I think—politically dangerous?  I don‘t know.  It‘s expressing, you know, a hypothetical.  It‘s trying to be controversial.  And dangerous to whom, is really the question.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I just—I wonder what would have happened if some right-wing filmmaker would have done a movie that talked about the assassination of Bill Clinton back in 1998, 1999.  I know when Jerry Falwell put out some crackpot documentaries about Bill Clinton possibly killing people, caused a huge uproar.  But this seems to be, again, protected speech, and I guess we shouldn‘t question it, should we.

SKLAR:  Well, again, of course we should question it.  It‘s not a question of whether or not people have the right to put together controversial films.  That right does not include the right to not be questioned about it.  But I think that we need to draw (ph) a distinction here between right-wing and left-wing.  I don‘t think that we should be equating this film necessarily with political dissent, and I don‘t think that we should be equating assassination with political dissent.  People who attempt to assassinate presidents or have assassinated presidents in the past are deranged individuals.  It‘s not a legitimate form of political expression to kill a president.

SCARBOROUGH:  No, certainly not, and I‘m not suggesting that.  But certainly, there are some on the left who have such a dislike or a hatred of George W. Bush that they‘ve said some things that would be shocking, I would suggest, even by 1997, 1998 standards.  Why does the left dislike George Bush so much?

SKLAR:  Well, how long have you got?  Why does the left dislike George Bush?  I mean...

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, no...


SCARBOROUGH:  Why does the hatred seem to be so out of control, like I saw in the right with Bill Clinton in the 1990s?

SKLAR:  Again, I think you‘re trying to draw a distinction here that just doesn‘t work.  We‘re talking about George Bush why the left dislikes him.  Again, that is a very complex issue and, you know, like I said, how long have you got?  But there‘s a difference between dislike and disagreement and, you know, being a proponent of assassination.  Come on.  That‘s just not—these two things are not on par.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, I don‘t think these people are actually proponents of the assassination of George W. Bush.  I think—but what they have put together is a documentary that suggests that Bush is owned by oil tycoons, and if he steps out of line, he‘s going be killed.

SKLAR:  Well, OK.  Fair enough.  I mean, that‘s what the documentary puts forth, and I think what the filmmakers had articulated was they were hoping to spur a discussion of how Bush‘s policies—what kind of—what kind of outgrowth could come from them.  And certainly, they could have done that in a number of different ways, rather than simulating a very real-looking assassination of a president.  But a documentary has been put forth before suggesting a close connection between Bush and the oil regimes of various countries, and that was Michael Moore‘s “Fahrenheit 9/11.”  And I mean, so that clearly fell under protected expression.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, well, that did, and of course, also, you had “Syriana” that suggested that the CIA went out and bumped off people that opposed U.S. foreign policy, and they did it for oil companies.

You know, while some people may be shocked by this movie, you know, Americans, I think, should be more concerned by the media‘s character assassination of Bush, Rove and Cheney regarding the CIA leak story.  Now, the three evil neocons that media types say outed America‘s most super-duper CIA spy to undercut an opponent of the Iraq war, the morally upright Joe Wilson, have been blamed for this for years.  And for years, we‘ve been told by “The New York Times” and also by left-leaning TV hosts that the Bush administration exposed Valerie Plame‘s identification.

But this week, we learned that story was untrue.  The source of the leak was Colin Powell‘s number two, Richard Armitage, who along with Powell was a war skeptic.  “The New York Times” has run a total of 39 front-page stories on the Plame case since it broke back in 2003, and those stories and supporting editorials all blame war supporters for gunning for Joe Wilson.  Now we find out that that storyline is simply a lie.

“The Times” has written a total of how many stories to clarify that?  Zero, zero front-page stories versus the 39 front-page stories since September 2003 that attack Bush, Rove and Cheney, claiming that Plame was outed to get back at Wilson.  So 39 front-page stories that are false and zero front-page stories that clarify the situation.

At least today‘s “Washington Post” tells the truth about Joe Wilson.  “The Post” said, quote, “He diverted responsibility from himself and his false charges by claiming that President Bush‘s closest aides had engaged in an illegal conspiracy.  It‘s unfortunate that so many people took him seriously.”

Amen!  And Again, I say amen.

Last week, I accused George Bush of being intellectually incurious.  Even if that‘s the case, it beats being intellectually dishonest, and that‘s exactly what “The Times” and other news outlets too numerous to mention are being.

Let‘s bring in Christopher Hitchens.  He‘s a contributing editor at “Vanity Fair.”  Christopher Hitchens, why hasn‘t “The Times” clarified this story?  I mean, 39 front-page screamers, and now we find out that Joe Wilson—not only Joe Wilson lied when he went over to Niger and when he came back, but now we find out that these news outlets that got into bed with him haven‘t been telling the true story, either.  Why?

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, “VANITY FAIR”:  Well, we‘re not just finding this out, by the way.  I mean, if I could blow my own trumpet, I‘ve been writing a series of articles for more than a year now saying that the story is based on a complete fantasy, that, obviously, no one—no cabal in the administration, even if one existed, would ever have gone to Robert Novak, a leading opponent of the war, leading friend of the CIA, personal admirer of Joseph Wilson, and say, Hey, why don‘t you cut down his wife for us?  I mean, it‘s absurd on its face and it always was.

It‘s the product of a ridiculous turf war within the administration, where people like Mr. Armitage sat still, knowing—knowing—that they were the source for Rove (SIC), while a whole inquiry was impaneled because they knew this before Fitzgerald started, while a friend and colleague of mine, distinguished “Times” reporter, which adds to the burden on “The New York Times,” went to jail for the best part of 90 days, where a huge amount of government time was wasted in time of war, I might add, where the truth about the real Niger connection was covered up or overlooked.  This is absolutely extraordinary.

SCARBOROUGH:  And Armitage...

HITCHENS:  But it‘s not...


HITCHENS:  It is not new.

SCARBOROUGH:  ... Christopher!

HITCHENS:  I‘m sorry?

SCARBOROUGH:  Christopher, Richard Armitage sits back all of this time while hell is breaking loose in Washington, D.C., while the administration‘s going up in flames, while you‘ve got Fitzgerald going out there conducting this investigation, while Rove, Cheney, Bush, everybody basically has a guilty finger pointed at them, and he knew all along it was all a lie and he did absolutely nothing about it.

HITCHENS:  Yes, and while...


HITCHENS:  And while an innocent person...


HITCHENS:  And while an innocent person went to jail, as well, and other people had their lives and careers wrecked.  This pointless prosecution, for example, of Lewis Libby for the question of what he may or may not have said to Tim Russert—there‘s no conceivable way in which that can be a criminalized business.

SCARBOROUGH:  Look at this “New York Times” editorial, Christopher.  It‘s from July of last year “The Times” said, quote, “Far be it from us to denounce leaks, but it is something else entirely when officials peddle disinformation for propaganda purposes or to harm a political adversary.  Karl Rove seems to be playing that unsavory game with a CIA officer, Valerie Plame Wilson, and her husband, Joseph Wilson.”

Gail Collins basically smeared Karl Rove!  Do you expect “The New York Times” editorial page to come forward and apologize to Karl Rove, or at least clarify that they were dead wrong last year?

HITCHENS:  Well, I‘m wondering, actually, about this question.  I was wondering about it all day, especially after seeing this morning‘s “Washington Post,” because Bill Keller‘s not a dishonest or venal person.  He‘s already had to explain his own whatever the word would be—his own decision to publish classified material relating to the NSA and the CIA, which he‘s done, in my opinion, fairly reasonably.

I think—I‘m hoping that this apparent embarrassed pause and embarrassed silence is the prelude to some kind of statement because it isn‘t just Gail Collins.  It isn‘t just Maureen Dowd.  It isn‘t just the editorial pages themselves.  It is, as you say, the news pages.  Everyone got the impression there was something to a story which, I would have said, as somebody who‘s lived for many years in Washington, was self-evidently not true.

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, and of course...

HITCHENS:  The only reason...


HITCHENS:  The only reason therefore for the extraordinary amount of wasted ink and paper on it must be political bias because if it hadn‘t been for the fact that it reflected badly or apparently redounded badly to the credit—discredit of the Bush administration, there‘s no way it could have got...

SCARBOROUGH:  Christopher...

HITCHENS:  ... on such a thin basis...

SCARBOROUGH:  ... we have a question up right now...

HITCHENS:  ... so much attention.

SCARBOROUGH:  You‘re going say this is obvious, too, because it‘s in the record, but we need an answer.  Is Joe Wilson a liar?

HITCHENS:  Well, Joe Wilson‘s been caught lying a lot already.  I mean, he, for example, said that his wife had never had anything to do with sending him to Niger.  Now, we have her letter of recommendation.  It‘s in the Senate investigation into the matter.  It‘s very warm, and it actually recommends him on the bizarre grounds that he‘s close friends with the people he‘s supposed to be investigating.  That‘s how he missed the fact that both Saddam‘s chief nuclear envoy and A.Q. Khan were in Niger at the same time as he was, or had been not long before.  quite remarkable.

He lied when he said he‘d exposed a later forgery based on those facts.  We don‘t know where that forgery came from.  It doesn‘t offer the authenticity of the original documents.  The forgery came out a long time after his visit had taken place, so he had no role at all in exposing it.  I don‘t know if he‘s a liar or not, but he has no concept of what the truth is.


HITCHENS:  And he‘s also...


HITCHENS:  He‘s also a vain, narcissistic fraud and toad...


HITCHENS:  ... who has refused several times to debate me.  And when asked to reply to the many columns in which I‘ve pointed this out about him, says that he wouldn‘t debate with someone who he doesn‘t believe to be an American citizen.

SCARBOROUGH:  No, he is a—he is...

HITCHENS:  That‘s the best he can do so far.  He is...


SCARBOROUGH:  He‘s obviously a publicity-seeking person who...


HITCHENS:  Only if the megaphone is being held to his own big mouth is he a publicity seeker.  He won‘t do any debates, and he will try...

SCARBOROUGH:  He won‘t debate you...


HITCHENS:  He will try innuendo when it‘s—when he‘s embarrassed. 

He‘s at least...

SCARBOROUGH:  I mean, let me bring in Rachel...


HITCHENS:  ... the last we have to hear from him.

SCARBOROUGH:  Let me bring in Rachel here.  Rachel, obviously, you have a different take on this, but will you at least that “The New York Times,” at least Bill Keller on the front page and at least Gail Collins on the editorial page, need to come forward and clarify that they have been wrong for the past two years, that this wasn‘t some neocon, that it was actually Armitage, who had deep skepticism about this war?

SKLAR:  No, I won‘t come out and say that!  First of all, you said 39 articles...


SKLAR:  ... by “The New York Times” are false?  I mean, come on. 

That‘s a pretty sweeping claim.  The fact is, this revelation really doesn‘t change very much.  Everybody suspected it was Armitage anyhow.

HITCHENS:  No, they did not!

SKLAR:  The fact remains—the fact remains Judith Miller went to jail to protect her source.  Who was that source?  It was Scooter Libby who told her the identity of Joseph Wilson‘s wife prior to Novak‘s column even being published.  And Karl Rove told Matt Cooper from “Time” before Novak‘s column was published.

HITCHENS:  So what?

SKLAR:  So this—and this is—this is after...

SCARBOROUGH:  So what?  It‘s not—it‘s not—there‘s nothing wrong with discussing personnel in the U.S. government bureaucracy.

SKLAR:  Sure.  However...


HITCHENS:  It breaks—it breaks...

SKLAR:  ... after Cheney directed Libby...

HITCHENS:  ... no law...


SKLAR:  Sir, this was after Cheney directed Libby to release a CIA report that was meant to discredit Wilson, and it was after Bush directed Cheney to fix this problem.  I mean, (INAUDIBLE) smoke with that fire.

SCARBOROUGH:  OK, we have...

SKLAR:  There‘s a lot of fire here.


SCARBOROUGH:  We‘ve got a hard break coming up.  I want to thank you, Chris, for being with us.  Thank you, Rachel.  The bottom line is the guy that let this information out was Richard Armitage.  “The Times” owes an apology to Karl Rove, George Bush and Dick Cheney.  We‘ll be right back.


SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back.  In tonight‘s “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY Showdown”—when ABC newsman John Stossel suggested that teachers could be to blame for some of the problems impacting America‘s public schools, Mr.  Stossel became the target of New York City school teachers union protests.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We are here to demand an apology from “20/20‘s” John Stossel for his anti-teacher, anti-union and anti-public education piece of yellow journalism!


SCARBOROUGH:  The union demanded that John teach for a week and drag his cameraman along to show America just how hard it really was to teach in classrooms.  So what happened?  Here now to tell us, ABC News correspondent and “20/20” co-anchor John Stossel.  He‘s also the author of the best-selling book, “Myths Lies and Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel, Why Everything You Know Is Wrong.”  We also have with us Tom Mooney.  He‘s vice president of the American Federation of Teachers and the president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers.

John, let me begin with you.  Now, there were some nasty things said about you in that protest.  They said that you are anti-teacher, anti-education and a purveyor of yellow journalism.  Defend yourself.

JOHN STOSSEL, AUTHOR, “MYTHS, LIES AND DOWNRIGHT STUPIDITY”:  Well, my show, “Stupid in America,” which we‘re updating tonight, said that one of the problems was the teachers union.  So I don‘t think I‘m anti-teacher.  Most of my e-mail came from teachers who resented having to join the union and resented these union teachers who say, Everybody must be paid the same and all of us are good.  No one should ever be fired.

SCARBOROUGH:  You would say that if a student goes to a private school, that at least that school has the power to fire the teacher.  That‘s not quite so simple in public schools, is it.

STOSSEL:  Where I live, they have 50,000 tenured teachers.  They‘ve been able to fire 2 for incompetence over the past two years.  In the “Lies, Myths” book, it takes four pages to show all the union rules it takes to let a teacher go.  There was a teacher who sent sexual e-mails to cutie101 (ph), a 16-year-old student.  It took seven years to fire him.  They even have jargon for it.  It‘s called “the dance of the lemons.”  They try to get a teacher to transfer to another school because they can‘t fire them.



MOONEY:  ... a gross generalization, and it‘s certainly not the norm. 

Teachers certainly can be fired.  Teachers can be laid off.  We have lots of teachers being laid off now with our funding crises in Ohio.  We have to have some kind of fair due process procedures.  If a student—if anybody thinks a student—I‘m sorry—a teacher is a danger to students, they ought to be removed from that classroom immediately until they investigate and figure out the facts.

STOSSEL:  How long does it take?

MOONEY:  Well, when we reach that—from the point that we reach the decision that this teacher really is incompetent, and we‘ve tried to help then and they‘re not improving, it‘s pretty immediate because the arbitration process...

STOSSEL:  And how long does it take...

MOONEY:  ... goes away.

STOSSEL:  ... to get to that decision?

MOONEY:  It depends on how—what the situation is.  You can‘t really generalize.  It depends on whether that teacher is new and struggling and needs some help and gets some help and gets better, or the teacher‘s really just—the classroom‘s a disaster.  Somebody comes in, takes a look at that, it can help much more quickly if, you know, we document that there‘s really not instruction, not learning going on.

SCARBOROUGH:  Tom says it is a democracy.  We elect our school board, so Americans obviously like the public school system.

STOSSEL:  Well, I like a public school system, too, just as I like a public supermarket.  But the beauty of the supermarket, and they have 30,000 items in there cheap (ph), is that they have to be good to keep your business.

MOONEY:  If the market system‘s the answer for education and it‘s going to provide the best education for inner-city kids, who don‘t the inner-city communities have the best supermarkets, John?  Why don‘t they have the best health services, the spiffiest gas stations?

STOSSEL:  It‘s true, the spiffiest supermarket is not in the poorest part of town.  But they‘re pretty good.  I would certainly trade the supermarkets that are in the bad part of town with the awful schools the government has given the kids.

SCARBOROUGH:  John, you know, you obviously—again, you were the focus of very intense protests.  In fact, the New York City union demanded that you teach in a school for a week, a public school for a week.  How did that turn out?

STOSSEL:  Well, I think I surprised them by saying, OK, I‘ll teach.  And then they did what union bureaucracies do, they held endless meetings, week meetings, week after week after week, and then ended up saying, No, we don‘t want you and your cameras in our school.

SCARBOROUGH:  They didn‘t let you teach, after demanding that you teach?

STOSSEL:  That‘s correct.  I would have loved to have...


SCARBOROUGH:  What was the excuse?

STOSSEL:  Well, who knows what your cameras might see?  You aren‘t qualified to teach.  You‘re not certified as a teacher.  The camera would be disruptive.  It might hurt the kids.  It was clear that the principal of the school they hand-picked had become uncomfortable with it.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, John, Tom Mooney, thank you so much for being with us.  Greatly appreciate it.  And for more, check out “Stupid in America” on ABC‘s “20/20” tonight.

And coming up next: Will today‘s crop of child stars turn out like Ron Howard and Jodi Foster, or the cast of “Diff‘rent Strokes”?  What you talking about, Willis?  We‘ll talk to Willis himself, Todd Bridges, straight ahead.

And next: A candidate‘s arrested after trying to crash a Senate debate.  His crazy campaign speech is ahead on “Must See S.C.”


SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s time for tonight‘s “Must See S.C.,” some video you just got to see.  First up, note to Maryland senatorial candidate Alan Lichtman.  Getting arrested on the campaign trail may not be the best way to win votes.  Lichtman was angry about not being included in a televised debate last night and, well, he lost it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This is a police state!  On public property!  We have done nothing wrong!  Look at this~!



SCARBOROUGH:  Good Lord, it looks like one of my skits!

And finally, last night was CBS anchor Bob Schieffer‘s final broadcast as anchor of “The CBS Evening News,” and that fact didn‘t slip past Jay Leno on the “Tonight” show.


JAY LENO, HOST:  You could tell it was time for him to go.  You know, he didn‘t seem that into it.  Show them tonight, his last broadcast.  See what I mean.

ANNOUNCER:  This is “The CBS Evening News.”

BOB SCHIEFFER, CBS ANCHOR:  Good evening.  I‘m Bob Schieffer (INAUDIBLE)


SCARBOROUGH:  I‘ll tell you, as bad as that was, it wasn‘t as bad of an outfit as the one Katie Couric was wearing, the Catholic school girl thing.

Coming up: While Angelina Jolie is helping children overseas, her husband is lending a helping hand to folks here at home.  An NBC exclusive with Brad Pitt coming up.

And next: What you talking about, Willis?  Sex, drugs and out-of-control egos.  Todd Bridges takes us behind the scenes of a TV classic.



SCARBOROUGH:  Still ahead, Brad Pitt lends a helping hand to the people of New Orleans.  An exclusive interview with him, coming up.

And later, the “National Enquirer” releases a photo it says shows John Travolta kissing another man.  Is it real or pulp fiction? 

Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.  Those stories in just minutes.

But if you‘re my age, you probably remembered Todd Bridges from back in the ‘70s and ‘80s when he played Willis Jackson, Gary Coleman‘s brother, on the hit TV show, “Diff‘rent Strokes.” 


GARY COLEMAN, ACTOR, “ARNOLD JACKSON”:  What you talkin‘ ‘bout, Willis?


SCARBOROUGH:  Since then, he‘s had a long history of arrest.  He‘s been acquitted of murder, and he‘s struggled with drug addiction.  But he‘s turned his life around.  And now he‘s being featured in a new movie, “Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Diff‘rent Strokes,” which airs next Monday on NBC. 

Now, we‘re going to talk to Jill Dobson and Dawn Yanek about this show and child stars in just a minute, but first, I talked to Todd Bridges and asked him why he got involved in this project. 


TODD BRIDGES, ACTOR:  Well, because, first of all, we wanted the story to be told.  Me and Gary Coleman got involved because we wanted the story to be told our way and not some “E! True Hollywood Story” way, not someone else‘s way, but from our eyes and not their own eyes.

SCARBOROUGH:  What‘s it like when you‘re a child star, when there‘s so much love and adoration coming your way, and then suddenly the TV show is canceled?

BRIDGES:  Our show just had a different kind of situation.  It had family lives who were, you know, very dysfunctional.  We had abuse going on in families on that show.  We had sexual molestation going on with kids on that show.  A lot of things happened to us kids that should not have happened to kids, period, and I think that‘s why we had problems. 

I don‘t blame Hollywood at all.  Like I said, you know, I chose my own road.  I made a lot of mistakes.  You know, but I can accept that today.  I can‘t blame for what happened to me as a child—I can‘t blame my father.  I can‘t blame my mother.  You know, I have to take responsibility. 

And I think that a lot of times kids grow up on these shows and they want to blame Hollywood.  “Oh, it‘s Hollywood‘s fault because they left me, oh,” you know, I‘m not into that.  The kids that are having problems in the business are from very dysfunctional families. 

I mean, how many kids everyday have to, you know, watch their father beat up their mother or watch their father who‘s alcoholic?  You know, those are things that shouldn‘t go on in normal households, let alone a child who‘s famous. 

I think that, you know, my vision of what my father was supposed to be actually came from Mr. Drummond.  That‘s a terrible situation to be in, when you think, you know—Mr. Drummond is a better father than your own father.  It‘s a horrible way to be in.  And I think that, as a child growing up, you know, that‘s why I had problems. 

As a parent, you have to protect your children, no matter what situation they‘re in.  But some parents decided not to protect their children, which was like—Gary Coleman‘s parents didn‘t protect him.  Dana‘s parents wasn‘t around as much.  So, you know, that‘s why you saw what was going to happen.  And with me, I saw a lot of abuse in the household.  So on the show, it was clear and evident—you‘ll see in the show there‘s going to be problems and situations. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And talk about Gary Coleman and what we‘re going to find out.  You say his parents didn‘t protect him.  How did they not protect his interests?

BRIDGES:  They did not protect him by—they did not fully inform NBC when Gary Coleman was sick.  They always made an excuse up.  When he was supposed to be going—you know, would come back to work, they made him do movies outside of the show, you know, when he shouldn‘t have been.  He was too sick to do that. 

You‘ll see they didn‘t protect him.  And they didn‘t have to do that, but they did that, because they were trying to get all they can get.  And the agents and handlers, they all convinced Willie and Sue Coleman (ph) that this is how it was supposed to be.  They changed Gary Coleman.

You‘ll see, on the set, we had a great relationship for the first three years, and then all of a sudden it changed.  That‘s why this show was so important, as far as seeing what you shouldn‘t do with your kids, period, how you should raise children.  And I think that‘s the lesson.

The lesson is how to raise your kids.  It had nothing to do with Hollywood or what Hollywood is all about.  And when you see this movie, you‘re going to realize that a lot of that did not go on, and that‘s why we all had problems.

Our show was very groundbreaking.  You know, and you‘re going to see that.  This show was like—you know, I got hate mail from, let‘s see, the Ku Klux Klan.  I got hate mail from the black ethnic groups that didn‘t want us hugging Mr. Drummond.  I mean, I got hate mail from everybody.  But then again, we got a lot of mail. 

That‘s why you know me very well, because our show crossed all of the lines in the world.  We were with white, black.  It didn‘t really matter.  Everybody could relate to “Diff‘rent Strokes” and understand it.  That‘s why, when it took such a hard fall, people were blown away at it, because they couldn‘t understand why.  That‘s why this movie, on September 4th, will explain to you why we all took those falls. 

SCARBOROUGH:  NBC‘s “Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Diff‘rent Strokes,” a cautionary tale of child stardom.  It premieres September 4th.  Thanks so much, Todd.  Greatly appreciate it. 

BRIDGES:  Thank you, man.  Take care. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Todd Bridges is just one example of child stars turning to drugs and alcohol.  Here to talk about how the child star syndrome can be destructive, Jill Dobson from “Star” magazine and Dawn Yanek from “Life and Style Weekly.”

Jill, what does the story of Todd Bridges tell us about childhood stars? 

JILL DOBSON, “STAR” MAGAZINE:  Wow.  Well, it‘s quite a story he has.  And it just tells us that child stars don‘t have a normal environment growing up.  It‘s the opposite.  And that‘s why they don‘t always turn out to be normal people.

Children are always egocentric, but they learn—you know, they get socialized when they‘re told, “No, you can‘t do that,” or, “Let him play with the toy, not you.”  The child stars have people around them saying, “Yes, you can do this.  You can do whatever you want.  You‘re the star.”  And it just makes them even more egocentric and leads to a lot of problems down the road. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s take a look at some infamous child celebrity mug shots.  Who could forgot “Home Alone” star Macaulay Culkin‘s recent run-in with the law.  He was arrested for marijuana possession two years ago.  Then there‘s 1980s teen heartthrob Christian Slater.  He was arrested in 1997 for assault and battery.  That came after a 1989 DUI arrest.  And finally, former boy band star Nick Carter busted for drunk driving last year. 

Dawn Yanek, it seems like that, again, just proves what so many people have been saying for so long.  If you‘re a child star, you‘re just set up for failure as you move on in your life, right?

DAWN YANEK, “LIFE AND STYLE”:  Yes, I mean, the list definitely goes on and on of child stars who‘ve had so much trouble in their adult lives.  And, you know, I think Jill hit on some very, very good points.  I mean, I think the parenting technique of saying “no” is very underrated in Hollywood.  You have to learn how to say no to your child.

SCARBOROUGH:  And, Dawn, what about Michael Jackson who, of course, was a child star from the earliest of age.  And apparently he had just the most bizarre upbringing, and look what the result was. 

YANEK:  Well, I think that hits on a really good point and a big problem, which is that sometimes parents in Hollywood forgot that their first and foremost job is raising that child and being a parent.  You know, oftentimes you have these situations where the parents are pushing their children into some things that perhaps they don‘t want to be doing.  And also what happens if the parent is out partying, out looking at that child as a source of income?  Somehow priorities get messed up and parenting skills go by the wayside. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And that, of course, sounds an awful lot like Lindsay Lohan.  Let‘s take a look at a couple of current child stars heading that familiar path.  Haley Joel Osment, star of “The Sixth Sense,” was recently busted in California for possession of marijuana.  Lindsay Lohan blasted by one of Hollywood‘s top producers for her excessive partying.  And “Full House” star Mary-Kate Olsen recently entered a treatment facility for an eating disorder. 

Dawn, why haven‘t these stars learned from the mistakes of past child stars? 

YANEK:  Well, I don‘t know if the responsibility is with the child stars themselves or with the parents, who should be looking at the situation and saying, “OK, wait a minute, we have ‘True Hollywood Stories,‘ we have all sorts of television specials and books saying what the pitfalls of these things are.”  I mean, how can you blame a child?  Because, really, you need to learn some serious life lessons when you‘re a kid and then apply them later in life.  Often these stars don‘t even get it until they end up in therapy or rehab when they‘re adults.

SCARBOROUGH:  You don‘t just look at the parents.  You can also look at the studios and look at the Hollywood star-maker machinery that certainly isn‘t too concerned about whether Danny is doing his homework, whether he‘s doing all the things he‘s supposed to do.  They‘re just concerned about the bottom line, right? 

YANEK:  Absolutely.  I mean, what ends up happening is that you churn out these actors, child stars or adult actors, and you‘re, you know, concerned with them for the duration of the time that they‘re on your set.  But, really, what do you want out of them?  You don‘t want them to be productive members of adult society.  That‘s not your goal.  Your goal is to make a good movie.  So they‘re really focused on the short-term goals, not the long-term ones. 

SCARBOROUGH:  There‘s a lot of pressure every time you come to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, but you all handled it fabulously. 

YANEK:  Thank you, Joe. 

DOBSON:  Thanks, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  Thanks for being with us.

And coming up next, an NBC News exclusive with Brad Pitt.  While his wife‘s overseas helping children, he‘s finding a way to help people back here at home. 

And later, one of Hollywood‘s top actors caught in, well, an interesting photo.  The full story behind the surprising snapshot.  That is surprising.  What‘s going on there?


SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back.  Now, earlier this week, we showed you the devastation that‘s still left behind along the Gulf Coast a year after Katrina.  Such a sad story. 

But now, with the help of Hollywood superstar Brad Pitt, some brand new homes may finally start going up in the New Orleans Lower Ninth Ward.  “The Today Show‘s” Ann Curry caught up with Pitt in New Orleans for this exclusive interview. 


BRAD PITT, ACTOR:  The first responsibility is help those that are most vulnerable.  And we failed.  We failed miserably.  And to some extent, we‘re still failing. 

ANN CURRY, “TODAY SHOW” ANCHOR (voice-over):  Brad Pitt, disappointed by the pace of recovery in New Orleans, is a movie star playing a new part in the future of this city.

PITT:  We‘re a country of great ingenuity.  And the fact that we can‘t get in there and clean up this quagmire is ridiculous, and it‘s shameful.

CURRY:  Together with the environmental non-profit Global Green, Pitt sponsored a housing design competition and Thursday helped select the winner.

PITT:  Congratulations.


CURRY:  This winning blueprint is low-income housing planned for the neglected, still almost deserted, Lower Ninth Ward.

(on camera):  What do you love about this design?

PITT:  I love that it can be replicated, and not in a cookie-cutter style.  At the same time, where it really wins is that, if done properly, we can completely get rid of the idea of an energy bill.

CURRY:  People listening right now are thinking, “Oh, come on.”

PITT:  It‘s not that difficult.

CURRY:  Come on. How?

PITT:  You could cut your energy bill down 65 percent just by the way you position your house, the way you structure it for air flow, and ventilation, and shielding from the sun.

CURRY:  It‘s possible, you‘re suggesting, that people living in these homes will pay zero.

PITT:  That‘s right.

CURRY (voice-over):  The winning architects from New York created a versatile model of energy-efficient design, using the sun‘s rays for power, rain for the water system, and stored heat from the earth.

(on camera):  Do you know this is going to work?

ANDREW KOTCHEN, WORKSHOP/APD:  We know it‘s going to work.

CURRY:  Why do you know it‘s going to work?

KOTCHEN:  We know it‘s going to work because they‘re not new systems.  The difference between what existed then and what exists now is the technology has improved.

CURRY (voice-over):  Matt Petersen heads Global Green and is something of a guiding light for Pitt‘s ideas.

MATT PETERSEN, GLOBAL GREEN:  We estimate that, if 50,000 of the homes

in New Orleans—of the 200,000 that are going to be rebuilt in Louisiana

used our energy goals for this project, on a very conservative level, people would save $38 million to $56 million dollars a year, $1,200 a home, conservatively, on average.

CURRY (on camera):  You mentioned Brad‘s help.  How much do you need this kind of star power to get the message out?

PETERSEN:  When somebody like Brad steps up to the plate, and he is passionate about not just architecture, but how we build differently, how do we improve people‘s lives, how do we build green, that means that there‘s a greater chance for success, because he‘s deeply committed to this.

CURRY (voice-over):  And committed to planting the seeds of green living wherever possible.

PITT:  Well, this is where it gets really exciting.  We‘re still the most powerful nation in the world.  Beyond policing the world, we could also be inspiring the world, and we could be at the forefronts of this kind of movement.

CURRY:  But here in New Orleans, he says, his work is about something more basic.

PITT:  This is tied into the bigger issue that we talked about, of justice.  And it bothers me to see these people left behind and not getting a big hand up.  These are the people that need the most help, so we got to start there.

CURRY (on camera):  Why?

PITT:  To actually be able to have some small hand in improving anyone‘s life—I mean, I‘m a father now.  And what that does to you is makes you more aware of other children and the plight of other families.  That makes me relate to others more, and I want the same for them.  So if we can play any hand in that, it just makes me feel pretty good.

CURRY:  I see a change in you.

PITT:  Really?

CURRY:  Yes, big change.  You seem to be open to more philanthropy, to doing more.

PITT:  Possibly.  You know, I‘m still the same guy.  I mean, there are a lot of great things in my life.  And that comes from this family that we‘ve created.  And it‘s incredibly grounding.  And, I mean, walking in the door at the end of the day and seeing these faces light up, I don‘t know anything more rewarding.

CURRY (voice-over):  But as rewarding as his new family is to him, this movie star says it also gives him a greater sense of duty.

PITT:  I believe that there is a responsibility, if we truly believe -

and that‘s the question that is putting to the test, especially here in New Orleans—do we really believe that someone else‘s life matters as much as our own?  And the answer to me is obvious.


SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s moving.  Hey, Chris?  Chris?


SCARBOROUGH:  I see a change in you. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That‘s so nice of you to notice.  I see a change in you, too. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I see a change in you.  You used to be a jerk.  Now you‘re just a turd. 

Coming up next—can you say that on TV? -- Britney Spears‘ husband goes from deadbeat to off-beat.  Pack your bags, because, friends, we are going to “Hollyweird.”


SCARBOROUGH:  Welcome back.  It‘s time to roll out the red carpet and take our nightly trip to “Hollyweird.”

First up, parents of the year Britney Spears and Kevin Federline, they teamed us to give us a preview of K-Fed‘s acting skills with a skit poking fun at some of their parenting mishaps.  Take a look. 


BRITNEY SPEARS, SINGER:  How‘s my hair, baby?  I don‘t know if I like this lipstick.  I have to look perfect for this. 

KEVIN FEDERLINE, HUSBAND OF BRITNEY SPEARS:  Baby, where‘s my cigarettes at? 

SPEARS:  If you were up your (bleep), you‘d know.  Kevin, look, I‘m getting ready for this, OK?  Kevin, that camera‘s not on—we‘re not on yet, are we?  Kevin, where‘s the baby? 

FEDERLINE:  I don‘t know.  I thought you had him. 

SPEARS:  (Bleep). 

FEDERLINE:  I told him not to burn out in the parking lot. 


SCARBOROUGH:  You can put that in the “What were they thinking?” file.  Here now, from “Reality Remix,” Kennedy, and “OK” magazine senior reporter Courtney Hazlett. 

You know, Kennedy, I think somebody thought that that would make us laugh at this couple.  Hey, they can laugh at themselves.  So, you know, we should laugh with them.  But it just makes them look even more pathetic, doesn‘t it? 

KENNEDY, “REALITY REMIX”:  How dare they, Joe.  How dare they.  You know what that makes me want to do?  It makes me want to spearhead a class-action lawsuit to get back my money from seeing “Crossroads” in the theatre, the Britney Spears movie. 

SCARBOROUGH:  It‘s just—Thank you for telling us what it was.  It‘s absolutely awful.

KENNEDY:  No problem, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  Courtney, not a single laugh in the audience from that.  I‘m not talking about Kennedy talking about “Crossroads,” but that horrible skit.

COURTNEY HAZLETT, “OK” MAGAZINE:  No, no, definitely.  I mean, the crowd went silent.  And at the VMAs, that‘s really saying something.  I‘ve said it about these two before, I‘ll say it again:  I was appalled, yet I could not look away. 

But like I‘ve said also before, Britney, please stop talking.  This is a bad call.  You know, maybe we can blame it on writers this time around, but, really, this did them no favors. 

SCARBOROUGH:  She needs to just keep her...

KENNEDY:  Yes, they should have had someone overdub her voice. 

Absolutely.  “Where‘s the baby?  Where‘s my handful of pills?” 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, you know, she should have just kept her mouth shut. 

Another guy who may have done better to keep his mouth shut, John Travolta.  It‘s just a kiss, but this picture in the “National Enquirer” is getting a lot of attention.  Yes, it‘s John Travolta kissing a male friend on the lips. 

Courtney, there have been rumors about John Travolta regarding his love for airplanes.  What does this picture do to his career? 

HAZLETT:  Well, you know what?  I don‘t think there‘s a guy in Hollywood who hasn‘t had the “Is he gay?” rumor come at him.  The picture definitely—it‘s not his best angle, you can say.  But, you know, what I always say is, what happens on a private plane stays on a private plane.  That‘s just how I roll.  Let‘s just be careful where the cameras are.

SCARBOROUGH:  That is how you roll.  That‘s what everybody says. 

Kennedy, what‘s your take on that picture? 

KENNEDY:  Now, Joe, you‘re telling me that you and Olbermann don‘t exchange a friendly peck on the mouth every once in a while when you guys are greeting each other hello? 

SCARBOROUGH:  Once in a while, a lick on the side of the face, but that‘s just what we do.  That‘s how we roll in TV industry. 

HAZLETT:  Kinky.

SCARBOROUGH:  But there have been rumors about John Travolta, and this is just—it‘s a very interesting photo. 

KENNEDY:  Well, if you‘re a Scientologist, I don‘t know, maybe you‘re an alien, maybe you‘re gay, maybe you‘re a gay-lien.  I think it‘s all par for the course.  God bless him.

SCARBOROUGH:  It could be.  God bless him, if that‘s how he rolls, that‘s fine.

Next up, teen queen Lindsay Lohan about to walk down the aisle.  All of Tinsel Town has been checking their mailboxes for invitations since her boyfriend, Harry Morton, was spotted at Cartier. 

What do you think, Kennedy, possibly wedding bells in Lindsay‘s future?

KENNEDY:  I hope not, for his sake, because she‘s a freckled redhead.  She‘s not going to age well.  He‘s a handsome man with a family fortune that spans from sea to shining sea.  I think he needs to get back to his grandfather‘s steakhouse, have a nice bone-in rib eye, and think about this over a glass of chardonnay. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Courtney, you don‘t have to defend freckled redheads, I think they age quite nicely, thank you very much. 

HAZLETT:  Yes, my mom is one. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, exactly.  So what do you think about these Lindsay rumors? 

HAZLETT:  You know what?  Harry has actually been a fantastic influence on Lindsay.  You know, the letter reprimanding her behavior and her meeting Harry kind of happened at the same time, and since then she‘s calmed down quite a bit.  The partying has scaled back.  She‘s really not doing much drinking, which is good, because she‘s under 21.  But if she did decide to marry him—and no one is saying that that‘s what happened—you know, it might not be a bad call.  But that‘s...

KENNEDY:  Of course it would be a bad call.  Marriages in Hollywood when you‘re 19 years old?  Good lord!  That‘s the worst call imaginable. 


HAZLETT:  ... grounding for her.

SCARBOROUGH:  Kennedy, hold on, Kennedy. 

HAZLETT:  He‘s been a fantastic influence.

SCARBOROUGH:  We‘re out of time.  We‘re out of time.  But this is the lightning round.  I‘m going to show you a 10-second clip, and you have five seconds to respond.  Roll the clip!


DAVID HASSELHOFF, ACTOR (singing):  Come and jump in my car...


SCARBOROUGH:  Kennedy, one word on the Hoff?

KENNEDY:  Don‘t hassle the Hoff, Joe!

SCARBOROUGH:  OK.  That‘s all the time we have.  Good night.  Have a great Labor Day.  See you Tuesday.



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