updated 2/23/2007 11:14:02 AM ET 2007-02-23T16:14:02

Guests: Debra Opri, Jane Velez-Mitchell, Tony Potts

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Tonight: Speaking of the judge, American culture on the skids as a crying judge, a fainting lawyer and a singing counselor make up a small portion of the Anna Nicole Smith circus, a fitting end to a girl who started from hardscrabble beginnings and went from stripping all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.  You know, Smith‘s 15 minutes in the public eye was always oversized, and it concluded much in the same way that it began, with an emotionally challenged judge breaking down in tears and hanging his head before finishing his ruling.

Here Judge Seidlin at his most bizarre.


LARRY SEIDLIN, BROWARD COUNTY CIRCUIT JUDGE:  Richard Milstein, esquire, as the guardian ad litem for Dannielynn Hope Marshall Stern, is awarded custody of the remains of Anna Nicole Smith.  Oh!

I want her buried with her son in the Bahamas.  I want them to be together.  Oh!


SCARBOROUGH:  You know, this judge who‘s crying is the same judge who said of Ms. Smith‘s dead body, “That baby is frozen on ice.”  And then of course, he was told yesterday that the body was decomposing so he had to move more quickly.  All in all, it was just a perfect ending to a tawdry tale of sex, drugs and marrying old.

Here‘s a look at more of the bizarre hearing today.


DEBRA OPRI, LARRY BIRKHEAD‘S ATTORNEY:  Ms. Barth removed my client‘s drinking cup from the stand, and I just would like to know what that was about.


SEIDLIN:  I tell you what.  I‘m not getting into this.  I‘m not getting into this.  I‘ve just been impressed—I‘ve been impressed by the conduct of the attorneys in this case.  I want to keep this dignified, with decorum and respect.  I‘m not getting into it.  We‘ll move on.

OPRI:  I‘m telling you, Your Honor, you want the three of us to hold hands?  Your Honor...


OPRI:  It‘s never going to happen, Your Honor!

SEIDLIN:  Well...

OPRI:  That‘s naive!  That‘s Camelot!

SEIDLIN:  You have a continuing objection to anything she does.


OPRI:  No, Your Honor...

SEIDLIN:  Anything?

OPRI:  Your Honor...

SEIDLIN:  No, no.  I‘m kidding.

OPRI:  I‘m so respectful to you.

SEIDLIN:  I know.

OPRI:  We‘re both from the same part of the country, and we both think alike on...

SEIDLIN:  I‘m here more than half my life.  It‘s just my accent.

OPRI:  And I‘m in California more than half my life, almost.  But this is so off the base of the burial intent.  This just shows the love-hate relationship that...

SEIDLIN:  Well, we beat up Stern a little bit yesterday.


OPRI:  Your Honor, I‘m proud to tell the world I have one of the best agents in the world.  I‘m also am in media.

SEIDLIN:  We‘re not giving any...

OPRI:  But it‘s not relevant...

SEIDLIN:  There‘s no TV commercial time here.

OPRI:  No no!  Your Honor!


SEIDLIN:  All right...

OPRI:  This has been the Kristie (SIC) Barth show!

SEIDLIN:  You‘ve been very good.

OPRI:  I want to be very clear that it‘s not relevant...

SEIDLIN:  There‘s nobody‘s show here.  We‘re not—we‘re not grandstanding.

OPRI:  There‘s no relevancy to who represents...

SEIDLIN:  Counselor, you‘ve been...

OPRI:  ... me!

SEIDLIN:  Counsel, when I speak, I‘m the only voice I want to hear.


OPRI:  Your Honor, this is not fair to me that I have five minutes!

SEIDLIN:  I‘ll give you a little bit more time.

OPRI:  Can we do it after the lunch break?

SEIDLIN:  No.  Keep going.


SCARBOROUGH:  MSNBC‘s Rita Cosby was there today, following all the strange twists and turns, and she joins us now from Ft. Lauderdale with the highs and lows and an exclusive interview.  Rita, you know, media watchers have been telling me all day that this was the biggest circus to come to a courtroom since O.J.  Get us up to date with the very latest as the carnival appears to prepare to roll out of town.

RITA COSBY, MSNBC:  You know, I think it was probably.  In fact, it really was a circus out here.  I call it a media melee.  And in fact, I think the ringmaster of the whole thing was the guy you just showed there, Judge Seidlin.  He was such a character, Joe.  I mean, he started out talking about swimming, talking about tennis, talking about his tuna sandwiches, everything, it seemed, but the court of law.

But he wasn‘t the only one involved in sort of the theatrics.  Also Deb Opri—she‘s the attorney for Larry Birkhead, who says he‘s the real father.  She says she sort of he got caught up in the circus.  And I just finished talking to her.  Here‘s what she told me just a few minutes ago.


COSBY:  With this atmosphere, it seemed—you know, we heard about his personal habits.


OPRI:  You know, Rita, we were all over the top.  I was over the top. 

And I‘m...

COSBY:  Everybody?

OPRI:  Yes, we all were.  And I was ashamed of myself today.  I don‘t think it‘s appropriate to get someone into a conversation where you‘re talking about a song, for example, rather than the case in hand.  I mean, I had to remind myself out loud this is a very sobering event.  And I‘m here doing direct examination and I‘m being shut down by the judge, and I‘m getting stories by the judge and his experiences and not enough time for to us ask our questions.

COSBY:  Real quick.  How surprised were you when, all of a sudden, he said, I‘m going to make a decision today?  Our jaws dropped.

OPRI:  I went into that courtroom today knowing he had already made up his mind.  The problem—the problem from day one—and people, the media pundits, were saying, Why is she asking about the DNA?  Why is she asking about the DNA?  You and I spoke about it.  You understood.  You got it.

The problem was, under the laws in Florida re burial, you don‘t appoint a guardian ad litem for the child unless there is no natural parent.

COSBY:  So proving who the natural parent is was the key to it.

OPRI:  Was the number one thing.  A DNA test was required under the law to protect Larry Birkhead‘s due process rights.  Larry Birkhead has the first opportunity, and he‘s more entitled than anyone to file an appeal.  I don‘t think he would because he sees the forest through the trees.  He sees that the burial is the most important thing, and that‘s why he wants to work it out with everyone.  We‘re talking about the burial right now.

COSBY:  Speaking of working things out...


COSBY:  And it is not over yet because tomorrow, indeed, they will be talking before a different judge, probably not as colorful.  I don‘t think anybody could be as colorful as Judge Seidlin.  They will go before a family court tomorrow morning, Joe, and the issue there is not going to be the burial at all, but the focus is going to be on DNA tests, paternity issues, who, indeed, is the real father of little 5-month-old Dannielynn.  Back to you, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right, Rita Cosby.  Thank you very much.  That may be the a $400 million question that we may get answered, hopefully, by a judge that is little more composed than the one we saw today.  Thanks, Rita.  Appreciate it.

Now for some analysis on this bizarre case, here‘s Jane Velez- Mitchell, investigative journalist—she‘s also the author of the upcoming book, “Secrets Can Be Murder”—and MSNBC senior legal analyst and former prosecutor Susan Filan.

Susan, what in the heck went on today in the courtroom?


me, Joe.  I mean, it was—I‘ve never in my life seen anything like it,

and I don‘t ever want ever want to see anything like it again.  The judge -

this was the decision that wasn‘t.  In the end, after days of irrelevant, inappropriate, salacious testimony, he said, I don‘t know.  Milstein, guardian ad litem for the child, you decide.  Sit the parties down.  Have a group hug, and you guys figure it out.  He wept, blubbered and got off the bench, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  Exactly.  I mean, do you agree with everybody that‘s telling me that this is one of the craziest days in court that‘s been televised since the O.J. Simpson trial in back in ‘94?

FILAN:  He makes me long for Judge Ito.  Yes, this was...


FILAN:  ... absolutely insane.  And the thing is, he didn‘t know the law.  There were really two issues at hand.  Does the Florida next of kin statute govern?  And if so, is next of kin Dannielynn or Virgie Arthur?  And two, did—look at her intent, and if so, what was it.  He got it all mixed up.  And in the end, he appointed a 6-month-old baby as the one to make the decisions about where to bury her mom!


SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, let‘s take a look at the judge trying to wrap things up in court today.


SEIDLIN:  When I pronounce the final resolution in this case, I want you to understand that I‘ve reviewed absolutely everything.  I have suffered with this.  I have struggled with this.  I have shed tears for your little girl and your grandchild.  But I hope—because I‘ll tell you something.  In the old days, I‘d be banging some heads together.  I mean it.  You all really should do the right thing by this Dannielynn.


SCARBOROUGH:  Jane, wasn‘t this judge so over the top and entirely inappropriate?

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER:  Well, he was over the top, Joe.  And I know the entire legal community in America is trashing him, saying he had a nervous breakdown on camera, that he‘s auditioning for a TV show.  I‘m going to go out on a limb and defend him, and I think secretly, a lot of people are defending him.  In fact, on TMZ, they did a survey, and 72 percent of those surveyed said they thought he made the right addition.

I‘ll tell you why.  I think he showed his vulnerable side.  He showed his human side.  He showed his loving side.  And that allowed the parties involved, who were bitter enemies, to in turn show their loving sides.  That‘s why they were able to walk out of that courtroom arm in arm, and for a few brief moments, talk about their shared love for Anna Nicole, and for a few brief moments, be civilized.  That is how you practice peace.  You don‘t dictate it, you show  by example and you hope it rubs off.

Now, I know that Virgie Arthur is now appealing.  I know there will be future legal battles.  That doesn‘t mean that you have to, you know, completely crease and desist.  It‘s now you conduct it.  And I think that he set a somewhat loving tone, even though he was wildly eccentric.  I think if more judges cried, maybe we‘d have a more peaceful and less punitive court system.

SCARBOROUGH:  Good Lord!  I mean, you say he showed his sensitive side.  I think most people would suggest that he showed his crazy side.  I mean, breaking down and crying, saying that he had cried over this in chambers and—boy, what am I missing here?  Susan...

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Joe, listen, at the end of the day...

SCARBOROUGH:  Or Jane.  Go ahead.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  ... he made a decision—OK.  At the end of the day, he made a decision.  If he was a very boring, robotic-like judge and he had made that decision, you could argue with him on the points of law, but you‘d accept it.  And at the end of the day, this baby—this boy who is buried in the Bahamas is going to have his mother undoubtedly buried next to him unless this appeal wins, which is highly unlikely.  So the end result...


SCARBOROUGH:  Let‘s watch the judge react some more to his own verdict.


SEIDLIN:  And I hope to God you guys give the kid the right shot.  Oh!  I sign this order effective almost 4:00 o‘clock.  It‘s a long order.  It‘s a long order.


SCARBOROUGH:  Susan, I would not let this judge get near my dog, let alone my 5-month-old baby.  I mean...


FILAN:  Well, would you get in a cab with him?

SCARBOROUGH:  I would not even let him drive me around Manhattan. 

What is going on here with this guy?  Is he auditioning for his own TV show?

FILAN:  Absolutely!  Here‘s how cynical I am.  He gave the ruling on Thursday so he could make the talk show circuits on Friday.  Why give up a weekday?  I mean, you know, that‘s his shot.

I think that he totally missed the boat.  I don‘t have a problem with setting a loving tone and trying to keep peace among the parties.  That‘s part of a judge‘s demeanor.  You don‘t, you know, provoke war in your courtroom.

But at the same time, guess what?  You read the statute, you interpret it, you read the case law, you interpret it, you find the facts in a couple of hours through a couple of witnesses, you apply it, you rule.  You don‘t say...

SCARBOROUGH:  And also, Susan...

FILAN:  ... After all this time, I‘m going to have someone else decide.


FILAN:  Yes.

SCARBOROUGH:  And you know—exactly.  And Susan, you also set the order and the decorum for the court.  I mean, he wasn‘t the only guy acting in a bizarre way.  What do you think was the most bizarre moment of the day?

FILAN:  Well, to me, the most bizarre—I‘ve never seen anything like it.  When Debra Opri in the middle of her examination bursts into song and says...

SCARBOROUGH:  Stop right there!  We‘re going to play the hit.  We‘re going to play the hit and then let you kids dance to it.  Here‘s Debra Opri in court.


OPRI:  And Your Honor, I do want to say to the court I had probably 40 minutes of questions.  Thank you to Judge Seidlin, Your Honor, I now have 30 seconds.

SEIDLIN:  I‘ve covered the waterfront (INAUDIBLE)

OPRI:  You covered the waterfront, and they put that to song.

SEIDLIN:  What song is it?

OPRI (SINGING):  I cover the waterfront.

SCARBOROUGH:  Who sings that?

OPRI:  I have an agent for music, too.  Anyway...

SEIDLIN:  Who sings that?

OPRI:  Who knows!  That‘s from the 1950s.



SCARBOROUGH:  Jane, what‘s going on there?

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  OK.  I know Debra Opri.  She‘s a very good-hearted person.  I spoke to her as she was heading down there.  I know she was chomping at the bit to bring up the DNA and the paternity issue.  And I think that this whole mood was contagious.  And I‘m not saying it was appropriate, but I am saying, Hey, it was, in some wild way, refreshing to see people being human.

And let me say one other thing.  All this talk about how we brought in all these irrelevant issues that had absolutely nothing to do with it—well, you know what?  There‘s “little j” justice and there‘s “big j” justice, and maybe he was looking at the fact that Dannielynn, 5-and-a-half-months old, in Bahamas, nobody‘s speaking for her.  The truth and the dirty laundry needs to come out for her issues to be settled correctly.

And when everybody has all the information about all the shenanigans and the drugs and the money and the manipulation and that video of Anna Nicole in clownface, incoherent, while Howard K. Stern is talking about the footage being worth money, that says a lot.  And he got all of that out there.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Well, we‘ll see what happens.  He got a lot out there—sex, drugs, rock-and-roll, clown outfits, you name it.  Hey, Jane Velez-Mitchell, thank you so much.  Susan Filan, stay with us because coming up next, the judge focuses on Anna Nicole‘s baby while stopping all proceedings so the father of Anna Nicole‘s dead son could call in.



SEIDLIN:  The mother and the son.




SCARBOROUGH:  But who‘s the father of Anna Nicole‘s other child, the 5-month-old girl who could end up with $400 million?

And later: Britney on the brink.  She ducks into rehab for a third time to stop K-Fed from snatching her kids.  Former child star Danny Bonaduce here‘s to talk about the pop tart‘s meltdown, and we‘ll tell you about her attack on photographers last night.

And later: The results are in, but did your “American Idol” vote get counted?  We‘re going to show you why critics say the phone system is a rip-off and why Fox is refusing to fix it.



BIRKHEAD:  I think it‘s just that we all understand that we all loved Anna Nicole and it‘s in her best interests to come together and get this thing worked out for her.


SCARBOROUGH:  Just when you thought this case couldn‘t become more bizarre, the parties, once bitterly divided on where to bury Anna Nicole Smith, walked out of the courtroom side by side to announce that they all agreed to bury her in the Bahamas.  Though all the parties reached out and touched in front of the cameras, behind the scenes, lawyers were already drafting appeals to the ruling.  Soon all these characters will be battling again over the key question, Who‘s the daddy?

Here now “Access Hollywood‘s” Tony Potts with the details.  Tony, help us out here, buddy.  All the nice handholding going on there.  Are we to believe that they‘re standing on the beach tonight, holding hands, singing “Kumbaya”?

TONY POTTS, “ACCESS HOLLYWOOD”:  No, I don‘t think so.  As a matter of fact, if we had a Telestrater (ph), I‘d go back and show in slow-motion because if you look, Virgie was in the middle.  And I‘m telling you, it had to just kill her to have her arm inside of Howard K. Stern‘s arm in walking out.  But if you look at the video, if you go back and look at it again, as soon as they walk up to the microphone, she turns like this and turns her back right away.  She didn‘t want any part of that.

Now, of course, she had to be part of it because you‘re not going to have, you know, Howard and Larry walk out arm in arm because that would have been actually very weird.  I do think an amazing thing happened, though, because Larry looked over in the middle of all of that and said into the microphone and turned back and looked at Howard and he says, I want to thank Howard for allowing me to see my daughter.  So he kind of—

I don‘t know what went on back there, what kind of love fest was happening, but Howard‘s going to let Larry see the baby.  Now, I‘d love to have video of that, my friends.

SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt about it.  Of course, though, you‘re talking about the mom and Howard.  I mean, this mom has already accused Howard of killing her daughter and grandson repeatedly, right?

POTTS:  Yes, absolutely.  And I think one of the things is—why she‘s appealing this ruling now—and we‘ll find out tomorrow what happens with this appeal of Anna Nicole‘s body going to the Bahamas.  One thing I think that‘s interesting is—and you go back to the clownface painted video of Anna Nicole, where she‘s obviously severely on something.  And you think about this, and you‘ll see that right there.

Think about the doctor who delivered little Dannielynn.  He had to know that Anna was on drugs.  And if he didn‘t, A, he‘s an idiot, and B, if he didn‘t take a tox screen of little Dannielynn when she was born, he should be strung up and taken before some sort of medical panel and asked a million questions because we have no idea, Joe, as we stand here now, if little Dannielynn was affected mentally, physically by Anna Nicole being on drugs.  We have no clue.  And so if that doctor did not take a toxicology report, a tox screen on that time baby, I‘m telling you, he‘s in trouble.  We have no idea to this day.

And by the way, Joe, I‘m a father.  In the first six months of life, a baby has to get all the shots, has to be immunized.  Do we know what‘s going on there?  And by the way, if Howard Stern knows he‘s not the father, just say for a second—he loves the baby.  Who could not love a little 5-and-a-half-month-old baby, right?  But say if he knows for a fact that he‘s really not this child‘s father.  He‘s been keeping this kid all along. 

He‘s just been keeping this kid, kind of shoveling her around like a little

like a little basket that he‘s passing around to everybody...


POTTS:  ... while he knows that Larry Birkhead is the father.  It just

it drives me insane!

SCARBOROUGH:  No, it is absolutely insane.  Tony, stay with us.  I want to bring in once again MSNBC senior legal analyst Susan Filan.  Susan, what‘s going to happen tomorrow in court?  When are we going to find out who‘s the daddy?

FILAN:  It‘s not going to be tomorrow, Joe.  What‘s going to happen in court is there‘s going to be a paternity action in a Florida family court.  And the question before that judge again isn‘t going to be who‘s the daddy, it‘s going to be who‘s got jurisdiction.  And the only reason this case is now in a Florida court is because that‘s where Anna Nicole Smith died.  And I think that court is going to rule it‘s got no jurisdiction.  There‘s an action pending in California.  The child lives in Bahama.  The action is probably most properly pending in the Bahamas.

And speaking of the Bahamas, there‘s a custody battle in the Bahamas tomorrow, as well.  So when you‘re trying to figure out which court to keep an eye on tomorrow, you‘ve got to spin the roulette because it could be the appellate court, it could be the family court in Florida and it could be the custody court in the Bahamas, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  It‘s hard to keep up with it all.  You know, after seeing a tape where Anna Nicole was seemingly drugged—and we were talking about it before.  Tony was talking about it, where her was face was painted like a clown.  The man who claims to own the Bahamas house where Anna Nicole Smith lived lashed out at Howard K. Stern.  Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That child was on that video and asked to call me, and she wasn‘t allowed by you to call me to come home.  It‘s on the full tape, and they can get a copy of it, Howard.  I‘ll never forgive you for it.


SCARBOROUGH:  Tony, there‘s more nastiness to come, isn‘t there.  And it‘s mainly going to be directed at Howard K. Stern.

POTTS:  Absolutely.  And Ford Shelly, by the way, he was very upset because his daughter was there during that video, and he wanted—she wanted to call home.  But the question is, Why did Ford Shelly leave her there?  I mean, he knows what goes on in that house.  He‘s been there before.  He knows Anna‘s history.  In the years past, when I‘ve interviewed Anna Nicole Smith, she‘s been inebriated to some extent.  So Ford Shelly‘s a little bit to blame there.  I know he was upset, but he‘s a little bit to blame.  I would not leave my 6-year-old daughter or my son with any of those people under any circumstances whatsoever.


SCARBOROUGH:  Under any circumstances~!


SCARBOROUGH:  No doubt about that, Tony.

POTTS:  Are you kidding me?

SCARBOROUGH:  Neither one of us have to be father of the year to decode that one, baby!  Tony Potts, thank you so much.  Susan Filan, as always, appreciate it.

More to come, unfortunately.  But coming up here: Britney Spears back in rehab for a third time in a week.  What‘s going to it take for it to stick?  Well, first of all, is she going in there simply because she knows K-Fed‘s about to get her two babies?  We‘re going to ask former child star and recovering addict Danny Bonaduce what‘s really going on.

But first up: David Letterman gets ready for the Oscars straight ahead in “Must See S.C.”


SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, it‘s time for tonight‘s “Must See S.C.,” video you just got to see.  First up: The best films of the year are going to be celebrated at the Oscars on Sunday, David Letterman asks what about the films that didn‘t make the cut?


DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, “LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN”:  We thought we would focus tonight on films that have not been nominated for an Academy Award.  It‘s a segment we simply call “Not Nominated for an Academy Award.”  Here‘s tonight‘s offering.  Take a look.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Peekaboo.  I see you!


SCARBOROUGH:  And finally, thanks to some recent cable TV mergers, your favorite stations are finally coming together.  Conan gives us a sneak peek.



worked when TV channels merge.  For instance, you might remember the ill-

fated merger of ESPN and the Food Network.  Remember that?  It just was a -

or when the History Channel merged with Telemundo.  That‘s not good.  And perhaps the worst merger of all was when CNN and the Spice Channel merged.  It just doesn‘t...


SCARBOROUGH:  Yes!  And coming up next: How difficult is rehab for a celebrity?  Danny Bonaduce weighs in on Britney Spears‘s latest attempt to beat addiction coming up.

And later: “Idol” viewers call in with their votes, but does anybody hear them?  We‘re going to show you why some critics are already complaining about tonight‘s results.


SCARBOROUGH:  Coming up, the votes are in, or are they?  Why tonight‘s “American Idol” votes are already coming under fire from critics.  That story and more, straight ahead. 

But first, Britney Spears back in rehab tonight.  The pop princess has checked into an L.A.-area treatment center late last night, just one day after she left.  But tonight, soon-to-be ex-husband Kevin Federline has the kids after calling off an emergency custody hearing.  So will the third time finally be the charm for Britney?  And if she doesn‘t stay in rehab this time, is she going to lose her children? 

Here now to talk about, former child star Danny Bonaduce, who currently stars in VH-1‘s “Breaking Bonaduce” and can be heard every morning on 97.1 Free FM on the West Coast.  And also, “Star” magazine‘s deputy New York bureau chief David Caplan. 

David, give us the details.  What the heck happened?  Britney is now back in rehab, why? 

DAVID CAPLAN, “STAR” MAGAZINE:  She‘s back in rehab because she has to do this for her kids.  Last night at 10:30, her mom, Lynne Spears, drove her to Promises Rehab in Malibu, California, which was the second rehab facility Britney entered earlier this week, the first one being crossroads in Antigua. 

So her mom took her to Promises.  She‘s now doing rehab.  But the interesting thing here is that, beforehand, she went to Kevin Federline‘s house, and Kevin Federline would not let her go inside the house, even though he was with their two children.  He didn‘t want to speak to her; he didn‘t want to have anything to do with her. 

Britney and her mom went to Promises, they were seen fighting in their car, arguing, having this heated argument.  And even earlier, Britney was seen throwing an umbrella at the paparazzi who were filming her in Hollywood.  So she is out of control. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, throwing umbrellas, telling them to stop following her.  I mean, that‘s not helping matters. 

Danny, what‘s going on with her?  I mean, if you‘re keeping score at home, she‘s in rehab, she‘s out of rehab, she‘s in rehab, she‘s out of rehab.  She bounces back into rehab.  I mean, it sounds like she‘s got some serious emotional issues here, right? 

DANNY BONADUCE, RADIO HOST:  Well, she‘s got emotional issue, yes.  But when we were speaking yesterday, I told you that actually—essentially it‘s a game.  Here‘s what happens when celebrities are in trouble or arrested. 

What you do—say you‘re arrested, you‘re Mel Gibson.  You make bail.  You check into rehab.  Your lawyer goes to court and says, “Your honor, I‘m so sorry, my client is in rehab, and getting treatment, and will be here as soon as his treatment is completed,” implying that he or she is cured.  And the court looks favorably on that. 

And so, if Britney makes it through this rehab, the judge will look favorably.   You know, a kidney removal takes 14 hours operation.  Twenty eight days, she must be cured, let‘s give her the kids. 

SCARBOROUGH:  I mean, you know, Danny, it‘s so funny you said that, because last night we heard, when she got out of rehab again, that there was going to be a hearing today, and Kevin Federline was going to push for custody of the children.  And I think most people suspected that the judge would rule that he would get custody of those children. 

And so she calls—she goes into rehab.  Suddenly, you‘re right.  In Hollywood, it just wipes everything off.  It‘s a blank slate, right? 

BONADUCE:  It cleans—no.  No.  It does not.  What it does is it cleans the slate and then adds some polish.  You‘re actually better than before you went in.  You are new and improved.  You‘re the new and improved Britney Spears, because you spent 28 days of your life struggling with this horrifying disease. 

And that‘s not what I believe, to be honest with you.  I don‘t think Britney Spears or Kevin Federline, who I have no love for at all, are really troubled young people as much as I believe that they are an offshoot of a new brand of disease.  And I call patient zero Paris Hilton, who is calculated, but Lindsay Lohan is an idiot.  And she follows Paris—Paris is just drinking it all in, and Lindsay is just drinking.

And she begets Nicole Richie, and she begets Britney Spears.  I mean, you could say it started with Judy Garland or you could say I certainly didn‘t help it along.  You could say that Robert Downey, Jr.,  had the audacity to be a junkie and still a genius.  But this is the first generation to revel in their addiction and stupidity.  I‘ve never seen anything like it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  David Caplan, it appears they just keep doing it.  And, again, Britney Spears seems to be going totally out of control.  This has been going on for some time, hasn‘t it, David? 

CAPLAN:  Yes, this has been going on for weeks and months.  We‘ve seen her—you know, this really kicked off after she split from Kevin Federline.  We really thought she got off to a great start.  Remember those first photos we saw and video of her skating in Rockefeller Center in New York with her manager, Larry Rudolph?  Everyone was like, “Oh, Britney looks great, post-K-Fed.” 

It quickly, quickly spiraled downward, with the help of Paris Hilton, who was her new friend for about, you know, five days.  And then after that, it just went downhill.  She was just completely a mess.  And it‘s because she doesn‘t seem to have the support system around her or she wasn‘t listening to them.  You know, her mom was coming to the fray now, which is fantastic, but she had no one around her that was just saying, “Stop, you know, you‘re just doing too much.” 

SCARBOROUGH:  Let me ask you this though.  Danny talked about how Paris Hilton was patient zero here.  She seems to be infecting these other people, whether it‘s Lindsay Lohan or Britney Spears.  I mean, that does seem to be the case here, right? 

CAPLAN:  Absolutely.

SCARBOROUGH:  Britney goes out, starts hanging out with Paris Hilton, and suddenly she has some very, very serious addiction problems, allegedly. 

CAPLAN:  Absolutely.  Paris Hilton—and this is a well-known fact.  A lot of people I speak with in young Hollywood circles—Paris Hilton is a horrible influence.  She‘s not the nicest person.  Let‘s call a spade a spade.  She‘s a mean girl, sort of like from that movie, and she really is an enable. 

She hangs out at all these L.A. nightclubs, like Privilege, like High (ph), like Area (ph), and she, you know, instigates so many of these dramas.  She‘s the one who says, “Oh, yes, you know, have a drink.  Let‘s go out.  Let‘s have fun.” 

She doesn‘t care about her friends‘ well-being, her so-called friends‘ well-being.  And it‘s very clear, and we see this. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, you know, and it led ultimately, of course, to the crisis we saw last weekend, Britney‘s decision to go bald.  And it may be the most expensive hair cut of her life. 

Forbes currently estimated she‘s worth about $100 million.  But with no new music in sight, no CD, that means no tour, marketing experts say she‘s going to lose huge money endorsement deals.  And don‘t forget that potentially expensive custody and divorce battle with Kevin Federline. 

And “OK” magazine is reporting her perfume sales are way down.  So, I mean, she could face some real financial problems.  You know, Danny, you were talking about how you lived in a car behind a dumpster, behind a theater...

BONADUCE:  Grauman‘s Chinese Theater.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, Grauman‘s Chinese Theater.  But Britney Spears, you know, she‘s got about $100 million.  But this could end up costing her a lot of cash, right? 

BONADUCE:  Well, actually, in a way, she‘s in a worse situation than I was.  I did not, in fact, have a roof over my head, but I also didn‘t have the money to kill myself.  She‘s got her hands on enough cash to do herself serious and irreparable damage. 

When we were talking about Britney, Paris Hilton, I also find her Typhoid Mary, because I‘ve met her on several occasions, and she does not seem to be infected by herself, but she spreads.  It‘s an amazing thing to watch.  She has never been late to an appointment because she was intoxicated.  She has been late to be fashionable.  She‘s been late to be mysterious.  But she shows when she needs to.  The people she infects go into rehab three times and shave themselves bald. 

SCARBOROUGH:  That‘s exactly what happened.  Hey, Danny, thank you so much.  Greatly appreciate it.  David Caplan, thank you, also. 

Boy, I‘m sure we‘re going to be hearing about this in the future.  But coming up next here, “American Idol” kicks off its first two contestants, but did your votes get counted in the final tally?  See why FOX is ignoring complaints from critics who say the system just isn‘t fair. 

And later, a special Oscar edition of “Hollyweird.”  Joan and Melissa Rivers join us for their prediction for the big question:  Who‘s going to commit the biggest fashion faux pas?



SIMON COWELL, JUDGE, “AMERICAN IDOL”:  ... very tempted to say to 23 people, “Book your plane tickets home.”


SCARBOROUGH:  OK, it‘s over.  Was that a prediction from Simon?  Well, “American Idol” wrapped up a short time ago with the results of its first live vote of the season.  Now, West Coast viewers, don‘t worry, we‘re not going to ruin the surprise, but we are going to take a look at what some are calling “Idol‘s” flawed voting process, something FOX keeps under wraps, despite years of complaints that it just doesn‘t work. 


SCARBOROUGH (voice-over):  “American Idol” sells itself as a talent competition where your vote counts. 

RYAN SEACREST, HOST, “AMERICAN IDOL”:  Tonight, you take over from the judges. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And 90 percent of “Idol” voting is done by phone, and no one exactly knows how many votes just don‘t make it through.  “Idol” producers say it‘s the phone companies.  But take a look at the numbers. 

Last May, “Idol” fans cast a record 63.5 million votes.  It sounds like a lot.  However, the U.S. telecom network handles an average of 1.9 billion calls a day.  And the text message voting?  Well, your vote will always get through, but it costs money, and you have to be a Cingular wireless customer. 

Only 28 percent of cell phone users have a Cingular plan, and 44 percent of them are in the South, which is also the area where all five “Idol” winners call home. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, y‘all, sounds like a good system to me.  So does “American Idol” do enough to make sure its voting is fair?  And how do you solve the problem? 

Here now to talk about it, somebody who knows about the system, former “American Idol” contest Carmen Rasmusen.  Carmen, there are so many problems with this system.  I was talking to somebody last night that loved listening to that woman that obviously Simon thinks is going to win the whole contest. 


SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, she‘s just incredible. 

RASMUSEN:  She is.

SCARBOROUGH:  But, you know, it seems people just call in, they try to register their votes, and they can‘t get through, one busy signal after another.  That does not seem like a good way to run a system, does it? 

RASMUSEN:  I know.  It‘s really tough.  My dad said that, on average, when I was on the show, between the cell phone and the home phone, he was able to get about 230 votes in.  But sometimes, if the lines were super busy, especially the night before I got voted off, the lines were jam-packed, he only able to get 20 votes in.  And at the time, they weren‘t members of Cingular AT&T, so obviously they couldn‘t text the votes in.  So it was a real problem. 

And like you said, 44 percent of Cingular AT&T users are from the South.  And all of the idols that have won so far are from the South.  It makes you wonder if text messaging doesn‘t play a huge role in determining the outcome and the success of these future contestants. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Now, have you heard other people that aren‘t from the Southeast complain about that before, talking about how it does seem to be skewed towards southerners? 

RASMUSEN:  No.  When I was on the show, they said that I got a lot of votes from the South and from the East.  But when the Mountains kicked in, that‘s where I got the majority of all of my votes, so it wasn‘t a problem from where I was from, because they opened up enough phone lines. 

And since there weren‘t any other idols from Utah, it seems like a lot

of people were able to get through when I was on the show.  But I know that

people that do live in the East Coast—I had some relatives living there

and in the South, they said it was hard for them to get through, because so many people were using those phone lines, they didn‘t have enough, I don‘t think, open for them to vote. 

SCARBOROUGH:  And, you know, we could talk obviously about a lot of different influences, but certainly one of the key influences on voting are the judges. 

RASMUSEN:  Absolutely.

SCARBOROUGH:  And this season, they‘re just not holding back.  Carmen, look at this. 


SIMON COWELL, JUDGE, “AMERICAN IDOL”:  Tonight you were like dad at a wedding. 

RANDY JACKSON, JUDGE, “AMERICAN IDOL”:  For me, dog, it was really corny, man.  I thought I would be in any bar in America. 

COWELL:  Without question, the most dreary performance we‘ve had all night. 

JACKSON:  Oh, come on, Simon. 

COWELL:  Half the band were asleep during it. 

How old are you? 


COWELL:  You sound 40.  That was the problem. 

Well, the good news is, you‘re attractive. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, we know that, yes. 

COWELL:  The bad news is, it didn‘t work.  When you sing, you have the personality of a candle. 


SCARBOROUGH:  When he says something like that, there‘s just no way the voters aren‘t going to be influenced, right? 

RASMUSEN:  Absolutely.  The judges play a huge role in influencing the audience.  I mean, that‘s why they have judges.  If it was really only up to the American public, there would be no need for judges.  People would just call in and have their own opinions.  But the purpose of having judges is to sway the audience, and they do an excellent job.  And Simon is usually right with his predictions of who will stay and who will go. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well, we already know who‘s going to win this year, right? 

RASMUSEN:  Apparently so. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes.  Why don‘t they have voting on the Internet?  That seems like that would be such a clean, easy way to make sure that it‘s fair. 

RASMUSEN:  Joe, I completely agree with you.  And if they‘re so worried about appealing to their sponsors, have them vote on the AT&T Web site, have them vote on the Ford Web site.  That way people that don‘t have Cingular AT&T are able to have a guaranteed vote, that they don‘t have to worry about those busy phone lines.  So I think it‘s a fabulous way to do it. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  And, by the way, really, before we go, do you agree with Simon that Lakisha is going to be the winner this year? 

RASMUSEN:  I think she‘ll definitely be in the top three.  I don‘t know if she‘ll be a winner, but I‘m betting on the top three for sure. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  Very good.  Thank you so much. 

RASMUSEN:  Thanks a lot, Joe.

SCARBOROUGH:  We appreciate it, Carmen.  All right, we‘ll be right back with “Hollyweird.”


SCARBOROUGH:  Hey, tell your fashion consultant to meet you at the Ivy (ph).  It‘s time for a special edition of “Hollyweird,” an Oscars edition at that.

Now, if you‘re like me, you watch Sunday‘s Academy Awards as much for the fashion as the winners and the losers.  So our very own resident red carpet diva, Willie Geist, sat down with the sultans of style themselves, Joan and Melissa Rivers, to get all the dirt before the big night—



JOAN RIVERS, STYLE EXPERT:  Who are you wearing? 

MELISSA RIVERS, STYLE EXPERT:  Who are you wearing? 

JOAN RIVERS:  Who are you wearing?  Who are you wearing?

HOWIE MANDEL, COMEDIAN:  Talk about what I‘m wearing, if I‘m talking to you. 

JOAN RIVERS:  All right, fine, what are you wearing? 

RAINN WILSON, ACTOR:  My life is complete now.  I‘m being interviewed

by you. 

WILLIE GEIST, PRODUCER:  I have said for years that the Joan and Melissa pre-show is actually better than the Oscars ceremony itself.  How close are we to having the golden hanger be more coveted than the Oscar, Joan? 

JOAN RIVERS:  Everyone wants to see who‘s drunk, who‘s sober, who‘s high, what they‘re wearing, who they came with.  I think always the pre-show is more fun.

You look like—and don‘t take this the wrong way—like Paris Hilton.

GEIST:  Do you feel bad at all?  Do you feel any guilt, Joan, about contributing to those nerves, when an actress, a famous actors, the biggest stars in the world are getting dressed on their big night, all they‘re thinking about is what you and your daughter are going to say about them.  Isn‘t that just terrible? 

JOAN RIVERS:  No, I think it‘s great, because I think we‘ve taken fashion up a notch, seriously.  In the 11 years we‘ve been doing the pre-shows on the red carpet, I think they‘ve really come dressed much better.  Very few people come looking like they look like a stupid chicken.  Cher and that assy Titanic hat.  What was the name of it tricycle shorts, Demi Moore.  I mean, are we really taking America...


MELISSA RIVERS:  Yes, and the people that—our thing now is people come looking too good.

JOAN RIVERS:  Look at this bag.  It looks like a South Hampton happy face.  It‘s absolutely amazing.

GEIST:  Does it make you happier to see someone who is beautiful or someone who‘s just a complete disaster?  When you see it coming towards you in slow speed, what do you like better? 

JOAN RIVERS:  You say thank you, God. 

MELISSA RIVERS:  Disaster.  Disaster.  We love the disasters. 

GEIST:  Now, is Bjork still the gold standard for the biggest disaster ever?  Or has anyone eclipsed her? 

JOAN RIVERS:  Bjork is still just about number one.  By the way, someone at the Grammys—what was her name that won grass in her hair? 

MELISSA RIVERS:  Emma Jean Heat.  Emma Jean Heat (ph). 

JOAN RIVERS:  She was very close.

MELISSA RIVERS:  That was a close one, yes.

JOAN RIVERS:  You wanted to get the net out for her. 

Can we show you the shoes, which are very ugly?

MANDEL:  They‘ve very ugly.  They‘re very expensive.  And are they ugly?  You don‘t like them? 

GEIST:  There are certainly people—not me, obviously—who say, “Who the hell are Joan and Melissa to criticize these huge stars and what they‘re wearing?”  So to those people, who the hell are you guys? 

JOAN RIVERS:  I could give you an answer, but it would start with an



MELISSA RIVERS:  Well, my whole thing is, what is different what we‘re doing, from what we‘re doing on TV, than what everybody is doing sitting in their living rooms at home?  Everyone at home is not saying, “Oh, they‘re so nice,” and, “Oh, they‘re so pretty,” and, “Oh, they‘re this.”  Everyone at home is picking it apart.  And the magazines do it.  And the newspapers do it the next day.  The only difference is, we don‘t hide behind just a byline.  We just say it.

I am here with Steve Carell now.  I‘ll admit it now, I‘ve been talking a little bit of trash about you tonight. 

GEIST:  It seems like most of the people now, the stars, they get it.  You‘ve been doing this for 11 years.  It‘s Joan and Melissa.  You play along.  You have a good time.  But are there people out there still, actors who are just big stiffs, and they take it personally?  Do you get calls?

JOAN RIVERS:  There are a few.  Kathy Bates was very upset because I said, if she hadn‘t been on the Titanic, it would not have sunk.  So she doesn‘t talk to us anymore. 

GEIST:  The famous one is where you told Kevin Costner‘s poor fiancee how small and terrible her engagement ring was.  Was that the meanest thing you said?

JOAN RIVERS:  I tragically—she should have put it out in the sun to make it grow.  But you know what?  He went out and bought her a bigger ring.  That woman owes me. 

GEIST:  You did a public service. 


GEIST:  You really did.  Joan and Melissa live at the Academy Awards, 6:00 p.m. Eastern time on the TV Guide Channel.  Trust me, you‘re a fool if you miss it.  It‘s better than the Oscar ceremony itself. 

Joan and Melissa Rivers, thanks so much for joining us. 

JOAN RIVERS:  A pleasure. 

MELISSA RIVERS:  Thank you. 


SCARBOROUGH:  And thank you so much, Willie Geist, a man that made Carrie (ph) fashionable once again. 

I‘m going to be taking my own trip to “Hollyweird” on Monday, basking in Oscar afterglow.  We‘re taking SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY to L.A. all next week.  But, friends, that‘s all the time we have for tonight.  We‘re going to see you here tomorrow in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

But don‘t go anywhere.  MSNBC has boiled down all of that courtroom craziness into one hour.  “Anna Nicole Smith:  The Legal Drama” starts right now.  Have a good night. 



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