Guests: Beth Holloway Twitty, Julie Renfro, Harold Copus, Mike Paul, Lisa Bloom, Katrina Szish, Anita Talbert, Alla Wartenberg , Joe Tacopina
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, GUEST HOST: Good evening, everybody. I‘m Jane Velez-Mitchell, filling in while Rita is on assignment. Tonight: Uncovered e-mails could be bad news for Dr. Phil. Diet pill customers claim they didn‘t get what they paid for, and they‘re suing the TV guru. And murder, strippers and a prison romance, what you didn‘t know about one of the contestants fired off of “The Apprentice” TV show.
But first: the family of Natalee Holloway—have they done more harm than good during the investigation into her disappearance? A scathing new article in “Vanity Fair” claims the family demanded too much, too soon from Aruban investigators in the days after Natalee vanished.
Some of the biggest complaints are coming from the island‘s deputy police chief, Gerold Dompig. Now, in the article, he says Natalee‘s mother and stepfather sidetracked the investigation from the very beginning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRYAN BURROUGH, “VANITY FAIR”: He believes that the biggest obstacle to finding Natalee and solving the case has been the family itself, that in fact, their push, the calls for boycotting and things like that, have been counterproductive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So what do we make of all of these allegations against the Holloway family? LIVE AND DIRECT tonight is Natalee‘s mother, Beth Holloway Twitty.
Beth, thanks for being on the show. And I have to say, I know this has to be very difficult for you, but we want to give you a chance to respond to this “Vanity Fair” article, which basically says you were so aggressive, the police were pressured into arresting the three young men prematurely, which then backfired and ruined the case against those very suspects. What do you say?
BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY, NATALEE HOLLOWAY‘S MOTHER: Oh, it‘s just the exact opposite. We gave them 10 days. We gave them 10 days to clean up their story, clean up the mess, to lawyer up. We gave them 10 days too long, Jane. That‘s exactly what happened.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I guess what they‘re saying is 10 days wasn‘t enough, and that had they had more time, they could have followed them. Perhaps they would have gone back to the scene of the crime. Maybe they could have listened to their cell phone calls and monitored their e-mails, that kind of thing.
TWITTY: Well, that‘s wishful thinking. If only that would have happened. Remember, within the first 24 hours, we knew who the suspects were. We knew the persons that Natalee were taken from Carlos and Charlie‘s. We knew the license plate of the gray Honda they placed her in. We knew the condition that Natalee was in. We knew the behavior or the conduct in which they engaged in with Natalee.
And then not only that, Jane, within 72 hours, we knew that their first story was totally fabricated, that within the first 72 hours, I faced a room of 12 -- at least 12 detectives, Aruban and Dutch detectives, and a lead detective, Dennis Jacobs (ph), and they knew after we reviewed video footage from the Holiday Inn casino lobby that my daughter had never been brought back to the Holiday Inn. They knew that those suspects were fabricating a story from day one.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. And one of the reasons we‘re talking about this tonight is because of this “Vanity Fair” article, which was written by Bryan Burrough. And he does his own assessment of the Aruban authorities. Let‘s hear that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BURROUGH: What they would have liked to have seen happen is for the suspects, the three young men, to have remained at large for a period of weeks, where they could have been followed, where their phones could have been tapped, they could have been surveilled. That is SOP. That‘s how they normally would have done it. In this case, because of pressure from the family and the media, they were forced to make arrests that they call premature.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And Beth, I have to say that I want to stress nobody knows what it‘s like to be you right now unless they‘re in your shoes. And so very few people in the world are. So I have a lot of sympathy for your predicament. But we have to ask you about some of these things that were in this article.
For example—and we do have this quote that we can put up on our screen. This is from the deputy Aruban police chief Dompig. And he says, “It was like nothing could satisfy them, nothing. Basically, Jug wanted us to come over and beat a confession out of these boys. We couldn‘t do that. These guys are hard-headed, especially Joran. We couldn‘t get a confession.”
He is talking about your husband. What do you say to that?
TWITTY: Well, Jane, something that the family knew—and we have to keep reminding everyone—after 72 hours -- 72 hours—we knew definitively that these suspects were not telling the truth. We knew that my daughter had never been brought back to the Holiday Inn. Of course we were becoming frustrated. Who wouldn‘t, at this point? You know, we—and what was so unbelievable about this, is they knew this information and still chose to pursue the two security guards on June the 5th.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Now, stay right there because I think you‘re going to have some more to say about the next person we‘re going to bring in. One of the people mentioned in this new “Vanity Fair” article is Julia Renfro from the “Aruba Today” newspaper. Julia is on the phone live tonight from Aruba.
Thank you for joining us. You are mentioned quite a bit in this article, and basically, what it says is you were friends with Beth, you initially championed her cause and helped searched for Natalee. But at some point, you turned and ended up filing a police complaint, it says, against her husband, Jug. What‘s the story there? Did you really do that?
JULIA RENFRO, “ARUBA TODAY” NEWSPAPER: Yes, I did. Actually, you know, everything you just said is absolutely correct, in that I went all out to help Beth in every way, to help find her daughter. And at some point, I believe it was early July, her husband, Jug, got very upset with me and actually physically pushed me and yelled and screamed at me in foul language in front of my children.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, was Beth there?
RENFRO: Yes, she was.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK, Beth, I want to hear what you have to say about this.
RENFRO: Well, Jane, you know, tempers—you know, you are frustrated. We were searching for answers. But as far as Jug physically pushing Julie Renfro, no, that did not happen. I was there. There was another witness there with us, and also a cab driver was there. I‘m sorry that—if she felt that—misconstrued that situation. But there were senior several witnesses there, and no, he did not physically push her, but there was a heated moment, yes.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And I guess—I don‘t want to dwell on this, but I think the whole theme of the article is that there was a certain high-handedness, a certain arrogance. And I really want to get your side of the story on that because that‘s a pretty serious charge. Beth?
TWITTY: You know, Jane it‘s—I‘m sorry, Jane...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead...
TWITTY: ... frustration—when you know the answers are there, when the family has hand-delivered the suspects to the authorities, and getting them to act on anything with any sense of urgency just became unbearable. You know, Jane, we pleaded with them early on, Tell us what you‘re gathering. Tell us how you‘re surveilling these guys. Tell us, are you tapping their phone lines? Are you recording their phone conversations? We never could get any answers from them.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Thank you for that. And nobody knows, as I said, what it‘s like to be you. And anybody who thinks they could act with grace, being in your shoes, well, let them try it first.
But let me ask Julia, what‘s next on this investigation? A lot of people feel that it‘s really reached a dead end.
RENFRO: Well, I don‘t believe it‘s (INAUDIBLE) a dead end. I did speak to Commissioner Dompig today, and his team of detectives are continuing to investigate every angle still of Natalee‘s disappearance. And from what I understood, they received some new information today that they‘re going to follow up with tomorrow, and I would imagine, speak to the family about. And it sounds pretty serious.
I know that they did for quite a while put a lot of emphasis and a lot of hope into those Jamie Skeeters tapes, hoping that that—those tapes would be the key to a possible rearrest of the trio.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, and of course, that‘s just another controversy now.
RENFRO: Right. But unfortunately, those tapes turned out to be not very serious and basically don‘t have anything pertinent to the case.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, well, we don‘t know that yet. The FBI is looking at those tapes, trying to determine exactly what one of the suspects, Deepak Kalpoe, said. But you said that there might be some new information. Give us a hint. Anything? I mean, people are desperate for new information on this case.
RENFRO: Absolutely. And I believe that, as we all know, and as Beth knows and the family knows, it needs to go through the right vehicle, and that would be from the police to her lawyers.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Do you know anything? I mean, you‘re just not telling us, or you don‘t know?
RENFRO: I don‘t know.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, let‘s bring in a former FBI agent Harold Copus. He has been following this case from the very beginning. He has been to Aruba. You‘ve been listening to all of this. It‘s getting really, really ugly. Is all this distraction going to keep the mystery from being solved?
HAROLD COPUS, FORMER FBI AGENT: Well, I think it certainly will. It seems like that what the police need to do is go back, do their job. We‘ve been six months. We know that there‘s absolutely no way these three guys could have acted alone. They had to have more help. Let‘s just make this case and get past all this stuff. Pointing fingers from the chief back to Beth is really non-productive. It really merely means, as you know, pointing (INAUDIBLE) back at yourself.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But the Aruban investigators say they are also very frustrated. In fact, we have the “Vanity Fair” reporter describing their frustrations. Let‘s listen in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BURROUGHS: I really don‘t see any evidence of corruption or a cover-up here. What you see is a police force that‘s done the best they can, but that, at least initially, moved slowly because they‘re presented with an awful lot of cases of missing American tourists.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, one of the things that I found most fascinating about this “Vanity Fair” article is that it suggests at the very end that there is a sandbar about 200 feet, I believe, offshore, and this is a sandbar where lovers go to make out and fishermen sometimes watch them. And if you dump a body on the far side of that sandbar, it would wash off towards Panama. I hadn‘t heard any of that previous to this, and they‘ve been searching everywhere. What do you make of that?
COPUS: Well, that‘s always interesting. Actually, I don‘t know about the sandbar. I definitely know about the fishermen‘s hut. And I question the “Vanity Fair” reporter, if he can‘t find corruption, then he probably needs to start back again. I think it‘s pretty plain that—I‘ve been down there. Any of us can do a Google search. You can see we have organized crime figures from America in Aruba.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Of course. All right. Thank you so much.
I want to go back to Beth. Final thoughts. I mean, what‘s next for you? Some people say this case really has hit a wall. Are you going to give up? Are you going to go back to Aruba and keep plowing ahead?
TWITTY: I don‘t think this case has hit a wall. I think what has happened in this case is they have terminated our line of communication, so the family is in the dark about where the investigators are in this investigation. What we‘re hoping, though, is from the help of John Q. Kelly, that maybe he can open up a line of communication and bring us in the loop as to what‘s going on. I‘ve been hearing about possible new arrests or persons of interest being questioned through the media. So it would be nice to be getting that from Deputy Dompig or Karin Janssen herself.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hopefully, you will. And please keep us posted.
Thanks for joining us.
Still ahead: A winter wallop could mean travel delays nationwide, and a fired “Apprentice” contestant reveals a lot more now that she‘s been fired. That and a whole lot more coming right up. Take a look.
Still ahead: Promises, promises. Did Dr. Phil put himself in the crosshairs of a beefy (ph) lawsuit over diet pills bearing his name? Find out why some newly uncovered e-mails could make him the target of a class action lawsuit.
And celebrity couples together and apart. It looks like Brad Pitt is in it for the long haul with Angelina. We‘ll tell you what he did. And wait until you hear what Britney Spears did after a heated spat with the father of her new baby.
Plus, Rita Cosby joins us from the road.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the biggest thrill we have all year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: She‘s gathering amazing stories as America‘s most famous wrestlers head to Afghanistan to support the troops. It‘s coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. PHIL MCGRAW, TALK SHOW HOST: My goal for the show is changed lives. My goal for the show is getting people to live by design.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, LIVE AND DIRECT has obtained explosive evidence in the lawsuit targeting TV guru Dr. Phil, and it could mean an uphill battle for his defense team. The evidence? His own e-mails. Some angry customers are suing the TV host for false advertising. They say that the diet pills that bear his name did not live up to the promises on the label. Dr. Phil says he wasn‘t in charge of the advertisements, but these e-mails could make that a tough sell.
Joining me now is noted public relations consultant Mike Paul. Mike, last, week Dr. Phil had an Aruba controversy, this week it‘s diet pills. So is this the sign of a celebrity kind of branching out in too many different directions?
MIKE PAUL, PUBLIC RELATIONS CONSULTANT: That‘s exactly what it is, Jane. You know, if he was talking about this from a psychological perspective, then he‘s absolutely within his area of expertise. But as he‘s trying to give advice from a medical perspective or as a dietitian, then he‘s really stretching his brand into an area that is very risky, and as a result, he has a reputation that‘s in crisis right now. And that‘s a shame.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We got just moments ago a statement from the Dr. Phil show, just so recently that we haven‘t even been able to put up a full screen but—yes, we do. We just made it. “Dr. Phil has long held that only you can change your behavior and that only you are responsible for your own conduct. To characterize his positions otherwise, as Mr. Rossbacher does in this lawsuit, is illogical and is directly contrary to what Dr. Phil consistently says.”
So he also, I have to tell you, has not made any money off this. This is all for charity, to help kids who are suffering from obesity, and I think that‘s a very important point because a lot of people might assume, Does he need any more money? He‘s not getting any more money from this, apparently.
Now, let‘s bring in our legal analysts. Joining me live tonight, Court TV anchor Lisa Bloom and defense attorney Joe Tacopina.
This is such a wild case. And I have to tell you, Lisa, they want to turn it into a class action lawsuit. How does that happen, and why is that so important for these plaintiffs?
LISA BLOOM, COURT TV: Well, because a lot of people apparently bought these pills, and the pills simply don‘t work, at least according to the plaintiffs. You know, when he decided to go from Dr. Phil to Dr. Pill, he put his credibility on the line, Jane!
BLOOM: Look, those of us who make a living on television, all we really have is our credibility. People trust the people that they see on TV, right or wrong. And when Dr. Phil says in these e-mails, I have no expertise in this area, you know, he‘s got to be right because he‘s a clinical psychologist. He‘s not an M.D. He‘s not legally allowed to prescribe any kind of medication. I think most people, when they hear “Dr. Phil,” probably think that he‘s a medical doctor. He‘s not. If he doesn‘t have any expertise, if he doesn‘t know anything about this, why put his name on the product and subject himself to what‘s obviously going to come down the line and what‘s here now, which is a lawsuit saying that the stuff doesn‘t work. I mean, it just doesn‘t make any sense to me.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And Lisa, you used the key phrase “no expertise.” Let‘s go to one of the e-mails involved in this lawsuit. It says—and we‘re going to throw it up on the screen—“They need to redo the one that says I created these products because I have no expertise.”
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But if his face is on the label, Joe, doesn‘t that imply it‘s his product?
JOE TACOPINA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: No, not at all. I mean, God, Jane, think of all the celebrities out there, or noted people in their profession, who endorse products that have absolutely no idea what they‘re endorsing. I mean, we‘re talking about two very distinct things here. One, from a reputation standpoint, like Lisa was saying, from a PR standpoint. You know, all those things are very drastically different than legal liability.
From a PR standpoint, you know, reputation standpoint, credibility standpoint, this is horrible for this guy. I mean, he looks like, you know, someone who‘s really just recklessly giving his name out. You make a great point, thought, Jane. It is for charity, so it‘s not about greed. But from a legal standpoint, these e-mails—and I have some of them here, Jane. These e-mails are some of the best things you get. I mean, he wants the strongest disclaimers in these product ads. He has said here time and again...
TACOPINA: He‘s saying time and again, that, yes, he doesn‘t want it being said that he creates these products because he has no expertise.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, Mike‘s...
TACOPINA: So he‘s not lending...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... dying to get in. Let‘s hear from Mike because this is the controversy.
PAUL: Joe, you‘re absolutely right. The bottom line is there‘s a court of law and there‘s a court of public opinion. And in this particular case, the court of public opinion is as important or more important than the court of law. And if he wants a to have a reputation, to continue to be on television, those e-mails are extremely damaging. He needs to come out with a mea culpa. There should be no if‘s or but‘s in his apology, and needs to take full responsibility...
BLOOM: Jane, look at what these ads say, these ads that were approved by Dr. Phil, with his name and his picture. The ads say the pills will help you change your behavior. So for him to come out now and say everybody‘s responsible for their own behavior, well, then, why on earth should anybody buy diet pills, if it‘s not going to work? The implication is it‘s going to help them stop eating or help them eat less and control their behavior. That‘s what it said right on the pills!
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Mike...
TACOPINA: Yes, but Jane—Jane...
TACOPINA: What he‘s saying, though—what he‘s saying on these e-mails is that it shouldn‘t say that, and I don‘t want to say that. Look, diet pills—go find me one diet pill that you buy over the counter that works.
PAUL: What he‘s trying to do...
TACOPINA: They‘re all a bunch of nonsense.
PAUL: ... Joe—what he was trying to do with those e-mails was to try and spin the language that was going to be attached to his name, and he was concerned about what was going to be attached to his name.
TACOPINA: And isn‘t that what we‘re talking about here?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I mean, I have to stress that nobody has any evidence that Dr. Phil has done anything wrong. And once again, all of the money he raised is going to charity, to help specifically obese kids. But I have to bring up a point—and I‘m the one that made it—and I battle my weight, so I want to say this with as much humility as possible. But a lot of people have pointed out Dr. Phil himself is not that thin. What do you make of him jumping on this diet bandwagon, when he himself is a rather large man, Michael?
TACOPINA: Two words, Richard Simmons. Richard Simmons.
TACOPINA: Two words, Richard Simmons.
BLOOM: He has made a lot of money from his diet books.
PAUL: Richard Simmons went through a diet himself and lost weight, and then he had the credibility to talk about it. Dr. Phil has as much credibility about talking about weight loss as I do, as a man that‘s about his size.
BLOOM: And Jane, this is a hugely lucrative field. Even if he‘s donating the money to charity, he‘s getting good PR from that. And this was all tied into his books, his videos and his television show...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But Lisa, I have to jump in here and...
BLOOM: This is a multi-million-dollar enterprise for him.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I‘ve watched Dr. Phil shows on his weight loss, and they‘re inspiring, but they don‘t say, Take pills, they say, Exercise more, eat your fruits and vegetables...
BLOOM: I know, but Jane...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... stop eating all the junk food. So why is he now advocating a pill?
PAUL: It‘s about money.
TACOPINA: Not his money!
BLOOM: Now, let me just jump in an answer the question, Jane. It doesn‘t matter legally whether he‘s donating the money to charity or not.
PAUL: That‘s right.
BLOOM: What does matter is, Is he making a material misrepresentation of fact? When it says on those pills that it‘s going to help you change your behavior, I think it‘s a little weak for Dr. Phil to say now, Well, everybody‘s responsible for their own behavior. When is Dr. Phil going to be responsible for his own behavior in putting his face on this product? And by the way...
TACOPINA: Jane, look at the e-mails.
BLOOM: ... celebrities don‘t just—don‘t just gratuitously...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, we have to wrap it up...
TACOPINA: Look at the e-mails...
BLOOM: ... everything that comes their way.
TACOPINA: Look at the e-mails.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But remember, it is all for a good cause, so I think his heart is in the right place.
PAUL: Ego management.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Thanks, all, for joining us.
The Eastern Seaboard is bracing for its first major snowstorm for the season. This storm has already hit the D.C. area, and it‘s slowly moving its way up north tonight. The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for eastern Long Island, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Cape Cod, as well as parts of New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia.
Reporter Kerry Cavanaugh with NBC affiliate WBAL in Baltimore, Maryland, is with us live now. Oh, boy, that looks cold!
KERRY CAVANAUGH, WBAL-TV: It‘s definitely cold, but it‘s just the type of snow that we like here in Maryland. It‘s just enough to look pretty on the trees and on the ground and not so much as to make the roads very dangerous, at least not as of yet. We‘ll give you a look to show just how much that we‘ve gotten here. Take a look down on the ground. You can see that it‘s not even covering the grass in some spots, so not enough even really to make a good snowman, even though it did get the kids out of school early today. And you can see that the snowflakes are still pretty tiny, which means that we probably haven‘t quite seen the end of this storm.
My mom always told me that you know it‘s going to stop when the big fat flakes come, and we haven‘t seen those yet. In fact, the snow was enough to complicate rush hour today in that it made the roads wet. Salt trucks were out in force. In fact, more than 2,000 salt trucks were on stand-by in Maryland, and they hit the ground running in some cases before the snow even fell, just to make sure that it didn‘t have a chance to accumulate and to stick.
We were also quite fortunate in Maryland that we had quite warm ground temperatures, again, so we didn‘t see an accumulation on the ground. As I understand it, it was much the same story in parts of Virginia and D.C., a slushy commute, where drivers really had to slow down more to see through the flurries than to avoid slick patches.
But tonight here in Maryland, salt trucks will be dipping into the 300,000-ton stockpile that we have in salt dumps around the state to make sure that the wet roads don‘t turn into icy roads overnight and make for a dangerous commute tomorrow, as school buses and commuters take the roads. But this storm is supposed to taper off in the middle of the night here in Maryland. So again, hopefully, just the kind we like, enough to make things picturesque, but hopefully, it will be gone in time for our morning commute—Jane.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, thanks, Kerry. Stay warm.
Where is the storm headed next? NBC Weather Plus meteorologist Bill Karins is tracking the very latest for us live—Bill.
BILL KARINS, NBC WEATHER PLUS METEOROLOGIST: Well, good evening. We‘re continuing to watch this storm. This isn‘t a big Nor‘easter, it‘s just the first storm of the season here for areas like Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia and all through the mid-Atlantic states. Some areas we just got reports south of Washington, D.C., here, have already picked up about six to seven inches of snow. So some areas are getting it hard, others locations are just going to get a light snow from this, including Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York, just enough to make things a little tricky out there on the roads.
Washington, D.C., we continue to watch that steady snow the northern half of the Beltway. South of Washington, D.C., this is where the heaviest snow is, from Fredericksburg heading over the Chesapeake Bay here, heading out into Maryland and Delaware. Areas like Ocean City and also Salisbury, Maryland, could see some pretty hefty totals from this. A little further up, we‘re watching the snow in Philadelphia currently. Should let up here in a little bit. We‘re also watching heavy snow in southern New Jersey. And now it looks like even areas like Reading, Pennsylvania, are starting to pick up with this snow.
As far as the Big Apple goes, New York City saw one batch of snow already move through, and now we got light snow around the area. Again, the hardest hit areas here will be southern Connecticut, and out on Long Island, a few spots could get in excess of six inches, so a few spots will be hit hard. Only the immediate coastal areas, like Cape Cod, southern Rhode Island, out on Long Island, that‘s six inches-plus. A lot of our big cities, though, we‘re just talking somewhere right around two to four, possibly three to five, and that includes Boston, New York, Philadelphia, down to Richmond. The worst areas tomorrow morning for commuting, probably New York out towards Cape Cod. Thank you.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, Bill. Thank you.
Still ahead: Before she was fired, one “Apprentice” had some wild times that included a prison romance and some exotic dancing. She‘s going to tell us how she came out on top, you might say. And next, even in the perfect world of the rich and famous, love can be tough. Have things turned toxic for Britney Spears? Details next.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It‘s about to be one big, happy family for Hollywood super-couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Meet the soon-to-be Jolie-Pitts. Brad Pitt says he wants to legally adopt both of Jolie‘s children, 4-year-old Maddox and 10-month-old Zahara. But are wedding bells on the way?
Joining us now live is “US Weekly‘s” Katrina Szish. Thank you so much for joining us.
KATRINA SZISH, REPORTER, “US WEEKLY”: Nice to be here.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Katrina, like the storm...
SZISH: I have never heard that before.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Looks like you‘re going to hear it again. We‘ve been waiting for how long, months, possibly a year, just for them to say, “Hey, we‘re going out with each other.” Now suddenly he‘s becoming basically the adoptive daddy.
SZISH: Exactly right. They still have not admitted that they‘re dating. There are no definite plans for getting married. But this is the biggest step of them all, bam, just like that, adopting Angelina‘s pride and joy, doubly, her two kids. And actually his name is going to be part of their name. That seals the deal.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It certainly does. Now, I understand that Brad‘s divorce from Jennifer Aniston just became final in October. What about the appropriateness of all this? Is this too soon? I think Jennifer said in an article that he‘s missing some kind of gene...
SZISH: The sensitive gene, I believe it was.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, exactly, the sensitivity gene. Is this insensitive to his ex?
SZISH: People have been saying from the beginning that Brad‘s behavior, diving right in with Angelina, has been insensitive, from the pictures we saw of the pair in Kenya to their spread in “W” Magazine. So I think this is really more of the same. And, by this point, if Jennifer is not used to it, I think she‘s got to get tougher skin, because he‘s moving on with his life, fast-forward.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But I think we‘re safe to say now that Brad and Angelina seem to be in love. And is that perhaps because they are not just passionate for each other, which is clear from the screen...
... but they have shared passions? In other words, they went to Pakistan to help the people who had suffered during the earthquake. And maybe the secret to love is not just to be passionate for each other but to have a passion for some issue that you share?
SZISH: That‘s an excellent point. They have so much in common. They both love to travel. They‘re very involved in charity work around the world and really have causes in mind. Their careers are almost secondary to them at this point. They‘re really about furthering the greater good, or so they would have us believe.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But I have to ask you about this possible pre-nup, because most people, when they talk pre-nup, they‘re talking money. But these two are so rich on their own individually that they don‘t have to talk money. And we have a statement, by the way, from a publicist. We‘re confirming that Brad Pitt is in the process of becoming the adopted father of both children. NO further comment is being made.
But Could there be, in the wild world of Hollywood pre-nups, a pre-nup about names and about, “Hey, you better be Daddy”?
SZISH: That‘s a very interesting point. It would certainly be new. It would certainly be interesting. But the fact that, even before there‘s any sort of pre-nup established, that the publicist has already confirmed that Brad is going to join his name with the Jolie name, and the kids. I don‘t know what else a pre-nup could do.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, it‘s all good. They seem to be in love.
SZISH: They do.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And we wish them the very best. But we‘re going to move now to a rather sad story, a bitter custody battle between Hollywood power couple Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger. The couple back in court today in L.A. But the vicious fight‘s been going on for years. And their 10-year-old daughter, Ireland, is caught in the middle.
What a beautiful name, Ireland. And what a sad situation for this little girl. I mean, what has she been through, this poor child?
SZISH: I think this is a girl who already gets so much attention just by having famous parents. And when then those famous parents not only are split up but they are fighting over you, literally, it‘s got to be really hard, and you grow up fast.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But why so long? Why is it continuing so long?
Can‘t they—they have joint custody, right? They got that a while back.
So where‘s the argument?
SZISH: I think both of them are, at this point, so focused on getting some sort of attention, because neither of their careers are really shooting off in any direction, that they have to put their focus on their daughter and their control over their daughter. And, unfortunately, it‘s really pulling her apart.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It‘s sad, because I know both of these people have done a lot of really good charity work.
SZISH: Yes, they have.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And they do some really good things.
SZISH: Yes, they‘re talented.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So I don‘t think they‘re bad people. I just think, boy, there‘s a fine line between love and hate. You can say that.
And also tonight, there appears to be—thank you so much, Katrina, you‘ve taught me a lot—there appears to be trouble for new parents Britney Spears and husband Kevin Federline, as they be growing further apart.
We have heard lots of reports that Spears‘ marriage to Federline may be falling apart. She apparently got so mad she kicked him out of the house over the weekend. Yikes.
Joining me now is celebrity gossip columnist Anita Talbert. First of all, Anita, how do we know this is all true?
ANITA TALBERT, CELEBRITY GOSSIP COLUMNIST: Well, the neighbors saw her kicking him out early in the morning. And the security guards have vouched for that.
He brought some druggy friend home, who was puffing grass up in the air. It‘s perfect for an infant. And, you know, she‘s trying to make a silk purchase out of a sow‘s ear. This guy was never going to be father of the year. He was never a good father with Shar Jackson and his two kids with her. So I don‘t know what she was thinking.
And he loves to just sit around and braid his hair, takes two hours to do that, then go to Mood and party with his friends. You know, he doesn‘t really want to be a dad. He wants to be Mr. Britney Spears and have a good time.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you mentioned Shar Jackson, his ex. She actually spoke to Rita just a short time ago, I think about a month ago. Let‘s hear what she has to say about Kevin‘s parenting skills.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHAR JACKSON, KEVIN FEDERLINE‘S EX: Our kids are amazing, you know? I wish they could spend more time with their dad, but, you know, he‘s doing all his stuff now.
RITA COSBY, HOST: Now, he was...
JACKSON: It makes it kind of hard. That‘s the hardest part.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. I think the question that everybody‘s asking is, if they do split up, is there a pre-nup because, obviously, Britney Spears has a lot of money?
TALBERT: Oh, yes. And I‘m sure that her mom made sure that there was a pre-nup. You know, her mom came in and took care of that five-minute marriage to Jason Alexander and she got that annulled. You know, the mom is in full control.
And I‘m sure she talked some sense into Britney. If she didn‘t, I mean, that was the dumbest thing she could have ever done, because this guy will be—he will be able to get quite a chunk of change. It happened with Chris Judd and J-Lo. He wasn‘t married to her—he was married to her less than a year. He got $15 million.
So, you know, I don‘t think that Kevin‘s ever going to have to worry about doing any more dancing or fancy steps. I think he‘s going to be well taken care of. There‘s probably a very nice, handsome sum that‘s been derived at. And that‘s the agreement they made.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And, I think, you know, we cannot forget that there‘s a little baby at the center of all this, a little baby boy that they‘ve received had. Is that where celebrities have trouble, when suddenly these glamour celebrities have to deal with, let‘s say, a crying baby or changing diapers?
TALBERT: Absolutely. They‘re used to doing whatever they want to do.
They don‘t think ahead.
You know, this child is going to need us 24/7. We can‘t just go party anymore. We can‘t just take off on a trip. We can‘t do a concert tour anymore.
You know, and they‘re not used to being told that they can‘t do anything. So it‘s a huge responsibility. They just don‘t think it through. But, Britney, this is all she ever wanted, was to be a mom. And now she‘s the one that‘s emerging as a mature person here.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, good for her. Thank you for that, Anita.
Still ahead, you saw Donald Trump boot her off “The Apprentice” in a wild one-two punch. But now you‘ll find out about the wild time she had before she made it big.
And Rita Cosby is headed to Afghanistan. Tonight, the latest on her trip with some of America‘s most famous wrestlers headed to entertain our troops. It‘s all coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, HOST, “THE APPRENTICE”: Felicia, you‘re fired. Sit down. Alla, the fact is you‘re very, very hard to manage, very, very difficult to manage, number one. Number two, you were the director of a disaster. Alla, you‘re fired.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Donald Trump surprised “Apprentice” fans, firing two candidates from the final four this week. But perhaps even more shocking is the sordid past of one of the contestants, Alla Wartenberg. She is a former stripper who got caught up in a bizarre murder. So how did Alla make it from the strip club to the board room?
Alla Wartenberg joins us live now in studio. Thank you for joining us. And congratulations on making it as far as you did, to the final four.
ALLA WARTENBERG, FIRED “APPRENTICE” CONTESTANT: I was a very strong player. What can I say?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, when you went on the show, did you tell them in advance about your history, not only with being a stripper, but apparently being involved in some way, shape or form with a man who was convicted of killing people in order to impress you in some way or, at least, have the money to impress you?
WARTENBERG: Well, as you know, every candidate on “Apprentice” goes through a very, very thorough background check. So I disclosed all the information about my past to, you know, the affiliates at NBC and Mark Burnett Productions. So they were aware of it, yes.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You told them before you were selected? In other words, they knew about it? Because that would be, obviously, something that they would be interested in.
WARTENBERG: Absolutely. Yes, they were aware of my past. And I don‘t think, really—they looked at me as a candidate for my performance, from my successes in life and my businesses, not necessarily of what happened to me in the past. Really, I was a victim in a situation, so I don‘t think that would have mattered either way, whether (INAUDIBLE) or not.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: The reason I asked you is that I Googled you and I didn‘t find out about the stripper part. Indeed, your bio that‘s all over you place says that you own a spa, and you‘re a business woman, and you‘re an immigrant, and you have four children. It‘s a beautiful bio, but it leaves out those very key details.
WARTENBERG: All right, it is the past. It‘s something I lived through. I was the victim of a very horrible situation, something that definitely has changed my life quite a bit. And it‘s obviously not something that I‘m going to put in my bio. It‘s an unfortunate...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, tell us a little bit about it. I mean, we understand that there was a very disturbed person. He is currently on death row. He committed some crimes in order to have some money to impress you. Why did he need money to impress you?
WARTENBERG: Well, that‘s from his perspective, somewhat speak. I went into a strip club initially to own it. So I went in undercover to pose as a stripper, to kind of do research on the club.
And, as I was there performing the job of a dancer, I obviously acquired some regulars. Robert Ackerman (ph) was one of them. And his sick mind somehow, he mixed fantasy with reality. So he got obsessed with, you know, myself, somewhat speak, and fascinated about marrying me and so and so forth, and, you know, committed some crimes to get money to come see me.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, getting back to the “Apprentice,” sometimes winning on these shows isn‘t really all it‘s cracked up to be. Sometimes you can become very famous by being fired. That‘s happened to a number of people. What are your plans for the future?
WARTENBERG: I played to win. I really wanted the job. I have amazing admiration for Mr. Trump and his organization. I think it‘s an amazing—“Apprentice” itself is a phenomenon. I think it‘s something that‘s going to go on for years and years. So I definitely played to win.
However, considering that I didn‘t make it—I made it to the final three people—you know, I have a book deal in the works.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, wow.
WARTENBERG: I have a movie that‘s being made about my life. I have a clothing line. I have a jewelry line.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, so we‘re not going to worry about you.
WARTENBERG: It‘s a success...
WARTENBERG: No, no.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You‘re doing fine.
WARTENBERG: This is not the last thing you‘re going to hear of me.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I‘m sure.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you so much, and best of luck to you.
WARTENBERG: Thank you. Thank you.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: There is a lot coming up here on MSNBC tonight.
Let‘s check in with Joe Scarborough and Tucker Carlson now, with a preview.
Joe, we‘ve been dealing with snow and, as you just heard, strippers.
What do you got?
JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST: Hey, nothing that exciting, I‘ll tell you what. And I‘ve no clothing line coming out, either. Bad news all around for me.
But I‘ll tell you what, very fascinating news coming out of Washington, D.C., talking about all the failures after 9/11. What we find out is that we‘re spending this homeland security money that we‘ve all been paying billions and billions in taxes for, for—just, again, robots in Wyoming. There have been actually bulletproof vests for dogs in Ohio. We‘re spending more money per capita in Alaska on homeland security than in New York, where obviously the 9/11 attacks struck.
It‘s just—it‘s an absolute disgrace the way Washington is spending money. We‘re going to be talking about that tonight, and why our government leaders are still getting failing grades on keeping us safe four years after the September 11th attacks.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Joe, it sounds like you‘ve got a whole lot.
And let‘s check in with Tucker. What‘s THE SITUATION, Tucker?
TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC HOST: Jane, nothing, like Joe, I‘m just going to fess up off the top. We‘re not going to have any strippers and deadly love triangles on, unfortunately. We will have the head of an atheist group in Texas who‘s been handing out pornography in exchange for holy scriptures. Bring a bible, get a “Hustler.” We‘re also going to give you ethical tips on re-gifting, when it‘s allowed and when it‘s just wrong. Holiday tips, from THE SITUATION at 11:00.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. I‘m a big re-gifter, so I want to hear that.
CARLSON: Good for you.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right.
Still ahead, Rita Cosby joins us from the road. She is headed to Afghanistan with the superstars of the WWE. Stay with us for that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You‘ve got to be kidding me. (INAUDIBLE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Our friends at the WWE are taking their show on the road, and Rita Cosby is along for the ride, traveling with the WWE as the wrestlers prepare to visit troops in Afghanistan this week. She filed the following report from Charleston, South Carolina, where she and the wrestling superstars are getting ready to enter the warzone.
RITA COSBY, MSNBC HOST: They are superstars in the wrestling ring, with their legions of loyal fans. But soon, you‘ll meet the real heroes, U.S. troops fighting the war on terror on the front lines.
VINCE MCMAHON, WWE CO-FOUNDER: It‘s just the biggest thrill we have all year. Again, we bring you a little slice of Americana, which is what the WWE is really, when you think about the physicality, and the beautiful women, and the story lines, and the comedy and everything that we do, you know, it‘s a big slice of Americana. We‘re privileged to bring it to Afghanistan this year.
COSBY: LIVE & DIRECT will accompany 18 wrestlers as they head to Afghanistan to meet our U.S. soldiers.
(on-screen): This will be your first time into the warzone. Why did you volunteer?
TRIPLE H, WWE SUPERSTAR: I think it‘s an opportunity for us to give back and to go see the kids that are over there fighting for the very freedoms that I take for granted every day, like the ability to have long hair or whatever I want to do to be an American. They‘re over there and fighting and dying for that, and for us to be able to go over there and say thank you.
ASHLEY, WWE DIVA: Those guys go out there and they‘re risking their lives for us. And if we can do anything to make them feel at home or feel that—you know, a glimpse of home, you know, while they‘re stuck out there, you know, then just to make them smile for a day or two or three—
I mean, we‘ll be there for three whole days, so...
COSBY: You‘ll get a lot of fans out there, I‘m sure.
COSBY: Do you get a lot of letters from soldiers?
ASHLEY: Yes, I got a lot of e-mails from the soldiers. And hopefully, I‘ll get to meet some of them in person.
COSBY (on-screen): This will be superstar wrestler JBL‘s fifth trip to Afghanistan.
JBL, WWE SUPERSTAR: My father served the country for about 22 years in the National Guard and Reserve. He was called to active duty in the Korean War. All my uncles served. It‘s a big deal for me. I‘m a huge fan of the armed soldier, the American soldier. And to be able to go over there personally and tell these guys, “Thank you,” I think it‘s great.
COSBY: We‘ll be traveling thousands of miles on a C-17 cargo plane, just like this one. With a price tag of more than $200 million a plane, a C-17 can land virtually anywhere, including the remote mountains and valleys of Afghanistan.
You‘re a very big guy.
BIG SHOW, WWE SUPERSTAR: That‘s the rumor.
COSBY: You‘re 7‘1”.
BIG SHOW: Right.
COSBY: Over 500 pounds.
BIG SHOW: Right.
COSBY: Are you still worried it‘s going to be dangerous?
BIG SHOW: Well, you know, it‘s funny. You know, they give us, you know, equipment to wear. However, my flak jacket fits like a brassiere, my helmet fits like a yarmulke, and the advice they give us, that if shooting breaks out, get as low as you can, I‘m three foot tall laying down. So I‘m kind of in that demographic where a sniper half-blind worth his salt could pick me off from five miles away. So...
COSBY: So we should hide behind you? You‘ll be a good blockade?
BIG SHOW: Yes, if you hide behind my shoulders and Vince‘s hairdo, nothing will happen.
JOHN CENA, WWE SUPERSTAR: When we land, and we go out to the forward-operating bases, or anywhere we‘re at, we bring the same type of energy. We‘re as excited to see those men and women out there as they are to see us.
COSBY (voice-over): The trip will also be a chance to see these massive wrestlers out of the ring, interacting with the troops like they did last year in Iraq.
SHELTON BENJAMIN, WWE SUPERSTAR: Do the double bicep. Oh, yes!
COSBY: Before departing overseas this time, they visited a children‘s hospital in Charleston, South Carolina, where mainly cancer patients, like 17-year-old C.J., requested to see their wrestling idols.
(on-screen): Some of the best part of your job, basically, out of the ring?
BENJAMIN: Oh, a huge part of my job is out of the ring. And like I said, it‘s the most fun. In the ring, I get smacked around a little bit, and, you know, I can—that I can handle. That‘s fun.
But, like I said, when you come out and really face-to-face put a smile on someone else‘s faces, it‘s the most wonderful feeling you can give to someone and have for yourself.
COSBY (voice-over): The next step on our long journey will to be to visit wounded soldiers at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. And then we continue on to Afghanistan, where we will be broadcasting live Wednesday and Thursday.
Rita Cosby, LIVE & DIRECT, en route to Afghanistan.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And, again, be sure to tune in to Rita Cosby LIVE & DIRECT Wednesday and Thursday nights, when Rita will broadcast live from the warzone in Afghanistan. You won‘t want to miss these very special shows.
And we have a major announcement to report tonight from the WWE. The company now says it will start random testing for steroids and other illegal drugs. This comes just a few weeks after the death of superstar Eddie Guerrero. The 38-year-old wrestler had reportedly battled drug abuse for years. A medical examiner has still not ruled on the cause of his death.
Up next, New York City gets a big return visitor. Details on “King Kong‘s” invasion, and why fans are still very captivated with the great ape, after so very long. Stay tuned.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: “King Kong” is taking over Manhattan again. You are looking at New York‘s Times Square, where 8,000 invited guests are attending the world premiere of the three-hour remake of “King Kong” tonight. And, as you can see, there‘s even a life-size replica of the big ape sitting right in the middle of Times Square.
In this version of the film, Kong will meet his fate atop the Empire State Building, just as in 1933, not the World Trade Center, as he did in the 1976 movie, starring Jessica Lange. The movie, starring Naomi Watts, and it hits the theaters December 14th. And I hear it‘s got some pretty good buzz. Looks exciting.
That‘s LIVE & DIRECT. I‘m Jane Velez-Mitchell, in for Rita Cosby tonight. “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY” with Joe starts right now.
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