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'Rita Cosby Live & Direct' for December 26

Read the transcript to the Monday show

Guest: Michelle Dohm, Thomas Morrow, Scott Rolle, John Timoney, Deborah Pierce, Katrina Szish, Jeanne Wolf, Pat Lalama, Ned Colt, Charles Lyons

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, GUEST HOST:  Good evening, everybody.  Rita Cosby is off tonight.  I'm Jane Velez-Mitchell.

Tonight, the heat is on as cops search for a suspected serial rapist who escaped.  Could the victims be in danger?  And the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list.  Find out who's on it and how you can help nab them.

But first, the shocking case in Maryland where a 6th grade teacher is charged with stalking several students.  Forty-year-old Michelle Dohm is now free after posting bail and claiming she is innocent.  Dohm is accused of leaving threatening notes for students this fall, including one that read, “Tick-tock, tick-tock, is it a bomb or is it a clock?”  In court papers, Dohm is charged with nine felony counts of actually threatening to explode a destructive device.  She also faces two misdemeanor counts of stalking.

LIVE AND DIRECT tonight is the teacher herself, Michelle Dohm.  Also joining us, her attorney, Thomas Morrow.  Michelle, let's start with you.  First of all, thank you for joining us.  Eighteen years as a teacher this county, most of it at this very school.  You've had absolutely no problems, and then suddenly, these wild charges.  What happened?

MICHELLE DOHM, ACCUSED OF STALKING STUDENTS:  I really don't know.  It started out with boys being threatened, and I knew them as their teacher.  And all of a sudden, the charges came at me.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Well, I have to tell you that, according to prosecutors—and we're going to speak with the prosecutor in a moment—they've got some pretty good evidence against you.  They say these notes were printed from your computer, which has password protection, that another teacher saw you making a note that had a similar kind of folding pattern to these notes found, and that you were spotted near a locker just minutes before some of these notes were found.  What do you stay all that?

DOHM:  All I can say it's not true.  I had no motive to hurt the boys.  They're friends of my son's.  They were good students of mine.  They're nice kids, and everybody that knows me that knows them knows that they were very friendly with me.  And I would have had no reason whatsoever to do that to them.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Well, let's bring your attorney, Mr. Morrow, in on this, because authorities say that your client actually gave the school authorities the very first note on September 28, and she says she got this note from an unidentified parent somewhere out there.  Why wasn't she able to, with 18 years in this county, identify that parent who gave her that first note?  They're saying that's rather suspicious.

THOMAS MORROW, MICHELLE DOHM'S ATTORNEY:  Well, I think the allegations in this case are totally preposterous.  You have a person who's a contributing member of the community for 18 years.  It's a totally circumstantial case, and we're looking forward to defending it vigorously.  And I hope that the prosecutor is willing to come forward to apologize to Michelle with as much fanfare as he developed in bringing these charges forward.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Well, how do you explain it, though, all these notes, and she handed the first note in?  There's got to be some other explanation than, I know nothing about it.

MORROW:  Well, the fact is, you find a note and other notes appear.  It would be very interesting to see if there's even one trace of a fingerprint on any one of the notes.  The issue as far as the computer goes, this was an open computer.  They say it's password-protected, but the evidence is going to reveal that that computer had open access to numerous people at numerous times throughout the day.  And the fact of the matter is, the evidence will also show, I think, when we get to trial, that Michelle was not available or even present at the time some of these notes were created.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Michelle, this is such a weird case.  Some of these notes talked about a hit list involving students and teachers with the words “boom boom” and “kill” and words like “suffer and die.”  You're essentially saying that you were framed.  Who would hate you enough to do something this evil to you?  Do you have any idea?

DOHM:  I really don't.  In all the years that I've been teaching, I've been the kind of teacher where a lot of kids like me.  Parents like me.  I have a lot of friends in the community, people who are really supportive of me, even right now.  And I really can't think of anybody in particular.  All I can think is that it's somebody who—maybe there's jealousy involved with the boys and with me.  I really don't know.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  All right, you're talking about jealousy.  And I understand you have a son.  And I heard a report—and please clarify this if it's wrong—that your son didn't make the baseball team, and two of the boys—at least two of the boys who received the notes were on that baseball team.  What can you tell us about all that?

DOHM:  All four of the boys that received the notes, all four of them, were on—are on that—were on that baseball team.  And no, my son doesn't play baseball.  He knows them through the neighborhood, and he...


VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Did he want to play baseball?

DOHM:  No, he's never played baseball in his life.  He plays piano.  He plays soccer.  He's not interested in baseball, other than to watch it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  So I have to ask your attorney because this seems so odd that somebody would go out of their way to frame your client, and she doesn't even have history of problems with anyone.  I mean, it's truly bizarre.  It's a mystery.

MORROW:  Well, I think the explanation is probably a lot simpler than it would appear.  I think that if you look at the rather juvenile nature of a lot of these notes, it would appear to be someone who is in the 6th-grade range.  The fact of the matter is that it was probably something that was intended initially as a practical joke and unfortunately has been blown out of proportion.  I think that's what we may find when all of the dust settles in this case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Michelle, if you are framed, what would you say to that person?

DOHM:  Well, I would say I hope they either come forward or I hope they get what they deserve because it's a really scary thought that that person is still out there, and they deserve to be punished.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Well, thank you, Michelle, and let's hope they clear up this mystery.  Thank you for joining us.

It is a total mystery.  Let's get Scott Rolle in here right now.  He is the state's attorney for Frederick County, Maryland.  His office is prosecuting Michelle Dohm in this alleged stalking case.

Well, you heard her.  You heard her attorney.  They say that she is framed.  What do you say to that?

SCOTT ROLLE, FREDERICK COUNTY, MD, STATE'S ATTORNEY:  Well, I don't think that that's going to be what ends up being shown in this case.  You know, obviously, a judge or jury is ultimately going to make that decision.  We were presented with some evidence that the sheriff's department gathered.  We had them do some other things in the course of the investigation.  It was presented to a grand jury last week, and the grand jury is the one that issued the charges.  That's 23 people selected randomly in Frederick County.  They heard the evidence and they determined that we should go forward on these charges.  So we will do that.  And ultimately, as I said, what happens will be up to a judge or a jury.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Now, apparently, as she was leaving the school in her exit interview, she said, Hey, if you find another note after I leave, it proves that I'm innocent.  And apparently, they did find another note after she left.

ROLLE:  There was one more note found in the boys' bathroom about a week later.  Nothing beyond that, though, has been found.  That particular note was handwritten.  Some of the other ones that were found were either written on a computer or they were with a magazine letters that had been cut out from a magazine, block letters.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  But this is not some kind of child's play.  This woman, apparently, could go to jail for—if she's found guilty of all nine felonies, 100 years is the maximum sentence that we're talking about here.  I mean, do you feel that it's incumbent upon to you investigate the possibility that she is framed?

ROLLE:  Absolutely.  And certainly, if anybody has any evidence surrounding this case from either side, it will be considered.  We take pride in the fact that we treat people fairly.  Everybody will get a fair trial.  She certainly will get a fair trial.  And that evidence will be looked at.

But again, the sheriff's department didn't rush in this case.  They took about four weeks to conduct this investigation.  The grand jury heard the evidence over about a three or four-hour period, and they issued the indictment in this case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Well, why do you think she did it?  I mean, here's a woman, 18 years in the community, no problems.  She's a community leaders.  She's with the Scouting groups and the church.  And suddenly, she has a personality change and writes these threatening letters about killing students that she's been teaching for, lo, these many years.  Why?  Why this change?

ROLLE:  Yes.  Well, you know, I'd love to know the answer to that.  The bottom line is I've been doing this for almost 20 years, and if I had the answer for why people did things, I think I would probably be doing something else.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Well, do you think she has a mental issue?  I mean, how could anybody do this without having some serious issues?

ROLLE:  Yes.  I don't know.  I think that's something, you know, for her and her attorney to look into.  We just have to go on the evidence that's been presented to us, and this is what the evidence told us and these were the charges that the evidence told us to play.  So that's how we're going to go forward on it.  You know, the grand jury, again, has spoken, and now it's going to be up to a judge or a jury.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  And of course, she is innocent until proven guilty.  But this is just one of so many weird, crazy, kooky cases involving teachers and students.  Is there something in the water in these schools right now?  Because it's one after another.  Is the culture of school breaking down?

ROLLE:  Well, it is unusual, certainly.  And you know, the other thing with threats on students in today's climate, we do have to take them seriously.  I mean, imagine for a minute if we sloughed this off or took it as a practical joke and didn't take it seriously.  One note caused the school to be evacuated.  So if we don't take these cases seriously, it's going to be the time where the person was serious.  So we are going to look into them, as these things come to us.  We have an obligation to do that not only to the students at the school, but to the community as a whole.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  All right.  Thank you so much for joining us, and definitely keep us posted if you get a break in this case.

ROLLE:  Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Still ahead, there is a manhunt right now for a serial rape suspect.  Could the victims be in danger?

Plus, America's most dangerous felons.  Take a good look.  Coming up, the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list.  Find out who the world's most dangerous fugitives are and how you can help nab them.

And the tsunami one year later.  How much has been rebuilt?  Where have donations been going?  And how much can still be done?

Then, from babies to break-ups.  We're naming names in the wildest celebrity stories of the year.  Plus, find out who's going to be hot in 2006.  It's all coming up.


VELEZ-MITCHELL:  An all points bulletin remains in effect tonight for an alleged serial rapist who vanished from jail.  Reynaldo Rapalo and another inmate managed to escape from a Miami jail almost a week ago.  He is accused of sexually assaulting seven girls and women between the ages of 11 and 79.  Rapalo's trial was supposed to get under way in February.

LIVE AND DIRECT tonight is Chief John Timoney with the Miami Police Department.  We do thank you so much for joining us.  Tell us about the manhunt.  What's going on right now?  Where is it focused?

CHIEF JOHN TIMONEY, MIAMI POLICE DEPARTMENT:  Good evening, Jane.  Well, it's focused throughout Miami-Dade County, with particular focus in the area—the neighborhood of old Miami, the city of Miami, called Little Havana.  That was the neighborhood where the vast majority of the rapes and attempted assaults took place back in 2002 and 2003.  And so while we're covering all areas of Miami-Dade County, there's particular focus on the city of Miami, particularly Little Havana.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Now, I understand you're not in charge of the jail...

TIMONEY:  Correct.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  ... but a lot of people are wondering, how could this possibly have happened?  He apparently went through a vent, then cut through some bars, changed clothes, got extra bedsheets, rapeled about seven stories down to the ground and escaped.  And apparently, the jail only found out about it when a visitor was coming by and said, Hey, you know, there's some bedsheets hanging off the side of the building.

TIMONEY:  Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Is there a serious problem here with this jail?

TIMONEY:  It would appear so, but as you say, I'm not involved.  I'm not doing that investigation.  The head of the county police, Director Robert Parker (ph), is doing that.  He's a tough, seasoned veteran.  So he'll take a look at that—at that system.  Clearly, this was extraordinary.  It reminded me of an old, you know, Jimmy Cagney movie from the '30s—you know, bedsheets, cutting through steel bars.  It's extraordinary.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  It is.  And he even managed to change clothes.  Apparently, he left wearing all black.  Now, some suspect that he may have had help.  What do you know about that?

TIMONEY:  Well, I mean, logic would conclude that he had help.  The implements that he used to—for example, to cut the wires and then cut the bars, you know, you don't buy those at the prison commissary.  they were brought in from the outside, clearly, by some individual or individuals.  We know for a fact that other inmates knew of the escape ahead of time.  And so this is a conspiracy that was hatched over the prior two or three months.  And so what Director Parker is looking into is the escape itself and also those that may have been involved in aiding and abetting in this escape.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Now, apparently, there's a reward, and Oprah may be getting involved.  Tell us about that.

TIMONEY:  Well, the reward right now is up to $36,000, a lot of money.  But now there are rumors—I don't know how true this is, Jane.  It's the holiday weekend.  But the rumors are floating around that Oprah is getting involved.  And the reward may go to upwards of $100,000.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Now, this guy is originally from Honduras.  Might he get there?  And if so, can you bring him back?

TIMONEY:  We can.  We have a very good relationship with the police authorities there.  We've been down there on this case back in 2003.  We have a good relationship with them.  They're on alert there.  I don't think he's in Honduras yet.  Clearly, that would be his country of choice.  But I still think he's in the Miami-Dade area.  Clearly, the airports are on alert, as are the sea lanes.  And we have a dragnet across the entire Miami-Dade County.

I think the answer will come from the Central American immigrant community within the city of Miami.  Some are fearful of coming forward for a whole variety of reasons.  They don't trust the police.  Their immigration status may be difficult.  We don't care about that.  You know, we won't ask questions.  We just need information where he is.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  And Chief, we're running out of time, but very briefly, these 10 women and girls that he allegedly raped, they must be terrified right now.  What should they do?

TIMONEY:  Well, they are.  We went—as soon as we found about his escape, we went to those houses.  Two of the women went back to their home countries of Mexico and Nicaragua.  The rest have been receiving police protection in and around their houses and neighborhoods since last Tuesday.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  So what should people do if they see this guy?  Apparently, he's armed—possibly armed.  He's obviously dangerous.

TIMONEY:  Possibly armed.  Correct.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  If you see him, what do you do?

TIMONEY:  If you see him, call 911 immediately.  And there are plenty of police (INAUDIBLE) Miami City Police Department, Miami-Dade.  So anywhere in Miami-Dade County, just call 911, and there will be a police officer there within seconds.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Well, Chief, thank you so much for joining us on this holiday.

TIMONEY:  Jane, good seeing you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  And I hope that your holiday gift is catching this guy.  Good luck.

TIMONEY:  Thank you very—from your lips to God's ears.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  All right.  Let's hope.

Now, cops are busy this holiday season on the hunt for a number of other criminals.  The FBI is especially concerned about these men, all extremely dangerous and all making the 10 Most Wanted list.  And topping that list, of course, is the most wanted man in the world, Osama bin Laden.

Joining me now live to talk about these criminals is FBI deputy assistant director Deborah Pierce.  Deborah, how important is it really for the public to be aware and know the faces and the facts when it comes to these 10 Most Wanted?

DEBORAH PIERCE, FBI ASST. DIRECTOR:  Oh, it's very important, Jane.  And these are our most dangerous and our most serial crime-type criminals in the country, the fugitives that are probably going to cause the most problem throughout the United States.  Having their names and faces out there for the public to spot is the most important thing for us.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Well, certainly, the big question on so many Americans' minds is, Where is Osama bin Laden?  Why haven't we caught him yet?  I mean, with all the resources we have in that part of the world, and the reports are that if he's alive, as you believe he is, probably, he's somewhere in the neighborhood of that Pakistan-Afghanistan border.  Why, with all the resources we have in that part of the world, can't we find him?

PIERCE:  That's a very good question, and I don't know the answer to that.  However, I can tell you that he has been on our top 10 fugitive list since 1999, when he was indicted for the bombings at the embassies in Nairobi and Tanzania in 1998.  So pre-2001, Osama bin Laden was on our track.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Well, there's a senior producer here who just came back from that part of the world, and she said until you really see this rugged terrain in that area, you cannot get a full grasp of how hard it is to go into those caves in the mountainous area.  Is that one of the reasons, that it's just really impossible terrain?

PIERCE:  It's very probable.  I've not been over there myself.  I have heard that that is one of the conditions that is preventing us from finding him.  But as far as our top 10 fugitive list, he clearly is at the top of the list, but our scope covers everything from child molesters to murderers to organized crime figures.  And it's very important that the national publicity that we can get from shows like this gets their names and faces out in front of the public.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Which brings us to another very, very interesting character on the list.  He is right out of a bad B movie.  I'm talking about James “Whitey” Bulger.  Tell us about him.

PIERCE:  Well, Whitey Bulger is a very interesting fugitive.  He was an organized crime figure in Boston for many, many years.  He was indicted on organized crime charges.  He actually served prison time in Alcatraz for bank robbery back in the '60s.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  What I never understand about this is people, whatever, they commit a crime, they get arrested, they go to jail.  These guys are out there since the '70s, and they're still loose.  How did that happen?

PIERCE:  Well, the only one that's been out there that long is Eugene—Donald Eugene Webb, who's actually been out there since 1981.  So he's only been on there for 24 years.  The others have served time.  They've been out.  They've gone back again.  They've done more crime.  Some of them have ended up on the list more than one time.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  All right, let's talk about another person on this list, Robert William Fisher.  He is wanted for an absolutely horrific crime, killing his wife and two children, blowing up their home in Arizona.  Why did he allegedly do this?  And why can't you find him?

PIERCE:  Well, I don't know the answer to the why he did it.  I do know that that was a particularly horrific crime.  He set accelerant around the house after he killed his family, and then lit a candle and waited until the candle burned down to set it off, so that he had time to get away and establish an alibi.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  You see trends.  Is it me, or does there seem to be a spate of husbands killing their wives?  I'm not just talking about the big Scott Peterson famous cases, but we cover a lot of them.  Is it a trend, a very awful trend in America?

PIERCE:  Well, I think with the publicity nowadays, you're seeing more and more of it.  But as far as the top 10, there are two individuals on the top 10 list who are wanted, Fisher and another individual who killed his girlfriend and her two children.  So it is something that we are paying attention to, and we do put it on the top 10 list, hoping that somebody in the public will spot them and let us know.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  All right, let's go now to Richard Steve Goldberg.  And this is another really terrible crime.  He's wanted for allegedly engaging in sex with children under the age of 10.  Tell us about it.

PIERCE:  He was—he's been indicted for child pornography, multiple lewd acts with children under the age of 10 and girls under the age of 14.  He's somebody who is very scary-looking and shouldn't be that difficult to find, but for some reason, he is eluding us.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  And apparently, he puts some of these horrible images on his computer.  Is that correct?

PIERCE:  Yes, that is.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  So the Internet and the computer age contributing to this kind of crime.  Is there a cause-and-effect relationship?

PIERCE:  Well, it certainly is contributing because it's made the world so much a smaller place and much easier for the bad guys to communicate among themselves and to have access to criminal information, how to commit crimes.  But it also can help us, and we're using the Web site to advertise their faces, their names, to get the information about them out there.  And gives everybody the ability to see their faces, to +look for them and to reach back to us, to the FBI, and tell us what they see.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  One last question.  As you coordinate all this, let's say in the case of Osama bin Laden, how do you coordinate all the different agencies, the FBI, the CIA, the National Security Agency, the U.S. military?  How do you work together?

PIERCE:  Well, every day, there are multiple briefings in Washington where we all attend and share information.  It is a wide, wide-ranging arena.  We have several systems in place.  We work very closely with local law enforcement, and they are the main eyes and ears on the street that are going to help us pull these guys in.  But coordination with all the other intelligence agencies is a must on every day that we come to work.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Well, Deborah, thank you so much for taking the time to join us.  I know you're very busy, and I know you have your work cut out for you.  Let's hope we get these on the top 10 list soon.

PIERCE:  Thanks, Jane.


Still ahead, the year in celebrity train-wreck relationships.  What is going on with the superstar split-ups?  We're going to tell you.  Stay tuned.


VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Hollywood is certainly having one heck of a year.  We've seen babies and break-ups.  It's been a year full of surprises right up until the very end.  Nick and Jessica called it quits.  Ben found his new Jen.  Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston gave way to Branjelina   I love that, Branjelina!  And who can forget the antics of Tomkat, Tom Cruise, going bananas over Katie Holmes?

Joining us now with behind-the-scenes information is a panel of experts who followed every move.  Celebrity and legal reporter, my good friend, Pat Lalama; Jeanne Wolf from, and “US Weekly” reporter Katrina Szish.

Katrina, let's start with this big break-up.  We're going to talk about money in a second, but we're talking about Jessica and Nick.  Why did they break up?

KATRINA SZISH, “US WEEKLY”:  Well, Nick and Jessica met when they were both fledgling stars.  We might even want to call them D-list stars.  Then both of their stars rose together.  And then one of them, Jessica's, kept going a little bit further.  Nick's didn't rise.  And I think they were both at such different points in their lives, they just grew apart.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  So Jeanne, is Nick going to taking the midnight train to Georgia?


JEANNE WOLF, MOVIES.COM:  I don't know about that.  But you know, Jessica summed it up very well.  She said that their reality show, she told me, made them seem so happy together, and they were happy together.  And she said it was almost like letting people in our lives.  We almost asked for problems.  And the rumors got too much, and the competition between them got too much, and the separations got too much.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  I have to ask you a follow-up question on that one because I don't know how any of these celebrities survive married with the kind of scrutiny they're under.  If they go to lunch and they have a spot on their dress, it's blown up into a full-page photo and there's a circle around it.  How can anybody withstand that kind of scrutiny?

WOLF:  Look, most marriages can't withstand just the day-to-day problems.  So add to that the pressures of fame, the pressures of scrutiny, and you've summed it up very well. 

Fame is not something you can control.  You wish for it.  It makes you money.  It makes your dreams come true.  But you can't turn it off when you want to, and that's including the spot on the dress or the spat with a spouse. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Pat Lalama, I understand that Jessica Simpson made $35 million in 2004 and, apparently, there is no prenuptial agreement.  Is this true?  Is it possibly true? 

PAT LALAMA, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST:  Well, it probably is true.  And you know what?  Smart chick, that's all I've got to say.  I mean, you know, good for her.  But I think we're forgetting one thing about these people.  They're all incredibly young by the world's standards. 

And I've always said that, when really young people fall into a pot of so much fame, so much fortune, so much scrutiny, the temptations of being on screen and everybody who thinks you're the hottest thing around, I mean, you are not psychologically prepared for what this brings you. 

And I think it's hard enough, as Jeanne said, for people, you know, to withstand the troubles and tribulations of marriage.  These are people who I don't believe are psychologically prepared to handle all of this.  They all need their own special guru and psychologist to walk around with them at all the restaurants where that spot of soup might fall on their dress. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  All right, but, Katrina, if there's no pre-nup and your spouse made $35 million in one year alone, what incentive is there for the man in this case to stay in the relationship, if, according to California law, he can walk away with millions and millions, possibly, millions and millions of dollars? 

SZISH:  I don't think there is much incentive to stay.  I think that's the problem.  I think that if he sort of—this is his moment to not only get his names in all the papers but also to walk away with a nice chunk of change he never would have had, and it's a sweet deal for him. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  All right, well, I want to move on to...

WOLF:  See, I'm less cynical than the rest of you about this one.  I do think this couple was in love.  And I do think this is a very sad break-up about a lot more than money. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  It always is a lot more than money.  And I refuse to believe that people are motivated strictly by money. 

Now, this is my other favorite, what, should I say, foursome?  We're talking about, let's see, Jen, Vince, Brad and Angelina, or Brangelina, as they're calling him.  Now, I have to ask you, Jeanne, there have been reports that Angelina is possibly preggers? 

WOLF:  Listen, there are reports describing the wedding rings for the wedding that didn't happened.  There are reports about her pregnancy, reports that they're already married.  And we've got to give these people credit.  For people who are under such intense scrutiny, they're keeping a lot of secrets, aren't they? 

I guess they had to come public with the fact that Brad was adopting her children.  But beyond that, anything that's not legal, we're not knowing about it.  And it's driving everybody crazy.  It's costing a lot of money having all of those paparazzi stake them out. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Well, what about it, Pat Lalama?  We know that the two children of Angelina, Zahara and Maddox, are now going to be known as the Jolie-Pitts.  Why not come out and say, “Hey, we're getting married,” or whatever the story is, tell the world so we can kind of leave them alone? 

LALAMA:  Because I think, I mean, come on.  Do you think that they don't love all of the mystery that they're creating?  It's the best kind of publicity, the sins of omission, not saying anything, letting you guess. 

Every time I'm in the grocery store, all you got to do is look at the cover.  The story changes every five minutes. 

But, Jane, can I just offer one thing about this couple?  You know, I really want to come to the defense of Angelina.  I mean, all of a sudden, Jennifer Aniston—and, God love her, I'm sure she's a nice woman—but one magazine said she had the biggest—they called her man of the year because she handled this with such courage and strength. 

Jennifer Aniston handled this break-up like millions of women are forced to handle break-ups every single year.  I don't think that necessarily makes her superhuman.  I don't think Angelina's a home-wrecker.  And I'm sick and tired of people making her out to look like this horrible woman because Brad dumped her.  It took two to tango. 

I mean, yay, Angelina.  And I'm sorry for you, Jen.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Pat feels very passionately about this.  We have to move on, but do you disagree?  Should we all be crying for Jennifer?  Or, you know, should we be worried about the starving children around the world or some of the real problems that we have on this planet? 


WOLF:  You know who's the first person say it?  I've interviewed Jennifer Aniston several times recently, because she's got a couple of movies coming out.  “Rumor Has It” is about to open.

I just interviewed her a week ago.  And she'd be the first to say it before all of you, that she had to go through something that made her stronger, but that it was a lot less tragic than what the rest of the world faces.  And people don't print that part of what Jennifer says. 

I do think she's grown as a person.  I do think she's been terrific about this.  But I think one of the things that makes her terrific is her putting the whole thing in perspective and saying, “Please don't make me talk about it anymore.  It's something I had to go through.  It's something personal, but look at the real tragedies in the world.” 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  All right.  And we want to—speaking of babies, because Jen had a lot of baby issues, what about the baby craze in Hollywood, most notably TomKat, as they're calling them, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes?

SZISH:  Exactly right.  I think if 2005 was the year of breaking up, I think 2006 is obviously the year of settling down.  And that means babies.  Gwyneth is expecting her second.  Gwen Stefani is expecting her first.  TomKat, as you mentioned, is expecting their first. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Well, do they all do everything in clusters?  Do all these celebrities get together at a conference and say, “OK, now we're all going to go get pregnant?”

SZISH:  Well, it kind of reminds me of fashion.  Everything kind of goes in waves somehow together, and it's peaks and valleys of trends.  And I think we see the same thing in Hollywood. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  But TomKat's kind of cuckoo...

WOLF:  Hey, wait a minute, guys.  These people are human.  They're in love.  They're doing what millions of other people do.  And we forget that, because they're super-gorgeous and super-public, that they have all the same instincts...


VELEZ-MITCHELL:  All right, Jeanne, but OK...

SZISH:  I want to say one thing about that.  I mean, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes specifically, that is not necessarily a human-type, normal human-type thing.  I mean, these two are not married.  They just started dating.  Katie was, you know, a devout Catholic who said she wanted to wait until she got married to have sex, and so this is definitely something a little bit super-human. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  All right.  And we have to wrap up it.  I have to ask my good friend, Pat, very briefly, what is up with TomKat?  I mean, so many of these celebrities go out of their way to hide their love, to avoid the cameras, and they're just right out there in front of everybody. 

LALAMA:  Well, I'll put it to you this way:  I heard a critic today say that it was all the media's fault, that he was just showing, you know, his very edgy and interesting and unique way of feeling love.  And I say baloney!  There's something weird about all of this.  I'm not going to say what it is.  I have no idea, but it's just me thinks thou doth protest too much. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  All right, Pat, great seeing you. 

But stick around.  Still ahead, some of these celebrity shakedowns could set other people up for super stardom.  Find out who's ready to be a big break-out star in 2006. 

And a year ago tonight, we were getting first reports of the Asian tsunami.  Coming up, find out how much has been done to help the victims and what still needs to be done.  Stay tuned.


VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Now, let's get to 2006.  Who's going to be hot and not?  Who's going to break-up?  And who will get together? 

If anyone can predict the future of Hollywood hot shots, it's our expert panel of celebrity journalists.  So let's start with gossip columnist Jeanne Wolf of 

OK, we want to know:  Who do you think is going to be the “it” girl and the “it” guy next year and why? 

WOLF:  Well, let me put it this way.  As long as we're start calling people by their first name, Britney, Paris, Lindsay, we'll still be talking about them. 

I think you should watch out for Rachel McAdams.  She made a big splash this year in several movies.  She's beautiful.  She's got a hot boyfriend.  I think Rachel McAdams is someone we're going to be talking about. 

We're going to be talking about Terrence Howard for sure.  He had a big breakthrough year.  And we're going to be talking about the two Toms, Tom Cruise, “Mission Impossible 3,” and Tom Hanks in “Da Vinci Code.”  Both of them are going to make a big splash on the screen. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Those are names that we've been hearing year after year.  Katrina is shaking her head.  She thinks that they're going to be some, well, maybe newer faces on the horizon. 

SZISH:  I think you're talking about young blood.  I mean, the Toms of the world will continue to be stars, but I do think we're going to be looking at people like Keira Knightley, and Scarlet Johansson, and, I agree, Rachel McAdams.  I think everybody is ready for some new, young blood.  And, of course, Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal will certainly be part of that list. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  And that, of course, because of their amazing movie, “Brokeback Mountain.”  Pat Lalama, I know you had some thoughts on that and how Hollywood should maybe take a message that how people want to hear and see stories that have meaning. 

LALAMA:  Absolutely.  But first, let me say I have to throw in my vote for Thomas Kretschmann from “King Kong.”  I just have to say that.  I think the guy's got a big future and very interesting. 

By the way, also, I hope Hollywood executives get a clue, because of “Brokeback Mountain,” that, you know, we're looking for a little bit of depth.  I don't know if that's necessarily the theme this person wants or that person wants, but give us a real story.  I'm so tired of remakes and bad ones at that.  Can they come up with something new, come up with something with a little bit of dimension?  That's what I'm bending for. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Well, Jeanne, I think we're all—everybody's in agreement here.  Everybody's tired of those remakes.  I mean, the TV shows themselves weren't that good the first time around.  What are they thinking?  Why don't they get that lesson earlier? 

WOLF:  Look, guys, they're only listening to one sound:  the gentle sound of ca-ching, which means who buys tickets.  And we do buy tickets for those sequels. 

So watch out for “X-Men.”  Watch out for “Pirates,” where you will see Kyra, and Orlando, and Johnny.  Watch out for “Rush Hour II.”  Boy, I mean, “Rush Hour III.”  We've been waiting a long time for that.

And on the question mark list, let's watch out for Daniel Craig, the new James Bond.  He's out in Munich, and he's a pretty edgy guy.  Will we fall in love with him with his martini glass in hand? 


VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Now, this next question, I almost don't want to ask it, because it seems like big luck, like I don't want to jinx  (INAUDIBLE) but who's going to break up in the coming year?  It's kind of a mean question, and I'm acknowledging that straight off, bad, mean. 

Who wants to take a shot at it, Katrina? 

KATRINA:  Oh, I'll start.  Sure, why not?  OK, well, I mean, I think we've already seen Britney and Kevin begin this break-up.  I think we're going to see it zig-zag for a while.  Britney's going to take him back.  She's going to kick him out, take him back, kick him out. 

Well, we're hoping, by the end of the year, she gets, you know, all of her faculties together and realizes this guy is not for me.  So Britney and Kevin, I think, is probably the most obvious one we'll look forward to. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  And break-ups can be good. 

KATRINA:  That's what I mean.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  They can be a sign of growth.  That's what the experts and the psychologists say.



LALAMA:  Well, you know, yes, of course, it can be good for you if it's a bad relationship.  But, you know, this is hard to do.  I hate to say it.  I mean, you don't want to wish any kind of tragedy on anyone. 

But J-Lo, they've been quiet lately.  But J-Lo and Mark, I don't know.  I just don't see this made of substance.  And, yes, it's sad. 

But, hey, look at Mike Myers, for heaven's sakes.  Oh, my god, a guy I love.  He's getting divorced.  So, gee, it happens to the best of the people that we love the best. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Jeanne, you are in the know.  You're in there deep in Hollywood.  What's your prediction? 

WOLF:  My prediction for who will break up?  Oh, let's see.  A lot of studio heads will break up because the movies didn't do so well this year. 

Personally speaking, maybe people will get a grip, start talking things over, stop letting money rule, you know, breaking up because they can and figuring out that these headlines are not the best way to make a career. 

I don't know.  I don't know who'll break up, but I know, whoever it is, will be splashed all over the covers, and you and I will be talking about them. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Let's get a little more positive here.  How about getting together?  We've heard so much about Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn and that they are together.  Are they together?  How together are they?  Is she on the rebound, or is this the real thing? 

WOLF:  Well, they've spent—they spent the holidays together.  They went home to see his folks for Thanksgiving.  And they tried to be very quiet about it but, of course, there were Jennifer and Vince spottings everywhere. 

Don't forget, they've got a movie coming out called “Break Up,” ironically.  And “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” with Angelina and Brad - we're back to those first names again—did big business, at least partly because we love the idea that we might be watching real romance. 

With Jennifer and Vince, it certainly won't hurt ticket sales.  And she certainly does seem happy.  But beyond that, I don't know how to test how close they are. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  I would like to predict that this will be a drama-free year in 2006, but that's not going to happen.  Thank you so much, all of you.  It's great seeing you.  Thank you for your predictions. 

SZISH:  Thanks, Jane.

LALAMA:  Bye, Jane. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  All right, see you, Pat. 

WOLF:  Have a smashing year. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  You too, dear. 

Still ahead, a year after the Asian tsunami, we're going to show you how much has been done to help the victims.  That is coming right up.


VELEZ-MITCHELL:  It was exactly one year ago today that a massive tsunami wiped out parts of South Asia.  More than 230,000 people were killed and close to two million were left homeless. 

NBC's Ned Colt returned to Indonesia to report on the tsunami recovery one year later, which many believe is not happening fast enough. 


NED COLT, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Vasree Amin's (ph) pain is as agonizing today as it was one year ago, when he lost his wife and four children.  The grizzled farmer has aged beyond his 45 years.  Nothing eases the pain he feels for having survived. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I tried to run home, but the water was too high.  Now I'm all alone.  That makes it harder to forget.

COLT:  No one who survived can forget the massive wave which hit Aceh province.  One hundred sixty thousand people were killed in minutes.  All that was left of Vasree's (ph) seaside village of Lamphook (ph), foundations of homes where 6,000 people once lived, 80 percent died.  The only building left standing, the mosque. 

It's now reopened for prayer, just one of several signs of recovery here.  The U.S. government is funding a water treatment plant.  The Japanese built a new school, but the classrooms are almost empty.  Of 130 students, only 15 survived. 

The Turkish Red Cross is just beginning to build some new brick homes.  However, the surviving villagers who have returned home were living in huts they built themselves of tsunami debris.  There's no drinking water.  There's no electricity, but these people are more fortunate than most. 

Close to 200,000 survivors are still living in tents and plywood barracks.  Fewer than 16,000 permanent homes have been completed. 

Survivors are desperate for jobs.  One in three, unemployed.  Most of the vital fishing industry was destroyed.  So far, only a quarter of the $6.5 billion in tsunami aid for Indonesia has been spent.  Aid agencies say that's deliberate because they're building entire communities from scratch. 

SCOTT CAMPBELL, CATHOLIC RELIEF SERVICES:  It's not possible to go faster.  Infrastructure is gone.  Houses are gone, schools, bridges, roads. 

COLT:  In Lamphook (ph), there is a blueprint for a model community. 

(on-screen):  This is the future of your village? 


COLT (voice-over):  A dream that now exists only on paper.  Vasree Amin (ph) and others here will wait.  They have faith that, with patience, their sorrow will lessen and their lives improve. 

Ned Colt, NBC News, Lamphook (ph), Indonesia.


VELEZ-MITCHELL:  When we come back, the recovery continues.  Find out how much help is still needed in the places hit hardest by the tsunami. 


VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Millions from around the world today are remembering loved ones who perished at the hands of last year's deadly tsunami in Southeast Asia.  Mourners and survivors alike are marking the one-year anniversary.  They have been flocking to mass graves, mosques and beaches for somber ceremonies. 

Joining me now live is Charles Lyons, president of UNICEF USA.  Charles, thank you so much for joining us.  You just got back from this devastated region.  How much has it changed since the last time you were there? 

CHARLES LYONS, UNICEF USA PRESIDENT:  I think I was struck most by the overall change of spirit.  That may sound a little odd, but, in early January last year, there just was overwhelming grief and gloom.  There were parents without children, children without parents. 

And last week, when I was there visiting children's centers and schools and so on, I just was struck by the kids being together, and singing, and being supportive of each other, laughing, and playing, and so on.  It was a wonderful contrast that they really are getting their lives back together again.  But there's an enormous work to be done yet. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  You know, speaking of which, there are a lot of statistics.  One of the numbers says that only 20 percent of those left homeless, and almost two million were left homeless, have permanent housing.  Now, it's easy to sit here and criticize from a desk in comfortable Secaucus, New Jersey, but is that a bad track record?  And who is to blame, if it is? 

LYONS:  Well, I don't think anyone is content.  I mean, there's a sort of—people are extremely pleased, satisfied with a real catalog of accomplishments in the year:  1.2 million children were immunized against measles.  There was no measles epidemic, which was both predicted and expected, same on cholera.  Kids were back in school within 90 days. 

So there's a long list of things that were accomplished within the first year.  But the long-term and permanent rebuilding process is a very, very different proposition. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  You know, you mentioned the idea that there was very little disease.  And I find that incredible, with thousand and tens of hundreds of thousands of people living in tents.  You would think the sanitation problems, the health problems, the disease, the chance for epidemic, and you're saying that that has not happened?  That's good news. 

LYONS:  It didn't happen.  And it's a result of people being incredibly generous in January and February, fast action—you know, there are some decisions you can make fast and they are right. 

For example, immunizing kids, you decide that right away and you get it right.  Making permanent decisions about housing, where entire villages are going to be rebuilt, the size of schools, for example.  And I saw in your story, and a week ago I was with a group of students, there were just 50 of them.  A year ago, there were 400. 

The community has to decide where they're going to rebuild their school.  And we built, UNICEF did, over 100 temporary schools, $8,000 to $10,000 a piece.  It's many multiples of that to build a permanent school and that requires community input, government decision, et cetera. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  We only have a couple of seconds left.  If you had to say one thing to the American people who are suffering donor fatigue, quickly? 

LYONS:  Well, they have saved hundreds of thousands of children's lives because they were fast and generous when those children needed them. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  All right.  So that is a message for people here in this country, even though, obviously, former Presidents Bill Clinton and Bush directed the campaign that raised a lot of money, that got money there, more money is still needed. 

LYONS:  We need to build more housing and more schools.  The resources are there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Thank you, sir.

LYONS:  Let's remember Japan and U.S.  It took many years.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  That's LIVE & DIRECT.  I'm Jane Velez-Mitchell filling in for Rita.  Let's go to “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.”



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