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SHOWBIZ TONIGHT

The Explosive Mackenzie Phillips Incest Debate; John Travolta`s Agony; The Great Cougar Debate

Aired September 24, 2009 - 23:00   ET

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


A.J. HAMMER, HOST: Right now, on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, the explosive Mackenzie Phillips incest debate. Today`s overwhelming reaction to Mackenzie claiming her father had sex with her. Mackenzie back on TV this morning, revealing even more.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MACKENZIE PHILLIPS, ACTRESS: The sound bite has been a 10-year-long romantic affair with her - that is the wrong way to characterize it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: Tonight, why members of Mackenzie`s own family called her a liar today and why even Oprah is under attack. Tonight, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with the provocative debate - should Mackenzie have kept quiet?

Tonight, the great cougar debate. Courtney Cox`s new show "Cougar Town" debuted last night and has got men and women arguing everywhere today. Why do older women get slammed for dating younger men, but younger men are considered cool for dating older women? What`s up with that?

Plus, John Travolta`s agony, forced to relive in public every moment of the terrible day he watched his beloved son die before his very eyes. Travolta`s emotional, heartbreaking words.

TV`s most provocative entertainment news show starts right now.

(MUSIC)

Hello. I`m A.J. Hammer, broadcasting tonight and every night from New York City.

And tonight, the Mackenzie Phillips incest outrage. Mackenzie Phillips, back on live TV just this morning, just one day after her shocking claims on "Oprah" that she had a sexual relationship with her famous father for some 10 years.

But tonight, some members of her own family are saying flat-out they don`t believe her. They don`t believe it ever happened. And even Oprah was being slammed today for having Mackenzie on her show in the first place.

Well, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has been on top of every new breaking development today in this very disturbing story, which all made for big news breaking.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: I need to be free. And if in doing so, I have offended anybody, I am truly sorry.

HAMMER: Mackenzie Phillips went on the "Today" show this morning to address the uproar that followed her shocking claim that she shared on "Oprah" from the day before, that she and her pop star father, John Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas" had a sexual relationship for some 10 years.

MACKENZIE: Your father is supposed to protect you, not (EXPLETIVE DELETED) you.

HAMMER: SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can tell you Mackenzie Phillips` graphic details of incestuous sex and heavy drug use provoked an explosive reaction today, including from her famous stepmother, singer Michelle Phillips, and her famous sister, singer Chynna Phillips.

NATALIE THOMAS, "US WEEKLY" MAGAZINE: It sounds like right now, there is definitely some strife within the family.

HAMMER: Mackenzie`s father, John Phillips, was a founding member of "The Mamas and the Papas," the 1960s group responsible for such classics as "California Dreamin`." John Phillips died in 2001.

Mackenzie`s claims on "Oprah" are from her new book that just came out, a memoir called, "High on Arrival." Mackenzie claims her father first had sex with her after a drug-induced blackout back when she was a teen starring on the 1970s sitcom "One Day at a Time."

PHILLIPS: I woke up that night from a blackout to find myself having sex with my own father.

HAMMER: Mackenzie says that led to a consensual sexual relationship. But this morning on the "Today" show, she disputed headlines online and in newspapers today calling it a 10-year affair.

PHILLIPS: People say for 10 years, I had this relationship. At 18, I was molested. Then maybe three years later, I started waking up with my pants down around my ankles. And then, maybe two years after that, it became consensual. So to call it a 10-year affair or a 10-year relationship is not correct.

HAMMER: Now, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can tell you the Phillips family is bitterly divided over Mackenzie`s claims. We learned today that her stepmother, Michelle Phillips, who was also in "The Mamas and the Papas," is saying flat-out Mackenzie is lying.

THOMAS: We spoke to Michelle Phillips who said that she does not believe Mackenzie.

HAMMER: In the new issue of "Us" magazine out today, Michelle Phillips pulls no punches. She brings up Mackenzie`s long, well-known history of drug abuse, saying, quote, "You should take with a grain of salt anything that`s said by a person who has had a needle stuck in her arm for the past 35 years. The whole story is disgusting."

THOMAS: It`s got to hurt Mackenzie, because not only is she coming out here telling her truth, but then, her stepmother comes out and publicly bashes her and slams her. So that`s got to really sting.

HAMMER: But on the other side, Mackenzie`s sister, Chynna Phillips, who is one-third of the early `90s singing group, Wilson Phillips.

(MUSIC)

THOMAS: Chynna, who "Us" magazine exclusively spoke to, is standing by her sister.

HAMMER: "Us Weekly`s" Natalie Thomas tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT that in Chynna`s shocking interview with the magazine, she revealed that she`s known Mackenzie`s shocking incest secret for more than a decade.

Chynna tells "Us Weekly," quote, "I knew it was true. I mean, who in their right mind would make such a claim if it wasn`t true."

Chynna said that she wasn`t very comfortable with Mackenzie doing the book and she wishes that she`d come to her first and let her know that it was happening. But she does support her. She is behind her. She loves her.

HAMMER: This morning on the "Today" show, Mackenzie Phillips said the reaction from her family is all too typical.

PHILLIPS: If you open a textbook on the incest and you can see a picture of the Phillips family. We are behaving in a typical way. You know, the instinct is to say it`s not true. The instinct is to deny. The instinct is to brush it under the table. The instinct is to protect the abuser.

HAMMER: But Mackenzie still has hope that this revelation won`t tear her family apart.

PHILLIPS: I know that, God willing, as a family, we will be stronger when this all dies down.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAMMER: Wow. And there`s more. In a brand-new interview on the "Today" show this morning, Mackenzie revealed yet another bombshell.

Joining me tonight from Hollywood, it`s Leslie Marshall, host of "The Leslie Marshall" radio show. Also in Hollywood tonight is Pat Lalama, who is an investigative journalist.

And just when we thought we had heard everything from Mackenzie on "Oprah" yesterday, this morning on the "Today" show, Mackenzie didn`t slam her father, she actually partially blamed herself for the consensual sexual relationship with him. You`ve got to watch what she said here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: This was a warped event that occurred over time. And what it started out as, which was an act of molestation, and what it became were two entirely different things. One, I believe, I have no accountability for - the initial event. I believe that I have some accountability for what went down afterwards.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: I`m not sure what to make of that. Mackenzie actually taking responsibility for what she says happened. Pat, do you think she bears any responsibility here, if this did actually happen?

PAT LALAMA, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: If she`s listening, I want her to go to a therapist`s office right now. She`s not responsible if what she`s alleging is, in fact, true. Her father may not have put a gun to her head, but as I said the other day on your show, there is no consensual incest.

She was under the spell of a man mired in drug and alcohol abuse, swimming in a domestic cesspool. She is not responsible for what happened. I completely disagree with her, if what she`s saying is true.

HAMMER: Yes. It seems that way, Pat. And I can tell you and this is pretty amazing to me, there is growing evidence that the interest in Mackenzie`s story is really exploding here. Take a look at this.

Put that up, Charles. This afternoon, her new book called "High on Arrival" hit number three on Amazon`s bestseller list. Now, to put that in perspective, not far behind - it`s not far behind number one, which is the Dan Brown book, "The Lost Symbol." Of course, he is the guy that wrote "The Da Vinci Code."

Leslie, it seems to me this right here, a perfect example of how Mackenzie`s story has been striking a chord with so many people. Why do you think that is?

LESLIE MARSHALL, HOST, "THE LESLIE MARSHALL SHOW": Because I think there are a lot of people in this country, unfortunately, that suffer from this secret. And they feel, "I`m not alone." they feel they can relate to her. They can read through her nightmare and maybe not have to revisit and relive their own.

Statistically, one in four people in America was molested as a child. Now, whether that was an incestuous relationship or not, we have very high numbers of people that have been affected by incest in this country, by molestation. And these people feel, "Somebody`s finally speaking for me." And Mackenzie has become their voice.

HAMMER: Yes. But not to diminish that at all, Leslie, it`s hard for me to believe that that is the sole reason that a book would climb so high to number three. And I`m wondering - Pat, tell me what you think here.

You know, because she also makes claims of her father shooting her up with drugs, her father teaching her how to roll joints and all the drugs they did together, plus the incest claims. Do you think there`s a bit of the train wreck factor, too, that has to be driving this thing?

LALAMA: Well, if course. And of course, Mackenzie knew this when she wrote the book. This is a domestic landmine, as I said. It`s shocking and we can`t look away. There is - I hate to use the terminology, but there`s a certain "sleaze" factor to it. But A.J., I`ve got to tell you, if it can be cathartic for her and for millions of other people, I`m all for it.

HAMMER: Yes.

LALAMA: And too bad if her family doesn`t like it. Because you know what? I think we can learn more from her than Jon Gosselin`s tramp-of-the-month and now the fact that he`s left eight young children in the dust. We all seem to be OK with that, but we don`t want to hear about incest.

HAMMER: Pat, I don`t often give a big amen, but I`m going to give you one for that.

LALAMA: Thank you.

HAMMER: And not just people buying Mackenzie`s book, by the way, who may be connecting with what she claims she went through. In her interview on the "Today" show this morning, Mackenzie also revealed she has been getting overwhelming support elsewhere since she told her story on "Oprah." You`ve got to see this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Since the publication of this book yesterday, the outpouring of support from other incest survivors has been phenomenal. This is a subject that is so incredibly taboo, and as well it should be. But there needs to be a dialogue about it. The covers need to be pulled. You can`t keep sweeping this under the carpet. This is affecting families all over the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: Yes. And that would be a good side effect of this. But that said, Leslie, quickly, do you think that more people will be disturbed by Mackenzie making these claims than those who will be helped by them?

MARSHALL: I know from the tweets and the Facebook e-mail messages and my talk show, a lot of people are very uncomfortable with her putting it out on "Oprah" and not a psychiatrist couch. A lot of people were saying TMI.

But now, when they see how many people that are coming out and saying, "Hey, this is helping me" ...

LALAMA: Right.

MARSHALL: ... I think a lot of people are feeling mixed about this right now.

HAMMER: Well, there`s also a brand-new development in the story. Oprah Winfrey, now under fire for doing this interview with Mackenzie Phillips in the first place.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OPRAH WINFREY, HOST, "THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW": You`re very much aware that this is wrong, that this is - this should not be happening.

PHILLIPS: Yes.

WINFREY: But yet it continues to happen?

PHILLIPS: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: So why is Oprah getting slammed for helping Mackenzie tell this story? I`m not sure it is justified. And do people really need to cut Mackenzie a break here? Leslie Marshall, Pat Lalama, I appreciate you being here. We`re going to get into that a bit later in the show.

And now, we`d like to hear from you. It`s our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. Sound off on this - "Mackenzie Phillips Criticized: Was it OK for her to go public with her incest claims?" Go to CNN.com/ShowbizTonight. E-mail showbiztonight@cnn.com.

We`ll be going now to John Travolta`s heartbreak. John Travolta takes the stand and he`s forced to relive the agonizing memory of the day that his son died before his eyes as he desperately tried to save his life. Can you imagine? Tonight, his emotional testimony is going to leave you in tears.

Also, the great cougar debate. Courtney Cox`s new show "Cougar Town" igniting a furious debate today. Why are older women criticized for dating younger men, but older men don`t get slammed for dating younger women? I mean, come on. This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on HLN.

It`s time now for the "SHOWBIZ News Ticker" - more stories from the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom making news right now.

TEXT: MTV to air DJ AM`s drug intervention reality series, shot just before he died. Sony to release new Michael Jackson single and biggest hits on two CD set.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York. Tonight, Travolta`s agony. John Travolta was expected to testify again today in an extortion trial taking place in the Bahamas that`s been put off until next week.

During his first day of testimony, Travolta had to relive the horrific details of the day his son, Jett, died. In a powerful moment, Travolta said that his son was autistic and would have seizures every five to 10 days. Travolta said he tried to revive his son using CPR while his wife, Kelly Preston, held Jett`s head.

Preston broke down in tears as she watched her husband give his heart- wrenching testimony. So why did two people in the Bahamas allegedly think they could extort $25 million from this famous Hollywood couple?

Well, this case revolves around one piece of paper. Here now is CNN`s Randi Kaye for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It`s called a refusal to transport, a piece of paper that family members must sign to refuse transport for medical services. Paramedic Tarino Lightbourne says John Travolta signed that form and tried to stop the ambulance from taking his dying son, Jett, to the hospital in the Bahamas so he could be flown to Florida.

That sheet of paper is now at the center of a celebrity drama being played out on an island paradise. Lightbourne is one of the prime suspects accused of trying to extort nearly $25 million from Travolta and his wife, actress Kelly Preston, in the days following their son`s death.

If he did not pay up, they allegedly threatened to make the private medical form public. Celebrity watcher, Harvey Levin -

HARVEY LEVIN, CELEBRITY WATCHER: If it`s true, it`s absolutely beyond despicable.

KAYE: Lightbourne and the other prime suspect, former Bahamian Sen. Pleasant Bridgewater, have been charged with conspiracy to extort. Both have pleaded not guilty. Bridgewater`s lawyer told us, "There`s been no evidence of her involvement to commit an offense against Mr. John Travolta."

Lightbourne`s lawyer did not return our calls. Travolta, first to testify in the Bahamian court, told the jury, quote, "I received a liability of release document. I signed it. I did not read it. Time was of the essence." And Travolta had his own plane waiting.

LEVIN: John initially felt he could fly him to Miami faster than he could drive him there by ambulance.

KAYE (on camera): Bahamian authorities say Lightbourne was at Travolta`s side as he watched the massive seizure take his son`s life. In the days following that tragedy, Lightbourne publicized Travolta`s most personal moment, telling tabloids how the actor cried and prayed as he fought to save his son.

LEVIN: Somebody who was with John Travolta, trying to save Jett, and then tried to extort money from a grieving father - it is almost beyond belief.

KAYE (voice-over): Was the alleged plan hatched during a dying boy`s final hours? If so, Levin calls that the ultimate betrayal.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAMMER: Yes. Just so despicable. That was CNN`s Randi Kaye for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. Right now, the extortion trial is expected to last three weeks.

Well, I must tell you, the "Showbiz on Call" phone lines have been inundated. A lot of people calling in about Mackenzie Phillips` shocking claims that her father had sex with her.

We`ve got to call into "Showbiz on Call" from Consuella in Texas. Consuella says, we need to go easy on Mackenzie, because it can`t be easy talking about her painful past.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

CALLER: I believe that she`s trying to heal and her purging on national TV and through the book is a way for her to heal. She`s trying to protect her abusers, even Mick Jagger. I think that people need to be sympathetic, because I think her life has been very traumatic.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

HAMMER: Thank you so much, Consuella. We also heard from Michelle calling in to "Showbiz on Call" from Texas. Now, Michelle says that Mackenzie will probably help a lot of people.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

CALLER: I applaud her for bringing this out, sharing it with the public. I know it must have been very difficult for her. And I know she`s been damaged by it. But maybe this will help other people in the same situation. God bless you, Mackenzie.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

HAMMER: I appreciate your call, Michelle. Why don`t you call us at "Showbiz on Call" to let us know exactly what`s on your mind. The showbiz on call phone lines are open all the time. This is the number, 1-888-SBT- BUZZ, 1-888-728-2899. That`s where you can leave us a voicemail so we can play your call here on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

Also, your calls to showbiz on call are online, on our homepage - that is CNN.com/ShowbizTonight.

Well, today, Oprah Winfrey is under fire for putting Mackenzie on her show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WINFREY: I don`t recall, in 24 years, having anybody ever come on and say, "I had a consensual sexual relationship with my father."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: Mackenzie was back on TV today, talking about her painful family secrets. And we just learned today that she`s going to be on "Oprah" again tomorrow. So why is Oprah getting criticized for putting her on the show in the first place?

Also, it`s the great cougar debate. Courtney Cox`s new show, "Cougar Town," has everybody talking today. Why are women criticized for dating younger men, but older men don`t get slammed as much for dating younger women? Is there a huge double standard here?

We will also have this -

(MUSIC)

Beyonce certainly proves you just can`t help grooving to her "Single Ladies" video, even if you`re a baby. That`s right, a dancing baby. You know you want to see this. This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on HLN.

Time now for the "SHOWBIZ News Ticker" - more stories from the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom making news right now.

TEXT: Ashley Hamilton, Macy Gray first two tossed from "Dancing with the Stars." Christina Applegate starts breast cancer foundation after fighting the disease.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer. All right. Guess what I did last night? I was at the Plaza Hotel here in New York City. It was a big, swanky party. And yes, that`s me with Joy Behar. We were celebrating her new show that debuts right here on HLN next week.

I was hanging out with Barbara and Whoopi. Alan Alda was there - Larry King, a lot of big stars coming out to wish Joy luck.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALAN ALDA, ACTOR: Joy, good luck with the show. I think you`re going to be great. I know you`re going to be great. And I know you`re going to have a big audience, because I`m going to be watching, and I`m very big lately.

WHOOPI GOLDBERG, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": Joy, I`m being forced to do this because they don`t think I actually know you, so kick everybody`s you-know- what when you`re doing your show, because you know you`re going to be good at it.

BARBARA WALTERS, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER AND CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": Joy, of course I wish you luck. Just don`t even think about leaving "The View."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: It`s like the "Joy Luck Club." Tune into the premiere of "THE JOY BEHAR SHOW," Tuesday, September 29th, 9:00 p.m. here on HLN.

All right. So I`ve got a question for you. Who do you think is the most provocative celebrity of the week? Well, starting Friday night and every Friday night, TV`s most provocative entertainment news show is daring to name the most provocative celebrity of the week.

And before we do, we want to know who you think is the most provocative celebrity of the week. There are three ways for you to tell us who you think the most provocative celebrity of the week is.

You can e-mail us, showbiztonight@cnn.com. Call us at "Showbiz on Call," 1-888-SBT-BUZZ or leave us a message on our Facebook fan page. Go to Facebook and type "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" in the search box.

And if you go to the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT Facebook page, well, you will see, it has been inundated with comments from people who are sounding off about Mackenzie Phillips` shocking claims that her father had sex with her. A ton of comments are coming in about whether it was appropriate for Mackenzie to go public with such a painful family secret.

Listen to what Tamela N. writes, "When people are on drugs, they will cross boundaries that they would not otherwise cross. Praise to Mackenzie for telling her story and what can occur when in the grasp of addiction."

Janet C., "I`m not listening to it. There are some secrets she needs to keep. Every now and then, she surfaces with another revelation about her past troubles. Can`t help thinking that she just wants attention."

Remember, I`d love to hear you on Facebook. You can follow us on Twitter. We will send you breaking entertainment news alerts. Sign up for our Facebook and Twitter pages on our homepage, and that is CNN.com/ShowbizTonight.

Time now, for the SHOWBIZ lineup. This is what`s coming up on the bottom of the hour on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

We have brand-new revelations from Mackenzie Phillips. Mackenzie, back on TV today with more about her incest claims and Oprah around fire for putting her on her show.

Cougar debates. Everybody`s talking about Courtney Cox`s new show "Cougar Town." Why is it that women are criticized for dating younger men?

And Elisabeth Hasselbeck talks about how her baby is doing today after a health scare. This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on HLN.

Time now for the "SHOWBIZ News Ticker." These are more stories from the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom making news right now.

TEXT: Iconic "Barbie" doll to be made into a live action movie. Jude Law`s ex-girlfriend welcomes a baby girl.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WINFREY: I don`t recall, in 24 years, having anybody ever come on and say, "I had a consensual sexual relationship with my father."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: Now, on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, Oprah Winfrey under fire. Shocking, new revelations today from Mackenzie Phillips. Mackenzie goes on TV again today while Oprah is under fire for putting her on the show in the first place.

Cougar alert. Courtney Cox`s new show "Cougar Town" debuted last night and ignited a furious debate today. Why are older women criticized for dating younger men, but men don`t get slammed like that? Tonight, the great cougar debate.

(MUSIC)

HAMMER: And if you needed anymore proof that Beyonce`s "Single Ladies" video gets everyone grooving, you have got to stick around to see this adorable video.

Plus, more stories breaking from the "SHOWBIZ News Ticker." TV`s most provocative entertainment news show continues right now.

(MUSIC)

Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. It is 30 minutes past the hour. I`m A.J. Hammer, broadcasting tonight and every night from New York City.

And tonight, we have the incredible fallout today after Mackenzie Phillips` remarkable claims about having sex with her father. Mackenzie spoke out again today after her family just slams her, which ignited an all-out family feud.

Here are today`s breaking developments. Mackenzie`s stepmother, Michelle Phillips, calls Mackenzie a liar for claiming that she was in a sexual relationship with her dad. You have got to hear how nasty this got today.

And that led to the fired up great debate today. Even if Mackenzie made this story up about incest, could the dramatic attention it is bringing to incest victims actually do some good?

Mackenzie first made her incredible claims on "Oprah" and today Oprah came under attack for letting Mackenzie tell her story on her show.

Joining me tonight in Hollywood, Leslie Marshall, who is a talk radio host for "The Leslie Marshall Show." And also joining me tonight in New York, Jane Velez-Mitchell, host, of course, of "ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ- MITCHELL." You can see it every night of the week here on HLN. And she is also the author of this book - I can`t wait to read it - "I Want: My Journey from Addiction and Over-Consumption to a Simpler Honest Life."

OK, guys, so a major family feud erupted just after Mackenzie claimed she had this 10-year-long sexual relationship with her dad, who of course is famed rocker John Phillips of "The Mamas and the Papas." He died back in 2001.

Well, in a brand-new interview today, Mackenzie`s stepmom, Michelle, cited Mackenzie`s longtime drug abuse and problems and called her a liar. Michelle telling this to the Hollywood reporter, "She`s had a needle stuck up her arm for 35 years. She was arrested for heroin and coke just recently. She did "Celebrity Rehab" and now she writes a book. The whole thing is timed. Mackenzie is jealous of her siblings who have accomplished a lot and did not become drug addicts."

Now, Michelle also told SHOWBIZ TONIGHT that what Mackenzie did was so hurtful to the family. Jane, the truth is, we may never know for sure what actually happened. But from what you`ve seen and heard, does it even seem feasible that Michelle Phillips could be right and maybe Mackenzie did make the whole thing up?

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST, "ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL": A.J., what makes this story so tantalizing is that we don`t know whether she`s telling the truth or not. As the old saying goes, "Nobody knows what happens behind closed doors."

But I think Michelle makes a very good point. Mackenzie was arrested for alleged drug possession just over a year ago in August of 2008 and those were hard drugs, allegedly. So at the very most, she says she`s sober today. She`s, at best, just a little over a year sober, perhaps a lot less than that.

This is not the kind of thing that is suggested to do in early sobriety. I`m a person with 14 1/2 years of sobriety. And I know in my first couple of years, what I did was I worked on my program, almost to the exclusion of everything else to stay sober.

They tell you, "Don`t get into a heavy duty relationship in your first year." So, certainly, don`t go on "Oprah" and say that you had sex with your father. Look at how destabilizing this is. So I think she should be doing this on a shrink`s couch.

HAMMER: Destabilizing, and obviously it opens herself up to a whole lot of extra criticism because of the addiction and the abuse that she endured for all those years.

Well, in another brand-new interview today, Mackenzie went back on TV. This was her very first reaction to Michelle`s scathing words. You`ve got to see what she said on the "Today" show just this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: I`m not here to tell anybody else`s story but mine. We`ve all experienced our dad in different ways, thank God. And I love my sisters. I love my brothers. I love Michelle. I wish that I had all of their support, but I don`t.

And that`s all right. I understand. This is very difficult. And to be revealed on a public level such as this makes it even more difficult. And my heart goes out to them. And I know that, God willing, as a family, we will be stronger when this all dies down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: Well, they can only hope at this point. Obviously, Mackenzie was a lot more prepared for all of this than her family. Leslie, over to you. If Mackenzie did make this up, you`ve got to wonder why?

MARSHALL: Well, I would imagine attention. Certainly, many people who have been through programs like Jane and have been addicts, whether it`s drugs or alcohol, lying definitely does seem to be an M.O. there. It could be to help sell her book.

But I have to say, you know, in my experience as woman, when I have worked with different groups of victims, whether it be rape or incest, and certainly incest is rape when it`s not, you know, a consensual situation. And you know, you have to believe - I believe you have to believe the victim unless you can prove otherwise.

And the reason so many people, especially in incest, and why it`s so taboo, are uncomfortable coming forward, is because families react this way and because people don`t believe them. So if we have to - we have to assume that she`s telling the truth, unless something otherwise is proven.

HAMMER: Yes. And again, John Phillips, her father, died in 2001, so obviously won`t be hearing from him. Mackenzie`s stepmom, not the only member of the family speaking out today. We`re hearing it on the other side.

Today, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT got our hands on a brand-new interview with Mackenzie`s sister - you know Chynna Phillips. Well, Chynna tells "Us Weekly" that back in 1997, Mackenzie had told her then about the incestuous relationship with her father.

Chynna says she was shocked but she believed it, saying, "Who in their right mind would make up such a claim if it wasn`t true? I wish I had been made privy to the information that she was writing this book beforehand. The repercussions of a book like this, they don`t just affect Mackenzie."

And in some late-breaking news today, "The Oprah Winfrey Show" just told SHOWBIZ TONIGHT late this afternoon both Chynna and Mackenzie will be appearing together on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" Friday. That should be quite a firestorm there.

Jane, whether or not the claims are true, does the family just have ever right to be furious she`s speaking out like this?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, these claims are kind of like taking a hand-grenade and throwing into it a family situation and watching the entire family explode. Obviously, it`s very polarizing and there are differences of opinion, even within the family.

I, myself, have a tendency to go back and forth on this one. One sound bite I think, "Maybe she`s telling the truth." The next sound bite I think, "Maybe she`s not telling the truth."

HAMMER: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But the fact is that there are so many factors that could come into play in this situation. Michelle says, for example, that Mackenzie is jealous of Chynna because Chynna has achieved success on her own as a singer with Wilson Phillips.

So is there jealousy here? Is there a need in these celebrity families, where everybody seems to be famous, to stand out some way, even if it`s not by accomplishing anything, even if it`s by this sort of confessional?

So it`s really a very nuanced, complex situation. And I think they should also go into family therapy and work this out behind closed doors.

HAMMER: Yes, no kidding. Wouldn`t that be something? Well, in more big news breaking today I`ve got to gel to, of all people, Oprah now coming under fire, by a lot of people, including Mackenzie`s stepmom, Michelle Phillips for giving Mackenzie the stage to reveal her incest claims.

Listen to what she told "The Hollywood Reporter," "John was a bad parent and a drug addict. But (EXPLETIVE DELETED) his daughter? If she thinks it`s true, why isn`t she with a good psychiatrist on a couch? I think it`s unconscionable that Oprah would let her do her show. I have every reason to believe it`s untrue. Oprah should be more judicious about who she has on her show."

All right. I get that she`s mad at Mackenzie. But Leslie, is that ridiculous that Oprah got dragged into all of this? Or does she have a point?

MARSHALL: Well, I don`t think Michelle has a point with Oprah. I think we all agree - Jane and I agree with you - psychiatrist couch and you don`t first put it out there in the public. You sit down with the family and you say, "Listen, I`m writing a book. This is what it`s about, I`m going to be on `Oprah` and say this."

But attacking Oprah - she`s a talk show host. It`s her job to get ratings and she does that very well. And to have people come on and to divulge some very deep, dark secrets, which is what Mackenzie did.

HAMMER: Yes.

MARSHALL: And "Oprah`s" the place you want to promote a book and that`s what Mackenzie was doing as well.

HAMMER: Yes. And the debate continues and people get to decide for themselves. Even if Mackenzie may have made all this stuff up, what do you think, Jane? Quickly, could all of the attention she brought to incest actually turn out to be a good thing?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely. Because we`re only as sick as our secrets. Let`s get it out in the open. This is the final taboo. It`s something society needs to talk about. Unfortunately, it does happen a lot and we do need to talk about it.

HAMMER: Well, I appreciate you being here to talk about it tonight. Leslie Marshall, Jane Velez-Mitchell, thanks so much.

Moving on, tonight it is the battle of the sexist smackdown. I`m talking about the great cougar debate. Courtney Cox`s new show "Cougar Town" has everybody talking today. This older women-younger dude trend has certainly been around far while, so why do real-life cougars like Demi Moore and Linda Hogan just get slammed for having younger men? Is there a huge, unfair double standard here?

And a surprise visit today on "The View" from Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Her shocking revelations about her newborn son`s health scare.

And there is nothing scary about this kid. It is the hilarious dancing baby shaking his thing to Beyonce`s "Single Ladies."

(MUSIC)

You know you want to see more of this. Well, I`m going to show you much more of this adorable baby video everybody`s going to love - even you, Kanye West. This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on HLN.

Now, it`s time for the "SHOWBIZ News Ticker." Here come more stories from the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom making news right now.

TEXT: "Grey`s Anatomy" star Eric Dane and wife Rebecca Gayheart file $1 million suit over nude tape. Britney Spears to release CD box set November 24 to mark 10 years of hit music.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.

Tonight, it is the great cougar debate. OK, a nationwide debate erupted today after Courtney Cox`s controversial new show, "Cougar Town," debuted last night on ABC. Well, I`ve got to tell you, the ratings came in late today, the show, a total hit - 11 million viewers for this thing.

Courtney plays the cougar. She is 40. She is newly divorced. And she`s dating men half her age. Now, people look down at her, but is that fair? Why is it OK for older men to date younger men, but not the other way around? Tonight, it`s the great cougar debate.

Joining me tonight in Hollywood, Carlos Diaz, who is a correspondent for "Extra." Also tonight in Hollywood, Pat Lalama who is an investigative journalist.

Thank you very much. Courtney Cox, I must say, is rather cougarlicious in this show. It didn`t shy away from the big controversy about being a cougar. The question is, is there a double standard? Let me tell you. Courtney Cox`s character is sick of it, I tell you. Look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COURTNEY COX, ACTRESS: Your wife moves out a week ago and you`re already sexing-up sorority girls. Nobody cares because when a 40-year-old gets divorce, all your friends are like, "Way to go, tiger."

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: We don`t call each other tiger. It`s always champ or samurai. Look, maybe what really drives you nuts is that you couldn`t bag a young stud if you tried.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: OK. Pat Lalama, I`m going to ask you to stand by for a moment and let Carlos have his say. Carlos, does Courtney Cox have a point? Is there a big double standard when it comes to older women dating younger men?

CARLOS DIAZ, CORRESPONDENT, "EXTRA": Pat, ease up. Let me speak, all right? OK. As both a samurai and a tiger, I want to say this, all right? Yes, there is a complete - a complete double standard when it comes to older guys dating younger women as opposed to older women dating younger guys.

And I am completely for older women getting back out there and getting in the dating scene, because as a guy who can date a 20-year-old or a 45- year-old, it`s just more girls for me. So Pat, what do you have to say about that?

LALAMA: Well, let me tell you what I have to say, all right? For years, women fell into that mode of believing that our breasts are sagging and our butt is flabby and we`re just not attractive anymore.

Well, now it`s our turn. We don`t like flabby guts, nose-hair, and snoring. So finally we get our say. And you want to know something? Judging by all those male enhancement ads I have to sit through every darn night on TV, you poor guys - maybe not you, Carlos. But you guys are pathetic. We`re just trying to have a good time. We`re not worried about (UNINTELLIGIBLE) with young girls ...

DIAZ: Pat, Pat - that`s the great equalizer.

LALAMA: ... who wouldn`t like you anyway if you didn`t have money, fame and power.

DIAZ: That`s the great equalizer, Pat. Those ads you see on TV, that`s the one thing we can`t do that 22-year-olds can do. So now, the playing field has now been equal. That`s what I`m saying here.

HAMMER: OK, enough about those ads on TV. And let`s not forget, guys, there are cougar relationships that last. May I point out a few of these guys?

LALAMA: Yes!

HAMMER: Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore - a 15-year age difference here. When they first started dating back in 2003, she was 40. He was 25. But they got married. And in 2005 is when they first got married. And Ashton tells SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, age doesn`t matter to him at all or Demi. Look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ASHTON KUTCHER, ACTOR: Demi and I have an agreement that we don`t keep count. So she gives to me. I give to her. As long as it all feels even, we`re good. We`re keeping count.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: Yes. Carlos, would you say that Demi is the poster cougar for anyone who doubts older women, younger men can work?

DIAZ: Yes. She is the poster cougar. And I`ll tell you right now, though, and I`m being honest when I say this - I mean, she has got it all because it all comes down to youth versus experience, OK?

Now, the 22-year-old`s got all the youth but none of the experience and the 45-year-old has got all the experience and none of the youth. Demi Moore`s got both. So, Pat, all we`re asking is - I don`t know - as a 45- year-old, do you hit the gym every once in a while?

HAMMER: All right. Hold on a second, Pat.

(CROSS TALK)

LALAMA: I`ve been out with young. I`ve been out with old. You`re all dysfunctional, so it doesn`t matter, OK?

HAMMER: You do have a point there. I mean, we can`t argue with that. But that`s not what we`re talking about. Stand by a moment because, obviously, this has been a subject of great debate on the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT Facebook page which blew up over the whole cougar issue today.

Let me read a couple of things that people are writing on our wall. Candace F., "I just think that society looks at the older woman-younger guy as a bit strange, but, hey, whatever floats the boats. Freedom of choice. Does that apply here?"

Anna M. Writing, "I`m surprised that Linda Hogan wasn`t recruited for a part in this show."

Well, she is now, Anna. And I`m happy to report that the newly- divorced Linda Hogan, who`s 50 years old is dating this 20-year-old. Watch what she told "Inside Edition" about the first time she saw her young love muffin. This is priceless.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How did you meet?

LINDA HOGAN, HULK HOGAN`S EX-WIFE: On the beach. I said, "Whoa, what`s that?" He was so hot-looking. I was like, dang.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: That`s what she was like - dang. Now, I have to ask you -

LALAMA: I`ve said that.

HAMMER: Tell me honestly, Pat, when you hear this, do you say, "More power to your cougar self, Linda -" I`m speaking specifically about her - or are you a little embarrassed for her. She`s 50, he`s 20 - a 30-year age difference.

LALAMA: I am not embarrassed - excuse me, I have a little bit of audio trouble - I am not embarrassed by any older woman going out with any younger guy. Let me tell it to you as I see it -

HAMMER: Quickly, please, Pat. Quickly.

LALAMA: I`ve had my experience with men younger than me, not now, of course, but earlier. The fact of the matter is, I find that young guys that can handle older women are more secure.

They`re not threatened. They`re not intimidated. They like the fact that a woman will pick up the check, that she`s been around the world, that she has something to talk about. That`s not threatening to them.

HAMMER: OK.

LALAMA: I think a lot of guys find very experienced, together women quite threatening to their male ego.

HAMMER: Got to end it there. Carlos Diaz, Pat Lalama, I believe I`ve made a love connection here.

All right. As we move on tonight, a big return today on "The View" for Elisabeth Hasselbeck - well, at least for a couple of minutes. Elisabeth on maternity leave after having her third child, Isaiah. Now, she was supposed to drop by via Skype this morning, but that didn`t work out. So she went old school - picked up the phone. Elisabeth filled the ladies in on her newborn`s health scare. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALTERS: How is Isaiah?

ELISABETH HASSELBECK, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW" (through telephone): He is great. He had a little bit of a hiccup, had him in the hospital for a couple of weeks more than we thought. But everybody is safe and home and healthy and nothing`s organized or clean. I actually gave him a bath today, because he was going to be on TV. I haven`t showered in about a week.

WALTERS: Yes, we can smell it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAMMER: All right. I`ve got a question for you. Who do you think is the most provocative celebrity of the week? Starting Friday night and every Friday night, TV`s most provocative news show is daring to name the most provocative celebrity of the week.

And before we do, we want to know who you think is the most provocative celebrity of the week. Several ways to let us know. You can send us an e-mail, showbiztonight@cnn.com; call us at "Showbiz on Call," 1- 888-SBT-BUZZ; 1-888-728-2899; or go to the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT Facebook page and write on our wall. To find us, go to Facebook, and in that little search box, just type "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT."

Well, tonight, wait until you see the most hilarious send up of Beyonce`s "Single Ladies" ever. Move on over, single ladies. It`s a single baby. I`m telling you, the moves on this kid are priceless.

(MUSIC)

Don`t you move. We`ve got so much more of this video. You`re going to be telling all your friends about it in the morning. This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on HLN.

Now, the "SHOWBIZ News Ticker" - here come more stories from the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT newsroom making news right now.

TEXT: Simon Cowell`s British TV show "X-Factor" may be heading to America. Lindsay Lohan to host three concerts in Singapore; Beyonce and The Black Eyed Peas to perform.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC)

HAMMER: Well, there it is. That`s the video that Kanye West called one of the best of all time when he jumped on stage at the MTV Video Music Awards. But tonight, you won`t believe who is rocking out to Beyonce`s "Single Ladies."

Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. Beyonce`s "Single Ladies" video has everyone wanting to do her funky, funky moves. All kinds of people put on those skimpy leotards and posted their own versions on YouTube. You remember this guy, right?

Well, today, I came across someone in probably the skimpiest get-up with moves that, well, I can`t quite put into words. It`s a baby doing the "Single Ladies" dance. You`ve got to watch this.

(MUSIC)

HAMMER: Oh, man. This is hilarious. That was pretty funny, and I`m pretty sure that`s a real baby. I love that.

Well, tonight, dethroned Miss California, Carrie Prejean who, of course, touched off that major anti-gay firestorm - she is back and she`s baring skin again. Look at this. Carrie strutting her stuff in a skimpy women of "Marvel Comics" Halloween costumes.

Now, the line is inspired by superheroes that are featured in "Marvel" comic books. Today, we found out that she got this modeling gig at last year`s Comic-Con Convention, long before her controversial comments opposing gay marriage at the Miss USA pageant.

You also remember that Carrie was caught up in another racy photo scandal during her reign when she blamed a breezy day for semi-topless photos which surfaced of her online. We`re not exactly sure what the weather was like on the day she wore that outfit.

Well, Wednesday, we asked you to vote on our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. Just moments ago, I was handed this - the final results. "Ellen DeGeneres Defends Herself: Can she ever fill Paula Abdul`s shoes on "American Idol." I thought it would be a bigger spread than this - 58 percent of you said yes; 42 percent no.

Some of the e-mails included one from Donna in Arizona writing, "I do not believe that Ellen is going to fill Paula`s shoes, nor is she trying to. She is just trying to do the job she has been asked to do."

Gail from the Bahamas, "Who the hell would want to fill those shoes? Ellen doesn`t need to worry about that."

Well, that is it for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. Thanks for watching. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York. And you can always catch SHOWBIZ TONIGHT on the 11:00s -11:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, and in the morning, 11:00 a.m. Eastern on HLN.

END