TONY COX, host:
I'm Tony Cox, and this is News & Notes. The Oval Office has become fashionable again, as Tyra Banks morphs into Michelle Obama for Harper's Bazaar Magazine. And what's with the friction between Barbara Walters and Sherri Shepherd of "The View." And Lil' Kim and Jermaine Dupri, each hosted parties that ended in violence. Here to get us up to speed on the entertainment news of the day is Newsweek magazine's national correspondent Allison Samuels. Allison?
Ms. ALLISON SAMUELS: How are you doing?
COX: You know I love seeing you. Let's start with this, the September issue of Harper's Bazaar features a photo spread of Tyra Banks in the role of Michelle Obama. The model says she was taking a peek into the possible future. Have you seen this?
Ms. SAMUELS: Yes, I have.
COX: What do you think?
Ms. SAMUELS: You know, it looks good, but I think, I can see where a lot of people will be upset about it because A, it's, sort of, taking for granted that he's already won and I can see that's, sort of, turning people off, because when he did his overseas tour, that was a lot of, you know, trip. They were saying, oh, you know, he's already acting presidential, like he's already the president. And when you see that, sort of, cover, when you see the actual inside with, you know, her husband, Michelle supposedly and her husband with the kids, it just, sort of, puts the message, oh, he's already won this. And then now, we're moving on and now Michelle's this icon that we can just, sort of - we don't even have to acknowledge John McCain anymore. So, I thought that's the dangerous part of it. But, you know, I think it shows that fashion, as well as the media overall, need - they need that sort of diversity. And this is the first person they've had that, sort of, universally they can just, sort of, put out there, no matter what it is. You know, magazines, books, whatever.
COX: Did they look like the Obamas to you?
Ms. SAMUELS: Not particularly, no. I mean, she certainly doesn't look like Michelle.
COX: Not at all.
Ms. SAMUELS: You know, but I mean, I get the point, that when you see the magazine, you, sort of, get what they're trying to do. I certainly got that. And Tyra is definitely this person, she's always doing something like that, whether it's gaining a lot of weight or putting on a fat suit or whatever. She likes to become someone else. So, I get it. I just think it would have been better to do in January maybe.
COX: All right. Let's move on to another topic. Sherri Shepherd, co-host of "The View," raised eyebrows with her comments to a Christian magazine last month about having, quote, "more abortions than she would like to count," unquote. She also made a joke about Christians laying their hands on Barbara Walters to again, quote, "get her saved," unquote. She then offered a public apology on the show. Here it is.
Ms. SHERRI SHEPHERD (Co-host, "The View"): You know, it didn't come off the way I wanted it to. I called Barbara in France, and I told her, and Barbara laughed. She got a great sense of humor because I tease her all the times. So, she laughed and she didn't ask me to say this but I do want to say, Barbara, if I offended you in any way, I apologize. I love you. You have always given me so much support.
COX: Well, Barbara may have laughed then but she's not laughing now, is she?
Ms. SAMUELS: No. And I think if you ask Star Jones or Rosie O'Donnell, she did not have a sense of humor at all. I don't think she had sense of humor. I think that Sherri, throughout the show, has, sort of, had these, sort of, major slip-ups. I mean, she's not the brightest, you know, spoon in the drawer. So, I think that that has, sort of, been a disadvantage for her. And also, I think, they just, sort of - when you have someone like Whoopi Goldberg on there, who's very bright, who's very sharp, who has this really great opinions, and they have someone like Sherri there next to Elizabeth who was already her own mess, I just think Barbara is like, you know what, we got to, sort of, upgrade. And I think, there's a chance that she won't come back next year.
COX: That show is just a show, isn't it that has to have, sort of, not rotating but revolving hosts.
Ms. SAMUELS: It's a show that has drama. I mean, that's the thing. I mean, every year, it's always the sort of thing, like who's going to stay, who's going to leave. And to think, to say that Barbara Walters has a sense of humor is just hilarious to me. And like, no, she doesn't, not when it comes to her show.
COX: Now, Joy Behar, she's the only one that's been on from the beginning.
Ms. SAMUELS: Yeah, she's the only one. I think, she and Barbara have a very good relationship and they understand each other. But everybody else will - and Elizabeth, why she's hung around I don't know. Because she is a very interesting choice for someone on the show.
COX: Speaking of interesting choices on television, our next person is someone that you know, Wendy Williams. You had lunch with her last week, as I understand it. That should have been pretty interesting. And we happen to have a clip or her chatting with the paparazzi just after your lunch with her last Friday. Here it is.
(Soundbite of clip)
Ms. SAMUELS: This is the era of Michelle Obama, Oprah, and Wendy.
Unidentified Man: Do you like Oprah?
Ms. SAMUELS: Omarosa has - I love Oprah, and I love Michelle. And I love Wendy. What I don't love is that stereotypical angry black woman.
COX: And she even gave you a little love, a little shout out on her show in the week. So, how did that go?
Ms. SAMUELS: It was great, I mean. And Wendy is funny. I've met her once before but, you know, you're always, sort of, scared, like OK, what is Wendy going to say? But actually she's really lovely in person. I mean, she says what she wants to say. She has taken this TV show very seriously. It's doing very well, which is really good and probably be brought back for the 2009 season. And she just feels like she's bringing a whole different, sort of, personality to TV, one that's not so, you know, not, sort of, the Tyra beautiful glamorous woman. She's bringing sort of more, she feels, the real woman, who's not afraid to take about how many wigs she has or, you know, why she likes wigs as oppose to weaves. That's the conversation that Wendy Williams wants to sort of have with everybody. So I think, you know, I'm glad that the show is doing well, and I like her, sort of, take on things that she's toned it down for TV. And I think that's why Omarosa was very upsetting to her because she really didn't want a cat fight, which is what it turned into.
COX: Well, that's what she got.
Ms. SAMUELS: It was. You know, I think once somebody starts the cat fight...
COX: I mean, she was in it.
Ms. SAMUELS: No, she was. She was.
COX: And she shows she could throw down with the best of them.
Ms. SAMUELS: There's no doubt she can but I think if she wants to get the big guests on, which she does, that can't be what happens.
Ms. SAMUELS: I mean, Bobbie Brown is on next weekend. She's trying to get Whitney. So, it'll be very interesting to see that happens.
COX: Wait a minute. I thought you said she was trying to get the big guests on.
Ms. SAMUELS: OK.
COX: All right. Now, moving on.
(Soundbite of laughter)
COX: Listen, violence marred a couple of recent celebrity gatherings. Jermaine Dupri held a party in Atlanta that ended with shots fired. Lil' Kim hosted a birthday party at a New York club where one of her party goers was found days later beaten to death. What is it?
Ms. SAMUELS: I mean, it's sad because you really think at this point, particularly with Jermaine Dupri that a lot of that had passed. Particularly as everybody gets older and hip-hop, you just sort of thought a lot of this had sort of gone away. But, you know, unfortunately there are elements that are going to come to big parties like that. And I know with Lil' Kim's party, it was, you know, advertised. It was announced and you're bringing in all kind of people. Now, it turns out that that young girl who was killed was killed by somebody she knew at, you know, who worked at the restaurant. So, I don't know if there's anything you could have done about that. I don't think Lil' Kim actually, I don't even know if she knew the girl. And with Jermaine Dupri, I think that was another one where it was advertised. So, you're going to bring in people who may not be, you know, the most, you know, sort of law abiding people to that.
COX: Well, this is not the first time in terms of Jermaine Dupri even.
Ms. SAMUELS: No.
COX: Where they've had some of these violence.
Ms. SAMUELS: Right. Because the last time in it with a brat who's you know, up for charges and everything. Yeah, it happens a lot and I sort of don't know if there's a way for them to get better security or if they just need to have smaller venues or maybe just not party so hard.
COX: Well, you work this beat. Do you go to some of those parties?
Ms. SAMUELS: I used to go. You know, I don't go as much now. But you know, I definitely have gone where you had to run, you had to leave and you had this sort of find the exit really quickly, whatever. I've had, that situation on the numerous occasions, which is why I don't go as much now. Because I just sort of - so, you get a little tired that...
COX: That certainly makes sense.
Ms. SAMUELS: Yes.
COX: Let's end our thing with this. Morgan Freeman recovering from a serious car accident only to find out they're public now that he's got serious marital issues going on as well.
Ms. SAMUELS: Yeah. And I assume he's had them. I mean, because the divorce has been going on for the last year. She's been very, sort of quiet. But what's interesting to me is that all those people - it's almost like "The Dark Knight" has this negative sort of thing going on with Heath Ledger dying, Christian Bale, you know, getting arrested and then now, Morgan Freeman in his accident, it's like, OK. Biggest roles in movie but the starts seem to be having their own share of issues though.
COX: Their issues, that's for sure. You always have interesting things to talk about, don't you?
Ms. SAMUELS: Thank you. Sometimes.
COX: That's why we love having you on News & Notes. Allison Samuels is an award-winning national correspondent for Newsweek magazine. She joined us from our NPR West studios right here in Culver City, California.
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