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<strong>Inside the Green Room </strong></p>

June 10, 2005 |9:13 a.m.

The boys are back (A.J., Howie, Kevin, Nick, Brian)

The last time the Backstreet Boys appeared on the “Today” show was in 2001. They talk about how it feels to be back after being off for nearly five years.

"It feels amazing! The response is overwhelming! We had time to grow up and spread our wings. The break was good for us."

Howie"[It's] awesome! To come back and have the reception we had is great. We have the best fans and it makes us feel really great."

"[It] feels surreal. The reception we get from all of our fans is incredible. We can't wait to get on the road and tour."

Nick"It's exciting, refreshing and an incredible opportunity to perform for our fans again. It's great to be back."

Brian"Man, it's amazing. What a blessing for us to have another shot. It's an honor to be back and be making music again."

The Backstreet Boys just got back from a European tour, but will kick-off their U.S. tour, Friday, July 22 at the Sound Advice Amphitheater in West Palm Beach, Fla., to promote their latest album, “Never Gone.” If you can’t wait until then you can join them at the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life of Jefferson County in Dandridge, Tenn. Click here for more details.


June 10, 2005 | 7:26 a.m.

We're all going to the cats and dogs (Al Roker)

NBC's Al Roker

Hey gang, so I got to play big time journalist a few weeks ago. I got to run with the "big dogs" of journalism when I went to Washington and the White House for an exclusive with the President and Mrs. Bush.

This Sunday at 7 p.m. ET on NBC, I am hosting a special hour I'm calling "Pet Nation." Did you know Americans spend $36 billion — with a "b" — on their pets each year? That's more than we spend on our children. For many of us, our pets are our children. While I'm pet less right now because of kids with allergies, I've known puppy love first hand for most of my life.

There have been more than 200 dogs who've called 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue home. So I decided to find out if it really is a "dog's life" when it comes to living at the White House. I got to spend some time with the first dog, Barney and his pal, Mrs. Beasley and India the cat.

It's great finding out that even at the White House, the dogs don't come when called, the kids don't feed or walk the dogs and that the pooches' owners admit to doing a little baby talk. President and Mrs. Bush could not have been nicer and lifted the veil a little bit when talking about their pets. And that's the point of the special: No matter who you are, our pets make life more livable with that special brand of unconditional love. Hope you'll watch.

And talk about pandemonium! The Backstreet Boys are back. They were on our plaza this morning and it was crazy. Folks started lining up at 3 o'clock YESTERDAY AFTERNOON!!! It's funny, one of the guys is 33-years-old. I don't think you're qualified to be a boy when you're halfway to Social Security.

That said, they sound just as good as they did when we last saw 'em five years ago. Can 98 Degrees be hard to find? How about this for a reality show — we put *NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees, Boys II Men and Menudo in a house, on an island, somewhere in the world. The one who makes it out alive gets a recording contract.


• June 9, 2005 | 10:30 a.m.

A couple of new pals (Dr. Ruth Peters, "Today" contributor)

I was on the show today doing a segment about summer learning loss. This was the subject of a seminar I did at Johns Hopkins a month or so ago. I presented the idea of doing a piece to the show and they thought it was a great idea for this time of year. So I came in last night from my home in Florida and hit a play – and then I’ll be catching a noon flight back and be seeing patients this afternoon.

You always know when a subject has hit a nerve by the number of questions the behind-the-scenes people at the show have. This was one of those. “My child’s teacher sent back eight books.” A lot of remembering about summer learning programs.

One of the people who had a lot of questions was NBC News national correspondent Alexis Glick, who was on the show doing a segment about abuse in teen relationships. I was so taken by the fact that though she just has little kids, she was so interested in the subject of learning loss. She was remembering to when she was kid and the summer reading lists and so on. I loved meeting this new correspondent and how poised and charming she was.

I also got to meet my fellow contributor Gail Saltz for the first time, which was great. She’s a psychiatrist and I’m a psychologist, and there we were in the green room in a kind of a psychotherapy corner.

• June 8, 2005 | 10:59 a.m.

Quotes from the Green Room (Alexander, "Today" show page)

Gabrielle Union, actress, : "It was fun! Anytime I get to talk about 'Bring it On', it's a good day."

Regina Hall, actress, "The Honeymooners": "Matt is sexy! Does he have a wife?"

Ray McCue, chef, Ritz Carlton New York: "Al is cuter in person."

June 8, 2005 | 10:05 a.m.

My sit-down with Robert Rodriguez (Al Roker)

NBC's Al Roker

Hey there, so Robert Rodriguez and his son, Racer ,were on the show this morning. I like to think I'm a pretty creative guy. Then I meet a fella like Robert and I think, I am ca-ca.

Here's a director who shoots, writes, edits and scores the music for all his own movies — and does it at his home, in Austin, Texas.

His film credits range from the raucous and violent "Sin City," "El Mariachi" and "From Dusk Till Dawn"  to the kid friendly "Spy Kids" movies. He has vision and great positive messages for kids in his "Spy Kids" franchise.

This new movie is called, "The Adventures Of Shark Boy and Lava Girl 3-D." The cool thing is the idea for the movie came from Robert's eight-year-old son, Racer. Like any eight-year-old, he loves superheroes and came up with some on his own. Having a cool dad who happens to be a producer/director helps getting your idea turned into a movie.

All I know is this weekend, Leila and I will be in our local Cineplex checking out the Shark and the Lava. In fact, I got a promotional 3-D Lava Girl t-shirt and I don't think Leila's taken it off in two weeks.

June 8, 2005 | 10:00 a.m.

What do men really think? (Gail Saltz)

This week I’ve been involved in a three-part series called "Men’s Sexuality, What You Both Need to Know." (It started yesterday and finishes tomorrow.) It’s very interesting to see the different reactions we get to various aspects of this topic.

For instance, yesterday we talked about sexual dysfunction early in the morning and later we came back and talked with men about wheat they’re REALLY thinking about in the bedroom. And it was the women working at the show in all capacities who were really interested in what these men think about. Some of it was surprising to them. In particular, that men think about a woman’s feelings a lot more than suspected.

Today, though, we talked about sexual dissatisfaction – and I found that it was the men working at the show were very interested in that. They had all sorts of questions for me about how to make things better.

With the new leadership team on the show, there’s a really high energy -- everyone is very excited to make the show more creative. Everyone’s very up, thinking hard about things and energetic. Of course, sexual topics tend to receive more enthusiasm than others!

• June 7, 2005 | 11:09 a.m.

Quotes from the Green Room

Steven Lamm, M.D., author of “The Hardness Factor”: "Being on the Today Show this morning offered me the opportunity to deliver a very important message that not only affects the quality of life and health of men, but also of the people who love them. My message is this: A man’s sexual performance is the best barometer of his overall health and any change in his performance is a medical concern, an important reason to contact his doctor."

Kristen Davis, actress, “Sex and the City” and “The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl”: "It was great, I love Matt. I've had Katie before but now I've had both!"

Dr. Dale Atkins, author, “Wedding Sanity Savers”: "I hope every bride-to-be will get a copy of this book to save her sanity. It's a great engagement gift!"

DJ Tony, “The Ellen Degeneres Show”: "It was incredible, lots of fun. I felt like I was in L.A., It had almost the intensity of our show, haha. The people on the Plaza were very responsive and Matt, Katie, Al and Ann were great."

• June 6, 2005 | 11:56 a.m.

Quotes from the Green Room ("Today" show page)

James Patterson, author: "Al did a very tough 3-on-1 interview and did it exquisitely."

Karen Mcaloon, HGTV's Design Remix: "It was a great experience, Ann made it very easy. Congrats to Valerie and her sister Laura [for winning the competition], I look forward to decorating the room with big bold colors."

June 6, 2005 | 10:56 a.m.

Get on the bus (Cedric the Entertainer and Mike Epps)

Rockefeller Plaza was one big bus stop for actors Cedric the Entertainer and Mike Epps. They were on the show to promote their new movie, “The Honeymooners” – a remake of the 1950’s sitcom that starred Jackie Gleason and Art Carney. Cedric actually drove a city bus – a few feet – on the plaza for his interview with Matt and Katie. Epps commented to the Today Blog about Ced’s driving skills, “I was scared as hell. I had to get close to God real quick.”

Cedric has had a CDL license to drive a bus for 17 years – although he says it was briefly suspended. “I would often have crap games on my bus – but I stole my license back,” he says. Why does Cedric have license to drive a bus? “I figured transporting people around was sort of a good business to be in if the comedy thing didn’t work out,” he says. Epps feels the movie is good family fun. He says, “People can expect to have a good time at this movie. They’ll walk out of the theater feeling good about it.”

• June 6, 2005 | 9:11 a.m.

Riding on the bus with my Dad (Al Roker)

NBC's Al Roker

Hey gang, it was a bittersweet moment for me today. Cedric the Entertainer and Mike Epps star in the new movie, “The Honeymooners.” They drove up in a 1955 New York City Transit Authority bus. It was a bus that I rode on with my Dad, Al Roker, Sr., when he was a bus driver for the Transit Authority.

He drove out of the Fifth Ave. depot in Brooklyn. It's since been torn down, rebuilt and renamed the Jackie Gleason Depot. I would go in with my dad when I was around eight-years-old. We'd start out in the locker room, where open lockers revealed scantily clad women. For the longest time, I thought women folded in thirds and had a staple in their navel.

Bus drivers would buy me candy and soda before we would hit the route. My Dad drove Flatbush Avenue and he had the same passengers day in and day out. He would introduce me to each one and we'd drive for four hours. Then we'd stop at Goody's Luncheonette for egg creams, sandwiches and halvahs.

Afterwards, Dad would sit me on his lap, and let me steer the bus on a side street. Those were some of my fondest memories of my life. It’s kinda funny that an old bus that's been in mothballs would stir those memories.

Willie Crenshaw drove the bus over here. Willie is a Transit bus driver and came bearing gifts: a blowup of my dad's last employee photo ID and a baseball cap from the Jackie Gleason Depot. It was a special day.

June 6, 2005 | 4:58 a.m.

My sit-down with Angelina Jolie (Ann Curry)

NBC's Ann Curry

NBC's Ann Curry sits down for an exclusive interview with actress Angelina Jolie to discuss her feelings towards the press, her aid work in Africa, her relationship with Brad Pitt, and making of their new movie, "Mr. & Mrs. Smith." Curry, who last interviewed Jolie in 2001, says, “This time I saw a woman who has evolved.”  The exclusive will be broadcast in three parts on "Today" beginning Monday, June 6 (7:00 AM, ET) and on "Dateline," Friday, June 10 (8:00 PM, ET).

Today airs weekdays, 7 a.m. ET on NBC.