May 26, 2004

Los Angeles 95, Washington 79

Chamique Holdsclaw had 29 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Mystics (1-2).

Houston 68, Connecticut 57

Michelle Snow, the Comets' 6-foot-5 center, clogged up the lane defensively for Houston (2-2) and her broad wingspan made it tough for any Connecticut player trying to drive the lane.

May 24, 2004

Kirk Douglas, Wife Renew Wedding Vows

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - Kirk and Anne Douglas said "I do" for the second time in 50 years at a mansion overlooking downtown Los Angeles, renewing the marriage vows the Hollywood couple first took when they eloped to Las Vegas in 1954.

The couple reaffirmed their commitment Sunday before 300 friends and family members in a traditional Jewish ceremony at the famed Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills, said Kirk Douglas' longtime publicist Warren Cowan.

The elegant, hilltop Gothic landmark is often used as a set for movies and television programs.

Guests at the star-studded event included former First Lady Nancy Reagan, Merv Griffin, Dan Aykroyd, Lauren Bacall, Tony Curtis, Vidal Sassoon, and Anjelica Huston, among others.

As Anne Douglas, 74, walked down the aisle, musicians switched from the first bars of the wedding march to Sammy Cahn's "Love and Marriage."

The star of "Spartacus" and "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" walked to the rose-adorned chupah, a canopy, to the strains of "I'm in the Mood for Love."

The couple first married on Kirk Douglas' day off while he was filming "20,000 Leagues," said Cowan, who was the best man at that wedding.

"The two met in Paris. She was here on a visa and was about to go back. He didn't want to take a chance of losing her," Cowan said. "So they went to Vegas."

The Douglas' son Peter, his wife and four children attended the ceremony, as did Kirk Douglas' son, producer Joel Douglas, from his first marriage.

His other two sons from his first marriage, actors Eric and Michael Douglas were unable to attend. Michael Douglas was accompanying his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, who is filming a new movie in Europe, Cowan said.

During the celebration Sunday evening, Douglas sang his wife a song he'd written. The title was a simple request — "Please stay in Love with Me."

May 23, 2004

Washington 68, Indiana 67

INDIANAPOLIS -- Chamique Holdsclaw put back a missed shot with 10.7 seconds remaining, leading the Washington Mystics to a 68-67 victory over the Indiana Fever on Sunday night.

With no timeouts remaining, the Fever hurried the ball up the court, but Deanna Jackson missed a driving shot, and Kristen Rasmussen missed a 15-footer as time expired.

Holdsclaw had 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Mystics.

Tamika Catchings scored the Fever's last nine points and finished with 15. Jackson had her first career double-double with 14 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. Rasmussen and Natalie Williams added 10 points each.

Alana Beard, a rookie out of Duke, and Stacey Dales-Schuman each scored 11 for the Mystics.

Jackson scored seven points and Catchings added four as the Fever scored 13 straight points and rallied to take a 32-31 lead at the break.
Mystics (0-1) at Fever (1-0) Preview
Game Info: 8:00 pm EDT, Sunday, May 23, 2004

Opposing teams know to look out for Indiana forward Tamika Catchings. But that might not be enough anymore.
The Fever will look to ride a balanced attack to another win when they host the Washington Mystics.

Catchings was held to just 14 points -- five below her career average -- on 4-for-12 shooting in the Fever's 69-67 win over the New York Liberty on Friday in the season opener.

However, guard Kelly Miller, acquired in an offseason trade with Charlotte, picked up the slack by scoring 18 points. Miller barely averaged four points per game over her first three WNBA seasons.

``When someone is out or struggling, someone else has got to pick it up. We had to do that tonight,'' Miller said. ``We have a lot of scoring threats. That's what's going to make us dangerous.''

Catchings, who has been an All-Star in both her professional seasons, averaged 19.7 points per game last year, and led the Fever in points (671), rebounds (272), assists (114), steals (72) and blocks (35).

``Having Kelly out on the court makes it much easier for me,'' Catchings said. ``People have to respect her. If you drive, and she's open, and you kick it to her, you know the ball's going in.''

Natalie Williams added 11 points and 12 rebounds Friday for the Fever.

``I looked at the stat sheet at the half, and Tamika was 1-for-7. But hey, we were tied,'' first-year coach Brian Winters said. ``It's nice when you can get some points from other places. Kelly Miller played a nice game.''

The Mystics are coming off Saturday's 71-68 loss to the Charlotte Sting in their opening game. Chamique Holdsclaw had 25 points, and Tamicha Jackson added 17 for Washington.

Rookie Alana Beard made her debut for Washington, scoring just 10 points on 3-for-10 shooting with two steals and four blocked shots. She missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer in the closing seconds.

``She's a great defensive player let's not forget that, but I think she struggled a little bit offensively,'' said coach Michael Adams, who was also making his WNBA debut. ``I don't think we had too many players making too many shots in the first half anyways."

May 22, 2004

Charlotte 71, Washington 68

Name Min FG 3Pt FT Off Reb Ast TO Stl Blk PF Pts

C. Holdsclaw 35 10-20 0-0 5-5 0 6 2 3 5 0 4 25

May 21, 2004

Fever 69, Liberty 67

INDIANAPOLIS -- Kelly Miller scored 18 points and Natalie Williams finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds, leading the Indiana Fever to a 69-67 victory over the New York Liberty in the opener for both teams Friday night.

Kristen Rasmussen made two free throws with 10.4 seconds remaining to give the Fever a 69-64 lead before the Liberty's Crystal Robinson made a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Tamika Catchings scored 14 points on 4-for-12 shooting, and Miller shot 8-for-14 from the field, including 5-for-6 in the first half, for Indiana.

Robinson and Vickie Johnson each scored 16 points each for New York.

The teams were tied at 36-all at the break, but the Fever built leads of 52-40 and 65-58 in the second half, then hung on for the win.

The Fever took control by holding the Liberty scoreless for nearly five minutes of the second half and using a 10-0 run for a 52-40 lead with 13:55 remaining.
Monarchs 72, Mercury 66

PHOENIX -- Diana Taurasi already has made the Phoenix Mercury exciting. Making them a winner is a bigger challenge.

Taurasi scored 22 points in her WNBA debut -- including a 50-foot bank shot at the halftime buzzer -- but Yolanda Griffith led the Sacramento Monarchs to a 72-66 victory Thursday night over the Mercury.

Taurasi almost never had to talk about a loss in college. She knows that it's different now.

``That's life,'' she said, ``especially when you play in the WNBA, when every team you play is a good team.''

Taurasi fouled out with 34.6 seconds left, falling a point shy of the record for a player in her first WNBA game.

Was she nervous?

``No,'' she said. ``I mean, it's just another basketball game once you throw the ball up for the tip.''

Griffith had 17 points and nine rebounds as the bigger Monarchs dominated inside, outrebounding the Mercury 34-23.

Kara Lawson added 10 points, including four free throws in the final 34.6 seconds. Ticha Penicheiro and rookie Rebekkah Brunson also scored 10 apiece for the winners.

Taurasi, the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft after leading Connecticut to three consecutive NCAA championships, made seven of 13 shots -- three of six from 3-point range. She also had three blocked shots.

``She's awesome,'' Sacramento coach John Whisenant said. ``She has always intrigued me. She has the Bird, Magic and John Stockton ability to see the floor.''

Australian Penny Taylor, the No. 1 choice in the dispersal draft of players from the defunct Cleveland Rockers, scored 21 points for the Mercury on 7-for-9 shooting.

A raucous crowd of 10,493 watched the game, the largest for Phoenix at home since the upper bowl at America West Arena was closed for Mercury games in 2001. Many of them came to see college basketball's player of the year.

``I think that's interesting,'' Taurasi said. ``I mean, whatever it takes to get the people out to the arena like it was tonight. It was great. If it takes one person to discover this great team, I think that's good.''

Taurasi made her first shot, a 3-pointer.

She had 10 points, three rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots in the first half, and would have had two more assists had teammates not missed open layups.

Taurasi split time between shooting and point guard.

``Obviously her versatility is special,'' Phoenix coach Carrie Graf. ``She's special in a lot of ways. We don't want to wear her down by having her carry the ball up the floor, score, pass and then defend a decent player at the other end.''

While the Mercury made many changes after an 8-26 seasons, Sacramento is virtually the same team that made it to the conference finals a year ago.

``As veterans, we need to use our leadership to win games,'' Griffith said.

Taurasi's second 3-pointer put the Mercury up 18-12 with 8:36 left in the half. But Phoenix didn't score over the next 3:50 and Sacramento used its superior size in a 7-0 spurt to go up 19-18 on DeMya Walker's right-handed hook with 4:58 to go.

The Monarchs' run reached 23-9 when Penicheiro made a turnaround 11-footer to make it 35-26 with 2.6 seconds to go until the break. Taurasi grabbed the inbounds pass and let fly a two-hander from beyond the halfcourt line. The shot banked in and Taurasi had a wry grin as she left the court with Sacramento leading 35-29.

Phoenix scored the first nine points of the second half. The Mercury regained the lead at 36-35 when Taylor grabbed a rebound, scored and was fouled for a three-point play. Taylor's 10-footer capped the spurt and gave Phoenix a 38-35 lead with 16:08 left.

The Monarchs went on a 12-4 run to go up 49-44 on Lady Grooms' 17-footer with 9:47 to play.

Taylor's two free throws cut it to 56-54 with 6:13 left, but Griffith scored inside, then made two free throws to ignite a 9-1 surge. Lawson's 3-pointer gave the Monarchs their biggest lead at 64-55 with 4:08 remaining.

Next up for Taurasi is a return to Connecticut for a nationally televised game that already is sold out.

Storm 88, Lynx 85

SEATTLE -- On opening night, Lauren Jackson still looked like the MVP.

Jackson scored 31 points and Betty Lennox added 18 points and 10 rebounds in her Seattle debut, leading the Storm to an 88-85 win over the Minnesota Lynx in the WNBA opener for both teams Thursday night.

Jackson, last season's league MVP, had 20 second-half points. She hit 11 of 16 from the floor and missed one of eight free throws. She also had five rebounds and two blocked shots.

``All our plays, in some shape or form, go through Lauren because she draws so much attention,'' said Sue Bird, who scored 17 for Seattle. ``At the end, it was a combination of her making some pretty unbelievable shots and for whatever reason they stopped doubling her.''

Jackson scored 16 points in the last 10 minutes, including a stretch of 14 straight for Seattle. It was her 54th straight game scoring in double figures, tying Lisa Leslie of Los Angeles for second place in league history.

``I'm just really happy we got the win,'' Jackson said. ``It was looking a little like a rainy day there but we've got some firepower on our team. We came up with a few stops and we won, which is great.''

Teresa Edwards and Katie Smith each scored 17 points for Minnesota, while rookie Nicole Ohlde added 16 and another rookie, Tasha Butts, added 13. Stacey Lovelace-Tolbe had 12.

``It's definitely a learning experience,'' Ohlde said. ``We're still learning about each other.''

Jackson took over in the closing minutes, just when it seemed the Lynx had enough momentum to win. Minnesota erased a 39-36 halftime deficit with a 17-9 run to gain control early in the second half.

Jackson had two 3-pointers and a three-point play in the final 7:32. Her two free throws with 2:34 to go pulled Seattle within a point at 80-79 and she had another three-point play to put the Storm ahead 84-82 with 1:23 remaining.

``We just keep running plays for her, so she can take it over. We get the ball in her hands,'' Seattle coach Anne Donovan said.

After Edwards made one of two free throws, she missed a 3-point try with the shot clock winding down.

Lennox, obtained in the dispersal draft from Cleveland, hit one of two free throws to put Seattle up 85-83, then slapped the ball away from Edwards when she drove. Sheri Sam came away with it, hitting two free throws to seal the win.

``She tried to lean in and get the foul but I knew she was going to shoot,'' Lennox said. ``She was too close not to shoot.''

Edwards said: ``What do you want to know? I feel like I got fouled and the ref didn't call it. It's a crucial point in the game.''

Silver Stars 64, Comets 55

HOUSTON -- Marie Ferdinand wanted to guard Sheryl Swoopes on Thursday night. She did that and a lot more, leading the San Antonio Silver Stars to a 64-55 victory over the Houston Comets.

Swoopes is the two-time WNBA Most Valuable Player and a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, including last season. Swoopes scored 32 points, 22 the second half when the Comets beat San Antonio 71-54 in the preseason.

``Marie told me after that game she wanted to guard Sheryl the next time we played,'' coach Dee Brown said. ``So we let her and she did a pretty good job.''

Swoopes, who has averaged 17.2 points throughout her career, was held to eight Thursday night. Meanwhile, Ferdinand scored 20 of her 26 points to lead a second-half comeback in the season opener for both teams.

``My goal is to be the Defensive Player of the Year this season,'' Ferdinand said. ``I was just trying to contain her. You can't totally stop her.

``But I thought I did a great job on her tonight.''

The Comets agreed.

``Ferdinand chewed us up and spit us out,'' Comets coach Van Chancellor said. ``What a way to start the season. In a new building (the Toyota Center), you're trying to impress your fans and we came out and played so horribly. We've got about as far to go as I've ever seen us need to go.''

Swoopes couldn't argue that.

``It's pretty frustrating,'' she said. ``Especially when we started off so well in the first half. We just didn't execute. We just handed this to them. We'll have to bounce back and be ready for tomorrow.''

Tina Thompson led Houston with 20 points.

``I think we came out a little too comfortable,'' Thompson said. ``We had a lead but not one big enough to get comfortable with. I'm surprised at how complacent we were in the second half. Hopefully, it'll be a lesson.''

Gwen Jackson added 17 points and nine rebounds, and Shannon Johnson scored 10 for San Antonio, which went in front with a 17-0 run.

San Antonio hit only 27.3 percent on 9-of-33 shooting the first half and trailed by 11 points at the break. But the Silver Stars hit 12 of their first 16 shots in the second half.

Ferdinand scored seven points in the decisive run to a 42-38 lead with 14:53 remaining.

The Comets made five of their first eight 3-point attempts -- including three of four by Thompson -- and led 20-15. Later in the half, Houston got its fast break going and threatened to make it a rout.

Scoring six points off the break, the Comets had a 10-2 streak to lead 34-23 with 1:40 left in the first half. They settled for that lead at the break with Thompson getting 12 points.

May 20, 2004

Poll: 'Psycho' Is Best Movie Death Ever

LONDON - In the gore stakes, Janet Leigh's shower scene in "Psycho" is the "best movie death" of all time, according to a critics' poll published Thursday.

The 44-year-old Hitchcock thriller beat other iconic movies such as "The Godfather" (22nd) and Quentin Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs" (23rd) in the poll by Total Film magazine.

Stanley Kubrick's "Dr Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb" (1964) came second, with the surreal ending when Slim Pickens rides an atomic bomb.

Other highly rated movie deaths were the fatal plunge to earth of the ape in the 1933 Fay Wray movie "King Kong," in third place, and the demise of Bambi's mother (6th) in the 1942 Disney movie of the same name.

Alan Rickman's fall from a 30-storey building in "Die Hard" (1988) comes fourth, followed by the killing of the title characters in "Bonnie and Clyde" (1967).

"Some of the deaths in the poll, like The Wicked Witch melting in 'The Wizard Of Oz' (13th), are iconic but laughable, but nearly 45 years on, 'Psycho's' shower scene is still distressing," said Total Film deputy editor Simon Crook.

"It's the sheer violence of the edit rather than any explicit gore — 70 different angles, over 90 cuts and those shrieking violins. It's a masterclass in montage and audience manipulation."

Crook added: "Knowing that the blood is Bosco's chocolate syrup and that a pulped casaba melon stood in for the stabbing noises does nothing to reduce the impact.
Cary Grant: Elegant Charmer with Dark Childhood

CANNES, France - To fellow star Leslie Caron, Hollywood legend Cary Grant was a riddle wrapped in an enigma.

To filmmaker Robert Trachtenberg, who has just made a documentary on Grant, he was a fiercely private man forever scarred by his childhood.

To his fifth and final wife, Barbara, happy memories linger of a charmer who exorcised his demons.

Their views could not be more different of the star who re-invented himself and once admitted: "Everyone wants to be Cary Grant. Even I want to be Cary Grant."

The epitome of debonair charm was born Archie Leach, a poor boy in the English town of Bristol who came home one day at the age of nine to find his mother had disappeared.

Only years later did Grant discover she was still alive and living in a mental institution after having a nervous breakdown.

He left home to join an acrobatic troupe, went to New York, starred on Broadway and then took on Hollywood.

Leslie Caron, who starred with him in "Father Goose," recalled a man who loved to make her laugh on the set.

"But there was a dark painful secret," she told Reuters Television in an interview in Cannes to publicise the documentary "Cary Grant: A Class Apart."

"He had a really difficult childhood. I think he created Cary Grant in order to surmount this," said the French star of such classics as "Gigi" and "An American in Paris."

"This persona he created was a cat and mouse character -- Don't come near me, I might scratch."

Trachtenberg, whose documentary was given its world premiere in Cannes, said: "The overriding theme was that he was not going to go back to this miserable childhood in Bristol.

"He was always going to be very careful of his money, he was going to control his exposure to the press and public.

"If he kept to himself, he was probably a lot safer," Trachtenberg said of Grant who died in 1986 at the age of 82 after a string of Hollywood classics from "The Philadelphia Story" to "Charade" and "North by Northwest."

His wife Barbara, who was 47 years younger, acknowledged there was a dark side that he confronted in psychoanalysis and by taking the hallucinogenic drug LSD.

"By the time I met him, he had been through quite a lot of analysis and quite a lot of LSD. He really felt that had helped him to exorcise some of the demons," she said.

"The LSD he used was very monitored ... It was legal at that time," she said. "It made him face some of the problems that he maybe had difficulty facing by himself."

Offering the perfect epitaph, she concluded: "We all hope to create what we would like to be. He was maybe a great deal more successful than some of us are."

May 19, 2004

Arizona Johnson Pitches 17th Perfect Game in History

NEW YORK - Randy Johnson pitched the 17th perfect game in major league history to lead the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 2-0 win over the host Atlanta Braves in the National League (NL) Tuesday.


Johnson, 40, also became the oldest player to toss a perfect game. Cy Young held the previous record after achieving the feat in 1904 at the age of 37.

Five-times Cy Young Award winner Johnson retired all 27 batters he faced while striking out 13. He threw 117 pitches, a remarkable 87 for strikes.

It was the first perfect game in the major leagues since David Cone achieved the feat for the New York Yankees against the Montreal Expos on July 18, 1999.

Johnson (4-4) became only the seventh pitcher in NL history to deliver a perfect game. Dennis Martinez of the Expos was the last man to do so in the NL, on July 28, 1991.

It was Johnson's second career no-hitter. He struck out Eddie Perez to end the game and earn a standing ovation from the 23,381 fans at Turner Field.

The Braves hit several hard balls off the Arizona pitcher but nothing came close to being a hit. He went to three balls on the count once.

Alex Cintron doubled in a run in the second inning and an RBI single by Chad Tracy in the seventh completed the scoring.

Mike Hampton (0-5) allowed eight hits and two runs in a complete game but took the loss.

May 18, 2004

Actor Tony Randall Dies at 84

NEW YORK - Tony Randall, the comic actor best known for playing fastidious photographer Felix Unger on "The Odd Couple," has died. He was 84.

Randall died in his sleep Monday night at NYU Medical Center of complications from a long illness, according to his publicity firm, Springer Associates.

He is survived by his wife, Heather Harlan Randall, who made him a father for the first time at age 77, and their two children, 7-year-old Julia Laurette and 5-year-old Jefferson Salvini.

Randall won an Emmy for playing Unger on the sitcom based on Neil Simon's play and movie. The show ran from 1970-75, but Randall won after it had been canceled, prompting him to quip at the awards ceremony: "I'm so happy I won. Now if I only had a job."

The show's charm sprang from Randall's chemistry and conflict with Jack Klugman as sloppy sportswriter Oscar Madison, with whom he's forced to share an apartment after both men get divorced.

Before that, Randall was best known as the fastidious "best friend" figure in several Rock Hudson-Doris Day movies, including 1959's "Pillow Talk" and 1961's "Lover Come Back."

The actor became a fixture on David Letterman's late-night talk shows, appearing a record 70 times on the "Late Show" alone. He made fun of his own prim image by taking part in Letterman's wacky antics, including allowing himself to be covered in mud.

And in 1993, when Conan O'Brien took over the time slot at NBC that Letterman had vacated for a new show at CBS, Randall was a guest on O'Brien's debut episode.

After "The Odd Couple," Randall had two short-lived sitcoms, one of which was "The Tony Randall Show," in which he played a stuffy Philadelphia judge, from 1976-78.

From 1981-83, he played the title role in the sitcom "Love, Sidney," as a single, middle-aged commercial artist helping a female friend care for her young daughter.

The show was based on a TV movie in which Sidney was gay; in the TV show, the character's sexual orientation was implied, but never specified. This occurred more than a decade before the much-hyped coming-out on "Ellen" in 1997, which made Ellen DeGeneres' character the first openly gay central figure on a network series.

For his television work, Randall got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1998.

In an effort to bring classic theater back to Broadway, Randall founded and was artistic director of the non-profit National Actors Theatre in 1991, using $1 million of his own money and $2 million from corporations and foundations. The company's first production was a revival of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible," starring Martin Sheen and Michael York, which hadn't been staged on Broadway in 40 years.

The next year, Randall's production of Ibsen's "The Master Builder" didn't exactly draw raves. AP Drama Critic Michael Kuchwara called it "deadly earnest — and dull."

Subsequent performances included "Night Must Fall," "The Gin Game" and "The Sunshine Boys," in which Randall reunited with Klugman, in 1998. Randall also starred in his company's Tony Award-winning staging of "M. Butterfly."

The actor also was socially active, lobbying against smoking in public places, marching in Washington against apartheid in the '80s, and helping raise money for AIDS research in the '90s.

Born Leonard Rosenberg on Feb. 26, 1920, Randall was drawn as a teenager to roadshows that came through his hometown of Tulsa, Okla.

"One night, the entire town turned out to see the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo perform Swan Lake and Sheherezade," he wrote. "I — and most of the audience — had never seen a ballet before. We stood and cheered, thinking it was a 'once in a lifetime' event."

Randall attended Northwestern University before heading to New York at 19, where he made his stage debut in 1941 in "The Circle of Chalk."

After Army service during World War II from 1942-46, he returned to New York, where he appeared on radio and early television. He got his start in movies in 1957.

He was married to his college sweetheart, Florence Randall, for 54 years until she died of cancer in 1992.

"I saw her in a bank — I never saw another girl in my life. She was gorgeous, the most beautiful girl I ever saw," Randall said in a TV interview in 1995.
Later that year, he married Harlan, who was 50 years his junior. Randall met her through his National Actors Theatre; former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani performed the ceremony.

Harlan gave birth to their first child, Julia Laurette Randall, in April 1997. Their second child, Jefferson Salvini Randall, was born in June 1998.

May 17, 2004

Anna Lee, Veteran Film, TV Actress, Dies

LOS ANGELES - Anna Lee, whose nearly 70-year acting career in movies and television spanned from her breakthrough role in "How Green Was My Valley" to an extended run on "General Hospital," died Friday of pneumonia, her son said. She was 91. Lee had been ailing for the past several months and died at her home near Beverly Hills with son Jeffrey Byron, 48, by her side, Byron said Sunday.

Paralyzed from the waist down in a car accident just a year after she began playing Lila Quartermaine in ABC's "General Hospital," Lee acted in a wheelchair for more than two decades until she left the soap last year, Byron said.

Born in Kent, England, Lee studied acting in London and was known as "the British bombshell" when touring with the London Repertory Theatre, her son said.

In the early 1930s she moved to California to work in Hollywood, and appeared in more than 60 films including "The Sound of Music" (1965), "Fort Apache" (1948) and "King Solomon's Mines" (1937).

"She was beautiful," said actress Maureen O'Hara, who starred with Lee in 1941's "How Green Was My Valley." "She came to the United States and immediately everybody fell in love with her."

O'Hara said Lee was most effective as an actress in straightforward tales of love and family life. "She made you feel, looking at her, that you belonged to the same family as her," she said.

Nearing retirement age, Lee's stint on ABC's "General Hospital" rejuvenated her, Byron said. "That was really a great elixir for her. Without a doubt it gave her much more longevity later in life," he said.

In 1982, Lee received an MBE, or Member of the Order of the British Empire award. She is to be honored with a lifetime achievement award at Friday's Daytime Emmy Awards ceremony.

Lee was married three times, first to Robert Stevenson, the director of films including "The Love Bug" and "Mary Poppins." She was married to George Stafford for two decades and wed writer Robert Nathan in 1970. Nathan died in 1985.

Lee is survived by a sister, Ruth, two sons, two daughters, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held in Los Angeles in several weeks, Byron said.
James Dean Museum Opens in Indiana

GAS CITY, Ind. - A museum chronicling the short life of actor James Dean has opened along Interstate 69 in a spot its curator hopes can attract more fans of the "Rebel Without a Cause" star.

"This is a great thing for Gas City and Grant County," Gas City Mayor Larry Leach told about 60 people who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for The James Dean Memorial Gallery. "It will definitely put us on the map as far as tourism goes."

The entrance of the art deco-style gallery is a gift shop stocked with postcards, coffee mugs, dolls and T-shirts featuring images of Dean, who died at age 24 in a 1955 car crash.

Other rooms showcase magazine covers, newspaper clippings, books, paintings, movie posters, collector plates and blankets featuring the actor.

Lifelike statues of Dean and fans' scrapbooks from the 1950s are also on display, as well as some items that belonged to the actor — including a class ring and a pair of Lee jeans.

The new museum about 50 miles southwest of Fort Wayne also houses a 35-seat theater that plays television appearances and early Hollywood screen tests.

The gallery was moved to Gas City from the movie star's hometown of Fairmount. Curator David Loehr has said he expects as many as 50,000 visitors each year.

May 16, 2004

LOS ANGELES ( -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:

ACTIONHEROES, INC. (ABC, New!) - William Shatner, Robert Wagner and Lee Majors are reportedly developing a new potential movie-of-the-week franchise in which the trio play ex-TV heroes who open a private detective agency and solve cases by playing the roles which made them famous. Not surprisingly the roles will be somewhat reminiscent of the roles that made them famous in real life: "Captain Kirk," "Jonathan Hart" and "The Six Million-Dollar Man." Fox TV Studios and Windmill Entertainment are behind the project, which is being written and produced by Craig Nevius.

May 15, 2004

Olive Osmond Buried Amid Tight Security

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah - Olive Osmond, the matriarch of the Osmond family, was buried Saturday amid tight security after rumors surfaced of a $30,000 bounty for a photograph of her in a coffin. A family spokesman said there were no apparent attempts at taking such a picture.

Fans had contacted the Osmond Brothers in Branson, Mo., to tell them a Web site had posted a rumor offering money for photo of their mother in the coffin, surrounded by her children.

"If in fact the threat and Web site we heard about was for real, I don't think they got what wanted," said family spokesman Ron Clark.

Osmond, 79, died last Sunday of complications from a stroke she suffered more than two years ago.

Clark said about 20 security personnel watched over Provo's Oak Hills Stake Center, a meetinghouse for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as 1,200 people attended the funeral service and burial in a nearby cemetery.

Publicity about the photo rumor made the family and friends wary. "Everybody was looking out of their eye twice at each other," Clark said.

Purses weren't allowed during Friday night's viewing. The family didn't close the funeral to the public, but asked the public to be observe the dignity of the traditional Mormon funeral.

Some of George and Olive Osmond's nine children achieved fame in the 1960s and 1970s, when they produced 34 gold and platinum records, and have continued to record music and make television appearances.

From 1976-79, Donny and Marie Osmond hosted the television program "The Donny and Marie Show," which their older brothers helped produce.

Donny Osmond hosts the game show "Pyramid." Marie Osmond has a daily five-hour syndicated radio show that originates from the same Provo neighborhood where the family lived.
Smarty Jones Sets Preakness Record

BALTIMORE - Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones rolled to a record-setting 11 1/2-length victory at the Preakness Stakes Saturday and moved within a race of becoming U.S. racing's first Triple Crown champion in over 25 years.

A flaming chestnut colt bred in Pennsylvania, Smarty Jones bolted cleanly from the sixth gate and was content to sit in second and stalk race-leader Lion Heart through the backstretch.

With Lion Heart fading, Smarty Jones grabbed the lead at the top of the stretch with a move to the inside and blew away the rest of the field to claim the largest margin of victory in Preakness history.

"Once I got down the backside, my only concern was the closers," said winning jockey Stewart Elliott. "I just took him to the inside and he did the rest."

Rock Hard Ten, ridden by Gary Stevens, finished a distant second, while Eddington took third, two lengths behind the runner-up. Lion Heart weakened and claimed the fourth spot in the 10-horse field.

"I thought he might win, but I never thought he'd blow them away like he blew them away," said 78-year-old owner Roy Chapman, who is wheelchair-bound and suffers from severe emphysema.

Smarty Jones's winning time of 1:55 and 2/5 over the mile and 3/16 course was off the Preakness record of 1:53 2/5 set by Tank's Prospect in 1985 and equaled by Louis Quatorze in 1996.

The victory by the unbeaten son of Elusive Quality was his eighth straight and the $650,000 Preakness paycheck pushed the colt's career earnings to more than $7 million.

An overwhelming choice by the bettors at Pimlico Race Course, Smarty Jones, who won the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago, paid $3.40, $3 and $2.60 for a $2 win ticket.

Rock Hard Ten returned $5 and $4 and Eddington, with Jerry Bailey in the saddle, paid $5.20.

"I knew he's have to come with his best game once again," said Smarty Jones trainer John Servis. "Everything I have asked him for, he's stepped right up to the plate."

Barring an injury, the next stop for Smarty Jones will be the Belmont Stakes on June 5 when the colt will try to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978 and the 12th in all.

Smarty Jones's bid for racing immortality marks the sixth time in the last eight years a colt has traveled to Belmont Park in New York with a shot at the Triple Crown.

At a mile and a half, the Belmont is the toughest of the three Triple Crown races.

Elliott felt the colt should be in fine shape for the Belmont. "He wasn't blowing hard (at the end of the Preakness)," said the jockey. "I didn't think it took that much out of him."

May 14, 2004

WNBA to expand finals; Sets 2005 All-Star game for Connecticut

The WNBA Finals will extend from a best-of-three to a best-of-five format beginning with the 2005 season.

This year's finals will remain best-of-three as it has been since 1998. In the league's inaugural season, 1997, it was a one-game championship.

``We believe an expanded finals format will provide a truer test of the championship team and further showcase the stellar talent that exists in the WNBA,'' league president Val Ackerman said Thursday.

The first round of the playoffs and the conference finals will remain best-of-threes. The expanded finals will be a 2-2-1 format with the higher seed hosting Games 1, 2 and 5.

The league also announced that its 2005 All-Star game will be played at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut, the home of the Connecticut Suns. It will be the WNBA's sixth All-Star game.

The league does not have an All-Star game scheduled for this season, which opens May 20. Last year's All-Star game was played at Madison Square Garden.

May 13, 2004

Aging Octopus Finds Love at Last

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - It looks like J-1 is in love. After meeting the very fetching and slightly younger Aurora, he changed color and his eight arms became intertwined with hers. Then, the two retreated to a secluded corner to get to know each other better. We're talking about giant Pacific octopuses here.

Aquarists at the Alaska SeaLife Center introduced the 5-year-old J-1 to Aurora on Tuesday morning. The two really hit it off. Spermatophores were seen hanging from J-1's siphon.

"We really were not sure he had it in him," SeaLife Center aquarium curator Richard Hocking said Wednesday.

Love almost passed J-1 by. At 5 years of age and 52 pounds, he's reaching the end of the line for his species, the largest octopus in the world. J-1 is in a period of decline that occurs before octopus die. His skin is eroding. His suckers have divots.

"He's not as strong as he used to be," said aquarist Deanna Trobaugh.

With so little time left, J-1 wasn't going to let the sweet Aurora slip through his eight octopus arms. While she had to make the first move, he caught on quickly, especially for an octopus who was collected on a beach near Seldovia in 1999 when he was about the size of a quarter and has lived the bachelor life since.

To get the two together, aquarium staff put Aurora in a plastic bag and then gently poured her into J-1's 3,600-gallon exhibit tank. She sank to the bottom of the tank and then made the first move, going over to J-1, who was hanging on a rock wall.

She reached out an arm and touched him. Only then did he wake up to the fact he had company. Contact made, she went back to her corner of the tank. J-1, dispelling water from his siphon to get quickly across the tank, was in hot pursuit.

"They both were gripping the back wall of the tank. He just about covered her completely," Hocking said.

The two remained intertwined for about eight hours. It's possible that during that time when J-1 was exploring Aurora's mantle with his many suckered arms that he passed his sperm packet to her, Hocking said.

What the aquarium staff does know is that when they separated, J-1 flashed some colors, turning almost white and then dark red.

"It looks like instinct took over during that encounter and they did what they were supposed to do," Hocking said.

If Aurora did get cozy with J-1 and accept his spermatophores, or sperm packet, which is delivered from the only arm without suckers, she will produce anywhere from 60,000 to 100,000 eggs, which when hatched will look like little squid.

"It is just possible, we may see several thousand fertile eggs soon," Hocking said. "We can only wait now and see what nature does."

If with many, many children, Aurora — who was about the size of a grapefruit when she was found in 2002 living inside an old tire in front of the SeaLife Center — will stop eating while she tends her eggs. She will weaken and die soon after they hatch.

Hocking said it seemed only right to give J-1 a chance to do what octopuses normally do before he dies.

In his younger days, J-1 was an easygoing sort who did not try to escape his tank a lot, Hocking said. When aquarium staff would come by to clean, the octopus would reach out and grab hold of someone's arm or a window cleaning tool.

"The goal for this was to let him lead a full life," Hocking said.

May 12, 2004

Scientists Prepare for Rare Astronomical Event

LONDON - Europe, the Middle East and much of Asia and Africa will offer prime viewing next month for an astronomical event that has not occurred for 122 years -- the transit of the planet Venus across the sun.

Weather permitting, for six hours on June 8 astronomers and the public will be able to see the planet named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty passing directly between Earth and the sun.

The event has been billed as a once in a lifetime experience because the last transit was on December 6, 1882 and the next one will not occur until June 6, 2012, but will not be visible in Britain and other parts of Europe.

"Something wonderful, something marvelous is happening on June 8th and will be witnessed and experienced by millions of people all over the world," Gordon Bromage, a professor of astronomy at England's University of Central Lancashire, told a news conference on Tuesday.

"It is an extremely rare astrological event."

The transit, when Venus will appear as an intense black dot about 1/30th the diameter of the sun, will be visible in the morning in Britain, most of Europe and Africa, later in the day in the Middle East and across Russia and India and later still in the Far East, which will get a limited view.

Scientists warn people not to look at the sun with the naked eye or through a telescope or camera because it can cause blindness. A solar filter or eclipse viewer should be used and for just very short periods.


During the transit, the orbits of Venus and the earth, which tilt at different angles, around the sun will line up exactly. It occurs four times in every 243 years. There are two December transits, eight years apart, and then 121.5 years later there are two June transits, also eight years apart. After another 105.5 years the cycle begins again.

"It is a very special period of six hours," said Bromage.

British astronomer Jeremiah Horrocks recorded the first transit of Venus across the sun in 1639.

The event is significant because it happens so rarely. Previous transits have also given scientists an opportunity to measure the scale of the universe and the distance from the Earth to the sun, which is called the astronomical unit (AU).

"Without that we couldn't measure any distances in the universe. Every other distances we measure...are all derived from the measurement of this basic yardstick -- the distance from the Earth to the sun," Bromage said.

Astronomers are also interested in the general principle of planet transits to hunt for extrasolar planetary systems.

It will allow scientists to study the famous "black drop" problem which makes timing the transits difficult. As the black disc of Venus appears on the sun it seems to have a dark neck, or become pear-shaped, for a short time. The opposite occurs when it leaves the sun.

2 UConn freshmen to transfer

STORRS, Conn. -- One month has passed since their third consecutive NCAA championship, and UConn is left to wonder where the Class of 2007 has gone after an unusual chain of events in Storrs, Conn., this past week.

Following the decision of strongly recruited guard Abby Waner to attend Duke late last week, freshmen Liz Sherwood and Kiana Robinson decided to seek a transfer and have been granted a release from their scholarship following their disappointing freshmen season.

With the departure of freshman Kia Wright -- prior to the start of the 2003-2004 school year -- the Huskies were a player shy of their official three-body freshman list throughout this past season, UConn has now seen all three of their members of the Class of 2007 depart campus early.

Sherwood announced Monday that she was leaving the university and the program due to a lack of playing time and a desire to relocate closer to her hometown of Castle Rock, Colo.

The 6-foot-4 center averaged 27 points per game at Highlands Ranch High School as a senior and was a WBCA McDonald's and Parade First Team All-American. She saw time in 25 games this past season for the Huskies and averaged 8.5 minutes per game.

Sherwood was also named Big East Freshman of the Week for the period ending Feb. 22 after adding 14 points in the Huskies' 97-42 win over Pittsburgh Feb. 19.

Her options, following a year of ineligibility due to NCAA regulations, include Vanderbilt, Colorado, Colorado State and Oklahoma.

Robinson announced Tuesday that she would be following in the footsteps of Sherwood and was granted an official release.

The 5-foot-8 guard spent three years at Brandon High School (Brandon, Fla.) before transferring to North Carolina's Laurinburg Institute for her final high school season. As a senior, she averaged 23 points per game, seven assists per game and 10 rebounds per game. She was also named a 2003 WBCA All-America Honorable Mention and a Third Team Parade All-American.

An injury to her left hamstring earlier this season led to a slow start for Robinson. She played in just 18 of UConn's 35 games this season and averaged 1.7 points per game (5.1 minutes per game) and contributed a career-high seven points against Providence Feb. 25.

Robinson's future basketball plans could include South Florida, Florida State, Alabama and Louisiana Tech.

NCAA transfer rules will see Robinson join Sheerwood in receiving three remaining years of eligibility after sitting out for an entire season at whichever institution she chooses to attend.

May 10, 2004

Ricardo Montalban's Theater Opens

LOS ANGELES - Celebrities gathered for the opening of the Ricardo Montalban Theatre, owned by a group that advocates greater roles for Hispanics in Hollywood. The theater is a "dream come true," said the 83-year-old actor, who has long sought a home for Nosotros, the nonprofit theater group he founded in 1970.

The audience Saturday included Hector Elizondo, Robert Goulet and Valerie Harper.

The 1,200-seat theater, the largest theater in the country bearing the name of a Hispanic artist, is the latest remodeling of a historic Hollywood building dating to the 1920s. Most recently named the James A. Doolittle Theatre and previously the Huntington Hartford, it is co-owned by Nosotros and a nonprofit foundation.

Nosotros — "Us" in Spanish — set goals of increasing employment for Hispanics in the industry, improving the skills of actors and attracting new talent. Its original board included Desi Arnaz, Vicki Carr and Anthony Quinn, and it became a training ground for actors such as Edward James Olmos, Salma Hayek, Lupe Ontiveros and Lorenzo Lamas.

May 09, 2004

Comedian, Actor Alan King Dies at 76

NEW YORK - Alan King, whose tirades against everyday suburban life grew into a long comedy career in nightclubs and television that he later expanded to Broadway and character roles in movies, died Sunday at the age of 76.

King, who also was host of the New York Friars Club's celebrity roasts, which had recently returned as a staple on television's Comedy Central, died at a Manhattan hospital, said a son, Robert King. He died of lung cancer, his assistant Miriam Rothstein said.

King appeared on "The Ed Sullivan Show" 93 times beginning in the 1950s.

Comedian Jerry Stiller, who knew King for more than 50 years, said King was "in touch with what was happening with the world, which is what made him so funny."

"He always talked about the annoyances of life," Stiller said. "He was like a Jewish Will Rogers."

King played supporting roles in more than 20 films including "Bye Bye Braverman," "I, the Jury," "The Anderson Tapes," "Lovesick," "Bonfire of the Vanities," "Casino" and "Rush Hour 2." He also produced several films, including "Memories of Me," "Wolfen" and "Cattle Annie and Little Britches," and the 1997 television series "The College of Comedy With Alan King."

He said he was working strip joints and seedy nightclubs in the early 1950s when he had a revelation while watching a performance by another young comedian, Danny Thomas.

"Danny actually talked to his audience," he recalled in a 1991 interview. "And I realized I never talked to my audience. I talked at 'em, around 'em and over 'em, but not to 'em. I felt the response they had for him. I said to myself, 'This guy is doing something, and I better start doing it.'"

King, who until then had been using worn out one-liners, found his new material at home, after his wife persuaded him to forsake his native Manhattan, believing the suburban atmosphere of the Forest Hills sections of Queens would provide a better environment for their children.

Soon he was joking of seeing people moving from the city to the suburbs "in covered wagons, with mink stoles hanging out the back."

His rantings about suburbia, just as America was embracing it, struck a chord with the public and soon he was appearing regularly on the Sullivan show, Garry Moore's variety show and "The Tonight Show."

Bookings poured in, and he toured with Tommy Dorsey's orchestra, played New York's showcase Paramount theater and performed at top nightclubs around the country.

He also worked as the opening act for such music stars as Lena Horne, Billy Eckstine, Patti Page and Judy Garland, whom he joined in a command performance in London for Queen Elizabeth II.

After that show he was introduced to the queen and, when she asked, "How do you do, Mr. King?" he said he replied: "How do you do, Mrs. Queen?"

"She stared at me, and then Prince Philip laughed," he recalled. "Thank God Prince Philip laughed."

King appeared in a handful of films in the late 1950s, including "The Girl He Left Behind," "Miracle in the Rain" and "Hit the Deck," although he didn't care for his roles. "I was always the sergeant from Brooklyn named Kowalski," he once complained.

He also appeared on Broadway in "Guys and Dolls" and "The Impossible Years," and produced the Broadway plays "The Lion in Winter" and "Something Different."

He wrote the humor books "Anyone Who Owns His Own Home Deserves One" (1962) and "Help! I'm a Prisoner in a Chinese Bakery" (1964).

Born Irwin Alan Kniberg, he grew up on Manhattan's Lower East Side and in Brooklyn.

"Both of them were tough neighborhoods, but I was a pretty tough kid," he recalled in 1964. "I had an answer for everything. ... I fought back with humor."

He married Jeanette Sprung in 1947 and they had three children, Robert, Andrew and Elaine Ray. When King was at the height of his career, he faced one son's drug addiction and said he realized he had neglected his family.

"It's not easy being a father," he said, "but I've been allowed a comeback."

He spent more time at home and his son conquered his addiction.

"Now everyone kisses," he said. "We show our affections."

Donny and Marie Osmond's Mother Dies

PROVO, Utah - Olive Osmond, the mother of Marie and Donny Osmond and other members of the performing family, died Sunday. She was 79.

Family spokesman Ron Clark said she died of complications from a massive stroke she suffered more than two years ago. Her condition began to deteriorate last week and family members were by her bedside.

"She was surrounded by those who made her life worthwhile and complete," Clark said. "Many of her children were at her side. She couldn't have passed with any greater love and peace than existed in that room."

She was born in 1925 to Thomas and Vera Ann Davis in Samaria, Idaho, where her father was a principal.

She later moved to Ogden, Utah, where she was a secretary at the Adjutant General Depot. There she met George V. Osmond, the soldier she married in 1944.

Both enjoyed music. George sang and Olive played the saxophone, and they passed along their love of music to their children.

Their first two sons, Virl and Tom, developed degenerative hearing losses that affected their speech. The next four sons, Alan, Wayne, Merrill and Jay, had no signs of hearing loss and began singing close four-part harmonies as children. They performed as the Osmond Brothers, producing 34 gold and platinum records in the 1960s and 1970s.

They were later joined by Donny, Marie and Jimmy Osmond.

The family toured internationally and made numerous recordings and TV appearances. From 1976-79, Donny and Marie Osmond hosted the television program "The Donny and Marie Show," which their older brothers helped produce.

Olive Osmond is survived by her husband, nine children, 55 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren.

Funeral services are pending.

May 08, 2004

NASA Rover to Circle Crater on Mars

PASADENA, Calif. - NASA is sending its Opportunity rover looping around a gaping crater rimmed with rocky cliffs that may have formed long ago in a salty extraterrestrial ocean.

Opportunity will spend the next several weeks carefully circumnavigating Endurance along a counterclockwise route and photographing its gaping interior from multiple angles.

Eventually, scientists may send the rover skidding into the crater, if they determine it's safe to do.

The crater is 430 feet across and up to 66 feet deep, its bottom carpeted in a patchwork of dunes. Walls of rock line portions of the hole, punched out by an asteroid or comet.

"There are cliffs the rover could roll off and die if we're not careful," rover driver Brian Cooper said of the route around the rim.

A newly produced panorama of the crater showed the cliffs stand 16 to 33 feet tall in places.

"It's the most spectacular view we've seen of the Martian surface, for the scientific value of it but also for the sheer beauty of it," said Cornell University astronomer Steve Squyres, the mission's main scientist.

The bulk of the bedrock is deeper below the surface, and therefore older, than a far smaller outcrop a half-mile away that Opportunity previously revealed to have formed in a wet environment suitable for life.

Scientists know the older rocks now exposed at Endurance crater are different but cannot say yet what conditions were like when they originally formed.

The now-dry region could have been permanently covered by a deep body of water, periodically flooded by a shallow swamp, capped in ice or even scattered with shifting dunes later turned to stone.

Sending Opportunity even part of the way into the crater, named for the ship that carried Ernest Shackleton's 1914 expedition to Antarctica, would enable the robotic geologist to study the rocks up close, determine their origin and learn if water played a role in its history.

But the slope and dry soil inside the crater combined could make it slippery enough to prevent the six-wheeled Opportunity from rolling back out again.

Scientists on the $835 million mission said the potential scientific payoff could justify consigning the rover to a crater it couldn't escape. Opportunity and its twin, Spirit, are expected to last at least through September.

If not, Opportunity could "toe-dip" into the crater and then roll off investigate other sites on the surrounding plains it previously studied only briefly or missed altogether.

Opportunity arrived at Endurance crater after a six-week trek from its landing site at the far smaller Eagle crater.

Both craters have given scientists glimpses below the otherwise flat terrain at the Meridiani Planum site.

Halfway around Mars, Spirit was several weeks away from a cluster of hills that could represent a scientific bonanza in its own right. The hills may have formed in an environment where water played a role, scientists said.

May 07, 2004

'Hawaii Five-0' Star Gilbert Kauhi Dies

HONOLULU - Gilbert Lani Kauhi, a member of the original cast of the 'Hawaii Five-0' television series, died Monday. He was 66.

His mother, Emma Kauhi, said the actor died in Hilo Medical Center of complications from diabetes.

Kauhi, nicknamed Zulu, was a popular Waikiki beachboy when he joined the CBS police drama for its first season. He was cast as Detective Kono Kalakaua, the burly Hawaiian sidekick to the show's star, Jack Lord.

He stayed with the show for four seasons but was fired after an altercation with the show's publicist.

The show helped launch a successful entertainment career for Kauhi, who sang and joked to packed houses in and around Waikiki.

'I know those were his enjoyable days,' his mother said. 'He was always full of excitement and he had many friends.'

Actor James MacArthur, who played Danny 'Danno' Williams on the show, wept when he learned of the death.

'I have many happy memories of Zulu,' he said. 'On 'Five-0,' he helped us understand how to say those Hawaiian words. I'll miss him.' "

May 06, 2004

Deleted the BAFTA story from my H2H fan fic page because too many "weirdies" were torturing me for the password. Will begin e-mailing it to interested and "normal" parties in the future.
Fever 86, Houston 63
Fever easily win preseason opener

New coach Brian Winters was a little surprised with what he saw during the Indiana Fever's first exhibition game Wednesday night. Probably so were the 3,420 in attendance, including Indiana Pacer Al Harrington.

The Fever led by as many as 28 points en route to an 86-63 win against the Houston Comets.

"I was expecting a closer game, but it didn't turn out that way," Winters said.

The Fever took the lead for good at 9-7 on Kelly Miller's pass to fellow starter Deanna Jackson for a layup. Miller had a game-high 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting from her point guard position.

Miller and Jackson were two of six new Fever players to see action. Fever free-agent pickup Astou Ndiaye-Diatta was announced as a starter but did not play due to a bruised right knee.

Tamika Catchings, the Fever's leading scorer last season, had 17 points, nine rebounds and four of her team's 23 assists.

Indiana shot 57.9 percent from the field, after averaging 41.7 last season.

Tamika Catchings

• Profession: Basketball player for the Indiana Fever of the WNBA.

• Age: 24.

• Hometown: Duncanville, Texas.

• College: University of Tennessee, Class of 2001.

• Honors: All-American and College Player of the Year at Tennessee; WNBA Rookie of the Year, 2002; WNBA All-Star, 2002, 2003; All-WNBA first team, 2002, 2003; member of USA Women's National Team, 2004; attended 2004 State of the Union speech as a representative of U.S. Olympians.

Model citizen
Indiana Fever star Tamika Catchings helps the league dress up its image.

Iman. Naomi. Tyra.

Now Tamika?

Well, maybe not. But the Fever forward sure felt like a supermodel on a recent promo film shoot for the WNBA.

Catchings, 24, was flown down to Miami in early March along with other top players showcased in the "This Is Who I Am" campaign.

The results can be seen on the Web, in print and on TV. The first spot is being shown through the first two rounds of the NBA playoffs and conference finals on ESPN, TNT and ABC.

There is the 6-foot, 1-inch Catchings, looking every bit the cover girl.

"Everybody is like 'Oh, you look so beautiful,' and I'm like 'Dang, I don't always look beautiful? Tell me!' " Catchings joked. "Makeup makes a difference."

Good looks and fame aside, Catchings hardly leads the glamorous life.

She spends about 15 minutes getting ready most mornings. After the alarm clock goes off, she takes a shower, gets dressed and makes her bed before heading out the door. Most of the time she wears her hair in braids, so all she has to do is put them back in a ponytail.

"I don't wear makeup. I wear Chap Stick or lip gloss," said Catchings, who defines the natural look.

But for the shoot, she sat in the makeup artist's chair for about an hour while lipstick, blush and "eye stuff" like mascara were applied to her face. Her eyebrows were also plucked.

"I was like, 'OK, are we done yet? Are we done yet?' " Catchings said. "And they were like, 'One more thing, one more thing.' "

In her own words, it was all part of those "crazy" few days. Catchings had her clothing fitting on a Saturday, then had to fly back to Indiana for a basketball camp she was holding Sunday. On Monday, she flew back to Miami to do the shoot and came home Tuesday.

The shoot was held in a warehouse with different settings such as a basketball court, a workout area and a place with just a white backdrop for the players to pose all dressed up.

"We had specific stations that we wanted to run the players through to show the gamut of roles that they play in their lives," said Teri Schindler, vice president of programming and marketing for the league.

The fashion shoot is what made it into the commercial. In the first version, Catchings was wearing camouflage pants in white, light green and pink. A pinkish-beige tank top and green hat completed the ensemble. Set to the music of rocker Fefe Dobson, the 30-second spot features a smiling Catchings tipping the hat to the camera.

"That was probably the coolest one because they had the music going and the lights flashing," Catchings said. "You know the models, how they come down with their little walk? It was like that. I felt like a supermodel."

She wore more natural makeup to go with her workout clothes. For that shoot, she donned a pair of black-and-white capri pants and a tank top with the words "I will always try my hardest."

In real life, Catchings rarely picks out her own outfits. She leaves that to her older sister, Tauja.

That was how it worked for the shoot. After giving their sizes, the athletes had their pick from a variety of outfits, but had to try them on for a group outside the dressing area.

"You've gotta go through this whole little process," said Catchings, who did not have veto power. "Actually, all the outfits I tried on were fine. I got OK'd right away."

Catchings tried on three outfits and a bathing suit, but missed the shoot on the beach when she came back to Indiana for her camp. That was fine with Catchings, who wasn't crazy about the bright orange two-piece with boy shorts.

"I don't wear bikinis," she said.

Fever forward Natalie Williams has been featured in a commercial before, albeit not as glamorous as Catchings' recent shoot. She enjoyed the process, calling it a chance to do something outside of basketball.

"I think it's great they're putting them out there," Williams said. "I think it's important for the WNBA."

So what did Williams think of her teammate's look?

"She looked so cute in her hat," Williams said. "It was good; it was her personality."

Schindler said they "overshot," taking plenty of still photos and video for use in other projects. Photos of Catchings in various poses and outfits have already been featured on the Fever's Web site.

More to offer

"I think these players show you that they're more than just No. 24 on the court," says Fever General Manager Kelly Krauskopf.

A second commercial is planned, and the WNBA has also done subsequent shoots and will incorporate top draft picks Diana Taurasi and Alana Beard. During the WNBA season, those spots will run on ESPN2, ABC and NBA-TV.

The league's most recognizable and accomplished players were chosen by the WNBA in conjunction with their teams. Catchings, who has career averages of 19.2 points and 8.3 rebounds, was also featured in last year's "This Is Who I Am" campaign, wearing athletic garb.

"In 2002, Tamika was Rookie of the Year, she was an All-WNBA first-teamer and All-Star both years and one of the original seven core members of the U.S. Senior National Team," Schindler said. "So I think she represents the absolute best of the best in female athletes."

With superstar already on her resume, why not add supermodel?

A few WNBA players have already tried, as a good majority are tall and fit like Catchings.

In 1996, Los Angeles Sparks center Lisa Leslie signed a modeling contract with Wilhemina Models Inc. The 6-foot-5-inch All-Star center has modeled designs from Armani to Anne Klein. Also pursuing a modeling career is 6-4 Tangela Smith, who plays for the Sacramento Monarchs.

Catchings has no such plans, but said the shoot was a good experience. She is not a spokesperson yet like Leslie, who is featured in commercials for Subway.

"Hopefully, if I get to do more commercials, people can look at this and be like, 'Oh yeah, she's good at being in front of the camera,' even though I didn't say anything," Catchings said.

Good work off the court

She stays plenty busy with basketball and charity work. She's in the process of starting the Catch the Stars Foundation, which will benefit boys and girls ages 6-19, and is a Big Sister. She has received the league's Community Assists Award on three occasions.

Krauskopf said that is how Catchings really shines.

"Tamika's so genuine that she projects a warmth about her that people feed off of," Krauskopf said. "It's not fake, and people know that. I think part of that is what makes her such a great ambassador for the sport and for our team."

No matter what she looks like.

May 05, 2004

UConn freshman class transferring out

STORRS, Conn. (AP) -- Two freshmen on Connecticut's national championship team have decided to transfer, leaving coach Geno Auriemma's powerhouse program without a senior class in 2007.

Liz Sherwood, a 6-foot-4 center from Castle Rock, Colo., is considering programs closer to home at Colorado and Colorado State. She also has expressed interest in Vanderbilt and Fresno State, team officials said.

Kiana Robinson, a 5-8 guard from Brandon, Fla., is considering enrolling at Florida State, Alabama, Louisiana Tech and Texas.

Sherwood and Robinson were part of a three-player recruiting class that included 5-7 guard Kia Wright from Amityville, N.Y., but Wright left UConn last summer before starting her freshman year.

Auriemma had no senior class last year after Kennitra Johnson -- his only recruit for the class of 2003 -- transferred to a Division II school in Indiana after her sophomore season, but he's never had an exodus this big this before.

``This is a unique situation, the first time since I've been here at Connecticut,'' Auriemma said. ``Sometimes you just make mistakes and it's best that you just fix them and move on.''

The Huskies have won five national titles since 1995 and capped their third straight last month with a win over archrival Tennessee. Sherwood and Robinson played behind a talented group of sophomores Ann Strother, Barbara Turner and Wilnett Crockett. Strother and Turner are starters and Crockett is a solid contributor in the post.

The Huskies also lost senior All-American Diana Taurasi. Next season's senior class includes Ashley Battle, a speedy guard known for her defensive play, and 6-3 post player Jessica Moore, who tore a knee ligament in the NCAA title game but is expected to recover in time for the season.

Auriemma rebuilds next season with three highly touted recruits, including 6-1 forward Charde Houston of San Diego, the California state girls' scoring leader.

In 25 games last season, Sherwood averaged 4.3 points and 1.8 rebounds in 8.5 minutes a game. She did not play in the Huskies' final four NCAA tournament games.

``The expectations that we as coaches had for Liz and what Liz had in mind were two different things,'' Auriemma said. ``So it was obvious it was not going to work for either of us. We wish her the best.''

Robinson averaged 5.1 minutes over 18 games, all in a reserve role.

Duke's Livingston declares for NBA draft

DURHAM, N.C. -- One of Duke's most promising prospects may never put on a Blue Devil uniform.

Six-foot-7 point guard Shaun Livingston declared himself eligible for the NBA draft Monday. With the decision, Livingston becomes the first Duke signee ever to forgo a collegiate career completely in favor of the NBA.

"He contacted [coach Mike] Krzyzewski [Monday]," said Chuck Weston, the Peoria Central High School athletic director. "He does not have an agent."

By not hiring an agent, Livingston maintains his college eligibility. Unlike college players who must withdraw from the draft prior to the June 17 deadline, Livingston can go through the draft and still attend Duke as long as he does not enlist the services of an agent. Such a move, however, is considered unlikely.

According to Livingston's grandfather Frank, he, Shaun and father Reggie Livingston have yet to sit down and discuss the decision.

Frank Livingston indicated that there is still a possibility that his grandson would opt for the Blue Devils after all. Livingston has been vociferous in his encouragement for Shaun to go to college.

"I think he needs to go to college a year at least because he's too immature for the NBA," he said. "I think there's a good chance that he's going to come back to Duke when he finds out if he's immature like I'm telling him."

Livingston said that Deng's decision to jump to the NBA had a minor impact on his choice. Both Deng and Livingston are projected as top-five picks in the upcoming draft. Many speculate that they will be the first two players chosen after Connecticut center Emeka Okafor and Atlanta prepster Dwight Howard.

"I can't say that it didn't [affect me]," Livingston told the Peoria Journal-Star Monday in reference to Deng's decision. "It wasn't a main factor, but the chance to play with him would have been great."

However, the final decision came after talking with Chicago trainer Tim Grover, an elite workout guru who has trained Michael Jordan, among others.

"The deciding factor was the opportunity in front of me," Livingston told the Journal-Star. "I've based my life on seizing the moment."

Livingston also mentioned in the Peoria Journal-Star article that he would not be attending the Chicago pre-draft camp at the Moody Bible Institute, instead choosing to have individual workouts.

Livingston averaged 17 points and six assists per game last year in leading Peoria Central to its second consecutive state championship. Blessed with uncommon height, vision and passing abilities, Livingston is the nation's consensus No. 2 high school player.

The decision was part of a Black Monday of sorts for college basketball. In addition to Livingston, two other highly rated prep players, 6-foot-5 wing J.R. Smith and 6-foot-9 power forward Al Jefferson, declared for the draft.

If both Livingston and Deng remain in the draft, Duke will have just eight scholarship players for the 2004-05 season.

Majerus joins ESPN as college hoops analyst

BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) -- Former Utah coach Rick Majerus is joining ESPN as a college basketball analyst.

Majerus led the Utes for 15 seasons before leaving them in January because of heart problems.

His Utah teams made 10 trips to the NCAA tournament, including an appearance in the 1998 national championship game.

Majerus, vacationing in Hawaii, said in a conference call Tuesday that he feels good and wanted to take the network job to stay close to the sport.

``I really am very lucky, because if they put this job out on one of those reality shows there'd be a line from Los Angeles to New York to sign up for the position I have,'' he said.

Majerus is not interested in getting back into coaching any time soon. Instead, he wants to give his new profession a shot.

``I'm not going to entertain any prospect of going back to coaching now,'' he said. ``I always wanted to go into broadcasting. I'm going to see if I like it.''

May 04, 2004

Airline Passenger Finds Frog in Her Salad

WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Australian carrier Qantas said Tuesday it has changed its lettuce supplier after a passenger on a flight from Melbourne to Wellington found a live frog in her greens.

The one-inch Australian whistling tree frog didn't get a chance to hop away. The woman plunked the lid back on her meal preventing any escape.

The Qantas plane's crew notified the Quarantine Service while the plane was still in the air and officials were waiting when it landed at Wellington Airport.

"I'm afraid the frog was euthanized" in a freezer, service general manager Fergus Small told National Radio.

Quarantine officials made a check of the airplane "but no other frogs were detected," he said.

A Qantas spokesman told National Radio that the airline had changed its supplier since the February incident. Tree frogs were common in the area where the lettuce was grown.

May 02, 2004

Singer Brad Cotter Wins 'Nashville Star'

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A 33-year-old man from Alabama who has been trying to land a major label record deal for years was chosen as the winner of the reality talent show, "Nashville Star," which last year launched country singer Buddy Jewell's career.

Brad Cotter edged out two other finalists, George Canyon and Matt Lindahl, to win the title and a recording contract with Sony Music Nashville on Saturday.

As a youth, Cotter recorded five gospel albums and enjoyed regional success in Auburn, Ala. He moved to Nashville in 1993, where he has been singing demo tapes and writing songs for publishing companies.

"It's kind of strange," Cotter said. "You can never tell how it's going to happen. ... I'm living proof that God has a plan for his children, and no man can change his will."

Cotter's debut single, "I Meant To," which he co-wrote and performed during the finale, will ship to country radio Monday.

"Nashville Star" combines country music with reality television by placing contestants in a wired house on Music Row as they compete for a recording contract with Sony Music Nashville. Cameras capture their daily interaction and weekly live performances, which are judged by USA Network viewers and industry professionals.

Last year, the winner was Jewell, a 42-year-old father of three who had been rejected by every major record label in Nashville. His self-titled album for Sony debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard country charts and spawned a No. 3 single, "Help Pour Out the Rain (Lacy's Song)."
Comets G Cooper retires again after re-injuring shoulder

Houston Comets guard Cynthia Cooper, one of the best players in WNBA history, retired Saturday due to a recurring shoulder injury.

The two-time league MVP and three-time scoring champion separated her surgically repaired right shoulder and re-injured the rotator cuff tendon in a recent practice.

After discussing the matter with the team's medical staff, she thought it was best to retire.

"I don't want to continue going on and off the injured list because that would hurt the team," the 41-year-old said. "This is the best for everyone - my family and the team. It's the right time to move on with my career off the court."

Cooper, who led the Comets to the first four titles in WNBA history, underwent season-ending surgery to the torn rotator cuff in June.

The Southern California product returned to the Comets on April 29, 2003 after compiling a 19-23 record in 1 1/2 seasons as coach of the Phoenix Mercury.

Cooper averaged 16.0 points per game before going down last season. In her first four years, she averaged 21.1 points, 4.8 assists and 3.3 rebounds in 120 games over four seasons and was an All-WNBA First Team selection each year.

Cooper won MVP honors in 1997 and 1998 to go with scoring titles in 1997, 1998 and 1999.
Smarty Jones Wins Kentucky Derby

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Here we go again. A nice but hardly heralded horse wins the Kentucky Derby. That's what happened last year with Funny Cide, and it happened again Saturday with Smarty Jones.

Splashing his way past Lion Heart in the stretch, the 3-year-old chestnut colt won America's premier horse race and is well on his way to winning racing fans' hearts.

"He seems to be the people's horse," Derby rookie rider Stewart Elliott said, echoing the sentiments of those who watched Funny Cide go for the Triple Crown last year.

The victory triggered the biggest payday in the sport, with the undefeated favorite earning a $5 million bonus from Oaklawn Park along with the Derby winner's share of $854,800.

Smarty Jones ran his record to 7-for-7 and became the first unbeaten Derby winner since Seattle Slew in 1977. Seattle Slew went on to win the Triple Crown, a feat Smarty Jones will attempt when he heads to the Preakness in two weeks.

"I don't think this horse has ever got the respect he was due," 77-year-old owner Roy Chapman said.

Probably because his story is a doozy.

Smarty is a Pennsylvania-bred who nearly died when he slammed his head on an iron bar; his trainer and jockey are based at a small-time park; his owners refused a blank check to sell him.

He doesn't have the regal bearing of a champion. He's smallish and has goofy bangs that brush the top of his eyes. But nothing has stopped him so far.

Even over a sloppy track at Churchill Downs — the first in 10 years — Smarty Jones raced just behind pace-setter Lion Heart. As the 18-horse field came off the final turn, the colt moved up to challenge for the lead. Under Elliott, Smarty Jones staged his patented stretch surge with an eighth of a mile to go and pulled away.

He won by 2 3/4 lengths over Lion Heart, with Imperialism, trained by 21-year-old Kristin Mulhall, third.

"At the three-eighths pole I was biding my time," Elliott said. "I knew I had a loaded gun beneath me. He straightened up, switched leads and I figured it was time to go.

"When I had the chance, I took it. I was pretty confident when we passed Lion Heart," he said.

The winning time for the 1 1/4-mile Derby was a slow 2:04.06 over the fourth sloppy track in Derby history. Though it didn't rain during the race, there was a downpour two hours earlier that left the track a muddy mess and filled the infield with small lakes.

That his first Derby was raced over slop hardly mattered to winning trainer John Servis: "That was a beautiful race. Picture perfect."

Mike Smith, aboard Lion Heart, concurred: "I had a great trip, but Smarty Jones just had another gear."

Servis and Elliott, a pair of Philadelphia Park regulars, became the first trainer-jockey duo to win the Derby on their first try since favorite Spectacular Bid won in 1979 for trainer Bud Delp and jockey Rodney Franklin.

And even though the favorite won, until the gates opened, the race was considered a wide- open affair with at least a half dozen horses capable of winning, including Blue Grass Stakes winner The Cliff's Edge and Wood Memorial winner Imperialism.

In the stands, Chapman got out of his wheelchair and shouted, "I can't believe it!" and accepted hugs from Servis, friends and relatives. Chapman, hooked up to an oxygen tank because of his emphysema, then sat back down, taking deep breaths to calm himself, but smiling the whole time.

"We've never raced at this level," said Chapman, a retired auto dealer who got into the horse business in the mid 1980s. "Never thought we would get here until we met Smarty. And this guy sitting next to me." He pointed to Servis.

Chapman and his wife, Pat, will now collect a $5 million bonus from Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., because their horse swept the Rebel Stakes, Arkansas Derby and Kentucky Derby. With the huge payoff, Smarty Jones becomes racing's sixth richest horse with earnings of $6,733,155.

The 4-1 favorite paid $10.20, $6.20 and $4.80 in becoming just the fifth undefeated Derby winner. Lion Heart paid $8.20 and $5.80. Imperialism returned $6.20 to show. Limehouse was fourth, followed by The Cliff's Edge, Action This Day, Read the Footnotes, Birdstone, Tapit, Borrego, Song of the Sword, Master David, Pro Prado, Castledale, Friends Lake, Minister Eric and Pollard's Vision. Quintons Gold Rush did not finish.

The crowd, 140,054, was the smallest since 1994, when Go for Gin won over the last sloppy track.

Last year, Funny Cide became the first New York-bred to win the Derby. Smarty Jones becomes just the second Pennsylvania-bred — Lil E. Tee in 1992 was the first. Funny Cide also had a first-time Derby trainer and owners, but any other similarities end there.

Indeed, any horse would be hard-pressed to come up with a made-for-TV story to match Smarty's. And it all started just months after he was born at the Chapmans' Someday Farm in Chester County, Pa., the lush countryside outside Philadelphia.

First, original trainer Bob Camac and his wife were murdered at their farm in New Jersey, and the Chapmans nearly got out of the business altogether. They sold off most of their stock and kept only two horses — one was Smarty Jones. He was sent to Florida to be broken for racing, and when he returned last year he was sent to Servis, a friend of Camac's.

Last July, misfortune struck again.

While schooling in the starting gate at Philly Park, the colt suddenly reared up and slammed his head on an unpadded iron bar.

"Oh my God, this horse killed himself," Servis recalled thinking.

He fractured his skull, shattered orbital bones and nearly lost his left eye. He was nursed back to health at the New Jersey Equine Clinic. To this day, one can still see the dents in his head.

Smarty Jones finally made it to the races, and hasn't stopped running since. He broke his maiden on Nov. 9, winning by 7 3/4 lengths at Philly Park. He won by 15 lengths two weeks later — and that's when Servis knew he had himself a Derby horse.

Then it was on to New York, where he won the Count Fleet at Aqueduct before Servis took him to Arkansas. Smarty Jones then won the Southwest Stakes and Rebel Stakes, but still hadn't earned any graded stakes money, something that was needed to make the Derby field.

A win in the Grade 2 Arkansas Derby was crucial, and Smarty came through — in the rain. He blew past Borrego and won by 1 1/2 lengths and it was on to Churchill Downs.

And now it's on to Baltimore.

May 01, 2004

Comets re-sign C Michelle Snow

Center Michelle Snow, the WNBA's Most Improved Player in 2003, re-signed with the Houston Comets on Friday.

Terms were not disclosed.

The 6-5 Snow averaged 9.2 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.82 blocks in 34 games last season, her second in the league. She set franchise records with 263 total rebounds and 62 blocks.

Snow was selected 10th overall in the 2002 WNBA draft and averaged 3.9 points and 3.7 rebounds as a rookie.