November 30, 2004

'Jeopardy!' Whiz Finally Meets His Match

NEW YORK - "Jeopardy" whiz Ken Jennings finally met his match after a 74-game run as a pop culture icon who made brainiacs cool, beaten by a woman whose own 8-year-old daughter asked for his autograph when they first met.

As someone who always has prepared his own tax returns, Jennings was tripped up in Final Jeopardy by this answer: Most of this firm's 70,000 seasonal white-collar employees work only four months a year.

The correct reply: "What is H&R Block?" But Jennings guessed Federal Express, ending his remarkable run as the biggest winner in TV game show history with a haul of $2,520,700.

Having an accountant-friend who's nearly impossible to reach at tax time paid off big-time for his conqueror, California real estate agent Nancy Zerg, who ousted the baby-faced killer competitor in the episode airing Tuesday.

During his streak that began June 2, Jennings usually had opponents so thoroughly beaten that the Final Jeopardy question was meaningless to the outcome. But Zerg was within striking range at that point, with $10,000 to Jennings' $14,400.

The champion had to think; out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Zerg had quickly written her reply.

"I was pretty sure before the music ended that was the ballgame," he said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Her correct reply gave Zerg $14,001 to Jennings' $8,799.

Even before that, she had needed an unusual display of Jennings fallibility to stay in the game. He twice answered wrong on Daily Double questions, which give contestants a chance to make big wagers and increase their leads.

Maybe that's why he paused, ever so slightly, when asked in the AP interview Tuesday whether he had lost or been beaten. He then graciously gave Zerg credit.

"I would have dwelt on it if I missed something that I knew or didn't phrase it in the form of a question," said Jennings, a computer software engineer from Salt Lake City. "It was a big relief to me that I lost to someone who played a better game than me."

Zerg, a former actress who lives in Ventura, Calif., told the AP that she psyched herself up before the game by repeating to herself: "Someone's got to beat him sometime, it might as well be me."

Hanging out backstage with fellow contestants, she saw some Jennings opponents had essentially lost before the game. She heard one person say that it looked like he was playing for second, and another just wishing not to be humiliated.

"I heard another one say, `It's no great sin to lose to Ken Jennings,' and they went in and lost to Ken Jennings," she said. "I thought, `That's no way to play the game.'"

Some stats: Jennings' average daily haul was $34,063.51. He toyed with the previous daily record of $52,000 — tying it four times — before shattering it with a $75,000 win in Game 38. He gave more than 2,700 correct responses.

He combined an extraordinary breadth of knowledge, uncanny skill at sensing the precise instant to ring his buzzer, and a sharp competitive instinct hidden behind his grin and polite manner.

It made many of the games boring. But "Jeopardy!" executives aren't complaining; ratings were up 22 percent over the same period last time.

Jennings said he'd been thinking about walking away after some future milestone — 100 wins, perhaps, or $3 million or $4 million in winnings. He said there were about a dozen games where one reply made the difference between winning and losing.

"The fact that they had all fallen my way was beginning to worry me," he said, "because at some point the law of averages was going to kick in."

He wasn't prepared for how much he'd miss the daily competition, though.

"It didn't really hit me that was going to be the hard part," he said. "I thought the hard part would be the loss."

The loss is actually a distant memory and not really a secret: The show was taped in early September and news leaked right away. Video clips of his loss appeared Monday on the Internet.

Neither Jennings nor Zerg expect the record will be broken.

"It's not because things fell the right way," she said. "It's because he's that good."

Jennings, a Mormon, will donate 10 percent of his winnings to his church — and a European vacation is planned, "probably a really nice one." He'll hardly slip back into anonymity; he's visiting David Letterman and Regis Philbin this week, has a book deal and is open to any commercial sponsorship opportunities.

He's in a new tax bracket now, and H&R Block is making sure he'll always remember the company for other reasons: It has offered him free tax preparation for life.
Death Hits Hard

LITCHFIELD -- Edward "Teddy" Ebersol and his brothers were raised amid fame and power, but it didn't show.

Teddy played sports locally and was an altar boy at church. His father, NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol, delighted in piling Teddy and his brothers, Charles and Willie, on his tractor for Litchfield's annual Memorial Day parade.

And so it was that news of 14-year-old Teddy's presumed death in a fiery plane crash struck deeply in the community, where his parents - Ebersol and actress Susan Saint James - are well-known and well-liked. Teddy, their youngest, was remembered Monday as a sweet, gregarious kid who liked to play with dogs and who loved baseball.

"The whole town is upset," said Charles Kafferman, a co-owner of West Street Grill, a popular Litchfield restaurant that the family frequented. "It's a small community. They touched a lot of lives here."

Kafferman paused and corrected himself: "They touch a lot of lives here."

The crash happened Sunday morning in Colorado as a chartered jet carrying Dick, Charles and Teddy Ebersol slid off the runway of the Montrose Regional Airport near the Telluride ski resort. The pilot and a flight attendant on the 18-seat jet were killed. The co-pilot was reported to be in critical condition Monday night.

The plane, which witnesses said never got off the ground, skidded sideways into a nearby road, where the cockpit split from the fuselage. Charles Ebersol, 21, pulled his 57-year-old father from the blazing wreckage. Late Monday, searchers found what they suspected to be Teddy's body under the wreckage of the airplane.

Doug Percival, a driver at a towing service who was one of the first to arrive at the scene, said Charles Ebersol was screaming for help and saying his brother was still on the plane

"Can you please help get him out?" Ebersol pleaded, according to Percival.

Dick Ebersol remained hospitalized Monday in Grand Junction, Colo., recovering from broken ribs, a broken sternum and fluid in his lungs, an NBC official said on condition of anonymity. Charles Ebersol suffered a broken hand and sore back and is also hospitalized there.

In Litchfield Monday, at the post office, restaurants and quaint shops along the well-known green, people were saddened by the family's loss.

The Ebersols have deep ties in the region. Dick Ebersol grew up in Torrington and Litchfield. His late father, Charles Ebersol, worked as an attorney and municipal court judge in Torrington for decades. Peter Ebersol, Dick's brother, works in the Torrington law firm of McCormick and Ebersol.

Brian McCormick, a firm partner, said Dick Ebersol and Saint James tried to live as normal a life as possible, enrolling their sons in local sports programs and taking them to community events such as an annual pasta dinner.

"If they were in town, you'd always saw them there," McCormick said. "They just seemed like very ordinary people in town."

Dick Ebersol and Saint James also have given generously of both their time and money to local nonprofit organizations, including the Northwest YMCA and Warner Theatre in Torrington.

"They're a great family in town," said Ted Murphy, owner of E.J. Murphy Real Estate in Litchfield. "They've always supported all the charities here."

Dick Ebersol became NBC's director of late-night programming in 1974 and replaced Lorne Michaels in the early 1980s as executive producer of "Saturday Night Live." He became president of NBC Sports in 1989 and recently signed a contract that will keep him at the network through 2012.

Ebersol is best known for his love of the Olympics. A protege of Olympics-coverage pioneer Roone Arledge, he worked as an ABC researcher at the 1968 Grenoble Winter Games and carried on Arledge's philosophy of presenting the Olympics through storytelling, rather than emphasizing results.

But although he is one of the few media executives whose name is instantly recognizable, friends said Ebersol wanted his boys to grow up as members of their community.

"They're community people," said Litchfield resident and Superior Court Judge Charles Gill, who knows Saint James from work she's done with children's rights programs that he backed. Gill recalled the former star of the popular TV comedy "Kate and Allie" was nine months pregnant with Teddy when she narrated a public television program.

"They adore their children, and their children are nice people," Gill said of Ebersol and Saint James. The Ebersol boys, he said, "seem to have their mom and dad's flair for life - and their courage."

"They weren't the children of celebrities - they were children of wonderful parents who happened to be celebrities," said James O'Shea, another co-owner of the West Street Grill.

Teddy was proper and exceedingly polite, but not overly formal, Kafferman said. He was cheerful, and often charming. Like his parents, he'd go out of his way to say hi when he was in town, O'Shea and Kafferman said.

"He'd come up, shake our hand, look you in the eye and call you mister or sir," O'Shea said.

"I used to kid that he would one day run for president," Kafferman said.

Teddy also was recalled fondly at The Gunnery, the private school he attended in nearby Washington. A junior who declined to give her name recalled that Teddy, who was a freshman, was gregarious and loved to play with dogs on campus.

"He was always walking around saying hi to everyone," the girl said.

Fifteen-year-old Richard Huang, who lived in a dorm near Teddy's, got to know him briefly this fall on the cross-country team.

Huang remembered how Teddy would ask his fellow students to play baseball with him with a tennis ball in the gym. And how he would let others hold his beloved baseball glove, but forbade the boys from sliding their hands inside it.

"That glove is so important to him," Huang said.

It wasn't until Monday night that searchers using heavy equipment found a body matching Teddy's description at the snow-covered crash site.

The Ebersols had traveled to Colorado from a family gathering in Los Angeles, where the University of Notre Dame played a football game Saturday night against the University of Southern California. Willie Ebersol, 18, is a freshman at USC, and Charles Ebersol is a senior at Notre Dame.

The family had stopped to drop off Saint James in Colorado, where they have a home. A heavy snowstorm had eased up before the plane prepared to take off for South Bend, Ind., where Notre Dame is located.

Investigators have not said what role the weather may have played in the accident.

"It's going to be awhile because unfortunately a lot of the wreckage is still covered with snow," said Arnold Scott, the lead investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board.

Steve McLaughlin of MTJ Air Services, which de-ices private planes at the airport 185 miles southwest of Denver, said the company did not de-ice Ebersol's plane before it took off. Airport manager Scott Brownlee said de-icing would have been the pilot's decision; he said at least one commercial jet had de-iced before taking off Sunday.

The coroner's office identified the pilot as Luis Alberto Polanco Espaillat, 50, of the Dominican Republic, and the flight attendant as Warren T. Richardson III, 36, of Coral Gables, Fla.

November 29, 2004

Ebersol's son dies in jet crash

MONTROSE, Colo. — The body of the 14-year-old son of NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol was believed recovered Monday after a fiery jet crash that killed two crewmen and left the injured executive and another of his sons begging bystanders for help.

Coroner Mark Young said a body matching the description of Edward "Teddy" Ebersol was found underneath the wreckage. Heavy equipment was used to recover the body.

"I'm not going to discuss the condition of the body out of respect for the family," he said during a news conference.

The aircraft with six people on board crashed during a snowstorm Sunday while taking off from the airport outside this small town 185 miles southwest of Denver. Federal authorities had no immediate word on the cause of the crash.

A backhoe was brought in to help dig through the wreckage, found near a cattle pen in a snow-covered field dotted with knee-high weeds. A white sheet was draped across part of the site as crews wrapped up work for the day.

"It's going to be a while because unfortunately a lot of the wreckage is still covered with snow," said Arnold Scott, the lead investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board.

Ebersol has been head of NBC Sports for nearly 15 years, and is perhaps best known for his love of the Olympics, which are broadcast on the network.

He and his two sons, Charles and Edward, were flying home from California, where the older son's school, Notre Dame, played a football game Saturday against Southern California. Another Ebersol son, 18-year-old Willie, is a freshman at USC.

The family flew to Colorado, where they have a home, to drop off Ebersol's wife, Susan Saint James, an actress who starred in the 1980s television series "Kate and Allie." Then, Ebersol and the two sons were headed to drop off Charles at school in South Bend, Ind.

A heavy snowstorm had eased up before the plane prepared to take off, but there was no immediate word if weather was a factor. Steve McLaughlin of MTJ Air Services, which de-ices private planes at the airport, said his company did not de-ice Ebersol's plane before it took off. Airport Manager Scott Brownlee said he did not know whether the plane had been de-iced.

Witnesses said it appeared the plane, a CL-602 Challenger, never got off the ground. It ran off the runway and skidded across a two-lane road, punching through fences on either side before bursting into flames.

Percival said he was going to crawl through a hole in the plane to look for survivors but turned around because of billowing smoke. He said leaking jet fuel soon exploded "like Roman candles."

Gary Ellis was teaching Sunday school at a Baptist Church near the airport when he heard a loud "poof."

"It came to a rest, and a moment or two later it exploded into a huge fireball," said Ellis. "It was burning as it came down the runway."

The FAA said the pilot and a flight attendant were killed. The coroner's office identified the victims as Luis Alberto Polanco Espaillat, 50, of the Dominican Republic and Warren T. Richardson III, 36, of Coral Gables, Fla., but did not say which was the pilot.

The co-pilot was hospitalized in Denver, while Dick and Charles Ebersol were hospitalized in Grand Junction. Deputy coroner Matt Eilts said the co-pilot was in critical condition.

The plane was registered to Jet Alliance of Millville, N.J. The company offered its condolences but said it had no additional information.
Mountain town relishes ties to Ebersols

Wendy Brooks saw Dick Ebersol and his son Charlie being wheeled into St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction on television after a friend called to say the two had been in a plane crash.

Brooks, founding director of Telluride Academy, was horrified that the two had been seriously hurt Sunday.

"They've been flying out of Telluride forever and ever," she said. "It was a great ski weekend. They probably had a great time. We considered ourselves lucky. It's too bad that it ended so tragic."

Ebersol and his wife, Susan St. James, are trustees of Telluride Academy, a prestigious summer program featuring outdoor activities for kids.

St. James and Ebersol have a home in Telluride, and their three sons, Charlie, Teddy and Willy, have all attended the academy. St. James also has a son, Harmony Lucas, and a daughter, Sunshine Lucas, from a previous marriage.

Since the late 1980s, Ebersol and St. James have contributed thousands to the school, Brooks said.

They became trustees about five years ago and are contributing to an endowment so the school can continue to function for another 25 years, she said.

"In the early days, there was not a lot going on in Telluride, and he and Susan were very appreciative of the academy," Brooks said. "We're all just pushing for them, and that is all we can do."

Ebersol and his family have been coming to Telluride for the past 20 years.

"They are so well liked here, and they've been generous," she said.

She said Charlie Ebersol, who attends the University of Notre Dame, attended Telluride Academy for seven summers.

When Dick Ebersol had a quadruple bypass a few years ago, the family didn't come to Telluride as often because the altitude affected his health, Brooks said.

"But he's always been a very active supporter," she said.

Ebersol and St. James are also listed as donors to the Telluride Foundation, an organization that promotes philanthropy within the community. St. James sits on the organization's board of directors, according to the foundation website.

"Dick and Susan have been very generous and are well-known around the community," said Paul Major, president of the Telluride Foundation. "Dick is an avid skier and snowboarder, and he's spent a lot of time here."

Earlier this year, the couple was under contract to buy an $11.9 million ski home in Telluride from Myron Ullman, a former chairman and chief operating officer of R.H. Macy & Co.
NBC Sports Chief Survives Plane Crash

DENVER - A charter plane carrying NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol crashed and burst into flames during takeoff from a southwest Colorado airport Sunday, killing at least two people and seriously injuring Ebersol and one of his sons. Rescue crews were searching for another son.

Dick Ebersol, 57, and son Charles Ebersol survived the crash at the Montrose Regional Airport outside this southwest Colorado town, according to Denver NBC affiliate KUSA-TV.

Eyewitness Chuck Distel told The Associated Press by phone that Charles, a college senior, helped his father out through the front of the plane, whose cockpit had been ripped off by the force of the crash.

The station said crews searched for Edward "Teddy" Ebersol, 14, by helicopter and on the ground. NBC said the plane seat was missing from the wreckage.

Distel, who was driving on a highway that runs parallel to the runway, saw the plane as it skidded sideways off the runway, went though a fence and brush before hitting a roadway that ripped the cockpit from the fuselage and left it an unrecognizable wreck separate from the aircraft.

An "older gentleman" with gray straight hair and a "younger gentleman with shorter, dark hair," were walking around outside the wreckage as Distel and an airport official arrived at the scene.

"I had to think for a second, `who are these people?'" he said. "They weren't severely injured, they were in shock."

He said the older man, whom he later identified as Ebersol from pictures showed to him by other reporters, didn't say a word as the younger man cried and yelled "Oh my God, Oh my God!"

An airport official yelled into the plane looking for survivors, but heard none. The plane, which had left a burning trail of jet fuel, burst into flames that forced Distel and other rescuers away from the wreckage.

The younger man was able to climb into an ambulance while Ebersol was loaded onto a stretcher, Distel said.

Montrose County Sheriff's officials said two people were dead. KUSA said the victims were the pilot and co-pilot. No identities were released, but the station said Ebersol's wife, actress Susan St. James, was not on the plane.

Linda McCool, a nursing supervisor at Montrose Memorial Hospital, said three men were brought to the hospital after the crash, but had all been transferred to other hospitals by Sunday afternoon. Dan Prinster, vice president of St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction, said two people were moved there from Montrose Memorial and another patient was being flown to a burn unit in Denver. Neither McCool nor Prinster would release any other information on the survivors.

The crash occurred in an area covered with small brush and cedar trees, sheriff's Communications Supervisor David Learned said. A large drainage ditch also is at the site.

A storm hit much of the state over the weekend and dumped more than 3 feet of snow in the area. Distel said it had been snowing heavily throughout the day but was it lightly snowing with fog and reduced visibility during the time of the crash. It was not known if weather was a factor.

Montrose is less than an hour from the Telluride Ski Area, popular with celebrities. The flight was scheduled for a trip to South Bend, Ind., where Charles Ebersol, the oldest son of Dick Ebersol and St. James, attends the University of Notre Dame.

The plane's tail number was N873G, identifying it as a CL-601 Challenger, which can carry up to 19 passengers, registered to Jet Alliance of Millville, N.J. In a statement, the company expressed its condolences but had no additional information.

Investigators from the FAA and National Safety Transportation Board were en route to the airport, 185 miles southwest of Denver.

Dick Ebersol, who lives in Litchfield, Conn., has a long history at NBC. He became director of late-night programming at NBC in 1974 and replaced Lorne Michaels for a rocky tenure as executive producer of "Saturday Night Live" in the early 1980s. He became president of NBC Sports in 1989 and recently signed a contract that keeps him at the network through 2012.

Ebersol worked as an ABC researcher at the Grenoble Olympics in 1968, beginning his love affair with the multisport event. He was a protege of Roone Arledge and carried on his philosophy of presenting the Olympics via storytelling, rather than emphasizing results.

"He is very innovative," Fox Sports chairman David Hill said Sunday. "He's obviously a great leader and, from my perspective, a very worthy competitor."

November 28, 2004

NBC Sports Exec Injured in Colo. Jet Crash

NBC Sports Chairman and President Dick Ebersol survived a charter plane crash that killed at least two people Sunday, NBC said in a statement through its Denver affiliate KUSA-TV.

A's, Pirates officially complete Kendall trade

Jason Kendall was traded Saturday from Pittsburgh to Oakland, giving the Athletics one of baseball's best top-of-the-lineup hitters and most durable catchers and partly freeing the Pirates of their biggest financial burden. The Pirates get left-handers Mark Redman and Arthur Rhodes.

Pittsburgh 16, Washington 7

PITTSBURGH -- The Washington Redskins only wish they were getting as much offense from their starters as the streaking Pittsburgh Steelers are from their backups.

Antwaan Randle El, making only his second NFL start at receiver, took care of the big plays and Jerome Bettis again handled the short yardage in his fourth consecutive 100-yard game off the bench to lead the Steelers past Washington 16-7 Sunday.

The Steelers' nine-game winning streak is their longest since they won their final nine in 1976. They are 10-1 for the first time since 1975, the second of their four Super Bowl championship seasons.

``We're 10-1, and that would have been hard to picture,'' guard Alan Faneca said. ``We've got a nice little thing going right now.''

Just like those Steel Curtain days of the 1970s, the Steelers are increasingly relying on the NFL's top-ranked defense as opponents come up with ways to contain unbeaten quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

The rookie had his second straight low-production game (9-of-20, 131 yards, four sacks) while constantly sidestepping Washington's pass rush, but it hardly made any difference even as Pittsburgh was held to 207 yards.

Randle El scampered through the Redskins' coverage team on punt returns of 60 and 43 yards to set up two first-half scores -- Bettis' 4-yard touchdown run, his 11th of the season, and the first of Jeff Reed's three field goals on a blustery day.

Randle El, making a spot start for the injured Plaxico Burress (hamstring), also made two catches for 37 yards and drew a 32-yard pass interference penalty.

``You need every guy,'' Randle El said. ``I don't care if you are the big star, if you don't have the rest of the guys doing what they are supposed to be doing it makes it hard. Special teams came up big, and we need to keep it going because sometimes the offense may sputter.''

Bettis started when Duce Staley unexpectedly sat out a fourth straight game with a sore hamstring, and responded with 100 yards on 31 carries. His 47th career 100-yard game matches Franco Harris' team record.

``I'm a mudder, so this was my weather,'' said Bettis, who last had four consecutive 100-yard games in 2001. ``It was a tough day -- they have the No. 2 defense in the league and you can see why -- but I'm a big guy and I always feel I can wear a defense down in the second half.''

The Redskins (3-8), headed for one of the lowest-scoring seasons in NFL history, were held to 156 yards and to single-digit scoring for a second consecutive game, following up a 28-6 loss to Philadelphia. They haven't scored more than 18 points in a game this season.

``One of our goals is to score 21 points,'' quarterback Patrick Ramsey said. ``We've got to do that.''

Washington was held to 50 yards as Pittsburgh opened a 13-0 lead in the first half.

``It's very tough to make yards on them; they're one of best defenses I've been against,'' Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said. ``It was a little bit of us and a little bit of them. We hurt ourselves by dropping some balls and not executing.''

With star running back Clinton Portis sitting out most of the second half, the Redskins drove 79 yards in 13 plays early in the third quarter for Ramsey's 2-yard scoring pass to Chris Cooley on fourth-and-goal, cutting it to 13-7.

Portis, among the NFL's rushing leaders with 945 yards and coming off consecutive 1,500-yard seasons for Denver, had only six carries for 17 yards. He has just 54 yards the last two weeks.

``We felt our best way to get it downfield (was to throw),'' Gibbs said. ``I am sure he will be upset about it. I expect him to be. He is very competitive.''

Portis said, ``I'm not in Denver anymore, I'm in Washington, I have to find a way to be a key player in this system, the same way I was there.''


Roethlisberger won his 22nd consecutive start -- his first nine in the NFL and his last 13 at Miami of Ohio. ... Roethlisberger's nine victories equal the most by any rookie QB in a season, tying Joe Ferguson (Bills, 1973) and Chris Chandler (Colts, 1988). ... Pittsburgh has allowed only 209 yards rushing in its last five games. ... The Redskins' worst previous 11-game record under Gibbs was 5-6 in 1989, when they rebounded to finish 10-6. ... The Steelers have 36 sacks, one more than last season. ... The Steelers won a team record 11 straight in 1975.

Alpine Skiing: Super-G Win Puts Miller in Exclusive Club

LAKE LOUISE, Alberta - American Bode Miller blitzed to victory in a World Cup super-G on Sunday, completing a weekend of career firsts to earn a place among Alpine skiing's all-time greats.

A day after claiming his first career downhill triumph, Miller returned to the Olympic course to capture his first super-G, becoming just the fifth skier to register wins in all four Alpine disciplines.

Miller becomes a member of one of the World Cup's most exclusive clubs, joining Switzerland's Pirmin Zurbriggen, Luxembourg's Marc Girardelli, Norway's Kjetil Andre Aamodt and Austria's Guenther Mader as the only men to win a slalom, giant slalom, super-G and downhill as well as a combined event.

It was also the third consecutive victory for Miller, who launched his bid to become the first American to win the overall title since Phil Mahre in 1983 by winning the season-opening giant slalom in Austria.

"To move into that group of ski racers who have won four events is the most exclusive club in the world," said Miller, the first man ever to win the opening three World Cup races in different disciplines.

"I've had to battle through criticism, there's been a lot of negative energy because of my persistence to ski four events. It makes it sweet to have that fourth event win.

"I didn't have as high expectations for myself coming into these races. Usually I have pretty high expectations for myself, so it's nice to surprise yourself once in a while."

In another display of aggressive yet controlled skiing, Miller turned in a near-perfect run but had an anxious wait in the finish area for defending overall champion Hermann Maier to barge out of the start hut 16 racers later.

Gritting his teeth, the Austrian Olympic champion charged down the sun-kissed course but once again could not match his American rival's time of one minute 28.18 seconds to complete a frustrating weekend that included a sixth in the downhill.

"Today it was very close but I don't have the confidence right now," said Maier, who finished 0.14 seconds behind Miller. "I have to find the right feeling."

Michael Walchhofer was third, 0.41 seconds further back, but it was still a disappointing weekend in the Canadian Rockies for the Austrians, who had won every race staged at the resort since the events were moved here from Whistler, B.C. in 1999.

The lack of wins will increase the pressure on the Austrian team as the circuit moves to Beaver Creek for four races starting on Thursday.

It's a Girl, and a Boy, for Julia Roberts

LOS ANGELES - It's a girl — and a boy — for actress Julia Roberts and her husband, cinematographer Danny Moder. Roberts gave birth to twins Hazel Patricia Moder and Phinnaeus Walter Moder on Sunday morning at a Southern California hospital, publicist Marcy Engelman said Sunday.

Roberts, 37, was confined to bed last month after experiencing a series of early contractions and wasn't due until early January. Engelman said Sunday in a phone interview that "mother and babies are doing great," but didn't release the twins' weights or other details.

Roberts, who skyrocketed to fame with "Pretty Woman" in 1990, has two films coming out in early December — Mike Nichols' "Closer" and "Ocean's Twelve," the Steven Soderbergh-directed sequel to 2001's star-studded heist caper.

Roberts married Moder in July 2002 at her home in Taos, N.M. The twins are the first children for Roberts, who won the best actress Oscar in 2001 for "Erin Brockovich."

November 26, 2004

Manning Shines As Colts Gobble Up Lions

Peyton Manning broke one of Dan Marino's records, took a big step toward another and didn't even have to play the whole game to do it. Manning threw for six touchdowns in less than three quarters and raised his season total to 41.

Pittsburgh 16, No. 21 West Virginia 13

Pitt quarterback Tyler Palko found himself down late in the game against a favored opponent for the second game in a row. Just as he got it done against Notre Dame, he got it done against West Virginia.

Top-Selling Author Arthur Hailey Dies in Bahamas

NASSAU, Bahamas - Top-selling British author Arthur Hailey, whose novels sold 170 million copies around the world, died in his sleep at his Bahamas home, his wife said on Thursday. He was 84.

The author of several bestsellers that became blockbuster movies, like "Airport" and "Hotel," had been ailing since suffering a stroke two months ago. But he had enjoyed dinner with two of his six children just a few hours before he died.

"He had a wonderful life. His greatest ambition was to see his name on a book and he certainly achieved that," said his wife Sheila.

Born in Luton, England, in 1920 as the only child of working class parents, Hailey began writing after World War II, when a meal served on a DC-4 flight triggered a story idea that was to propel him to fortune.

He began to wonder what would happen if the flight crew went down with food poisoning and penned his story "Flight Into Danger" -- the first of his successful works.

Hollywood producers bought several of his books and he flirted with script writing himself before deciding that novels were his forte. He was known for his intricate research and wanted his readers to be both entertained and informed.

He went on to see his books published in 38 languages in 40 countries.

"Wheels," "The Moneychangers" and "Strong Medicine," were some of his other novels that were made into movies.

Hailey emigrated from Britain to Canada after the war and worked in marketing and public relations before launching his literary career.

It took him about three years to complete each book. After publishing "Detective" in 1997, when he was 77 years old, he decided to retire.

He and his wife lived at Lyford Cay, Nassau, for more than 40 years.

Hailey was never influenced by critics or literary awards. During his career, he chiseled out just 600 words a day. "I have never been able to write quickly or easily. I am too self-critical for that. I am never satisfied," he once said.

November 25, 2004

A's, Pirates closing in on Kendall trade

PITTSBURGH -- Three-time All-Star catcher Jason Kendall was close to being traded from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Oakland Athletics for a pair of pitchers, a baseball official told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The Pirates would get left-handed starter Mark Redman, who went 11-12 with a 4.71 ERA last season, and left-handed reliever Arthur Rhodes, who was 3-3 with nine saves and a 5.12 ERA, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Kendall, a 30-year-old California native, has a no-trade clause. His agent informed Pirates general manager Dave Littlefield on Wednesday that he would waive the clause to play for the A's, a person close to Kendall said, also on the condition of anonymity.

Littlefield wouldn't confirm that a deal was nearly done, saying, ``There's a lot of speculation about a variety of things.'' The Pirates have always sought physicals on newly acquired players, which could delay the official announcement until Friday.

In addition to those talks, Pittsburgh made a deal Wednesday with the soon-to-be Washington Nationals, acquiring minor league outfielder Antonio Sucre for outfielder J.J. Davis, who was designated for assignment last week.

A career .306 hitter over nine seasons with Pittsburgh, Kendall has caught more games than any player in team history. The Pirates thought they had finalized a deal in January to send Kendall to San Diego for catcher Ramon Hernandez and third baseman Jeff Cirillo, but the trade fell through when Padres owner John Moores wouldn't approve it.

Kendall is due to make $10 million in 2005, $11 million in 2006 and $13 million in 2007, the final three seasons of the $60 million deal he signed just before the Pirates moved into PNC Park in 2001. The sides were discussing how much of the deal Pittsburgh would assume, the official said.

``I don't comment on trades,'' Oakland general manager Billy Beane said.

With more than one-fourth of their projected 2005 payroll committed to Kendall, the Pirates have sought to trade him not only to add pitching help but also to gain more financial flexibility. The trade would cut their payroll by about $18 million through 2007, though that could be reduced slightly if the Pirates agree to take on more of Kendall's contract.

Kendall has repeatedly said he wants to play his entire career with one team, something he envied Pirates Hall of Famers Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell for doing. But the Pirates have finished as high as second in their division only once with Kendall in their lineup and he has obviously grown weary of the frequent losing in recent seasons.

If the Pirates finalize the trade, they likely would try to make a deal for a catcher, because they do not consider backup Humberto Cota an everyday player and prospect J.R. House has been frequently injured during his minor league career.

Redman, 30, and Rhodes, 35, are both coming off subpar seasons. Rhodes would give the Pirates a valuable second left-handed reliever to complement Mike Gonzalez, and Redman would stabilize a rotation that lost former No. 1 starter Kris Benson to the Mets in a July trade.

Redman was 14-9 with a 3.59 ERA for Florida in 2003 and is 48-51 in his career with Minnesota, Detroit, Florida and Oakland. Rhodes is 72-54 with 26 saves and a 4.48 career ERA since 1991 with Baltimore, Seattle and Oakland. He began last season as the Athletics' closer but lost the job after they acquired Octavio Dotel from Houston.

Redman has two seasons and $8.75 million remaining on an $11 million, three-year contract, while Rhodes has two seasons and about $7.4 million left on his $9.2 million, three-year contract.

November 23, 2004

CBS News Anchor Dan Rather Resigns After 24 Years

Veteran newsman Dan Rather, embroiled in a pre-election scandal over a story challenging President Bush's military service, said on Tuesday he will step down as the CBS television network's top news anchor.

(23) Penn St. 71, Duquesne 55

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Amanda Brown scored 18 points as Penn State -- without head coach Rene Portland for the first time in more than 24 years -- beat Duquesne 71-55 Tuesday night.

Portland took a leave of absence for undisclosed medical reasons on Monday, eight days after she fainted on the flight back from Penn State's season opener against Texas.

The Lady Lions (1-3) were coached by Annie Troyan, a former Penn State player and longtime assistant to Portland. It was the first time Troyan had been a head coach since 1987, when she led Archbishop Carroll in the Philadelphia Catholic League.

Penn State maintained a double-digit lead through most of the second half until Duquesne's Aiga Bautre completed a three-point play to pull the Dukes (0-2) within 63-55 with 1:48 left.

Brown had a three-point play of her own, and Duquesne didn't score again.

Tanisha Wright scored 16 points for Penn State, Jess Strom had 12 and Ashli Schwab added 13 rebounds.

Bautre led Duquesne with 20 points, and Nicole Sinclair had 17 points and 11 rebounds.

Duquesne stayed with the Lady Lions for the first few minutes, leading 12-10 before Brown's fast-break basket started a 15-0 Penn State run. Penn State led 38-25 at halftime.

Portland, who would have earned her 650th career win Tuesday night, missed her first game since she was hired in 1980, a span of 758 games. Last season, Portland coached one game from a wheelchair and the next 14 on a wheeled cart after she broke her left leg in a fall.

Steelers keep winning games -- and losing players

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers keep winning games and losing players.

The latest additions to an injury list that took coach Bill Cowher more than five minutes to recite Tuesday: wide receiver Plaxico Burress, inside linebacker Kendrell Bell and defensive lineman Brett Keisel. All will miss Sunday's home game against Washington.

Bell, one of the AFC's most disruptive pass rushers, will be out a minimum of three to four games with his second major groin injury this season. He could miss the rest of the season if he needs another operation, potentially a major setback to the NFL's top-ranked defense.

``We're still exploring all of the options,'' Cowher said.

Bell needed surgery last month to repair a hernia in his groin, but returned three weeks ago and was just beginning to resemble the player chosen as the 2001 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year when he tore a groin tendon Sunday.

Larry Foote has been a more than adequate replacement at inside linebacker for Bell and is third on the team in tackles. But rarely commands the extra attention from offensive lines that Bell attracts.

James Farrior, the other inside linebacker in the Steelers' 3-4 defense, has helped make up for Bell's missing production with a Pro Bowl-quality season. He has three sacks, three interceptions, has forced three fumbles and recovered three.

``He's just playing so much faster and playing more instinctively and, consequently, he's making a lot of plays,'' Cowher said. ``Since (outside linebacker) Joey Porter got hurt last year, he's become a three-down player and he's been making a lot of plays on third down.''

The Steelers (9-1) won't have their best third-down receiving threat Sunday when they go for their ninth consecutive victory, taking on Washington (3-7). Burress (sore hamstring) will sit out after missing most of the final three quarters of Sunday's 19-14 victory in Cincinnati.

Burress' absence means Antwaan Randle El will start at receiver with Hines Ward, whose production has slowed considerably as he has seen more double coverage.

Ward was held to one catch after Burress left early in the second quarter Sunday and has made eight catches in three games after making at least six receptions in each of his first seven games.

Even before this latest run of injuries, the Steelers already were without four injured regulars: right guard Kendall Simmons, nose tackle Casey Hampton, running back Duce Staley and cornerback Chad Scott. Only Staley and Scott will return this season.

Staley (bruised hamstring) will practice Wednesday for the first time since Nov. 4 and could start Sunday in place of Jerome Bettis, who is coming off three consecutive 100-yard games. Scott (quadriceps) will miss his fifth straight game but could play Dec. 5 at Jacksonville.

Keisel, who backs up Aaron Smith at defensive end, will be out three to four weeks with a strained hamstring.

Cowher isn't blaming the numerous injuries, but his team played its shakiest game of the winning streak Sunday. Rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was sacked seven times, and the Steelers squandered numerous scoring chances inside the Bengals' 20.

Cowher is wary of the Redskins despite their record, pointing to their second-ranked defense and improving ground game. Clinton Portis has rushed for 506 yards in five games.

``It's an important time of the year, certainly we realize that,'' Cowher said. ``We have to keep trudging along and clean up some things from last week's game and, hopefully, we're going to get a better effort.''

No doubt Cowher hopes Roethlisberger's appearance on David Letterman's show Tuesday night doesn't prove distracting. Cowher didn't discourage Roethlisberger from appearing but, asked if he would watch, Cowher said, ``No, uh-uh.''

Spurrier Introduced at South Carolina

The "Fun 'N Gun" offense is back in the SEC as Steve Spurrier was introduced Tuesday as the 32nd head football coach at the University of South Carolina. The announcement was made just one day after Lou Holtz retired from the post.
Portland taking time off

STATE COLLEGE - Recording three straight losses to start the season probably would have been more than enough adversity for the Penn State women's basketball team. But yesterday, it was dealt a little more.

The Lady Lions' head coach, Rene Portland, announced yesterday via an athletic department press release that she would be leaving the team for "an indefinite period of time" due to an unspecified medical concern.

"This is one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make in my career as a head coach," Portland said in the release. "While I want to be with my team at this time, I also realize that I must make my health a priority ... I look forward to returning when my condition permits."

A voice message left on Portland's cell phone yester day was not returned.

In Portland's absence, associate head coach Annie Troyan will assume all head coaching responsibilities as acting head coach, according to the release.

Portland informed Troyan of her decision yesterday morning, according to Erin Whiteside, the Lady Lions' media contact. Portland then revealed her decision to the rest of the team members when she met with them in the afternoon.

Troyan, who is in her 18th year as an assistant at Penn State, was not made available for comment by the athletic department, and could not be reached at her home in State College.

A few players were asked to talk about their coach's decision, but each declined.

Portland's health has been an occasional concern since the beginning of the season. The head coach in her 25th year was hospitalized for two nights after suffering a "fainting spell."

According to the release Portland's leave of absence was "related to her fainting episode last Sunday," though it offered no other specifics concerning her medical status.

Whiteside did not know whether Portland plans to or is currently receiving any medical treatment.

"I'm sure she is resting," Whiteside said. "I didn't really get to talk to her in-depth about it."

Portland experienced the fainting spell on Nov. 14 while traveling on the team's plane, which was returning to the University Park Airport from Austin.

Earlier that day, the Lady Lions lost their season opener to Texas, 84-69.

Team trainers attended to Portland on the plane in addition to using the aircraft's communication system to call ahead, ensuring that a ride would be waiting to take Portland to the hospital when the plane landed around 11 p.m.

"After taking into consideration the events of last week, and after talking extensively with my family, I have made the decision to take a leave of absence from the team," Portland said in the release.

Portland's son Stephen, who is in his first year as the Lady Lions' director of operations, could not be reached at his campus apartment.

Portland was admitted to Mount Nittany Medical Center that night for precautionary and observational reasons. When she left the hospital the following Tuesday, Troyan said she was "in great spirits."

"We're expecting her back fully," Troyan said the day Portland checked out of Mount Nittany.

Though she missed her usual weekly press conference the day the hospital released her, Portland coached Penn State in a 66-58 loss to Duke on Thursday in Durham, N.C.

She was also on the sidelines for a 73-65 upset loss on the road to Villanova on Sunday.

The loss marked the first time the Lady Lions went 0-3 to start the season since 1979, a year before Portland took over the program.

Penn State will play its fourth game of the season at 7 p.m. tomorrow against Duquesne (0-1) in the Bryce Jordan Center in State College. The home opener will be the first game Portland has missed in the 25 years she's been head coach at Penn State.

"I know that [Troyan] will do a tremendous job in leading the Lady Lions while I'm gone," Portland said in the release.

Added Penn State athletic director Tim Curley in the release: "[Portland] has my full support in this extremely difficult decision. Her health should be her No. 1 priority, and the Penn State community will support her as she takes the time she needs for herself."

Portland has the most wins of any coach in Penn State history with 562. She has led the Lady Lions to one Final Four, five Big Ten regular-season titles and two Big Ten Tournament titles.

Suzie McConnell-Serio, the Minnesota Lynx head coach and a former All-American at Penn State, echoed Curley's sentiments, while giving a Troyan another vote of confidence.

"That's unfortunate for Rene," McConnell-Serio told The Associated Press. "[Troyan] has been Rene's right-hand man, or woman I should say, for a long time. I think she'll do a great job."

November 21, 2004

Bettis Sinks Bengals in Steelers Win

Jerome Bettis ran for 129 yards and the Pittsburgh Steelers used a stifling defense to edge the host Cincinnati Bengals 19-14 for their eighth straight win Sunday.

Artest Banned for Rest of Season After Ugly Brawl

The National Basketball Association suspended All-Star Ron Artest for the rest of the season and Indiana Pacers team mates Stephen Jackson for 30 games and Jermaine O'Neal for 25 following Friday's ugly brawl.

Paterno's 'running out of time', wants 'in-house' successor

A little more than a month before his 78th birthday, Joe Paterno is willing to discuss retirement plans. For the first time, the Penn State head football coach publicly advocated a clearly defined line of succession to a promoted staff member when Paterno retires.

No. 5 Georgia 78, No. 2 Texas 64

Just two games into her college career, Tasha Humphrey already looks like one of the best players in the country. The freshman scored all but three of her 27 points in a dazzling second-half display for No. 5 Georgia, which rallied from a 15-point deficit.

No. 9 North Carolina 71, No. 4 Connecticut 65

Connecticut missed shots, made turnovers and struggled at the free throw line. None of the mistakes caught coach Geno Auriemma off guard. ``I think the game played out probably the way I thought it would play out,'' he said. ``I can't say that I'm really surprised."

Falcons Spoil Manning's Debut With Giants

eli, originally uploaded by Mrs_Skeffington.

Michael Vick ran for 104 yards and threw two first-half touchdown passes to Alge Crumpler to lead the Atlanta Falcons to a 14-10 win over the New York Giants on Sunday, spoiling Manning's first start.

After a shaky first half, Manning showed why the Giants (5-5) mortgaged their future on draft day. He led New York on two second-half drives that turned a one-sided game into a thriller.

A 6-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Shockey got New York within 14-7 in the third quarter and another long drive set up a 24-yard field goal by Steve Christie with 6:29 to play.

Manning, the brother of NFL co-MVP Peyton Manning, had one final shot to stage a remarkable comeback after the Giants took over at their 25 with 1:52 to play. A pass to Shockey and a 13-yard run by Tiki Barber got the Giants into Atlanta territory, but linebacker Keith Brooking broke up a fourth-down pass to seal the Falcons' (8-2) third straight win.

The loss was the third straight for New York and its fourth in five games.

Manning, the top overall pick acquired from San Diego in a trade during the draft, completed 17 of 37 passes for 162 yards and two interceptions in place of Kurt Warner, who was benched Monday. The second interception hurt, with Brady Smith picking off a pass at the Falcons 28 late in the third quarter.

The much-hyped game matched two former No. 1 draft picks; the Falcons took Vick in 2001 after trading for the No. 1 pick.

Each excelled for a half. Vick did his damage in the opening half, finishing the game 12-of-20 for 115 yards. He also carried 15 times for his third 100-yard rushing game this season and fifth overall, a league mark.

Manning thrilled the Giants in the second half, and nearly found a way to pull out a game that seemed lost.

The Giants might have fared better had referee Jeff Triplette not called a roughing-the-passer penalty against Carlos Emmons with about 5 minutes left. Instead of punting from their 9, the Falcons moved the ball before punting and the Giants took it at their 25.

Vick was dazzling in the first half. He drove the Falcons 84 yards in 11 plays on their opening possession. The drive was all Vick as he carried four times for 53 yards and completed 3 of 4 passes for 24 more, capping the drive with a 6-yard pass to Crumpler on third down.

Vick was so fast and quick, he had all day to throw and lots of open space to run.

Two series later, Vick used his arm on a 12-play, 74-yard drive to stretch the lead to 14-0. A 14-yard third-down toss to fullback Justin Griffith and passes of 21 yards to Crumpler and 16 to Dez White set up a 2-yard TD lob to a wide-open Crumpler.

Vick accounted for 194 of the Falcons' 233 first-half yards, running 10 times for 91 yards and passing for 103.

The Giants gained 84 yards in the opening half, and they were lucky to be trailing by only 14 points.

With 16 seconds left in the half, the Giants took over at their 26 following a punt. Instead of taking a knee, a pass play was sent in and Jason Webster intercepted and returned to the New York 28 with :07 to go.

Jay Feely let Giants coach Tom Coughlin off the hook by missing a 47-yard field goal on the next play.

November 20, 2004 Updates

Olivia de Havilland interview added to OdH: One Classy Lady.

Meredy's GWTW Tribute updated.

Polly Bergen News updated.

November 19, 2004

(1) Tennessee 68, Chattanooga 34

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- While their roster changes every season, two things always seem to remain the same for the No. 1 Tennessee Lady Vols -- stellar defense and rebounding.

Shyra Ely had 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Tennessee held Chattanooga to 13-percent shooting Friday night in a 68-34 victory in the season opener for both teams.

Shanna Zolman added 14 points for the Lady Vols, whose roster looked strikingly different from last year's NCAA runner-up team that lost three seniors. But the results were the same.

The Lady Mocs shot 2-for-22 in the first half and were outrebounded 51-34 for the game.

``I think from the get-go our defense was crucial,'' Zolman said. ``Offensively we had good spurts and bad spurts. For our first road game, I think we played well.''

Freshman Laura Hall, the shortest player on the court at 5-foot-5, led Chattanooga with 11 points.

Three members of the Lady Vols' heralded freshman class made their debuts while the other three sat on the bench nursing injuries.

Ely played her first game as a small forward after playing power forward most of her college career. She had the task of guarding Southern Conference player of the year Katasha Brown, who averaged 14.4 points last season.

Brown was 1-of-9 from the field and ended up with five points.

``She's a great defender. She did a great job,'' Brown said of Ely.

Ely, however, was more critical.

``It was a new experience for me. There's a lot of work (to do),'' she said. ``I'm getting used to it.''

Defending Southern Conference champion Chattanooga, coming off one of its best seasons, showed flashes at times but was outmanned from the start.

Chattanooga tried to rally early in the second half but could not get the deficit lower than 15 points. The Lady Mocs made 3-of-8 shots to cut the lead to 39-24 with 15:44 left before Tennessee coach Pat Summitt got disgusted and called a timeout.

The Lady Vols quickly restored their lead to 20 on Ely's three-point play off a rebound, and Tennessee was up 49-29 with 12:04 left.

Summitt predicted Chattanooga would learn from this game.

``This game will be good for them in the end,'' she said. ``I think they are going to be very successful in their league.''

Tennessee freshmen Alexis Hornbuckle, Nicky Anosike and Sybil Dosty played while Candace Parker and Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood sat out with injuries. Alex Fuller plans to redshirt.

Chattanooga coach Wes Moore was impressed with all of Tennessee's talent, including the rookies.

``Their freshmen were high school McDonald's All-Americans,'' he said. ``Our freshmen ate at McDonald's in high school.''

The Lady Vols brought out the largest crowd in Lady Mocs history -- 10,051 fans. That included former Tennessee quarterback Casey Clausen, who was sitting behind the Lady Vols' bench with the mother of Tennessee forward Brittany Jackson.

(6) Duke 66, (23) Penn St. 58

DURHAM, N.C. -- Mistie Williams and Wynter Whitley powered Duke inside Friday night as Penn State's post players wilted.

Williams scored 12 of her 20 points in the second half as No. 6 Duke rallied from an 12-point deficit to beat No. 23 Penn State 66-58. Whitley finished with 11 points and a team-best eight rebounds for the Blue Devils (3-1), who shot 39 percent in the first half and 50 percent in the second.

Jennifer Harris led Penn State with 17 points, and Jess Strom finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Williams tied the score at 49 with 8:03 remaining. Whitley scored the go-ahead basket, and Monique Currie added a 3-pointer, giving the Blue Devils a 54-49 lead.

Penn State outrebounded Duke 21-9 in the first half and led 28-23 at the break.

The Blue Devils then started to rally and avoided a second straight loss. They fell to No. 11 Notre Dame 76-65 on Wednesday.

``We don't like to lose,'' Williams said. ``Coming off a loss, that should give you enough fire to get in gear and realize we have to get better.''

The Lady Lions got only 13 points in a 15-minute span as they lost a 41-29 advantage with 16:29 remaining.

``We put ourselves in a good position to be consistent and get the job done, but when you give away 40 points in the paint and 15 points off turnovers, you don't deserve to win the game,'' Penn State coach Rene Portland said. ``We made bad decisions offensively. Our turnovers were awful at key times. Then our defense in the post didn't help us at all.''

The Blue Devils surged without two key players.

Junior point guard Lindsey Harding, was expected to be Duke's primary ballhandler this season, has missed all four games following an indefinite suspension for violating team rules.

Chante Black, a 6-foot-5 freshman, has missed the last two games with an ankle injury.

At halftime, Duke retired the jersey number of former three-time ACC player of the year Alana Beard. The 2004 national college player of the year and ACC Female Athlete of the Year, is now a member of the WNBA's Washington Mystics.
Steelers owner calls 'MNF's' steamy opener 'disgraceful'

Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney called a steamy segment for the intro to ``Monday Night Football'' ``disgraceful'' and criticized ABC for ``miserable'' judgment.

The longtime owner, writing in an op-ed piece in Friday's New York Times, is the latest to weigh in on the skit that aired before Monday night's Dallas-Philadelphia game.

``The opening was out of place and should not have been part of the broadcast,'' Rooney wrote in the article titled ``Out of Bounds.'' ``I thought it was disgraceful.''

ABC's intro showed actress Nicolette Sheridan of the hit show ``Desperate Housewives'' wearing only a towel and provocatively asking Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens to skip the game for her as the two stood alone in a locker room. She drops the towel and jumps into Owens' arms.

``Worst was that it used one of our players in uniform in the locker room -- who claimed that `the team's going to have to win without me.' That is not NFL football,'' said Rooney, whose family has owned the Steelers since 1933.

The segment generated complaints to ABC and the Federal Communications Commission, as well as to NFL teams.

``At the Steelers offices (and at those of most other NFL teams), we were flooded with phone calls and e-mail messages protesting the video's salacious content,'' Rooney wrote. ``Many of those fans said they were watching with their children and did not expect to see such material.

``The league headquarters acknowledged that the fans who contacted us were correct. ABC's judgment was miserable.''

ABC, the Eagles and Owens apologized this week, with the team saying it wished the segment hadn't aired. The NFL called the intro ``inappropriate and unsuitable for our `Monday Night Football' audience.''

``The Steelers, and the 31 other clubs that make up the league, are a team,'' Rooney said. ``We play as a team. This promotion simply did not belong in that context, and that's what sparked my reaction.''
A Very Golden Hart

Beloved arts maven Kitty Carlisle Hart to be honored at Lincoln Center

Kitty Carlisle Hart, a screen star and Broadway wife during the golden age of stage musicals, devoted two decades to promoting the arts on behalf of New York State.

“I don’t have Picassos or Matisses, but I do have George Gershwins and Irving Berlins,” Kitty Carlisle Hart said, as she ushered me into her opulent East Side apartment. And, sure enough, lining her hallway “gallery” are oil paintings by these masters of American music.

Besides these, her home is awash in photographs of the great personalities of the last century, all of them personal friends of hers—Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (“a wicked sense of humor, but I can’t tell you anything”), Claudette Colbert (“We both had formidable mothers”), Rosa Ponselle (“My favorite singer, of course”), and many more.

These are but a few souvenirs of a truly remarkable life, as an actress/singer, television personality, the wife of legendary Broadway writer/director, Moss Hart and, the career achievement of which she is most proud, chairwoman of the New York State Council of the Arts for 20 years, under four governors (“I called each one of them ‘Governor,’ darling, so I wouldn’t mix up their names.”)

Spectacularly robust at 94, Hart made her entrance in a Chinese red dressing gown, holding a bottle of wine, which she readily pours for her guests, as she pulls the lacquered coffee table closer. Having made an awe-inspiring New York cabaret debut on her birthday last September 3, at Feinstein’s at the Regency, she is gearing up for “Hart to Hart,” a Metropolitan Opera Guild Gala on November 21, honoring her and her late husband, hosted by Julie Andrews and Beverly Sills, and with a host of stars, from Audra McDonald to Denyce Graves.

I can attest to the fact that, as a musical interpreter, she has never been better, her entire life experience soulfully informs every lyric she sings, and, she assures me, she practices every day. The onstage achievement of which she is most proud was debuting Benjamin Britten’s “Rape of Lucretia” on Broadway in 1948. A bracing joie de vivre and wonderful curiosity inform her every waking moment, and she clapped delightedly when I recalled once seeing her, a swoony epitome of glamour, draped in black fox, going up the escalator at the Lincoln Center Laurence Olivier tribute years ago, flanked by two tuxedoed young studs.

“I don’t know what my secret is,” she mused. “If I could bottle it and sell it, I’d be a millionaire. I don’t know how I can possibly be better looking today than I was in my youth, but I am!”

When I told her she’s like the actress Rosalind Russell, who also became more handsome as she got older, she agreed, “You’re absolutely right!”

Looks aside, Miss Kitty certainly had something, for she was brought out to Hollywood in 1934, and worked at the two greatest studios, Paramount and MGM. She remembers MGM as being the far grander of the two:

“It was so chic to be working there, you just knew!”

At Paramount, she worked with Bing Crosby twice, but “I ended up knowing him as well as you might have, which is to say, not at all. Very aloof.”

As for the phenomenally talented, largely forgotten Miriam Hopkins, who co-starred with them in “She Loves Me Not,” and was known to be an on-set termagant, Hart recalled, “She was perfectly delightful, lovely to me. I guess she knew I posed no threat to her.”

In her Paramount films, which included the campy delight, “Murder at the Vanities,” with its song, “Marijuana,” she was gowned by Travis Banton, Hollywood’s greatest costumer.

“I loved one gown so much,” she recalled. “I wanted to buy it, but when I heard the price…!”

At MGM, Hart appeared in the Marx Brothers classic “A Night at the Opera,” in which she sang excerpts from Verdi’s “Il Trovatore.”

“They wanted to dub me, especially on the high C in the Miserere passage,” she said, “and I was so upset, I actually went into [producer] Irving Thalberg’s office, crying. He listened to me, and my voice stayed in the picture.”

She married Hart in 1946. They had two children, a son, Chris, and a daughter, Cathy (“the best doctor in New York!”), but it was no complete bed of roses. Moss Hart suffered from manic depression: “It was so very sad and hard on him. How I remember walking with him up and down Park Avenue here, and on the beach in Santa Monica, just waiting for it to pass.”

I mentioned that this was obviously before the introduction of lithium, a drug which the director Joshua Logan said helped him so much with his own depression, to which she responded, “Oh, but Josh was crazy!”

One of Moss Hart’s greatest successes was directing “My Fair Lady on Broadway” in 1956. The production was memorable for Cecil Beaton’s costumes, but Mrs. Hart recalled that, despite his talent, no one at the time could really forget the anti-Semitic slurs (including “kike”) Beaton had incorporated into one of his drawings for Vogue magazine in 1938.

“I remember watching the first preview,” she said, “when Julie Andrews, as Eliza, made her entrance for the Embassy Ball. Her gown was terrible and I was just about to say so, when Moss whispered, ‘Sh-h-h, he’s right behind you!’ Beaton eventually changed it, and it was lovely.”

Hart died in 1961, and she said, “It wasn’t easy then, being a widow with two small children to raise. But, as hard as it was, time passed, and each year made it easier to go on.”

Another huge Moss Hart hit was the Kurt Weill/Ira Gershwin musical “Lady in the Dark,” with Gertrude Lawrence, a legendary star who should be better remembered today. “I remember how kind she was to me when I took over the role,” Ms. Hart recalled. “Moss had her come in and she showed me how to do the bump and grind movements to the song ‘Jenny.’”

I asked Hart if she was ever aware that Lawrence was bisexual, and had had an affair with Daphne DuMaurier, the author of the book “Rebecca.”

“I never knew that,” she said, “but that’s funny. It reminds me of something Moss once said about her, ‘Gertrude Lawrence has the mind of a 12-year-old boy.” He meant that she had no brains, really, and was just pure talent.”

Speaking of DuMaurier’s best-seller brought up an episode in Hart’s life that was almost eerily similar to the scene in which the young wife explores the secret rooms of her husband’s first wife, the mysterious Rebecca. I knew that Moss Hart was close friends with my favorite Golden Age movie star, Norma Shearer, and asked about her.

“She was always chronically late whenever you invited her anywhere, which drove Moss crazy,” Hart recalled. “But of course, she would eventually show up, looking exquisite. We once were going to rent her house in California and she gave us the keys to every room except the attic, which she said was off-limits. I told her, ‘We have two small children. If there’s a fire or anything, I would need to have complete access to the entire house, so we won’t rent it in that case.’ She decided to give me the key but made me promise never to go up there. But of course, on the first rainy day, I couldn’t resist, and opened that door. And what I saw was like Aladdin’s Cave. She had kept every single outfit she ever owned, all of her children’s toys, broken desks, you name it!”
(1) Tennessee (0-0) vs. Chattanooga (0-0)
Game Info: 7:00 pm EST Fri Nov 19, 2004

Tennessee hopes to blend the nation's top recruiting class with its talented veterans as the top-ranked Lady Volunteers begin the season at Chattanooga on Friday.

Tennessee comes in with one of its best incoming classes ever. But that group isn't at full force just yet. Dunking sensation Candace Parker and Alex Fuller both had knee surgery, while Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood has a knee problem. It's uncertain when any of them will return.

``I know Candace will get back onto the court when her knee is ready and she is able to perform,'' Vols coach Pat Summitt said. ``However, depending upon how her knee responds to rehabilitation, this could result in a possible redshirt situation.''

Parker, a 6-foot-3 forward from Naperville, Ill., averaged 24.3 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.5 blocks and 3.3 steals during her senior year of high school. Following her senior season, Parker became the first woman to win a national slam dunk contest that was part of this year's McDonald's High School All-American Game festivities.

Summitt starts her 31st season with 852 victories at Tennessee, which lost to Connecticut in the NCAA finals last April. She's just 28 wins shy of setting the all-time NCAA mark held by former North Carolina men's coach Dean Smith.

Summitt still has three healthy players from her recruiting class, but blending them with veterans Shyra Ely, Shanna Zolman and Loree Moore has been a challenge, even for a coach with a women's record six NCAA titles.

``They are quick learners,'' Summitt said, ``but sometimes I go home and I feel like a first-grade teacher.''

The 6-foor-2 Ely is Tennessee's top returning scorer after averaging 17 points and 6.5 rebounds last year. Zolman averaged 12.3 points while shooting 42.6 percent from 3-point range and 95.7 percent (88-for-92) from the free-throw line.

The Lady Vols have won 12 straight against Chattanooga, including an 83-52 victory over the Lady Mocs in the season opener last season.

Chattanooga returns four starters from last season's team that went 29-3 to set a school record for wins. The Lady Mocs won the Southern Conference for the fourth straight year and beat Rutgers to earn the first NCAA tournament victory in school history.

Chattanooga was eventually knocked out of the tournament with a 60-44 loss to Vanderbilt in the second round of the Midwest Regional. The defeat snapped the Lady Mocs' 27-game winning streak.

Forwards Katasha Brown and Tiffani Robinson are Chattanooga's top returning offensive players. The 5-foot-11 Brown averaged 14.4 points and 4.0 rebounds while shooting 42.6 percent from 3-point range last season. Robinson was second in scoring with 11.8 points per game.

November 17, 2004

Kmart Buying Sears in $11 Billion Deal

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Discount retailer Kmart Holding Corp. will buy department store operator Sears, Roebuck & Co. in a surprise $11 billion deal that creates the third-largest U.S. retailer, the companies said on Wednesday.

The new company, Sears Holdings, will have about $55 billion in annual revenue and nearly 3,500 retail stores.

The companies, both of which have been struggling, said in a joint statement the merger, expected to be finalized by next March, was expected to generate significant cost savings but could also trigger sales of "nonstrategic real estate assets.

The deal came as a surprise to many analysts, who were uncertain of the motives behind the merger.

"They both bring to the table diverse opportunities, but it's not clear if they are merging to make them more able to stand up to Wal-Mart's greater strength or if this is a real estate deal," said Kurt Barnard, president of the Retail Consulting Group.

Sears shares jumped more than 12 percent in pre-market trading, while Kmart shares advanced 2.75 percent.

Kmart shareholders will receive one share of new Sears Holdings common stock for each Kmart share; Sears shareholders will have the right to choose either $50 in cash or 0.5 share of Sears Holdings for each Sears share.

The $50-per-share cash price represents a premium of 10.6 percent over Sears' closing price of $45.20 on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday.

Based on Kmart's closing price of $101.22 on Nasdaq on Tuesday, the stock swap values Sears at $50.60 a share, a premium of nearly 12 percent over its Tuesday close.

Sears shares have rocketed higher over the past two weeks after it was revealed that real estate investment trust Vornado Realty Trust Inc. had acquired a 4.3 percent stake in the company.


Analysts said the deal highlighted the value of Sears' vast property holdings -- with the value of retail real estate rising -- and indicated other retailers could be potential buyers of real estate owned by Sears or other department stores.

Hedge fund ESL Investments Inc., which is run by well-known investor Edward Lampert, is the largest shareholder in both Kmart and Sears. Lampert took Kmart out of bankruptcy last year and has sold off some of its real estate, building up a huge cash pile.

Lampert will be chairman of Sears Holdings, while Alan Lacy, current chairman and chief executive of Sears, will be chief executive of the new company.

Kmart's current chief executive, Aylwin Lewis, will be president of Sears Holdings and chief executive officer of Sears Retail. The new company's chief financial officer will be Glenn Richter, who is now Sears' CFO.

The deal has already received unanimous approval from both companies' boards of directors.

Lampert said the combination of Kmart and Sears was compelling for customers, associates and shareholders.

"It will create a powerful leader in the retail industry, with greatly expanded points of distribution, leading proprietary home and apparel brands, and significant opportunities for improved scale and operating efficiencies," he said in the statement.

The merger is expected to generate $500 million in annual cost and revenue synergies, which will be fully realized after three years. It is also expected to boost earnings per share "significantly" in the first year, before restructuring costs.

Sears Holdings will have its headquarters in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, while Kmart will continue to have a significant presence in Troy, Michigan.

Kmart Buying Sears in $11 Billion Deal

CHICAGO (AP) - The discounter Kmart Holding Corp. is acquiring one of the most venerable names in U.S. retailing, the department store operator Sears, Roebuck & Co., in a surprise $11 billion deal that will create the nation's third largest general merchandise retailer.

The combined company under Wednesday's deal would be known as Sears Holdings Corp., but it was clearly orchestrated by Kmart chairman and Sears shareholder Edward Lampert who will lead a new board that will be dominated by Kmart directors.

Shares of both companies surged on news of the deal. Kmart shares climbed $15.80, or 16 percent, to $117.02 on the Nasdaq Stock Market while Sears shares soared $9.70, or 21 percent, to $54.90 on the New York Stock Exchange.

The deal marks a remarkable comeback for Kmart, a company once known for its "Blue Light Specials," that scaled back its operations after seeking bankruptcy protection in 2002. Sears' roots date to the late 1800s when it offered merchandise by mail order to farmers, opened its first retail store in 1925 and eventually became the nation's biggest department store operator.

The new company is expected to have $55 billion in annual revenues and 3,500 outlets. That will mean it will trail only Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. among the biggest U.S. general merchandise retailers.

The new company plans to operate the Kmart and Sears businesses under their current brand names.

It will be headquartered in the northwestern Chicago suburb of Hoffman Estates, where Sears has its headquarters, but will maintain a "significant presence" in Troy, Mich., where Kmart is based.

Under the agreement, which was unanimously approved by both companies' boards of directors, Kmart shareholders will receive one share of new Sears Holdings stock for each Kmart share. Sears, Roebuck shareholders can choose $50 in cash or half a share of Sears Holdings stock. That portion of the deal values Sears shares at $11 billion, a 10.6 percent premium over its value at Tuesday's close.

Kmart chairman Lampert will be the chairman of Sears Holdings, while Sears CEO Alan Lacy will be vice chairman and CEO of the new company. The new 10-member Sears Holdings board will have seven members from Kmart and three from Sears.

"The merger will enable us to manage the businesses of Sears and Kmart to produce a higher return than either company could achieve on its own," Lampert said in a press release.

Lampert, Kmart's majority shareholder, is also Sears' largest shareholder, holding a 15 percent stake in Sears through his ESL Investments Inc.

The merger, expected to close by the end of March 2005, is subject to approval by Kmart and Sears shareholders, regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions.

Kmart filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in early 2002, leading to the closing of about 600 stores, termination of 57,000 Kmart employees and cancellation of company stock. The retailer emerged from bankruptcy in May 2003 and in March posted its first profitable quarter in three years.

Mired in a retail slump, Sears had long fallen out of favor on Wall Street after losing ground to competitors and enduring sluggish sales for years. The company last fall introduced its Sears Grand stores, which offer grocery and convenience items besides traditional Sears fare such as clothing, home appliances and tools. The concept had delivered promising results for the struggling retailer at its first three stores in metropolitan Salt Lake City, Las Vegas and Chicago, in the suburb of Gurnee.

Kmart, in recent years, has been shedding many of its underperforming stores, a strategy that has helped the once-struggling discount retailer bounce back after it emerged from bankruptcy. Kmart recently agreed to sell 50 stores to Sears for $575 million as part of that strategy.

Kmart's earnings have been improving. On Wednesday, Kmart posted net income in the third quarter ended Oct. 27 of $553 million, or $5.45 per share, compared with a loss of $23 million, or 26 cents per share, for the same period a year ago.

Its stock price has risen nearly seven-fold to $101.22 on Tuesday from $15 a share when it emerged from bankruptcy.

In recent weeks, it appeared that Sears could be shifting toward a similar real estate strategy after the disclosure that Vornado Realty Trust, a real estate investment trust, had purchased a 4.3 percent interest in the department-store chain. That move left the impression that the value of Sears' real estate holdings may be not be fully reflected in its stock price. Since that Nov. 5 announcement, Sears' stock has jumped 25 percent. It closed at $45.20 in trading Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

Company officials said the merger would help make their properties more profitable through a broader retail presence and improved operational efficiency in areas such as procurement, marketing, information technology and supply chain management.

"The combination will greatly strengthen both the Sears and Kmart franchises by accelerating the Sears off-mall growth strategy and enhancing the brand portfolio of both companies," Lacy said. "This will clearly be a win for both companies' customers while significantly enhancing value for all shareholders."

The merger will not affect agreements to carry home and fashion lines including Martha Stewart Everyday, Lands' End and Sesame Street, the companies said.
Tennessee's the Choice, but It's Not Automatic

The 2004-05 women's college basketball season has a tough act to follow.

A very deep senior class, lifted the sport to new heights in skill and athleticism last season, which culminated in a widely watched NCAA tournament.
The three games of the women's Final Four were the most watched and highest-rated of their kind in ESPN history. The championship game was the most viewed college basketball game — men or women — broadcast by the cable network. (ESPN is in an estimated 89 million homes. The championship game averaged 3.8 million viewers, with a 4.3 rating.)

And now … what?

To keep its profile high, the women's game needs to continue pushing toward parity, which is possible because the talent pool has deepened with a generation of players getting some of the advantages their male counterparts enjoy, from competitive traveling teams to improved coaching and physical training.

"The one thing that stands out to me after seven years is how many good payers are out there," said Auburn Coach Nell Fortner, who is back in college basketball this season after working as a WNBA coach with Indiana, and as a television analyst.

"When I left in 1997, I'd see 30 coaches at a game watching two players. Now we're watching every player on the floor. I'm shocked at the amount of talent in the country, coast to coast. There is plenty to go around. There will be players with no accolades who are very good. From my perspective, parity is going to hit hard in next four years."

And despite the 2004 championship game being yet another installment of the Connecticut-Tennessee feud — Connecticut won again, joining Tennessee as the only teams to win three consecutive titles — Minnesota and Louisiana State brought new faces to the Final Four and performed well in semifinal losses.

"That is also indicative of an approaching parity," Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt said. "You look at [the tournament] and saw all these close games. Our last three games we played before the championship game we won by a total of six points.

"I think it speaks to a competitive environment in the women's game that the men's game has enjoyed for years."

There were also a couple of mid-major breakthroughs in the tournament. Santa Barbara, seeded 11th, upset Colorado and Houston to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time.

Santa Barbara Coach Mark French expects other mid-major breakthroughs this season, even if his team isn't among them. He's also not counting out his Gauchos.

"We learned a lot last year on how to handle expectations," French said. "I think that was as valuable as anything else for us. We always talk about what it takes to get to the Sweet 16. Well, we didn't know what it took.

"Now we know some things about ourselves. And I think there is a real excitement to replicate that feeling. When we walked off the court after giving UConn a battle, we felt, 'We can do this.' … That's good for the game."

Don't think the top programs haven't taken notice. Summitt and her staff went out and signed their best freshmen class in several years — one that has been rated best in the nation. Others making recruiting coups included Connecticut, Stanford, Purdue and Oklahoma.

Although there are no magic names such as Diana Taurasi and Alana Beard, there are some key returning players. LSU junior guard Seimone Augustus is expected to be on many national-player-of-the-year ballots by March. Minnesota senior center Janel McCarville is the odds-on favorite to be the top pick in next year's WNBA draft.

DePaul's Khara Smith, Notre Dame's Jacqueline Batteast, Kansas State's Kendra Wecker, Utah's Kim Smith, Duke's Monique Currie and Texas' Tiffany Jackson are some of the other top players.

That may keep the status quo intact.

Tennessee starts the season ranked No. 1, even though two prized freshmen are injured and may not play. The Lady Vols, who last won a national championship in 1998, expected to be pressed by Connecticut, Texas and LSU.

Other potential Final Four party crashers include Georgia, Stanford, Duke, North Carolina, Ohio State and Notre Dame. Also poised to make national noise are Baylor, Purdue, Michigan State, Boston College, Arizona and DePaul.

Summit said she's not surprised her team is starting at the head of the pack based on the number of players Tennessee has back, its freshman class and the return of senior guard Loree Moore from an injury.

But Summitt adds: "Right now, No. 1 is just a number."

November 16, 2004

Lady Vols roll

KNOXVILLE -- The only all-stars on the court Sunday at Thompson-Boling Arena wore orange and white.

That was the assessment of coach Jerry Gatewood, whose West Coast All-Stars were smothered by Tennessee's defensive pressure in a 77-36 Lady Vol exhibition victory.

"This is without doubt the No. 1 team in the country," said Gatewood, who admits to a bias in that his daughter Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood is on the Tennessee roster.

The Lady Vols, who are ranked as the top team in the country in most preseason polls and will open the regular season at UT Chattanooga on Friday, ran out to a 28-8 lead and cruised the rest of the way, despite some sluggishness offensively.

"In fairness to the team, we've had a very tough week of practice and we'll start to taper off now," UT coach Pat Summitt said.

"This past week, what we concentrated on was what you saw today in our defensive intensity. There was a lot of improvement. All in all, I thought our half-court defense was solid, and we're going to need that as we start the season on the road."

The Lady Vols limited the All-Stars to only 25 percent shooting and forced 23 turnovers in an uptempo style game that was far different from last week's exhibition against Carson-Newman.

Loree Moore led the way on the offensive end of the court, putting up 14 points on 6 of 6 shooting from the floor. She also had four assists.

"I guess I was on tonight," Moore said. "I was looking for open shots and in transition, I try to take advantage of that."

Senior Shyra Ely tallied 14 points as well and was perfect at the free throw line, which was an area that Summitt says the team will work on after a 16 of 28 night.

Brittany Jackson added 10 points from the perimeter, and Tye'sha Fluker, who continues to improve in the post, scored 11 points and had seven boards. Freshman Alexis Hornbuckle had eight rebounds and four steals in her second impressive exhibition game.

Summitt wanted her squad to get the ball inside more to Fluker and freshman Nicky Anosike, but the Lady Vols were shooting so well from the outside in the first half that it wasn't necessary.

Gatewood, whose daughter is trying to recover from tendonitis in a knee, says getting the ball inside and dictating the tempo of the game are the two areas that UT needs to work on as the season begins.

"This was our Super Bowl," Gatewood said of playing the Lady Vols. "We've been all over the country and coming here, I wanted to help (Tennessee) get ready for the season. They (the Lady Vols) have great size and speed, and I wanted my team to show them what they need to work on.

"They need to go inside more. I think Tye'sha could come away with double figures in every game if she wants to do that. I also noticed that when Loree Moore is out of the game, there was no one who could change the tempo we tried to set."

Moore said the Lady Vols focused on offense prior to the first exhibition against Carson-Newman and worked primarily on defense this past week.

"I think we were a lot better defensively, more physical. Now we just need to put last week and this week together," she said.

After traveling to open at Chattanooga on Friday, Tennessee will play North Carolina State in the Jimmy V. Classic at Raleigh on Nov. 21. The Lady Vols will then host George Washington for their home opener on Nov. 23.

A New Member of Lady Vol Basketball "Rehab Row"

Margaret Cox, National Anthem soloist for Lady Vol Basketball, will miss the season

The University of Tennessee Lady Vol basketball program has added a new member to "Rehab Row" for the 2004-05 season.

"Rehab Row" has been pretty crowded with rookies Alex Fuller (knee-will redshirt), Candace Parker (knee), Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood (patella) and Sybil Dosty (concussion) all sidelined. A 24-year veteran was added Monday.

Head Coach Pat Summitt announced today that Margaret Cox, National Anthem soloist for Lady Vol Basketball, will be forced to redshirt this season. Cox, who has sung the National Anthem at Tennessee women's basketball games for 24 years, will miss the season due to polyps on her left vocal cord.

"Margaret is a part of the Lady Vol Basketball tradition," said Summitt. "Our fans and players have enjoyed her fantastic voice for over two decades. Right now, she must concentrate on her health and her Lady Vol family wishes her the very best as she prepares for her treatment ahead."

The prognosis includes surgery at the Vanderbilt Voice Center which is world-renowned for treatment of voice problems. No date has been scheduled for surgery, as of yet, and the recovery process will last approximately three months.

Cox plans to be back next season, her 25th with the Lady Vols.

November 15, 2004

Powell Quits, Rice to Be New Secretary of State

Secretary of State Colin Powell, widely respected in a world often wary of America's superpower diplomacy, resigned on Monday and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice was set to replace him.

Penn State women's basketball coach hospitalized after fainting

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Penn State women's basketball coach Rene Portland was in the hospital Monday, one day after she fainted.

Portland was admitted to Mount Nittany Medical Center late Sunday night, said Dr. Wayne Sebastianelli, the school's director of athletic medicine. After being examined, she was expected to be released Monday or Tuesday, he said.

A hospital employee confirmed that Portland was still in the hospital Monday night but would not release any information about her condition.

Portland is expected to accompany the team for a game at Duke on Friday, Penn State said.

Tennessee increases lead in women's poll

Shooting 63 percent against a ranked opponent wasn't enough to pull Texas any closer to No. 1 Tennessee in the AP women's basketball poll.

In fact, the Longhorns lost ground Monday despite their torrid shooting in an 84-69 victory over then-No. 21 Penn State.

Tennessee, which hasn't played yet, received 22 first-place votes from a national media panel -- two more than in last week's preseason poll -- and had 1,092 points.

Woodard among Women's Basketball Hall of Fame inductees

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Former Harlem Globetrotter and Olympian Lynette Woodard and retired Auburn coach Joe Ciampi are among six chosen for the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.

NAIA star Kelli Litsch, high school coach Edna Tarbutton, AAU All-American Dixie Woodall and Hunter Low, founder of the Kodak All-American team, also will be enshrined at the hall in June, officials announced Sunday.

The hall, which opened in Knoxville in 1999, recognizes players, coaches, referees and contributors to women's basketball.

Eli's Coming: Manning to Start Sunday for Giants

New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin has decided to make a quarterback change and will give rookie Eli Manning his first NFL start this Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.

Roethlisberger Helps Steelers Win Seven in a Row

Ben Roethlisberger became the first rookie quarterback in 34 years to start a season with seven straight wins and Jerome Bettis got two touchdowns as the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Cleveland Browns 24-10 Sunday.

November 13, 2004

New Sites at Meredy's Place

I recently added two new sites to

A revamped version of The Loretta Young 'Net Show and

A Salute to Robert Wagner

Calif. Jury Finds Peterson Guilty of Double Murder

California fertilizer salesman Scott Peterson, 32, was convicted on Friday of the Christmas Eve 2002 murder of his pregnant wife, Laci, in a case that riveted Americans caught up in the tragic story of a seemingly perfect couple.

Bush Vows Second-Term Push for Palestinian State

President Bush on Friday set a four-year goal of seeing a Palestinian state established and he and British Prime Minister Tony Blair vowed to mobilize international support to help make it happen now that Yasser Arafat is dead.

U.S. Battles for Control of Falluja

U.S.-led troops battling to take control of Falluja ran into pockets of fierce resistance Friday and the United States said it would not stop until all insurgents in the Iraqi city had been wiped out.

Twenty-Two U.S. Troops Killed in Falluja

Twenty-two American troops have been killed and 170 wounded in the four-day assault on Falluja that has seen U.S. forces take about 80 percent of the rebel city so far, a U.S. Marine general said on Friday.

Arafat Buried in Chaotic Scenes in West Bank

Yasser Arafat was buried on Friday in chaotic scenes of grief and gunfire at the compound where he spent his final years encircled by the Israeli army and powerless to realize his dream of a Palestinian state.

November 10, 2004

Patti LuPone

Feinstein's at the Regency; 150 capacity; $60

Presented inhouse. Opened and reviewed Nov. 8, 2004. Runs through Nov. 20.

Patti LuPone has returned to Feinstein's at the Regency to tell the rest of the story. Last spring the Broadway diva appeared at the posh Park Avenue supper club with a parcel of bleeding heart ballads. The sequel set to "The Lady With the Torch" again examines the enormous legacy of songs that tell tales of unrequited love, broken hearts and love on the rocks. "I wasn't finished," mused LuPone.

Looking casually smart in black tights and a red silk blouse with the sleeves rolled up, the singer appeared more relaxed and assured than in her previous turn and created a warming bond with the audience right from her snappy opening with Willie Nelson's "Nightlife."

It isn't altogether as sad an affair as it might appear to be. Feeling sorry for yourself may be best defined by the Matt Dennis saloon song "Everything Happens to Me," but the lady takes it at an unusually bright, jaunty tempo, letting life's little disillusionments roll off the shoulder. With a playfully raucous vaudeville spirit, she takes "I Wanna Be Around" for a witty turn.

"Do It Again" becomes a theater piece in which she reveals both the humor and the sexual tension. And "My Buddy," a song that's been around for a mere 80 years-plus, doesn't soften a long night with the big hurt.

LuPone did not completely harness that trademark capacity to belt. With Cole Porter's "So in Love," the big Broadway sound filled the room, and though it was not acknowledged, it served to many in the room as a warming tribute to the memory of late MGM film star Howard Keel.

LuPone's all time favorite chanteuse was Edith Piaf, whom she remembered with obscure chanson "I Regret Everything," which segued into Porter's "I Love Paris" and "C'est Magnifique." Candlelight and champagne softened the sting of a torch song, and LuPone wiped away the tears with her insightful performance. Even when it came time to pay the check, she strolled among the tables begging, "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?"

Musical director-piano, Chris Fenwick.Conceived and directed by Scott Wottman.