Saturday, May 08, 2004

News 14 Carolina | 24 Hour Local News | HEADLINES | Sports memorabilia dealer pleads guilty in aging player caseSports memorabilia dealer pleads guilty in aging player case
5/8/2004 3:29 PM
By: Associated Press

(WINSTON-SALEM) -- A man who stole jerseys and memorabilia
from an ailing NFL Hall of Fame member has pleaded guilty to
transporting stolen goods.

Shawn Michael Stevens of Gloversville, New York, could get up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced in September.

He agreed to plead guilty Thursday in federal court in Greensboro.

Prosecutors agreed not to oppose a motion to dismiss a charge of issuing counterfeit checks.

The autograph dealer was indicted in late April on charges that said he fleeced 80-year-old Pete Pihos of Winston-Salem out of his football mementos in exchange for $30,000 in worthless checks.

Pihos has Alzheimer's disease.

He now has his old Pro Bowl jerseys back, as well as his leather pads and the football signed by 25 fellow Hall of Famers.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

TheStar.com - A day in the life of Janet

A day in the life of Janet
Jackson shows flogging a new CD is a lot of work
Morning radio, night TV concerts, even a short nap


Last time Janet Jackson was in town, three years ago, it was on the heels of the demise of her secret eight-year marriage to Rene Elizondo. She spent about nine hours here trying to dodge questions about her personal life while promoting her CD All For You, which debuted at No. 1 and sold more than 600,000 copies in its first week.

This time around, the elephant in the room is her right breast — the one outed at the Super Bowl. In addition, there's her brother Michael. It's all got to make it tough to face the media.

But she has no choice: Critics haven't been kind to her new CD Damita Jo, which only hit No. 2 on the charts and sold about 381,000 copies out the gate. So she's flaunting her wares in T.O. in a 45-hour PR blitz. Here's a minute-by-minute account of yesterday.

7:45 A.M.: Most entertainment reporters worth their salt haven't even cracked the blinds at this forsaken hour, but the day's biggest prey, pop singer Janet Jackson is already out the door of her posh Yorkville hotel.

Less than 10 hours after arriving from New York in a private jet, the 5-foot-2 singer and her personal bodyguard hop into a black SUV for the drive to CHUM-FM, where she is expected on Roger, Rick and Marilyn's morning show.

Her manager and a pair of record company publicists follow in another vehicle, and an advance security man is already in position at the Yonge St. station.

Although Jackson has been known to travel with a makeup artist, hairstylist, wardrobe stylist and trainer, this morning she applied her own lipstick and powder and selected loose jeans, a tight white crop top, black boots and sunglasses.

8:03 a.m.: Half a dozen admirers — earnest fans and professional autograph seekers — are gathered behind the CHUM-FM building. They shout her name and she waves before slipping through the back door.

The banter with the trio of radio personalities centres on her new album Damita Jo, but not about how its sales have lagged behind 2001's All for You.

There are no probing questions about Michael, despite fresh reports about items seized by prosecutors in his child-sex case. Instead the hosts discover that in addition to older brother Jackie, it's also her mother Katherine's birthday.

The singer ducks when girls' girl Marilyn Denis tries to get the scoop on her current beau, producer Jermaine Dupri.

"You guys are embarrassing me," she begs off in a soft mewl, but later reveals that she met Dupri when he completed a remix for her previous album.

8:41 a.m.: Jackson acknowledges that she occasionally forgets her song lyrics, but considers the teleprompters used by some artists "tacky."

In between calls from fans, Rick tells her about Canada's legalization of gay marriage and relaxing of marijuana laws and asks her to comment on America's current swing to the right.

"Instead of moving ahead we seem to be moving back," she opines.

9:13 a.m.: Jackson and her group arrive at Mix 99.9 FM where she makes a restroom stop and tapes a 15-minute segment with morning show mavericks Humble and Fred.

Although this appearance wasn't publicized, the groupies have managed to find her. They keep a hopeful vigil in the back laneway, waving albums and posters as her vehicle pulls off.

10:20 a.m.: At Flow 93.5 FM, there are four paid duty officers to keep fans at bay.

Ms. Jackson plays the word association game with the Morning Rush and responds to a caller who wants to know when the turning-38-later-this-month Jackson — sporting a gigantic yellow diamond on the marital digit — is going to have children.

"When I was younger I wanted a big family, like 10 kids, then came at time when I didn't want any," she says. "Now it's changed again."

While the station's senior staff hover in the distance with faux nonchalance, she slips on a black Flow T-shirt and poses for snaps with the on-air hosts.

1:30 p.m.: Jackson rises from a nap, orders room service and summons makeup artist Tym Buacharern, who has worked with her for seven years. (His clients include Cher, Annie Lennox and Tina Turner.)

"She has amazing skin and with a face like that you don't need much," says Buacharern whose half-hour regime ends with an application of her "favourite, favourite" lip colour — orange by Stila.

3:55 p.m.: When Jackson arrives at MuchMusic to co-host MuchOnDemand, her entourage has swelled to include her aesthetic team, five dancers and a half-dozen local security guards.

Hundreds of screaming teens and a line of media photographers wait for her to enter the TV studio for the interactive program that will meld her music videos with questions from the hosts and audience.

5:15 p.m.: Dressed in jeans, an orange top, distressed denim jacket and cap, she blushes and giggles, chewing gum and rarely breaking out of a whisper.

She comes off more like a naive schoolgirl than who she really is — a savvy, twice-divorced businesswoman who has a pierced nipple and coos the MF word on one of her new songs.

"I feel more comfortable onstage, I'm not fond of speaking," explained Jackson, whose most startling revelation was that her rippling abs were courtesy of three sets of a mere 15 sit-ups every other day.

Finally she escapes to the stage, where she is joined by her dancers to perform Damita Jo's "Just A Little While."

Then it's dinnertime.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Centre Daily Times | 05/04/2004 | Where are the wax packs and bubble gum?
Where are the wax packs and bubble gum?

By Todd Ceisner


The other day, I had the urge to be 11 again, to revert back to the glory days of the, uh, late 1980s and to feel the rush -- it's like liquid Bazooka running through your veins -- of tearing, actually delicately cutting, open a pack of baseball cards.

I bought three packs and nearly had to take out a second mortgage.

What in the name of Buddy Biancalana ever happened to 50-cent packs of cards and the powdery, petrified bubble gum that lurked inside?

$2.49 for four cards and no gum? Have we gone mad?

Sadly, I suspect we have.

We're mad for memoribilia now. Mad for a piece of "history." Mad for a thumbnail-sized swatch of Alex Rodriguez's jersey sewn into a sequentially-number card. Mad for a sliver of Barry Bonds' bat, glued to another sequentially-number card. Mad for a chance to say, for example, we were the 1 in 14,458 to pull a Group A autograph card from a pack of 2004 Topps.

Heck, there's probably some game-used Pokemon memorbilia out there.

I yearn for the days of rack packs, jumbo packs and bubble gum, when on any given Saturday, shopping malls would be transformed into trading card Meccas as hobby shop owners and small-time dealers would line the mall concourse with tables covered with boxes and showcases full of our cardboard heroes.

Growing up, I was used to baseball cards being produced by the Big Three -- Topps, Fleer and Donruss. Each company's product had its own quirks that made the cards desirable.

Topps, for instance, is still famous for the interesting media-guide facts about players that it prints on the cardbacks. A sampling: According to current Texas Ranger pitcher Kenny Rogers' 1990 card, he works on his family's strawberry farm; then-Milwaukee Brewer Mike Felder's favorite activities were dancing and bowling, or so says his 1991 card; and then there's the 1987 card of then-Seattle pitcher Matt Young, who led the American League with 19 losses in 1985. According to that card, he enjoyed handball as a means of relaxation.

Donruss offered a couple unique items. Each card would carry the player's full name -- Biancalana's full name, by the way, is Roland Americo Biancalana -- and each pack would contain a piece to a jigsaw puzzle, which honored a different Hall of Fame player each year.

Fleer, made famous by Billy Ripken's obscene bat knob in its 1989 issue, was always good for team logo stickers.

Currently, there's more variety

That's where card collecting has gone these days and it's too bad.

The hobby has gotten too big -- and too pricey -- to attract the teenager consumer who once drove the business.

The packs themselves have evolved as well. You used to be able to peel them open with your eyes closed, all the while hoping, believing that inside would be the sought-after rookie card Ken Griffey Jr. or the one card you needed to complete a set. Nowadays, they're shiny, vacuum-sealed vaults. It's as if you need a PIN and the crew from Ocean's Eleven just to crack one open.

The backs of the packs more resemble a scratch-off lottery ticket -- and math test -- than a treasure of our youth. The odds of pulling:

• a platinum portraits game-used jersey card from the packs of 2004 Fleer Platinum: 1:120 packs;

• a group G autograph from the 2004 Topps regular issue: 1:1,954 packs;

• a Picture Perfect card from the 2004 Leaf Second Edition: 1:45 packs.

And then there's this: On each of the packs I purchased, there is a no purchase necessary section underneath where the odds of getting a special insert card are stated. It allows people a chance to get one of the cards at the same odds without buying a pack.

Except there's one hitch for Canadian entrants. They're required to include the correct answer to a multi-step math problem. Topps wants the answer to 10 x 2 + 8 - 4. Fleer wants the solution to 19 + (23 x 7) - 42. And Leaf expects the right answer to 126 + 504 ÷ 42 x 21 - 48.

My head's spinning. Got any bubble gum?

Monday, May 03, 2004

AngryCountry.com - Concert Review: 95.5 WFMS - 10th Annual h.h.gregg Country Music Expo 2004
Day 1 – April 17, 2004
By. Vonna Rose Harrison – AngryCountry.com Staff Writer
Wow! How cool is it when you get to see country music stars for free! 95.5 WFMS presented the 10th Annual h.h. gregg Country Music Expo on April 17 and 18. The CME consists of two days of acoustic sets by some of Nashville’s rising new stars, successful songwriters, and big name stars to boot! WFMS gave away free concert tickets, but you could opt to purchase a Gold Circle reserved seat for $50.00, but what a bargain! With a line-up to rival the CMA’s and ACM’s red carpet, this year’s Country Music Expo was a phenomenal success.

The Indiana State Fairgrounds was the setting for the Country Music Expo and with the addition of the new Champion Pavilion; it made for expanded space for the crowds. Sponsoring the Expo this year were hhgregg, 8 Seconds Saloon, Budweiser, Buckaroo Boot Co, and Subway. In the Blue Ribbon Pavilion vendor area, hhgregg had wide screen televisions set up for those die-hard Nascar fans to view the race. 8 Seconds Saloon had a booth handing out tickets for a chance to win various prizes as well as running a mechanical bull booth where if you were brave enough you could hop on and ride. They even offered the opportunity to capture the moment on film and as such, was one very popular booth.

Additionally, there were food and jewelry vendors and this year, a Karoake booth for those wanting to show off their singing abilities. It was here that I discovered a man by the name of Jeff Hoover from Muncie, Indiana singing the Toby Keith tune, “Who’s Your Daddy”, he sounded so much like Toby, I thought they were playing Toby’s record for a moment and walked over to check it out. When I saw this guy standing up on the stage singing, I was amazed with his vocal abilities and took the opportunity to ask why he had never tried out for Nashville Star. According to Jeff, he has plans to do that very thing next year.

One of the best things about the Expo is everyone can visit the Autograph Ticket area and obtain a ticket for a chance at a Meet and Greet with one of the performers! This is a great opportunity for an up close personal moment with some country’s brightest stars. This is of course, is a very popular booth and first thing in the morning the line is endless.

Upon entering the Champion Pavilion you notice there are two huge screens at each side of the stage for those further back to get a close up view of each performer. The CME began with the Young Marines Opening Ceremony. And kicking off the show, the top three contestants from the Colgate Country Showdown were given a chance to prove why they should be winners. The first contestant up was Marcia Swank. One of the songs Marcia sang was “Be My Baby”, and unfortunately, she was not a strong singer. My suggestion to her would be to take some time to work on her vocals and try out again next year. Next up was Mark Bowling, and I have to say hands down, he was the winner from the moment he walked on stage. Mark sang a song he wrote for his son, “Live Like a Man” and not only was his song outstanding, his performance was as well. I think Mark needs to head to auditions for Nashville Star 3 next year. (I am trying to send you some talented people Tracy!) Last up was local group, Dagnabbit, they sang some original tunes, one being “The Yada Factor”, and I was ready to pull the plug as this song needs to be shelved permanently, enough said. Of course, in the end it was Mark Bowling who was declared the winner as I predicted.

Next on stage was Chef Scott Justvig from the Corner Gourmet, who gave a demonstration on the h.h. gregg Kitchen Stage before the WFMS morning show team, which consists of Jim Denny, Kevin Freeman, and Deborah Honeycutt arrived on stage. Joking around about Kevin not shaving his head this year, which he did after losing a bet with Jim Denny at last years CME, they said maybe Jim would have a possible “wardrobe malfunction” instead.

Then they announced the first performer, Curb recording artist, Rodney Atkins, whose current record “Honesty” is one of the finest records this writer has ever heard. I was completely taken by Rodney’s acoustic performance, with a voice so powerful and rich it pulls you in and melts you right where you stand. After thanking WFMS for playing his record, it was to the crowd’s delight; he blessed us with a spectacular and emotionally charged presentation of “Honesty”. I am very pleased to say he gained some new Indy fans as numerous people were asking me about him after just one song. Rodney is an amazing talent and this writer believes he has made a meaningful start to a long, successful career, as I was equally impressed with his breath-taking presentation of the tune “The Man I Am Today”. This is a song, he explained was written after hearing “Honesty” and it was well received by this Indiana crowd. After his performance it was also my pleasure to meet Rodney as he signed autographs at the Karma Music Store booth. My 11-year-old daughter Mariah was thrilled to meet him and he was especially sweet to her and I. I am not sure how many people were lined up, but he signed autographs and posed for pictures with each person. I stayed on hand for a few young ladies and gentlemen, who didn’t have a camera to capture this moment, and being who I am, I didn’t want them to miss out on having a photograph with this rising star. http://www.rodneyatkins.com

The next performer was Universal South recording artist, Amanda Wilkinson, embarking on a new solo career. Singing “Life is a Beautiful Thing” a song off her yet to be released record, Amanda amazed me with her crystal clear sound. With a hat set at a jaunty angle, a wardrobe for the best-dressed lists, Amanda exudes confidence and grace. Package this with remarkable vocals and she is sure to be a huge hit as a solo artist. Ending her set, Amanda thanked WFMS and the audience for showing support of the Wilkinson’s hit tune “26 Cents” and the crowd showed their appreciation clapping and singing along. http://www.wilkinsonsonline.com

WFMS DJ Darren Tandy introduced the next performer, BNA recording artist, Rachel Proctor. Rachel thanked WFMS for playing her song “Days Like This” and then proceeded to belt out this tune with her powerful voice emanating throughout the pavilion. Rachel then told us how she had wanted to get Martina McBride to record the song “Me and Emily”, but her record company wanted her to record it before singing this very emotional, touching song. This one was a definite crowd favorite and I was impressed with Rachel’s vocal abilities, as it was beautiful music to my ears. http://www.bnarecords.com/rp/rp.htm

Rushlow was next up and did an excellent all acoustic set beginning with their new single “Sweet Summer Rain”. Tim Rushlow asked the audience, “Are ya feelin’ good?” and they responded with a wholehearted Yes! To which he replied, “Hell Yeah, You look good!” Tim thanked WFMS and the fans and informed us that Rushlow has sold more records in Indianapolis than anywhere in the United States. The crowd cheered before they began to sing their hit single, “I Can’t Be Your Friend”. Before they exited the stage, they invited everyone to 8 Seconds Saloon that evening for the CME After Party so we could experience them “plugged in”. http://www.timrushlow.com

Returning to the stage we were presented with another demonstration by Chef Scott Justvig on the h.h. gregg Kitchen Stage. The anticipation was building for me as I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of Big & Rich to the CME stage. And arrive they did, starting off with “Wild West Show”, their first amazingly unique single off their debut record “Horse of a Different Color”, due out May 4th. As they began to sing the cut “Real World”, it was humorous to see the reaction of people in the audience to this new country duo. It was glaringly apparent I am a fan of this new duo as I was singing along, not oblivious to the fact several people thought I had lost my mind. When they launched into “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy” they asked for the audience to join in. I was thrilled to see the crowd starting to “get it” about these guys and noticed numerous members of the audience participating in the sing along. I am a firm believer that people want to hear something different than the same old mainstream country music today. We hunger for that slice of individuality that smacks us in the face, literally, and brings us a greater sense of satisfaction. Big & Rich do just that! Original, extremely talented and outrageously fun, Big & Rich are in their words going to be, ”Right there in your face for a long time”. http://www.bigandrich.com

After their amazing performance, it was time to talk about how Big & Rich were signed with Warner Brothers. WFMS’s own Mimi Pierce and J.D. Cannon, joined several executives, notably Warner Brothers Nashville’s, Paul Worley along with Big & Rich on to the stage. WFMS’s own Steve Stuart posed a question to Big Kenny & John Rich, from a member of the audience, Anita Thrower. Anita wanted to know when the Muzik Mafia would be entertaining us here in Indiana since she loved their performance in Detroit. Both said it would be great to play here in Indy, but it was up the guys sitting on stage for approval. And if it is any indication of the reception they would receive in Indy, I am sure it would turn into a fantastic party as Big & Rich wowed this audience with their show.

After a short break, it was now time for the reveal of the surprise guest. When they proceeded to bring a black piano on stage I knew in that moment it was, Arista/Nashville recording artist, Phil Vassar. Phil arrived on stage and the audience cheered him as he sang “American Child”. Phil plays one mean piano, and added to his great set with a wonderful performance of “Six Pack Summer”. The audience truly enjoyed having Phil there as the surprise guest as he had them up on their feet singing and dancing along for his entire set. http://www.philvassar.com

Vivaton recording artist, Chely Wright was next to the stage and sang her first single “Shut Up and Drive” to get the crowd going. She then pointed out to the audience that the official CME T-shirt did not have her listed as a performer and then proceeded to personally sign one for a very ecstatic fan. Chely went on to thank WFMS and stated they do more for country music than any other before singing “Single White Female”, a definite fan favorite as they showed their enthusiasm for her return to the stage. It is nice to see Chely return and get back on the road with her new record and the first single “Back of the Bottom Drawer”, the tender ballad of love lessons learned. http://www.chely.com

Curb recording duo, Blue County, which is made up of former Christian music artist, Aaron Benward who was born in Auburn, Indiana and former daytime actor, Scott Reeves took to the stage next. This good-looking duo performed their soon-to-be-released single “That’s Cool”. They stated they have been friends for six years and if it is any indication of future success the ladies in the crowd made them very welcome. These guy’s showcased sweet harmonies as they sang their current single, “Good Little Girls”, which thrilled the crowd. This duo have been friends for 6 years and at the urging of their wives finally got together. It will be interesting to follow this talented new duo and watch them develop as the years progress. http://www.bluecountyfans.com

Taking the stage for a cooking demonstration was Hazel Smith, Country Music Insider’s First Lady of Nashville. Hazel is always a highlight to the CME and Indianapolis loves her! To end the first day of CME 2004, we were delighted to welcome Equity recording artist Clint Black. The place went wild as Clint took the stage singing “State of Mind” and followed with “Killin Time”, one of my favorite CB tunes. Clint then sang 1989’s “Better Man” and the audience enthusiastically showed their approval. Clint explained he had a cold and almost didn’t make it to the show – so he was taking it easy. He also spoke about his 3-year-old daughter Lily, who was the inspiration for the song “Spend My Time” and the audience was treated to a top-notch performance of this one. He then launched into the next single set for release “The Boogie Man”, and it was well received from this enthusiastic Indiana crowd. Clint sang the rockin’ tune “Nothing But the Taillights” and thanked WFMS for all they do. He asked the crowd “Did I do okay?” to which they responded with spirited hootin’ and hollerin’. Clint then closed out the show with two more songs for the encore, “Put Yourself in My Shoes” and “We Tell Ourselves”. It is a true show of professionalism when a singer/songwriter/performer comes to your city while not feeling up to par and gives it his all. Clint Black did just that and proved why he has been at the top of the charts and in the hearts of many throughout the years. With much appreciation and thanks from the Indiana fans, it was truly an honor he chose to be there for us. What a spectacular ending to the first day of the 2004 CME

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Rosenblatt on Racing: Servis still a ``Philly guy''

The morning after John Servis won the Kentucky Derby with Smarty Jones, the trainer was still having a hard time taking it all in.

"It's still a little overwhelming," Servis said on a rainy Sunday at Churchill Downs. "It'll probably be sinking in for the next few days."

Servis said Smarty Jones came out of the race healthy and would be shipped back to his home base at Philadelphia Park on Monday or Tuesday to begin training for the Preakness at Pimlico on May 15.

When Servis returns to his home in Bensalem, Pa., about a mile from the track, he might have a better idea how popular Smarty Jones has become.

Servis already knows a huge roar went up from the Phillies crowd when the race was shown on the giant video screen before Saturday's game. And friends told him folks at Philly Park were "jumping on tables" to celebrate Smarty's win.

"The city is embracing it, the whole state is embracing it," Servis said. "It'll be fun. We're very fortunate to be part of it."

Asked if Smarty Jones might be more popular than the Flyers, Servis said: "His winning streak's a little longer then theirs so I'd have to say Smarty -- but we'll be rooting for them."

Winning the Derby is a golden opportunity for a trainer to move up in the ranks, and perhaps set up shop at a bigger track like Santa Anita or Belmont Park or Churchill Downs.

But just listening to Servis, there's no way the 45-year-old trainer born in West Virginia is about to leave Philly. With a wife and two teenage children, and living in a city he loves, Servis seems quite comfortable, Derby win or not.

He's been approached about leaving, but says he's not interested.

"My oldest son is going to be a senior next year and that's my last year with him," he said. "There's nothing more important to me than my family. I'm not going anywhere."

With his wife, Sherry, standing next to him holding a long-stemmed red rose, Servis then related a touching moment with his 16-year-old son Blane before the race.

The horses enter the track from the backstretch and are led all the way around the track with owners, trainers and family walking along. Blane, Servis said, is a quiet kid. "I could feel him coming up behind me, and he said `Dad, I'm getting so excited.' That was good. That was great."

Servis was away from his family for almost two months while Smarty Jones prepped for the Derby at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark. The colt won the Southwest Stakes, the Rebel Stakes and the Arkansas Derby during that time, and then arrived at Churchill Downs less than two weeks ago.

Together for Derby week, the Servis' soaked up the scenes, especially the moments when fans where cheering for Smarty Jones before the race.

"We're walking out between the barns, and when we made the cut to head down (onto the track), the people were lined up on both sides," Servis said. "When they saw his number, they just started clapping, and I'm trying to quiet them ... The way over people were calling out 'Smar-tee! Smar-tee!' It was great to have that support."

Smarty's win made instant celebrities of Servis, Philly Park jockey Stewart Elliott and owners Roy and Patricia Chapman. After Smarty Jones put away Lion Heart in what turned out to be a two-horse race instead of the predicted wide-open affair, the Servis' got a taste of fame.

Walking through their hotel lobby late Saturday night, Servis said people just started applauding. They also met a couple from Scotland who invited them to the Melbourne Cup in Australia.

"We'd love to have you there." Serivs said. "I said, 'I know my wife would love to go there, but it's the first week of November, that's Breeders' Cup time."'

Added Servis' wife: "And he said, 'Well, we can't change our parade for you, John."'

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