Saturday, February 26, 2005

Star Wars: Community | More Autograph Stars in the Celebration Sky! 

Star Wars: Community | More Autograph Stars in the Celebration Sky!

More Autograph Stars in the Celebration Sky!
February 24, 2005

The list of autograph stars coming to Star Wars Celebration III April 21 - 24, 2005 continues to grow, with more stars to be announced soon. Come meet the actors behind your favorite characters in the Autograph Hall, brought to the show by Official Pix, the Star Wars autograph provider for Celebration III.
Amy Allen, Aayla Secura, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith

Kenny Baker, R2-D2 in all 6 films of the saga: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith.

Jerome Blake, Mas Amedda, Orn Free Taa, Rune Haako, The Phantom Menace, Revenge of the Sith.

Paul Blake, Greedo, A New Hope.

Ralph Brown, Ric Olié, The Phantom Menace.

Garrick Hagon, Biggs Darklighter, A New Hope.

Gerald Home, Tessek, Return of the Jedi.

Jesse Jensen, Saesee Tiin, Attack of the Clones.

Zach Jensen, Kit Fisto, Attack of the Clones.

Shannon McRandle, Mara Jade, Star Wars trading cards.

Rena Owen, Taun We, Senator Nee Alavar, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith.

Mary Oyaya, Luminara Unduli, Attack of the Clones.

Mike Quinn, Nien Nunb, Return of the Jedi.

Michael Sheard, Admiral Ozzel, The Empire Strikes Back.

Orli Shoshan, Shaak Ti, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith.

Exhibit Hall A
Indiana Convention Center
Thursday, April 21:
Noon -- 1:00 PM - Official Star Wars Fan Club members only.
1:00 PM - 8:00 PM -- open to all CIII attendees.

Friday & Saturday, April 22-23:
9:00 AM -- 10:00 AM - Official Star Wars Fan Club members only.
10:00 AM - 7:00 PM -- open to all CIII attendees.

Sunday, April 24:
9:00 AM -- 10:00 AM - Official Star Wars Fan Club members only.
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM -- open to all CIII attendees.

Star Wars: Community | Star Wars Bad Boys to Autograph at Celebration III 

Star Wars: Community | Star Wars Bad Boys to Autograph at Celebration IIIActors who portrayed our favorite Star Wars baddies of all time are headed to Celebration III this April to meet with fans and sign in the Autograph Hall at the Indiana Convention Center. These are just the first of a long list of autograph guests to be announced soon, coming to Celebration III with Official Pix, the Star Wars autograph provider for the event.
The actor behind the most fearsome bounty hunter in the galaxy, and the one with the coolest costume, Jeremy Bulloch portrayed Boba Fett in the original trilogy. Bulloch will also appear, sans the legendary dented helmet, as the pilot of the Tantive IV in Revenge of the Sith this coming May.

David Prowse first donned the costume of Darth Vader in the original trilogy. The character has become one of the most recognized, and best-loved, villains in pop culture history.

Not to be outdone by the original trilogy, the prequels have their share of memorable villains. Ray Park's iconic image in his Darth Maul make-up was the face that launched the Star Wars prequels.

The character of Boba Fett spans the entire saga, and started with the character as a young man, portrayed in Attack of the Clones by actor Daniel Logan.

In addition to their time in Autograph Hall, the C2 Ventures autograph guests will be appearing on stage to talk about making the films, perhaps to gossip about what's new in their lives, and to have some fun with the audiences. There will be question and answer sessions with the stars as well. Keep watching starwars.com/c3 and starwarscelebration.com for coming stage appearance schedules.

Sox draw excited crowds to spring training 

Times Argus

Sox draw excited crowds to spring training

February 26, 2005

By Howard Ulman Associated Press

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The lone figure stood in a blue Yankees T-shirt at the front of the autograph line. He smiled as the Boston Red Sox walked by.

Even New York fans were drawn to the new world champions on their first day together since the final out of the World Series last October.

"I don't know how brave I am," said Dave Major, a math teacher from just outside Syracuse, N.Y., who stood out in his enemy attire. "I think I'm more stupid than brave."

Crowds have flocked to the Red Sox spring training complex ever since the team moved to Fort Myers from Winter Haven in 1993. But they're different this year — bigger, happier and louder.

"Red Sox number one," a young voice screamed as manager Terry Francona faced 10 television cameras for his daily news conference. "That's what I'm talkin' about!"

The players and coaches reward that kind of enthusiasm by signing plenty of autographs. Even team president Larry Lucchino worked the line eagerly.

"I love you, Larry," one fan shouted at the gray-haired executive.

"Thank you," Lucchino said. Then, aware that fans can be fickle, he paused and hinted in a quiet voice how long that love might last, "today."

There are other changes — white fences instead of flimsy yellow ropes separate fans from players walking to the fields, bleachers for spectators who previously had to stand and plenty of new attire.

Peter Kramer wore a Red Sox championship T-shirt that he bought off the Internet because stores near his home in Saugerties, N.Y., had none.

"Prior to this I had the T-shirt that said '1918 world champions,"' said Kramer, a New Hampshire native and Red Sox fan for most of his 66 years. "My son picked it up for me about six or seven years ago in Boston. It's in my drawer now."

Men and women, boys and girls, old and young, watch all the players — even those with no chance to start the season on the major-league roster. One fan, Bob Hass of Fort Lauderdale, came with his two young daughters who had one goal.

"They only want Johnny Damon's autograph," he said.

The center fielder is symbolic of why the Red Sox are an attraction like no other team — a sideshow of stars with crazy hair and wild senses of humor.

Sluggers David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez smile a lot more than they drive in runs, which they do a lot. Kevin Millar's motor mouth is aimed at teammates as well as opponents. And Damon, with his long dark hair streaked with blonde, is the object of rockstar-like adulation.

"It just seems like the fans are all happy," he said. "I give autographs but kids were getting trampled so I don't want that on my conscience so I try to give them 10 minutes a day and, if they start pushing, then (I'm) gone."

The crowds are so large — and parking so scarce — that fans park several miles away at City of Palms Park, where the Red Sox play exhibition games, and take shuttle busses to the complex.

Dave McHugh guards over the few parking spaces at the complex itself, turning away anyone who doesn't belong.

"It's much busier this year," said McHugh, of Portland, Maine. "They all want to get in so they come up with the craziest excuses. I tell them, 'if you give me one I haven't heard before, I'll let you in."'

Those who take the buses are thrilled when they arrive.

"It's overwhelming. It's a feeling I never thought I'd have," said Elaine Boldi, 51, a physical education teacher from Stafford Springs, Conn. "I would have come even if they weren't champs but this makes it sweeter."

Bob McKeveny, 46, is principal at Seneca Falls (N.Y.) Middle School and visited several camps with two of his employees — Major and physical education teacher Larry Lang, 34.

"This is the first time this team's been together since that last World Series game so you can see the excitement among these people and it's just contagious," he said.

Lang, wearing a Red Sox T-shirt, stood beside Major in his Yankee T-shirt.

"Just to be here after winning the world championship after 86 years, it's special," Lang said, "especially with all the fans and the way they're reacting."

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Telegraph | News | Gonzo's ashes 'to be blasted from cannon' 

Telegraph | News | Gonzo's ashes 'to be blasted from cannon'

The ashes of American author Hunter S Thompson may be blasted from a cannon, in accordance with his dying wishes, his family has said.

Thompson, 67, dubbed the "gonzo journalist", said several times that he wanted an artillery send-off for his remains.

Thompson 'had planned his suicide'
Family and friends are now trying to fulfil his wish.

"If that's what he wanted, we'll see if we can pull it off," said historian Douglas Brinkley, a friend of Thompson's and now the family's spokesman.

Thompson, with a penchant for drugs, guns and flame-thrower prose, died earlier this week after shooting himself with a shotgun at his Aspen-area home.

"There's no question, I'm sure that's what he would want," said Mike Cleverly, a longtime friend and neighbour. "Hunter truly loved that kind of thing."

Members of Thompson's family said the writer discussed committing suicide at least 10 years before he took his life.

"I've known for many, many years that this is how Hunter would go," Juan Thompson told the Rocky Mountain News today.

Mr Brinkley added Thompson did not take his life "in a moment of haste or anger or despondency" but probably planned his suicide well in advance because of declining health.

The author of books including "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" was in pain from a host of problems that included a broken leg and a hip replacement.

"I think he made a conscious decision that he had an incredible run of 67 years, lived the way he wanted to, and wasn't going to suffer the indignities of old age," Mr Brinkley said.

CMA announces first round of Music Festival artists 

Local News - Baxter Bulletin - www.baxterbulletin.com

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Four days, 30 hours of autograph signings, 70 hours of live music, more than 200 country music artists and celebrities, and more than 130,000 fans add up to one major musical event — 2005 CMA Music Festival "Country Music's Biggest Party," June 9-12, in downtown Nashville.

"CMA Music Festival has become the must-attend event for any country music enthusiast," said CMA Executive Director Ed Benson in a press release. "This is a party with something for everyone. The music spans the genre, and the activities appeal to all ages — from children in the Family Zone to the party-hardy club hoppers during After Hours. And the opportunities to meet and interact with the artists, a hallmark of this event for the past 34 years, continue with numerous activities for every taste and interest, from archery to cooking."

With hundreds of artists expected to participate and more than 70 hours of concerts at venues centrally located in downtown Nashville, CMA Music Festival is a four-day, nonstop celebration of America's music for people of all ages who love great songs, great artists and a great time.

Dubbed the "crown jewel" of country music festivals by USA Today, CMA Music Festival builds on the reputation of Fan Fair, which was created exclusively for the fans in 1972. And 33 years later, the unique relationship between country music artists and their admirers remains at the heart of CMA Music Festival. Each June, the artists take time out of their touring schedules to play for free, meet fans, sign autographs and pose for photos, to give back to the people and community that have supported them throughout the year.

"We are thrilled to continue our message of 'country music without prejudice' with our first appearance at the CMA Music Festival," said Big Kenny and John Rich of Big & Rich. "We are also excited that our first Raybaw Records artist, Cowboy Troy, will be a part of the show."

"There's no place to have a better time than at the CMA Music Festival," said LeAnn Rimes. "I get to spend personal time with my fans, who I love, plus hear some of the greatest music in the world. It's country music's most exciting week of the year."

"It is always a privilege to have the opportunity to perform for so many enthusiastic country music fans all gathered in one place," said Heidi Newfield Johnson of Trick Pony. "We know that the 2005 CMA Music Festival will be the best ever and we can't wait."

"CMA Music Festival is such a great event to be involved with," said Phil Vassar. "We have the best fans in the world, and to have them all in one place and feel the energy and excitement is pretty amazing. I'm proud to be participating again this year."

Also appearing are Trace Adkins, Steve Azar, Dierks Bentley, Brad Cotter, Billy Currington, Josh Gracin, The Jenkins, Jo Dee Messina, Montgomery Gentry, Rascal Flatts, Julie Roberts, Keith Urban, Jimmy Wayne, Mark Wills, Gretchen Wilson, Darryl Worley and Michelle Wright, with more artists to be added.

CMA Music Festival has a lot to offer including nightly, star-packed concerts at The Coliseum with state-of-the-art production, two huge stages for continuous entertainment, the popular CMA Music Festival Photo Line and giant video screens capturing all of the excitement.

In addition to the nightly concerts, there will be daily, nonstop music at the Greased Lightning Daytime Stages with an eclectic lineup of artists performing on dual stages, including country hit-makers, rising stars, legends, stellar bluegrass performers and surprise guests.

But, CMA Music Festival isn't just about seeing artists in concert.

The event offers numerous opportunities for fans to interact and see their favorite stars in unique settings, whether it's getting an autograph in the Wrangler Fan Fair (Exhibit Hall) at the Nashville Convention Center; asking questions during the CMA Celebrity Close Up series; or standing clear as the artists fire arrows at targets during the "Fourth Annual Andy Griggs Celebrity Archery Tournament."

Of all the celebrities who donate their time to the event, the stars of NBC Daytime dramas "Days of Our Lives" and "Passions" are among the most popular.

And they are back in 2005 for the fifth consecutive year to participate in a variety of CMA Music Festival activities, from signing autographs at Wrangler Fan Fair, to introducing concert performers and hosting the fifth annual "NBC Daytime After Hours Party," with skits and musical performances at the Wildhorse Saloon, 11 p.m. June 11 (separate ticket required).

For information and tickets, call the Wildhorse Saloon (615) 902-8200 or www.wildhorsesaloon.com

If you're looking for the perfect place to take the entire family, CMA Music Festival offers the Bush's Baked Beans Family Zone, with special appearances by famous baked beans spokesduo Jay Bush and his dog Duke and free activities for all ages (11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily).

It's the place for children and adults to kick back and have fun with games, hands-on educational exhibits, storytelling with Country artists and more.

In fact, CMA Music Festival is very family friendly with discounts for fans 14 and younger, and as always, children 3 and younger are admitted free — making it an attractive family vacation value.

New in 2005 will be the Crisco Country Favorites Corner, with celebrity chefs and cooking demonstrations

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Yahoo! News - Flashing dance floor seen in Saturday Night Fever to be auctioned off 

Yahoo! News - Flashing dance floor seen in Saturday Night Fever to be auctioned off

NEW YORK (AP) - The flashing, colourful Brooklyn dance floor where John Travolta strutted and hustled in Saturday Night Fever will be offered at auction, a dealer of Hollywood memorabilia said.

The floor, the centrepiece of the 2001 Odyssey nightclub in Bay Ridge, was saved by club owner Jay Rizzo after the club closed last week.

The auction will be held on April 1 at the galleries of Profiles in History, a memorabilia dealer in Beverly Hills, Calif., its editor, Kevin Hasely, said.

The floor will remain in New York City during the California auction. It has already attracted prospective bidders, particularly memorabilia collectors, Hasely said Tuesday.

"We have interest from private collectors who want the dance floor for themselves, and from club owners who know the commercial value of having the floor made famous in Saturday Night Fever," Brian Chanes, director of sales at Profiles in History, told New York's Daily News.

Rizzo, who renamed the 2001 Odyssey to Spectrum in 1987, said the floor has long been a curiosity, especially among tourists.

"Over the years, we've had thousands of people who come here just to see it," Rizzo told the News. "It is incredibly popular with tourists - particularly from Europe."

In the 1977 movie, the floor was in the scene where Travolta's character, Tony Manero, went from paint store clerk to disco playboy on Saturday nights.

The 10-year-old Profiles in History describes itself as the nation's leading dealer in guaranteed-authentic original historical autographs, letters, documents, vintage signed photographs and manuscripts, and auctioneer of Hollywood memorabilia.

The envelope, please: 'Aviator,' 'Million Dollar Baby' Oscar favorites  

The envelope, please: 'Aviator,' 'Million Dollar Baby' Oscar favorites

Ariel Ratner Yomiuri Shimbun Los Angeles Bureau

It's awards season in Hollywood and all eyes are turning to the competition for the biggest prize in town: the Oscars.

The 77th annual Academy Awards, to be presented at Hollywood's Kodak Theater on Sunday, could prove to be one of the most exciting in recent years.

While last year the overwhelming critical and commercial success of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King left the winner in many categories in little doubt, this time around the field is wide open. Much of the buzz is centered on two films, Martin Scorcese's The Aviator, which leads the pack with 11 nominations, and Clint Eastwood's late entry Million Dollar Baby. But with hits like Sideways, Ray, and Finding Neverland gathering many nominations, the competition is certain to be fierce.


'Aviator,' 'Baby' lock horns

The contest in the Best Picture category seems to be evenly split between The Aviator and Million Dollar Baby. With its retelling of the life of film and aviation pioneer Howard Hughes, The Aviator appears to be the establishment choice for the Oscar, as evidenced by its win at the Golden Globes for Best Dramatic Picture. Scorsese's film has all the elements that the Academy loves: an epic tale about a conflicted visionary, complete with stellar performances from the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Cate Blachett and a touch of the magic of Hollywood's Golden Age. The Aviator's only drawback is that the film progresses along lines that can be so predictable that it sometimes veers into cliche.

Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby is anything but predictable. Its story of the encounter between female boxer Maggie Fitzgerald (Hillary Swank) and down-and-out trainer Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) comes complete with a riveting plot twist that--let's just say to save it for those who haven't seen it--packs quite a punch.

The late buzz around Million Dollar Baby has been so intense that many have given its gripping personal tale a slight edge over the larger-than-life action of The Aviator.

With the competition between the two front-runners so close, watch for Alexander Payne's Sideways as an outside chance for Best Picture. The only comedy among the nominees, Sideways has won numerous awards this season, including the Golden Globes award for Best Comedic or Musical Picture.

The witty story of two middle-aged men's poignant, offbeat trip through California's wine country, Sideways may have just enough independent-minded voters to sneak through with the Oscar if The Aviator and Million Dollar Baby split the establishment vote.

The other two nominees for Best Picture, Ray, Taylor Hackford's biopic of legendary blues singer Ray Charles, and Finding Neverland, Marc Foster's real-life tale of Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie, lack the gravitas to be leading contenders, but look for their stars Jamie Foxx and Johnny Depp in the Best Actor category.

The Oscar for directing seems likewise to be toss-up between Scorsese for The Aviator and Eastwood for Million Dollar Baby. If for nothing else than to atone for years of passing him by, despite four previous nominations, Scorsese is the favorite. The conventional wisdom is that the Academy will honor Scorsese for his lifetime of achievement while skipping over Eastwood, the Golden Globe winner, because of his previous Best Director win for Unforgiven. If that happens, look for the Academy to make a split decision and hand Eastwood the Best Picture title for Million Dollar Baby. But the competition between these two is so close, that the exact opposite could happen with Eastwood winning for Best Director and Scorsese for Best Picture, just as in the Golden Globes.

Outside possibilities for Best Directing remain with Alexander Payne for Sideways, Taylor Hackford for Ray, and Mike Leigh for Vera Drake, his brilliant but small-scale drama about abortion in 1950s England.


Foxx could achieve rare feat

In the acting categories, the consensus favorite for Best Actor is Jamie Foxx, who turns in a dead-on and scintillating performance as Ray Charles.

Foxx insisted on playing the role with prosthetics over his eyes to render him blind, and even reportedly played along on the piano perfectly through the film's incredible soundtrack (although it is only Charles' playing and voice that we actually hear). Foxx has the chance to pull off a rare victory in both the lead and supporting actor slot as he is also nominated for his supporting role in Collateral.

Other contenders for the Best Actor Oscar include Depp, whose weighty performance in Finding Neverland displayed not only his considerable talent but his tremendous range.

The Golden Globe winner, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Clint Eastwood are also in the running for their respective roles in The Aviator and Million Dollar Baby, while Don Cheadle's moving performance in Hotel Rwanda has earned him an outside but well-deserved chance at the coveted Oscar.

On the female side, the favorite for Best Actress is Hilary Swank for her role in Million Dollar Baby, which would be her second Oscar after an equally gritty performance in 1999's Boys Don't Cry. If Swank pulls through, Million Dollar Baby could conceivably sweep the four big categories if Eastwood captures the award for Best Acting, Directing, and Best Picture.

Such a sweep hasn't happened since 1991's The Silence of the Lambs and would be quite an accomplishment considering the tough competition in all categories. Swank's biggest competition may come from Kate Winslet for her quirky role in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a performance that has earned her critical acclaim and increased her already devoted following. Annette Bening's performance in Being Julia is also a close contender for the Oscar, with lesser-knowns Catalina Sandino Moreno for Maria Full of Grace and Imelda Staunton for Vera Drake rounding out the nominees.


Controversial films left out

More than most years, this year's Oscars may come to be remembered as much for those films that weren't nominated as for those that were.

The year's two most talked-about films were easily Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ and Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, both of which not only racked up significant box office totals, but came to symbolize the cultural divide in the United States during last year's presidential election.

Moore's film, the highest-grossing documentary ever, was shut out of the Oscar race after he chose not to submit it for consideration for Best Documentary Feature. (Moore hoped to show the movie on TV, an Oscar violation, in order to give it the widest possible audience before the election.) Gibson's movie, one of Hollywood's highest grossing ever, received nominations for both cinematography and makeup but was passed over in the higher profile categories.

Despite these snubs, considering the success that both Gibson and Moore have experienced over the past year, not to mention the passions they have aroused, it is difficult to imagine them getting too worked up about the lack of nominations. (They are both previous Oscar winners.)

In terms of the ceremony itself, the Oscars are sure to have all the spectacle of years past. Many are eagerly awaiting the performance of first-time Oscar host Chris Rock.

Rock, one of Hollywood's best-known African-American comedians and a superstar among the MTV crowd, has an edgy humor that is side-splitting and often quite racy, making him an intriguing and potentially risky choice to follow last year's host, perennial favorite Billy Crystal.

And of course, fans everywhere will tune in to watch the fashion gurus dissect the latest trends on the Red Carpet as the stars come dressed in their finest for ceremony and the legendary parties afterward. A good time will hopefully be had by them, and by the rest of us, watching from the comfort of our living rooms.

Celebrity Addresses 

(Author Harry Potter)
J.K Rowling
C/O Bloomsbury Publishing
38 Soho Square
London W1V 5D

Dave Matthews
C/O Dave Matthews Band
509 Hartnell Street
Monterrey, CA 93940

Michael Moore
225 West 83rd Street
Apartment 17L
New York, NY 10024



Smith sets red carpet record
By Metro
23 February 2005
Hollywood star Will Smith set a red-carpet record yesterday by appearing at three movie premieres in one day.

Look here too!

• Gallery: Will's three premieres

The actor's whistle-stop tour to promote new film Hitch took him from Manchester to Birmingham before ending up in London's Leicester Square.

Smith raced across the country in a private jet to earn himself a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

"I've had a beautiful day," said Smith, 36, as he arrived in snowy Leicester Square.

"They got me in the Guinness Book of World Records - I like that! It's kind of cool."

He added: "I love being able to meet my fans; it's the reason I do what I do. The reaction from people has been great, and I'm so grateful they came out to see me in the snow."

In the romantic comedy, Smith plays a New York "date doctor" who helps men woo the women of their dreams.

He coaches a shy accountant, who is smitten by a wealthy beauty, played by supermodel Amber Valletta.

But he meets his match in gossip columnist Eva Mendes, who refuses to fall for his charms.

Valletta and Mendes joined Smith at the premiere of the film, which shot straight to the top of the US box office, and is released in the UK on March 11.

"There's something really beautiful and sunny and warm about this movie, and I'm just happy my name is on it," Smith said.

The Men in Black star entered the record books for making the most public appearances in the space of 12 hours.

Hundreds of screaming fans greeted him at Manchester's Printworks before he jetted off to Birmingham UGC Cinema.

Smith said: "I must have been to London about 50 times, and I realise the UK is a lot bigger than London."

Monday, February 21, 2005

Gordon, Hendrick Sign Off on Daytona Win (washingtonpost.com) 

Gordon, Hendrick Sign Off on Daytona Win (washingtonpost.com)

DAYTONA BEACH, Feb. 21 -- The mechanics who built the No. 24 Chevrolet that carried Jeff Gordon to his third Daytona 500 victory on Sunday spent nearly six months, the equivalent of a motor sports lifetime, crafting the strongest possible motor and the sleekest body possible for NASCAR's biggest race.

And they had such a powerful feeling about the car that, before loading it onto the hauler for its trip to Daytona International Speedway, they signed their names on a piece of vinyl that was just the perfect size, they figured, to glue on its rear bumper if the car ended up in the Daytona USA museum, as is custom for every machine that wins the Daytona 500.

_____ Daytona 500 _____

• Jeff Gordon clinches his third Daytona 500 title, edging Kurt Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Sunday.
• Final Results
• Hendrick Motorsports overcomes tragic plane crash to remain favored team in Daytona.
• Michael Waltrip edges teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the early qualifying race and Tony Stewart wins the nightcap.
• The Daytona 500 has served as the personal playground lately for Team Earnhardt.

Gordon did his part Sunday, holding off a furious charge by Kurt Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win the race by 0.158 of a second and claim nearly $1.5 million. And no one was more proud, save for crew chief Robbie Loomis, to see the No. 24 Chevy -- complete with the autographs of every Hendrick Motorsports employee who turned a wrench on its engine, hung its sheet metal or sanded its side panels -- take its rightful place at the motor sports attraction Monday morning.

"You can call it cocky; you can call it whatever you want to call it," Gordon said later. "But they wanted that car to be in Daytona USA. I know the pride that goes into it for them, whether they're sitting at home watching on TV or whether they're here as part of it. The joy that comes out of seeing that car go to Victory Lane -- you can't describe it!"

Added Loomis: "That [race shop] floor this morning is completely shining because there's not a sole hitting the floor. They're all walking on air! They all have that sense of pride, knowing the part they played in it -- from everybody that fills the drink cooler up, sands a part, sweeps the floor and makes every piece of it."

At 33, Gordon has won more NASCAR Winston/Nextel Cup races (70) than any active driver on the circuit. But he's the first to say that teamwork has played a more critical role in his success than gasoline. And specifically, the sort of teamwork that seems to thrive among the 450 employees of Concord, N.C.-based Hendrick Motorsports, the only team Gordon has raced for since he moved up to stock-car racing's big leagues in November 1992.

Though it's foolish to draw sweeping conclusions from a team's showing in the Daytona 500 -- given that it's one of four races on the sport's 36-race schedule that requires carburetor restrictor plates, which make for a peculiar sort of competition -- it is clear that Gordon and his team are fixated on reclaiming their perch atop the sport this year. Gordon last won a NASCAR championship in 2001. He stands alone among active drivers with four titles; a fifth would move him closer to that hallowed mark of seven, which only Richard Petty and the late Dale Earnhardt reached.

But Gordon freely admits that he exceeded his wildest dreams long ago, even before winning his first major stock-car race. It was February 1992, the first time he came to Daytona International Speedway as a driver in NASCAR's second-tier Grand National Series, competing in the No. 1 Baby Ruth Ford. He was a skinny 20-year-old then, with a wisp of a mustache that was more fuzz than hair. And he nearly fainted when car owner Jack Roush came up to him in the garage and asked him to give Mark Martin's No. 6 Ford a spin around the track.

"I thought it was the coolest thing," Gordon said. "I just remember how honored I was to be asked to get behind the wheel of that car."

Gordon got even bigger goose bumps last week, when he entertained his childhood hero, Rick Mears, on his 106-foot yacht, 24 Karat, which he brings each year to Daytona. The two racers talked about Mears's four Indianapolis 500 victories and Gordon's four wins in NASCAR's Brickyard 400. Gordon insisted there was no comparing the feats, since open-wheel racers have been competing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for nearly a century, and stock-car racers have been there just a decade. Mears politely disagreed.

"I was just star-struck," Gordon gushed. "I said, 'Rick, I've got to admit something: People come up to me all the time and say: 'It's such an honor to meet you! It's so cool!' ' And I've got RICK MEARS on my boat!"

Paris Hilton  

Stars' numbers appear on the web
By Oliver Stallwood, Metro
21 February 2005
Phone numbers of the world's biggest celebrities have appeared on the Internet after computer whizzes hacked into Paris Hilton's mobile.

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• More showbiz news
• Trade celebs and win cash

The FBI is said to have launched an investigation into the scam that has left dozens of stars - including rapper Eminem, actor Vin Diesel, singer Christina Aguilera and tennis star Anna Kournikova - exposed.

After being bombarded round the clock by calls from crazed fans and weirdos, many of the A-list celebrities have been forced to change their numbers. A hacking group, who refer to themselves as 'The Niggas at DFNCTSC', broke into hotel heiress Hilton's T-Mobile Sidekick.

They cracked a pass code to get access to the 24-year-old's phone.

By tapping into the phone they got access to its address book as well as e-mail addresses and private diary notes. It has even been reported the gang managed to retrieve private photos of Hilton from the mobile.

Awebsite posted the numbers over the weekend, accompanied by an offensive message directed at the society starlet. A US government source said the FBI was called in to investigate how her notes, road directions, hotel and airline preferences made their way onto the Web.

Other stars who had their numbers revealed include teen singer Lindsay Lohan, Simple Life star Nicole Richie and tennis star Andy Roddick.

One star told news website The Drudge Report after reporters called the number: 'I gave her my number after we met in Miami, I did not know she f**king kept it on her cellphone.'

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