Saturday, April 09, 2005



Celebrity Autographs And Celebrity Addresses

Mariah Carey, signing copies of The Emancipation of Mimi

* 4/12/05 7:00 PM at Best Buy Broadway. New York, NY.

Jane Fonda, signing copies of My Life So Far

* 4/7/05 7:00 PM at Book Soup - Sunset Blvd. West Hollywood, CA.

* 4/12/05 at Borders Books Peachtree Road NE. Atlanta, GA.

* 4/15/05 12:30 PM at Trover Shop – Pennstlvania Ave. SE. Washington DC.

* 4/15/05 7:00 PM at Olssonas Books - Wilson Blvd. Washington DC.

* 4/16/05 1:00 PM at BJs Wholesale Club . Nicholas Dr. Waldorf, MD.

* 4/17/05 2:30 PM at Page One Newstand Montgomery Blvd. NE. Albuquerque, NM.

* 4/18/05 3:00 PM at Sam’s Club Coit Rd. Plano, TX.

* 4/18/05 7:00 PM at Books-A-Million Grapevine Mills Mall. Grapevine, TX.

* 4/19/05 7:00 PM at Rainy Day Books West 53rd St. Fairway, KS.

* 4/20/05 7:00 PM at the Walker Art Center Hennepin Ave. Minneapolis, MN.

* 4/22/05 7:30 PM at The Book Stall Elm Street. Winnetka, IL.

* 4/24/05 5:00 PM at Capitola Books Cafe 41st Avenue. Capitola, CA.

* 4/25/05 7:00 PM at A Clean Well Lighted Place For Books Van Ness Blvd. San Francisco, CA.

* 4/26/05 7:30 PM at Kepler - El Camino Real. Menlo Park, CA.

* 4/27/05 6:00 PM at Third Place Books Bothell Way NE. Lake Forest Park, WA.

* 5/9/05 7:00 PM at the Tsai Performance Center - Boston University. Boston, MA.

* 6/2/05 6:30 PM at Waterstone Books Picadilly, London.

* 6/06/05 7:00 PM at Ottakars Books - Guilford, Surrey.

* 6/7/05 5:30 PM at Waterstones Books Sydney St. Cambridge

Charles Barkley, signing copies of Who's Afraid of a Large Black Man?

* 4/8/05 Noon at Books-A-Million Wildwood Shopping Center. Birmingham, AL.

* 4/11/05 7:00 PM at Book Soup - Sunset Blvd. West Hollywood, CA.

* 4/15/05 7:00 PM at Borders Books North Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL.

Friday, April 08, 2005

FBI, baseball's war on bogus collectibles 

Celebrity Autographs And Celebrity Addresses

It's getting more difficult for the crooks and the creeps who operate in the dark corners of the sports memorabilia industry to cheat people.

Since it began in early 1997, the FBI investigation called Operation Bullpen has resulted in 62 convictions of people selling forged autographs and other bogus collectibles.

In 2001, Major League Baseball became the first sport in the country to take significant steps toward ensuring the authenticity of its memorabilia, through a program that has since paid notable dividends.

More than 650,000 autographed and game-used items have been authenticated, through independent, third-party authenticators at big-league ballparks throughout the nation, and at other signings and selected events such as charity auctions, where scams frequently have occurred.

"It really evolved from need more than from something we thought would be nice to have," said Howard Smith, senior vice president of licensing for Major League Baseball Properties. "We had a couple of situations in which, through the FBI and other investigations, we found out that in the ballpark stores of some of our clubs we had counterfeit material, and we realized we had to take drastic action."

In addition to certification by an official third party -- which was Arthur Andersen at the start of the program and now is Deloitte and Touche -- the authenticated items are marked with a state-of-the-art hologram and a serial number, and they become part of an online verification process.

"Some people thought what we were doing was overkill," Smith said, "but we felt we had to make significant changes, and the proof is in the pudding. You go to (hobby) publications like Beckett and Tuff Stuff, and you see they have separate price guides now just for our authenticated products."

Smith said that Major League Baseball "has tried to get other sports to jump on board, and the National Football League is thinking about it. The fact of the matter is, we treat this like we do the rest of our licensing business. We want the other leagues to be successful because we're all in this together."

Smith believes the biggest benefactors in the cleanup, other than fans, are the big-league players.

"It was beginning to be a pain in the butt for them," he said. "They realized their names were out there being counterfeited, and it was hurting them, in the pocketbook and in the court of public opinion."

The superstars have been the most frequent targets, because their memorabilia is both the most sought-after and the priciest.

"You can't look at the whole hobby as far as what percentage of the material is good versus bad," said FBI special agent Tim Fitzsimmons of San Diego, who started Operation Bullpen. "You have to look at it on an athlete-by- athlete basis.

"Look at somebody like Mark McGwire, who signs very little. During the summer of 1998 (when he was chasing the home run record), the percentage of his forgeries was immense. Then you take someone like Tony Gwynn. We did uncover some forgeries of him in the marketplace, but it was very small because he's very accessible. He's out there working on TV and coaching college baseball and he signs a lot, so his autograph doesn't sell for as much. "

Fitzsimmons believes that things in general are significantly improved.

"It's getting better from an investigative perspective and within the sports memorabilia world," he said. "There has been a decline in the number of forgeries I see. But we have not seen the same improvement in the non-sports world, the celebrity market."

Fitzsimmons offers several tips to autograph collectors.

"Get the item in person if you can," he said, "but if you can't, look to Major League Baseball and similar programs that witness the signings and offer holograms.

"If you can't obtain the signature by one of those methods, search out a seller than you essentially can investigate to a certain degree.

"Ask questions about the provenance of an item. Don't buy something based solely on third-party authentication. I'm a little uneasy about the selling of items where the whole sales pitch is authentication without regard to provenance. A lot of people we convicted used fake third-party authentication. This is not an exact science; it's an opinion."

Unless, of course, it carries the sort of safeguards Major League Baseball now offers.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Shaken, not stirred: James Bond identity remains top secret 

Celebrity Autographs And Celebrity Addresses

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - The identity of the next British superspy James Bond remained a tightly-guarded secret, as rumours swirled in Hollywood over who will take over the role of the world's most dashing covert agent.

A day after a British newspaper reported that British actor Daniel Craig had been chosen to take on 007's mantel from Pierce Brosnan, Hollywood media suggested that Brosnan may not be turning in his Walther PPK pistol after all.

Industry bible Daily variety quoted US sources as saying that the 37-year-old Craig was "no more of a certainty than other candidates" that reportedly include British actors Clive Owen and Dominic West.

The daily instead cited rumours that Bond producers had "patched things up with former 007 Pierce Brosnan and were negotiating a two-picture 40-million-dollar deal for him to reprise his role as the dapper spy."

But it also cited further speculation that Brosnan had only signed on to make one more Bond film to give producers a chance to find a new star.

Producers and distributors of the hugely-successful Bond franchise however declined to comment.

"Nothing official has been announced yet," said Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) studios spokesman Peter Peterson. "We are in the same position as you," he told AFP.

Brosnan's publicist Jennifer Allen also declined to confirm any of the conflicting stories surrounding her client.

No announcement of the next Bond is likely to be made until Sony Pictures completes its take-over of MGM later this month, industry sources said.

The 52-year-old Irish actor Brosnan announced last July that he would abandon his starring role as Bond after four smash hits as the suave spy.

Bond producers, Eon Productions, and distributors MGM launched a worldwide search for the next Bond.

The names of Oscar-nominated British actor Clive Owen, Britons Jude Law and Ewan McGregor and Australians Hugh Jackman and Eric Bana soon hit the headlines, but no star was announced.

Variety suggested Brosnan may have been dissatisfied with his last Bond paycheque for "Die Another Day," which raked in 350 million dollars at the box office.

While Brosnan received a total of around 20 million dollars, the figure dwarfed the cash received by "Matrix" star Keanu Reeves and "Mission Impossible's" Tom Cruise who also got a share of box office profits, it said.

Britain's Sun newspaper on Wednesday cited an unnamed "movie source" as saying that Eon Productions had been told Craig would star in the next films.

But website Darkhorizons.com said Craig had denied being asked and that Brosnan was very likely to return as Bond. It said all the talk of him quitting was a negotiating ploy.

Casper takes final grand tour with family 

Celebrity Autographs And Celebrity Addresses

AUGUSTA, Ga. — He did not send an eagle putt into the water. No, Billy Casper would not follow Tiger Woods into the abyss in the opening round of The Masters. He would never embarrass himself like that.

Casper had his dignity, after all. So there he was on his 18th and final tee of the tournament, waiting to hit the final drive of his long and distinguished Augusta National life, when Woods' approach on the adjacent fairway bounced off the flagstick and rolled into a bunker like a field mouse diving into a hole.

Woods threw his iron at his bag and ripped off his cap, another small victory for Casper, a 73-year-old man who would shoot 106 Thursday and never once blow his top. "I had a lot of fun out there," Casper said.

One man's water torture is another man's good walk unspoiled.

Starting on the back nine, Casper opened with two triple bogeys, then endured a Van de Veldeian nightmare times 10 at the par-3 16th, dropping five balls in the drink before finding the green, three-putting for punctuation and asking his fellow not-so-grumpy old men, Tommy Aaron and Charles Coody, to give him the bad news straight.

"That's a 14," they told him.

Three shots north of the record at No. 16, and Casper didn't sweat it. He was playing The Masters before his bride of 54 years, Shirley, and 16 other family members who wanted him to give Augusta one last whack.

Casper has his grandchildren, his great-grandchildren and his 11 sons and daughters, six of them adopted. "I've got to play for them," he said. "I wanted to play one more time, just to walk the fairways."

Thirty-five years after beating Gene Littler in a Masters playoff, Casper walked the fairways, and the bunkers, and the creeks, and the woods. He spent 5½ hours renewing old acquaintances and vainly chasing a young man's goal — Casper figured he could shoot 80 on a dry Georgia day.

But the rains stretched out a course already made longer by Hootie Johnson and the boys who run Augusta National, men who sent Hootie-grams to the aged four years back, missives suggesting those lifelong exemptions for former champs weren't lifelong anymore.

Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus applied a little legends-only heat, and Hootie backed off, reopening the door for the likes of Casper, who hadn't played in three years and whose previous four Masters rounds were in the 90s. Hootie hoped the Sunshine Boys would continue to show up for the Champions Dinner and stay clear of the first tee, but this time around, Casper wasn't seeking his approval.

"I just sent my entry in and said I was going to play," he said.

Casper woke up with his left side tight, cutting his swing in half. It didn't matter. He wouldn't quit. The galleries wouldn't let him. During one delay, Casper said, "I hope this doesn't stop my momentum."

He had his dimple-sized triumphs for the afternoon. "The last ball I hit on the (16th) green," he said, "I used the rest of the way around. That's something pretty special."

The scoreboards stopped posting his numbers when they turned ugly, but Casper wasn't about to autograph his card, anyway. Charles Kunkle had set The Masters record for high official round, signing off on a 95 in 1956, and Casper had no interest in taking the honor.

"I didn't turn the score in," he said when the day was done. "I've got the card in my pocket. ... I'm taking it with me and framing it."

No need for another trophy. Casper won 51 times on the regular tour and stole that forever U.S. Open from Palmer in 1966 after he was down seven strokes with nine holes to go.

"He was just magnificent," Shirley recalled of that Open Sunday at Olympic. "He got on that putting (roll), and it just seemed like nothing would stay out."

Nothing would go in Thursday at The Masters, and Shirley hardly cared. She was just glad her man had come to play.

"People want to see you," she told Billy. "They don't really care what you shoot."

The record won't show a 106 on the board in Casper's final Masters round. It will show a 73-year-old man who had replaced a hip and dropped 60 pounds from a 300-pound body to make it through 18 holes for his family.

"I wanted to do it one more time before I got old," Casper said.

At least he didn't send an eagle putt into the creek.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Stan "The Man" Musial, Honored Saturday 

Hours before Saturday's exhibition game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the new Cardinals affiliate, the Springfield Cardinals, the crowds gathered at the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame to pay tribute to the great Stan "the Man" Musial.

In a career that spanned 22 years, Stan Musial ranked at or near the top of Baseball's all-time lists in almost every batting category. The dead-armed Class C pitcher became a slugging outfielder who topped the .300 mark 17 times and won seven National League batting titles with his famed corkscrew stance and ringing line drives. A three-time MVP, he played in 24 All-Star Games.

Legend has it, he was nicknamed "The Man" by Dodger fans for the havoc he wrought at Ebbets Field.

The life-sized creation by sculptor Harry Weber was unveiled outside the Hall. The statue, funded by more than $200,000 in donations, according to a report from the Springfield News Leader. The statute depicts Musial signing an autograph for a young fan.

The image of the bronze creation was taken from the 1963 drawing of Amadee Wohlschlaeger's 1963 drawing "The Boy and the Man."

Amadee Wohlschlaeger was one of the very few weatherbird artist and legendary cartoonist for the St. Louis Post Dispatch from 1932 until he retired in 1981.

After checking the pose of the bronze statue for realism, the 84-year-old Musial displayed the same humor and charm that won over millions of fans more than four decades ago.

"You may have noticed when I walked up here, I have a bad knee," Musial told the more than 200 fans gathered on the lawn.

"And the reason is, I hit too many triples — I should have been hitting home runs."

Springfield, where he spent three months in 1941 as a minor league outfielder, holds a special place in his heart, Musial said:

"The right field (fence) was only 300 feet!"

Stan Musial was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by Baseball Writers Association of America BBWAA, in 1969 with 317 votes of 340 ballots cast: 93.24%.

What do they have to say about Stan "the Man" Musial?

"He could have hit .300 with a fountain pen." - Joe Garagiola

"How good was Stan Musial? He was good enough to take your breath away." - Vin Scully

"In baseball, there is something electrifying about the big leagues. I had read so much about (Stan) Musial, (Ted) Williams and (Jackie) Robinson. I had put those guys on a pedestal. They were something special. I really thought they put their pants on different, rather than one leg at a time." - Hank Aaron

"I've had pretty good success with Stan (Musial) by throwing him my best pitch and backing up third." - Carl Erskine

"Once (Stan) Musial timed your fastball, your infielders were in jeopardy." - Warren Spahn

"The man I marvel at is the one that's in there day after day, and night after night and still puts the figures on the board. I"m talking about Pete Rose, Stan Musial, the real stars. Believe me, especially the way we travel today, flying all night with a game the next night and then the next afternoon, if you can play one-hundred and sixty-two games, you're a man." - Sparky Anderson

"They can talk about Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb and Rogers Hornsby and Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio and Stan Musial and all the rest, but I'm sure not one of them could hold cards and spades to (Ted) Williams in his sheer knowledge of hitting. He studied hitting the way a broker studies the stock market, and could spot at a glance mistakes that others couldn't see in a week." - Carl Yastrzemski

"Stan "The Man" Musial" in spite of his legendary status in Cardinal Nation, is still one of the most underrated superstars in the history of the game. He is without a doubt the Greatest Cardinal player ever and he is certainly among the Top 10 greatest players ever." - Ray Mileur, Cardinals Birdhouse.

Sunday, April 03, 2005


Celebrity Autographs And Celebrity Addresses

FRESNO, Calif. An autograph-signing session by Grammy-winning rapper Kanye West was abruptly cut short last night when a fight broke out between a patron and a security guard at a new urban boutique in Fresno.
Police say the fight forced the owners of the F-T-K store to shut its doors and secretly usher West out into a waiting white van.

It took police more than 15 minutes to clear roughly one-thousand people from the store's parking lot.

The fight began about 40 minutes into the autograph-signing session.

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