Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Winky Wright signing autographs tonight from 7 to 8 PM at the 40/40 Club in New York 

Winky Wright signing autographs tonight from 7 to 8 PM at the 40/40 Club in New York

WINKY WRIGHT will be signing autographs tonight from 7 to 8 PM at the 40/40 Club in New York (6 West 25th St), where he will also be on live with ESPN Radio-New York.

This event is sponsored by 2XIST and ESPN Radio.

After the autograph session, Winky will join rap artist Jay-Z at at reception at the club.

Lemieux Invitational: It's all about the autographs for these three 

Friends are calm, cool and collecting at celebrity golf tourney

Friday, June 24, 2005
By Wade Malcolm, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The three friends drove 2 1/2 hours from Cleveland, slept in their car Wednesday night and got up at 5 a.m. yesterday morning, all to attend the Mario Lemieux Celebrity Invitational, a charity golf tournament.

Not that golf really had anything to do with it.

They came to The Club at Nevillewood with bags of sports memorabilia over their shoulders and albums of photos and trading cards tucked under their arms. They hoped to fill every last collectible piece with the John Hancocks of the celebrities teeing off in Collier yesterday.

Adam Bolinger, Tony Loparo and Matt Zagorc are autograph hunters, and they were not alone in that pursuit yesterday. Their kind appeared to vastly outnumber the celebrities and even the golf fans at the tournament.

They carried plastic shopping bags crammed with mini helmets, baseballs, basketballs, footballs and authentic jerseys.

To say it is a hobby for the three probably diminishes their degree of commitment. Obsession or perhaps compulsion might be more like it.

Nineteen-year-old Zagorc, for example, was arrested in 2004 for trespassing while seeking autographs at the San Antonio Spurs' team hotel in Cleveland.

"That's such an awesome story, man," Bolinger mused, as Zagorc recounted how he had tried to evade a security guard by using an alternate entrance.

They work on their strategies for obtaining the signatures they seek. They know All-Pro defensive end Bruce Smith and retired NBA all-star Charles Barkley won't sign photos, and some athletes won't sign any merchandise from a former team with which they parted on bitter terms.

They've also worked events like this before, and their savvy showed. They somehow knew which hole every player was on, better than most of the course marshals.

"If we hurry, we can try and get [Dan] Marino coming off nine," Bolinger, 19, said around 3:30 p.m., his 11th hour on the course. "Then we can get [Ben] Roethlisberger on 12."

Apparently, a few other autograph hounds had the same idea. After Big Ben crushed a monster drive off the 12th tee, one man in his 20s among the horde yelled: "Ben, can you sign one? It's for my little brother."

"It probably isn't," the Steelers quarterback said, smirking. "But I'll do it anyway."

One of the most frequent signers of all the celebrities at the tournament, Roethlisberger then inked at least a dozen autographs before heading up the fairway.

Loparo, 15, later complained about the quality of Roethlisberger's penmanship. The 2004 NFL Rookie of the Year's increasing popularity and lengthy surname have reduced his autograph to a "B" and "R" accompanied by indistinguishable scribbles.

Collectors are particular in other ways. When Bolinger approached Carson Daly to sign a photo before the 11th tee, the talk show host took out a black pen of his own -- which was a problem, because blue ink is preferred for photos. Daly gave a skewed look when Bolinger implored him to use his Sharpie instead.

As the three gathered with other autograph hunters to discuss how the day was going, word got out about Daly's desire to use his own pen.

The celebrities were often judged harshly on their graciousness in supplying signatures.

The three, for instance, were pleased to get Lemieux's signature earlier in the day, but were irked at his suggestion that they only sought to sell the collectibles on eBay.

In fact, the three said, they sell very few items, only those that are extras. They mostly hold on to their memorabilia or trade it for other pieces.

There was one catch they hoped to make at the course yesterday that none of them would ever trade: the ink of NBA icon Michael Jordan.

"If you're here for an autograph, you're here for Jordan," Bolinger said.

At least for these three, though, yesterday was not their day. One of the world's most recognizable athletes signed only briefly.

But needless to say, they won't be giving up that easily.

"We'll be back [today]," Bolinger said. "I got one more shot at Jordan."

Monday, June 27, 2005

Jennifer Tilly plays a new role: Poker Champion 

Jennifer Tilly plays a new role: Poker Champion
June 28, 2005
John Caldwell
In the new world of poker, you never know who is going to strike gold. People as diverse as actor Tobey Mcguire, NHL player Travis Green (who has cashed twice this year already, including a final table bubble in event # 2), and former tennis great Yvgeny Kafelnikov have played in the biggest events, and often held their own.

As many people in the poker world know, actress Jennifer Tilly got bit by the poker bug almost two years ago and in turn starting dating top player Phil 'Unabomber' Laak.

Tilly, to this point best known for her roles on screen in the horror, um, classics 'Bride of Chucky', and later 'Seed of Chucky' will now also be known as a poker champion, and a WSOP bracelet holder.

Jennifer outlasted a staggering field of 601 entrants - essentially triple the 2004 field - to win her first WSOP bracelet, and secure a spot in poker history as a 'double threat' actress/poker player.

The Laak/Tilly household had a good night the night before. Phil has finished second to Johnny Chan, and picked up $156,400, and Jennifer had been guaranteed at least $38,000 by making it to the final four of the women's event. The final four, you say? Is this college basketball, or is this poker? The answer is...a little of both.

For the second straight night, play was halted, or altered to accommodate ESPN, at least partially. The night before, once everyone realized that Johnny Chan was going to be heads up for his tenth bracelet, play was halted for an hour, so the event being played on the TV stage could clear out, and ESPN could shoot the conclusion of the Chan/Laak match, which was sure to make good television.

Another thing that (can) make good TV is celebrities playing poker. At 4:05 am the night before, everyone decided to halt play in the women's championship, with a little urging from ESPN. Certainly, the players were tired, and it was a welcome rest for four ladies that had played poker for about 15 of the previous 16 hours. But also, the folks at ESPN realized that Jennifer Tilly playing for a legitimate world championship was good television, so they decided to adjourn for the night four handed, and play the final four out on the television stage the next day at 3pm. The folks in charge could also see the writing on the wall...Tilly had a monster chip lead, and barring disaster, the odds were very good that the WSOP would have its first champion who was also a legitimate Hollywood figure at the time of his or her win.

So, entering play today, we had four people left standing. The chip counts when cards went in the air were:

Jennifer Tilly: 449,600 in chips
Ann Le: 88,900
Cecilia Mortensen: 36,300
Carolyn Ancheta: 31,500

Frankly, the play was a little fast, even for today's "No Limit Hold Em TV" poker world. Some of the raises were a little unrealistic given the pot size (one particular all in move with over 80,000 chips, and the blinds an antes not even totaling 5,000 comes to mind), and this final table was over quickly. The total number of hands played from the beginning of play to the last hand was 21. Play was fast, and furious, and it was clearly only going to be a matter of a few minutes before we had a champion. There was an all in move nearly every other hand, and the chips were flying at a furious pace.

The first elimination occurred when Cecelia Mortensen came back over the top of Ann Le's opening raise. Ann showed A 3, and Cecelia had pocket nines. A brutal flop of 2 4 5 made a wheel for Ann, and sent Cece wheeling back to hubby Carlos, and out the door.
Cecelia Mortensen - 4th place - $38,220.

Next to go was Carolyn Ancheta, who was playing in her first live tournament ever. Carolyn moved in with 77,000 chips with K J, and Tilly called with A 7, which would soon become her trademark hand. An Ace on the flop pretty much set things in motion, and Carolyn had a very nice story to tell from her first ever live event. Carolyn Ancheta, 3rd place - $43,680

Now down to heads up, the chip counts were:

Jennifer Tilly - 478,000 in chips
Ann Le - 131,000

What seemed like 5 minutes later, it was all over. Stop me if you have heard this before, but Ann Le moved in for 131,000 with K J, and Jennifer called with A 7. The board blanked off, and we had a movie star winner. The most photogs we had seen yet were busy snapping photos of Tilly, and she was in all her glory, enjoying every minute of it. When the photo session turned into an impromptu press conference, her one memorable quote was. "This was an amazing experience" Tilly said "This is better than winning an Oscar".

Oscar wasn't in the house Monday night, but Phil Laak was. Phil took a break from his seat in the $5,000 Limit event to come and congratulate his girlfriend, and they walked off arm in arm as Tilly reveled in the glow of being a WSOP Champion.

Ann Le - 2nd place - $83,675
Jennifer Tilly - Champion - $158,625

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