Unlike fellow blonde thespian Cameron Diaz, who played the owner of the fictional Miami Sharks in Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday, Gwyneth Paltrow hasn't done a pigskin flick yet, but don't think the 29-year-old Oscar winner isn't a fan of the game. Paltrow's father, Bruce Paltrow, creator of the 1970s basketball television show The White Shadow, reports that his daughter is a regular Gridiron Gwyneth. "She's a big Pittsburgh Steelers fan," he says. "I was a Steelers fan when she was a baby, and we used to watch the Steelers all the time. She's become a real proponent of defensive football." Perhaps, but back in '98 Paltrow predicted the offensive-minded Denver Broncos would upset the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXII. "I know Green Bay is favored," Gwyneth said then, "but I'm going to go with the Broncos." Denver, a two-touchdown underdog, ended up with a 31-24 win.
? David Beckham may have left the World Cup stage, but Beckham-mania shows no signs of abating in Japan. Nearly a week after the English team flew home following its 2-1 quarterfinal loss to Brazil on June 22, the Westin Awaji Island Resort and Conference Centre on Awaji Island—the World Cup headquarters of Team England—was reporting 80 calls a day from fans hoping to stay in the room used by the H Manchester United midfielder. The hotel has introduced a deal to make available a deluxe twin room on the 10th floor, where Team England occupied 28 rooms during the World Cup, for a reduced charge of 11,750 yen ($98). So far the hotel has refused to reveal the number of Beckham's room, but fans can sample his favorite dish (cucumber sushi roll) and have their feet massaged by the woman who worked on his talented tootsies.
?The Houston Chronicle had to pull a photo of the Rockets' No. 1 draft pick, Yao Ming, from the front of its sports section on June 27 when a Chinese graphic artist on the paper's staff realized that a vintage poster visible behind Yao, photographed in Beijing, was emblazoned with anti-American slogans from China's Cultural Revolution. Editors replaced the picture, but not before it had been printed in 220,948 copies of the Chronicle's 544,819 press run. The next day some 60 Chinese-speaking readers called or e-mailed the paper to provide precise translations of such slogans as Unite people of the whole world! Down with the American imperialists! David Stern & Co. will be relieved to know that the posters were not Yao's; the photo had been taken at CNN's Beijing studio, where the retro posters had been hung as a fashion statement, not a political one. "It was a good history lesson for all of us," says Dan Cunningham, the Chronicle's assistant managing editor.
?At a robust 6'5" and 320 pounds, actor Michael Clarke Duncan would figure to be a force in the paint in a game of hoops. Indeed the gentle giant from The Green Mile attends most L.A. Sparks games and last Sunday spent a good three minutes telling ESPN2 sideline reporter Vera Jones how the Sparks should tweak their offense. ("They need to play the two-man game for Lisa Leslie and Nikki Teasley," he said.) Duncan's knowledge of the game impressed at least one hoops guru on hand. Said Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma, who served as a game analyst for ESPN2: "You know how good an actor he is? He just acted like a coach."