No, that wasn't a comely new mechanic turning heads in the pit at the Southern 500 in Darlington, S.C., on Sunday. That was Jersey girl Michelle Rodriguez (left), the star of S.W.A.T. and The Fast and the Furious, who was invited by a sponsor to be an honorary pit crew member for Matt Kenseth. Says Rodriguez, "They said, 'Why don't you come down to the races,' and I was like, 'What? I'll be there in a minute.' I'm a big fan. I've never been to a race in my life, other than street racing." Before the race Rodriguez helped set up the team's pit stall and experienced the thrill of gluing lug nuts to wheels. Then she watched from the pits as Kenseth drove to a 14th-place finish.
?He's sweet to watch on the basketball court, but Cavaliers rookie LeBron James, 18, provided some painfully awkward moments at the MTV Video Music Awards. While co-presenting the award for best hip-hop video with Ashanti, the 6'8" James, clad in a Bob Marley T-shirt, jeans and hiking boots, stumbled through some badly scripted flirtations with the diminutive diva. "Maybe we could go one-on-one," he said. Ashanti, 22, giggled, and the crowd at Radio City Music Hall shifted awkwardly. The winner, by the way, was Missy (Misdemeanor) Elliott's Work It. The loser was whoever told James to take this gig.
?Minnie Driver has made a career of playing the supportive girlfriend (Good Will Hunting, Grosse Pointe Blank, Sleepers, Hard Rain), so perhaps it's not surprising that the 33-year-old actress stands staunchly behind her real-life boyfriend, 20-year-old up-and-coming American tennis player Robby Ginepri. Driver, who met Ginepri in June at the Stella Artois Championships at the Queens Club in London, was at the U.S. Open last Saturday to watch Ginepri, who lost in the third round to Todd Martin. She also took John McEnroe to task for what she perceives as his overhyping of Andy Roddick. "All that stuff that McEnroe says about the passing of the torch and how Roddick is the only one of the young American men to be able to hold it is just rubbish," said Driver, as she worked on a New York Times crossword puzzle in the players' lounge.
?Laughter heals. That's the thinking behind Bill Cosby's decision to stage a free stand-up show on Sept. 4 on the Baylor campus after a tumultuous summer that included the murder of player Patrick Dennehy, the arrest of his teammate Carlton Dotson and the resignations of its basketball coach Dave Bliss and athletic director Tom Stanton. Cosby says, "I want to come do this rally to lift the spirits of the Baylor and Central Texas communities."...See the new Got Milk? ad featuring Chris Evert (18 Grand Slam titles) and Monica Seles (nine). The third woman with the white moustache is...Mary Jo Fernandez (zero). What's that about? Evert says the ad makers for the American Dairy Farmers first asked Martina Navratilova to pose, but she said no because she only drinks soy milk. "If they offered Martina $500,000, she would say no," says Evert. When we tracked down Navratilova, the winner of 18 Grand Slams, at the U.S. Open last week, she agreed. "Why would I do it?" she said. "I don't drink milk. It's bad for me, it's bad for the cows."... Samuel L. Jackson is in negotiations to star in the tentatively titled Coach Carter—about Richmond ( N.C.) High boys' basketball coach Ken Carter. In 1999 Carter benched his entire 13-0 team for a week because some players were neglecting their studies. Directing is Thomas Carter (Save the Last Dance)—who is no relation to the coach but who played Hayward on the CBS series The White Shadow in the early '80s.