"I CAN beat Oprah !" chef Bobby Flay boasted last week. Those would be fighting words if the host of the Food Network's Boy Meets Grill was talking Nielsen ratings, but Flay was promising to beat the talk-show queen's personal marathon best (4:29) when he ran the New York City Marathon. The cook delivered, finishing in 4:10:41, ahead of celebrities like Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller (4:17:33) and Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (5:33:39) but behind actor Tom Cavanagh (3:29:31) and Today cohost Natalie Morales (3:31:02). What does a chef do for prerace nourishment? Flay carbo-loaded at his Manhattan restaurant, Bar Americain, dining on fettuccine with spicy tomatoes and shrimp.
? Don't be surprised if Tracee Jones sports some new pantsuits this season. Tennessee State's women's hoops coach taped an episode of NBC's Deal or No Deal in August. The show finally aired last week—and America watched Jones (right, with Howie Mandel) win $265,000. Her boyfriend, Bubba Wells, a former Austin Peay forward and now an assistant there, told The Tennessean, "I've guarded Michael Jordan, and I've never been as nervous as I was for this."
? Former Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner has kept a low profile—it might have something to do with a certain play in the '86 World Series—but he's about to go Hollywood. Buckner, 56, is in the upcoming comedy The Comebacks, about a woeful college football team. He agreed to the role—a movie spokesman wouldn't say what it is—because it helped his actress daughter Brittany, 24, land a part. (She plays a gymnast.) The film, which stars David Koechner, opens next spring.
? Those Chad Johnson Mohawk skullcaps Bengals fans bought earlier this season are now worthless—or collectors' items. (We're gonna go with worthless.) The Cincinnati receiver shaved his head after losing a bet to cornerback DeAngelo Hall, whose Falcons beat the Bengals on Oct. 29. (If Cincy won, Hall would have worked the grill at an Atlanta burger stand owned by Bengals tackle Willie Anderson.) "The 'hawk is gone," said Johnson. "I'm back to somewhat normal."
? Denzel Washington visited Rams headquarters last Friday to watch practice and see his son J.D., a rookie running back on the practice squad.... Look closely when Dwayne (the Rock) Johnson's movie The Game Plan debuts next fall. In a scene where Johnson's character, a quarterback for the fictional Boston Rebels, opens a new tavern, lurking in the background as patrons are Celtics Paul Pierce, Wally Szczerbiak and Sebastian Telfair and ex-- NFL running back Eddie George.
Ice dancers get to see their partners the way only certain medical professionals do—often with the music of Celine Dion playing. It's not a sport for everyone, or for anyone who does not look at Russia's Anastasia Platonova and think, I will treat her like my personal Gravitron! At the Skate Canada ISU Grand Prix in Victoria, B.C., she and Andrei Maximishin (right) finished fifth. Italy's Massimo Scali looked so good wearing Frederica Faiella (left) that they gave them both the bronze.