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Original Issue

Sports Beat

News that pop star Britney Spears will be making a movie set in
the world of Winston Cup racing came as a surprise to many in
Hollywood last week, but NASCAR insiders say the project has
been in the works for almost a year. The singer first met with
NASCAR officials in July 2001, when she served as the grand
marshal at the Pepsi 400. "It was her first Winston Cup event,"
says Paul Brooks, NASCAR's VP of broadcasting. "She was blown
away by the spectacle of it--the sounds, the crowds, the
drivers." At the meeting Spears, her manager Larry Rudolph and
producer Ann Carli, who produced the singer's first feature,
Crossroads, pitched NASCAR brass on a story about the daughter
of a successful stock car team owner and how the young woman
(played by Spears) inspires a former driver to return to the
sport. Though intrigued, NASCAR officials wanted to make sure
the film would be faithful to the Winston Cup experience. "We're
very protective of our sport," says Brooks. "We wanted
assurances that if we got involved, we'd be represented
appropriately." In short, says Brooks, they wanted to make sure
they didn't get another Days of Thunder, the much-reviled (at
least in racing circles) 1990 Tom Cruise film, which featured,
among other cinematic inventions, scenes of Robert Duvall as a
good-ol'-boy team owner who assembles stock cars in a barn. For
the Spears project, film crews will set up at several Winston
Cup events, including Daytona, and a number of NASCAR drivers
will appear in the movie.

Rockies manager Clint Hurdle is a quote master. That's not to
say he's especially scintillating in media interviews--rather,
every day before a game Hurdle posts an inspirational message in
the Rockies' locker room. It's a practice he began as a manager
in the Mets' minor league system in the early '90s and one he
continued after being named the Rockies' hitting coach in '97.
"I would just find something to throw up on [the sheet listing
groups for batting practice] just to see who was paying
attention," says Hurdle, who digs up the quotes from reference
books he keeps in his office. For Opening Day the message was
"Every journey begins with a first step." After being named the
Rockies' manager on April 26, he went to the words of Marcus
Aurelius: "Let every action aim solely at the common good." The
message last Friday, after the team had completed a 2-4 week:
"Only the mediocre are always at their best." Says Rockies first
baseman Todd Helton, "It lets us know how he's feeling about
things. And a lot of times they provide a lot of insight as to
where the game ranks in life."

Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup--known to preadolescent females
(and their long-suffering parents) as The Powerpuff Girls--are
joining the WNBA. From June 21 through July 11, episodes of the
Cartoon Network series will be shown before games, posters will
be given out to fans, and the Girls themselves--well, costumed
actors at least--will make appearances. The idea is to lure
Powerpuff fans into the seats in the hopes that once there
they'll get hooked on the high-flying stunts of real-life Girl
Power heroes such as Chamique Holdsclaw, Lisa Leslie and Sue
Bird. Of course, it might help to throw an evil monkey into the

COLOR PHOTO: KIN CHEUNG/REUTERS (SINKING BOAT) PICTURE THIS It's something every athlete knows all too well: that sinking feeling when hope of victory slips away. For these oarsmen that moment came during a race in the South China Sea during the International Dragon Boat Festival in Hong Kong. The annual race honors the martyrdom of Chu Yuan, a rebel statesman and poet who hurled himself into a river and died 2,000 years ago.




A Painesville, Ohio, judge ordered a man, who ran from police
after being stopped for drinking in a car, to compete in a
five-mile race; the faster his time in the event, the shorter his
sentence will be.


Pirates infielder and former Red, on the response he got from
the fans when he returned to Cincinnati for a game: "I think the
only words they know are, 'You suck.'"