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Original Issue

Under Review Stark and the Stork--Mo' Bettor Blues

--Here's one job search that Andy Rooney will be following very
closely: Melissa Stark's replacement as the sideline reporter on
Monday Night Football should be in place by the middle of June,
says MNF producer Fred Gaudelli, and the show's next sideline
reporter might not even be a sportscaster. "I've looked at more
than 75 people--entertainers, newspeople and even people who do
financial news," says Gaudelli, who started his search in March
when Stark informed him she was pregnant and was unlikely to work
this season. (Last week she confirmed she was taking the year
off.) Though Gaudelli won't reveal the names of the top
contenders for the job, SI has learned from a network source that
Joumana Kidd, wife of Nets star Jason Kidd, is in the running.
Replacing Stark with two reporters is also being considered. The
28-year-old Stark, who joined Monday Night Football in 2000, has
said she will contemplate her television future after she gives
birth in September, and Gaudelli would love to see her return in
2004. "We're telling people the job is definitely for this
season," he says, "with the potential for it to go on longer."

--NBC's affable handicapper Mike Battaglia is stumbling in the
Triple Crown. Before the Kentucky Derby, Battaglia dubbed Empire
Maker a "cinch" and vowed, "If Empire Maker runs, he wins." Well,
Empire Maker ran--and finished second. Before the Preakness on
Saturday, Battaglia picked Peace Rules to win, only to watch him
labor to fourth place, 12 1/2 lengths behind Funny Cide. Viewers
would be wise to practice caveat bettor when Battaglia announces
his selection during NBC's coverage of the Belmont Stakes on June
7. --R.D.