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Sports Beat

We all know that Janet Jackson won't be allowed anywhere near an
NFL-sanctioned stage in the near future. Now no one will. Due to
the continued fallout from Janetgate, the NFL canceled its annual
Kickoff Live concert, which was scheduled to take place at
Chicago's Soldier Field preceding the season opener on Sept. 4.
The league is considering a pretaped "football-oriented" banquet
to be shown before the game instead of continuing the shows,
which in past years starred Bon Jovi and Britney Spears. "I'm the
commissioner of football, not the commissioner of music," Paul
Tagliabue told team owners. Which is probably a good thing, since
Tagliabue told Congress that if the Super Bowl halftime show had
been up to him, "I would have had Andy Williams."

--Turns out that Mike Ditka and Donald Trump have more in common
than interesting hair. Bill Rancic, 32, is one of the six
remaining finalists on Trump's reality show, The Apprentice. He's
also the president of Cigars Around the World, makers of the Mike
Ditka Cigar, which is sold at Ditka's restaurant in Chicago.
According to Rancic, Ditka was hands-on with the project. "Those
who know the coach know how he is a perfectionist," says Rancic.
Ditka is currently filming the movie Kicking and Screaming with
Will Ferrell and Robert Duvall, while Rancic is the 6-1 favorite
to land Trump's apprenticeship. Should he win, he'll have no
shortage of celebratory stogies to smoke.

--He might have missed out on the realities of school daze to play
in the NBA, but LeBron James could be playing a BMOC in a Spike
Lee joint this summer. Lee directed James in a commercial for
Turner Sports before the season and has been pushing to cast him
in a feature film ever since. While the script is still in the
preliminary stages, James would reportedly play a college
basketball star. James's agent, Aaron Goodwin, said talks will
resume this week.

--Jacky Temmerman has sworn off soccer. The ref was calling a game
in his native Belgium when a fan ran onto the pitch and pulled
down Temmerman's shorts and underpants. "I looked very nice in
front of a few hundred supporters," said Temmerman,
sarcastically. "That man made a fool of me. I will never dare to
show up for another match. They can look for another idiot who is
prepared to stand with his ass naked for 20 euros a game." The
fan, a 20-year-old soccer player, faces a possible lifetime ban
from the Belgian Football Association.... A year after inducting
ESPN commentator Barry Melrose into its Mullet Hall of Fame, the
Manchester Monarchs of the AHL inducted the fictional Hanson
Brothers from the 1977 movie Slap Shot last Friday. In observance
of the special moment, the team distributed 5,000 mullet wings at
its game that night.... Royals farmhand Garth Brooks scratched
out his second hit in 42 career spring training at-bats when he
singled off Seattle lefty Mike Myers. "I was even more surprised
than the pitcher," Brooks said. Brooks's last hit came in 1999.

COLOR PHOTO: STEFANO RELLANDINI/REUTERS (SKIING FANS) PICTURE THIS No, it's not a remake of Plan 9 from Outer Space, but these earthlings watching the giant slalom competition at the Alpine Skiing World Cup finals in Sestriere, Italy, last Saturday did have a space-age scheme for keeping their heads dry and, just in case the problem arose, battling killer robots. Still, the gear (ray gun not included) could not stave off fog. Following the first run, officials canceled the event.




The Braves will have a Lexus-only parking lot at Turner Field
this year.


Recently retired Broncos wide receiver, on spending more time
with his wife: "Coach Lisa can be a lot tougher than coach (Mike)
Shanahan. She's got a bigger playbook and an earlier curfew."