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The Beat

It should have been the best celebrity-fan matchup of the NCAA tournament: the second-round game between Kentucky and Cincinnati in Indianapolis. Saying, "I'm trying to be for Cincinnati basketball what Ashley Judd is for UK basketball," Queen City native Nick Lachey (below) was on hand at the RCA Dome to support his Bearcats. But Kentucky's most visible fan was nowhere to be found. Judd (left) had been scheduled to travel to South Africa to be a guest of Nelson Mandela at a benefit concert, but she came down with the flu and scrapped the trip. That meant she had to decide between watching the Wildcats and traveling to see her husband, IRL driver Dario Franchitti, race in Phoenix. She decided to go to Arizona and set up an elaborate viewing station at the track. "I'll have my speaker system on Dario's bus at the track for the radio/Internet broadcast," she wrote in a guest column in the Lexington Herald-Leader, "which I am able to synchronize exactly with the television picture thanks to TiVo." Judd ended up having a pretty good day. Her Wildcats won 69--60, and Franchitti finished fourth in Phoenix.

• Now that she's all but retired from tennis, Anna Kournikova has plenty of time to dish with the gals. That's what she'll be doing next month during a two-day stint as a guest cohost on The View. (Regular cohost Elisabeth Hasselbeck, wife of Redskins backup quarterback Tim Hasselbeck, is due to have a baby on March 29.) "We're trying to pick people that are fun for our audience to see," said The View executive producer Bill Geddie.

• NASCAR driver Morgan Shepherd doesn't have a full-time sponsor, so he often puts religious messages on his car. At the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 in Las Vegas earlier this month, his hood read RACING WITH JESUS. But during driver introductions, guest P.A. man Robin Leach announced Shepherd as the driver of the "Racing with HAY-zeus" Dodge. Said Shepherd of Leach, "I'd love to meet him just so I can say, 'Nice to meet you, Mr. Leak.'" ... ABC's new Bachelor,Charlie O'Connell, has experience fighting people off with a stick. The 29-year-old real estate investor won the NCAA fencing championship in 1996, his senior year at New York University.... NBC's Jimmy Roberts was forced to apologize to viewers last weekend after Fred Couples said the f word--and we don't mean fore--while standing next to a microphone at the Bay Hill Invitational. After his drop landed in a hole, a spectator chuckled, leading a less-than-amused Couples to say, "Yeah, that's pretty f------ funny." Said Roberts, "Nothing we can do about that." ... How bad are things for Tonya Harding these days? The aspiring boxer had a bout with a transvestite at a Fort Lauderdale bar canceled because the Florida Boxing Commission refused to sanction it. Turns out Daisy D, the cross-throwing cross-dresser, isn't a licensed fighter. After turning down a request from the promoter to instead wrestle Daisy, Harding decided to just sign autographs at the bar.


An Australian cricket team has accused an opponent of serving them pot-laced cupcakes during a game.

They Said It


Former soccer star, after being given the keys to the city by the mayor of Cartagena, Colombia, where he recently underwent gastric bypass surgery: "I appreciate the kindness of the mayor.... I don't even have the keys to my own house."










No, Carl Edwards's Ford hasn't been equipped with an eject button. The driver celebrated his win in last Saturday's Busch Series race outside Atlanta with a backflip off his car. All of NASCAR nation is flipping for Edwards, 25, who got his first Nextel Cup win (and did another flip) at the same track in Sunday's Golden Corral 500. Said Jimmie Johnson, who finished second, "This guy is our next superstar."