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The Beat

Former Major Leaguer Todd Zeile didn't think his peers would take him seriously as a film producer, but when Dirty Deeds, a teen comedy featuring Mean Girls star Lacey Chabert (below) opens nationwide on Oct. 7, they'll have to. The infielder turned movie mogul started Green Diamond Entertainment in 2003 and persuaded a number of former teammates--Jason Giambi, Mike Piazza and Al Leiter among them--to finance the film, but, says Zeile, "they thought it would just be me running around with a Super 8 camera, filming stupid stuff." Zeile, who has a small part as a homeless man, screened Deeds for some Yankees last week, and he's already seeing interest from actors and directors in his next project, slated to be a "more artistic" drama with an R rating. (Deeds drew a PG-13.) "Some of the guys want to cameo," he says, "and they all want to help cast the female leads."

■ "There are pretty much two things everyone wants to learn how to do," says Tyler Florence, host of the Food Network's Food 911. "Play tennis and cook." And so, when Florence teaches Andre Agassi to prepare pan-roasted duck breast with cold sesame noodles at the Evian Taste of Tennis in New York City on Aug. 25, he expects the two-time U.S. Open champ will return the favor with a few tennis tips. "I'm more of a fan than a player," says Florence, "so hopefully we can work something out to change that." The event will match celebrated chefs like FN's Dave Lieberman with tennis stars such as Andy Roddick and Lindsay Davenport. Each pair will whip up what Florence calls "the ultimate pre-U.S. Open meal," with proceeds from the event going to charity.

■ Sugar Ray Leonard, Sylvester Stallone and Survivor producer Mark Burnett--the team that brought The Contender to NBC--are back in training because the boxing reality show has a deal to return to television in 2006. The show will debut on ESPN next April; fans can whet their appetites on Oct. 15 when ESPN airs a rematch between the first season's finalists, middleweights Sergio Mora and Peter Manfredo Jr., live from Los Angeles' Staples Center. (Mora won the first bout by unanimous decision.) As for season two, Burnett promises changes. "More drama, less challenges, more locker room and more family stuff," he says. "To be a true champion, you have to be a great boxer, but you also have to have a great personality. We want to see more of the latter this year."

■ Madonna made the leap to film. Why not Maradona? The 44-year-old Argentine soccer legend, who is much slimmer thanks to stomach-stapling surgery, has given Italian director Marco Risi permission to make a film about his life. The Hand of God--the title is a reference to Maradona's controversial World Cup goal against England in 1986--is scheduled to begin production in October.... Pat Summerall has spent much of his life speaking over dramatic moments, but he was nearly struck speechless during a trip to Arkansas last week. The former NFL announcer traveled to Little Rock to meet the family of the late Adron Shelby, whose liver Summerall received in a life-saving 2004 transplant. "I had no idea what to say, and talking is my business," says Sumerall, a recovering alcoholic who suffered from liver disease. Shelby, who died of an aneurysm at age 13, played junior high football and aspired to go pro some day, says his mother, Melva, to "make us rich." Says Summerall, "His nickname was Cannonball, so he probably would have been an interior lineman."



Picture This

Every team devotes a little preseason time to the Hail Mary play, but the Giants may be working on a new gimmick: the Hail Vishnu. Jared Lorenzen (12) and another Giants quarterback sent footballs flying in all directions during a drill last week. Lorenzen may have to throw with both hands to win a roster spot, because Jesse Palmer and Tim Hasselback each have an arm up on him in the race to be Eli Manning's backup.

They Said It: Chris Robinson

Catcher for the Class A West Michigan Whitecaps, after Laura the Elephant (right) threw the first pitch to him at a game last week: "She had pretty good life on her fastball. It tailed a little bit."




The USOC said it would sue the organizers of the Ferret Olympics unless they dropped the word Olympics from their event.