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Original Issue

The Beat

DESPERATEHOUSEWIVES star Eva Longoria and her boyfriend, Spurs guard and WesternConference All-Star Tony Parker, have an old-fashioned relationship. When sheexpressed interest in playing in the McDonald's NBA All-Star Celebrity Gamelast Friday in Houston, he nixed the idea. "I asked if I would break anail, and he decided I wouldn't play," she says. "He was afraid I wouldembarrass him." So Longoria did the next best thing: She coached.Longoria's H-Town squad, featuring Nelly, Superman Returns star Brandon Routhand Becky Hammon of the WNBA's New York Liberty lost to Clutch City, which wascoached by Queen Latifah.

■ Michael Jordancelebrated his 43rd birthday with some rich and famous friends during All-Starweekend--Diddy, Kevin Garnett, Willis McGahee, Steve Nash, Terrell Owens andLenDale White were among the crowd at Jordan's party in Houston--but it was HisAirness who was in a giving mood. After Grammy winner John Legend serenaded himwith Happy Birthday, Jordan put a trove of memorabilia up for auction, with theproceeds going to Habitat for Humanity's Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. Onelot, a signed collection of all 21 editions of Air Jordan sneakers (includingAir Jordan XXI, which was released last Saturday) reached $425,000, thanks inpart to bids from rapper Fat Joe and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. The biddingwill continue on eBay until March 3.

■ PamelaAnderson's days of sipping mint juleps and sporting wide-brimmed hats atChurchill Downs appear to be over. Last week the actress and fervent PETAspokesperson (left), who has been to the Kentucky Derby twice, announced thatshe will not attend the Run for the Roses anymore, saying, "I don't want tosupport cruelty to animals, whether it's forcing horses to race for ouramusement or scalding chickens alive for our plate."

■ On the premiereof Fox's Skating with Celebrities last month, judge Dorothy Hamill critiquedactress Kristy Swanson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Canadian pairs figureskater Lloyd Eisler (who won Olympic bronze in 1992 and '94) by saying,"I'd love to see more of a connection between the two of you." Itappears that Hamill has gotten her wish. Eisler and Swanson started dating inDecember, says a rep for the two. They will compete on the show's two-partfinale (it was taped in October and airs on Feb. 27 and on March 2), but notwithout some controversy. Eisler's wife, Marcia, with whom he has two childrenand from whom he separated in November, says she had a feeling that there was aromance brewing in October, when Swanson forwarded her an e-mail from Lloydthat read, "I love you." Says Marcia, "I guess he and Kristydeserve each other."

A Florida middle school gym teacher faces bribery charges for allegedly lettingstudents skip class if they paid him $1 per day.

They Said It
VERNON GUIDRY, owner of Bobby Knight, a 1,325-pound pro rodeo bull (below) thatwas born the same day his namesake was hired as Texas Tech's basketballcoach:

"The bucking's not forced. It's a naturaltrait."




Whenyou're best-in-show, they let you sit at the table, not under it. Meet Rufus,winner at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and a real party animal. Thefive-year-old colored bull terrier took New York by storm, staying out withowners Tom and Barbara Bishop of Holmdel, N.J., until 3:45 a.m., then gettingup early for TV appearances and lunch (above) at Sardi's. (He had the rawchopped sirloin.) Rufus is the first of his breed to win atWestminster.