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Original Issue

The Beat

IT'S A VERY unscientific polling method, but it appears that Terrell Owens is much more popular than he was a year ago. The Cowboys receiver celebrated his 33rd birthday on Dec. 4 at the Shag Hollywood nightclub in Los Angeles with Chris Rock, Justin Timberlake and Penny Marshall and fellow athletes Matt Leinart, Shawne Merriman and Antoine Walker. Owens, who has hosted a birthday bash each of the last five years, ranked this his best ever—certainly better than the 2005 party, which was underattended and rated an "eight out of 10" by Eagles cornerback Lito Sheppard. Singer Macy Gray (below) capped this year's event with a rendition of Happy Birthday to You, and Owens came away with what he called "the best gift I ever received": a $45,000 watch from the Maloof brothers. "I started to wear it today in practice," he said later in the week. "But, you know, I didn't want to blind anyone."

• What would happen if you let Fox sideline reporter Tony Siragusa run free in your basement? Any food you had stored there would disappear, but you might also end up with a new rec room. The former Ravens and Colts tackle is hosting Man Caves, a male-oriented home-improvement show that will premiere on the DIY Network next spring. The show, says Siragusa, "is for guys who get married and have kids and then lose their spaces.... We want total man caves: beer, sports, cards and cigars."

• Jason Giambi will make his acting debut next year in the ESPN miniseries The Bronx Is Burning, about the 1977 Yankees. Giambi, a former A's slugger who came to New York as a free agent, plays a Manhattan taxi driver who tries to persuade Reggie Jackson (Rescue Me's Daniel Sunjata), a former A's slugger, to come to New York as a free agent. The scene was shot in Central Park last week. Says ESPN Original Entertainment senior producer Mark Durand, "He had three lines and delivered them well, managing to sound and look the part of a quintessential New York cabbie."

• Emmitt Smith appears in the White House's annual Barney Cam video, a comic take on the holiday season as seen through the eyes of President Bush's Scottish terrier Barney. In the clip, which can be seen at whitehouse.gov, the Dancing with the Stars champion pretends to be a dance adviser to Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, who is trying out for Barney's Holiday Extravaganza show. When Spellings bombs the audition, Smith says, "Continue to follow your dreams, don't get discouraged." Good advice, but it doesn't curb Spellings's hard feelings when Karl Rove gets the part.

SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE

A military takeover of the government of Fiji was delayed until after a rugby match between the army and national police.

PICTURE THIS

China's He Ning is more than just a talented gymnast—she's the kind of athlete who can carry a team on her back. At the Asian Games in Doha, Qatar, He, 16, stayed limber by letting teammate Zhou Zhuoru walk all over her. It worked: He took the women's individual all-around title and also helped China win its second team gold in three months. The team also won gold at the world championships in October.

They Said It

GIL SCOTT, Agent, on why his client Mike Vanderjagt (below), who was recently cut by the Cowboys, is having trouble finding another job:
"Right now, there's just not a whole lot of kickers messing up."