Hef, Kato and Eddie Vedder's bat
By Annie Hoffman
Special to Page 2

Editor's Note: Annie "Hollywood" Hoffman will cover the intersection of sports and entertainment in a new column every week on Page 2. Here's her debut column from the site of the 2003 ESPY Awards in Hollywood.

Hangin' at Hef's House
As one athlete said to me Tuesday, "you know you've made it when ESPN brings boxing matches to your very own backyard!" That is what ESPN2 did for Hugh Hefner, televising seven bouts from Hef's Playboy Mansion in Hollywood. I felt like I was living just about every man's dream, watching boxing with Hugh at the Playboy Mansion, complete with Playboy bunnies hopping around, free food and an open bar. Hefner told me he has been a big boxing fan forever. His favorite boxer right now is Oscar de la Hoya, and he's glad to hear De la Hoya is focusing on boxing and not his singing career. Hefner also said the female athletes who have done the best as Playboy centerfolds are the women from the World Wrestling Federation. ...

Hugh Hefner and girlfriends
It's Hugh's sweet personality and good manners that wins over the women.

Ran into actor James Caan at the mansion. Caan said he feels like all these athletes getting into the entertainment business is a little insulting. "It's like someone telling me to play wide receiver for the Oakland Raiders," he said. (Note to Caan: Don't think the Raiders will be asking you to play anytime soon). Caan, a big fan of both hockey and football, still works out with professional athletes and looks as fit as he did when he played football player Brian Picolo in the classic film, "Brian's Song." ...

Practically the entire Tampa Bay Buccaneers team was there for the special edition of "Friday Night Fights." The 2003 Super Bowl champs are up for Best Team at the ESPYS Awards tonight. I had a chance to talk with wideout Keyshawn Johnson, who told me that besides football, he's enjoying his ventures in real estate and feels like it is a great way for him to give back to the community. If Hollywood came calling he'd be interested in entertaining any offers, but for now he's happy with football and real estate. ...

Spoke with Eric Dickerson, who said he has an exciting new television project in the works. I told Dickerson my favorite "Monday Night Football" opening was when he was a player for the Los Angeles Rams. Dickerson wore a cape around his uniform and a pair of goggles and looked so larger than life. ....

I've always been fascinated by the intersection of sports and entertainment, simply because I'm passionate about both. Sporting events, after all, are "shows" with stars, fans and stories -- all the elements that make up a good entertainment production -- so I've been writing about the crossover in those two worlds since 1996.

Hundreds of sporting events later, I still love the sports business. And countless entertainment shows later, I still love the entertainment business.

Now, here I am, bringing those worlds to you on Page 2.
--Annie Hoffman

Here's some trivia for you: Boxing announcer Michael Buffer told me he had a European Top 20 hit song for 19 weeks in 1997 -- the disco/dance song was called "Lets Get Ready to Rumble" (what else would it be called?) Who would've thunk it? ...

One of my favorite people I chatted with at the Playboy Mansion was O.J. Simpson's infamous houseguest Kato Kaelin. He had me laughing most of the evening! I can see why Simpson offered Kaelin his guest house. Kaelin told me that he doesn't talk to Simpson anymore. He's keeping busy with doing radio fill-in jobs around the country. Also, he has sold a television reality program. The working title? "Houseguest," of course! ...

I now understand why people speak so fondly of the Playboy Mansion; it truly is an amazing home on beautiful grounds and the hospitality could not have been better. Hefner is the consummate host.

Deion the Outdoorsman
I always thought those outdoorsy folks were introspective types! Well, Deion Sanders just blew that stereotype right out of the water. "Prime Time" is going prime time on ESPN, where he has been named the host of the "New American Sportsman."

Sanders will anchor a block of outdoor shows that will air between "Monday Night Countdown" and "SportsCenter" beginning Sept. 8. Sanders is replacing actor Rick Schroder as host.

Oscar De La Hoya
Oscar is recently married, playing lots of golf, singing ... oh, and getting ready for a September fight.

De la Hoya tees off
ESPY week kicked off with a visit to Oscar de la Hoya's Fourth Annual Pro Celebrity Golf Event at the Wilshire Country Club in Los Angeles. The boxer hosts the event to benefit the Oscar de la Hoya Foundation, which provides athletic and educational opportunities to the children of East Los Angeles -- where the "Golden Boy" is a homeboy.

Recently, De la Hoya contributed $1 million and rented the land for the Oscar de la Hoya Charter High School, a new school in East Los Angeles named in his honor. It is the first new school to be built in East Los Angeles in 76 years (and the school pays Oscar one dollar a year to lease the land).

"I'm thrilled to leave a mark like this in Los Angeles. It's just something I wanted to do. A lot of kids need it there. They want to go to school and get a great education, and these charter schools are doing a great job," De la Hoya told me.

When I asked De la Hoya about his golf game he assured me Tiger Woods has nothing to worry about. Being the typical professional athlete who is always up for competition, de la Hoya added, "Well, that is unless he wants to get in the boxing ring prior to playing golf!"

De la Hoya, who recently married popular Latin singer Millie Corretjer, says he has no plans to record another CD, though he is one of the handful of athletes to successfully make the crossover to music. His debut English and Spanish language CD sold close to 1 million records. He has been asked to sing a duet with his wife several times, but he says they'll keep their duets to singing in the shower. Ummm ...

De la Hoya focused on Golden Boy promotions about a year ago and now the company is doing 50-60 boxing matches a year. "I'm going to stick to boxing -- it is what I know best," he says.

He also would like to give Hollywood a try someday, saying he'd like to take a small role in a film "just to say he did" when he retires from boxing.

Currently, De la Hoya is busy training for his upcoming fight with Shane Mosley on Sept. 13 at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas.

Nikki Ziering
Ian hasn't picked up a bat since Little League? No wonder Nikki is soon to be his ex-wife.

Celebrity softball
"Beverly Hills 90210" cutie Ian Ziering, who played Steve Sanders on the hit TV show, played catcher in Sunday's Legends and Celebrity Softball Game as part of Major League Baseball's All-Star Game festivities. Ziering told me he hasn't picked up a bat since playing Little League ball in West Orange, N.J.

The actor gets star struck around athletes and was stoked to meet Bo Jackson. "After three hip replacements, Jackson is still an incredible athlete," Ziering said of Jackson, who was named MVP of the game and autographed his bat for Ziering.

Ziering told me "Beverly Hills 90210" alum and good friend Jason Priestley is doing well after his horrific auto racing accident last summer -- and Priestley's golf game is coming along as well.

Vedder rocks the cage
The Major League Baseball Experience hits the road this summer. The production, consisting of two 52-foot tractor trailers with pitching and batting cages, a Cyber Ballpark attraction featuring the latest MLB video game releases and other activities and interactive exhibits, can be experienced at Ozzfest 2003, Lollapalooza 2003 and 34 additional Clear Channel Entertainment "Summer of Live" concerts.

Eddie Vedder, front man of mega rock group Pearl Jam, is so into the batting cages that he had his personal bat flown in so he could improve his swing. Oh, zee life of the rich and famous! See the press release on the Clear Channel home page.

A little of this and a little of that
Geena Davis, who once tried out for the United States Olympic Archery Team, will not be competing in this week's World Archery Championships in New York City due to her work on an upcoming sitcom ... In the would-have-never-guessed-department, Howie Schwartz of Grand Stand Sports & Memorabilia, Inc. in New York tells me that crooner Marc Anthony is a big sports memorabilia collector. ... A's pitcher Barry Zito tells Playboy.com, "I might be playing with Huey Lewis soon. The drummer's a big A's fan. I think they're playing with the Doobies, and they want me to come out and jam. I'm at the point on my guitar where I can pretty much learn anything, at least on the rhythm side."

You can reach "Hollywood" at annie@anniehoffman.com.


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