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People: Aug. 12, 2002

4 minute read
Benjamin Nugent


Television gave us the Munsters, the Sopranos, the Osbournes. Now, reaching a new pinnacle of familial weirdness, it’s given us the Voight-Jolie-Thorntons. Actor JON VOIGHT wept last week while he told TV’s Access Hollywood he wanted to get “help” for his daughter, Oscar-winning actress ANGELINA JOLIE. He said he always sensed that her recently collapsed marriage to actor-director Billy Bob Thornton was destined to fail, because of “problems” the couple has “been public about.” (He was probably alluding to Thornton’s confessions that he has weathered bouts of depression.) Jolie met therapy-speak with therapy-speak, responding that her relationship with her father was such that she felt it was not “healthy” for her to be around him, especially because she is now responsible for a small child (a recently adopted baby boy). Sounds as if they could use a good hour with Oprah and Dr. Phil.


During the 2000 election flap, the G.O.P. needed somebody, in KATHERINE HARRIS’ words, to hold Al Gore to “the letter of the law.” And the then Florida secretary of state did so with gusto. This year she seems to have disobeyed both the spirit and the letter of the law herself. After she quit her job to run for Congress, she admitted to violating Florida election rules. It seems she sent her letter of resignation to Governor Jeb Bush Aug. 1, more than two weeks later than the rules called for. “I made a mistake in not filing a letter of resignation at the time I qualified for my congressional race,” she confessed. Democrats were transported. “She is the chief election officer of the state and doesn’t understand election law,” sneered a Democratic Party spokesman. So? Sonny Bono was a singer who didn’t understand singing–and that didn’t keep him out of Washington.


Americans have a long tradition of running south of the border when things get sticky in the States. But on her trip to Mexico last week, BRITNEY SPEARS–who has of late suffered a tabloid-fodder breakup with ‘N Sync’s Justin Timberlake, and disappointing (though still pretty huge) album sales–could not leave trouble behind. She had barely left her plane when she was videotaped flipping the bird at paparazzi whom she felt were hounding her the way photographers chased Princess Diana. The real blow came at an outdoor show in Mexico City: in the middle of her fifth song, Spears stopped and said, “I’m sorry, Mexico. I love you. Bye,” and slipped away. The crowd of 50,000 hurled Britney merchandise and shouted, “Fraud! Fraud!” Spears later apologized, promised tickets would be refunded and blamed her walk-off on the risk that lightening would strike the metal stage. She then announced she would take six months off–just enough time for the average 12-year-old to forget her completely.


Some say women’s basketball is pretty much men’s basketball with fewer tattoos, but there’s always been one crucial difference: women don’t dunk. That changed last Tuesday, when LISA LESLIE, the 6-ft. 5-in. center for the Los Angeles Sparks, executed the first ever successful dunk in a WNBA game. “I wasn’t thinking,” said Leslie. “I just turned around, and I was free.” With 4:44 left in the first half of a home game against the Miami Sol, she caught a pass, took two steps and launched a right-hand jam. It was a coup the pro-basketball press had long anticipated, documenting her attempts at dunks, even in practice. The move brought the crowd to its feet and thrilled Leslie’s teammates, but it was still just two points and could not rescue the game: the Sparks lost 82-73. “The ladies messed up a historic moment in WNBA history,” lamented their coach Michael Cooper. But the loss seems unlikely to mess up Leslie’s prospects for scoring some truly historic cash in footwear endorsements.

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