• U.S.

People: Aug. 19, 2002

4 minute read
Benjamin Nugent

SERENA DEFLECTS HOLLYWOOD’S SERVES, FOR NOW

At first blush, the idea of a tennis champ’s making a meaningful contribution to the craft of acting sounds about as plausible as Robert Downey Jr.’s winning the U.S. Open. But not only is SERENA WILLIAMS, the world’s top-ranked player in women’s tennis, taking acting lessons, she’s also getting offers for small parts and cameos. Alas, being a professional athlete is more time-consuming than bartending or waitressing, the usual day jobs for aspiring actresses. “A lot of people want me, but my schedule right now is kind of conflicting with my acting,” she said at a tournament last week. “With my time schedule, I’d have to have a small role, but I’d like the movie to be all about me, so maybe I can get hurt in the beginning of the movie and I can just stay in a coma until the end.”

Critics Cry for Anna

The former Playboy Playmate ANNA NICOLE SMITH, who stands to receive nearly $88 million from her late nonagenarian husband if she wins a battle over his estate in court, has been called many names–but until now, victim wasn’t generally among them. The premiere of The Anna Nicole Show, an Osbournes-style reality series in which a camera follows Smith through her everyday routine, snagged the E! channel its highest rating ever by offering viewers the chance to make sport of Smith’s ample girth and apparently boozy reflections on such matters as sex (“I wanna have an orgy”) and porn films (she says she’d like to shoot one with “seven girls, two guys and a dog”). Critics reacted as if the producers were clubbing baby seals. “A cruel joke of a reality series,” read a typical review. As opposed to sensitive, life-affirming Big Brother 3? LOOSE CANNON TRIGGERS DEBATE

Some politicians can use weaponry to look cool–remember Yeltsin on a tank? But at a recent reception in a supporter’s house in Atlanta, the strategy backfired on campaigning Republican Representative BOB BARR of Georgia. A National Rifle Association board member and gun-safety advocate, Barr was inspecting a 1908-model Colt .38-cal. pistol with his friend, lobbyist Bruce Widener, when the weapon discharged. Nobody was hurt, but Representative John Linder, Barr’s opponent in the Republican primary for the state’s Seventh District, found plenty of ammunition. At his next appearance with Barr, he joked, “I’m going to wear a bulletproof vest.” “It’s certainly not a joking matter,” Barr shot back, “the way Linder is treating it.” Barr speculated the gun might have had a “hair trigger,” so that the merest touch could have set it off. “I certainly did not pull the trigger,” he asserted. All the same, he should probably avoid campaigning at any missile silos.

NOTHING’S COMING UP ROSES AT ROSIE

When struggling McCall’s magazine made a pact with ROSIE O’DONNELL to become Rosie, it was as if Enron got the right to change its name to John Wayne Energy: a really sweet rebranding opportunity. But Rosie’s publishers are fighting with the ex-talk show host, who gets a big payout if the magazine is a success, over how much say she should have in matters of content. Angry notes and behind-the-scenes sniping from both sides have turned up in the press, as have some unusual story proposals attributed to O’Donnell. Among the contested ideas: printing photos of her pregnant partner Kelli Carpenter, and running a Mike Tyson cover. But it could be worse. One could be publishing “Why Chicks Dig Stubble,” “50 New Tattoo Ideas” and “Three Chicks Hotter Than Tara Reid” in the Carson Daly Review.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com