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THE WRITING ON (AND OFF) THE WALL WINS WOO STARS' GAZES.

Byline: TOM HOFFARTH

When you spot Sly Stallone parked at the ballyard in the front row of the upscale dugout club seats sitting next to Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, you know something's up. Maybe the two really did bond after they ran the opening legs of the Olympic torch relay through Los Angeles a few weeks back.

Despite the close proximity, Hollywood A-listers of the Stallone variety haven't been showing up around these parts of Chavez Ravine on a regular basis in recent years. You'd have to go back to Tommy Lasorda's managerial days, when Frank Sinatra might pop by to break some bread.

Yet Tom Cruise has cruised by to bring the torch into Dodger Stadium at the end of that relay. Jack Nicholson took in a game when the Yankees were in town. Kobe Bryant was around that night as well. And Don Johnson, Owen Wilson, and ...

Hold on, Jack and Kobe? Has Dodger Stadium suddenly become the sports equivalent of the Viper Room? Is it the ``it'' place to be now that the spotlight has dimmed on the Lakers?

A less-than-star-struck McCourt wouldn't mind such a shift.

``We're inviting everyone to come out, but a big part of L.A. are the celebrities, and it seems they want to come out more often now,'' the Dodgers owner said Saturday while mingling with the participants of the 46th annual Hollywood Stars night softball game played before Dodgers-Phillies contest.

``At the end of the day, it's all about having fun, and L.A. loves to see the celebrities.''

New Dodgers marketing director Lon Rosen, who once worked for the Lakers and is well connected with the Hollywood community, admits he's had more contact with celebs wanting to come out to the park since the team's winning has become contagious over the last few months.

In organizing this year's Stars softball game - it was changed from a baseball game so that more starlets such as Brooke Burke could participate without fear of injury - Rosen said he received a few calls from celebs (aside from those who'd been invited and publicized in advance) wanting to play.

``It seems like more of the bigger names were here in the '60s and '70s and then, in the last few years, it wasn't as big a deal for whatever reason,'' Rosen said. ``But now the talent agents are sending their clients out. It's all about loosening the place up, and the celebrities have been enjoying it.''

In recent years, the Hollywood Stars night was a parade of B- and C-listers with the only suspense coming from seeing who'd get hurt. On Saturday, some of the advertised celebs that were no-shows included George Lopez, Dean Cain, Jaime Pressly, Jimmy Kimmel, and, alas, Alyssa Milano. The latter was a bit of a disappointment to Dodgers reliever Eric Gagne. Seems when the Montreal native was first learning to speak English, he watched episodes of ``Who's The Boss?''

(And then there was the agent for reputed comedian Carrot Top, who called to advise that his guy was stuck in Aspen, Colo., and couldn't catch a plane to L.A. in time. Imagine how much of a beating Top's rep will take for that little incident.)

Those who did make it - Michael Clarke Duncan, Sean Astin, Rob Lowe, James Van Der Beek, Jon Cryer and Robert Wuhl - weren't just there to wave to the crowd. Van Der Beek, for example, robbed Lowe of a home run with a pretty darn good catch crashing through the temporary outfield fence set up about 40 yards beyond the edge of the infield dirt.

For some reason, the Laker Girls also made an appearance, doing a routine behind home plate between innings. Apparently, even they know were to go these days to be seen.

``We want the Dodgers to be more like the Lakers,'' said actor/goofball Jamie Kennedy, who led the crowd in ``Take Me Out to the Ballgame'' from the roof of the Dodgers dugout during the seventh inning stretch.

``I think it's good, smart business for the Dodgers to embrace the motion picture community,'' said Astin, who was approached by kids - including Robin Ventura's son - who recognized him from the ``Lord Of The Rings'' movies. ``For me, growing up in L.A. and idolizing Ron Cey and Steve Garvey, playing in this game is a dream come true, so you don't have to twist my arm to come out here.''

CAPTION(S):

7 photo, box

Photo:

(1) Actors Rob Lowe, left, and Michael Clarke Duncan pretend to brawl during the Hollywood Stars Game on Saturday.

Matt Sayles/Associated Press

(2) no caption (Larry Brown)

(3) JOHN DALY

(4) ROGER CLEMENS

(5) QUINCY CARTER

(6) no caption (Frank McCourt)

(7) - Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton, on who his final two picks will be for the U.S. team in next month's golf competition. As he ponders the decision, Sutton (pictured) was invited to ``throw out'' the first pitch before Tuesday's game at Dodger Stadium, so he pitched it up with his wedge.

John Lazar/Staff Photographer

Box:

SUNDAY PUNCH
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 8, 2004
Words:848
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