BEN, YOU SEXY GUY
People magazine announced Wednesday that Ben Affleck has been named "Sexiest Man Alive" -- joining a list of previous winners that includes George Clooney, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and last year's winner, Pierce Brosnan. The star of "Pearl Harbor," "The Sum of All Fears" and the upcoming movie version of the comic book hero "Daredevil," recently announced his engagement to singer-actress Jennifer Lopez, who told People she didn't need the magazine to tell her Affleck is sexy. "The difference between me and People magazine is that he'll still be the sexiest man alive in my eyes when he's 100 years old," said Lopez. People's newest list of the sexiest men alive also includes "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell, gospel singer Kirk Franklin and U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Michael Jackson has apologized for dangling his infant son over the railing of a fourth-floor balcony in Berlin Tuesday, but TV talk shows devoted considerable time Wednesday to discussions about how the pop icon should be punished. "I made a terrible mistake," Jackson said in a press release. "I got caught up in the excitement of the moment. I would never intentionally endanger the lives of my children." Appearing on CNN's "Talkback Live," celebrated attorney Johnnie Cochran said he didn't think Jackson should be punished, and former NBA star Charles Barkley agreed. WLIB radio talk show host Mark Riley told the New York Daily News: "If I was a cop in Berlin, I'd arrest him for endangering a child. The child could have very well been killed."
WHAT DID HE EXPECT?
Leonardo DiCaprio says he isn't the wild and crazy guy that some tabloids make him out to be. In an interview with ABC's Barbara Walters, DiCaprio also said he isn't dating anyone just now, and admits he wasn't ready for the way international stardom changed his life. Gossip columnist Liz Smith had a preview of the Walters interviews, and reported Wednesday that when he was asked what he has learned about success and failure, Leo answered: "Not much. I think ultimately success is good. Failure not so good." To which Smith responded: "Duh!" DiCaprio said he had mixed feelings about the price of fame, because the upside is pretty good. "There's no handbook for being splashed on the cover of People when you didn't want to be there, or the cover of the National Enquirer," said DiCaprio. "I had nobody to talk to, nobody to guide me. But on that same token, I'm not at all going to sit here and say that I'm not completely grateful and feel completely blessed for everything that's happened in my career." DiCaprio was accompanied by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg for the sit-down with Walters. They're on the promotional trail to support their upcoming movie "Catch Me if You Can." DiCaprio actually appears in two high-profile movies this Christmas. He's also coming to a theater near you in director Martin Scorsese's "Gangs of New York."
GIVE YOU $3 MILLION FOR THAT NICKEL
The world's most valuable five-cent piece -- the legendary 1913 Liberty Head nickel, valued at $3 million -- will go on public display for the first time in the Bay area later this month, when its owner, sports agent Dwight Manley, loans it to the Santa Clara Coin, Stamp & Collectibles Expo. The show is scheduled for Nov. 22-24 at the Santa Clara Convention Center. Manley, president of United Sports Agency, represents several NBA players including Utah Jazz superstar Karl Malone and Phoenix Suns rookie swingman Casey Jacobsen. Manley is also a member of the California State Commemorative Quarter Selection Committee, the group that will help choose the proposed design for the state's 2005 quarter-dollar. All but five 1913 nickels made by the U.S. Mint depicted a Native American Indian on the front and a buffalo on the back. The exceptions showed "Lady Liberty," the design that was used between 1883 and 1912. Manley said one of the five rare Liberty Head nickels has been unaccounted for since the early 1960s. Two others are in museums and another is in a private collection. "So this exhibit may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see one of the world's most famous rare coins," said Manley.
UPI DAILY SURVEY QUESTION NO. 463
Here's today's question: "How many times have you traveled out of your home country?" Put VISA in the subject line and send to firstname.lastname@example.org via the Internet.
RESULTS OF QUESTION NO. 458 (TABLOIDS)
Last week we asked if you ever read the "rag mags" while in line at the grocery. A surprising 85 percent confessed that they did read them, though a little under 20 percent said they bought them. The National Enquirer was mentioned by several as having some of the most startling headlines and the Globe as being one with "out of this world" headlines. By the way, the tabloids do provide a service to legitimate journalists ... they often are accurate in predicting who is about to die, allowing the preparation of proper tributes and obits. TOMORROW: Would you like to be in orbit? GBA