Brush With Greatness Is Pricey for Beckham's Young Escorts

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Thursday, August 2, 2007

Twenty-two young Arlington soccer players will have the honor of escorting David Beckham and the other pros onto the field at RFK when the L.A. Galaxy plays D.C. United next Thursday. It's an honor their parents snatched up for a mere . . . $230 each.

It seems kid escorts are a tradition at international matches, a practice that D.C. United has taken up. Normally the team simply sells the rights to a local soccer league as part of a group-ticket package that costs roughly $50 a head. But with frenzy building for the Brit superstar's Washington debut, United officials decided to take the program to the next level -- and auction the rights to the highest bidder. The Arlington Soccer Association won with $5,000.

"We took our purchase price, and divided that by 22 slots," explained board member Robert Waffle. "We provided 22 of our families with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We're not making any profit out of this." The profit that D.C. United makes will go to the team's charity, which provides tickets for poor kids.

And families were actually interested in paying that much? (The price includes seats for kid and parent, plus a commemorative jersey.) "My phone has been ringing off the hook. The slots were filled within two hours of making the announcement," said Waffle.

But . . . what if Becks doesn't make it? (Doctors ordered him to sit out Tuesday's match in Dallas.) Refund? Waffle laughed in an "uh, no" kind of way. He noted this is a rare sold-out soccer match for RFK. "These 22 kids are going to walk out and see 60,000 people -- that alone will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

He added: "I thought you were going to ask, how do we decide who gets to hold Beckham's hand?"

Good question: That could get ugly. "I'm told it's totally at random," Waffle said. Said D.C. United rep Kyle Sheldon: "It's all on them to decide."

Doggie, Come Home. Palisades Store Misses You.

Ann Hand is offering $100 for the return of MacArthur, a life-size statue.
Ann Hand is offering $100 for the return of MacArthur, a life-size statue.(Courtesy of Ann Hand)
It's the dog-gone days of August at Ann Hand's flagship store in the Palisades: The shop mascot, a life-size statue of a golden lab, has been dognapped.

The socially prominent jewelry designer spotted the $200 resin model six years ago while vacationing in Maine. "I saw him and thought he was a real dog," said Hand, who brought him to D.C., where customers named him MacArthur, for the boulevard. He became a neighborhood fixture, guarding the shop's entrance adorned in seasonally appropriate garb (patriotic T-shirt for the Fourth of July, red bow tie at Christmas).

Until this week.

Hand discovered MacArthur was missing on Monday -- a store employee forgot to bring him inside at closing on Friday; apparently, someone pilfered the pooch over the weekend. "We were frantic because he's our good luck charm," she said.

No ransom note yet. Did a lazy dog lover "adopt" MacArthur? Will he travel the globe and send back vacation pictures? Or maybe a zealous patron of the arts (hmmm. . . haven't heard from The Collector lately) liberated the statue for art's sake?

Hand's offering a $100 reward for MacArthur's safe return, "no questions asked."


· Chicago prosecutors said yesterday that R. Kelly will be tried next month on child pornography charges, Reuters reports. The Grammy Award-winning R&B singer, 40, was first accused five years ago of having sex with an underage girl, an act caught on a widely circulated video; his attorneys disputed both the age of the girl and the identity of the man on the tape. Kelly, who pleaded not guilty, has continued to record and tour; he faces up to 15 years if convicted. The trial begins Sept. 17.

· Melanie Brown filed suit in L.A. yesterday to have Eddie Murphy named as the father of 4-month-old Angel Iris. DNA test results proved the actor is the baby's father, said Brown's attorney, Gloria Allred. Now the former Spice Girl is asking the court for "reasonable" child support. Murphy's rep had no comment.

· In front of several bystanders, tabloid train wreck Britney Spears shouted, "I'm going to kill you!" and threw a baby bottle at two paparazzi outside the Wynn Las Vegas spa last Thursday. Photographer Andrew Deetz claims a bodyguard punched and kicked him until hotel security intervened and that Spears threatened to kill him or hire someone who would, the Associated Press reports. Vegas police issued a summons charging the bodyguard with battery.

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