Nadia, Still Beaming in Middle Age
So if Nadia Comaneci is turning 44, then we must be . . . ouch.
That was the one sobering thought during Monday's lively birthday dinner honoring the pigtailed darling of the 1976 Montreal Olympics at the home of Romanian Ambassador Sorin Ducaru and his wife, Carmen. If 44 seemed an unlikely milestone to fete -- well, we remind you it's nearly 30 years since she earned Olympic gymnastics' first perfect score of 10 at age 14.
Comaneci, now matured into a killer set of cheekbones and Bond-girl physique, has no patience for the are-we-pushing-children-too-hard? hand-wringing that breaks out every Olympic season, mostly around teen-girl-dominated sports.
"Nobody complains about a boy at 15 working so hard," she protested. "In any sport if you want to succeed you have to work hard. . . . You're not going to be born an Olympic champion." As for all the lost-childhood sighing: "What did I lose? Sitting in malls, going to the movies? At 14, I had been to all kinds of countries."
Unlike many child stars, she's still devoted to the craft that made her famous. With her husband, 1984 Olympic golden boy Bart Conner, she runs a gymnastics training camp in Oklahoma and a monthly gymnastics magazine; both are active on the board of the Special Olympics, whose meetings brought them to town this week.
We were seated next to Conner, the first at our table to notice that the chocolate figurines on top of the desserts resembled gymnasts. Of course, somehow his was the only one that stayed upright on its pastry balance beam.
"He nailed that dismount!" we chortled. "He stuck it!" Conner laughed warmly, like someone who doesn't actually hear that kind of joke every day of his life. Actually, he told us, "I just finished working on a movie for Disney about gymnasts" -- Jeff Bridges plays a coach, Conner plays a commentator -- "and it's called 'Stick It.' "
Rats. So much for that screenplay we were going to show him!
Starr Reports, but to No Avail: He's Not Registered to Vote
Former special prosecutor Ken Starr may have bailed on the Beltway for the sun and surf of Malibu, where he's dean of the Pepperdine law school . . . but he left his electoral heart in the Old Dominion.
Starr showed up with his wife at a Fairfax County polling site Sunday to vote early as an absentee but was turned away when his name was not found on the rolls. Officials say the former Bill Clinton nemesis lost his Virginia registration by responding affirmatively to a change-of-address query earlier this year. Records show that Starr has not yet registered to vote in California, more than a year after moving there.
Vote early and often for your favorite boldfaced names at firstname.lastname@example.org or our live Web chat today at noon.
The senior thesis of Supreme Court nominee Sam Alito has resurfaced! And boy, are we excited about all 134 pages of "An Introduction to the Italian Constitutional Court." Turns out Prof. Walter Murphy, Alito's adviser, stashed the copy Alito submitted to him for grading in 1972 and just sent it over to Princeton's archives. The entire thesis will be available by the end of the week.
But We're Sure the Answers Are Weighty
He's been in jeopardy, he's been on "Jeopardy," and now CNN's Wolf Blitzer gets his very own category on tonight's installment (WJLA, 7:30 p.m.) of the brainiac game show. The five "answers" on the Double Jeopardy board headed "Wolf (Blitzer) Pack" are super-secret, but were guessing they don't have this one:
A: 15 pounds.
Q: How much has the "Situation Room" anchor lost in the last two months?
THIS JUST IN...
* In an uncharacteristic display of common sense, Tom Cruise has replaced his sister, Lee Anne DeVette, with a professional publicist who will, we hope, advise against career-killers such as: (a) pumping fist and jumping on Oprah's couch, (b) criticizing Brooke Shields for taking drugs for postpartum depression, (c) berating Matt Lauer for supporting psychiatric treatment, (d) repeatedly declaring love for pregnant fiancee Katie Holmes, and (e) grinning maniacally. The new rep is Rogers & Cowan co-chairman Paul Bloch, according to Daily Variety.
* Supermodel Kate Moss just nabbed her first new gig since checking out of rehab last month. Snorting cocaine cost her contracts with H&M, Burberry and Chanel, but it hasn't stopped the 31-year-old Moss from shooting designer Roberto Cavalli's spring and summer collection.
* Your tax dollars at work: Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) has introduced a bill calling for an investigation of the 1996 slaying of rapper Tupac Shakur, reports the online Black Electorate. HR 4210 has been referred to the Committee on Government Reform, where it will likely languish for a very long time.