People talk 2/27/02

Wednesday, February 27, 2002

Skater's performance lands her on cereal box

MINNEAPOLIS -- Sarah Hughes' performance landed her on the Olympics podium with a gold medal -- and also put her on boxes of Wheaties.

The cereal company said Monday that it will make the 18-ounce package available in March. Hughes joins fellow figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi, the 1980 U.S. men's hockey team and others on the famed orange box, which began its association with athletes in the 1930s.

"Winning a gold medal is something that I've dreamed about for most of my life," said Hughes, 16. "To top it off, now I have my own Wheaties box. This is really a dream come true."

Film role revealed much to Washington

LOS ANGELES -- Denzel Washington says his role in the medical-system drama "John Q" made him aware of how many people don't have adequate health insurance.

Washington plays John Q. Archibald, a factory worker who takes hostages in a hospital emergency room when his insurance won't pay for his son's heart transplant.

"I was amazed at how many people fall into that slot," the 47-year-old actor told reporters.

The actor said he had no trouble playing a blue-collar worker.

"I worked in a factory before. And I was a garbage man. And worked in the post office before, so I remember, it's not so long ago. I've still got my unemployment book. So you kind of tap into that. And I like to think I'm closer to that kind of a character. I'm just a regular guy as far as I'm concerned."

"John Q" slipped from first place to second with $12.5 million in its second weekend, according to studio figures released Monday.

Spears describes her first on-screen kiss

LOS ANGELES -- Britney Spears says Anson Mount, her "Crossroads" love interest, made her first movie kiss comfortable.

"Having all the cameras around me at first was ... kind of nerve-racking but ... he made me feel comfortable and it was totally fine," the 20-year-old pop star told reporters. "He was a sweetheart."

Spears said she and her real-life sweetheart, Justin Timberlake of 'N Sync, realize they can't be jealous when the other kisses someone else in a music video or film.

"That's a part of what we do. And I accept that. ... It's just acting," she said.

Rutan, Stockdale headed to Hall of Fame

DAYTON, Ohio -- Dick Rutan, who in an experimental airplane made the first nonstop, around-the-world flight without refueling, will be among the newest members of the National Aviation Hall of Fame.

The other honorees are James Stockdale, a retired Navy vice admiral and highest-ranking prisoner of war in Vietnam; World War II ace Hub Zemke; and helicopter designer Frank Piasecki.

The announcement was made last week. They will be inducted in a July ceremony.

Rutan, of Loma Linda, Calif., was an Air Force fighter pilot who flew 325 combat missions in Vietnam.

After he retired from the Air Force, Rutan became a test pilot. In 1986, he and Jeana Yeager completed their round-the-world flight in nine days in the experimental airplane Voyager. Rutan made a second round-the-world flight in 1997 in a plane he built in 1981.

Founded in Dayton in 1962 and later established by Congress, the aviation hall currently has 174 inductees.

-- From wire reports

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