Allison Samuels

First Time For Everything

No Hollywood screenwriter would have dared to dream up a story as improbable as Antwone Fisher's--except one. Fisher grew up in Cleveland's foster-care system; his foster parents neglected and abused him, and he picked fights with everyone in sight, even after he enlisted in the Navy.

No. 1 Without A Bullet

Cornell Haynes Jr. looks every inch a GQ man. Young, handsome and with millions in the bank thanks to his rap alter ego known as Nelly, Haynes is only one of a handful of men selected to appear in the fashion magazine's music issue, and it's easy to see why.

Mourning A Master Dj

DJ Jazzy Jeff needed a moment to let it sink in. One of the founding fathers of hip-hop, Jam Master Jay of Run-DMC, had been murdered, and the phones in Jazz's office were ringing off the hook with friends and reporters wanting to talk.

Grant's Hill To Climb

Grant Hill isn't afraid to show off his wounds. So after a long, one-on-one workout with a fellow Duke alum, Hill slumps down on a row of wooden benches and takes off his left sneaker. "Don't look at my ugly feet," he says, rolling down his sock to bare a swollen ankle with three large, dark slashes running across it. "Just look at the scars."The scars, from three surgeries that derailed the Orlando Magic forward's career for two full seasons, represent just the visible challenge to Hill's...

Newsmakers

He is superman, after all. So it shouldn't surprise anybody that Christopher Reeve has defied the odds again. Last week one of Reeve's rehab doctors, John W.

What Beyonce Wants

Beyonce Knowles is not pleased. The 20-year-old lead singer of Destiny's Child wants something to read while a stylist weaves her curly, honey-blond hair into a funky ponytail.

Newsmakers

Will Smith has always been a man with a plan. With plans. Back when he was the rapper known as the Fresh Prince, he wanted to become an actor. As a movie star, he wanted to go beyond slam-bang summer action flicks ("Men in Black," "Independence Day") to serious character studies ("Ali").

Will Iverson Foul Out?

Everyone knows that Allen is a pretty difficult guy to get along with," says an associate of Philadelphia 76ers superstar Allen Iverson. "And no one knows that better than his wife." Mrs.

Drama Queens

Like a good piece of sweet-potato pie, "Soul Food" has finally found the right seasoning. "Soul Food" is the first African-American TV drama to make it to its third season, and its very survival provides a lesson in the ways of television.

Angela's Fire

Angela Bassett has a flair for the dramatic. Two hours into a long, frank interview at a Beverly Hills lounge, the actress is asked why, after not starring in a movie for four years, she turned down a chance for the lead in "Monster's Ball." Bassett bolts out of her overstuffed chair, and throws out her arms in a gesture worthy of her idol, Bette Davis: "It's about character, darling." In "Monster's Ball," which won Halle Berry an Oscar, a black waitress has a graphic, tortured--and, Bassett...

It's All In The Jeans

Want to look like a starlet? Just combine good genes with Seven jeans. At about $150 a pair, the butt-flattering pants are popular with everyone from Reese Witherspoon to Brandy, who's nine months pregnant. "Seven has just the right amount of stretch to fit all shapes," says a rep at L.A.'s Fred Segal. "That's the genius of it." After two years of being sold only at high-end retailers like Fred Segal and Curve in Beverly Hills, Seven jeans have finally hit upscale chains, including Neiman...

Rappers Wax Nostalgic

Dissing on vinyl has always been a rap mainstay: mike swipes meant more sales, more ink. But lobbing insults took a dangerous turn in the late '90s when ill will between Death Row Records and Bad Boy Entertainment was believed to have contributed to the murders of Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. "It made everybody in the industry pause," says L.A.

Usher In A New Era

As 10,000 mourners gathered in a cavernous televangelist church in suburban Atlanta last Thursday to pay their last respects to TLC's Lisa (Left Eye) Lopes, Arista Records chief L.

Taking Care Of Business

Ask Tampa Bay wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson where he was 10 years ago this week, and he gives you a sheepish grin. "I responded the way most black young men 18 or 19 years old did during that time," says Johnson, now 29, who was attending the University of Southern California on a football scholarship when he learned that his boyhood neighborhood of South-Central was on fire. "I couldn't sit home and watch it on television.

Tackling A Tough Subject

It's pretty clear Spike Lee is a history buff, so it's no wonder that his first HBO documentary, 1997's "Four Little Girls," about four black children murdered at Sunday school in 1963, was nominated for an Oscar.

Mixing It Up

When Memphis Grizzlies forward Pau Gasol was named NBA Rookie of the Year last week, the 21-year-old Spanish sensation became the first European player to capture the award.

Television: Beating Carson Daily

It isn't hard to find the intersection of 106th Street and Park Avenue in Harlem. Just follow the hundreds of teens clad in their hip-hop finest, lined up in front of the warehouse where Black Entertainment Television tapes its daily music countdown show. "106 & Park" has become a wildly popular program by featuring guest appearances by the likes of Puffy and Mary J.

Female Trouble

Joan Clayson's life looks pretty familiar to a lot of black women. She's a hard-working thirtysomething with a good job, terrific friends, a fly wardrobe ...

Will It Be Denzel's Day?

Every career has its moment of truth. For Denzel Washington, it came on a March evening two years ago, when Gwyneth Paltrow took the stage at L.A.'s Shrine Auditorium to announce what many friends and fans hoped would be his first Academy Award for best actor. "I remember buying three Armani suits for that night because I just knew Denzel would win and we were going to party all night long,'' recalls "Boyz N the Hood" director John Singleton.

Crossing Over

Last year, after over a decade in the music business, Lenny Kravitz finally landed a magazine cover that rocked his world. It wasn't Rolling Stone. Nor was it Vanity Fair, Us Weekly or even NEWSWEEK. "I got Essence!" exclaims the singer.

Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys is having a funky hair day. R&B's new queen is in a New York brownstone doing a cover photo shoot for Essence magazine, but her signature braids are a bit too frizzy, and her personal braider will have to unravel her lengthy mane and begin again.

Newsmakers

In the mood for celeb spotting at Hollywood hot spots? These days it's easier finding stars in L.A.'s smoggy skies. The terrorist threat has famous folks running for cover--or the nearest gas-mask purveyor.

Hot Dogg!

He entered the rap world in 1992 with a lazy Southern drawl, a lanky physique and a name built for fame. Snoop Doggy Dogg, as he was then known, first hooked hip-hop fans with his underground hit "187 on a Undercover Cop." That year he also penned most of the songs on Dr.

'Minor' Is Major

Songstress Alicia Keys likes nothing more than to mix a little Beethoven with a dash of Biggie when she sits down to compose. The influence both artists have had on her is instantly evident in her debut release "songs in A minor,'' which sent the music world spinning when it premiered at No. 1 on the Billboard charts two weeks ago.

Honey, I Shrunk The Rappers

Ten-year-old Lashawn Bailey is screaming so loud that tears are streaming down her caramel-colored face. On this Saturday night, she and about 1,000 other little brown girls have packed into the Wiltern Theatre, in Los Angeles, dressed in their flyest gear.

Scared Silly

Two years ago Shawn and Marlon Wayans cooked up an idea they just knew their brother Keenen would love. They wanted to do a spoof of teen slasher films like "Scream''--and they wanted him to direct.

Life With Father

Richard Williams watched as the crowd turned on his youngest daughter. This was supposed to have been a glorious victory for Serena, who'd long trailed her sister Venus in the rankings and hadn't won a major tournament of her own in months.

Tiger's 'Brothers'

The young man had come to the United Center in Chicago because he needed help. At the age of 21, Tiger Woods had just won the '97 Masters--by an amazing 12 strokes--and the rush of fame was overwhelming.

Kobe: Thanks For Sharing

Kobe Bryant never imagined that watching his Los Angeles Lakers win could be so humbling. But confined to the bench with an ankle injury for a couple of weeks in March, Kobe couldn't kid himself: the defending NBA champion Lakers were clearly playing better without him.

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