Allison Samuels

In The Eye Of 'The Hurricane'

Denzel Washington may make almost $10 million a movie, but he's not afraid to take a punch. When he took on the role of Rubin (Hurricane) Carter--the real-life middleweight contender imprisoned for 19 years for a murder he didn't commit--Washington trained as if he'd been given a shot at the title.

Rap Takes Another Big Hit

At first Jay-Z insisted he didn't want a party for his new album. Then, about a week and a half ago, one of the world's biggest-selling rappers suddenly changed his mind, and by last Wednesday night his people had made it happen: rented New York City's Irving Plaza nightclub; lined up a deejay and background vocalists for Jay-Z's performance; printed up personalized tickets for such guests as Puffy Combs, Busta Rhymes, Eve, Russell Simmons and Lil' Kim.

Doing It Without The Man

It's a classic NBA one-on-one: a coach, Phil Jackson, with his reputation as the league's reigning genius, vs. a star-studded L.A. Lakers team that has played like a remake of "Dumb and Dumber." Since Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant arrived in L.A.

Bad Vibes At Cable's Bet

The week the hit film "Three Kings" opened, three of its stars--George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and Ice Cube--made the talk-show rounds. Clooney did Leno, Wahlberg did Letterman and Ice Cube did "Live From LA"--a new show on cable's Black Entertainment Television.

Eve, The First Lady Of Rap

Rapper Eve Jihan Jeffers likes a good dare. When she was in the ninth grade, a schoolmate dared her to dye her hair blond, and Eve couldn't resist the challenge. "I was like, I can do that--no problem," remembers the 20-year-old Philadelphia native with a roll of her eyes. "I did dye it and went to school the next day and blew everybody away.

More Bounce To The Ounce

When they showed 24-year-old rapper Juvenile the video for his new hit single "Back That Azz Up," he gave it the accolade du jour: "That s--t is off the hook!" The video--basically, women shaking their rear ends--is subtle only in its coyly misspelled title.

A Legend Comes To Life

When you consider the short, sad life of Dorothy Dandridge, it has a familiar ring. She was a child performer who rose to sudden stardom, a sex symbol who was frustrated as an actress, a victim of two bad marriages, dead at 42 of an overdose.

The New Color Line

The big shocker at last week's NFL draft came when Ricky Williams, winner of the Heisman Trophy at the University of Texas as college football's premier player, wasn't the first running back chosen.

Surly Worm Gets The Bird

After a loss three weeks ago, Los Angeles Lakers coach Kurt Rambis was berating the team in the locker room. Dennis Rodman raised his hand, according to two teammates. "May I say," Rodman offered, "what a sh-tty coach you are?" Last Thursday, after "The Worm" showed up late for yet another practice, Rambis and owner Jerry Buss finally put an end to Rodman's two-month tenure, waiving him and agreeing to pay the remainder of his $600,000 contract. (Neither team executive would comment.) Rodman's...

Taking Rap Back To Its Real Roots

Enough with the endless sampling and the cheesy million-dollar videos, says the Philadelphia-based act the Roots. It's time to make rap real again. "Now it's all about money and talking about how many women you have and cars you drive," says drummer ?uestlove. "Corporate America has taken it over."But less sampling doesn't spell a lack of influences.

She's Got Her Own Game

Standing ovations don't mean what they used to; sports fans today give them up easily and often. Still, few athletes get a standing "O" just for stepping on the basketball court--during warm-ups.

Taking It Hard To The Nba Hoop

THROUGHOUT THE '90S, NBA basketball has increasingly become a one-on-one game. So it seems appropriate that saving this season--perhaps even the league--came down last week to NBA Commissioner David Stern and players' union chief Billy Hunter going head to head in an all-night negotiating session.

Denver's No-Flash Back

HE HAD HIS FIRST TASTE OF football stardom at the age of 8 when he earned the nickname ""Boss Hogg'' as a bowl-'em-over running back on a Pop Warner team in San Diego.

Hoop Nightmare

When a basketball star choked and tried to punch his coach, it highlighted a growing culture clash in the NBA. Are the game's bad boys, old-guard coaches or the hype-hungry endorsement industry to blame?In pro sports ugly usually begets uglier.

Amistad's Struggle

BORN WITH OUR eyes on the future, we Americans are notoriously oblivious to history--our own or anyone else's. Unless we are personally involved, our attitude goes, it's nothing to get worked up about.

Ready For His Close-Up

EVEN BACK IN JUNIOR HIGH IN Indianapolis, Kenneth Edmonds--you know him as Babyface--was more or less the guy he is now. He was in his first band then; onstage, he'd let others sing as he hung back, playing guitar, registering the crowd's response. ""I'd watch to see what they reacted to,'' he recalls. ""We were doing other people's songs and it helped me see what I needed to write so people would be drawn to it.

Black Beauty's New Face

ALEK WEK GIGGLES A LOT. SHE giggles at the mere mention of Method Man, her favorite rapper, and she giggles when she talks about sashaying down the runways of New York, Paris and Milan.

Going Hard To The Hoop

A DOZEN PHILADELPHIA PLAYERS ARE streaking up and down the court in three-on-three drills, but new 76ers coach Larry Brown only has eyes--and instructions--for one. ""Allen, go down the lane sooner,'' Brown urges. ""Allen, get to your position sooner.'' ""Allen, space out.'' Allen Iverson acknowledges his coach with a slight nod and hustles to comply.

Not Losing His Religion

EVEN THE LAMEST PERFORMERS GET standing ovations these days, but how many singers can lay claim to three hours of body-swaying adoration? Welcome to a Kirk Franklin concert, a musical lovefest of remarkable dimensions.

Bring In 'Da Night

A YEAR AGO QUINCY JONES COULDN'T buy a booking in late-night to hawk his 33d album, ""Q's Jook Joint.'' The 64-year-old music man, perhaps the most influential African-American in Hollywood, was told that Leno wasn't interested and that Letterman's people wanted him only if he'd perform, which he hasn't done in 23 years because of a medical condition.

No Laughing Matter

AUTUMN JACKSON, THE 22-YEAR-OLD college dropout accused of squeezing Bill Cosby for $40 million, wept into her hands when the guilty verdict was read last Friday. ""How could they?'' she asked her lawyer, seemingly dazed by the jury's decision after three days of deliberations.

Straight Outta Cleveland

ST. CLAIR AND EAST 99TH STREET IN Cleveland is a tough neighborhood to call home. A smaller version of Compton, Calif., complete with drive-bys, crackheads and street pharmacists, it's the kind of place where young black men die almost every day.

A Comic's Erratic Ride

MARTIN LAWRENCE WAS SUPPOSED to be the next Eddie Murphy. Five years ago he'd just costarred in back-to-back hit movies, ""House Party'' and ""Boomerang,'' and signed a deal with Fox to star in the network's first African-American sitcom, ""Martin.'' Now Lawrence sits in his publicist's office looking fragile, sounding sedate and talking guardedly about getting his life back on track after months of chaos, both personal and professional. ""I want more kids,'' he says quietly. ""That's the only...

And Then There Were Three...

THE MEMBERS OF EN VOGUE REALLY sort of like each other, and they 're about to prove it. Terry Ellis, Cindy and Maxine Jones are in an L.A. studio, finishing remixes for their new album, "EV3." Nobody's floating airs.

The Fire This Time

THE POLICE FOUND MALCOLM SHAbazz, 12, in the early hours of Sunday, June 1, disoriented and reeking of gasoline. He was a few blocks away from the Yonkers, N.Y., apartment where he had recently moved to live with his grandmother.