You have no doubt heard of Claude Vorilhon, the French
self-appointed prophet better known as Rael: He claims, so far
without supporting evidence, that his 55,000-member organization,
Clonaid, has cloned a human. Rael, 56, got into the prophet
business back in 1973, when, he says, he was hiking in France and
some aliens appeared and asked him to be their earthly
representative. What you may not know, however, is that before he
took them up on their offer, Rael got deeply into motor sports.
As Vorilhon he was the Audi Cup series Rookie of the Year in
1974, and though he abandoned racing shortly afterward to spread
the word that Jesus used an antigravity beam to walk on water,
and similar wisdom, Rael returned to the track in 1994 and ran
half of the 2000 Speedvision World Challenge GT series. (He
finished 42nd out of 77 drivers.) He also ran in that year's 24
Hours of Daytona, as part of a team that steered the Clonaid car
to a solid 34th-place finish--28 spots ahead of Paul Newman's
team. "When I was coming back to race, people were looking at me:
'Who is this crazy UFO man?'" Rael said in '97. "Then they saw me
driving, and I got their respect because they saw I was not a bad
driver. When you are crazy, you cannot be a driver of the car."
--He robbed a casino in Ocean's 11, busted drug lords in Traffic
and crooned tunes as Sammy Davis Jr. in HBO's The Rat Pack, but
Don Cheadle's favorite role could be the one he's playing now:
football fan. Cheadle, 38, is appearing in five NFL ads in which
he helps reenact the greatest moments in postseason history.
Among the plays highlighted: Dwight Clark's game-winning catch
in the 1981 NFC Championship Game, and Patriots kicker Adam
Vinatieri's decisive 48-yard field goal in last year's Super
Bowl. During filming at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego--the site
of Super Bowl XXXVII on Jan. 26--Cheadle showed up on the set in
Broncos gear (he graduated from Denver's East High) and tossed a
couple of passes that according to one league official on hand,
traveled 50 yards.
--In what the New York Post called "a marquee cross-generational
NFL canoodle," Giants rookie tight end Jeremy Shockey, 22, and
20-year-old Brittny Gastineau, the daughter of former Jets
sackmeister Mark Gastineau, are dating. The younger Gastineau, a
senior at Alabama, met Shockey two weeks ago and hung out with
him last week at her New York City apartment.... Live from New
York, it's Jeff Gordon! This Saturday the four-time Winston Cup
champ will be the first race car driver to guest-host Saturday
Night Live. Says Gordon, "It will probably be a lot like the
Winston--90 minutes of controlled chaos." ... In front of 248
guests--including Lakers teammates Rick Fox, Mark Madsen, Kareem
Rush and Brian Shaw--Shaquille O'Neal married longtime
girlfriend Shaunie Nelson at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Dec. 26.
Shaq, fresh from Lakers practice, arrived in an outsized
Cadillac Escalade, followed by a line of Lotuses, Ferraris,
Range Rovers and limousines carrying friends, family and
teammates. O'Neal, 30, and Nelson, 28, have two children
together (they've been dating for three years) and are expecting
another child in May.
THIS WEEK'S SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE
USC players and coaches asked for autographs from O.J. Simpson
when he showed up at a Trojans practice a few days before the
Dokic's father, who said he might kill himself if he found out
his daughter was a lesbian: "It's a good thing I'm not his
daughter then.... [Actually] maybe it's too bad I'm not."