By Chuck Arnold
December 01, 1997 12:00 PM

PLAYING HARDBALL

“The pro’s job is to make the celebrities look good, keep the ball in play and put on a good show,” says Chris Evert, 42, who recently hosted her annual pro-celebrity tennis event in Boca Raton, Fla. “But you want to keep the matches close.” So close, in fact, that the hyper-competitive Evert, who teamed with retired Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula in a mixed-doubles loss to former President George Bush and retired pro Gabriela Sabatini, couldn’t resist drilling a forehand directly at the 41st President of the United States. “If I’d met him for the first time, I would be embarrassed,” Evert said after the match. “But we’re very good friends. And, you know, the guys like it when the pros try to nail them. Really they do. It’s a challenge for them.”

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING BEAN

Since the British comedy Bean grossed nearly $130 million abroad before hitting the States this month, it’s no surprise that Hollywood was already hip to Rowan Atkinson, who took the bug-eyed Mr. Bean from the BBC to the big screen. “I heard that Arnold Schwarzenegger is a fan of the show,” marvels Atkinson, 42. “Can you believe Arnold even knows what I do?” The Terminator himself might have chickened out on the scene in which the Clouseau-like Bean gets his head stuck in a raw turkey. Despite the “high risk of salmonella poisoning,” Atkinson says he tried the real thing. “It’s horribly bloody and bony inside. You don’t want that next to your earlobes. So we used a fake turkey. It was just as heavy, but not as smelly.”

  • MIX AND MATCH
  • Since she split with her Sony Music-honcho husband Tommy Mottola in May Mariah Carey has been linked with everyone from New York Yankee Derek Jeter to rapper Sean “Puffy” Combs. But the honey-voiced diva, whose latest disc, Butterfly, is soaring on the pop charts, isn’t sweet on anybody. “Every time I see a friend or bump into somebody in a hallway, suddenly it’s like I have a new boyfriend,” says Carey, 28. “Maybe I can live vicariously through my image.” She could do otherwise. “I was getting on a plane the other day and I was all nervous because there was a storm,” Carey says, “and a guy working at the airport asked me to marry him. I’m like, ‘Ummm, can we address the plane issue first?’ ”

SOUP TO NUTS

Having been immortalized on Seinfeld as the irascible Soup Nazi, chef Al Yeganeh finds it hard to swallow that Soup Kitchen International, his modest Manhattan storefront known for its creative soups and curt service, topped super-swanky Le Cirque 2000 in the 1998 Zagat survey of New York City restaurants. “I would never go with those numbers,” says Yeganeh, 49, whose place received 27 out of a possible 30 points for its food. “In fact, I can’t even concentrate on my work. Since the Seinfeld show, there is so much distraction with the public and the media always bothering me. Jerry Seinfeld came to my soup kitchen last year. I kept yelling and cursing him out, and he kept apologizing and apologizing. I told Jerry, ‘Open your eyes. I had a great solid business. Now you give me headaches.’ ” And don’t look for Yeganeh’s label in your supermarket. “That’s a gimmick,” he says. “You could do pizza, you could do hot dogs. But soup is a holy meal.”

Advertisement