Medalist enjoys spotlight

New York � Olympic champion Sarah Hughes got the key to the city and rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange on Monday as part of the extended celebration of her surprise figure skating gold medal.

"Everybody's been spoiling me so much lately," the 16-year-old Long Island high school student said at a City Hall ceremony. "Everybody's been so friendly. The atmosphere couldn't be nicer. It's so supportive."

Hughes won the free skate portion of the figure skating competition at the Salt Lake City Games on Feb. 21, vaulting from fourth to first place to take the gold medal.

Yoko Ono spreads peace message

London � Yoko Ono has rented a Picadilly Circus billboard to deliver a message of peace to the thousands who pass through the busy London intersection every day.

The simple poster bears just one line from her late husband John Lennon's song "Imagine": "Imagine all the people living life in peace."

Ono has posted similar billboards in New York's Times Square and in Tokyo, and she bought a full-page ad in The New York Times to share the same message shortly after the terrorist attacks that felled the World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon.

It's a boy

Los Angeles � It's a boy for Anne Heche and her husband, Coleman Laffoon.

The 32-year-old actress gave birth to Homer Heche Laffoon over the weekend, said her publicist, Brad Cafarelli. The baby weighed 7 pounds.

Parents and baby are doing "absolutely fine," Cafarelli said.

Heche and Laffoon, 27, were married in September. The couple met while working on a documentary about Ellen DeGeneres' return to stand-up comedy.

Heche, who co-stars with Denzel Washington in the movie "John Q," had a high-profile relationship with DeGeneres for more than three years. They announced their separation in August 2000.

Once-in-a-lifetime role

Johannesburg, South Africa � Playing one icon is enough for Will Smith.

The 33-year-old, who's been nominated for a best-actor Oscar for his portrayal of Muhammad Ali, arrived in South Africa to open "Ali" with former President Nelson Mandela. He said Sunday he has no plans to portray Mandela in a movie, though.

"The level of pressure and the strain it puts on your life and your family to portray an icon � it's one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences," Smith said. "It's something you do once."

Portraying Ali marked a departure from Smith's previous comic and action roles. But he said his background as a rapper helped him capture Ali's rhythm.

"There's definitely elements of rhythm in every aspect of Muhammad Ali's speech patterns and boxing," Smith said.


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