IN REALITY, IT PAYS TO LOSE Everybody loves a winner, but it seems they adore reality-TV runners-up even more. Ruben who?
JENNIFER HUDSON American Idol
Fantasia beat out this vocal powerhouse in 2004, but Hudson got the last laugh: she just landed a lead in the film Dreamgirls, co-starring Beyoncé, Eddie Murphy and Jamie Foxx.
ELISABETH HASSELBECK Survivor
The ex-shoe designer finished fourth among 2001's Australia crew. A co-host of ABC's The View since 2003, she had a baby in April with NFL-quarterback spouse Tim Hasselbeck.
OMAROSA The Apprentice
Forget nice. Winner Bill Rancic landed a job with the Donald, but massively bad team player Omarosa has been in 10 TV shows (including the soap Passions) and is planning a talk show for '06.
In his first lead role, for the movie In the Mix, R&B singer Usher plays a disk jockey who is hired to be the bodyguard for a Mafia princess.
You and Emmanuelle Chriqui have an interracial romance in the movie. Is In the Mix trying to convey a message? For me, the story is not based on race. It is the story of two different people from two different worlds coming together. We eat grits. They eat polenta. I got very good feedback from the N.A.A.C.P. It is great that the black male in this film has a positive image--not shoot 'em up, bang, bang, that kind of stuff.
In the movie, as in life, you are popular with the ladies. Any advice for guys with trouble meeting women? Women love compliments, you know what I mean? Buy her a drink. Talk to her about whatever it is that she wants to talk about. As long as you keep her laughing, you got it.
You and 50 Cent are starring in new movies, and both of you show a lot of skin in them. Who has better abs, you or 50? I'm a smaller guy. 50's got the arms, I got the abs. He's got nice tracks. He's a bigger deal. He goes for the more muscular look. I go for the lean and cut look.
Diddy has been a mentor to you. What did you learn from him? You gotta work hard in order to win. The man doesn't rest.
You say you are single, but the tabloids have spotted you with British model Eishia Blackwell. Is Eishia your boo? [Pause.] I'm single, like I said. I'm not married.
Your mom is your manager. Does she give advice on your love life? She tries to.
Do you listen? Sometimes I do. Sometimes I learn the hard way.
SPEAKING OF OLD WAXWORKS ...
Maybe PRINCE CHARLES should get one of those diaries that comes with a miniature lock and key. London's Daily Mail obtained a copy of the Prince's "private" journal on the 1997 handover of Hong Kong to China--subtitled The Great Chinese Takeaway--in which Charles calls Chinese diplomats, including then President Jiang Zemin, "appalling old waxworks." The paper claims that the journal was never private--the Prince reportedly distributed copies to friends and relatives--but last week Charles' lawyers filed suit against the Mail's publisher for breach of copyright and confidentiality. Just goes to show that even decades of making small talk can't teach a person to keep his mouth shut.
IF YOU CAN'T DO THE TIME ... OH, NEVER MIND