March Madness: Celebrity Version

Un-sweeties hold on, go to Sweet 16

March 20, 2007|By John Woestendiek | John Woestendiek,Sun reporter

Readers have narrowed the list of annoying celebrities from 64 to 16 -- a field that includes the sour (Rosie O'Donnell, Nancy Grace), the smug (Donald Trump, Simon Cowell) and the insipid (Paris Hilton), but nobody you'd probably consider sweet at all.

Third-round votes, which will thin our not-so-sweet 16 down to an effete eight, can be cast in the Celebrity March Madness tournament until midnight Thursday at baltimoresun.com/celebrities.

Some close and spirited contests are expected, key among them Britney Spears versus Anna Nicole Smith in the "Not Them Again! Division."

Smith, whose death in February only added to her notoriety, has knocked off two powerful contenders postmortem -- lovelorn astronaut Lisa Marie Nowak and rehabbed actress Lindsay Lohan. Spears, though, may prove too strong. Her GPI (Google Point Index) is the highest in the tournament.

In the "Talking Head Division," Newt Gingrich will go up against Jesse Jackson, and Ann Coulter faces the Rev. Al Sharpton. Given the number of words they've collectively inflicted on the planet already, we'll say no more.

The "Can't Seem to Shut Up Division" remains one of the most powerful, with four contenders capable of going all the way. In Game 1, Trump faces Grace, a rookie whose strong showing includes wins over the Verizon "Can You Hear Me Now?" Guy and Martha Stewart. In this battle of bouffants, though, Trump is favored. In Game 2, powerhouses O'Donnell and Dr. Phil will fight it out.

In the "Way, Way Overexposed Division," Tom Cruise will face what could be his stiffest opposition yet in American Idol judge Simon Cowell. Cowell's hard-to-figure fame got a further boost Sunday (when he was interviewed on 60 Minutes by first-round tournament loser Anderson Cooper), but Cruise has been one of the tournament's top guns, routinely winning by big margins. In the second game, Michael Jackson faces Whitney Houston.

More than 100,000 individual votes have been cast so far in the tournament, which is aimed at picking America's most annoyingly overexposed celebrity.

Here is the rest of the voting schedule:

Fourth round: March 23 to midnight March 29

Fifth round (Final 4): March 30 to midnight April 1

Championship: April 2

john.woestendiek@baltsun.com

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