Jordin Sparks had reason to be nervous at the 26th Annual Sports Spectacular benefiting Cedars-Sinai hospital’s Medical Genetics Institute: she had to sing the National Anthem in front of a ballroom full of celebrities and star athletes. Fortunately, she had her dad, former New York Giants cornerback Phillippi Sparks, with her for support. “I got the invite and called him up. ‘Dad, you have to come to L.A. for this event next week,’ and he was like, ‘I’m there,’” said Sparks, who was excited about singing for even bigger crowds on tour this month. “I’m doing the New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys tour for a month and a half, and then there are some charity things that I’m doing on my own, like People to People in Europe,” she said. “Hopefully, I’ll find time to work on my new album as well.”
Dennis Haysbert of 24, The Unit and the All-State Insurance commercials, lends his rich, deep voice to Master Oxen, a new character in Kung Fu Panda 2, the sequel to the animated blockbuster that made over $631 million worldwide three years ago. “I like his fierceness,” said Haysbert at the movie’s red carpet premiere, held quite appropriately on a closed-down block of Hollywood Blvd. in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre. “I like doing movies for kids. There’s not a lot being done for them, so anytime I can get on board with one, it’s great,” he said after posing with co-stars Jack Black, Seth Rogen, Angelina Jolie and Lucy Liu, some of whom he met for the first time as he recorded his part alone.
Haysbert’s next movie won’t be nearly as kid-friendly. In Learning Uncle Vincent, he plays a gangster for the first time. “It’s always fun to play the bad guy,” he said. He’ll also appear in The Details as a basketball buddy of Tobey Maguire’s. “It’s a dark comedy. It premiered at Sundance to really good reviews.”
(Photo: Jeff Daly/PictureGroup)