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Thursday, June 17, 2004
Olympic Torch Fires Up Hollywood

Hollywood's finest played chariots of fire Wednesday, as the Olympic torch hit the streets of Los Angeles, and "Extra" was there pacing Ellen Degeneres, Ryan Seacrest and Tom Cruise as they pounded the pavement from Hollywood to Dodger Stadium.

"Extra" started the day of torch-passing with Ellen at Hollywood's historic Roosevelt Hotel. "I don't think I trained properly," she admitted to us. "I just started last night. I just ate a lot of carbs and stretched."

Ellen actually worked up quite a sweat as she charged four blocks down the Walk of Fame and even threw in some sit-ups during her torch leg. But at least she got a nice "imitation" torch trophy as a keepsake. "This is going in my living room," DeGeneres showed us. "And then when I jog the neighborhood, I'll jog with this."

After Ellen, came "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest, who got into the Olympic spirit in Midtown. But Seacrest admitted to us, "The original plan was to come over on a motorcycle and there was a last minute decision. An assessor came and realized maybe I'm capable of carrying it by foot."

"Now it's going on to Tom Cruise," Seacrest told us. "I've got to get down there so that I can scream for him: 'Tom, I love you!'"

A very proud Tom got the honor of cruising the torch into Dodger Stadium in front of his sister and his mom. "They called and said, 'Would you like to do this?'" Cruise revealed. "I sat back and said, 'Wow. Absolutely.'"

But the Olympic flame was not without protection. In fact, it was guarded more carefully than even Tom Cruise. "I'm concerned if that flame goes out, I'm going to get jumped," Cruise admitted laughingly. "It's going to be ugly."

With "Mission Impossible 3" starting to film and "Collateral" coming soon to theaters, Tom's a busy guy these days, and he said his summer vacation plans have gone down the drain. "I don't have a vacation this summer. My vacation is maybe trying to catch a couple of mornings that I can sleep in."

The stars, including Sylvester Stallone, who carried the torch along Santa Monica beach on Tuesday, were selected by Samsung Electronics America, a presenting sponsor of the torch relay that will see the torch carried around the world on its way to Athens for the Olympic's opening ceremonies. According to Samsung president and CEO Dong Jin Oh, the stars were chosen, "because their life's work has become a part of American culture and because they have supported important causes."


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