FROM THE HIP: Brackets, Elaine Benes & 'Kid, Don't Try to Be Funny'

- Today millions of Americans spent the final moments filling out their NCAA Final Four Brackets. I'd love to share mine but that would be like asking "Jack Bauer" of "24" fame to give up his secrets! What I can tell you is, like many, I struggled with sentimental favorites. I hope the Golden Gophers can make a decent run. If for no other reason than to rub my Badger-loving colleagues' noses in it at Fox 9! But there are a couple other teams that might be putting my heart before my head.

My daughter is a graduate of Florida Gulf Coast University. A few years back they were the "Cinderella Story" of the NCAA's and now the team they call "Dunk City" is back. So I also have a clear bias for FGCU. Plus, it's always fun to root for an underdog.

Speaking of underdogs, how about the Northwestern Wildcats? Their first ever trip to the field of 64 in the school's history. They also have a local angle with former Benilde High School star Sanjay Lumpkin whose dad Sean played football for the Gophers, and Sanjay's mom is married to former Gopher and NBA star Jim Peterson who's raised him as his own. These days we see Jim on Timberwolves telecasts and as an Assistant Coach of the WNBA Lynx. He's also an old St. Louis Park pal!

Something else that's been pointed out about Northwestern is a back-up player named Charlie Hall who just happens to be the son of TV Producer Brad Hall and actress Julia-Louis Dreyfus. Dreyfus has received many accolades for her many TV roles, but I'm one of those who thinks Elaine Benes of "Seinfeld" when I see her.  Let's just hope that now that the Wildcats are in the "dance," Elaine won't be allowed to dance. Several "Seinfeld" episodes featured her absolute and hilarious lack of rhythm and moves!

And now that I'm talking "Seinfeld" you might get a kick out of this. When the show first started it was titled "The Seinfeld Chronicles." I think they decided to shorten it to the now famous "Seinfeld" within a year. But that first year of the show Jerry Seinfeld toured the U.S. to promote the new program with a stand-up tour. His Minnesota stop was at the Orpheum Theater and I was asked to introduce him that night. The photos bring back many memories. Prior to the show I spent time with Jerry backstage. During a very friendly conversation he asked me a variety of questions about spots in Minnesota. "Where's the seedy part of town", "What town is considered "ritzy'", "Who do Minnesotans despise??" I answered all and was eventually amazed how he effortlessly wove each answer into his act. The "Packer Fans" answer I gave him to the last question got the biggest laugh! Seamless, he was a real pro!

I received a nice jacket to commemorate the night that I still have today, but I also learned a valuable lesson that night courtesy of the stand-up show's producer. After my meeting with Jerry the producer came up to me and said, "How are you going to introduce Jerry?" I said, "I don't know, why?" And he said, "OK just follow this rule. Kid, don't try to be funny!" What he meant was leave that to the pros... and I did.

So that's really why I won't share my NCAA Bracket Picks with you. I've never come close to winning and I wouldn't want to ruin your chances with my advice. Instead... I'll leave that to the pros!


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