MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Mike Piazza knows that some people think it’s funny for a baseball player to take up ballet, but the former catcher hopes to turn whoever is jeering him now into dance fans when he takes the stage with Miami City Ballet next month.

“You gotta sometimes have the courage to go out there and do something like this, and I think the overall effect will be positive,” Piazza said Tuesday after his costume fitting for the role of a gangster in “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue.”

Piazza will walk on stage and say a few lines in the company’s May 3 production of the ballet George Balanchine choreographed as part of the 1930s musical “On Your Toes.”

“If I have to take a few good-natured insults, you know, I’ve taken a lot of abuse before so, no question, I’ve got big shoulders,” he said. “The bottom line is to draw attention to the show, to the arts, the art of ballet and dancing in general. It’s something I’m very excited about.”

He literally has big shoulders, too. In the ballet company’s costume department, he swung his arms and shrugged his shoulders to test his range of motion in a taupe houndstooth suit usually worn by more lithe male dancers. Some tailoring would be required, along with a larger-sized fedora.

Even if he won’t be dancing in the costume, he wanted to make sure his character could swagger convincingly to open a ballet featuring gangsters, strippers and an attempted murder plot.

Piazza, who had 427 career home runs and made 12 All-Star Game appearances, didn’t know anything about Balanchine when he first stepped into the rehearsal studio, though he did impress the dancers with the exaggerated accent and smoking habit that he gave his character.

“He knows a lot about acting, which makes it a lot easier,” said principal soloist Kleber Rebello.

Pitt makes surprise visit to CinemaCon

LAS VEGAS – Actor-producer Brad Pitt made an unannounced appearance at the annual CinemaCon convention in Las Vegas to show off material from his upcoming apocalyptic epic, “World War Z.”

“Listen, five years ago, I knew absolutely nothing about a zombie; today, I consider myself an expert,” Pitt said, smiling for a packed house of surprised theater owners at Caesars Palace on Monday night. “This whole thing started because I just wanted to do a film that my boys could see before they turned 18 — one that they would like, anyways. And they love a zombie.” The 49-year-old Pitt and partner Angelina Jolie have six children, including three sons.

“So, we settled on this book, Max Brooks’ book, called ‘World War Z,”‘ Pitt continued.

Osbourne says he’s sober again on Facebook

LOS ANGELES – Ozzy Osbourne has denied those split rumors, but he appears to have taken a ride on the crazy train once again — at least for a little while.

The rocker took to Facebook on Monday night with his side of the story.

“For the last year and a half I have been drinking and taking drugs,” he wrote. “I was in a very dark place and was (a jerk) to the people I love most, my family. However, I am happy to say that I am now 44 days sober.”

Ozzy, 64, infamously used drugs heavily for decades but got sober in his early 50s.

“Just to set the record straight, Sharon and I are not divorcing. I’m just trying to be a better person,” he continued.

Sharon, who’s reportedly been living separately from Ozzy, hit Cabo San Lucas over the weekend for a getaway, TMZ reported. One source told the site the couple has taken a break like this in the past but still stayed together.

His son, Jack Osbourne tweeted the rumors were false over the weekend.


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