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Published: Saturday, 6/7/2008

Sensenstein chooses family over work, leaves WTOL after 25 years

FROM BLADE STAFF AND NEWS SERVICES

Long-time weekend sports anchor Gary Sensenstein is leaving WTOL-TV, Channel 11, after nearly 25 years at the CBS affiliate.

He spent his last day on the job yesterday, covering high school baseball, a sport he loves, said the station's sports anchor, Dan Cummins.

Sensenstein said on the air Thursday that he wanted to have more time for his family. Cummins said the demand of working nights and weekends while his wife, WTOL daytime news anchor Melissa Voetsch, worked days was tough during the summer because the couple have three young children.

He said the station is taking applications for Sensenstein's replacement and Ken Watlington, a BCSN sports personality, will cover some of his shifts until a permanent replacement is found.

Cummins said Sensenstein, who is going to be a "stay-at-home dad" for awhile, will be missed. The two worked together for 24 years.

"It's going to really be weird not having him come in. He just knows sports and has an incredible memory for detail," Cummins said. "He's like a walking encyclopedia of local news."

Vin Diesel, star of The Pacifier and The Chronicles of Riddick, and his girlfriend, model Paloma Jimenez, welcomed a baby girl in Los Angeles on April 2, his representative, Meredith O'Sullivan, said in an e-mail yesterday.

O'Sullivan said the 40-year-old action star wasn't releasing the baby's name.

Diesel's screen credits also include The Fast and the Furious, Boiler Room, and Saving Private Ryan. He'll next be seen in the sci-fi movie Babylon A.D., slated for release Aug. 29.

Jewel has been honored by the Recording Industry Association of America with a career milestone plaque commemorating sales of more than 18 million albums in the United States.

Jenny Alves, RIAA's coordinator of artist industry relations, surprised the 34-year-old singer Thursday as she prepared to sign autographs at the Country Music Association festival.

"This is awesome. Thank you so much," said the singer, who also was scheduled to perform at the festival.

Jewel, whose full name is Jewel Kilcher, released a country album, "Perfectly Clear," on Tuesday. The lead single, "Stronger Woman," is No. 15 on the Billboard chart.

Perhaps best known for her pop and rock hits that include "Foolish Games" and "You Were Meant for Me," Jewel has sold 27 million albums worldwide since her 1995 debut.

She is touring with Brad Paisley this summer.

Third-place Dancing With the Stars finisher Cristian de la Fuente is back in the swing of things.

The 33-year-old actor, who tore a tendon in his biceps while performing on the ABC dance competition, is recovering well from surgery, his publicist said Thursday.

"The doctor said it was a perfect repair," publicist Cynthia Snyder said. "He had his stitches out on Tuesday. Everything is going well."

Friday marks two weeks since the procedure, she said, adding that de la Fuente is wearing a brace until his recovery is complete.

The actor went to Disneyland Wednesday with his Dancing partner, Cheryl Burke. De la Fuente has also been making appearances to promote his new USA Network show, In Plain Sight, in which he plays the boyfriend of the main character, played by Mary McCormack.

Gordon Ramsay is in a California state of mind.

The fiery Scottish chef and star of Fox's Hell's Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares was all smiles at the opening of his latest restaurant, Gordon Ramsay at the London West Hollywood, on Wednesday evening. The event was attended by celebrity guests such as Will and & Grace co-star Eric McCormack, Survivor host Jeff Probst, Khloe Kardashian, and David Beckham.

So why did Ramsay decide to set up shop on the West Coast?

"It's less aggressive than New York," he said in the kitchen during the opening celebration. "Vegas? I don't want to play my card in Las Vegas. It's materialistic. Here, it's proper. I'm very happy to be here. Everything is in abundance in California."

Ramsay said the restaurant, located at The London West Hollywood hotel just off the Sunset Strip, took two years to open. Designed by David Collins, the space features several private dining rooms, wood floors and gold- and pastel-accented furniture. The menu will draw from seasonal ingredients.

During the soiree, Beckham mingled with Ramsay, his wife and the kitchen staff behind the scenes while sipping a pint of beer. Ramsay, a former professional soccer player himself, said he and the Los Angeles Galaxy player "go back a long way."

"It's nice having him here," said Ramsay. "He's going to be cooking in (the) kitchen tomorrow night."

Ramsay will soon welcome another person in the kitchen of the new restaurant: the winner of the fourth season of "Hell's Kitchen." The champion will be offered a job as senior sous-chef at Gordon Ramsay at The London West Hollywood with a $250,000 salary. The season finale is scheduled to air July 8.



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