Off Court

Bridgette's Movie: The Wedding Planner

What would cause an actress to miss the biggest movie premiere of her career? For newlywed Bridgette Wilson-Sampras, it was a major tennis tournament halfway around the world. She had planned to skip the Los Angeles opening of her romantic comedy The wedding Planner on Jan. 23, preferring to be with husband Pete Sampras at the Australian Open. But when the tennis ace lost in the fourth round, the couple hotfooted it from Melbourne to LA , arriving just in time for Bridgette to join costars Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey on the red carpet. Even so Sampras admitted it was a good news-bad news evening for the duo. "We were both hoping I wouldn't be able to make the premiere," he told me.





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Wilson-Sampras Wedding Was Simple

LOS ANGELES (AP) - When Bridgette Wilson-Sampras said ``I do'' to tennis star Pete Sampras last year, it was with far less pomp and splendor than her character demanded in ``The Wedding Planner.''

In the new romantic comedy, Wilson-Sampras plays the daughter of a wealthy family who's engaged to a doctor, played by Matthew McConaughey. Jennifer Lopez plays the title character, who plans the gala nuptials and falls in love with the groom.

``Mine was small, intimate and quiet, not such a big production, not like this one in the movie,'' Wilson-Sampras, 27, told reporters recently, laughing.

``I wasn't a person that had thought about the kind of wedding I wanted my whole life, and I didn't have a specific dress that I needed and particular flowers and a particular place and all of this. The biggest thing was, I needed to find that right man - which I did - and have my family and friends there, and the vows.''

``The Wedding Planner,'' which opened Friday, was the No. 1 movie at the box office in its opening weekend, grossing an estimated $14 million.

AP-NY-01-29-01 1356EST


EXTRA Profile: Bridgette Wilson

In "The Wedding Planner," Bridgette Wilson-Sampras plays a bride who's thinking twice about walking down the aisle with her fiancée, played by Matthew McConaughey. But when Bridgette wed tennis star Pete Sampras this past September, she had no doubts that he was the man for her. She says, "I love my life, to find the man of my dreams really tops it off."

We thought it might be fun to remind Bridgette just how far she's come in a few short years. It was 1990, our host Leeza Gibbons was the M.C. and Bridgette was Miss Teen USA. That was ten years ago. Now she's 27 and is on her way to having it all. A blossoming Hollywood career and a successful, high profile marriage.

Leeza: Does he critique your performance?

Bridgette: The only times he gets involved is when I'm begging him, 'will you read this scene with me I have to memorize it?'

Leeza: Do you hit balls with him in exchange for that?

Bridgette: Ah no, I could try, but I don't want to be on the end of that serve.

They met in true Hollywood fashion. Two years ago, Sampras saw Bridgette star in a black comedy called "Love Stinks" and decided he wanted to meet her. She says, "Of course I recognized his face from seeing it before. But it was the closest thing to a blind date for me."

So what's missing in Bridgette's life? Well nothing really, except maybe a family. Being a mom is a role she's wanted to play for a long time.


Love Match
Bridgette plays a bride on the big screen and in real life with Pete Sampras

HOLLYWOOD -- Tennis ace Pete Sampras is one determined player.

On the court and in courtship.

Back in September of 1999, Sampras and some his tennis buddies caught an L.A. screening of the comedy Love Stinks.

Third Rock from the Sun's French Stewart plays a man who is pursued by a beautiful but neurotic woman played by Bridgette Wilson.

Sampras was amused.

He was intrigued.

He was smitten.

"Pete half joked to one of his friends that he'd love to meet me. His friend tracked down a friend of mine and together they set us up for a blind date," recalls the blond beauty who became Bridgette Wilson-Sampras on Sept. 30 last year.

"I agreed to let Pete phone me and talk about the possibility of a date. The first five minutes of that phone call were painful.

"I had no idea who I was talking to. I didn't know he was one of the top-rated tennis players in the world.

"The only thing I really wanted to know was if he was taller than me. The worst dates I've had are with men who are shorter than me. I think it's because we both felt uncomfortable. "

Wilson-Sampras admits she asked her telephone admirer to send her a photo.

"I showed it to a girlfriend and she put me in the picture."

Wilson-Sampras says it was not love at first sight for her or Sampras, but adds, "after a few dates I knew there was something special. In three months I knew Pete was the one."

She later discovered Sampras "had the same feelings at the same time. My sister talked to both of us independently and we pointed to the same day as the one that made us certain we were falling in love."

At the time they began dating, Wilson-Sampras was filming the romantic comedy The Wedding Planner in which she plays Matthew McConaughey's wealthy girlfriend who eventually loses her finance to Jennifer Lopez, the couple's wedding consultant.

Sampras proposed while Bridgette was filming The Wedding Planner. The timing, it turns out was perfect.

"It was a simple, quiet proposal, but it took me completely by surprise. I honestly didn't see it coming.

"I am really glad I made The Wedding Planner. It's what spurred me on to hire one to take charge of Pete and my wedding.

"We needed her desperately because we only had six weeks to plan our wedding. Having someone co-ordinate the wedding allowed me to concentrate on the day rather than on the incidentals."

One incidental that Wilson-Sampras left to a real expert was her wedding dress. It was designed for her by America's famous gown designer Vera Wang.

"I supposed it helped that I was marrying a rich, famous tennis player. Vera usually demands a lot more lead time than I gave her."

Wilson-Sampras says it is auspicious that she was married on Sept. 30.

"Pete's brother has the same wedding anniversary so they can help each other to remember the cards and presents."

She admits since the wedding she and Sampras have had to organize their time around each other's busy schedules.

"Right now, we both have demanding careers. We try to visit each other on location but it's difficult.

"We'd love to spend an extended holiday in Greece some time because that is Pete's heritage and we both really want children, but I don't think either is going to happen in the near future."

During their courtship, Wilson-Sampras asked her husband to give her tennis lessons.

"I'd never played tennis in my life, but I felt I should learn how for Pete's sake.

"He was very patient. I'm a bit of a slow learner and not all that co-ordinated."

In April, Wilson-Sampras stars in Just Visiting, John Hughes' remake of the French film The Visitors.


Ignorance deserves a BIG serve!

Blonde actress Bridgette Wilson-Sampras has plans to join her husband, "Pistol Pete" Sampras, next week after his Australian Open Tennis duties. It will be a getting-to- know-you rendervous, as they're always at opposite ends of the globe. Several weeks ago, she was in San Francisco finishing filming on The Wedding Planner, with Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Lopez, and she was talking by mobile phone to Pete, who was across the Atlantic in Portugal (for the Masters Cup). Wilson-Sampras, questioned about her role in the romantic comedy, couldn't believe some of the dumb questions from international journalists.

"So, the Sampras part of your that Greek? Oh, so you got married recently? And is your husband in the film industry? He plays sport? What sport does he play? Oh...that Pete Sampras!"


No wonder some members of the Hollywood foreign press corps have a reputation as know-nothings.

Wilson-Sampras found it all rather amusing trying to explain that her husband had won 13 Grand Slam tournaments and dozens of other tournaments around the world.

The excuse from one journalist was that she didn't read the gossip pages.

Wilson-Sampras didn't know whether to laugh or cry.


Courtship of Bridgette Wilson was like Hollywood film

When tennis superstar Pete Sampras proposed marriage to Bridgette Wilson last June, the actress had just finished working on the film "The Wedding Planner." Given that film's story line - the fiance (Matthew McConaughey) falling in love with the wedding planner (Jennifer Lopez) - it would have been understandable if the actress had balked at bringing in professional help for her own nuptials on Sept. 30.

But she didn't. Then again, neither did she hire Lopez.

"It's funny," Wilson-Sampras said, "because, going back to `The Wedding Planner,' I never thought about having it done that way myself. Doing this movie made me realize how much planning there is for a wedding. Whether it's a ton of flowers or a small number of flowers, you still have to do it - and we did ours in six weeks. A planner allows the bride to focus on all the details.

"It was definitely a luxury to have someone be so helpful and willing to do that. But everything went so smoothly at my wedding, I can't think of anything that was a snafu."

"The Wedding Planner" is a full-out romantic comedy, but it deals with anxiety common among brides-to-be.

"I was very different from Fran, my character," Wilson-Sampras said. "She is having this thing of, `Oh my gosh! What am I doing?' She was checking in her heart for what she wanted. She'd kicked into autopilot. Personally, I didn't have those moments. One minute before I walked down the aisle, I hoped I wouldn't trip."

In "The Wedding Planner," Lopez and McConaughey experience love at first sight, which is no rarity in the movies. But Wilson-Sampras said she felt something pretty close.

"Love at first sight is so bizarre to me," she said. "Oh, you see someone walk in and you'll spend your life with this person? But it can happen very quickly with that chemistry and evolve into something special.

"Within three months I knew Pete was the person I wanted to spend my life with. I never had that before. People had said to me, `Oh, you'll know when it happens' - and I never trusted that. Until it actually happened."

Her instincts, she said, were confirmed at a party given by her sister.

"It was cool because we were doing these questions," Wilson- Sampras said. "My sister sat down and interviewed me, and then she interviewed him with all these questions. It was something fun she did for my bachelorette party. For instance, she asked me, `When did you know?' and `What was the first thing you noticed about him?' and `What was the first thing he noticed?' - and every single one of our answers was the same."

Wilson-Sampras says she didn't know much about Sampras' awesome athletic career - even though, at 29, he has been a world champion for 14 years.

"We met - it was not really a blind date; he'd seen me in a movie, `Love Stinks,' " she said. "He saw it in theaters when it first came out and he was half-joking with a friend when he said, `I'd like to meet her.' That friend got in touch with a friend of mine - and they were both at our wedding."

Their "first date" was "a little phone conversation. The first five minutes are painful and then you get over that hump. But I didn't know who he was. I hadn't watched tennis before and when somebody called and said his name, I wasn't sure who he was. I said, `Is he taller than me?' . . . Then I remembered I'd seen a picture and I saw his face and that was familiar but I hadn't put the two together, because I wasn't familiar with tennis.

"I don't play tennis and I never had a racket before in my life," she added. "He's very patient about it."

Pete Sampras was the top-ranked player in the world through most of the '90s. He has slipped somewhat from that lofty position, but the family isn't without a top ranking.

"The Wedding Planner" was No. 1 at the box office last weekend.


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